Assessing%20Environmental%20Harms%20from%20the%20Nuclear%20Fuel%20Cycle,%20Coal,%20and%20Natural%20Gas - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

View by Category
About This Presentation



Assessing Environmental Harms from the Nuclear Fuel Cycle, Coal, and Natural Gas – PowerPoint PPT presentation

Number of Views:385
Avg rating:3.0/5.0
Slides: 191
Provided by: tomc163
Learn more at:


Write a Comment
User Comments (0)
Transcript and Presenter's Notes

Title: Assessing%20Environmental%20Harms%20from%20the%20Nuclear%20Fuel%20Cycle,%20Coal,%20and%20Natural%20Gas

Assessing Environmental Harms from the Nuclear
Fuel Cycle, Coal, and Natural Gas
  • Presentation to the Special Committee On Nuclear
  • Legislative Council
  • State of Wisconsin
  • by
  • Christopher Paine
  • Senior Nuclear Program Analyst
  • Natural Resources Defense Council
  • November 15, 2006

Can Nuclear Deliver Serious Amounts of Carbon
  • Overall Goal Keep global temp increase to within
    2 deg. C above pre-industrialized levels to avert
    dangerous climate impacts.
  • Apply at least 7 (of 15 possible) complementary
    carbon-reducing wedges such that each displaces
    1 GtC/yr in 2050, stabilizing atmospheric carbon
    concentration at current level.
  • We posed question If nuclear is assigned one
    such wedge, (adding 700 GWe to present global
    nuclear capacity of 400 GWe) what would be the
    effect on global average temperature.
  • To achieve this level of carbon displacement,
    from 2010 to 2050 the world would have to add 15
    nuclear plants/year, and maintain 1100 GWe from
    2050 through 2100.
  • While there are numerous uncertainties, this
    massive nuclear build-out might possibly avert
    fossil power plant emissions that would otherwise
    result in a 0.2 deg. C rise in global avg.
    surface temperature

(No Transcript)
Nuclear vs Carbon Reality Check
  • 0.2 degrees Celsius avoided requires almost a
    tripling of current global nuclear capacity
    within 40 years
  • 1100 nuclear power plants (plant life 40 years)
  • 15 enrichment plants (plant capacity 8 million
    separative work units/year (SWU/y) plant life
    40 y) 9 plants in a given year
  • 33 fuel fabrication plants (3 plants/100 GWe)
  • 14 Yucca Mountains for 973,000 t spent fuel (SF)
    containing approximately
  • 10,000,000 kilograms of plutonium or
  • 50 reprocessing plants if all SF were to be
    reprocessed (plant capacity 800 t SF/y and
    plant life 40 y)
  • Construction of these facilities requires 2.7 -
    3.2 trillion (in todays dollars)

Average World Growth Rate in Net Nuclear
Generating Capacity, Historical and Projected
1956-1989 1990-2005 2006-2030 (IEE Japan)
Reactors 13/yr 1.2/yr 3-4/yr
Gigawatts 10/yr 2.6/yr 4.6/yr
Nuclears Share 0-17 16 10
Without Carbon Cap, DOE/EIA Expects Only 6 GW of
New US Nuclear Capacity in Next 25 Years
Nuclear Revival
EIA Forecasts Nuclear Share of US Total Electric
Generation Will Decline
  • In 2030, even with a national average capacity
    factor of more than 90, nuclear power accounts
    for about 15 of total U.S. generation.
  • but
  • From 2004 to 2030, 26.4 GW of new renewable
    generating capacity is added (more than 4X

New EIA Projection May be Modestly More Optimistic
  • EPACT subsidies and possibility of legislated CO2
    Limits appear to have stimulated greater interest
  • Current industry planning suggest 9-12 GW of new
    capacity might be on line by 2021
  • This still represents very modest growth, and
    probably no change in nuclears share of electric

The Balance Sheet for New Nuclear Power
  • The Plus Side
  • Low emissions of carbon and other air pollutants
    (but still some, from uranium mining, milling,
    enrichment, reactor construction,
    decom-missioning, waste management activities)
  • Copious but highly concentrated source of
    round-the-clock base-load power
  • Low fuel costs compared to fossil alternatives
  • If carbon emissions are effectively taxed at
    100-200 per ton under a carbon cap-and-trade
    system, nuclear might compete effectively with
    coal/gas fired central station power plants.

1100 Nuclear Reactors to Avert 1 Gigaton of
Carbon Twin Units With Cooling Towers cost
6-8 billion
New Areva-Siemens EPR (1600 MWe) under
construction in Finland for gt3.8 billion
The Balance Sheet for New Nuclear Power
  • The Downside (Costs)
  • New Nuclear is costly low-carbon power (0.9 -
    0.10/kWh delivered)
  • 3-4 times more costly than end-use efficiency
    improvements (0.025 - 0.035/kWh, no delivery
  • Nuclear more costly than wind and recovered heat
    co-generation now, and probably more than solar
    within 10 years
  • Long gestation/construction period and huge
    capital costs increase risk of market
    obsolescence and stranded costs (i.e. costs
    that cannot reasonably be recovered by continuing
    to operate the plant for its planned life)

More Nuclear Downside (Energy Security)
  • Historical record shows U.S. nuclear generation
    subject to infrequent but prolonged unplanned
  • Recent UCS study documents 51 year-plus reactor
    outages since 1966, 12 since 1995, of which 11
    were safety-related.
  • To ensure reliability, huge lumpy increments of
    nuclear capacity require costly power grid excess
  • Carries little prospect of increasing
    independence -- bulk of quality global uranium
    resources located outside the U.S.

