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Overview:

Located within the Department of Energy (DOE), the Office of Nuclear Energy (NE) is responsible for implementing programs designed to promote the development and expansion of nuclear power, both in the U.S. and overseas.  The U.S. produces more than 30% of the world’s nuclear generation of electricity, making it the largest producer of nuclear energy on the planet. Nuclear power currently provides more than 19% of the U.S. electricity generation, with plans to increase this number as federal officials promote the construction of new nuclear power plants based on cutting-edge technologies that will help address other pressing energy policy issues, including developing of hydrogen fuel for automobiles and lowering greenhouse gas emissions affecting climate change. As many as six new nuclear plants are expected to come online by 2020, and 50 small modular reactors are to be built by 2040.

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History:

Nuclear power first began to evolve prior to World War II thanks to several landmark breakthroughs in physics. In 1934, physicist Enrico Fermi conducted experiments in Rome showing neutrons could split many types of atoms. This was followed by the work of German scientists Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassman who fired neutrons from radium and beryllium into uranium, causing it to fission. This set the stage for the world’s first controlled atomic chain-reaction at the University of Chicago in 1942 by scientists who would go on to work for the Manhattan Project, the top-secret U.S. government program that built the atomic bombs that were dropped on Japan.

 

Following the end of World War II, the federal government created the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) to promote the development of nuclear energy. The AEC authorized the building of the first commercial nuclear reactor (Experimental Breeder Reactor I) in Idaho, which produced the first electricity from nuclear energy in 1951. A major goal of nuclear research in the mid-1950s was to show that nuclear energy could produce electricity for commercial use. The first commercial electricity-generating plant powered by nuclear energy was located in Shippingport, Pennsylvania.

 

Private industry became more involved in developing light-water reactors after Shippingport became operational. The nuclear power industry grew rapidly in the 1960s as utility companies saw this new form of electricity production as economical. By 1971, 22 commercial nuclear power plants were operating in the U.S., producing 2.4% of the nation’s electricity.

 

In 1974, Congress passed the Energy Reorganization Act (pdf) which divided the AEC’s functions into two new agencies—the Energy Research and Development Administration (ERDA), to carry out research and development, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), to regulate nuclear power. The 1970s also saw the government begin to grapple with the problem of how to dispose of nuclear waste from reactors, which was beginning to accumulate at plants around the country.

 

Some scientists and industry leaders proposed a way to recycle, or reprocess, spent nuclear fuel by using it again in nuclear reactors. This idea was controversial because of the danger that reprocessing brought about—namely, an unwanted surplus of plutonium, which can be used in nuclear bombs. Before spent fuel could be reprocessed back into reactors, the plutonium inside had to be extracted, which was done by chopping up fuel rods and dissolving them in acid and then extracting plutonium in an almost pure form. This process was derived in the 1950s from the U.S. nuclear weapons program, which used plutonium in warheads. Some officials worried about this surplus plutonium falling into the wrong hands. President Jimmy Carter, a nuclear engineer, sided with opponents of reprocessing and ended the idea of reprocessing by deferring indefinitely any plans to use spent nuclear fuel in this manner. President Carter also took another significant action with regards to energy policy by creating the Department of Energy (DOE), a cabinet-level replacement for ERDA.

 

The year 1979 also marked the beginning of the end for the nuclear power industry’s momentum when the worst accident in U.S. commercial reactor history occurred at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Although no one was injured in the accident, public approval of nuclear power began to wane, and it eroded even further following the Chernobyl nuclear accident in the then-Soviet republic of Ukraine in 1986. By the mid-1980s, nuclear power had become the second largest source of electricity, after coal, in the U.S., with 83 nuclear power reactors providing approximately 14% of the nation’s domestic electricity supply. Nuclear power reached its zenith in terms of plants and electricity generation in 1991, with 111 nuclear power plants producing a combined capacity of 99,673 megawatts, or almost 22 % of the electricity generated commercially in the United States.

 

During the 1980s, Congress began addressing the problem of what to do with the growing amount of spent nuclear fuel. In 1982, the Nuclear Waste Policy Act was adopted which ultimately led to the adoption of a single location in Nevada, known as Yucca Mountain, where commercial and defense nuclear waste would be stored underground for thousands of years. This idea has sparked controversy over the past three decades, and federal funding for the proposed Yucca Mountain repository came to an end in 2010. (For more information, see the Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board.)

 

By the 1990s, nuclear power was considered a dying industry, as no new plants were built.  In addition to the issues of waste disposal and public concerns over safety, nuclear power was proving to be extremely expensive. A single new plant would cost between $3-5 billion to build, and another $2-4 billion to decommission once it had reached its lifespan. Given all of these impediments, President Bill Clinton placed greater emphasis on energy research and development into alternative forms of energy, including wind, solar, and geothermal.

 

With the election of George W. Bush, however, the industry found a new champion, especially with Vice President Dick Cheney, who chaired a controversial working group during the early days of the administration that was charged with crafting a new energy policy for the country. Among the recommendations of the National Energy Policy Development Group was a call to begin building new nuclear power plants. This led to the implementation of Nuclear Power 2010, a program run by the Office of Nuclear Energy (NE) to begin building new nuclear power plants by the end of the decade. The George W. Bush administration added to this effort with the release in 2006 of the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP), which was designed to foster the development of nuclear power worldwide. To achieve this plan, the GNEP crafted an international fuel-leasing regime where countries could establish nuclear power without the need for investing in fuel enrichment or processing facilities.

 

Since 2003, under George W. Bush, the NE’s budget grew nearly 70%.

 

In 2009, it established the Nuclear Energy University Programs to consolidate and integrate university research within the agency’s own technical programs, and to support innovative nuclear energy research with an eye toward sustaining a cutting-edge work force in the field.

 

In 2010, President Barack Obama approved an $8 billion loan guarantee for the construction of two new nuclear reactors in Georgia, which would be the first to be built in the U.S. since the 1970s. As of 2013, the first of those plants—a $14 billion project—has so far generated more controversy than energy, having already gone nearly $400 million over budget.

 

In 2013, the NE took the lead in the planned licensing of dozens of small nuclear power plants, based on the Obama administration’s announced long-range plans to build up to 50 small modular reactors by 2040. Initial deployments are anticipated in 2022. The goal is to have them ready to replace coal-fired power plants that may be retired in the decades ahead. Initial grants were awarded to reactor designer Babcock & Wilcox, which plans to build two small plants in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The NE expects the remainder of the grants to be awarded by the end of 2013.

Outline History of Nuclear Energy (World Nuclear Association)

Report of the National Energy Policy Development Group (pdf)

Energy Policy Act of 2005 (pdf)

Bush urges more refineries, nuclear plants (by Catherine Berger and Elaine Quijano, CNN)

Bush Seeks to Jump-Start Nuclear Power: Proposed Test of New Waste-Reprocessing Methods Aims to Ease Concerns Over Storage (by John J. Fialka, Wall Street Journal)

Map showing all nuclear reactors in U.S. (U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission)

Small Modular Reactors – Key to Future Nuclear Power Generation in the U.S. (by Robert Rosner and Stephen Goldberg, Energy Policy Institute at Chicago, The Harris School of Public Policy Studies) (pdf)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What it Does:

The Office of Nuclear Energy (NE) is the lead agency within the DOE charged with promoting and developing nuclear power. The NE helps spearhead new nuclear energy generation technologies, including plans to develop proliferation-resistant nuclear fuel that can maximize energy from other nuclear fuel. The NE also maintains and enhances the national nuclear technology infrastructure and manages research laboratories and radiological facilities. The programs funded by the NE are designed to develop new nuclear reactors that will help diversify the domestic energy supply through public-private partnerships.

 

NE manages the following programs and initiatives:  

 

Nuclear Reactor Technologies

These include small modular nuclear reactors, light water reactors, advanced reactor technologies, and space power systems.

 

Fuel Cycle Technologies

This program oversees five research and development campaigns, working toward the long-term goals of deploying systems for nuclear-generated electricity, and implementing safe strategies for management of used nuclear fuel and high-level waste, including both storage and permanent disposal solutions.

 

Nuclear Facility Operations The Idaho Operations Office oversees contract activities at an 889-square-mile high desert site, dedicated to meeting environmental, energy, nuclear technology, and national security needs.

 

Advanced Modeling and Simulation

Referred to as the NEAMS program, this initiative consists to two operations: the Fuels Product Line and the Reactors Product Line. Teams concentrating on the Fuels Product Line investigate the materials that comprise and surround nuclear fuel. The Reactor Product Line team focuses on developing design tools to study the full reactor system. 

 

Generation IV Nuclear Energy Systems (Gen-IV)

Since the beginning of commercial nuclear energy, three generations of nuclear reactors have been used. Generation I represented the first commercial reactors, such as the one at Shippingport. Generation II came online in the sixties and seventies, and Generation III, or light-water reactors, were the last to be built in the eighties. Gen-IV is dedicated to producing the fourth generation of nuclear reactor by 2030. Gen-IV reactors are expected to be less expensive to build, safer to operate, and produce less nuclear waste.

 

Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP)

The GNEP is designed to foster the growth of nuclear energy worldwide. The U.S., in partnership with France, Japan, and Russia, will work to develop new reactors for use in developing countries, which would use nuclear fuel supplied by developed countries. Bilateral agreements will require developing countries to return spent nuclear fuel to developed countries to minimize the risk of terrorists gaining access to the fuel. The GNEP is highly dependent upon the success of other NE programs, specifically AFCI and Gen-IV.

