Comprehensive Security Evaluation and Vulnerability Studies

Shortly after September 11, 2001, the NRC undertook a comprehensive reevaluation of the agency's safeguards and security program, regulations, and procedures, which resulted in numerous security improvements and ultimately led the agency to revise its adversary attributes in the design basis threats (DBTs) for radiological sabotage and theft of nuclear material. The DBT identifies theoretical adversary force composition and characteristics against which the nuclear facility must be able to...

The sThe Three Mile Island Decade

To many Americans, the nation's honeymoon with nuclear power ended on March 28, 1979, when the Three Mile Island (TMI) nuclear incident occurred. While the accident did not result in the loss of any lives, and relatively small amounts of radiation were released into the atmosphere, it did involve the total loss of the recently commissioned number two nuclear reactor at the facility, which had cost the utility billions of dollars to construct. Perhaps more importantly, the accident rattled the...

No Need to Wear a Lead Suit Nuclear Safety Works

A commercial nuclear reactor, essentially a large and very complex teakettle, boils water to produce steam through a controlled chain reaction of fissionable material.This steam spins turbines to generate electricity. Safely controlling this chain reaction is essential since an uncontrolled, runaway fissionable reaction is basically a bomb. Over the past 60 years the U.S. nuclear power industry has successfully controlled this reaction to produce trillions of hours of low-cost electricity in an...

Safety in Response to Geopolitical Events

Government Accountability Office (GAO) says that five years after 9 11, nuclear facilities have beefed up their security, but that these measures would fall short of protecting against an all-out attack. Others in the public and private sector disagree with this statement. Whether you agree or disagree with the current state of the nuclear industry's degree of preparedness from external threats, the following facts are known. The industry has thus far spent approximately 1.25 billion...

Fossil Fuel Price Volatility

All of the previously mentioned cost comparisons are susceptible to volatility in fossil fuel prices, which have dramatically increased over the past several decades. This is especially true for crude oil, now a global commodity. Figure 2.8 shows the annual price ofWest Texas Intermediate (WTI), one of the world's price benchmark crude oils, since 1983. Changing geopolitical supply-affecting events and increasing demand have ricocheted prices generally between 20 and 30 per barrel for most of...

Rediscovering Nuclear Power

What the preceding information tells us is that while the United States possesses numerous energy options, there are definite drawbacks to each. Not one is a perfect solution.While the United States hasn't built a nuclear power plant for decades, the nation's economy continues to rely heavily on nuclear power for electricity generation as economic and environmental issues bring greater reliance on fossil fuels into serious question. While most of the nation's 103 commercial reactors have been...

Early Atomic Research

One of the pioneers of early atomic research was Enrico Fermi, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1935 for his research in the field of artificial radioactivity. Fermi left Italy and immigrated to the United States prior to the start ofWorld War II and continued his nuclear physics research first at Columbia University in New York and then at the University of Chicago. It was at the University of Chicago in 1942 that Fermi conducted the first major experiments into controlled nuclear fission....

New Passive versus Redundant Safety Designs

Sbwr Passive Containment Cooling System

Even though the United States has not built a new reactor for decades, reactor technology has continued to evolve. Both U.S. and international re actor designers and manufacturers strived to produced newer reactor designs in the 1990s that feature greater operating reliability and will have lower costs of operation when they are expected to come online around the year 2015. While safety has always been a primary concern with reactor development, the latest generation of nuclear reactor designs...

Negative Media Messages

The media wield a tremendous power to send messages that can easily sway public opinion.A declining number of the U.S. public reads newspapers on a regular basis, but opinions can be molded through visual media such as movies and television. Many opponents of nuclear energy have effectively utilized these forms of entertainment to lobby against the continued use and growth of nuclear power. Just days before the Three Mile Island accident and in the five years that followed, there were a number...

About the Authors

Herbst has two decades' experience with global energy markets and professional consulting services. He specializes in the analysis of commodity fundamentals, pricing, commercial trading, and risk management opportunities and has performed work in the oil, natural gas, and electric power sectors. In recent years, he has focused his efforts on emerging energy technologies and markets, specifically nuclear power, the Alberta oil sands, coal gasification technologies, and the growing global...

Challenges to Overcome

Several years ago most electricity market analysts believed the majority of new U.S. power generation capacity would be natural gas-fired. Changing economics, tightening natural gas availabilities, and environmental pressures now have utilities reconsidering the nuclear power option, but significant hurdles remain. It is still difficult to find utility executives willing to publicly commit to building a new reactor, due to the 3 to 4 billion investment required. Following Enron's demise in 2001...

Nuclear Power Low Cost Portal to US Energy Security

It is not too much to expect that our children will enjoy in their homes electrical energy too cheap to meter,will know of great periodic regional famines in the world only as matters of history, will travel effortlessly over the seas and under them and through the air with a minimum of danger and at great speeds, and will experience a lifespan far longer than ours as disease yields and man comes to understand what causes him to age. Lewis L. Strauss, Chairman,Atomic Energy Commission, in a...