More Nuclear Downside (Accidents and Waste)
  • Any nuclear power investment may become hostage
    to the worst performeror even the average
    performer on a bad dayin the event of a reactor
    accident or near-accident anywhere on the globe
  • No technically credible licensed path (yet) to
    opening first long-term geologic repository for
    safely isolating spent fuel
  • Real nuclear renaissance will soon require
    either additional costly, hard-to-establish
    geologic repositories, or even more costly and
    hazardous spent-fuel reprocessing

Crystalline Second Repository Program
More Nuclear Downside Security Proliferation
  • Nuclear security concerns and risks are
    heightened in era of transnational terrorism
  • Reactors, spent fuel pools, and cooling water
    impoundments can be sabotaged or attacked
  • Acute proliferation concerns if closed fuel
    cycles are used that separate and recycle
  • Proliferation-enabling uranium enrichment
    capability is spreading to additional countries
    that are not Nuclear Weapon States under NPT
    (e.g. Iran, Brazil, North Korea)

DPRK Plutonium Production Reactor
Indian Heavy Water Reactor Produces Plutonium for
This Iranian Heavy Water Plant Started Up in
August 2006
More Nuclear Downside Non-Carbon Environmental
  • All stages of nuclear fuel cycle involve harmful,
    (and risk of potentially disastrous)
    environmental impacts (e.g. Chernobyl)
  • Uranium mining and milling leaves piles of toxic
    residues and contaminates ground and surface
    waters. Navajo Nation has barred further uranium
    mining on its lands.
  • Enrichment leaves huge inventory of corrosive
    depleted uranium hexaflouride that must be
    disposed of safely
  • Spent fuel reprocessing creates large volumes of
    difficult-to-manage liquid mixed (i.e.
    chemical-radioactive) waste
  • Averting severe damage requires tight regulation
    (yet another cost), with significant financial
    penalties imposed for poor environmental/safety

Equipment Boneyard from Chernobyl Accident
About 2/3 of energy produced is waste heat that
must be dissipated in the local environment
More Environmental Downside Managing Reject
  • Huge heat dissipation loads require large
    evaporative cooling withdrawals and/or thermal
    discharges into already overburdened lakes and
    rivers (e.g. reactor shut-downs of Summer 2006)
  • Alternative is massive and costly fan-driven
    air-cooling towers with 10 parasitic load
  • Climate-change in the direction of hotter-drier
    summers spells trouble for reactors that rely on
    cheaper water cooling from small interior lakes
    and rivers

Front-end of Nuclear Fuel Cycle Has Multiple
Harmful Environmental Impacts
Uranium Mining and Ore Concentration
  • All nuclear fuel cycle waste (except HLW) has
    been safely and reliably disposed through DoE and
    NRC regulations milling, enrichment, fabrication
    as LLW.
  • -- Prof. Mike Corradini, Prof. and Chair of
    Engineering Physics, University of Wisconsin,
    Sept. 29, 2006
  • In reality, uranium mining and milling leaves
    huge piles of toxic residues and contaminates
    ground and surface waters. Navajo Nation has
    barred further uranium mining on its lands.
    Disposal anything but safe and reliable.

In undisturbed uranium deposit, the activity of
all decay products remains constant for hundreds
of millions of years. Radiation is virtually
trapped underground exposures are only possible
if contaminated groundwater, circulating through
the deposit, is used for drinking. Radon is of
no concern for deep deposits (though it can
travel through underground fissures) since it
decays before it can reach the surface
  • Situation changes when the deposit is mined
    Radon gas can escape into the air, ore dust can
    be blown by the wind, and contaminants can be
    leached and seep into surface water bodies and
  • The alpha radiation of the 8 alpha-emitting
    nuclides contained in the U-238 series (and to a
    lesser degree, of the 7 alpha emitters in the
    U-235 series) presents a radiation hazard on
    ingestion or inhalation of uranium ore (dust) and

Radiation Hazard from Tailings, cont
  • The gamma radiation mainly of Pb-214 and Bi-214,
    together with the beta radiation of Th-234,
    Pa-234m, Pb-214, Bi-214, and Bi-210, presents an
    external radiation hazard.
  • For ingestion and inhalation, also the chemical
    toxicity of uranium has to be taken into account
    (uranium and other heavy metals can damage liver

  • Because uranium decays by alpha particles,
    external exposure to uranium is not as dangerous
    as exposure to other radioactive elements because
    the skin will block the alpha particles.
  • Ingestion of high concentrations of uranium,
    however, can cause severe health effects, such as
    cancer of the bone or liver.
  • Inhaling large concentrations of uranium can
    cause lung cancer from the exposure to alpha
  • Uranium is also a toxic chemical, meaning that
    ingestion of uranium can cause kidney damage from
    its chemical properties much sooner than its
    radioactive properties would cause cancers of the
    bone or liver.
  • --Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
    August 2004

Uranium Mine North Saskatchewan
What are Uranium Mill Tailings?
  • Waste from uranium mining takes the form of both
    waste rock (overburden) and tailings
  • Percentage of uranium in naturally occurring ore
    bodies is very low (1-3) creating need for
    plants that concentrate the ore into something
    called uranium yellowcake (uranium oxide, U3O8)
  • Tailings formed when uranium ore is crushed and
    chemically treated (usually with sulfuric acid
    and other chemicals) to leach out the uranium
  • Huge amounts of wastes (tailings) from this
    process normally transferred in a slurry pipeline
    and dumped in expediently engineered man-made

Rio Algom Mill Tailing Ponds, Elliot Lake,
Whats in Uranium Mill Tailings?
  • Leach residues contain most of the radioactive
    decay products of uranium e.g. Thorium-230,
    Radium-226, Radon-222 (radon gas)
  • Tailings also contains sulfuric acid, ammonia,
    other process chemicals, arsenic, and heavy
  • Because Thorium-230 is long-lived, radium and
    radon are continually produced in the tailings
    and released over a long period

Quirke Mine Tailings Pile In Profile(60 million
Uranium Mill Tailings Pose Multiple Air- and
Water-Borne Hazards
IUC White Mesa Mill, South Utah
Alternate Uranium Feeds Shipped from all over
the USA
Now Re-Opening/New Mines in Kanab Red Rock
Desert Region
Toxic leachate pond from uranium mining
White Mesa Mill Tailings Ponds
Atlas Mill Tailings Along Colorado River near Moab
Atlas Uranium Mill Tailings Pile(10 million
tons, covered in sand)
Atlas Mill Tailings on Colorado River near Moab,
Flooding spurs new concern over Atlas Moab
  • From the Salt Lake Tribune July 27, 2006
  • Flash flooding in Moab two weeks ago has
    provided new incentive for state and local
    officials to keep the pressure on the U.S. Energy
    Department to stay on schedule with the cleanup
    of the Atlas mill uranium tailings.
  • The deluge - 2 to 4 inches (5 - 10 cm) of rain
    in a matter of hours - cut through the layer of
    sand that covers the massive pile of uranium
    waste on the banks of the Colorado River. It also
    washed out a containment berm and left a puddle
    on top of the 130-acre pile.