 

Laboratory Facilities Management

This office manages programs that support work at four nuclear research laboratories: Idaho National Laboratory (INL), Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee, Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in New Mexico and at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) in New York. The support work ranges from maintaining the infrastructure at these labs to maintaining the safety and security of lab employees and classified information.

 

Nuclear Energy University Program

This program was established with the goal of consolidating and integrating university research within the agency’s own technical programs, and to support innovative nuclear energy research with an eye toward sustaining a cutting-edge work force in the field.

 

Nuclear Hydrogen Initiative (NHI) (pdf)

This program is exploring ways to produce hydrogen as a byproduct of nuclear energy so that the hydrogen can be used as fuel for automobiles, thus reducing the nation’s dependence on foreign oil. Hydrogen is the most common element in the universe and can be produced from sources such as methane and water. However, existing hydrogen production methods are either inefficient or produce greenhouse gases. The success of the Gen-IV program to produce a new breed of reactor will help determine whether the hydrogen program gets off the ground.

 

Nuclear Energy Enabling Technologies

This program develops technologies that support the agency’s advanced reactor and fuel cycle concepts. Its research efforts focus on challenges that confront such R&D programs as Light Water Reactor Sustainability, Next Generation Nuclear Plant, Advanced Reactor Technologies, and Small Modular Reactors. Three main elements make up the program: Crosscutting Technology Development, National Scientific User Facility, and Energy Innovation Hub for Modeling and Simulation.

 

Nuclear Fuel Supply Security

This office is responsible for helping secure the safety of the nation’s nuclear fuel supply, particularly in the areas of uranium enrichment. Nuclear Fuel Supply Security provides advice on policy issues related to commercial aspects of uranium mining, milling, conversion, enrichment, and fuel fabrication. It also monitors nuclear fuel market issues involving implementation of the US/Russia HEU Agreement (pdf) which is converting 500 megatons of highly enriched uranium (HEU) from dismantled Russian nuclear warheads for use in U.S. commercial reactors.

 

Nuclear Power 2010

This program, unveiled in 2002, is geared toward new construction of modified Gen III light-water reactors by the beginning of the next decade. Formed as a public/private partnership, Nuclear Power 2010 is identifying sites for new nuclear plants, developing new reactor technologies, evaluating business models for building new plants and crafting new regulations that reduce barriers to new plant construction. The 2010 deadline was missed, but work has continued.

 

Radioisotope Power Systems

This office supplies Radioisotope Power Systems (RPS), or small nuclear engines, to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration for space missions that are beyond the capabilities of fuel cells, solar power, and battery power supplies. The RPS provides the energy for space missions to Mars and the moon as well as orbital missions around the earth and sun.

 

Additional programs overseen by the NE include:

 

  • Reactor Concepts Research, Development and Demonstration - Designed to develop new and advanced reactor designs and technologies.
  • Radiological Facilities Management - Maintains the nuclear facilities and infrastructure needed to support space mission requirements and research reactor programs.
  • Fuel Cycle Research and Development - This program ranges from finding more efficient methods of extracting uranium to techniques to improve waste management.
  • International Nuclear Energy Cooperation - Provides NE with the ability to meet growing demands for engagement with international partners on civil nuclear policy, R&D, and related activities.
  • Nuclear Energy Enabling Technologies - Conducts R&D in crosscutting technologies that may lead to improvements in safety, performance, reliability, economics, and proliferation risk reduction, and promote solutions to an array of nuclear energy challenges related to reactor and fuel-cycle development.
  • Safeguards and Security - This program, designed to protect the Idaho National Laboratory is, from a budgetary viewpoint, segregated from other NE programs as it is designated as a national security activity. Forthcoming funding cuts are expected to impact the program, including layoffs of more than 80 employees.

Organization

A Roadmap to Deploy New Nuclear Power Plants in the United States by 2010

Hydrogen Program

Energy Information Administration

Department of Energy Announces New Nuclear Initiative

 

 

From the Web Site of the Office of Nuclear Energy

Blog Archive

Careers

Contact Information

Document Library

Funding Opportunities

History

International Nuclear Energy Research Initiative Annual Report

Leadership

Meetings of the Advisory Committee

Mission

News

Nuclear Deployment Scorecards

Nuclear Energy Advisory Committee

Nuclear Energy Research and Development Roadmap

Organization

Press Release Archive

Press Releases

Quarterly Nuclear Power Deployment Summary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Where Does the Money Go:

The Office of Nuclear Energy spent about $490.9 million on 947 contractor transactions during the past decade, according to USAspending.gov. The top five types of products and services paid for—and the amounts spent—were operation of government waste treatment and storage facilities ($200,000,000), various professional services ($48,579,670), operation of government research and development facilities ($47,127,000), other professional support ($45,826,556), and R&D management support services  ($32,737,670).

 

The top five recipients of this contractor spending during that period were:

1. URS Corporation                                        $200,677,814 

2. Metrica Team Venture                                  $58,962,079 

3. UChicago Argonne LLC                              $46,094,000 

4. Onpoint Consulting Inc.                               $38,289,985 

5. MELE Associates Inc.                                  $31,360,847 

 

Those who closely follow the NE fall on either side of the nuclear energy debate. Energy companies and public utilities are very involved with NE programs or at least closely monitor them. These stakeholders include Ohio Edison, the Tennessee Valley Authority, Duke Energy, Exelon Corporation, Pacific Gas & Electric, Georgia Power Company, Southern California Edison and more. The Nuclear Energy Institute, the industry’s lobby in Washington D.C., is another key player.

 

Other corporate stakeholders include contractors who run nuclear research labs that the NE is involved with. The Idaho National Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory are run by UT-Battelle, an applied science and technology company. Los Alamos National Laboratory is run by the Los Alamos National Security LLC, consisting of the University of California system, and engineering giants Bechtel, Babcock & Wilcox and URS Corporation.

 

General Electric and Westinghouse are also important stakeholders thanks to their long histories of developing and building reactors. Another player, who arrived on the scene in 2007, is UniStar Nuclear, owned by EDF.

 

A slew of environmental, anti-nuclear, and professional scientific organizations also keep watch on nuclear energy programs. Examples of these stakeholders include the Nuclear Information and Resource Service, a worldwide clearinghouse for environmentalists and anti-nuclear activists, Nuclear Watch South, Natural Resources Defense Council, World Resources Institute, the Union of Concerned Scientists, the Federation of American Scientists, and the Environmental Defense Fund.

Nuclear Information and Resource Service

U.S. Nuclear Power Plant Operators, Owners and Holding Companies (Nuclear Energy Institute)

Partnership Formed to Build Nuclear Plants (by Matthew L. Wald, New York Times)

 

Office of Nuclear Energy FY 2014 Budget Request (U.S. Department of Energy) (pdf)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Controversies:

Secrecy at New Consortium on Nuclear Power

State lawmakers in Virginia upset environmentalists and open-government advocates in spring 2013 with the creation of a new agency to support development of nuclear power.

 

Under a new state law effective in July, a nonprofit corporation, the Virginia Nuclear Energy Consortium, was established comprising experts from the private sector, nonprofits, and higher education. The consortium is charged with collaborating on workforce development, educational opportunities, research opportunities, and other issues concerning nuclear energy.

 

A 17-member board will run the authority, and include representatives of the state Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy; the Virginia Economic Development Partnership; the Virginia Community College System; the four state universities with nuclear engineering programs: Virginia Commonwealth University, University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, and George Mason University; plus two other institutions of higher education and six individuals representing the nuclear energy industry.

 

Environmentalists opposed the consortium because its work might lead to more nuclear power plants in the state, while good-government organizations opposed it because the new law exempted the consortium, which is a government-affiliated agency that uses public funds, from complying with the state’s Freedom of Information Act and other laws.

Nuclear authority generates controversy (by Stephen Nielsen, Capital News Service)

 

New Georgia Plant Goes over Budget

Considered a test for the nuclear industry’s planned “renaissance,” the first American nuclear power plant project in more than two decades was reportedly over budget and a year behind schedule as of February 2013.

 

In documents filed with the Georgia Public Service Commission, the Atlanta-based unit of Southern Co. revealed for the first time that the effort to add two nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle near Augusta would cost an extra $381 million.

 

The total cost of the project was estimated to be $14 billion.

 

Delays in construction meant the planned completion of the first new reactor would not take place until late in 2017, one year later than originally scheduled. The second reactor wasn’t expected to go into service until late in 2018.

 

The $381 million in overruns included $244 million in operational readiness, quality, and compliance costs resulting from extending the schedule. Another $50 million was to cover taxes, and $24 million was for actual construction expenses.

 

An examination of the costs by two energy-consulting firms found that the project loan guarantees held favorable terms for the builders, lacked strict government oversight, and showed political finagling in the loan-guarantee process. Southern Co. and the Obama administration contended there was nothing irregular about the process.

Georgia Power: Nuclear plant expansion over budget (by Dave Williams, Atlanta Business Chronicle)

Georgia nuclear power plant could be Solyndra redux, report says (by Mark Clayton, Christian Science Monitor)

Initial deal announced on costs of Ga. nuke plant (by Ray Henry, Associated Press)

 

New Nuclear Fuel Causes Controversy

As the United States dismantles old nuclear weapons, a longstanding problem has been over what to do with the plutonium core inside each bomb or warhead.

 

The Obama administration decided in 2012 that it wanted to take the plutonium and mix with it uranium, in order to use it as a fuel in civilian nuclear-power reactors.

