Jim: Thanks for joining the discussion with your knowledge of the different aspects of energy use.
Those lucky enough to have been born into middle-class America at this time and place in history have been blessed beyond imagination. Even H.G. Wells would be amazed by our fantasy life. Our life of luxury has made us all energy parasites and now that we appreciate some of the impacts of our gluttony, we're in a huge dilema. Do we sacrifice our standard of living and live a more simple life or do we try to maintain our standard by coming up with alternative methods to obtain and reduce our energy demands??? The rate we are consuming fossil-fuels, the choice is coming sooner rather than later and it may not be one salvaged by simple conservation or a change in one's lifestyle. We may have to 'go off the Grid' even as we sit in our homes. As much as I have tried to downsize, I'm still using a hideous amount of energy just by my modern lifestyle. Where else in the World can someone drive a hundred plus miles so they can strap on a backpack and go for a dayhike? Even when I'm out of the house, I'm still sucking electricity to keep the home warm, make the ice for my drink, wash and dry my hiking clothes, turn on the Superbowl, communicate with this forum, etc.
The use of nuclear power is not the solution. The price paid by extracting the ore and getting it into a form that can be used in a nuclear energy plant places too high a toxic price tag on the environment and people. Other forms of energy generation do indeed foul the environment but not to the extent that uranium mining/milling and disposal of nuclear energy waste products. Mother Nature can heal from from some insults in a short time. Not so with the impacts of uranium extraction and use.
The World Nuclear Association (representing the Nuclear Power Industry) summerizes the current US nuclear power industry:
"The USA is the world's largest producer of nuclear power, accounting for more than 30% of worldwide nuclear generation of electricity. The country's 104 nuclear reactors produced 799 billion kWh in 2009, over 20% of total electrical output. Following a 30-year period in which few new reactors were built, it is expected that 4-6 new units may come on line by 2018, the first of those resulting from 16 licence applications to build 24 new nuclear reactors made since mid-2007.
Government policy changes since the late 1990s have helped pave the way for significant growth in nuclear capacity. Government and industry are working closely on expedited approval for construction and new plant designs. The USA has 104 nuclear power reactors in 31 states, operated by 30 different power companies. In 2008, the country generated 4,119 billion kWh net of electricity, 49% of it from coal-fired plant, 22% from gas and 6% from hydro. Nuclear achieved a capacity factor of 91.1%, generating 805 billion kWh and accounting for almost 20% of total electricity generated in 2008. Total capacity is 1088 GWe, less than one-tenth of which is nuclear.
Annual electricity demand is projected to increase to 5000 billion kWh in 2030. Annual per capita electricity consumption is currently around 12,400 kWh.
There are 69 pressurized water reactors (PWRs) with combined capacity of about 67 GWe and 35 boiling water reactors (BWRs) with combined capacity of about 34 GWe – for a total capacity of 101,263 MWe (see Nuclear Power in the USA Appendix 1: US Operating Nuclear Reactors). Almost all the US nuclear generating capacity comes from reactors built between 1967 and 1990. There have been no new construction starts since 1977, largely because for a number of years gas generation was considered more economically attractive and because construction schedules were frequently extended by opposition, compounded by heightened safety fears following the Three Mile Island accident in 1979. A further PWR – Watts Bar 2 – is expected to start up by 2012 following Tennessee Valley Authority's (TVA's) decision in 2007 to complete the construction of the unit.
Despite a near halt in new construction of more than 30 years, US reliance on nuclear power has continued to grow. In 1980, nuclear plants produced 251 billion kWh, accounting for 11% of the country's electricity generation. In 2008, that output had risen to 809 billion kWh and nearly 20% of electricity, providing more than 30% of the electricity generated from nuclear power worldwide. Much of the increase came from the 47 reactors, all approved for construction before 1977, that came on line in the late 1970s and 1980s, more than doubling US nuclear generation capacity. The US nuclear industry has also achieved remarkable gains in power plant utilisation through improved refuelling, maintenance and safety systems at existing plants.
While there are plans for a number of new reactors (see section on Preparing for new build below), the prospect of low natural gas prices continuing for several years has dampened these plans and probably no more than four new units will come on line by 2020."
(For this entire report: http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf41.html
This website contains a wealth of info regarding Nuclear Power.)
The European Nuclear Society has provided some numbers on nuclear power generation around the World:
http://www.euronuclear.org/info/encyclo ... d-wide.htm
As to how this relates to Uranium Mining at Grand Canyon: Dension is a 'Canadian' company and is partially owned (listed as 20%) by South Korea (also known as the Republic of Korea). This country has 21 nuclear plants with 5 on the way. Another Denison 'customer' is France, with 58 nuclear reactors and 1 on the way. The US already has sufficient stockpiles of necessary uranium to fuel the existing powerplants---if we dismantle our nuclear bomb arsenal we can convert this 'high-grade' material into 'lower-grade' fuel rods for our existing powerplants. This uranium has already been bought and paid for by the Navajo people over the length of the Cold War and the uranium mining conducted on their land.
In other words, the uranium mining around the Grand Canyon will not be used to fuel nuclear power plants for the US. It will be mined and milled here in the US with the final product then going to other nations. Any environmental hazards resulting from the mining/milling we be left on US soil. How that uranium gets used/abused/and disposed of is out of our control. The EPA clean-up of Navajo Nation is still in progress---it took this long to both acknowledge the damage and to get all parties involved to conduct clean-up actions. Can you imagine getting a South Korean company to pay for damages to Grand Canyon? Can you imagine a South Korean company having concern for the Havasupai people and whether that Native American culture is being destroyed? The uranium mines switch hands like baseball trading cards---good luck with tracking down ownership and responsibility---the uranium wastes will have gone through several half-life decay cycles before we find the right lawyers to deal with. Also, one reason nuclear power plant construction slowed down here in the US for the past thirty years was a result of the accident at Three Mile Island plant and the resulting environmental controls, safety protocol, disposal requirements, etc. that made it less profitable for power utility plants to 'go nuclear.' I have no idea what the safety protocols are in some of the other nations---I certainly don't want to visit upon peoples in other nations the same contamination witnessed on Navajo Nation. Exactly where will South Korea discard their nuclear wastes??? The ocean is pretty handy. Nuclear power plants are a security nightmare in this age of Terrorism. Plants are natural terrorist targets. If you want to plan your next target, you can easily obtain info about the power plants: http://www.icjt.org/an/tech/software/software.htm
When Robert Oppenheimer, one of the developers of the first atomic bomb, witnessed the first detonation---he urged President Truman to destroy the bomb and all information on how it was built. It wouldn't have helped---Nazi Germany was in pursuit of the same weapon and probably would have succeeded had the Allies not won when they did. Enough scientists were on the trail of how to construct the weapon that the riddle of the bomb would have soon been solved. Now, given the right materials----meaning a source of uranium---the construction of a 'dirty bomb' is within the realm of those with sufficient dedication and hatred. Here for his famous quote regarding the atomic bomb:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9UHsEMXY ... re=related
No Uranium Mining at Grand Canyon.