Despite Fukushima, nuclear power is still surpreme!

Friday, April 22nd, was Earth Day and also a religious a day for Christians all over the world.  As religious expression is personal in nature I wish to expand upon the concept of Earth Day, whose purpose since conceived in 1970 has gone from environmental education to environmental activism.  Earth Day, 2011, has become a  “Green” movement to save the planet from Global Warming, man made and otherwise.

The flavor of the day is to vilify energy sources derived from fossil fuels.  The Chicago Tribune on April 22nd reported a controversy over the regulation of two so-called pollution-spewing, coal-fired power plants owned by Midwest Generation in Pilsen and the Little Village.

But where does the “Green” movement stand on Nuclear Energy, which is clean, safe, gives the biggest bang for the buck and which has been used since the time of Admiral Rickover in the Navy to power submarines, aircraft carriers and destroyers without incident.

To the credit of the Chicago Tribune, it’s editorial on Wednesday, April 20, After Fukushima, centered on the future of this nation’s nuclear industry after Fukushima without giving a thumbs down to the Nuclear Energy industry.

Fear mongering has become intense since the March incident at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Complex, when in Japan the reactors were destabilized when a powerful earthquake and a 30-foot tsunami wave destroyed the backup reactor electric suppliers.  It would be economic suicide for the American people to become skeptics of Nuclear Power because of Fukushima. 

One Uranium Fuel Pellet generates about as much energy as 3 barrels of oil (41 gallons each). 2 ton of coal, or 17,000 cubic feet of natural gas.

Irresponsible of legislators here in IL is their acceptance of the Dual Zion Nuclear Plant decommissioning without questioning the logic behind its destruction (a 2,000 megawatt facility), which, before shut down in 1998, neither spewed radioactive particles into the air, nor leaked radioactive particles into Lake Michigan.

Increasing future energy needs can not be met through wind and solar power.  They are not viable mass sources of energy.

State and federal decision-makers of today will reap the post-mortem blame if they fail to act decisively.  The moratorium against building new nuclear power plants in IL must be lifted 

My rebuttal to a YouTurn opinion piece by Paul A. Kakuris published in the weekend edition of the “Lake County News-Sun,” April 16-17, in which Kakuris presented outrageous claims relative to the News-Sun’s followup article about a forum presentation made by ZionSolutions and hosted by Senator Susan Garrett on April 9th.

For the past two-and-a-half years I have been immersed in a mission to have The Zion Station refurbished and reopened, after it was prematurely put into “safestore” by Exelon Corporation of Chicago in 1998

Safety issue minor compared to Zion’s premature and unwise destruction                                         

I read with interest Paul A. Kakuris’s “MY Turn” opinion piece in the weekend April 16-17 edition of the Lake County News-Sun, raising questions about how the paper covered Senator Susan Garrett’s April 9th forum about the decommissioning of the Zion Station.

It was evident that Kakuris’s attendance at Sen. Garrett’s forum was to make public his views — which the News-Sun article subsequently failed to report to his satisfaction — that the Zion Station, even after decommissioning, will, realistically, be a waiting-to-happen nuclear radiation catastrophe.

I also attended the forum, but with a heavy heart and with overwhelming sadness, as a Lake Bluff resident who has devoted much time and effort over the past two and one half years in my personal crusade to refurbish and restart the Zion Station. Let me remind my readers that Zion Station consists of two modern, environmentally clean, safe, 1000 + Megawatt nuclear power plants; that their Pressurized Water Reactors (PWR) were designed and built by Westinghouse; that they are located on seismically approved ground; and that they were prematurely shut down in 1998. 

Mr. Kakurkis’s piece contained outrageous assertions about the inability of presenter Patrick Daly of ZionSolutions to answer directly questions based on a virtually impossible “what if” scenario: terrorists breaching the air space to target the Zion Station with a large amount of high explosives.  

This nation does a pretty good job of protecting our seemingly vulnerable assets, the likes of which are found in virtually every state in the nation.  These vulnerable assets can’t all be moved “someplace else”, so they’re not close to us. Most of them are close to somebody.

Unfortunately, both Senators Kirk and Durbin have come out against the storage of nuclear fuel — spent or otherwise — at the Zion facility (“200 yards from Lake Michigan”, according to Sen. Kirk), whether it’s in operation or not.  As a consequence, even though Mr. Kakuris may have more hype than facts on his side, he’s got the politicians (known for hype, of course, not fact) on his side. 

However, since 09/11/2001, we have been on high alert in this country to the possibility of terrorist attacks anywhere, and especially against high stakes targets.

