|6/24/2011 3:07:00 PM|
New Reader Poll: Uranium mining ban
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar indicates he'll favor a permanent ban on uranium mining in the Arizona Strip outside Grand Canyon National Park. Salazar's announcement was praised by environmental groups and harshly criticized by local officials, who say mining uranium has the potential to create thousands of jobs and millions in revenue.
• Science is on Salazar's side
• Protect the environment no matter what
• There is no legitimate reason to ban mining in the area
• Salazar is just another eco-nut
Poll is located on the home page, lower right. Feel free to leave comments below.
Posted: Saturday, June 25, 2011
Article comment by: mindless pap
So 77% of the people who voted here think that either Secretary Salazar is an ecoterrorist or that we should "dig baby dig."
Please. Give me a break. How many thousands of jobs will uranium mining on the Arizona strip create? Not even close. Try a few hundred. And how many will be people from Kingman and Mohave County? Not many.
Until the nuclear power industry gives up on boiling water in mega behemoth power plants to make electricity using nuclear reactors, there is no reason for any more uranium mining.
New technologies being developed in, guess where, Europe and China, use smaller decentralized reactors, some that boil water and some that heat helium under pressure at minus 200 degrees Celcius. These are much easier to maintain and reprocess the fuel.
Why does our nuclear power industry insist on building mega behemoth centralized power plants susceptible to terrorism, breakdowns, leaks? Because politicians, contractors, mining interests, and power companies get to siphon off money for their self interests. Then they force consumers to pick up the tab for their profligacy.
Posted: Saturday, June 25, 2011
Article comment by: The Colonel
Well... it seems, by the poll results so far, that the uninformed and uneducated have been the majority that have voted.
Let's get in touch with reality:
There are currently about 9000 approved mining claims near the Grand Canyon which are allowed to operate under the guidelines of the Hardrock Mining Law of 1872. Ask your Representative how many of these claims are actually being worked. Ask how many of the approved claims these mining companies have bothered to test bore. If you get the answers to the two question above, you should immediately understand this nothing more than political grandstanding by your local politicians, from the Governor's office on down the line. This is the only extraction activity that pays no royalties. Yes, 1872! That translates to no royalties for reclamation, no royalties for cleanup. You the hard working residents of Arizona are left "holding the bag"! You do know natural gas pays royalties, oil pays royalties - right?
The big push and current rush by the mining companies is to get as many more claims approved as possible before public exposure forces Congress to revise the antiquated law, which will then give some protections to humans, animals and end users of the Colorado River.
If you want to discuss the real TRUTH contact Congressman Raul Grijalva who serves the people of Arizona's 7th District.
TUCSON Office: (520) 622-6788
SOMERTON Office: (928) 343-7933
DC Office: (202) 225-2435 or go to his Website.
Don't be misled by the "good old boys" propaganda such as "Arizona has a long tradition of mining". "We need the jobs". How stupid do they think we are? They conveniently are ignorant of how many miners have died of lung cancer (within ten years of working in the mines), fibrosis and other devastating illnesses. They also neglect to discuss current uranium contamination of water wells, people's homes and soil. They refuse to discuss issues regarding the wind constantly blowing radioactive dust from the exposed tailings piles that our State agencies will not deal with and Federal government agencies that could care less about.
Wake up people! You have an obligation to protect future generations.
No more approved mining claims until we have proper laws to protect us and agencies that will hold mining companies accountable.
Turn off your mind numbing television and do some research. Use your favorite search engine to search "Arizona uranium contamination".
Visit YouTube and view "Grand Canyon Uranium Mining PSA". Search YouTube for "uranium navajo nation", "Grand Canyon Uranium Mining", "McCain wants Navajo & Sioux Land for Nuclear Power - Arizona".
