Announcing the 2017 Nuclear Innovation Bootcamp

The terrific team that brought you the first boot camp in 2016 is going to do it again in 2017. Details follow below in a message from the organizers.

nucboottwitNote to Readers: I was a spot mentor, available by email, for two of the five groups for the 2016 Bootcamp. Each student group will have primary mentors on-site. In 2016 some of the leading names in nuclear engineering innovation served as on-site mentors.

Building on the resounding success of the first Nuclear Innovation Bootcamp: Nuclear Upended held in 2016, we are pleased to announce that we’re doing it again! The second bootcamp, Tomorrow Today, will be hosted at UC Berkeley from July 16-29, 2017.

The Bootcamp will train the next generation of students and professionals in developing and executing ideas for nuclear energy that work in the world–providing them the tools to make a real impact as innovators and entrepreneurs. See this article The Future of Nuclear Energy for a deeper look at this objective.

Quick Briefing on the 2017 Bootcamp

What’s the same:
– 25 students from around the world will learn from experts inside and outside the classroom for two weeks while executing team design projects.
– Mentors: a fleet of mentors will be available as a resource for the students throughout their projects.
– Experts: world experts will teach sessions, speak on panels, and be available for discussion.
– Pitches: the bootcamp will culminate in a session open to the public where each group will pitch their project to a panel of expert judges.

What’s new:
– Modules: the curriculum is structured as modules, each of which is a deep dive on a specific topic.
– Professionals as participants: we invite professionals to attend for one to several modules.
– Collaboration: we are thrilled to announce that this year’s bootcamp is being collaboratively organized by UC Berkeley, MIT, Texas A&M, UW Madison, and VCU.

How to Get Involved 

Be a participant Applications will be open December 15, 2016 through February 15, 2017. Applicants will be informed of their placement no later than March 15, 2017.

The full program is open to any students interested in or studying nuclear engineering or related fields, energy, entrepreneurship, business, law, communication, design, policy, or arts. Students’ housing and meals will be covered for the two week session; there will be a modest registration fee if selected and they will be responsible for their own transportation to Berkeley.

Modules of the program are open to early- and mid-career professionals. Professionals can apply for individual modules where they will develop targeted expertise in areas needed for nuclear entrepreneurship and innovation. These professionals will learn side by side with the students and contribute their expertise to the student group design projects.

Be a mentor Lend your expertise to a specific team throughout the bootcamp by being a continuous mentor, or, as a smaller commitment, to any team for a short period of time as a spot mentor.

Be a sponsor Help make this bootcamp possible. Get solution ideas for important challenges. Attract the best and the brightest to work on your problems. Make the nuclear industry of tomorrow successful today.

Interested in teaching? Let us know if your expertise fits with a part of our curriculum and you’re interested in serving as a speaker. Here’s a list of the speakers from the 2016 bootcamp.

 What’s New for 2017

MODULES: With one to three day topical modules and professional participation, students will be leave the 2017 Bootcamp with a more in depth understanding of specific nuclear innovation-relevant issues. The module topics will be announced in December, but may include: legal considerations for nuclear, supply chain development, integration with renewables and other forms of electricity production, Gen IV designs, or methods for idea generation and critique.

PROFESSIONAL INTEGRATION: For the 2017 Bootcamp, we’re excited to announce the inclusion of early-level professionals into our modules in addition to students at the graduate and undergraduate level. These professionals will be welcome to join for one or more modules for a fee; their participation will allow students access to additional experts in various subfields of nuclear, and give them the knowledge and tools to bring entrepreneurship and innovative thinking back to their companies.

MORE STUDENTS: Our increased number of student participants will result in more design groups, more design projects, and more opportunities for nuclear innovation to move from Bootcamp into the wider industry.

MORE DESIGN PROJECT TIME: Last year, student design project groups created incredible ideas with very little scheduled design project time. This year’s modular schedule will provide more opportunities for students to work on their projects with professional participants, visiting speakers, and other program visitors; it will also provide them more time during the traditional work day to interface with their professional mentors.

INSTITUTIONAL COLLABORATORS: We are excited to announce the inclusion of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Texas A&M University, Virginia Commonwealth University, and the University of Wisconsin, Madison as collaborators for the 2017 Bootcamp curriculum and project design. They will be joining the University of California, Berkeley in identifying the modular topics of utmost importance this year and in recruiting students, professionals, speakers, mentors, and sponsors.

GET INVOLVED: if you are interested in getting involved as a speaker, mentor, or sponsor, please visit our “Get Involved” tab of the bootcamp website. For students and early level professionals interested in applying, the application will be available on December 15, 2016 on the “Apply” tab.

BOOTCAMP LOGOFollow the Bootcamp on Twitter: @NuclearBootcamp


PostScript: Innovation is already happening with mainstream nuclear utilities

In January of this year my blog predicted that utilities, as customers of innovative developers, will not be content to wait 20 years for DOE national laboratories to kick R&D projects out of their sandboxes.

I wrote that the business paradigm of time to market for useful innovations will produce a demand factor that will drive utilities to try to get early, hands-on, looks at innovative reactor designs.