Uranium Mill Tailings Remedial Action (UMTRA)
  • 24 Surface and Ground-Water Sites in 10 States
  • Twenty-four designated Uranium Mill Tailings
    Remedial Action (UMTRA) sites are located in 10
    states, including
  • Arizona (two sites), Colorado (nine sites), Idaho
    (one site), New Mexico (two sites), North Dakota
    (two sites), Oregon (one site), Pennsylvania (one
    site), Texas (one site), Utah (three sites), and
    Wyoming (two sites).
  • One part of the program focuses on surface
    contamination, the other part on groundwater.
  • Unfortunately, there are hundreds of smaller old
    contaminated mining sites scattered throughout
    the West

EPA settles with United Nuclear to investigate
contamination at former Church Rock uranium mine
and mill site
  • On Sep. 28, 2006, the U.S. Environmental
    Protection Agency reached an agreement with the
    United Nuclear Corporation requiring the company
    to further investigate contamination related to
    its historic uranium mining and processing
    operations at the Northeast Church Rock Mine site
    located on the Navajo Nation, approximately 16
    miles northeast of Gallup, New Mex.
  • In January 2006, the EPA detected elevated levels
    of alpha radiation at the site and radium-226 in
    the surface soils. Residences to the northeast of
    the mine permit area may have been affected by
    releases of hazardous substances and contaminants
    transported by wind, historic dewatering of
    mining operations, and runoff during snow, rain
    and flood events. (EPA Region 9, Sep. 28, 2006)

Rio Algom applies for relaxed ground-water
standards for Lisbon (MT) mill site
  • Notice in Federal Register Vol. 67, No. 142, p.
    48495 (Jul. 24, 2002)
  • "SUMMARY Notice is hereby given that the Nuclear
    Regulatory Commission (NRC) has received, an
    application from Rio Algom Mining LLC (Rio Algom)
    to establish Alternate Concentration Limits and
    amend the Source Material License No. SUA-1119
    for the Lisbon uranium mill facility. "
  • From Rio Algom's May 22, 2002, application
  • "Results of this assessment indicate that aquifer
    restoration cannot be achieved in less than 28
    years or for less than 23,000,000 given any
    active remedial scenario. In contrast, the cost
    to implement natural attenuation in conjunction
    with institutional controls is only about

Hazard cleanup at abandoned uranium mines in
Harding County may cost 20 million
  • (Aberdeen News South Dakota July 21, 2005)
  • The clean up at abandoned uranium mines in
    Harding County will cost an estimated 20
    million, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
    The agency hopes to have the Riley Pass Uranium
    Mines site included in the Environmental
    Protection Agency's Superfund program.
  • Hazardous materials contaminate 12 bluffs in the
    Sioux Ranger District of Custer National Forest,
    said Laurie Walters-Clark, on-scene coordinator
    of the project. In the 1950s, uranium mining
    claims were filed on the 65,000 acres of the
    North Cave Hills, South Cave Hills and Slim
    Buttes areas. By 1965, the mining companies had
  • In 1989, the Forest Service built five catch
    basins to trap sediment washing down from the
    former mine sites. By the next year, the Forest
    Service removed more than 6,700 cubic yards of
    sediment from the basins. With an estimated 2
    million price tag, Forest Service officials
    decided against further reclamation efforts.
    Later soil testing showed the bluffs as sources
    of hazardous substances.

40-50 years after the fact, impacts of first
uranium mining boom are still being felt
  • Informational Meeting October 11, 2006 600 p.m.
  • Written by DR. James Stone   
  • Thursday, 01 September 2005
  • Informational Meeting
  • When October 11, 2006 600 p.m. Where Ludlow
    Hall Ludlow, South Dakota

High radiation levels from abandoned uranium
mines also found in Pryor Mountains (Montana)
near Bighorn Canyon
  • The Billings Gazette Aug. 17, 2003
  • High levels of radioactivity found at abandoned
    uranium mines in the Pryor Mountains has prompted
    the Custer National Forest to close one area and
    the Bureau of Land Management to consider
    closures at other nearby sites.
  • The Forest Service took radiation readings at
    the mines after an abandoned mines inventory
    suggested they may have high radiation levels.
  • At the Sandra Mine, the Forest Service found
    readings that ranged from 1.8 times the natural
    background level to 369 times.

Draft Environmental Assessment of Ground Water
Compliance at the New Rifle, Colorado, UMTRA
Site, 29 July 2003
  • Contaminants of concern in ground water
    include ammonia, arsenic, fluoride, manganese,
    molybdenum, nitrate, selenium, uranium, and
  • DOE plans a ground-water remediation strategy of
    natural flushing coupled with institutional
    controls and continued monitoring to meet U.S.
    Environmental Protection Agency ground-water
  • Institutional controls protect public health and
    the environment by limiting access to a
    contaminated medium.

Former Uravan (CO) residents sue Umetco in
suspected radiation-related illnesses
  • Denver Post Jan. 24, 2004
  • A group of Coloradans has sued Union Carbide,
    saying the firm failed to protect them from
    deadly radiation when they lived near a company
    uranium mine.
  • The 28-page suit filed on Jan. 23, 2004, in U.S.
    District Court in Denver accuses the company of
    causing the death from radiation exposure of four
    people and illness among more than 70 others.
  • By 1986, contamination forced evacuation of the
    town south of Grand Junction along the Dolores

Strong Exposure-Dependent Link Between Uranium
Mining and Incidence of Cancer and Other Lung
  • The National Institute for Occupational Safety
    and Health (NIOSH) a part of the US Public Health
    Service (PHS), have jointly conducted a series of
    studies since 1950 on the health of 3,328 uranium
  • strong evidence for an increased risk for
    lung cancer in white uranium miners about 6
    times more lung cancer deaths than expected.
  • strong evidence for pneumoconiosis, a type of
    lung disease (other than cancer) which is caused
    by dust24 times more of these deaths than
    expected category includes silicosis, a disease
    caused by breathing in a particular mining dust,
    silica. Silicosis causes scarring of the lung and
    severe breathing problems.
  • 4 times more deaths than expected from infectious
  • 2 ½ times more deaths than expected from emphysema

Meanwhile, Uranium Mining Technology has Moved On
(but still produces severe contamination)
  • In-situ leaching has replaced hard-rock mining
    and milling in many locations
  • To be mined in situ, uranium deposit must occur
    in permeable sandstone aquifers
  • Once geometry of the ore bodies is known,
    locations of injection and recovery wells are
    planned to effectively contact the uranium.
    Technique has now been used in several thousand
  • Following installation of the well field,
    leaching solution (lixiviant), consisting of
    native ground water containing dissolved oxygen
    and carbon dioxide, is delivered to the
    uranium-bearing strata through the injection
  • Once in contact with the deposit, the lixiviant
    oxidizes the uranium minerals which allows the
    uranium to dissolve in the ground water.