 

Several problems arose, however, from this proposed solution. For one thing, no existing nuclear plant can use the special mixed uranium-plutonium oxide fuel (MOX), which meant a new kind of reactor would have to be developed to use the fuel.

 

That could mean the building of more nuclear power plants, which many liberal groups oppose.

 

The Alliance for Nuclear Accountability (ANA) said the MOX fuel presented a number of challenges: technical, cost, and proliferation in that it might mean introducing plutonium into the world of commerce.

 

Instead, Congress should eliminate funding for the MOX program, ANA argued, claiming such a move would save the government $10 billion.

DOE Seeking More Reactors to Use Controversial Plutonium Fuel (MOX) (Alliance for Nuclear Accountability)

Time to Reconsider NNSA’s Plutonium Fuel (MOX) Program (by Tom Clements, Alliance for Nuclear Accountability)

The MOX Controversy - Costs (Nuclear Diner)

MOX Suspension on the Table in the Event of Sequestration (Nuclear Weapons & Materials Monitor)

 

New Generation of Reactors Costing Too Much

The new push for nuclear power put the Office of Nuclear Energy (NE) front-and-center in the controversy over funding. The NE saw its budget rise dramatically as a result of the new nuclear initiatives, but with that came scrutiny from the National Research Council, which was asked by the Office of Management and Budget to examine the NE’s nuclear programs. The NRC argued that funding for research and development of Gen-IV reactors, under the NE’s Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP), should be scaled back and instead money diverted to facilitating the startup of new commercial nuclear power plants based on existing technology under the Nuclear Power 2010 program. The problem, according to the report, was the futuristic technologies that the GNEP was relying upon were still decades away from fruition, making its budgetary outlays not cost-effective. The report also recommended scaling back funding for the Nuclear Hydrogen Initiative (pdf) because of its reliance on the lagging GNEP efforts.

NRC Report: DOE's Spent Nuclear Fuel Reprocessing R&D Program Should Be Scaled Back (National Academies)

Review of DOE’s Nuclear Energy Research and Development Program (pdf)

MIT Study: The Future of Nuclear Power

 

Dick Cheney’s Behind-Closed-Doors Energy Policy Grab

President George W. Bush was only months into his first term when Vice President Cheney unveiled the administration’s energy policy, a product of a working group composed of energy titans. Both the composition of the group and its policy recommendations regarding nuclear power provoked criticism by environmentalists, who were excluded from the effort, and who questioned the merits of trying to build more reactors in America. But with the growing chorus over global warming, nuclear proponents played up the industry’s clean-power merits, since nuclear power plants don’t produce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

This controversy is further documented in Tyrants: The World’s 20 Worst Living Dictators by David Wallechinsky.

 

Nuclear Giants’ Plans Come Under Attack in the South

In the last year of the George W. Bush presidency, the federal government pushed for the development of more nuclear power plants in the South, much to the dismay of local residents and environmental activists.

 

With $38.5 billion in loan guarantees approved by Congress, industry giants like Southern Company, Entergy, and Florida Power and Light considered investing in new reactors.

 

Anti-nuclear groups like Nuclear Watch South objected to the incentives, saying they represented a risky investment for taxpayers in a dangerous source of energy. Not risky for the banks, though, because the government was putting up a guarantee of 80% of the loan amount if the utilities couldn’t pay them back.

 

Five sites had applied for the first combined licensing applications in 32 years from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. They were located in south Texas, Bellefonte in Alabama, Calvert Cliffs in Maryland, North Anna in Virginia, and Lee Site in South Carolina.

 

At least four companies had applied for Early Site Permits to build new plants in Grand Gulf, Mississippi; Clinton, Illinois; North Hanna, Virginia; and Plant Vogtle in Burke County, Georgia (see “New Georgia Plant Goes over Budget” controversy).

Protests Greet Nuclear Power Resurgence in US South (by Matthew Cardinale, Inter Press Service)

Bush Would Export Nuclear Fuel, Power Plants to Developing Nations (Environment News Service)

The Nuclear Option (by Judith Lewis, Mother Jones)

 

Nuclear Energy Research Programs As a Security Threat

In the early days of the George W. Bush administration, a leading environmental group accused the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy, Science and Technology of pursuing research programs that could pose a significant threat to U.S. national security.

 

The programs in question, Generation IV (also known as Gen-IV) and the Advanced Fuel Cycle Initiative, were intended to identify, design, and deploy new and advanced commercial nuclear power reactor and fuel-cycle technologies, DOE insisted.

 

The problem with these programs, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council, was their potential to assist non-nuclear weapons states, including South Korea, Brazil, and Argentina, to develop and produce large quantities of nuclear weapon-usable materials. This could occur if the U.S. helps these states construct pilot reprocessing plants, train experts in plutonium and actinide chemistry and plutonium metallurgy, and by encouraging them to reprocess nuclear fuel to recover plutonium.

 

This development could prove especially alarming because, it may lead to the spread of nuclear weapon materials to countries with unstable political regimes or even to terrorists.

DOE's Nuclear Energy Research Programs Threaten National Security (Natural Resources Defense Council)

Impossibility of Nuclear Security (by Michael Levi and David Rubinstein, Council on Foreign Relations)

Decline Of U.S. Uranium Enrichment Industry Threatens Security & Energy Goals (by Loren Thompson, Lexington Institute)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Suggested Reforms:

Reforms Aim at Innovation

Two nonprofit organizations in April 2013 released what they called a blueprint for reform and restructuring at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to refocus its work on energy innovation.                    

 

The report, “Putting Energy Innovation First: Recommendations to Refocus, Reform, and Restructure the U. S. Department of Energy,” a collaborative effort by the Clean Air Task Force, an environmental organization, and the Energy Innovation Reform Project, a conservative organization promoting advanced energy technologies, offered several recommendations for officials to consider, including:

 

  • consolidate the Energy and Science programs under a single under secretary,

 

  • break the technology-specific silos for applied energy R&D program offices and replace them with offices focused on end use (such as power and grid technologies and transportation technologies),          

 

  • and free the National Laboratories from DOE’s procedural micromanagement and evaluate them instead on their progress in overcoming specific technology challenges and other strategic outcomes.

New Report Challenges Next Energy Secretary To Reform and Restructure Department to Focus on Energy Innovation (Clean Air Task Force and Energy Innovation Reform Project)

New Report Challenges Next Energy Secretary to Reform and Restructure Department to Focus on Energy Innovation, Calls Department of Energy “An Underperforming Agency” (Smart Energy Universe)

 

Consolidate Nuclear Labs

The inspector general for the DOE recommended, for the second time, in March 2013 that the agency establish a program similar to the military’s base closure effort to streamline, downsize, or shut some of the 16 national laboratories.

 

Inspector General Gregory H. Friedman told Congress that DOE cannot continue its business-as-usual approach by maintaining so many labs in a time of budget cuts, especially since, out of the $10 billion in annual operating costs, more than one-third goes to administration, overhead, and indirect expenses.

 

Friedman called on the DOE to focus its funding on research programs that could yield maximum short-term benefits. The DOE should also funnel its $6 billion annual environmental cleanup funds into a few high-risk, high-priority programs rather than spread the money out over sites in multiple states.

 

But Friedman did not make any specific recommendations on closures.

DOE inspector general recommends consolidating national labs (by Douglas Birch, Center for Public Integrity)

Energy IG Pushes to Consolidate Nuclear Labs, Again (Project on Government Oversight)

 

Improving the Isotope Program

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recommended in 2012 that the DOE improve pricing and do a better job of managing production and supply in its Isotope Program.

 

GAO auditors recommended setting prices for commercially sold isotopes that factor in the full cost of production, such as labor and infrastructure costs. Commercial isotopes include cesium-137 (used to treat cancers, as well as to control the flow of oil in pipelines), Americium-241 (used in smoke detectors and to detect lead in paint), nickel-63 (used to detect explosives), and thorium-230 (used to give glazes and glassware their color).

 

The Isotope Program “has not assessed the value of isotopes to customers or defined what factors it will consider when it sets prices for commercial isotopes. ... As a result, the program does not know if its full-cost-recovery prices are set at appropriate levels so as not to distort the market, and it may be forgoing revenue that could further support its mission,” the GAO said in its report.

 

DOE officials were encouraged to consolidate the lists of high-priority isotopes to ensure resources are focused on the most important ones, in addition to identifying and managing risks to isotope production, such as a short supply of those that are key.

MANAGING CRITICAL ISOTOPES: DOE's Isotope Program Needs Better Planning for Setting Prices and Managing Production Risks (Government Accountability Office)

GAO to DoE: Get isotope house in order (AuntMinnie.com)

 

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Debate:

Should the U.S. invest more in nuclear power?

Beginning with the George W. Bush administration and continuing into the Obama years, nuclear power arose as a contentious issue within the larger discussion over America’s energy future.

 

The 21st century discussion was prompted by pro-nuclear power voices within the Bush White House, namely Vice President Dick Cheney. Industry proponents claimed it was time for the federal government to take another look at helping companies build new reactors, which the U.S. turned away from following the Three Mile Island accident in 1979.

 

When Barack Obama was elected, many observers thought nuclear power’s days were over, again, what with the new administration talking so highly about renewable forms of energy that didn’t involve uranium and isotopes—that the future would be about wind and solar.

 

But over time, some Obama officials acknowledged that nuclear power might still play a role in meeting the country’s need for electricity. Even some environmentalists began saying nuclear power was something to consider, given that it did not exacerbate global warming like coal-powered plants do.