Four months later Southern Corp. and X-Energy proved the principle by inking a deal to collaborate on the development of advanced nuclear reactor technologies. Neither Southern nor X-Energy explained in their press statements where their R&D work intersects.

The technological link between the two projects is Triso fuel. Some GEN IV designs of very high temperature molten salt reactors specify the use of it. The pebble bed design depends entirely on Triso fuel.

Similar partnerships are possible with many other types of nuclear reactor technologies and fuels. For instance, in 2011 a group of nuclear engineers reviewed the design of the Integral Fast Reactor and concluded that there were no technical barriers to developing an NRC licensing application for it.

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Carnival of Nuclear Energy Bloggers 337

This post represents the latest link in a chain of over six years of the weekly summaries of the best of the pro-nuclear blogs.

About these bloggers

green_earth_nuclear_atom (1)The bloggers who write the posts cited here do so because they have come to see, based on experience, that nuclear energy is green. It is a cost-effective, carbon emission free, source of electrical power which can raise the standard of living for any population which benefits from access to it.

See the “Blogs We Read” sidebar at the ANS Nuclear Café for a complete list of pro-nuclear energy blogs. It is published by the American Nuclear Society. All the blogs listed in the right column on this site also have their own lists of blogs they read.

Posting of these blog summaries here is done with the purpose of bringing diverse ideas to the attention of a larger readership.

Your kind attention to these blog posts is appreciated. Please repost or cite in your favorite social media channels. There are live icons, with one click action, for doing so, at the end of this blog post.

Carnival 337

Forbes – Jim Conca

Illinois Sees The Light – Retains Nuclear Power

In a nail-biter more reminiscent of overtime at the Superbowl, the Illinois State legislature passed The Future Energy Jobs Bill (SB 2814) with less than an hour remaining in the legislative session, allowing Exelon’s Clinton and Quad Cities nuclear power plants to remain open. This will save 4,200 jobs and over 22 billion kWhs of carbon-free power each year, more than all of the state’s renewables combined.

Milt Caplan – MZC

Want to minimize radiation from power generation – build more nuclear

The biggest issue many people have with nuclear power is fear of radiation.   For decades, this has manifested in concerns about living near plants even though studies have shown that the public and nuclear workers do not suffer any harm.  The reality is that radiation is all around us and comes from a variety of sources.  A new study by UNSCEAR shows that there is more radiation coming from coal plants than nuclear plants – and that workers mining the rare earths required for solar and wind are subject to higher doses than nuclear workers.

Next Big Future – Brian Wang

Coal to nuclear conversion can rapidly address 30% of CO2 emissions

High temperature nuclear reactors can replace the coal burners at several hundred supercritical coal plants in China. The lead of the pebble bed project indicates that China plans to replace coal burners with high temperature nuclear pebble bed reactors.

HTR-PM are modular reactors that will be mainly factory mass produced. The first one is taking 6 years to make. The reactor module will head towards about two years to build when they are making them by the dozen.

China’s HTGRs to cut air emissions

China’s HTR-PM (high temperature pebble bed nuclear reactor) project is squarely aimed at being a cost-effective solution that will virtually eliminate air pollution and CO2 production from selected units of China’s large installed base of modern 600 MWe supercritical coal plants.

It is a deployment program with the first of a kind commercial demonstration approaching construction completion and commercial operation by mid to late 2018. Major parts of the machinery will be able to be merged into the existing infrastructure.

The current critical path item is the completion of the steam generators — one for each of the two reactors. The shells and internals have been completed, but the final stages of attaching the piping to the thick-walled, large diameter pressure vessels will delay site delivery until sometime close to the middle of 2017.

Berkeley Showcases Nuclear Energy Innovation

In graduate school at the University of Wisconsin, Rachel Slaybaugh began studying the Boltzmann Transport Equation — “a single equation that describes where all of the neutrons are in a nuclear system,”

Now at University of California, Berkeley, Slaybaugh explains. “Anything in a nuclear system starts with where all of the neutrons are, so it lets you figure out everything else.”

Working with the equation can be challenging, so Slaybaugh developed expertise in creating algorithms and software to solve the equation faster and more efficiently, which ultimately can be applied to designing and modeling new nuclear technologies.

Nuke Power Talk – Gail Marcus

Nuclear Power Presidents

Gail Marcus, a past president of ANS, recently helped assemble bios of all the ANS past presidents for the ANS website.  She reports on the effort, and summarizes some of the activities and achievements of the past presidents, in her blog, NukePowerTalk.

In particular, the notes that many of the early past presidents were involved in the earliest development of nuclear power, and over time, a number have held high level positions in all segments of the nuclear industry, and many have been recognized for their work with numerous awards.

Yes Vermont Yankee – Meredith Angwin

Meeting on Entergy Sale of Vermont Yankee December 1

Entergy plans to sell Vermont Yankee to a decommissioning company, actually, a consortium of several specialized companies, headed by NorthStar. Meanwhile, EnergySolutions wants to buy Waste Control Specialists (one of the companies) and the Department of Justice has sued block that merger because it would decrease competition in the decomm field. Nothing is simple, is it?

