Archive | Uranium and Nuclear Power Industry

Shutting Down All Of Japan’s Nuclear Plants After Fukushima Was A Bad Idea – by James Conca (Forbes Magazine – October 31, 2019)

By now, more Japanese have died from the closing of Japan’s nuclear power plants following the 2011 Tohoku quake than from the tsunami and the earthquake combined, which was about 20,000 people. Of course, no one has died from any radiation released from the reactor, and no one ever will. There just wasn’t enough dose to anyone.

These conclusions are now echoed across the scientific and medical communities. The latest study, from Matthew Neidell, Shinsuke Uchida and Marcella Veronesi, discusses how after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident, when all nuclear power stations ceased operation and nuclear power was replaced by fossil fuels, there was a significant increase in electricity prices and in public mortality.

The increase in price led to a reduction in energy consumption, which caused an increase in mortality during very cold temperatures. An increase in mortality also occurred from the burning of fossil fuels, especially coal, which causes upper respiratory effects. Continue Reading →

‘Mailbox 200’: Soviet waste dump a landslide away from poisoning millions – by Mariya Gordeyeva (Reuters U.S. – November 5, 2019)

MAILUU-SUU, Kyrgyzstan (Reuters) – Hidden in a remote Central Asian gorge, thousands of tonnes of radioactive waste are one landslide away from contaminating the water supply for the whole Ferghana valley, home to millions of people, environmentalists say.

Neglected for decades by the Soviet Union and then Kyrgyzstan, uranium ore dumps near the town of Mailuu-Suu must be urgently reinforced to prevent disaster, according to the European Commission and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) which are raising funds for the project.

“There are 14 million people in the Ferghana valley and in the event of a natural disaster water may wash away the tailings into the Naryn (Syr Darya) river which will be a tragedy for the whole valley,” says Bolotbek Karimov, an environment researcher based in the southern Kyrgyz city of Osh. Continue Reading →

‘The next wave of innovation’: Nuclear reactors of the future are small and modular – by Emily Chung (CBC News Technology – June 25, 2019)

The pros and cons of small modular reactors and where we could see them generating nuclear power

The devastating impacts of climate change caused by burning fossil fuels are forcing countries around the world to look for zero-emissions alternatives for generating electricity.

One such alternative is nuclear energy, and the International Energy Agency — a group focused on energy security, development and environmental sustainability for 30-member countries — says the transition to a cleaner energy system will be drastically harder without it.

Canada’s government appears to be on board, saying nuclear innovation plays a “critical role” in reducing greenhouse gas emissions as Canada moves toward a low-carbon future. Continue Reading →

Smaller, safer, cheaper: One company aims to reinvent the nuclear reactor and save a warming planet – by Adrian Cho (Science Mag – February 21, 2019)

CORVALLIS, OREGON—To a world facing the existential threat of global warming, nuclear power would appear to be a lifeline. Advocates say nuclear reactors, compact and able to deliver steady, carbon-free power, are ideal replacements for fossil fuels and a way to slash greenhouse gas emissions.

However, in most of the world, the nuclear industry is in retreat. The public continues to distrust it, especially after three reactors melted down in a 2011 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan. Nations also continue to dither over what to do with radioactive reactor waste.

Most important, with new reactors costing $7 billion or more, the nuclear industry struggles to compete with cheaper forms of energy, such as natural gas. So even as global temperatures break one record after another, just one nuclear reactor has turned on in the United States in the past 20 years. Globally, nuclear power supplies just 11% of electrical power, down from a high of 17.6% in 1996. Continue Reading →

Wyoming’s ailing uranium sector needs an emergency boost, industry says – by Camille Erickson (Casper Star Tribune – October 28, 2019)

A 70-year low in domestic uranium production has Wyoming producers worried. Despite persistent calls from state lawmakers and industry groups to institute federal trade policies to boost domestic demand for the mineral, the industry continues to founder — shedding workers and cutting costs.

Last year, a pair of independent producers petitioned President Donald Trump to implement a pair of “common-sense” reforms to boost U.S. uranium production. Energy Fuels and Ur-Energy recommended requiring that 25 percent of uranium bought by government entities come from the U.S.