Mr. Kakuris wrote of a discussion about “how the nuclear-industrial complex significantly influences the Nuclear Regulatory commission by helping set the NRC standards, which then regulate the industry”, claiming that appropriate “checks and balances” are “sorely lacking”.

Kakuris’s implication was that the NRC’s regulation of the nuclear power industry is suspect, because the industry helps “set the NRC standards.”  He calls for “meaningful independent peer review”. 

One problem with providing such a review, is that in the nuclear power industry — as in every regulated industry — virtually all the subject matter experts are either in the industry, or in the regulatory agency (and most, if not all of those came from the industry).  Nearly all the others are retired from one or the other.

That’s not to say that the regulations cannot be scrutinized by other interested parties, who are then free to raise concerns.  This happens frequently, and occasionally such questioning leads to a Congressional inquiry.  There is, therefore a process for challenging and publicly examining regulation. 

The BP disaster is totally irrelevant to the questions raised concerning the Zion Station and the storage of radioactive materials.  In the case of the BP Deep Water Horizon, neither BP or the government regulators were following their own procedures.

Mr. Kakuris’s attempt to coin a term, “nuclear-industrial complex”, falls flat, because there is no such thing.  When Eisenhower coined the term, military-industrial complex, he was referring to a large and multi-facited industry, one that produced everything from ships to tanks to airplanes to weapons to ordnance, on the one hand, and the U.S. military, its customer, on the other. 

The military always wants the latest and greatest; industry always wants to develop the next great thing (but won’t do it for free); and Congress always wants to direct tax dollars “back to the district”. 

We’re all familiar with what that leads to.  In the case of the nuclear power industry, the customer(s) is private industry, not the government.

As far ZionSolutions personnel avoiding the “elephant in the room” in its presentation, it’s not the possibility of a terrorist attack, Mr. Kakuris, but the fact that decommissioning the Zion Station nuclear power plants is a terrible waste of a valuable resource.  Although restarting Zion might not put a downward pressure on electricity prices, its operation would spare us some coal emissions. . .somewhere.

Bruno Behrend, Director, Center for School Reform at The Heartland Institute, was the featured guest at the April 15th meeting of the Republican Assembly of Lake County, Ray True, Chairman, at the Comfort Inn in Mundelein.

His was a timely discussion of Education Reform in IL, as it coincided with news reports outlining a proposed  “landmark education reform deal” by IL legislators to curb tenure, layoffs by seniority, and teacher strikes.

Behrend warned that the existing bureaucracy, encompassing administration, teachers unions, and private interest enriched by the existing system are banding together to bleed tax payers while providing poor, and declining, educational product.

Citizens are confronting a gigantic government education complex (cartel), starting at the Federal Department of Education, encompassing fifty state agencies with 50 different school codes, which operates around 15,000 school districts.  “People think school districts give them local control,” said Behrend, “The reality is that every school district is merely a franchise of the cartel, like McDonald’s, only with a more limited menu.”

Teacher unions (the NEA and the IEA in Illinois), associations of administrators and board members are the high-ranking players within the government education cartel, which subvert any positive reform. Urban centers are now functioning as drop out factories, while most suburban schools barely rank above mediocre.  This country won’t survive if this dismal education trend continues.

Mr. Behrend disagrees with teachers who believe they can be an educational professional and a union drone at the same time.  According to Behrend, teachers should be free to teach their craft absent dickering (deal making) with unions over seniority, higher degrees, salaries, pensions, and then “I’m out at 55!”

Bruno also discussed the superintendent scam that exists at a state level in Illinois.  Illinois is known as “pension heaven” which draws superintendent candidates to Illinois to share in the gravy train. After retiring, superintendents often do consulting work for several schools or take another position out-of-state, still able to collect their generous Illinois pensions.

My interest level shot up when Bruno expressed a belief that the educational cartel is too ingrained here in Illinois for reform to take place.  Merely breaking the stranglehold of union power over teachers, administrators and school systems will not create a functioning and child-driven educational system.

What then can be done?  “Education reform isn’t working, the system needs to be dismantled and transformed” said Behrend.

This dismantlement and transformation must take place student-by-student and school-by-school through 1) Expanding vouchers and charters to create more “choice” infrastructure, 2) Empowering parents whose children attend failing schools by giving them power to exercise a “parent trigger” that forces change for failing schools, and 3) Rallying parents and citizens to become involved so there is a transfer of power (control) from the boards to the parents.

A handout by Bruno Behrend listed the following as basic to educational reform:

1. Fund Children, not systems, districts, unions, or bureaucracy.

2. The current system is beyond reform.  It cannot be fixed.

3. No amount of money will fix it.

4. Transform Through Managed Dismantlement, Not Reform.

5. We need to replace the Government Education Complex with an Open Source Learning Network where the money follows the child to a vast new array of learning options.