In-situ Uranium Leach Mining
Leach-Mining cont.
  • Production wells, located between the injection
    wells, intercept the pregnant lixiviant and
    pump it to the surface.
  • A centralized ion-exchange facility extracts the
    uranium from the the barren lixiviant, stripped
    of uranium, is regenerated with oxygen and carbon
    dioxide and recirculated for continued leaching.
  • The ion exchange resin, which becomes "loaded"
    with uranium, is stripped or eluted of its
    uranium and returned to the well field facility.

In situ Leach Mining, cont
  • The resulting rich eluate is precipitated to
    produce a yellow cake slurry. This slurry is
    dewatered and dried to a final drummed uranium
    concentrate .
  • During the mining process, more water is
    withdrawn from the ore-bearing formation than is
  • This net withdrawal, or "bleed", produces a cone
    of depression in the mining area, intended to
    control fluid flow and confine it to the mining
  • The "bleed" also limits the buildup of species
    like sulfate and chloride which are mobilized by
    the leaching process

Leaching by-products are huge volumes of
wastewater, radioactive sludge, and contaminated
  • Bleed water is treated for removal of uranium
    and radium and disposed of through waste water
    land application, or irrigation.
  • A small volume of radioactive sludge results
    this sludge is disposed of at an NRC-licensed
    uranium tailings facility
  • Mined aquifer is surrounded, both laterally and
    above and below, by monitor wells which are
    sampled to detect whether mining fluids are
    leaving the mining zone
  • At the conclusion of the leaching process in a
    well-field area, the same injection and
    production wells and surface facilities are used
    for restoration of the affected ground water

Water quality is rarely restored to pre-mining
  • Contaminated water in leach zone is pumped out
    and treated again to remove radionuclides and
    disposed of in irrigation.
  • Native ground water that flows in is pumped to
    the surface, purified by reverse osmosis, and
  • Soluble metal ions created by leaching of the ore
    zone are chemically immobilized by injecting a
    reducing chemical into the ore zone, immobilizing
    these constituents in situ.
  • Restoration continues by pumping fresh water
    through the aquifer until the ground water meets
    its designated pre-mining use, which may or
    may not represent previous groundwater quality

How well does In-Situ Leach Aquifer Restoration
Really Work?
  • Not very well. Few aquifers are actually restored
    to the water quality levels specified in their
    mining permits
  • Hundreds of millions and in some cases billions
    of gallons of water are removed from the mined
    aquifer, often in parched areas that can ill
    afford such massive groundwater withdrawals
  • Many (probably most) leach-mined aquifers remain
    contaminated by excessive concentrations of one
    or more of the following calcium, magnesium,
    potassium, ammonia bicarbonate, chloride,
    sulfate, nitrate, alkalinity, arsenic, iron,
    manganese, molybdenum, radium-226, selenium, and
  • After mining operations are complete and some
    partial cleanup has been achieved, one operator
    after another has routinely been granted
    amendments to their mining licenses, reducing
    required cleanup levels to those that have
    already been achieved, after which the license is
    terminated and the mine operator walks away.

State of Texas issues Emergency Order to Everest
Exploration, Inc. for cleanup of uranium in-situ
leach sites
  • "Notice is hereby given that the Bureau of
    Radiation Control (bureau) ordered Everest
    Exploration, Inc. (licensee-L03626) of Corpus
    Christi to immediately complete decontamination
    and decommissioning of the uranium processing
    facilities located at its Hobson, Mt. Lucas, and
    Tex-1 sites.
  • The bureau determined that failure to timely and
    adequately decommission these facilities. ..."
    constitutes an emergency that requires immediate
    action to protect the public health and safety
    and the environment
  • (Texas Register Feb. 8, 2002, notice )

Front-end of Nuclear Fuel Cycle Has Multiple
Harmful Environmental Impacts
..15 enrichment plants (this one is in
Paducah, KY
Russian Centrifuge EnrichmentPlant (Sverdlovsk)
Centrifuge Cascade Showing Individual Units
700,000 MT (57,000 cylinders) of Depleted Uranium
Hexaflouride (DUF6) for Disposal
(No Transcript)
DOT Advisory Sheet on UF6
CDC Even splashes of Hydrogen Fluoride on the
Skin Can be Fatal
CDC You could be exposed to hydrogen fluoride
if it is used as a chemical terrorism agent
  • Hydrogen fluoride goes easily and quickly
    through the skin and into the tissues in the
    body. There it damages the cells and causes them
    to not work properly.
  • Breathing hydrogen fluoride can burn lung tissue
    and cause swelling and fluid accumulation in the
    lungs (pulmonary edema).
  • Skin contact with hydrogen fluoride may cause
    severe burns that develop after several hours and
    form skin ulcers.

Long-term health effects of acute exposure to
hydrogen fluoride
  • People who survive after being severely injured
    by breathing in hydrogen fluoride may suffer
    lingering chronic lung disease.
  • Burns caused by concentrated hydrogen fluoride
    may take a long time to heal and may result in
    severe scarring.
  • Fingertip injuries from hydrogen fluoride may
    result in persistent pain, bone loss, and injury
    to the nail bed.
  • Eye exposure to hydrogen fluoride may cause
    prolonged or permanent visual defects, blindness,
    or total destruction of the eye.
  • Swallowing hydrogen fluoride can damage the
    esophagus and stomach. The damage may progress
    for several weeks, resulting in gradual and
    lingering narrowing of the esophagus

