Energy From Thorium Discussion Forum

It is currently Oct 16, 2018 3:54 pm

All times are UTC - 6 hours [ DST ]




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 22 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2  Next
Author Message
 Post subject: New NRC commissioner
PostPosted: Jan 03, 2015 5:23 am 
Offline

Joined: Jul 14, 2008 3:12 pm
Posts: 5045
Stephen Burns is now the new commissioner.

http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS-Bu ... 11501.html

Its difficult to see how he won't be an improvement over Macfarlane or Jaczko, since you can't get lower than the bottom. However this guy clearly has a legal background which 9 out of 10 times is bad news. Legal background means, in my experience, typically lack of vision and understanding of real issues, lock-in in constructs and fabrications, and bad priorities (more paperwork, fewer solutions). I hope I am wrong.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: New NRC commissioner
PostPosted: Jan 03, 2015 12:52 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Nov 30, 2006 3:30 pm
Posts: 3819
Location: Alabama
You really think he's better than MacFarlane? She was actually favorably disposed towards thorium as a nuclear fuel. She and Per Peterson were the only ones who hung around to hear me talk when I gave a public comment at the Blue Ribbon Commission meeting in 2010. Afterward the three of us talked a bit.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: New NRC commissioner
PostPosted: Jan 03, 2015 1:27 pm 
Offline

Joined: Jul 14, 2008 3:12 pm
Posts: 5045
Better? Well, I don't know. What has Macfarlane done to further the buildout of thorium reactors? Or even any advanced reactor? Talk is cheap, and seems to be the problem with the whole NRC structure, with endless memos and task-forces that talk and publish paperwork and produce proposals for methods for further planning that... leads to nothing. What has Marcfarlane done to further the implementation of Fukushima recommendations? Nothing. The NRC can't even decide on what the recommendations are, after 4 years, when major nuclear authorities and schools of learning have produced clear recommendations for improvements in mere months.

As things are right now I'd consider any commissioner that hasn't changed the bureaucratic problems and basic structure of the NRC as an outright failure. I fear that appointing a lawyer is going to make things worse.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: New NRC commissioner
PostPosted: Jan 03, 2015 1:45 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Nov 14, 2013 2:34 pm
Posts: 177
Location: Here and There
"Better? Well, I don't know. What has Macfarlane done to further the buildout of thorium reactors?"

Is that the job of the NRC or the DOE?

I am thinking there will be some progress soon. It's becoming apparent to the most casual observer (me) that the windmill / solar thing just doesn't cut it. With reality slapping people in the face, they are going to take notice. As soon as the price of natural gas goes back up, there will be renewed interest.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: New NRC commissioner
PostPosted: Jan 03, 2015 3:12 pm 
Offline

Joined: Jul 14, 2008 3:12 pm
Posts: 5045
Eino wrote:
"Better? Well, I don't know. What has Macfarlane done to further the buildout of thorium reactors?"

Is that the job of the NRC or the DOE?


Do you think the job of the NRC is to postpone indefinately the buildout and facilitation of buildout, of advanced reactors, and greatly delay such development of slightly improved LWRs?

The job of the NRC is to facilitate the safe, environmentally benign use of nuclear energy and materials. They have been doing this exceedingly poorly since their conception.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: New NRC commissioner
PostPosted: Jan 03, 2015 3:49 pm 
Offline

Joined: Aug 29, 2008 4:55 pm
Posts: 494
Location: Idaho Falls, Idaho
http://www.claytonchristensen.com/key-concepts/

I have been reviewing theory .."The Disruption of Innovation " by Clay christensen.


It seems to me that molten salt reactors are posed to be then next disruption in power generation.

How can we take advantage of this business principle to get funding?


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: New NRC commissioner
PostPosted: Jan 03, 2015 4:36 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Nov 30, 2006 3:30 pm
Posts: 3819
Location: Alabama
The NRC is in an unenviable position. They have the responsibility to ensure that nuclear power is safely managed in the United States. All US reactors are based on a technology that is totally reliant on engineered safeguards to prevent radionuclide release. This has been "accepted" as safe. But even the inventor of the PWR was not impressed with the safety aspects of his creation, and only pushed it for the application for which it makes the most sense and minimizes risk, namely military submarine propulsion.

People like myself approach the NRC talking about things like LFTR and say, in essence, hey, don't you like how safe this design is? All of those problems you're worried about in pressurized water reactors are designed out in this thing!