A working life: The nuclear reactor operator
Fukushima has not shaken Malvern Jones' faith in the safety of facilities like Sizewell B. With new sites to come, he explains why
Malvern Jones is on a mission to unravel some of the common misconceptions and debunk some of the myths about nuclear power. For that, there's one man he holds culpable above all others. "My friends all call me Homer Simpson," he jokes as we walk around the site of the Sizewell B nuclear plant. The giant ping-pong ball-like dome of the reactor – a distinctive, if controversial, landmark on the Suffolk coast – glints above us in the sunlight. Once through the numerous air-lock doors and multi-layered security into the reactor's control room, we confront a world apart (thankfully) from the fictional Springfield nuclear power plant, where safety inspector Simpson regularly falls asleep on the job and where the cracked reactor coolers are patched up with chewing gum. It is here – in a windowless hi-tech bunker with Dr Strangelove-style lighting (specially designed not to cast any shadows which might make it difficult to read the monitors or give false readings) – that Jones spends the lion's share of his working time. As reactor operator, he holds one of the most senior and most important roles on the site, responsible for the day-to-day safe operation of the facility and the associated turbine generating equipment. His primary roles are managing reactivity, and safely manoeuvring the plant into a transitional state for the so-called refuelling "outages", typically carried out every 18 months. But safety is an emotive word when it comes to nuclear power and even more so now, with fresh questions triggered by the Fukushima power plant disaster following the Japanese earthquake and tsunami in March, which led to radiation leaks from reactors and sparked worldwide concern. Despite this, Jones is adamant people's worries are rooted in a fear of the unknown. "They see the images on TV, they've heard about the accidents at Chernobyl and, more recently, at Fukushima, and they ask, Could it happen here?" His belief, unsurprisingly, is not. "The devastation caused by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan is a human tragedy, but we are fortunate in this country not to have seismic activity on the same scale," he says. "The energy from the UK's largest earthquake was 130,000 times smaller than the one which hit Japan." But he admits: "Our plants will become even safer because we're determined to learn the lessons from Japan and build on our strong safety record." He insists he is comfortable working in a nuclear power station. "Our job is to manage risk and no job, including mine, should be at risk." The reactor is the nerve-centre of Sizewell B, producing electricity which goes straight into the National Grid and then on to some 2.5m homes across the south-east. The UK's only pressurised water reactor, the 1,188 Megawatt electrical unit is also the newest of the UK's nuclear power facilities, having opened in 1995, and can supply just under 3% of the our entire electricity needs. Sizewell A, adjoining Sizewell B and one of the old-style, gas-cooled "Magnox" rectors, was closed in 2006. To the fury of local anti-nuclear campaigners, EDF Energy, the owner of Sizewell, wants to triple its capacity by opening a new plant with two new-style nuclear reactors – so-called Sizewell C – nearby. The government announced plans for the site this week and consultation with the local community should start early next year. As we continue our tour Jones – hailed as "Mal" by passing colleagues – explains how it all works. Sizewell B employs over 500 full-time staff, including 45 apprentices and 200 contractors, although many are at desk jobs in offices. There are some 140 staff in the operations department. Millions of gallons of North Sea water per second are pumped, after filtering, into the station from beyond concrete tidal defences, cooling the essential equipment. Fresh, clean water, heated by the reactor in a separate circuit boils in the steam generators, turning into steam which is then used to power twin turbines – housed in a vast, 30m high turbine hall – to create electricity. Overall, Jones claims, it is much cleaner than fossil fuel-fired power plants, which burn coal, petroleum or natural gas to heat the water, and a much "greener" energy source. The reactor contains control rods which include boron, a material which absorbs neutrons. So the rods can be "dropped in" quickly to shut the reactor down should conditions require it. Any event which results in a loss of coolant – be it water cooling the reactor, or the North Sea cooling essential plant and turbines – would require immediate plant shutdown. The quickest way would be to insert the rods (which can be done in a few seconds) so reactor power is immediately shut off. "You hit the button and stop the power," Jones explains. "It is known as a reactor trip." So for an outage he has to bring the plant right down, shut down the reactor, cool it and depressurise it – rather like a pressure cooker. Jones' own career has given him experience in most aspects of power station generation, including research, coal-fired