New DOE Reconversion Plants at Portsmouth (OH)
and Paducah (KY) will process 31,000 MT/yr of
Conversion of depleted UF6 backlog to solid
uranium oxide and aqueous Hydrogen Flouride will
take 22 years
Front-end of Nuclear Fuel Cycle Has Multiple
Harmful Environmental Impacts
Nuclear Fuel Fabrication Plant
Back End of Fuel Cycle
Two (Costly) Routes for Managing Nuclear Waste
from Large-Scale Nuclear Carbon Displacement
  • Spent fuel containing 10,000,000 kilograms of
    (weapons-usable) plutonium would require either
  • 50 reprocessing plants if all spent fuel were to
    be reprocessed (plant capacity 800 t SF/y and
    plant life 40 y), OR
  • 14 Yucca Mountains for 973,000 t spent fuel (SF)

50 Spent Fuel Reprocessing Plants Like This One
at Cap La Hague, France
Yongbyon Plutonium Separation Plant, North Korea
Spent Fuel Storage at UK Reprocessing Plant
Closer View of Spent Fuel Canisters in Pool
Underground Reprocessing Waste Tanks at Hanford
Reservation, WA
20 Billion Reprocessing Plant Under Construction
in Japan
Japanese Activist Poster Opposing Rokkasho
Reprocessing Plant
Alternate Path Dry Cask Spent Nuclear Fuel
Storage at US Reactor Sites
Nuclear Cask Transporter
(No Transcript)
OR 14 Deep Geologic Repositories Like Nevadas
Yucca Mountain (World Has Yet to Qualify One of
Goal Local geology must ensure Rad-Waste
Containment for gt 100,000 years
COAL Mining and Burning
  • Both the burning and the mining of coal impose
    unacceptable, irreparable damage on
  • Natural environments
  • Human health and communities, and
  • The Global Climate
  • Licensing a new coal plant today in the presence
    of numerous less harmful energy alternatives is a
    crime against nature and human society

Mountain-Top Removal at Kayford Mine, West
(No Transcript)
(No Transcript)
(No Transcript)
MTR at Hobet Mine, WV
(No Transcript)
(No Transcript)
(No Transcript)
(No Transcript)
Mountaintop Mining Areas
Headwaters and Water Quality of Hundreds of
Streams that Flow into the Ohio-Mississippi River
System are Affected by Coal Mining
Coal Slurry Impoundment, Hobet WV
Brushy Fork, WV Coal Slurry Lake
(No Transcript)
Brushy Fork Coal Slurry Lake showing huge
expansion area
What if a Coal Slurry Dam Breaks or Leaks?
Martin County, KY, October 11, 2000
(No Transcript)
The dam failure and its impacts
  • On Oct 11, 2000, a coal tailings dam of Martin
    County Coal Corporation's preparation plant near
    Inez, Kentucky, USA, failed, releasing a slurry
    consisting of an estimated 250 million gallons
    (950,000 m3) of water and 155,000 cubic yards
    (118,500 m3) of coal waste into local streams.
  • About 75 miles (120 km) of rivers and streams
    turned an irridescent black, causing a fish kill
    along the Tug Fork of the Big Sandy River and
    some of its tributaries. Towns along the Tug were
    forced to turn off their drinking water intakes.
  • Spill oozed down the Tug Fork and Big Sandy
    Rivers into the Ohio, traveling 100 miles,
    closing down community water supplies and
    devastating aquatic life. The disaster placed the
    Big Sandy on American Rivers' Most Endangered
    Rivers list.
  • The spill contained coal cleaning chemicals and
    measurable amounts of arsenic, mercury, lead,
    copper and chromium.

Creek Bed and Banks Coated With Toxic Sludge
Massey Coal Valley Fill Collapse Buries Community
of Winding Shoals Hollow, Lyburn WV, 19 July 2002
A disaster waiting to happen elsewhere in coal
  • Loosened by heavy rain, falling debris from the
    face of the valley fill completely filled the
    sediment catch pond at its base, causing it to
    overflow and send a tidal wave of sediment-laden
    water churning down Winding Shoals Hollow
  • Two homes were destroyed, 10 others damaged, and
    8-10 vehicles hurled downstream. No one was
    killed, though there were some narrow escapes

Near the top of 900 ft high Massey valley fill
that partly collapsed into sediment pond,
causing it to overflow
Cleanup of Winding Shoals Hollow
Western Coal MiningStrip Mine, Colstrip, MT
Dragline Coal Scraper in Decker, MT (Note huge
scale of equipment doors in machine are 7 ft
Farm Surrounded by Strip Mine
Abandoned Coal Mine South of Victoria, IL
The Toll from Coal
  • Coal mining - and particularly MTR and strip
    mining - poses one of the most significant
    threats to terrestrial habitats in the United
  • During surface mining activities, trees are
    clearcut (destroying carbon sink) and habitat is
    fragmented, destroying natural areas that were
    home to hundreds of unique species
  • Grasslands (or reseeded forests) that replace the
    original ecosystems in reclaimed surface-mined
    areas have less-developed soil structure and
    lower species diversity compared to previous
    natural forests
  • Forty-six western national parks are located
    within ten miles of an identified coal basin, and
    these parks could be significantly affected by
    future surface mining in the region

Coal Mining Permanently Degrades the Land
  • Estimated one million acres of West Virginia
    mountains subjected to strip mining and
    mountaintop removal between 1939 and 2005
  • Many mines never reclaimed -- once forested
    mountains replaced by crippled mounds of sand and
  • Surface mining causes severe environmental damage
    as huge machines strip, rip apart and scrape
    aside vegetation, soils, wildlife habitat.
    Drastically and permanently reshapes existing
    land forms and affected areas ecology to reach
    the subsurface coal.
  • Strip mining results in industrialization of once
    quiet open space along with displacement of
    wildlife, increased soil erosion, loss of
    recreational opportunities, degradation of
    wilderness values and destruction of scenic
  • Reclamation can be problematic both because of
    arid climate and soil quality. As in the East,
    reclamation of surface mined areas does not
    usually restore pre-mining wildlife habitat. May
    require scarce water resources to be used for
    irrigation to aid recovery of vegetation.

Coal Production Pollutes Ground and Surface Waters
  • Waterways harmed by valley fills total 80 of the
    Mississippis length
  • Valley fills bury ecologically significant
    headwaters of streams
  • Strip and longwall coal mining in West is
    damaging aquifers that supply drinking water and
    recharge surface water
  • All types of coal mining increase sedimentation,
    altering water chemistry and stream flow
  • Coal is sometimes transported in slurry
    pipelines, depleting local aquifers needed for
    drinking water and irrigation.