But how can the NRC respond, in reality? They can't say, oh this is wonderful, we're so glad that there is a super-safe reactor technology out there, oh please build thousands and thousands of them. Because the anti-nuclear wolves and the fossil-fuel scumbags who keep them well-fed would seize on any enthusiasm by the NRC towards passively-safe reactor designs and say, how can you keep running these OLD-SCHOOL, UNSAFE REACTORS!!!! They would bay for the blood of the existing nuclear industry. And the NRC, which depends on the continued operation of nearly a hundred reactors for the bulk of their regulatory funding, would feel threatened.

I remember an appropriate line from Alvin Weinberg's autobiography:

"I was naive. In the first place, the nuclear industry was not about to embrace a reactor concept that was "safer" than existing light-water reactors."


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: New NRC commissioner
PostPosted: Jan 03, 2015 5:32 pm 
Offline

Joined: Jul 14, 2008 3:12 pm
Posts: 5045
The legal framework and requirements aren't the issue. They are laid out already. The NRC has clear deterministic (such as the N+1 rule) and probabilistic requirements. If a reactor meets the requirements, they should work on it to certify and regulate in a timely and expedient manner. They are simply not doing the latter. They have a clear directive, and they are dawdling. This is not acceptable. An organisation that has at its disposal an army of engineers and analysts would not take 10 years to certify a simplified ABWR (which was certified already in the 90s).

The NRC response (if you can call it that) to Fukushima (ie lessons learned) is a good case in point. Basically they couldn't get their minds around it and make a clear call on whats needed. Something unexpected happened in another country but with roughly similar reactor plants, and they had to make a judgement, and they didn't do it. Even though many universities and industry had already drawn clear lessons learned and conclusions ready to be used by the NRC. Industry thought it took too long and came up with the FLEX plan for mobile emergency equipment, but the NRC couldn't keep up. They were too busy with internal memos and endless action plans on planning how they would plan to set up a framework to plan for... well what really? If you want a coffee you go to the machine and get some. The NRC will set up a committee, assign employees, make methods and regulatory papers on what should be included in the mission to get coffee, then they will enter phase 2 which is to determine the best course of action and who to send to the coffee machine, but then they take a step back because after all what if the coffee machine is broken? Or what if there is a spill, someone would have to clean that up. A new action plan is clearly needed. They would then leave that difficult issue to be resolved by the next task force which of course has already been selected, a fine team of engineers and analysts will look into it, don't worry. You'll hear from us in 3 months.

The NRC is not accountable to anyone for the endless delays and bureaucracy, except perhaps to those who would see nuclear anything buried 6 feet under.

Having worked for the Dutch industrial regulator for years I am well aware of many of the issues and pitfalls, and the NRC has fallen into most of them. It needs a major overhaul, the entire structure needs to change, from how it is funded to what level of detail they will look at and timeframes and deadlines they use, all must change. Probably best to abolish the entire organisation and set up a brand new one. Considering the political situation (one might say convenience) this is unlikely, so nuclear energy will continue to stagnate for years into the future of the USA.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: New NRC commissioner
PostPosted: Jan 03, 2015 9:24 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Jul 14, 2011 9:22 pm
Posts: 31
Location: Forest Park, GA
We've had a few people from the NRC in various capacities come give lectures at the Georgia Tech chapter of the ANS.

What their feeding us on advanced reactors and regulatory hurdles can be boiled down to a few statements:

They're understaffed and would like to evaluate all of these wonderful designs, but lack the time and manpower.
They're standing out of the way, but the market is failing to deliver designs to them for inspection.
If these aforementioned designs are really so great how come the market isn't delivering, since we're not standing in the way; proven reactor technology is the only thing competitive right now.


Being the bright-eyed, bushy-tailed undergrads we are, we can't quite lay down the facts to call BS! or Bravo! on these people.
Has anyone actually delivered a fully sorted out MSR design to the NRC for approval? If not, why? If so, why was it rejected, and what's being done to further it along?


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: New NRC commissioner
PostPosted: Jan 03, 2015 10:52 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Nov 30, 2006 3:30 pm
Posts: 3819
Location: Alabama
Vince Hughes wrote:
Has anyone actually delivered a fully sorted out MSR design to the NRC for approval? If not, why? If so, why was it rejected, and what's being done to further it along?


Of course not. When the NRC is rejecting South Korean LWR designs as insufficiently mature, you can only imagine where any MSR design would be.

Everyone wants someone else to carry the risk of a complete development and licensing procedure.