Quotas would restrict foreign sourcing of uranium vital to the country’s economy and national security, petitioners reasoned. It would also catapult domestic demand and buoy the ailing uranium sector. Continue Reading →

Nuclear energy is a vital part of solving the climate crisis – by John Gorman (Globe and Mail – October 24, 2019)

I never thought I would become a passionate champion for nuclear energy. But after 20 years of advocating for renewable energy, I’ve overcome the misconceptions I had in the past and I am convinced by the evidence we can’t fight climate change without nuclear.

When I was the chief executive of the Canadian Solar Industries Association, I thought the “holy grail” was to make renewable energy cost-competitive so it could fulfill our energy needs. Today, wind and solar are among the cheapest forms of energy in many places around the world. The generous subsidies that fuelled early growth are no longer at play, yet the growth of wind and solar continues.

Despite the strong growth, the percentage of emissions-free electricity in the world has not increased in 20 years. It’s stuck at 36 per cent, according to a recent IEA report. Continue Reading →

On The Colorado River’s Banks, A Toxic Pile Continues To Shrink – by Molly Marcello (KZMU Radio – October 21, 2019)

In a park, nestled in a red rock canyon outside Moab, Utah — a short drive from a giant pile of uranium tailings — a crowd gathered for a celebration. Elected officials and community members mingled, and enjoyed refreshments. Volunteers placed pieces of yellow cake in small paper bowls.

It was a facetious nod to the gathering’s purpose: to celebrate the removal of 10 million tons of toxic uranium tailings from the banks of the Colorado River.

“You never would have thought you would have all these people congratulating themselves in the community on moving 10 million tons,” said Sarah Fields, executive director of the nonprofit Uranium Watch. “They seem to be really dedicated to getting this done.” Continue Reading →

OPINION: What if Suncor Energy used Canadian uranium to clean up its oil sands-tainted image? – by Eric Reguly (Globe and Mail – October 19, 2019)

Suncor Energy has an image problem that seems incurable. The Alberta oil sands giant produces vast amounts of synthetic crude oil, a product that comes with a rather frightening carbon footprint. As the oil sands expand, Suncor will become an ever-bigger target for climate-change activists and green-tinged politicians.

Even Justin Trudeau, who may or may not survive as prime minster after next week’s election, once said that Canada should “phase out” the oil sands.

What can Suncor do? Here’s a radical idea: Get into uranium. Nobody talks much about uranium anymore. The naturally radioactive metal is associated as much with disaster, because of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan, as it is with clean energy. Continue Reading →

US nuclear, uranium mining industries hope for Trump bailout – by ELLEN KNICKMEYER, FELICIA FONSECA and MEAD GRUVER (Associated Press – October 9, 2019)

WASHINGTON (AP) — A plea from uranium mining companies and nuclear power plant operators for tax breaks and other federal financial boosts is going before President Donald Trump, as his administration studies reviving the U.S. uranium industry in the name of national security.

Trump is scheduled to receive recommendations Thursday from a task force of national security, military and other federal officials about ways to revive U.S. uranium mining, which has lagged against global competition amid low uranium ore prices.

Uranium is a vital component for the country’s nuclear arsenal, submarines and nuclear power plants. U.S. uranium users get about 10% of their supply from domestic sources, the federal Energy Information Administration has said. Most of the rest comes from Canada and Australia, followed by Russia and former Soviet republics. Continue Reading →

High uranium levels seen in Navajo women decades after Cold war era mining by U.S. on their reservation (CBC News – October 8, 2019)

Albuquerque, New Mexico — About a quarter of Navajo women and some infants who were part of a federally funded study on uranium exposure had high levels of the radioactive metal in their systems, decades after mining for ingredients for Cold War weaponry ended on their reservation, a U.S. health official Monday. The early findings from the University of New Mexico study were shared during a congressional field hearing in Albuquerque.

Dr. Loretta Christensen – the chief medical officer on the Navajo Nation for Indian Health Service, a partner in the research – said 781 women were screened during an initial phase of the study that ended last year.