 

The positions of these “green” leaders provoked an angry response from others in the environmental movement who insisted nuclear power was far from “clean” and that it made little sense for the government to invest in new reactors.

Old Foes Soften to New Reactors (by Felicity Barringer, New York Times)

Environmentalists Oppose Bush-Cheney Plan to Revitalize Nuclear Power Industry (Nuclear Information and Resource Service)

Do you think we should build more nuclear power plants? (Debate.org)

The Nuclear Debate (World Nuclear Association)

 

Pro:

In this age of global warming, supporters of nuclear energy place great emphasis on how clean it can be as a power source. They insist more nuclear power plants will help reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, by cutting down on the need for electricity generated from coal-fired plants. This move will help the effort to slow down global warming and its effects on the world’s climate.

 

Backers also laud the fact that nuclear power is almost inexhaustible, given that the world’s reserve of uranium could produce energy to meet the demands of human power consumption for 1,980,000 years.

 

Even several prominent environmentalists have said that nuclear power should be reconsidered as a remedy for global warming.

 

Stewart Brand, a founder of the Whole Earth Catalog, told The New York Times: “It’s not that something new and important and good had happened with nuclear, it’s that something new and important and bad has happened with climate change.”

 

In addition, proponents say using nuclear power for energy instead of coal has prevented almost two million air-pollution-related deaths around the world, and could save millions more lives in the future, according to James Hansen, a climate scientist and global warming specialist who retired in spring 2013 from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration after 46 years on the job.

Top 5 reasons why intelligent liberals don’t like nuclear energy (by Ashutosh Jogalekar, Scientific American)

Nuclear power is our gateway to a prosperous future (by A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and Srijan Pal Singh, The Hindu)

Over Time, Nuclear Power Would Kill Fewer People Than Petroleum (by Rebecca Boyle, Popular Science)

 

Con:

Opponents of nuclear power say the industry has tried to revitalize itself by manipulating the public’s worry over global warming and energy insecurity to promote nuclear power as a clean and safe way to curb emissions of greenhouse gases and reduce dependence on foreign energy resources. 

 

But the reality is nuclear power generation is a dirty, dangerous, and expensive form of energy that poses serious risks to human health, national security, and U.S. taxpayers, according to Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR), an anti-nuclear group.

 

PSR says enormous quantities of radioactive waste are created each year during the nuclear fuel process, including 2,000 metric tons of high-level radioactive waste and 12 million cubic feet of low-level radioactive waste in the U.S. alone. Moreover, about 58,000 metric tons of highly radioactive spent fuel already has accumulated at reactor sites around the U.S. for which there currently is no permanent repository.

 

Opponents also object to the claim by supporters that nuclear energy is safe. They respond with two words: Chernobyl, Fukushima. These meltdowns in Russia and Japan demonstrated just how risky nuclear power can be, not only for the areas immediately surrounding the plants but also for anyone down wind, including those living hundreds of miles away.

 

The critics also contend that investing in nuclear power would actually make climate change even worse. According to studies by the Rocky Mountain Institute, nuclear energy is seven times less cost-effective at displacing carbon than is energy efficient. For example, a dollar invested in insulating a drafty house displaces seven times more coal than a dollar invested in a nuclear power plant because of the large capital costs involved with nuclear power.

 

Wind power, solar power, and wave power are far better ideas to promote and get behind because they are cleaner, more efficient, and less damaging.

Bush's Nuclear Nonsense (by Mark Hertsgaard, Tom Paine)

Dirty, Dangerous and Expensive: The Truth About Nuclear Power (Physicians for Social Responsibility)

 

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Former Directors:

Warren F. “Pete” Miller, Jr.            (August 2009 -

Biography (AllGov)

 

Dennis Spurgeon       (April 2006 –

Biography (AllGov)

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Comments

Darian L Smith 2 years ago
Liquid Flouride Thorium reactors seem to be the safest and most decentralized pathway to energy independence. See ThoriumEnergyFuture.com for a good summary. It is a good video that illustrates the benefits.
warren miller 2 years ago
hello director warren miller, i’m writing this letter in the hopes of you helping the american nuclear test workers who were put at risk to serve the national security interests of the united states. at the present time there are several programs to aid the nuclear test workers in our country, the veterans administration (va), the energy employees occupational illness compensation program (eeoicp) and the radiation exposure compensation act (reca).the eeoicp covers the workers but o...
Thomas Krauser 3 years ago
I would assume with all the experts working on cooling the fuel that this would have been considered but I will suggest it anyway: In order to get water into the fuel pool building, assuming there is a hole in the roof they were trying to drop the water through, why can't they tie the ends of several fire hoses together without the nozzles on them and tie a heavy weight to the end of the fire hoses. The helicopter could drop the weight with the hoses attached through the hole the...

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Founded:
Annual Budget: $735.4 million (FY 2014 Request)
Employees: 416
Official Website: http://www.ne.doe.gov/
Office of Nuclear Energy
Miller, Warren (Pete)
Previous Director

Warren F. “Pete” Miller, Jr. was selected by President Barack Obama to fill two posts that oversee each end of nuclear energy—supplying it and storing its waste. First, Miller was nominated to be Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy in the Department of Energy, and about a week later, he was also chosen to serve as director of Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management. Industry observers believe Miller’s latter role will involve carrying out Obama’s wishes to end the controversial project to store nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. Miller was confirmed by the Senate for the first position on August 7, 2009, but his confirmation for the radioactive waste role was held up by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), who opposes the closing of Yucca Mountain.

 
Born in Chicago on March 17, 1943, Miller is one of five children raised by Warren F. Miller, Sr., and Helen Robinson Miller. His father worked as a milkman, delivering dairy products to homes in the Chicago area, and his mother worked as a secretary at the University of Chicago. Miller attended all-black inner city schools while growing up, and during high school, he enrolled in the Reserve Officers Training Corps, becoming commander of his ROTC unit. 
 
Miller attended West Point when very few African-Americans were admitted to the military academy. Only ten others were at the school while Miller was there, and only one other African-American cadet graduated from his class of 800. After his graduation in 1964 with a Bachelor of Science in nuclear engineering, Miller received training at the U.S. Army’s Airborne and Army Ranger schools.
 
His first Army assignment was in California with an air defense artillery unit. He sought out opportunities to work with computers, which led to his being sent to an Army supply school. After completing this training, Miller, then a captain, was shipped to Vietnam, where he saw combat during his 13-month tour in Southeast Asia and was company commander for an early computer repairs supply unit.
 
Three months after leaving the Army, Miller entered Northwestern University in September 1969 to attend graduate school. In three years he earned both his master’s and doctoral degrees in nuclear engineering, and then stayed on at Northwestern as an assistant professor to teach and conduct research.
 
In 1974, Miller’s fascination with computers resulted in his leaving Northwestern for a position at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico to work with a new supercomputer. He wound up spending the next 27 years at the lab, rising from his entry-level job to associate lab director for math and physics, associate lab director for energy research, and senior research advisor.
 
From 1990-1992 Miller took time off from his laboratory work to teach at the University of California, Berkeley. He has also taught at Howard university and the University of Michigan. After retiring from Los Alamos in 2001, he became a private consultant and has taught part-time at Texas A&M University, along with serving as associate director of the school’s Nuclear Security Science and Policy Institute.
 
Miller was elected a fellow of the American Nuclear Society in 1982, and joined the National Academy of Engineering in 1996. Miller is the co-author, in 1984, of Computational Methods of Neutron Transport, which became a standard textbook for engineering students.
 
During his Senate confirmation hearing, Miller told lawmakers that nuclear power must play a key role in the country’s energy strategy, and he promised, if confirmed, to help deploy a new generation of nuclear reactors. He also said he would form a blue ribbon panel to study strategies for managing spent fuel and nuclear waste, presumably to forge an alternative plan to Yucca Mountain.
 
Miller and his wife Judith have two sons.
 
Warren F. Miller Jr. Biography (Biography.jrank.com)
Black Biography (by Tina Gianoulis, Answers.com)
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Spurgeon, Dennis
Former Assistant Secretary
Dennis Spurgeon  led the Office of Nuclear Energy beginning in April 2006 while holding the title of Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy. Spurgeon’s appointment to head the NE represented an increase in title for the department which had previously been lead by a director, William Magwood.
 
Spurgeon graduated with distinction from the US Naval Academy and served in the U.S. Navy, achieving the rank of captain. He later received his masters of science in nuclear engineering and the degree of nuclear engineer from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. While serving in the navy, Spurgeon served as technical assistant to Commissioner Tommy Thompson and later to Dr. Glenn Seaborg, chairman of the AEC. 
 
He also served as a member of the White House task force that developed President Ford’s nuclear policy and as Assistant Director for Fuel Cycle in the Energy Research and Development Administration. 
 
Spurgeon then went to work in the private sector for the General Atomic Company, where he assisted in the development of nuclear reactor plants for electric power generation.  He also held executive positions at the former United Nuclear Corporation, where as CEO he managed the manufacturing of reactor cores for the Navy and operation of the department’s former N-reactor, located at the Hanford Reservation. He then served as chairman, CEO and principal owner of Swift Group, LLC, an international leader in shipbuilding for commercial and military markets. Prior to joining the NE, Spurgeon served as executive vice president and CEO for USEC, Inc. an international supplier of enriched uranium for nuclear plants. 
 
In 1997, Spurgeon was the president of the Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland, when it hosted the U.S. Open golf tournament.
 