Acid Mine Drainage (AMD)
  • In both underground and surface coal mines,
    sulfur-bearing minerals are brought up to the
    surface in waste rock
  • Ironically, this problem gets worse when advanced
    pollution controls allow increased use of
    high-sulfur coal.
  • When sulfur bearing waste rock mixes with
    precipitation and groundwater, an acidic leachate
    is formed
  • As in uranium mining and milling, this leachate
    picks up toxic heavy metals and carries them into
    streams and groundwater, drastically altering
    water chemistry
  • Affected water is less habitable, non-potable,
    and unfit for recreational uses
  • An estimated 10 20 thousand miles of U.S.
    streams are already degraded by AMD pollution
  • Partial fix is to add alkaline substances to
    counteract the acid, but this increases
    mobilization of selenium and arsenic

Air Pollution from Coal Production
  • Coal mining and processing releases 3 million
    metric tons of methane, a powerful heat-trapping
    gas and second most important contributor to
    global warming after CO2
  • Western strip mining involves creation and
    transport of large amounts of particulate matter
    (PM) emissions, from blasting, draglines, truck
    hauling, road grading, diesel engines, and wind
  • Diesel-burning trucks, trains, and barges that
    transport coal release CO2, NOx, and other
    pollutants into the atmosphere. Coal transport
    accounts for at least 44 of all US rail freight

Coal Combustion Harms the Environment
  • Produces huge quantities of air pollutants that
    severely harm public health and the environment
  • Uses vast quantities of fresh water for cooling,
    degrading water quality
  • Produces more than 120 million tons of solid
  • Major air pollutants are fine and coarse
    particulate matter (PM) smog producing oxides of
    nitrogen (NOx) sulfur dioxide (SO2) which causes
    acid rain mercury and other toxic compounds and
    heat-trapping CO2.

Coal Burning Kills
  • PM inhalation increases premature deaths of
    those with heart or lung disease chronic
    bronchitis and heart attacks 70 million people
    in the U.S. live with unhealthy levels of PM
  • NOx emissions assist formation of unhealthy
    levels of ground level ozone in smog, leading to
    higher incidence asthma attacks and other
    respiratory ailments. More than 110 million
    Americans live with unhealthy levels of ozone at
    least part of the year.
  • Coal-fired power plants are the largest U.S.
    source of manmade mercury pollution (48 tons),
    and annually emit similar amounts of toxic
    arsenic, lead and chromium compounds, hydrogen
    flouride, and hydrochloric acid.

Coal burning harms, cont
  • Mercury is particularly toxic to developing
    fetuses and young infants
  • In July 2005 the CDC concluded one in 17 US women
    of childbearing age have blood levels of mercury
    that could pose a risk to a developing fetus.
  • Highly toxic methylmercury accumulates in the
    tissue of fish and increased exposure is linked
    to increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Coal and ClimateHitting the Wall
Budgets for Stabilization
Billion tonnes Carbon 2004-2100
New Coal Build by Decade
Incremental new coal capacity by decade
Source IEA, WEO 2004
New Coal Plant EmissionsEqual All Historic Coal
27 of remaining budget for 450 ppm
Source ORNL, CDIAC IEA, WEO 2004
Natural Gas Impacts
  • Onshore and offshore development of natural gas
    results in heavy-duty industrialization of
    affected areas.
  • Well fields can cover thousands of acres and
    encompass hundreds, even thousands, of wells and
    well pads.
  • Each field is accompanied by a dense web of power
    lines, miles of pipelines and roads, waste pits,
    compressors, processing plants and other
    production facilities.

Natural Gas Impacts, cont
  • In addition to causing increased erosion and
    dust, these activities pollute once-quiet open
    space with noisy machinery -- typically powered
    by diesel engines -- that runs continuously.
  • Conventional drilling for oil and gas has
    depleted underground aquifers and contaminated
    surface waters with toxic drilling materials and
    produced water
  • Coalbed methane development causes unique and
    severe water-related problems.

Gas Development on Colorado Western Slope
Jonah Gas Field, Pinedale, WY
Gas Well on Split Estate(Landowner does not
own subsurface rights to the land)
Hoback Peak Area of Wyoming Targeted for Gas
Bondurant Valley, WYTargeted for Gas Leasing
Natural Gas Exploitation is Degrading and
Fragmenting Western Habitats
  • Exploration activities degrade wildlife habitats
    and road-less areas, harm fragile soils and
    archeological resources, and encourage damaging
    off-road vehicle use.
  • Extraction activities have displaced wildlife and
    fragmented and degraded their habitats.
  • Wilderness values on millions of acres have been
    lost and local communities transformed through
    "boom and bust" economies

Drill rig in foothills of Wind River Range, WY
Gas well infrastructure
Typical well installation
(No Transcript)
Dallas Fed Says Current Drilling Expansion Has
Significantly Outlasted Previous TwoWhen and
How will Current Frenzy End?
Coalbed Methane Potential in Wyoming
Aerial view of Coal Bed Methane Field with
Wastewater Impoundments
What is Coal Bed Methane (CBM)?
  • Form of natural gas extraction that liberates
    methane from underground coal seams by reducing
    the hydrostatic pressure that is keeping the
    methane in the seam
  • Typical CBM well requires pumping an average of
    15,000 gallons per day
  • Water pumped out of the coal seam is stored in
    thousands of large unlined infiltration
    reservoirs, designed to allow this water to
    slowly bleed back into the water table, streams
    and rivers

Ecological Disaster in the Making?
  • Massive pumping out Dewatering -- of the coal
    seam is depleting important underground aquifers
    in arid regions and causing subsidence impacts on
    the surface, while excavation of the reservoirs
    is creating unprecedented soil erosion
  • Excess salinity and contamination of byproduct
    water is a big concern
  • Noise and air quality issues large amounts of
    energy needed to run submersible pumps around the
    clock is provided by thousands of polluting
    diesel generators
  • In short a massive ecological disaster in the
    making that rivals the environmental insults of
    coal mining.