The NRC wants the reactor vendor to go to all the risk of privately designing a complete reactor system and then throw it over the transom to the NRC to review it at their leisure, as if the private capital expended to create such a design has no timeline on it or expectation of return. This is an utterly absurd position for the NRC to take but no one can challenge it.

Capital markets see the complete black-hole of NRC licensing on timelines and deployment and say "no thank-you" to investing in advanced reactor technology. Not hard to figure out.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: New NRC commissioner
PostPosted: Jan 04, 2015 5:00 am 
Offline

Joined: Jul 14, 2008 3:12 pm
Posts: 5045
"They're understaffed and would like to evaluate all of these wonderful designs, but lack the time and manpower."

There are 2800 people working at the NRC. Nearly three bloody thousand people. They have TOO MUCH TIME AND MANPOWER, that is in fact part of the problem. They lack a sense of their identity, what they should be doing and how long they should reasonably take to do it. They are not accountable for their mismanagement and misdirection.

Forget MSRs. Just look at what happened at the AP1000 and ESBWR, slightly improved and simplified versions of already licensed reactors, backed up by billion dollar companies with deep pockets and much patience... and then see how long they take to even ask simple questions.

"They're standing out of the way, but the market is failing to deliver designs to them for inspection."

Duh, the NRC has chased them away years ago. Investors know full well the US is a death trap for nuclear power innovation.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: New NRC commissioner
PostPosted: Jan 04, 2015 1:02 pm 
Offline

Joined: Jul 20, 2010 12:52 pm
Posts: 187
The focus here is rightly on the NRC, but this is no different than most, if not all US public institutions now. The SEC, the Federal Reserve Bank, the DOE, FDA, Department of Defense, etc. Entrenched interests: fossil-fuel executives, Wall Street bankers, Pharma execs, Weapons makers, career Military ... they all like things the way they are, and have a lot of influence. So 'change' (reforming institutions) is pretty hard to come by. One of the few exceptions (unfortunately) seems to be wind/solar, which has gotten a big push.

If people ever get behind nuclear it will be because of climate change (sadly not much interest right now ... the frog boiling to death in the pot of slowly heated water comes to mind) and perhaps a spike in fossil fuel prices. Maybe the Saudis will put oil over $100USD/barrel again after they finish driving the frackers into bankruptcy.

It seems more likely to see progress in nuclear happening in Russia, China, India ... they have the resources and perhaps the will to move nuclear forward, not that they don't have their own entrenched interests, but maybe they are not as comfortable as we are yet and more willing to try. For the sake of all of us, I sure hope so.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: New NRC commissioner
PostPosted: Jan 04, 2015 3:54 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Nov 30, 2006 3:30 pm
Posts: 3819
Location: Alabama
Cyril R wrote:
"They're understaffed and would like to evaluate all of these wonderful designs, but lack the time and manpower."

There are 2800 people working at the NRC. Nearly three bloody thousand people. They have TOO MUCH TIME AND MANPOWER, that is in fact part of the problem.


Totally agree. But you can never get a federal bureaucracy to "slim down" without direct and continuous Presidential intervention, and what science-ignorant president is going to risk "nuclear plants exploding" or some other hyperbole by the anti-nukes to try to get the NRC to get off their duffs and get to work?


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: New NRC commissioner
PostPosted: Jan 04, 2015 4:32 pm 
Offline

Joined: Sep 22, 2013 2:27 pm
Posts: 262
In the German State of Baden- Wuerttemberg (5 power reactors, a reseach Center KfK with 2 test reactors and a test reprocessing plant WKA) my father a team < 10 engineers, physicist, lawyers did the regulatory supervision till the 90ies. They had support by federal authorities. The standards (KTA) were prepared by Joint groups from industry, authorities, universities... The most of the certification work was done by the TÜV (private testing and certification company).

What are 2800 poeple doing there?
Are they recalculating the things themselves?
Do they certify contractors?
Do they do scientific work?
Does someone have an overview about this authority?


Last edited by HolgerNarrog on Jan 05, 2015 3:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: New NRC commissioner
PostPosted: Jan 04, 2015 4:47 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Jul 14, 2011 9:22 pm
Posts: 31
Location: Forest Park, GA
Quote:
What are 2800 poeple doing there?


That's what I'd like to know. I talked to one of these guys myself, and he swore up and down they were hard at work over there. The way he spoke they should be hiring every nuke coming out of GT, Penn State, MIT, RPI, and the rest of them to keep up. Somehow I doubt they're doing anything less than busy work.


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 22 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2  Next

All times are UTC - 6 hours [ DST ]


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
cron
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group