 
 
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Overview:

Located within the Department of Energy (DOE), the Office of Nuclear Energy (NE) is responsible for implementing programs designed to promote the development and expansion of nuclear power, both in the U.S. and overseas.  The U.S. produces more than 30% of the world’s nuclear generation of electricity, making it the largest producer of nuclear energy on the planet. Nuclear power currently provides more than 19% of the U.S. electricity generation, with plans to increase this number as federal officials promote the construction of new nuclear power plants based on cutting-edge technologies that will help address other pressing energy policy issues, including developing of hydrogen fuel for automobiles and lowering greenhouse gas emissions affecting climate change. As many as six new nuclear plants are expected to come online by 2020, and 50 small modular reactors are to be built by 2040.

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History:

Nuclear power first began to evolve prior to World War II thanks to several landmark breakthroughs in physics. In 1934, physicist Enrico Fermi conducted experiments in Rome showing neutrons could split many types of atoms. This was followed by the work of German scientists Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassman who fired neutrons from radium and beryllium into uranium, causing it to fission. This set the stage for the world’s first controlled atomic chain-reaction at the University of Chicago in 1942 by scientists who would go on to work for the Manhattan Project, the top-secret U.S. government program that built the atomic bombs that were dropped on Japan.

 

Following the end of World War II, the federal government created the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) to promote the development of nuclear energy. The AEC authorized the building of the first commercial nuclear reactor (Experimental Breeder Reactor I) in Idaho, which produced the first electricity from nuclear energy in 1951. A major goal of nuclear research in the mid-1950s was to show that nuclear energy could produce electricity for commercial use. The first commercial electricity-generating plant powered by nuclear energy was located in Shippingport, Pennsylvania.

 

Private industry became more involved in developing light-water reactors after Shippingport became operational. The nuclear power industry grew rapidly in the 1960s as utility companies saw this new form of electricity production as economical. By 1971, 22 commercial nuclear power plants were operating in the U.S., producing 2.4% of the nation’s electricity.

 

In 1974, Congress passed the Energy Reorganization Act (pdf) which divided the AEC’s functions into two new agencies—the Energy Research and Development Administration (ERDA), to carry out research and development, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), to regulate nuclear power. The 1970s also saw the government begin to grapple with the problem of how to dispose of nuclear waste from reactors, which was beginning to accumulate at plants around the country.

 

Some scientists and industry leaders proposed a way to recycle, or reprocess, spent nuclear fuel by using it again in nuclear reactors. This idea was controversial because of the danger that reprocessing brought about—namely, an unwanted surplus of plutonium, which can be used in nuclear bombs. Before spent fuel could be reprocessed back into reactors, the plutonium inside had to be extracted, which was done by chopping up fuel rods and dissolving them in acid and then extracting plutonium in an almost pure form. This process was derived in the 1950s from the U.S. nuclear weapons program, which used plutonium in warheads. Some officials worried about this surplus plutonium falling into the wrong hands. President Jimmy Carter, a nuclear engineer, sided with opponents of reprocessing and ended the idea of reprocessing by deferring indefinitely any plans to use spent nuclear fuel in this manner. President Carter also took another significant action with regards to energy policy by creating the Department of Energy (DOE), a cabinet-level replacement for ERDA.

 

The year 1979 also marked the beginning of the end for the nuclear power industry’s momentum when the worst accident in U.S. commercial reactor history occurred at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Although no one was injured in the accident, public approval of nuclear power began to wane, and it eroded even further following the Chernobyl nuclear accident in the then-Soviet republic of Ukraine in 1986. By the mid-1980s, nuclear power had become the second largest source of electricity, after coal, in the U.S., with 83 nuclear power reactors providing approximately 14% of the nation’s domestic electricity supply. Nuclear power reached its zenith in terms of plants and electricity generation in 1991, with 111 nuclear power plants producing a combined capacity of 99,673 megawatts, or almost 22 % of the electricity generated commercially in the United States.

 

During the 1980s, Congress began addressing the problem of what to do with the growing amount of spent nuclear fuel. In 1982, the Nuclear Waste Policy Act was adopted which ultimately led to the adoption of a single location in Nevada, known as Yucca Mountain, where commercial and defense nuclear waste would be stored underground for thousands of years. This idea has sparked controversy over the past three decades, and federal funding for the proposed Yucca Mountain repository came to an end in 2010. (For more information, see the Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board.)

 

By the 1990s, nuclear power was considered a dying industry, as no new plants were built.  In addition to the issues of waste disposal and public concerns over safety, nuclear power was proving to be extremely expensive. A single new plant would cost between $3-5 billion to build, and another $2-4 billion to decommission once it had reached its lifespan. Given all of these impediments, President Bill Clinton placed greater emphasis on energy research and development into alternative forms of energy, including wind, solar, and geothermal.

 

With the election of George W. Bush, however, the industry found a new champion, especially with Vice President Dick Cheney, who chaired a controversial working group during the early days of the administration that was charged with crafting a new energy policy for the country. Among the recommendations of the National Energy Policy Development Group was a call to begin building new nuclear power plants. This led to the implementation of Nuclear Power 2010, a program run by the Office of Nuclear Energy (NE) to begin building new nuclear power plants by the end of the decade. The George W. Bush administration added to this effort with the release in 2006 of the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP), which was designed to foster the development of nuclear power worldwide. To achieve this plan, the GNEP crafted an international fuel-leasing regime where countries could establish nuclear power without the need for investing in fuel enrichment or processing facilities.

 

Since 2003, under George W. Bush, the NE’s budget grew nearly 70%.

 

In 2009, it established the Nuclear Energy University Programs to consolidate and integrate university research within the agency’s own technical programs, and to support innovative nuclear energy research with an eye toward sustaining a cutting-edge work force in the field.

 

In 2010, President Barack Obama approved an $8 billion loan guarantee for the construction of two new nuclear reactors in Georgia, which would be the first to be built in the U.S. since the 1970s. As of 2013, the first of those plants—a $14 billion project—has so far generated more controversy than energy, having already gone nearly $400 million over budget.

 

In 2013, the NE took the lead in the planned licensing of dozens of small nuclear power plants, based on the Obama administration’s announced long-range plans to build up to 50 small modular reactors by 2040. Initial deployments are anticipated in 2022. The goal is to have them ready to replace coal-fired power plants that may be retired in the decades ahead. Initial grants were awarded to reactor designer Babcock & Wilcox, which plans to build two small plants in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The NE expects the remainder of the grants to be awarded by the end of 2013.

Outline History of Nuclear Energy (World Nuclear Association)

Report of the National Energy Policy Development Group (pdf)

Energy Policy Act of 2005 (pdf)

Bush urges more refineries, nuclear plants (by Catherine Berger and Elaine Quijano, CNN)

Bush Seeks to Jump-Start Nuclear Power: Proposed Test of New Waste-Reprocessing Methods Aims to Ease Concerns Over Storage (by John J. Fialka, Wall Street Journal)

Map showing all nuclear reactors in U.S. (U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission)

Small Modular Reactors – Key to Future Nuclear Power Generation in the U.S. (by Robert Rosner and Stephen Goldberg, Energy Policy Institute at Chicago, The Harris School of Public Policy Studies) (pdf)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What it Does:

The Office of Nuclear Energy (NE) is the lead agency within the DOE charged with promoting and developing nuclear power. The NE helps spearhead new nuclear energy generation technologies, including plans to develop proliferation-resistant nuclear fuel that can maximize energy from other nuclear fuel. The NE also maintains and enhances the national nuclear technology infrastructure and manages research laboratories and radiological facilities. The programs funded by the NE are designed to develop new nuclear reactors that will help diversify the domestic energy supply through public-private partnerships.

 

NE manages the following programs and initiatives:  

 

Nuclear Reactor Technologies

These include small modular nuclear reactors, light water reactors, advanced reactor technologies, and space power systems.

 

Fuel Cycle Technologies

This program oversees five research and development campaigns, working toward the long-term goals of deploying systems for nuclear-generated electricity, and implementing safe strategies for management of used nuclear fuel and high-level waste, including both storage and permanent disposal solutions.

 

Nuclear Facility Operations The Idaho Operations Office oversees contract activities at an 889-square-mile high desert site, dedicated to meeting environmental, energy, nuclear technology, and national security needs.

 

Advanced Modeling and Simulation

Referred to as the NEAMS program, this initiative consists to two operations: the Fuels Product Line and the Reactors Product Line. Teams concentrating on the Fuels Product Line investigate the materials that comprise and surround nuclear fuel. The Reactor Product Line team focuses on developing design tools to study the full reactor system. 

 

Generation IV Nuclear Energy Systems (Gen-IV)

Since the beginning of commercial nuclear energy, three generations of nuclear reactors have been used. Generation I represented the first commercial reactors, such as the one at Shippingport. Generation II came online in the sixties and seventies, and Generation III, or light-water reactors, were the last to be built in the eighties. Gen-IV is dedicated to producing the fourth generation of nuclear reactor by 2030. Gen-IV reactors are expected to be less expensive to build, safer to operate, and produce less nuclear waste.

 

Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP)

The GNEP is designed to foster the growth of nuclear energy worldwide. The U.S., in partnership with France, Japan, and Russia, will work to develop new reactors for use in developing countries, which would use nuclear fuel supplied by developed countries. Bilateral agreements will require developing countries to return spent nuclear fuel to developed countries to minimize the risk of terrorists gaining access to the fuel. The GNEP is highly dependent upon the success of other NE programs, specifically AFCI and Gen-IV.