Nuclear vs Gas Economics Part 2. Guest post by Nick Escu

In this second part of a two-part post, Nick Escu (pen name) describes the probable economic effect that natural gas liquifiers will have on gas and grid economics. With U.S. liquifier units (“trains”) coming on-line rapidly to export LNG, the price of natural gas within the U.S. will probably rise rapidly, and grid prices will rise with it.

Neutron Bytes – Dan Yurman

Areva gets capital funding boost, new investors

France moved to shore up its nuclear industry with utility Electricite de France SA (EDF) agreeing to buy the reactor construction business of state-run peer Areva  for 2.5 billion euros ($2.7 billion).

The contract signed with EDF clears the way for Areva to raise five billion euros in new capital, largely from the French government.

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Nuclear News Roundup for 12/05/16

Illinois Legislation Votes to Save Nuclear Plants

Close up of a lifebelt5(Power Magazine) The Illinois Legislature approved the Future Energy Jobs Bill (SB 2814) on December 1. The bill will provide the $235 million to be collected from customers annually to keep its Clinton and Quad Cities nuclear power plants open.

The bill will now go to Gov. Rauner (R) for his signature, which is expected. Once signed, it will take effect on June 1, 2017/.

Some groups opposed to the legislation claimed that the typical customer’s bill would increase more than $4/month as a result of the bailout, but Exelon estimated that it would cost the average ComEd residential customer no more than 25¢/month. The company also said the cost to consumers would be much higher ($1.85/month) if the nuclear plants were closed.

Exelon agreed to cap the cost to residential customers at 25¢/month. The legislation also includes protections for all business-class ratepayers, limiting rate increases to 1.3% compared to 2015 rates.

Transatomic Power Corporation Joins the ANSYS Startup Program

Transatomic Power Corporation, a developer of an advanced nuclear reactor design, announced that it has partnered with ANSYS, a developer of engineering simulation, as the company enters its next major research and development phase.

As a member of the ANSYS Startup Program, Transatomic will have access to simulation technology available and help carry the ANSYS brand into the nuclear technology sector.

“The products and services that ANSYS provides are going to be critical to bringing our state-of-the-art advanced nuclear reactor technology closer to commercialization,” said Dr. Leslie Dewan, Transatomic’s co-founder and CEO. “We’re truly grateful for the opportunity to partner with a global leader in this field.”

“There are entrepreneurs with incredible technology ideas out there that can truly make our future a better place,” said Dr. Paul Lethbridge, senior manager, ANSYS Startup Program.

“Abundant energy is a fundamental component of a sustainable future on earth, and it’s thrilling to have game-changing startups like Transatomic Power onboard. The goal of the ANSYS Startup Program is to provide early stage companies like this with the tools they need to become successful and we have no doubt that Transatomic will do just that.”

In a press statement the the company said the initial results using ANSYS software have been promising.

“The ANSYS suite is intuitive, comprehensive, and perfect for the computational work we’re performing,” remarked Senior Design Engineer Sean Robertson. “We look forward to building a strong relationship with ANSYS as we continue to develop our technology’s design.”

Founded in 2011, Transatomic Power the company recently began work with Oak Ridge National Laboratory under the auspices of the Department of Energy’s Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) initiative, and hopes to commercialize its technology by the mid-2020s.

Areva Hopes China’s CNNC, Japan’s MHI Will Agree to Buy Its Stock

(Reuters) – French state-controlled nuclear group Areva hopes that China’s CNNC and Japan’s MHI will agree to buy minority stakes in the firm in coming weeks as part of a restructuring of the loss-making firm, Areva’s chairman said on Wednesday.

Under a government-led rescue, Areva is preparing to split off its uranium mining and nuclear fuel activities into a new company, provisionally called NewCo, which will get a 3 billion euro capital increase as part of a 5 billion euro ($5.28 billion) mainly state-funded cash injection.

Areva’s board chairman Philippe Varin told a parliament committee the firm plans to launch the capital increase early in 2017.

The French news media has reported that CNNC, MHI and Kazatomprom were each set to buy an 11 percent stake in Areva.

As part of the restructuring, EDF agreed last week to buy Areva’s reactor construction business for 2.5 billion euros ($2.7 billion).

South Africa Energy Plan Puts Nuclear on Backburner

(Mail & Guardian SA) Just last year South Africa was thrown back into load-shedding as the demand for electricity outstripped supply. Now the energy crisis is over, largely a result of an ailing economy and depressed power demand. The ratings agencies continue to express concern about inadequate drivers of growth locally – and globally it’s also unclear when and where economic advancement will occur.

The base case in the updated draft Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), released this week, embodies this uncertainty. Nuclear plans have been pushed out until 2037 and caps have been put on how many renewable energy projects can come online each year. Despite the unpredictability, this model assumes annual average energy growth of 2.17%.

The base case scenario assumes a moderate decline in carbon dioxide emissions. If South Africa aimed for a more ambitious reduction in carbon emissions and constraints on renewable energy remained, nuclear could start as soon as 2026.

