Skip to comments.Environmentalists love pollution: Gordon Prather on Rep. Waxman, Exelon and eco-wackos
Posted on 04/13/2002 11:15:34 PM PDT by JohnHuang2
According to Henry Waxman ranking Democrat on the House Government Reform Committee big bad "energy industries" such as Exelon have received favored treatment by the Bush-Cheney administration because of campaign contributions.
Exelon? Isn't that the Chicago-based electric power company with all those windmills? Doesn't Exelon burn methane given off by garbage dumps? Hasn't Exelon in cahoots with the Illinois Conservation Foundation planted a million trees to suck up greenhouse gases? And doesn't Exelon favor our subjecting ourselves to the Kyoto Global Warming Protocols?
Why does Waxman think a company like that is so bad?
Well, Exelon also owns and operates 17 nuclear power plants and has a 12.5-percent interest in an international consortium that has virtually completed development of the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor. To Waxman's horror, he found favorable comments in the Bush-Cheney Energy Plan about the PBMR.
But Waxman to the contrary the favorable comments resulted from the Bush-Cheney commitment to preventing international nuke proliferation. The highly efficient, fail-safe PBMR is also highly proliferation-resistant.
The "spent" fuel of current operating power plants is not spent at all. It still contains, unburned, almost all the original fissionable material. It also contains highly radioactive fission products the "dirty daughters" that eco-wackos believe terrorists could steal and use to make radiological dispersal devices.
It's not clear why the eco-wackos believe this. You'd have to be wacko, yourself, to steal a load of highly radioactive spent fuel and take it home in your pickup truck. You wouldn't be dead tired when you got it home; you'd just be dead.
The valuable unburned fissionable material in spent fuel ought to be recovered. In the process, the short-lived highly radioactive materials that only need to be stored for a few hundred years, not tens of thousands could be separated out and shipped to Yucca Mountain.
But Waxman and the eco-wackos intend to put an end to nuclear power, and so they will never allow spent fuel to be reprocessed. Nor will they ever allow it to be shipped to Yucca Mountain. That's why the PBMR is such a threat to them. PBMR fuel never needs to be reprocessed, and its spent fuel never need leave the reactor containment structure.
The PBMR begins operation with a full load of fuel, and by the end of its 50-year operating life, the fissionable material in that fuel has been almost completely consumed. The pebble bed technology and concept was developed in Germany, and a small prototype operated successfully for more than 20 years.
The PBMR fuel is in the form of uranium oxycarbide pellets, each pellet less than a millimeter in diameter. Each pellet is covered by multiple layers of graphite and silicon carbide. Thousands of these teeny-tiny pellets are then incorporated into billiard-ball-sized "pebbles" which are also covered by layers of graphite and silicon carbide. These billiard balls have proven to be structurally and thermally stable in operating environments of 2,000 degrees centigrade.
The PBMR reactor core consists of a cylinder containing thousands of these billiard balls something like a giant Lotto machine. A small fraction of the billiard balls are periodically withdrawn from the bottom of the cylinder and nondestructively tested for burn-up. If there remains unburned fissionable material in a pebble, it is then dumped back into the top of the Lotto machine. If no unburned material remains, the highly radioactive billiard ball is shuttled aside to a ventilated storage area within the highly shielded reactor enclosure.
The reactor, itself, uses helium gas which cannot become radioactive as a coolant to keep the operating temperature at about 950 degrees centigrade. Then the 950-degree helium which is chemically inert is fed directly into a high-pressure gas turbine to generate electricity. The thermal efficiency for the high-temperature gas-cooled PBMR is very high, about 45 percent.
The PBMR consortium is led by the South African utility Eskom, which owns 30 percent of the project. The South African Industries Development Corporation and various "black empowerment" groups own 35 percent, with British Nuclear Fuels holding 22.5 percent and Exelon a mere 12.5 percent. The Russians and the Chinese have also expressed considerable interest in the project.
Exelon is reportedly engaged in detailed discussions with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and in December intends to submit a license application for construction of 10 110-megawatt PBMRs. Once construction approval is granted by the NRC, Exelon hopes to have the first module constructed in only 20 months.
Construction cost is expected to be about $1,000 per kilowatt and generating cost, about 1.6 cents per kilowatt hour. Such a deal. To cap it off, a PBMR produces no greenhouse gases and emits no pollutants. No wonder Waxman and the eco-wackos are running scared.
Oddly enough, we could cut the Gordian Knot of nuclear storage by recycling the stuff like France has done for almost 30 years- except for a muddle-headed Carter-era law forbidding it.
This is yet another reason I think nearly all laws & regulations should sunset automatically unless specifically re-authorized by a recorded vote by a sitting legislature. ( So you could hold the SOB's accountable in the next election.... )
I watched the infamous Seabrook nuclear plant being built in the '70s (my father's shop was a mile away on the saltmarsh) and can state that there is going to have to be a massive re-education of the population around any proposed nuclear power plant. The disinformation that contributed to the delays and cost-overuns almost killed that plant before it was completed.
Also, one of the biggest problems with the old GE water cooled plants was the threat of corrosion. The number of safety backups that were mandated because of the fear of cooling pipe failure greatly increased the cost of those plants. Helium cooling should solve that problem.
These Opecker Rats in Congress will do anything to increase our dependence on Opecker Oil. Can't have nuclear power, it is too cheap, clean and has zero need for natural gas or carbon fuels to make the cheap and reliable electricity that America needs.
Waxman's buddy in the senate, Mullah Shorty Da$$hole served his Opecker Princes well last week by preventing any drilling for oil in ANWR.
No nuclear power plants, no drilling for oil in America and hair brained enviral so called energy alternatives = more dependence on oil and natural gas from the Opecker Princes.
You'd have to be wacko to want power from this stuff in the first place. You'd have to be wacko to assume that our or any nation will be stable for as long as this is deadly.
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