 

Laboratory Facilities Management

This office manages programs that support work at four nuclear research laboratories: Idaho National Laboratory (INL), Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee, Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in New Mexico and at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) in New York. The support work ranges from maintaining the infrastructure at these labs to maintaining the safety and security of lab employees and classified information.

 

Nuclear Energy University Program

This program was established with the goal of consolidating and integrating university research within the agency’s own technical programs, and to support innovative nuclear energy research with an eye toward sustaining a cutting-edge work force in the field.

 

Nuclear Hydrogen Initiative (NHI) (pdf)

This program is exploring ways to produce hydrogen as a byproduct of nuclear energy so that the hydrogen can be used as fuel for automobiles, thus reducing the nation’s dependence on foreign oil. Hydrogen is the most common element in the universe and can be produced from sources such as methane and water. However, existing hydrogen production methods are either inefficient or produce greenhouse gases. The success of the Gen-IV program to produce a new breed of reactor will help determine whether the hydrogen program gets off the ground.

 

Nuclear Energy Enabling Technologies

This program develops technologies that support the agency’s advanced reactor and fuel cycle concepts. Its research efforts focus on challenges that confront such R&D programs as Light Water Reactor Sustainability, Next Generation Nuclear Plant, Advanced Reactor Technologies, and Small Modular Reactors. Three main elements make up the program: Crosscutting Technology Development, National Scientific User Facility, and Energy Innovation Hub for Modeling and Simulation.

 

Nuclear Fuel Supply Security

This office is responsible for helping secure the safety of the nation’s nuclear fuel supply, particularly in the areas of uranium enrichment. Nuclear Fuel Supply Security provides advice on policy issues related to commercial aspects of uranium mining, milling, conversion, enrichment, and fuel fabrication. It also monitors nuclear fuel market issues involving implementation of the US/Russia HEU Agreement (pdf) which is converting 500 megatons of highly enriched uranium (HEU) from dismantled Russian nuclear warheads for use in U.S. commercial reactors.

 

Nuclear Power 2010

This program, unveiled in 2002, is geared toward new construction of modified Gen III light-water reactors by the beginning of the next decade. Formed as a public/private partnership, Nuclear Power 2010 is identifying sites for new nuclear plants, developing new reactor technologies, evaluating business models for building new plants and crafting new regulations that reduce barriers to new plant construction. The 2010 deadline was missed, but work has continued.

 

Radioisotope Power Systems

This office supplies Radioisotope Power Systems (RPS), or small nuclear engines, to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration for space missions that are beyond the capabilities of fuel cells, solar power, and battery power supplies. The RPS provides the energy for space missions to Mars and the moon as well as orbital missions around the earth and sun.

 

Additional programs overseen by the NE include:

 

  • Reactor Concepts Research, Development and Demonstration - Designed to develop new and advanced reactor designs and technologies.
  • Radiological Facilities Management - Maintains the nuclear facilities and infrastructure needed to support space mission requirements and research reactor programs.
  • Fuel Cycle Research and Development - This program ranges from finding more efficient methods of extracting uranium to techniques to improve waste management.
  • International Nuclear Energy Cooperation - Provides NE with the ability to meet growing demands for engagement with international partners on civil nuclear policy, R&D, and related activities.
  • Nuclear Energy Enabling Technologies - Conducts R&D in crosscutting technologies that may lead to improvements in safety, performance, reliability, economics, and proliferation risk reduction, and promote solutions to an array of nuclear energy challenges related to reactor and fuel-cycle development.
  • Safeguards and Security - This program, designed to protect the Idaho National Laboratory is, from a budgetary viewpoint, segregated from other NE programs as it is designated as a national security activity. Forthcoming funding cuts are expected to impact the program, including layoffs of more than 80 employees.

Organization

A Roadmap to Deploy New Nuclear Power Plants in the United States by 2010

Hydrogen Program

Energy Information Administration

Department of Energy Announces New Nuclear Initiative

 

 

From the Web Site of the Office of Nuclear Energy

Blog Archive

Careers

Contact Information

Document Library

Funding Opportunities

History

International Nuclear Energy Research Initiative Annual Report

Leadership

Meetings of the Advisory Committee

Mission

News

Nuclear Deployment Scorecards

Nuclear Energy Advisory Committee

Nuclear Energy Research and Development Roadmap

Organization

Press Release Archive

Press Releases

Quarterly Nuclear Power Deployment Summary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Where Does the Money Go:

The Office of Nuclear Energy spent about $490.9 million on 947 contractor transactions during the past decade, according to USAspending.gov. The top five types of products and services paid for—and the amounts spent—were operation of government waste treatment and storage facilities ($200,000,000), various professional services ($48,579,670), operation of government research and development facilities ($47,127,000), other professional support ($45,826,556), and R&D management support services  ($32,737,670).

 

The top five recipients of this contractor spending during that period were:

1. URS Corporation                                        $200,677,814 

2. Metrica Team Venture                                  $58,962,079 

3. UChicago Argonne LLC                              $46,094,000 

4. Onpoint Consulting Inc.                               $38,289,985 

5. MELE Associates Inc.                                  $31,360,847 

 

Those who closely follow the NE fall on either side of the nuclear energy debate. Energy companies and public utilities are very involved with NE programs or at least closely monitor them. These stakeholders include Ohio Edison, the Tennessee Valley Authority, Duke Energy, Exelon Corporation, Pacific Gas & Electric, Georgia Power Company, Southern California Edison and more. The Nuclear Energy Institute, the industry’s lobby in Washington D.C., is another key player.

 

Other corporate stakeholders include contractors who run nuclear research labs that the NE is involved with. The Idaho National Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory are run by UT-Battelle, an applied science and technology company. Los Alamos National Laboratory is run by the Los Alamos National Security LLC, consisting of the University of California system, and engineering giants Bechtel, Babcock & Wilcox and URS Corporation.

 

General Electric and Westinghouse are also important stakeholders thanks to their long histories of developing and building reactors. Another player, who arrived on the scene in 2007, is UniStar Nuclear, owned by EDF.

 

A slew of environmental, anti-nuclear, and professional scientific organizations also keep watch on nuclear energy programs. Examples of these stakeholders include the Nuclear Information and Resource Service, a worldwide clearinghouse for environmentalists and anti-nuclear activists, Nuclear Watch South, Natural Resources Defense Council, World Resources Institute, the Union of Concerned Scientists, the Federation of American Scientists, and the Environmental Defense Fund.

Nuclear Information and Resource Service

U.S. Nuclear Power Plant Operators, Owners and Holding Companies (Nuclear Energy Institute)

Partnership Formed to Build Nuclear Plants (by Matthew L. Wald, New York Times)

 

Office of Nuclear Energy FY 2014 Budget Request (U.S. Department of Energy) (pdf)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Controversies:

Secrecy at New Consortium on Nuclear Power

State lawmakers in Virginia upset environmentalists and open-government advocates in spring 2013 with the creation of a new agency to support development of nuclear power.

 

Under a new state law effective in July, a nonprofit corporation, the Virginia Nuclear Energy Consortium, was established comprising experts from the private sector, nonprofits, and higher education. The consortium is charged with collaborating on workforce development, educational opportunities, research opportunities, and other issues concerning nuclear energy.

 

A 17-member board will run the authority, and include representatives of the state Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy; the Virginia Economic Development Partnership; the Virginia Community College System; the four state universities with nuclear engineering programs: Virginia Commonwealth University, University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, and George Mason University; plus two other institutions of higher education and six individuals representing the nuclear energy industry.

 

Environmentalists opposed the consortium because its work might lead to more nuclear power plants in the state, while good-government organizations opposed it because the new law exempted the consortium, which is a government-affiliated agency that uses public funds, from complying with the state’s Freedom of Information Act and other laws.

Nuclear authority generates controversy (by Stephen Nielsen, Capital News Service)

 

New Georgia Plant Goes over Budget

Considered a test for the nuclear industry’s planned “renaissance,” the first American nuclear power plant project in more than two decades was reportedly over budget and a year behind schedule as of February 2013.

 

In documents filed with the Georgia Public Service Commission, the Atlanta-based unit of Southern Co. revealed for the first time that the effort to add two nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle near Augusta would cost an extra $381 million.

 

The total cost of the project was estimated to be $14 billion.

 

Delays in construction meant the planned completion of the first new reactor would not take place until late in 2017, one year later than originally scheduled. The second reactor wasn’t expected to go into service until late in 2018.

 

The $381 million in overruns included $244 million in operational readiness, quality, and compliance costs resulting from extending the schedule. Another $50 million was to cover taxes, and $24 million was for actual construction expenses.

 

An examination of the costs by two energy-consulting firms found that the project loan guarantees held favorable terms for the builders, lacked strict government oversight, and showed political finagling in the loan-guarantee process. Southern Co. and the Obama administration contended there was nothing irregular about the process.

Georgia Power: Nuclear plant expansion over budget (by Dave Williams, Atlanta Business Chronicle)

Georgia nuclear power plant could be Solyndra redux, report says (by Mark Clayton, Christian Science Monitor)

Initial deal announced on costs of Ga. nuke plant (by Ray Henry, Associated Press)

 

New Nuclear Fuel Causes Controversy

As the United States dismantles old nuclear weapons, a longstanding problem has been over what to do with the plutonium core inside each bomb or warhead.

 

The Obama administration decided in 2012 that it wanted to take the plutonium and mix with it uranium, in order to use it as a fuel in civilian nuclear-power reactors.