In this case the procurement process would need to begin immediately. It is the scenario that Eskom – and its head of generation, Matshela Koko – announced that it would put out requests for proposals for nuclear procurement before the year is out.

The state owned utility still hasn’t said where the money for the tender is coming from. The head of the treasury ministry told the news media this week there is no evidence the country can afford to build the reactors.

Reuters reported that energy analysts have said the 9,600 MW plan was ambitious on timescale and unnecessary, while opponents of President Jacob Zuma raised concerns about a lack of transparency in deals which could cost in the region of $80 billion.

Several meetings between Zuma and Russian President Vladimir Putin over the last two years led to speculation that Russian state-run nuclear firm Rosatom had secured the deal before the launch of the public tender. South Africa’s government and Rosatom denied this.

Blue Castle Nuclear Project to Renegotiate Utah Water Rights

(Salt Lake City Tribune) Blue Castle Holdings, which has plans to build a 2,200 MW nuclear power plant on the banks of the Green River in Utah, appears to have a problem paying for the water rights for the project.

The firm is now more than two months late in making payments that are due to the San Juan and Kane county water conservancy districts, Blue Castle Holdings is renegotiating its financial obligations, which currently amount to $80,000 a year to San Juan and $100,000 to Kane in exchange for 53,000 acre feet of water to cool the project’s nuclear reactors.

The firm got the water rights after a ruling by the Utah State Engineer’s office. For its part, Blue Castle says the value of the water rights have changes and it wants to change the financial terms of the deal.

Aaron Tilton, CEO at Blue Castle, told the Salt Lake City Tribune it is making progress on its proposal to build a two-unit, 2,200-megawatt plant on state land near the town of Green River. The firm has an agreement with Westinghouse to purchase the reactors and is preparing to select a contractor, while remaining in contact with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Blue Castle notified the NRC of its intent to apply for an Early Site Permit and eventually a COL in 2008, but the project does not appear on the listing of active or expected license applications. The NRC said earlier this year that “the filing date is uncertain” for the project.”

The project’s critics claim in statements to the SLC Trib that Blue Castle’s delayed water-district payments indicates its finances “remain too flimsy to sustain the costly efforts to obtain regulatory approval and design a large electrical-generating station.”

Living Rivers and Uranium Watch, two Utah environmental groups fighting the project, cite the missed payments in a new challenge to the water rights underlying the nuclear project.

In recent filings with the State Engineer’s Office, they argue that the state should retire the water rights because decades have passed without the counties putting this liquid asset to “beneficial use” as required under Western water doctrines. And there appears to be little evidence Blue Castle will put this water to use anytime soon, according to John Weisheit, the Moab-based conservation director for Living Rivers.

“Blue Castle Holdings has not provided the money for this water so it’s a nebulous water right and should not be renewed,” he said. Nor has the company demonstrated “due diligence” necessary to justify extending the counties’ claim to the water, he said.

The project’s naysayers are misreading the situation, Tilton contends.

“These guys’ facts never play out. This is their last-gasp attempt to raise money or stir up trouble,” Tilton said. “The financial aspects have improved. We have put $20 million into this. It is nonsensical to say we would let it go away over a couple hundred thousands dollars.”

Blue Castle also announced a webinar for investors scheduled for December 8th.

Russia And India To Sign Final Agreement On Kudankulam-5 and -6

(NucNet): Russia and India are preparing to sign a final general framework agreement, including a credit clause, for the construction of Units 5 and 6 at the Kudankulam nuclear station in Tamil Nadu state, southern India,

Nikolai Spasskiy, Rosatom deputy director-general, was quoted as saying that Kudankulam is a “central strategic project” underlining the importance of nuclear power for the relationship between Russian and India. In October 2016, first concrete was poured for the foundation slabs of Units 3 and 4 at Kudankulam.

India and Russia also held an inauguration ceremony for Kudankulam-2, which was connected to the grid in August 2016 and is expected to begin commercial operation in December 2016.

NRC Completes  Review of Proposed New Reactors at Turkey Point Site

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff has completed its Final Safety Evaluation Report for Combined Licenses (COL) for two proposed reactors at the Turkey Point site near Homestead, Fla. The report concludes there are no safety aspects that would preclude issuing the license for construction and operation of the proposed reactors, adjacent to two operating reactors approximately 40 miles south of Miami.

The staff will provide the report and Final Environmental Impact Statement on the Turkey Point application to the Commission for the mandatory hearing phase of the licensing process. In the mandatory hearing, expected to take place early next year, the Commission will examine whether the staff’s review supports the findings necessary to issue a license. Following the mandatory hearing, the Commission will vote on whether to authorize the staff to issue the license.

Florida Power & Light submitted its COL application for Turkey Point on June 30, 2009, for permission to build and operate two AP1000 nuclear reactors at the site. The NRC certified the amended 1,100-megawatt AP1000 design in 2012. More information on the certification process is available on the NRC website.

The NRC’s Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards independently reviewed those aspects of the Turkey Point application that concern safety. The committee provided the results of its review to the Commission on Sept. 16, 2016. The NRC completed its environmental review and issued the final impact statement for the proposed Turkey Point reactors earlier this month.