Among them, 26% had concentrations of uranium that exceeded levels found in the highest 5% of the U.S. population, and newborns with equally high concentrations continued to be exposed to uranium during their first year, she said. Continue Reading →

Republican lawmakers call for measures to spur new U.S. uranium mining – by Valerie Volcovici (Reuters U.S. – October 1, 2019)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republican U.S. lawmakers this week urged President Donald Trump’s administration to ease restrictions on uranium mining on federal lands, as a Cabinet-level committee prepares recommendations this month for boosting domestic nuclear fuel production.

“We strongly encourage you to make improved access to federal lands with high-grade uranium deposits a top priority,” according to the Sept. 30 letter from 27 Western state Republican senators and Congress members to Trump’s national security and economic advisers Richard O’Brien and Larry Kudlow, both co-chairs on the uranium mining working group.

“Greater access to our own resources will help put Americans to work exploring for and responsibly producing the uranium that our country needs,” wrote the lawmakers from the western states from Alaska to Utah. Continue Reading →

U.S. Says Saudis Must Forgo Enrichment for Nuclear Sharing Deal – by Ari Natter (Bloomberg News – September 19, 2019)

Saudi Arabia will be required to forgo enriching or reprocessing spent uranium if it wants to secure a nuclear-technology-sharing deal with the U.S., Energy Secretary Rick Perry said in a letter to the kingdom that addresses bi-partisan non-proliferation concerns about the proposal.

The U.S. has been in negotiations with the Saudis for an agreement that could benefit Westinghouse Electric Co. and other American companies that want to construct or sell nuclear reactor technology to the kingdom.

But that prospect has been met with increasing alarm by Congress and others concerned that the Saudis could enrich nuclear fuel into weapons grade material. Those concerns were heightened after the Trump administration said it might not insist on the so-called “Gold Standard” barring such activities. Continue Reading →

Abandoned mine cleanup federal, provincial responsibility: Cook-Searson – by Alex MacPherson (Saskatoon StarPhoenix – September 18, 2019)

Liberal candidate Tammy Cook-Searson says both levels of government should help clean up the abandoned Gunnar mine.

The Liberal candidate in Saskatchewan’s vast northern riding says both the federal and provincial governments should be responsible for cleaning up the abandoned Gunnar uranium mine and other, similar sites in the region.

That aligns with the view of many Saskatchewan politicians, but breaks with the federal Liberals’ position that the province should put up virtually all of the cash for the massively over-budget project, which is currently estimated to cost $280 million.

“I think that both levels of government need to sit down and figure out what the fair share is. Negotiate it,” Tammy Cook-Searson said of the largest environmental remediation project in Saskatchewan history, which was originally expected to cost just $24.6 million. Continue Reading →

Mining industry predicts nuclear will be cheapest power – by Aaron Patrick (Australian Financial Review – September 16, 2019)

The mining industry has declared that nuclear power could be the cheapest way to generate electricity in the next decade, an audacious claim that advocates of wind and solar power are likely to bitterly dispute.

The chief executive of the Minerals Council of Australia, Tania Constable, said a new generation of compact nuclear reactors should be legalised because they could generate electricity for as little as $60 a megawatt hour – which is much less than the $98.10 average price last year in the renewable pioneer of South Australia, and higher than any other state in the National Electricity Market.

“Apart from existing run-of-water hydro, nuclear is the only energy source capable of providing affordable zero-emissions power 24/7 at industrial scale,” Ms Constable said as part of a submission to a federal inquiry into nuclear power. Continue Reading →

Broad [Australian] coalition opposes nuclear power – by Colin Brinsden ( – September 15, 2019)

More than 40 groups representing millions of Australians have come together to issue a clear message to the federal government that the nation’s energy future is renewable, “not radioactive”.

However, the mining industry is calling for the ban on nuclear energy to be lifted. The coalition of groups has submitted a shared statement in response to the federal parliamentary inquiry into the prospects for nuclear power in Australia.

Submissions to the inquiry close on Monday. “The groups maintain nuclear power has no role in Australia’s energy future and is a dangerous distraction from real progress on our pressing energy and climate challenges and opportunities facing Australia,” the Australian Conversation Foundation said. Continue Reading →