 

Several problems arose, however, from this proposed solution. For one thing, no existing nuclear plant can use the special mixed uranium-plutonium oxide fuel (MOX), which meant a new kind of reactor would have to be developed to use the fuel.

 

That could mean the building of more nuclear power plants, which many liberal groups oppose.

 

The Alliance for Nuclear Accountability (ANA) said the MOX fuel presented a number of challenges: technical, cost, and proliferation in that it might mean introducing plutonium into the world of commerce.

 

Instead, Congress should eliminate funding for the MOX program, ANA argued, claiming such a move would save the government $10 billion.

DOE Seeking More Reactors to Use Controversial Plutonium Fuel (MOX) (Alliance for Nuclear Accountability)

Time to Reconsider NNSA’s Plutonium Fuel (MOX) Program (by Tom Clements, Alliance for Nuclear Accountability)

The MOX Controversy - Costs (Nuclear Diner)

MOX Suspension on the Table in the Event of Sequestration (Nuclear Weapons & Materials Monitor)

 

New Generation of Reactors Costing Too Much

The new push for nuclear power put the Office of Nuclear Energy (NE) front-and-center in the controversy over funding. The NE saw its budget rise dramatically as a result of the new nuclear initiatives, but with that came scrutiny from the National Research Council, which was asked by the Office of Management and Budget to examine the NE’s nuclear programs. The NRC argued that funding for research and development of Gen-IV reactors, under the NE’s Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP), should be scaled back and instead money diverted to facilitating the startup of new commercial nuclear power plants based on existing technology under the Nuclear Power 2010 program. The problem, according to the report, was the futuristic technologies that the GNEP was relying upon were still decades away from fruition, making its budgetary outlays not cost-effective. The report also recommended scaling back funding for the Nuclear Hydrogen Initiative (pdf) because of its reliance on the lagging GNEP efforts.

NRC Report: DOE's Spent Nuclear Fuel Reprocessing R&D Program Should Be Scaled Back (National Academies)

Review of DOE’s Nuclear Energy Research and Development Program (pdf)

MIT Study: The Future of Nuclear Power

 

Dick Cheney’s Behind-Closed-Doors Energy Policy Grab

President George W. Bush was only months into his first term when Vice President Cheney unveiled the administration’s energy policy, a product of a working group composed of energy titans. Both the composition of the group and its policy recommendations regarding nuclear power provoked criticism by environmentalists, who were excluded from the effort, and who questioned the merits of trying to build more reactors in America. But with the growing chorus over global warming, nuclear proponents played up the industry’s clean-power merits, since nuclear power plants don’t produce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

This controversy is further documented in Tyrants: The World’s 20 Worst Living Dictators by David Wallechinsky.

 

Nuclear Giants’ Plans Come Under Attack in the South

In the last year of the George W. Bush presidency, the federal government pushed for the development of more nuclear power plants in the South, much to the dismay of local residents and environmental activists.

 

With $38.5 billion in loan guarantees approved by Congress, industry giants like Southern Company, Entergy, and Florida Power and Light considered investing in new reactors.

 

Anti-nuclear groups like Nuclear Watch South objected to the incentives, saying they represented a risky investment for taxpayers in a dangerous source of energy. Not risky for the banks, though, because the government was putting up a guarantee of 80% of the loan amount if the utilities couldn’t pay them back.

 

Five sites had applied for the first combined licensing applications in 32 years from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. They were located in south Texas, Bellefonte in Alabama, Calvert Cliffs in Maryland, North Anna in Virginia, and Lee Site in South Carolina.

 

At least four companies had applied for Early Site Permits to build new plants in Grand Gulf, Mississippi; Clinton, Illinois; North Hanna, Virginia; and Plant Vogtle in Burke County, Georgia (see “New Georgia Plant Goes over Budget” controversy).

Protests Greet Nuclear Power Resurgence in US South (by Matthew Cardinale, Inter Press Service)

Bush Would Export Nuclear Fuel, Power Plants to Developing Nations (Environment News Service)

The Nuclear Option (by Judith Lewis, Mother Jones)

 

Nuclear Energy Research Programs As a Security Threat

In the early days of the George W. Bush administration, a leading environmental group accused the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy, Science and Technology of pursuing research programs that could pose a significant threat to U.S. national security.

 

The programs in question, Generation IV (also known as Gen-IV) and the Advanced Fuel Cycle Initiative, were intended to identify, design, and deploy new and advanced commercial nuclear power reactor and fuel-cycle technologies, DOE insisted.

 

The problem with these programs, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council, was their potential to assist non-nuclear weapons states, including South Korea, Brazil, and Argentina, to develop and produce large quantities of nuclear weapon-usable materials. This could occur if the U.S. helps these states construct pilot reprocessing plants, train experts in plutonium and actinide chemistry and plutonium metallurgy, and by encouraging them to reprocess nuclear fuel to recover plutonium.

 

This development could prove especially alarming because, it may lead to the spread of nuclear weapon materials to countries with unstable political regimes or even to terrorists.

DOE's Nuclear Energy Research Programs Threaten National Security (Natural Resources Defense Council)

Impossibility of Nuclear Security (by Michael Levi and David Rubinstein, Council on Foreign Relations)

Decline Of U.S. Uranium Enrichment Industry Threatens Security & Energy Goals (by Loren Thompson, Lexington Institute)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Suggested Reforms:

Reforms Aim at Innovation

Two nonprofit organizations in April 2013 released what they called a blueprint for reform and restructuring at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to refocus its work on energy innovation.                    

 

The report, “Putting Energy Innovation First: Recommendations to Refocus, Reform, and Restructure the U. S. Department of Energy,” a collaborative effort by the Clean Air Task Force, an environmental organization, and the Energy Innovation Reform Project, a conservative organization promoting advanced energy technologies, offered several recommendations for officials to consider, including:

 

  • consolidate the Energy and Science programs under a single under secretary,

 

  • break the technology-specific silos for applied energy R&D program offices and replace them with offices focused on end use (such as power and grid technologies and transportation technologies),          

 

  • and free the National Laboratories from DOE’s procedural micromanagement and evaluate them instead on their progress in overcoming specific technology challenges and other strategic outcomes.

New Report Challenges Next Energy Secretary To Reform and Restructure Department to Focus on Energy Innovation (Clean Air Task Force and Energy Innovation Reform Project)

New Report Challenges Next Energy Secretary to Reform and Restructure Department to Focus on Energy Innovation, Calls Department of Energy “An Underperforming Agency” (Smart Energy Universe)

 

Consolidate Nuclear Labs

The inspector general for the DOE recommended, for the second time, in March 2013 that the agency establish a program similar to the military’s base closure effort to streamline, downsize, or shut some of the 16 national laboratories.

 

Inspector General Gregory H. Friedman told Congress that DOE cannot continue its business-as-usual approach by maintaining so many labs in a time of budget cuts, especially since, out of the $10 billion in annual operating costs, more than one-third goes to administration, overhead, and indirect expenses.

 

Friedman called on the DOE to focus its funding on research programs that could yield maximum short-term benefits. The DOE should also funnel its $6 billion annual environmental cleanup funds into a few high-risk, high-priority programs rather than spread the money out over sites in multiple states.

 

But Friedman did not make any specific recommendations on closures.

DOE inspector general recommends consolidating national labs (by Douglas Birch, Center for Public Integrity)

Energy IG Pushes to Consolidate Nuclear Labs, Again (Project on Government Oversight)

 

Improving the Isotope Program

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recommended in 2012 that the DOE improve pricing and do a better job of managing production and supply in its Isotope Program.

 

GAO auditors recommended setting prices for commercially sold isotopes that factor in the full cost of production, such as labor and infrastructure costs. Commercial isotopes include cesium-137 (used to treat cancers, as well as to control the flow of oil in pipelines), Americium-241 (used in smoke detectors and to detect lead in paint), nickel-63 (used to detect explosives), and thorium-230 (used to give glazes and glassware their color).

 

The Isotope Program “has not assessed the value of isotopes to customers or defined what factors it will consider when it sets prices for commercial isotopes. ... As a result, the program does not know if its full-cost-recovery prices are set at appropriate levels so as not to distort the market, and it may be forgoing revenue that could further support its mission,” the GAO said in its report.

 

DOE officials were encouraged to consolidate the lists of high-priority isotopes to ensure resources are focused on the most important ones, in addition to identifying and managing risks to isotope production, such as a short supply of those that are key.

MANAGING CRITICAL ISOTOPES: DOE's Isotope Program Needs Better Planning for Setting Prices and Managing Production Risks (Government Accountability Office)

GAO to DoE: Get isotope house in order (AuntMinnie.com)

 

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Debate:

Should the U.S. invest more in nuclear power?

Beginning with the George W. Bush administration and continuing into the Obama years, nuclear power arose as a contentious issue within the larger discussion over America’s energy future.

 

The 21st century discussion was prompted by pro-nuclear power voices within the Bush White House, namely Vice President Dick Cheney. Industry proponents claimed it was time for the federal government to take another look at helping companies build new reactors, which the U.S. turned away from following the Three Mile Island accident in 1979.

 

When Barack Obama was elected, many observers thought nuclear power’s days were over, again, what with the new administration talking so highly about renewable forms of energy that didn’t involve uranium and isotopes—that the future would be about wind and solar.

 

But over time, some Obama officials acknowledged that nuclear power might still play a role in meeting the country’s need for electricity. Even some environmentalists began saying nuclear power was something to consider, given that it did not exacerbate global warming like coal-powered plants do.