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Swiss Reject Plan for Early Close of Nation’s Nuclear Plants

The proposal put forward by green groups was defeated
by a vote of 56% against it

swiss nukes(WNN) The proposal to force older nuclear power plants to close in Switzerland has been rejected in a referendum by a vote of 56% to 44% to retain the units.

With 56% of people have voted ‘No’ to the rapid phase out, the election records a clear victory by winning both the popular vote and by taking majorities in the most cantons.

Switzerland went to the polls on a further proposal that would have accelerated the retirements by forcing reactors to close at the age of 45. Because they are already over this age, Beznau 1 and 2 as well as Muehleberg would have closed in 2017. Gösgen would have followed in 2024, and Leibstadt in 2029.

The five reactors that provide over one-third of electricity can continue to operate according to their economic lives.

Daniel Aegerter, co-founder of campaign group Energy for Humanity (EfH) told WNN:

“Swiss voters have sent a strong message to world by rejecting the Greens’ disorderly nuclear exit initiative. Our efforts now must be on expanding clean electricity generation, not shutting it down.”

Wolfgang Denk, european director of EfH said:

“Germany has been trying for years to succeed with their energy transition and they are facing huge difficulties. By keeping their existing plants online, Switzerland will be in a much better position to face the upcoming challenges in climate change and the energy sector in general.”

Nuclear power is Switzerland’s second largest source of electricity, providing about 35% of electricity in 2015 and complementing 52% hydro to give the country one of the cleanest and most secure electricity systems in the world.

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Dan’s Idaho Nuclear Chili

This is a Thanksgiving tradition now published nine years in a row here and at my previous blog Idaho Samizdat

PotChili1In the spirit of Thanksgiving, and wanting to take a break from reading, thinking, and writing about nuclear energy, I’m offering my tried and true cooking instructions for something completely different.

By Sunday night you will be stuffed, fed up, literally, and figuratively, with turkey. Instead of food fit for pilgrims, try food invented in the wide open west — chili. Cook this dish on Saturday. Eat it on Sunday.
These instructions take about an hour to complete. This chili has more vegetables and beans than some people might like, but we’re all trying to eat healthy. Although the name of this dish has the word “nuclear” in it, it isn’t that hot on the Scoville scale. If you want some other choices for nuclear chili there are lots of recipes on Google

The beer adds sweetness to the vegetables, as does the brandy, and is a good for cooking generally. In terms of the beer, which is an essential ingredient, you’ll still have five cans or bottles left to share with friends so there’s always that.

However, I recommend Negra Modelo for drinking with this dish and Budweiser or any American pilsner for cooking it. Alternatives for drinking include local western favorites, Moose Drool or Black Butte Porter, and regional amber ales Alaskan Amber, Fat Tire, or Anchor Steam. Do not cook with “light” beer. It’s a very bad idea!

History of the cooking instructions

Scoville, Idaho, is the destination for Union Pacific rail freight for the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) way out on the Arco desert.

There is no town by that name, but legend has it that way back in the 50s & 60s, when the place was called the National Reactor Testing Station, back shift workers on cold winter nights relished the lure of hot chili hence the use of the use of the name ‘Scoville” for shipping information.


The Arco desert west of Idaho Falls is both desolate and beautiful.

Overnight temperatures on the Arco desert can plunge to -20F or more. The men and women running the reactors couldn’t drink beer, but they did have coffee. It’s still that way today.

Why ‘2nd day’ in the name?

This is “2nd day chili.” That means after you make it, put it in the unheated garage to cool, then refrigerate it, and reheat the next day. The flavors will have had time to mix with the ingredients, and on a cold Idaho night what you need that warms the body and the soul is a bowl of hot chili with fresh, warm cornbread on the side.

If you make a double portion, you can serve it for dinner over a hot Idaho baked potato with salad. Enjoy.

Dan’s 2nd day Idaho Nuclear Chili


1 lb chopped or ground beef (15% fat)
1 large onion
1 sweet red pepper
1 sweet green pepper
10-12 medium size mushrooms
1 can pinto beans (plain, no “sauce”)
1 can black beans
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 can small, white ‘shoepeg” corn
1 12 oz can beer
1 cup hot beef broth
1 tablespoon cooking brandy or sherry and bourbon is ok too
2 tablespoons finely chopped jalapeno peppers
2-4 tablespoons red chili powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coarse powdered garlic
1/2 teaspoon cumin


1. Chop the vegetables into small pieces and brown them in cooking oil. Add 1 tablespoon of cooking brandy near the end. Drain thoroughly.
2. Brown the meat separately and drain the fat.
3. Combine all the ingredients in a large pot. Be sure to drain the beans, and tomatoes before adding. Simmer slowly for at least 60-120 min. Stir occasionally.
4. Set aside and refrigerate when cool.
5. Reheat the next day. Serve with cornbread. Garnish with shredded sharp cheddar cheese.
Feeds 2-4 adults.


Idaho bus drivers say “eat more chili.”