6. The state should set high standards, and allow an expanded number of education providers the opportunity to prove they can meet those standards.”

Heading Bruno Behrend’s education transformation list — and what he called the “silver bullets” — were tuition tax credits for charter schools, vouchers, and digital on-line learning.

Most Republicans support a voucher system here in Illinois, but some renegade Republicans are still owned by the education cartel.  Behrend told of legislators on the honest left who are on the cusp of understanding how vouchers must be a part of any real state school reform.

As to the so-called ambitious education reforms that are presently on the table in Springfield, Bruno Behrend called them a mere down payment of the kind of reform that is really needed here in Illinois.

The Republican Assembly of Lake County took pleasure in announcing that a number of its members ran and won positions in the recent Lake County Municipal Elections, despite being up against union supported and funded candidates.

Elected RALC Members:

  • Greg Clements – Round Lake Trustee
  • Bob Cook – Wauconda Park Board
  • Kip Evans – Grayslake District #46 School Board
  • Dee Georgou – Winthrop Harbor District #1 School Board
  • David Pfeifer – Waukegan #60 School Board
  • Dan Sugrue – Green Oaks Trustee
  • Ed Sullivan Sr – Village of  Mundelein Trustee

Zion Station consists of Two Modern Environmentally Clean, Safe, Lowest Cost Electricity Generation, 3 Loop 1000 + Megawatt Westinghouse Designed and Built, Operating Nuclear Fueled Pressured Water Reactor (PWR) Electricity Generating Plant, Located on Seismically Approved Ground.

As a Lake Bluff resident,  I can view the Zion Dual Nuclear Plant when looking northward from my town’s Sunrise Beach

For 2-1/2 years I have been engaged in a continuing effort to enlist others to heed my call and offer assistance to save Zion from its decommissioning fate, to one of refurbishing  and restarting.

With proper routine maintenance and upgrades, as happens to all machinery, both could be safely operated for a hundred years or more. 

Exelon has never explained WHY the two Nuclear Plants were unnecessarily and prematurely closed and placed in “safestore” in 1998 way before their time, WHEN these two Nuclear Plants while “OPERATING,” neither spewed radioactive particles into the air, nor leaked radioactive particles into Lake Michigan. 

Exelon refuses to this day to release its financial calculations as to its decision to shutter Zion Station in 1998, as well as two other financial calculations made, before Exelon transferred Zion to ZionSolutions for decommissioning on September 1, 2010. 

Also of importance is why Exelon Corporation never attempted to sell the Zion Plant to another party if Exelon was unable to operate Zion profitably?

The two Nuclear Plants were providing safe, environmentally clean, lowest cost electricity to the Electrical Grids, in a seismically approved location, not just to Northeast Illinois, helping to stabilize and possibly drive down the cost of electricity in rate payers monthly bills.   

Regarding nuclear waste, this nation, after foolishly rejecting an ideal national depository to store high level nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain, needs to start reprocessing nuclear fuel like in France, where 80% of that country’s electricity comes from nuclear power.  The radioactive waste from their 59 reactors over 30 years of operation is stored in a single room in Normandy as a result of reprocessing and reusing spent fuel. 

Not unexpectedly, US anti-nuclear groups on Monday, April 4, 2011, condemned a plant roughly one-third finished on the Department of Energy’s Savannah River site to build a plant where plutonium from weapons would be reprocessed into fuel for nuclear power plants.

When will the Nuclear Energy fear-mongering end that once again reared its ugly head during the recent incident at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex in March?  It was the March earthquake and tsunami in Japan that destabilized the reactors and caused radiation leaks due to the destruction of backup reactor electric suppliers. 

The 2,226 spent fuel rods now in Zion’s cooling pool can withstand a tornado up to 360 miles per hour and missiles up to 4,000 pounds.  Furthermore, Lake Michigan has never had a seisch (a wave) of more than 20 feet high. 

When will saner heads prevail to educate the American people about Nuclear Energy, instead of those in the print and broadcast media who have little or no knowledge about Nuclear Energy.

Enough with the “Pie in the Sky” dream that wind and solar power will ever become viable mass producers of energy!

These facts about Nuclear Power should be taught to every high school student in the U.S. 

1.  One Uranium Fuel Pellet, without being reprocessed and recycled, generates about as much energy as 3 Barrels of Oil (41 gallons each), 2 ton of Coal, or 17,000 cubic Feet of Natural Gas.