Unlined Waste Water Impoundment from Coal Bed
Methane Extraction
Leaking Coal Bed Methane Impoundment
Another aerial view of CBM development
Renewable Energy Technologies Also Have
Significant Environmental Impacts
  • Not on same damaging scale as coal, natural gas,
    and nuclear, but these impacts need to be
    carefully examined
  • Wind power installations have view-shed, noise,
    and wildlife siting issues
  • Big ramp up in solar PV would require increased
    mining and refining of specialty materials, e.g.
    thin film CIGS solar cells copper, indium,
    gallium, and selenium.
  • Certified sources of these materials need to be
    developed that meet environmental and social

  • Most economically efficient way to address
    nuclear-coal-gas risks and harms is to
    internalize all costs of avoiding-mitigating-preve
    nting these harms in the retail price of
    electricity and fuels
  • Create level, environmentally sustainable energy
    playing field via carbon cap-and-trade, and major
    regulatory and mining reforms
  • Let competitive markets deliver the lowest-cost
    technologies for energy services that meet
    minimum common criteria for environmental
    sustainability, public health, and energy

Policy Conclusions (cont)
  • IF nuclear proves capable of meeting these
    criteria, while also becoming economically
    competitive without subsidies, THEN it could play
    a modest future role in countering global climate
  • HOWEVER, because of nuclears persistent
    environmental, security and cost deficiencies,
    this role is likely to be limited
  • If forced to choose between coal and nuclear,
    nuclear is preferable, but it is an ugly and
    unnecessary choice.

Conclusions (cont)
  • Nuclear very unlikely to reach one gigaton/yr
    carbon displacement capacity by 2050. A radical
    shift is needed within the next ten years to less
    polluting and efficient energy technologies
  • Based on present and forseeable nuclear
    technologies, big role for nuclear is not to be
    desired in any case.
  • Technical improvements could occur to alter the
    preceding judgment, but probably not on the short
    timescale needed to stabilize carbon emissions

Conclusions cont
  • Climate-change strategy should focus on rapid
    deployment of cleaner, more flexible, and clearly
    sustainable energy technologies
  • End use efficiency, waste heat co-generation,
    fuel-cells running on biogas, windpower, solar PV
    and solar thermal are now available as realistic
    alternatives to new polluting baseload power

Conclusions, cont
  • Create 5-10 year gigawatt-scale investment
    virtual power plant packages of energy
    efficiency and distributed renewable energy
  • Ensure cost recovery in the regulated rate base
    just as you would a conventional baseload plant,
    and then let Wall Street bond finance them just
    as you would any other regulated utility
  • Minimize future coal and natural gas use and
    focus on ending our frenzied exploitation of
    fossil fuels.


California has Achieved 30 Reduction in Per
Capita Carbon Dioxide Emissions While the Rest of
the U.S. has Remained Essentially Static
Comparison of Per Capita Electricity Consumed in
U.S. and CA Since 1975 US per capita energy use
has increased by 50, but CA has held roughly
constant, saving 12 GW of peak demand growth that
would otherwise have been met with grid-connected
capacity equivalent to some 15 large nuclear
reactors, costing on the order of 45 billion.
Source California Energy Commission, 2005.i
i John Wilson, California Energy Commission,
November 2005.
(No Transcript)
To Maintain Current Global Total of 441 Nuclear
Plants Requires
  • Completion of 8 new reactors per year over the
    next 10 years, and then
  • 20 reactors per year over the following 10 years
  • Compare to current global rate 1 new plant per
    year since 2000

(No Transcript)
(No Transcript)
(No Transcript)
Factors in Addition to Generating Cost That Crimp
a Nuclear Revival
  • No approved licensed path for long-term geologic
    disposal of spent fuel
  • Added security concerns and risks in an age of
  • Proliferation concerns if advanced fuel cycles
    are used, or uranium enrichment capability
    spreads to additional countries
  • Long gestation/construction period increases risk
    of market obsolescence and stranded costs
  • Uranium mining, milling, and enrichment can have
    harmful environmental impacts

More Nuclear Risks
  • "The abiding lesson that Three Mile Island taught
    Wall Street was that a group of N.R.C.-licensed
    reactor operators, as good as any others, could
    turn a 2 billion asset into a 1 billion cleanup
    job in about 90 minutes. -- Former NRC
    Commissioner Peter Bradford

Nuclear Power Plants (2005)
  • Capacity
  • (Gigawatt-electric)
  • Units (GWe)
  • U.S. 104 100
  • Worldwide 441 367
  • Nuclear Provides
  • 20 of U.S. electricity
  • 16 of global electricity
  • 6 of global primary fuel

Nuclear Power is Very Unevenly Distributed
(No Transcript)
After 50 years, nuclear energy is still highly
  • Only 31 countries (16) of UN member states
    operate nuclear power plants
  • Just six countries USA, France, Japan, Germany,
    Russia, and South Korea account for 75 of
    nuclear electricity produced worldwide
  • BUT, 22 of the last 31 nuclear plants connected
    to a grid have been in Asia
  • Historical peak of 294 operating reactors in
    Western Europe-US was reached in 1989

(No Transcript)
A Static-to-Declining IEA Outlook for Nuclear
Worldwide nuclear capacity is projected to
increase slightly, but the share of nuclear power
in total electricity generation will decline. A
substantial amount of capacity will be added, but
this will be mostly offset by reactor
retirements. Three-quarters of existing
nuclear capacity in OECD Europe is expected to be
retired by 2030, because reactors will have
reached the end of their life or because
governments plan to phase out nuclear
power. Nuclear power generation will increase
in a number of Asian countries, notably in China,
South Korea, Japan and India.
(No Transcript)
How Likely is a Nuclear Revival on This Massive
  • MIT Future of Nuclear Power Study (2003)
    outlines one path to a nuclear revival by
    demonstrating that a 100/ton carbon tax could
    make nuclear competitive with a conventional
    central station coal plant
  • 200/tC could make nuclear competitive with
    gas-fired combined-cycle generation at moderate
    to sustained high natural gas prices
  • Study did not examine nuclear versus Integrated
    Coal Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) with
    Carbon Capture and Disposal (CCD) under various
    carbon tax scenarios

  • Source MIT Study, The
    Future of Nuclear Power, 2003, p. 42.

MIT Comparative Cost Analysis was too narrow
  • Compared nuclear costs only with large
    central-station fossil power costs, when fastest
    growing energy market segments are distributed
    on-site co-generation, end-use efficiency, and
    renewables (wind and solar), with current or
    projected lower average delivered costs.
  • MIT study did not take account of the fact that
    carbon taxes or cap and trade will also benefit
    new-technology plants featuring coal gasification
    combined cycle with carbon capture, and all forms
    of carbon-neutral distributed generation.