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Posted in Idaho Nuclear Chili, Nuclear

Off Topic – Help a Fellow Nuclear Professional

Guest Blog Post byRod Adams and Lisa Stiles, (reposted with permission

Rod Adams received a message from Lisa Stiles, who has been an active member of the American Nuclear Society and the North American Young Generation in Nuclear. She told him about a colleague who is in a challenging situation overseas. Rod volunteered to post a guest blog from her explaining the situation. His post at Atomic Insights is republished here with permission. Please read it, help if you can, and spread the message through your own networks.

From Lisa Stiles: To my friends and colleagues dedicated to nuclear science and technology

Nate and Erin

Erin & Nate Hall

One of our own is fighting for his life and he and his family need our help. For the past year and a half, Nate Hall has worked for the UAE’s nuclear regulator as they staff up to support the country’s fast developing nuclear generation industry.

The week before last, Nate was admitted to the hospital in Abu Dhabi with an unexplained high fever. Without much warning his liver failed, then he had to be put on a respirator.

He needed a transplant, a procedure that is not available in Abu Dhabi. He was transported to Paris at which time he was put at the top of the list for a transplant. Miraculously, a perfectly matching liver became available and the transplant went well. However, he then developed a respiratory infection so they have sedated him again.

Request for Assistance – Family Lodging Needed

Nate’s dad and his wife, Erin, are in Paris with him. While the cost of Nate’s health care is taken care of, the cost for his family to be there to support him is huge.

Nate’s sister-in-law Roybn opened a gofundme page that explains the situation and requests assistance. Please visit it and consider donating through the website.

In addition, I’m wondering if we can take advantage of the fact that Nate is being treated in a city and country in which some of the largest nuclear operators, vendors, regulators and research facilities reside. One of the most difficult and costly logistical issues facing Nate’s family is long-term lodging near the hospital in Paris.

It’s been more than a decade since my last visit, but I recall that some large organizations kept corporate apartments available for employees and visitors on temporary assignments in Paris. I also knew some people that had “house-sitters” when they were away for an extended period.

If we could connect the Hall family with those types of options convenient to the hospital, I know it would relieve them of a huge burden. He is at L’hopital Paul Brousse in the neighborhood of Villeuif (map)on the #7 line.

Also, they are trying to get Nate and Erin’s dog, Effy, from Abu Dhabi back to the US to stay with their relatives. The process is expensive and complicated from a distance and Effy is currently at a kennel in Abu Dhabi.

Follow-up Contact Information

If you’re able to help, or know someone that is able to help, with lodging, transferring Effy, or any other logistics, please contact Robyn through her gofundme site or Lisa Stiles at

Nate Bio

Nate served as a US Nuclear Naval officer with distinction. Upon leaving active duty and entering the Naval Reserves, he joined Westinghouse. I met Nate when he was the lead instructor for my senior reactor operator certification class.

No other instructor cares more about the success of his trainees than Nate, and I include myself in that assessment. He is dedicated to ensuring the safety and reliability of nuclear generation, and took the challenging position in UAE to help regulators learn about systematic training models and how to accurately assess the operator’s training programs.

Our industry benefits from Nate’s talent and passion. I’ve witnessed how the people in our business come together to help each other when there is an emergency.

& & &

Thank you in advance for the generosity I know will be displayed as we help one of our own through this crisis. Best regards, Lisa Stiles

Postscript from Lisa: As we’re using many resources to blast this important request to several networks, you may see this more than once. I regret the repetition, but thought it was more important to get this out quickly than to cull membership, readers, and followers lists. Thank you for your patience!

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Areva gets capital funding boost, new investors

  • EDF will purchase a $2.7 billion stake
  • Nuclear firms from China, Japan, and Kazakhstan seek equity shares

France’s EDF Throws Areva a Financial Lifeline

Common_face_of_two_euro_coin(Reuters & French news media sources) France moved to shore up its nuclear industry with utility Electricite de France SA (EDF) agreeing to buy the reactor construction business of state-run peer Areva  for 2.5 billion euros ($2.7 billion).

Areva is behind schedule on projects in France, Finland and China, and the costly delays have raised concerns at EDF as it lines up Areva to build two new nuclear plants at Hinkley Point in Britain.

The contract signed with EDF clears the way for Areva to raise five billion euros in new capital, largely from the French government.

“Today marked a new step in the restructuring of France’s nuclear industry which the government is pursuing with determination,” Economy Minister Michel Sapin said.

Areva said in a statement that EDF will buy as much as 75% in Areva NP, as the unit is known, in a deal that values it at €2.5bn ($2.68bn). EDF plans to sell a 24% stake to other investors in the future.

The deal excludes a series of potential liabilities related to the nuclear reactor manufacturing unit, such as potential losses related to the construction of the Olkiluoto-3 nuclear plant in Finland and possible losses related to deficient components made at the Le Creusot forging plant in France. Those potential liabilities will remain in Areva.

The takeover is part of a French government plan for a €8bn plan to rescue Areva after five years of consecutive losses.