 

The positions of these “green” leaders provoked an angry response from others in the environmental movement who insisted nuclear power was far from “clean” and that it made little sense for the government to invest in new reactors.

Old Foes Soften to New Reactors (by Felicity Barringer, New York Times)

Environmentalists Oppose Bush-Cheney Plan to Revitalize Nuclear Power Industry (Nuclear Information and Resource Service)

Do you think we should build more nuclear power plants? (Debate.org)

The Nuclear Debate (World Nuclear Association)

 

Pro:

In this age of global warming, supporters of nuclear energy place great emphasis on how clean it can be as a power source. They insist more nuclear power plants will help reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, by cutting down on the need for electricity generated from coal-fired plants. This move will help the effort to slow down global warming and its effects on the world’s climate.

 

Backers also laud the fact that nuclear power is almost inexhaustible, given that the world’s reserve of uranium could produce energy to meet the demands of human power consumption for 1,980,000 years.

 

Even several prominent environmentalists have said that nuclear power should be reconsidered as a remedy for global warming.

 

Stewart Brand, a founder of the Whole Earth Catalog, told The New York Times: “It’s not that something new and important and good had happened with nuclear, it’s that something new and important and bad has happened with climate change.”

 

In addition, proponents say using nuclear power for energy instead of coal has prevented almost two million air-pollution-related deaths around the world, and could save millions more lives in the future, according to James Hansen, a climate scientist and global warming specialist who retired in spring 2013 from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration after 46 years on the job.

Top 5 reasons why intelligent liberals don’t like nuclear energy (by Ashutosh Jogalekar, Scientific American)

Nuclear power is our gateway to a prosperous future (by A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and Srijan Pal Singh, The Hindu)

Over Time, Nuclear Power Would Kill Fewer People Than Petroleum (by Rebecca Boyle, Popular Science)

 

Con:

Opponents of nuclear power say the industry has tried to revitalize itself by manipulating the public’s worry over global warming and energy insecurity to promote nuclear power as a clean and safe way to curb emissions of greenhouse gases and reduce dependence on foreign energy resources. 

 

But the reality is nuclear power generation is a dirty, dangerous, and expensive form of energy that poses serious risks to human health, national security, and U.S. taxpayers, according to Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR), an anti-nuclear group.

 

PSR says enormous quantities of radioactive waste are created each year during the nuclear fuel process, including 2,000 metric tons of high-level radioactive waste and 12 million cubic feet of low-level radioactive waste in the U.S. alone. Moreover, about 58,000 metric tons of highly radioactive spent fuel already has accumulated at reactor sites around the U.S. for which there currently is no permanent repository.

 

Opponents also object to the claim by supporters that nuclear energy is safe. They respond with two words: Chernobyl, Fukushima. These meltdowns in Russia and Japan demonstrated just how risky nuclear power can be, not only for the areas immediately surrounding the plants but also for anyone down wind, including those living hundreds of miles away.

 

The critics also contend that investing in nuclear power would actually make climate change even worse. According to studies by the Rocky Mountain Institute, nuclear energy is seven times less cost-effective at displacing carbon than is energy efficient. For example, a dollar invested in insulating a drafty house displaces seven times more coal than a dollar invested in a nuclear power plant because of the large capital costs involved with nuclear power.

 

Wind power, solar power, and wave power are far better ideas to promote and get behind because they are cleaner, more efficient, and less damaging.

Bush's Nuclear Nonsense (by Mark Hertsgaard, Tom Paine)

Dirty, Dangerous and Expensive: The Truth About Nuclear Power (Physicians for Social Responsibility)

 

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Former Directors:

Warren F. “Pete” Miller, Jr.            (August 2009 -

Biography (AllGov)

 

Dennis Spurgeon       (April 2006 –

Biography (AllGov)

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Comments

Darian L Smith 2 years ago
Liquid Flouride Thorium reactors seem to be the safest and most decentralized pathway to energy independence. See ThoriumEnergyFuture.com for a good summary. It is a good video that illustrates the benefits.
warren miller 2 years ago
hello director warren miller, i’m writing this letter in the hopes of you helping the american nuclear test workers who were put at risk to serve the national security interests of the united states. at the present time there are several programs to aid the nuclear test workers in our country, the veterans administration (va), the energy employees occupational illness compensation program (eeoicp) and the radiation exposure compensation act (reca).the eeoicp covers the workers but o...
Thomas Krauser 3 years ago
I would assume with all the experts working on cooling the fuel that this would have been considered but I will suggest it anyway: In order to get water into the fuel pool building, assuming there is a hole in the roof they were trying to drop the water through, why can't they tie the ends of several fire hoses together without the nozzles on them and tie a heavy weight to the end of the fire hoses. The helicopter could drop the weight with the hoses attached through the hole the...

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Founded:
Annual Budget: $735.4 million (FY 2014 Request)
Employees: 416
Official Website: http://www.ne.doe.gov/
Office of Nuclear Energy
Miller, Warren (Pete)
Previous Director

Warren F. “Pete” Miller, Jr. was selected by President Barack Obama to fill two posts that oversee each end of nuclear energy—supplying it and storing its waste. First, Miller was nominated to be Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy in the Department of Energy, and about a week later, he was also chosen to serve as director of Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management. Industry observers believe Miller’s latter role will involve carrying out Obama’s wishes to end the controversial project to store nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. Miller was confirmed by the Senate for the first position on August 7, 2009, but his confirmation for the radioactive waste role was held up by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), who opposes the closing of Yucca Mountain.

 
Born in Chicago on March 17, 1943, Miller is one of five children raised by Warren F. Miller, Sr., and Helen Robinson Miller. His father worked as a milkman, delivering dairy products to homes in the Chicago area, and his mother worked as a secretary at the University of Chicago. Miller attended all-black inner city schools while growing up, and during high school, he enrolled in the Reserve Officers Training Corps, becoming commander of his ROTC unit. 
 
Miller attended West Point when very few African-Americans were admitted to the military academy. Only ten others were at the school while Miller was there, and only one other African-American cadet graduated from his class of 800. After his graduation in 1964 with a Bachelor of Science in nuclear engineering, Miller received training at the U.S. Army’s Airborne and Army Ranger schools.
 
His first Army assignment was in California with an air defense artillery unit. He sought out opportunities to work with computers, which led to his being sent to an Army supply school. After completing this training, Miller, then a captain, was shipped to Vietnam, where he saw combat during his 13-month tour in Southeast Asia and was company commander for an early computer repairs supply unit.
 
Three months after leaving the Army, Miller entered Northwestern University in September 1969 to attend graduate school. In three years he earned both his master’s and doctoral degrees in nuclear engineering, and then stayed on at Northwestern as an assistant professor to teach and conduct research.
 
In 1974, Miller’s fascination with computers resulted in his leaving Northwestern for a position at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico to work with a new supercomputer. He wound up spending the next 27 years at the lab, rising from his entry-level job to associate lab director for math and physics, associate lab director for energy research, and senior research advisor.
 
From 1990-1992 Miller took time off from his laboratory work to teach at the University of California, Berkeley. He has also taught at Howard university and the University of Michigan. After retiring from Los Alamos in 2001, he became a private consultant and has taught part-time at Texas A&M University, along with serving as associate director of the school’s Nuclear Security Science and Policy Institute.
 
Miller was elected a fellow of the American Nuclear Society in 1982, and joined the National Academy of Engineering in 1996. Miller is the co-author, in 1984, of Computational Methods of Neutron Transport, which became a standard textbook for engineering students.
 
During his Senate confirmation hearing, Miller told lawmakers that nuclear power must play a key role in the country’s energy strategy, and he promised, if confirmed, to help deploy a new generation of nuclear reactors. He also said he would form a blue ribbon panel to study strategies for managing spent fuel and nuclear waste, presumably to forge an alternative plan to Yucca Mountain.
 
Miller and his wife Judith have two sons.
 
Warren F. Miller Jr. Biography (Biography.jrank.com)
Black Biography (by Tina Gianoulis, Answers.com)
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Spurgeon, Dennis
Former Assistant Secretary
Dennis Spurgeon  led the Office of Nuclear Energy beginning in April 2006 while holding the title of Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy. Spurgeon’s appointment to head the NE represented an increase in title for the department which had previously been lead by a director, William Magwood.
 
Spurgeon graduated with distinction from the US Naval Academy and served in the U.S. Navy, achieving the rank of captain. He later received his masters of science in nuclear engineering and the degree of nuclear engineer from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. While serving in the navy, Spurgeon served as technical assistant to Commissioner Tommy Thompson and later to Dr. Glenn Seaborg, chairman of the AEC. 
 
He also served as a member of the White House task force that developed President Ford’s nuclear policy and as Assistant Director for Fuel Cycle in the Energy Research and Development Administration. 
 
Spurgeon then went to work in the private sector for the General Atomic Company, where he assisted in the development of nuclear reactor plants for electric power generation.  He also held executive positions at the former United Nuclear Corporation, where as CEO he managed the manufacturing of reactor cores for the Navy and operation of the department’s former N-reactor, located at the Hanford Reservation. He then served as chairman, CEO and principal owner of Swift Group, LLC, an international leader in shipbuilding for commercial and military markets. Prior to joining the NE, Spurgeon served as executive vice president and CEO for USEC, Inc. an international supplier of enriched uranium for nuclear plants. 
 
In 1997, Spurgeon was the president of the Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland, when it hosted the U.S. Open golf tournament.
 
 
 
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