Delivered Costs of Electricity Services
  • New Nuclear Plant Today (40 yr. Life at 85
    capacity factor) 0.0977/kWh
  • New Nuclear with 8-yr 0.018/kWh production tax
    credit 0.0797/kWh
  • New Competitive Nuclear Post-2021 (assumes 25
    capital cost reduction, build in 4 rather than 5
    years, zero nuclear risk premium, lowest quartile
    of OM costs) 0.0715/kWh
  • Compare to
  • Recent utility and end-use efficiency programs
    (CA) 0.025 - 0.030/kWh (!)

Other Delivered Cost Comparisons
  • Nuclear electricity from new plants is at least
    2-4 times more costly than improving end-use
    efficiency, but its also
  • 1.4x more costly than wind power at
  • 2.4 -3.7x more costly than on-site recovered heat
    co-generation at 0.026 - 0.04.

Nuclear Revival Before EPACT 2005 Was
Definitely Low Key
  • Dominion, an energy company based in Richmond,
    Va., is seeking advance approval of a site for a
    new reactor (Early Site Permit).
  • In May 2005, before passage of the EPACT, Thomas
    E. Capps, the chairman and chief executive, said
    in a telephone interview, "We aren't going to
    build a nuclear plant anytime soon.
  • Standard Poor's and Moody's would have a
    heart attack," said Mr. Capps, referring to the
    debt-rating agencies. "And my chief financial
    officer would, too.
  • -- New York Times, May 2, 2005

Level the Playing Field, or Subsidize?
  • Question So what was the U.S. governments
    response to new nuclear power plant initiatives
  • (a) are still not economically viable despite
    prior public expenditure of some 85 billion on
    civil nuclear power development
  • (b) still face other significant obstacles to
    rapid expansion?
  • Answer Massive Public Subsidies, worth at least
    10 billion over next 23 years.

EPACT 2005 subsidies mask true costs of new
large-scale nuclear plants
  • Existing nuclear plants can compete favorably
    with fossil-fuel plants
  • excessive capital costs have long since been
    forcibly absorbed by ratepayers and bondholders
  • relatively low operation, maintenance and fuel
  • BUT, continued high construction costs of new
    nuclear power plants make them uneconomical
  • No successful nuclear plant orders in the United
    States since 1973.

EPACT Nuclear Results Will Be Delayed, and
Relatively Puny
  • IRS will distribute future annual production tax
    creditscovering first 8 years of power
    production up to maximum of 1 billion per 1000
    MW of new capacityamong all qualifying new
    reactor projects that have
  • applied for a construction/operating license from
    the Nuclear Regulatory by the end of 2008
  • begun construction of the reactor building by
    January 1, 2014, and
  • received certification from Department of
    Energy that it is feasible to place the
    facility in service prior to January 1, 2021.

Timescale of EPACT Subsidy Program Highlights
Nuclear Economic Visibility Problem.
  • Difficult to forecast today what energy market
    will be like in 2019 when new reactors start up
  • Subsidy available to each new reactor owner
    depends on the total number of projects that
    start construction by 2014
  • How many ways can tax credit be divided before
    commercial viability of each individual project
    is undermined?
  • Will PUCs insist that ratepayers share in the
    subsidy, further eroding profitability forecasts?

Nuclear Capital Costs Remain Too High
  • Cost growth already occurring in the new Areva
    European reactor under construction in Finland
  • 2002 estimate of 2.3 billion for this 1500 MWe
    (net) reactor had grown to 3.8 by July 2006
  • This number probably does not include some of the
    off-balance-sheet costs of 1.5 -2 billion
    euros (1.92 - 2.56 billion) that reactor
    builder Areva has separately agreed to devote to
    the project.
  • A total project cost near or above 4 billion for
    the Areva reactor is certain to scare U.S.
    utilities and merchant plant investors from
    making an aggressive commitment to nuclear energy
    in the near term, even with generous EPACT

There is a good reason nuclear plants are so
costly Safety!
Renewables Already Expanding Faster Than Forecast
Nuclear Can Deliver
  • Wind power is already growing at twice the likely
    growth rate of nuclear over the next decade, and
    the outlook for wind is for even faster growth.
  • Instructive to compare nuclear renaissance with
    rate of growth in wind power now at 3000 MW per
  • To accurately compare, capacity utilization must
    be factored in Assume favorable nuclear case
    EPACT stimulates 1.5 times the amount of
    subsidized capacity, then with avg. capacity
    factor of 0.85 x 9000 MW 7650 MW/15 years 510
    MW/yr as avg. projected growth for nuclear, but
    with none of it available for at least 10 years.
  • Wind has a much lower capacity factor, and
    assuming conservatively no further acceleration
    in the its rate of growth, then 0.35 x 3000 MW x
    15 yrs 15,750 MW for wind over the same period,
    or at least 1050 MW/yr, with all of it available
    each year.
  • .

Will CIGS Thin-Film Solar Undercut Nuclear in 10
  • 234 sq. ft (15 ft x 16 ft) of roof space covered
    with 12 efficient PV modules will meet ½
    electricity needs of typical home in LA.
  • About 300 sq. ft (17 ft. x 18ft) needed in Maine
    or Atlanta under same assumptions
  • Typical residential solar system now costs 8-10
    per peak Watt (Wp)
  • At least a dozen companies are targeting thin
    film solar system hardware costs of 1- 2/Wp
    within 10 years (i.e. below planned nuclear
    plants) and Gigawatt scale production lines
  • Increased efficiency of end-use, waste heat
    cogeneration, sustainable bio-gas generation,
    small hydro, wind and solar could dramatically
    restrict future economic case for adding new coal
    or nuclear base load plants, except as
    replacements for older polluting/unsafe base load

Tax incentives Solar vs. Nuclear
  • EPACT 2005 and California both provide incentives
    worth roughly 1 billion/GW Which would you
    rather have
  • Californias 3 billion tax credit over 10 years
  • designed to leverage at least 3 GW of
    rooftop/building integrated solar power, driving
    down costs and positioning state for preeminence
    in dynamic global growth industry OR
  • 3-4 large nuclear reactors that entail problems,
    costs, and face a limited global export market
    not substantially different from current reactors

Nuclear Can be Intermittent Too
Costs/Risks of New Reactors Requires Powerful
Industrial Consortia