The sale to EDF of Areva NP is expected to be final in the second half of 2017 and hinges on the results of tests carried out by the French regulator on the primary circuit of the Flamanville-3 reactor and satisfactory audits at Areva’s Le Creusot, Saint-Marcel and Jeumont forging facilities.

Areva will seek to raise €2.9bn from the sale of units that make nuclear-submarine engines, wind turbines and nuclear reactors for research.

  • Chinese, Japanese, Kazakh companies eyeing Areva stakes

Nuclear companies from China, Kazakhstan and Japan are in discussions with Areva about taking stakes in the French reactor builder.

According to Reuters, French online news website BFM Business reported that China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, and Kazakhstan’s Kazatomprom were each set to buy up to an 11% stake in Areva.

The three will inject 400 million euros each, BFM reported. It said they would be able to chose board members and that the French government’s stake in Areva would fall to 67% of capital.

Neither EDF nor Areva would independently confirm the investment report.

EDF Talks on Building Jaitapur Indian Nuclear Plant May Take 3-4 Years

(Bloomberg) Electricite de France SA, (EDF) may take another three to four years to complete talks to build six nuclear reactors in India. The project has not broken ground and the environmental permit was rescinded due to delays in starting work at the site.  Farmers in the area have mounted protests about concerns their crops would be affected by radiation from the plants due to an accident.

Areva signed a preliminary accord in 2009 to build six 1,650 MW reactors at Jaitapur, a coastal town in India’s western province of Maharashtra. The project has been on hold as Areva has also sought clarity on India’s nuclear liability laws.

India’s coal interests, and heavy industry firms who want to build domestic PHWRs instead of relying on foreign vendors, have pushed to keep the law’s stringent conditions in place. The coal miners have no interest in seeing nuclear reactors take the place of fossil fuel power stations.

When negotiations are complete, Areva will submit a non-binding offer to build six EPR reactors for Nuclear Power Corp. of India  (NPCIL) in Jaitapur. The Indian government could finance part of the Jaitapur project alongside other investors.

It is not clear how India will fund its share since a separate deal with Westinghouse for six 1150 MW AP1000 reactors hinges on successful export loans from the U.S. The prospects for the loans will depend on a new Congress approving a change to the agency that makes them. A separate dispute over U.S. export loans for commercial aircraft has hobbled the U.S. Export Import bank limiting its lending authority to $10M.

Areva ,which is seeking infusions of capital to operate, is in no position to provide India with the upfront financing for 10 GWe of nuclear power costing $48-64 billion. Additional costs would include grid upgrades to get the enormous increase in power to customers across the nation.

South Africa Delays Nuclear Plant Plan as Economy Stagnates

(Bloomberg) South Africa has delayed plans to build new nuclear power plants over concern about their cost and the lower demand for electricity as economic growth stalls.

Under a new timeline, the first nuclear power is expected to come on stream in 2037, with a total 20 GWe of nuclear energy added to the national grid by 2050, according to the “base case” scenario outlined in a presentation on the Department of Energy’s updated Integrated Resources Plan.

The proposal also estimates as additional 37 GWe of intermittent power from wind, 18 Gwe daylight power from solar plants, 35 Gwe from gas and 15 Gwe from coal by 2050.

“Gas and renewables forms the biggest chunk of installed capacity by 2050,” the Department of Energy said in the presentation.

Of all of these estimates, only the gas and coal estimates bear any resemblance to reality. The nuclear estimates are not connected to any coherent plan to finance the reactors. Eskom has been hobbled for years in terms of accumulating capital funding due to the government holding down electricity rates to subsidize power for the nation’s poor and unemployed. Officially, South Africa’s unemployment rate is 25%.

The government previously said it wanted to generate 9,600 megawatts of energy from as many as eight reactors that should begin operating from 2023 and be completed by 2029. Price estimates had ranged from $37 billion to $100 billion.

Roastom has offered to finance up to 5o% of the costs, but critics of the deal argue the tender should be held in an open and transparent manner to get the best deal. The proposal has also been tarnished by charges of cronyism as the relative of a high level government official has been awarded a program management contract, without competition, to drive planning for the project.

While President Jacob Zuma has championed Rosatom’s nuclear program, the Treasury has cautioned that the country is not able to afford new reactors at a time when the economy is not growing and the budget deficit needs to be curbed to fend off a junk credit rating.

  • Windmills or Reactor Cores? Inside South Africa’s Energy Clash

(NY Times) Eskom wants to buy 9.6 Gwe of nuclear power, but it is unclear whether the nation can afford the price tag or run the procurement without interference from people bent on obtaining benefits from it via corrupt practices.

Additionally, South Africa’s grid may not be able to support wheeling that much power to customers. See the full report by the NYT which considers energy issue in South Africa from many perspectives

  • Eskom director cited in South African anti-graft report resigns

(Reuters) An Eskom board member implicated in a probe over influence-peddling in the South African government has left his post, the public enterprises department said, days after the state-owned power utility’s chief executive resigned. Eskom CEO Brian Molefe said he would step down in January 2017 after being implicated in the investigation, but denied any wrongdoing.