power, gas-cooled reactors, prototype fast breeder reactors and pressurised water reactors. It takes around two years to fully train a reactor operator, assuming a good basic background in operations. Jones, brought up in Suffolk, was "always interested in mechanics – taking things apart and putting them back together again. I used to help my dad maintain his car and I remember building a Sinclair radio." He joined the industry straight from school as a mechanical craft apprentice with the Central Electricity Generating Board (CEGB) in what was then regarded as a job for life. Jones does not regret his decision not to go to university: "In those days only a small proportion of the population was going to university and an apprenticeship was perfect." Even so, he achieved a higher national certificate in mechanical engineering before later, on day release, completing a degree in the subject from South Bank University. His career has seen him work at the now-closed Cliff Quay coal-fired power station in Suffolk, a spell at Sizewell A in the operations department and a stint as a lab technician at the CEGB's research facilities in Leatherhead, Surrey. Back in the control room we are faced with a battery of computer screens and panels with thousands of coloured switches, which are carefully monitored, 24/7, either by Jones and a colleague – who sit at imposing black leather chairs beside separate desks – or by another team on duty. They are watching for any sudden changes in reactor power, temperature or fluctuations in pressure, or signs of leaks. In an emergency they need to know exactly what to do quickly, although following a manual reactor shutdown the plant is designed for no operator intervention for half an hour. For quieter moments there is reference material on the main desk; a tome entitled Thermodynamic and Transport Properties of Fluids – or steam tables. Duty staff are allowed to read company newsletters and technical briefs but not material deemed to be "non-relevant". Nearby, under a Perspex cover, is arguably the most important button – the symbolic red knob which Jones can push to trigger an immediate shutdown of the reactor. Jones likens the operational side of nuclear power to aircraft: "It is highly instrumentalised and in this room alone we have more than 25,000 alarms." Everywhere, he says, are back-up mechanisms to reduce the scope for things going wrong, including generators and fans, a coolant alternative to sea water if necessary. The biggest buzz, though, comes from starting up the reactor: "You are in total control. You start off without enough heat to boil a kettle, and then you have enough power to launch a space shuttle. That is quite amazing." Although the energy sector has shrunk, "the dash for gas" has made a big dent in the environment and Jones believes nuclear power in the UK has a bright future, that he hopes will bring a wealth of job opportunities for a new generation of scientists and engineers. In the meantime, events in Japan mean the debate around whether the hazard of climate change is greater than that posed by nuclear disasters and waste is raging as intensely as ever. Jones is emphatic that his job is a "green" one: "EDF Energy is the largest low carbon generator of electricity in the UK, thanks to stations like Sizewell B," he argues. "Even when you take into account the construction of the station, the mining and transport of the uranium for the fuel, and the day-to-day operations, nuclear produces about the same amount of CO2 emissions as wind power, which is about one-hundredth of the emissions from traditional coal stations." And as well as his main, and very important job, Jones has been training the next generation of reactor operators at Sizewell B, spending several years working with computer programmers to develop the simulator model, which is identical to the real control room. A colleague jokes: "When the trainees come in they are sweating within minutes."
Curriculum VitaePay Basic range of £47,613 to £57,029. Hours Three weekday shifts of 8am–2pm, 2pm–10pm, 10pm-8am, and longer, 12-hour shifts at weekends. Typically works two weekends in every five. Work-life balance "Pretty good because although you have to plan your life well in advance, you do get reasonable blocks of time off." His wife Jane does "a fantastic job" ferrying children Kristian, Oliver and Harriet around for after-school activities. Best thing "There is a lot of job satisfaction and the camaraderie with colleagues makes it enormous fun. We are professionals but we can still have a laugh and a joke." Worst thing "You have to work unusual hours and can't just go to a party or social event at the drop of hat."
OvertimeMalvern is a mean tenor saxophone player and plays in a local band called Force 8, joining his Sizewell B colleague Adrian, who is the bass guitar player: "We play mainly covers for charity fund-raisers and parties." Sailing floats Malvern's boat and he is a member of the Deben Yacht Club, based near his home in Woodbridge. Malvern's top energy-saving tips? "I'm always telling the kids to turn the lights off. It can be bright sunshine and they still have them on. Maybe I might start fining them ..."