A report by the Public Protector, a constitutionally mandated watchdog, has raised questions over coal deals between Eskom and a company controlled by the wealthy Gupta family, who are friends with President Jacob Zuma.

The report called for a judicial inquiry into the allegations of corruption in Zuma’s government. Zuma himself denies granting undue influence to the Gupta brothers who run a business empire ranging from media to mining.

NRC Starts Environmental Review for Planned Commercial Spent Fuel Facility

(NRC) The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is currently seeking comments from the public related to an environmental review of an application from Waste Control Specialists (WCS) to construct and operate a facility to store spent nuclear fuel in Andrews County, Texas.

WCS filed its application in April and is seeking a 40-year license for a facility that would receive spent nuclear fuel from reactors for storage pending final disposal.

Prior to a decision, the NRC will be conducting two separate reviews, one for environmental impacts and another to identify any safety issues that may arise, to determine whether the facility meets NRC regulatory requirements.

The review will be in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act’s requirement to do analysis of environmental impacts for major federal actions.

At this time, the NRC has not yet accepted WCS’ application. If the NRC dockets the application, it will announce an opportunity to ask for a public hearing and an date for comments on the scope of the environmental review.

“We cannot proceed with the technical safety review until WCS adequately addresses our request for supplemental information, but we do have the information we need to begin the environmental scoping process now,” said Mark Lombard, NRC director of the Division of Spent Fuel Management.

  • DOE Seeks Information on Private Interim Nuclear Waste Storage Facilities

(Power Mag)(DOE) The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a request for information to assess the future role of private consolidated interim storage facilities in the agency’s plans for an integrated nuclear waste management system.

The DOE wrote that “[Private initiatives], although were not envisioned in the Administration’s Strategy, represent a potentially promising alternative to federal facilities for consolidated interim storage,” the agency said.

The request for information seeks input on questions such as how private initiatives, as part of an overall integrated nuclear waste management system, would provide a “workable solution” for interim storage of spent nuclear waste and high-level waste.

It also questions what benefits or drawbacks such initiatives offer, compared to a federally financed capital project for a government-owned contractor-operated interim storage facility, which business models those initiatives would pursue, and how they would manage liabilities during the storage period.

It is unclear why DOE thinks that the new Congress would go along with the agency having the lead role in managing an interim storage site.

The DOE’s request comes just days after Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz told attendees at a Center for Strategic and International Studies event that inaction on spent fuel management posed a “significant headwind for many decisions in the nuclear space.”

At least two private sector players have proposed interim storage solutions to date. In April 2016, Waste Control Specialists LLC, with support from AREVA, submitted a license application to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for a consolidated interim storage facility in Andrews County, Texas.

Holtec International is also gearing up to submit safety documentation to the federal nuclear agency for a proposed consolidated interim storage facility in Southeast New Mexico.

US Needs Long-Term Commitment To Nuclear Research

(NucNet) A long-term commitment to research is needed if nuclear energy is to remain a part of the energy mix, according to expert witnesses at a US Senate hearing this week.

“If you do not take a major initiative now, it is inevitable that in 2030 the country will not have a nuclear [energy] option,” Massachusetts Institute of Technology Institute Professor John Deutch told the hearing, according to the Washington-based Nuclear Energy Institute.

“If the country is going to have a nuclear [energy] option in 2030, it must undertake an initiative of the scope and size that this committee described,” Prof. Deutch said.

“Any such initiative is going to require time, considerable federal resources, redesign of electricity markets, and sustained and skilled management.”

A report prepared by a US Department of Energy task force headed by Prof. Deutch sees four phases in which various advanced reactor designs – including both small modular and large reactor designs – are selected, developed and demonstrated over the coming decades.

The report estimates that such a program would require about 25 years and $11.5bn (€18.8bn). In addition to this long-term plan, the task force said that preserving existing nuclear plants is essential to meet US carbon reduction goals. The report is online:

New Mayor in Niigata Willing to Restart  Reactors at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa

(ASAHI SHIMBUN) An independent candidate who has called for a conditional restart of one of the world’ largest nuclear plants was elected mayor of this coastal city in northwestern Japan on Nov. 20.

Masahiro Sakurai, 54, gained 30,220 votes, compared with 16,459 for Eiko Takeuchi, 47, who opposed a resumption of operations at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant.

Sakurai’s victory could lead to a showdown with Niigata Governor Ryuichi Yoneyama over the nuclear power plant operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co. Yoneyama, who won the governor’s election in October, has taken a tough stance against restarting the nuclear plant.

The plant’s site covers part of Kashiwazaki and the neighboring village of Kariwa. All seven of the plant’s reactors have remained idle over the past few years.

“I will gradually but surely reduce the number of reactors in the nuclear power plant,” Sakurai told reporters after the election. “But I recognize the value of resuming operations.”

Takeuchi, who was backed by the Japanese Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party, was against restarting reactors there.

TEPCO, operator of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, is eager to restart reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant.

During the election campaign, Sakurai said he would “approve a restart of the halted nuclear plant if safety is confirmed and certain conditions are fulfilled.”

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