2.  Uranium-fued electrical generating plants produce abundant, cheap, clean and safe energy. 

3.  About 20% of electricity in the U.S. comes from uranium fuel.

4.  We depend on electricity to manufacture goods and provide services that assure safety, healthy living and conveniences in modern life.

May legislators and those in the energy field wise up before it is too late.  Others nations are investing in nuclear energy while this nation sits on the sidelines.  Since the time of Admiral Rickover the Navy has had Nuclear Powered Submarines, Aircraft Carriers and Destroyers, all with a stellar record of safely. 

Power is what drives the engine of our economy.  An ever increasing amount of energy will be required in future years to fuel economic growth and to sustain the quality of life for future generations. 

The Zion Station even now could be and should be refurbished and restarted, but time is running out.

Legislators should be outraged that Zion’s massive source of energy is scheduled to be wasted forever!

Nuclear Power is the way of the future.  If this nation fails to act decisively and in a timely way, the decision-makers of today will reap the post-mortem blame for their shortsightedness and lack of common sense.

My comments posted to Tribune article by TribLocal reporter, Sue Ter Maat, about Lake Forest Community High School District 115 board meeting where taxpayers questioned District 115 superintendent compensation and budget deficit.

Comments:

TribLocal reporter Sue Ter Maat wrote a nice article about the District #115 board meeting. As the individual who spearheaded transparency in Lake Forest School Districts #67 and 115 in my role as a Liberty Leader at the Illinois Policy Institute in Chicago, there was much that slipped beneath the radar of those who are not well versed in how taxpayers in Lake Forest and Lake Bluff are being gouged through spending that is out-of-control.

My truth alarm went off several times, especially during the first portion of the board meeting when school board members and Superintendent Griffith proceeded to question the velocity of information that has been making its round via the Internet.

By the time I was able to make my comments to board members and Dr. Griffith, concerned citizens had to sit through 20 minutes of prepared statements (spin) from the board and Griffith that carefully attempted to quell the fire that was being held within by many, who had no choice but to sit patiently waiting until their positive diatribe ended which attempted to elevate Lake Forest School District #115 almost to the status of sainthood.

ACT test scores were brought up as a way to prove the effectiveness of Superintendent Harry Griffith over the years to improve the education of students at Lake Forest High School. Tests scores are good, some of the best in the state, but can Superintendent Griffith really take much credit for how well students score in ACT tests? Students from Lake Forest and Lake Bluff would naturally do well under any superintendent, as they basically come from families who expect their children to do well, with parents who themselves went to college.

The deficit and financial condition of LF District 115 was explained away as a decline in state funding and property tax revenue and the five-year union contract that will expire in June. Just what will the new contract include that must be worked out by the end of June?  And will the public be privy to the contract deals made between the union and teachers and administrators?

The financial administrator of Lake Forest District #115 failed to address in his positive-sounding report, that according to the State of Illinois Board of Education, District 115 has been on their financial “early warning” status for the past three years. LFHS has accordingly joined a select group of districts (612 out of 900) that have reached this distinction. In District #115 there has been a dwindling reserve fund, with a steady decline of fund balances from 2007 ($2.0 MM) to 2010 ($1.5 MM), with a projected $1.5 MM in 2011. Illinois code requires school districts to maintain reserve fund balance of 20% of operating expenses; however, the current and projected fund balance below 2.5% is troubling.

As reporter Sue Maat stated in her article, the compensation of Superintendent Griffith was seriously questioned. Harry Griffith, as superintendent as Districts #67 and #115, receives compensation from both school district totaling $344,396. A chart was displayed depicting Superintendent Griffith’s salary as being lower than three other suburban school superintendents. The catch: In comparing Dr. Griffith’s salary to the top superintendent’s salary on the chart, that of Wilmette where there are two superintendents making a combined total of $503.04l, Griffith makes more in salary than either of the two Wilmette superintendents because his salary combines the compensation receives from both LF School Districts Superintendent Griffiths ranks as the 2nd highest paid superintendent in the entire state of IL, and when factoring in his additional perks and compensations, Griffith makes more money in a year’s time than the Governor of IL.

Disturbing to many at the board meeting who spoke after board members and Superintendent Griffith presented their take on what they called inaccurate information was that none of their questions would be addressed that evening. Instead, the board and the superintendent would require a few days to respond with written replies which most likely would be posted on the Internet.

I have noted some of the more egregious attempts at spin during last night’s #115 District board meeting. Facts I have presented cannot be disputed, because all have been verified and checked out through my Freedom of Information requests from the Lake Forest administration.

Check my blog for postings about Lake Forest School Districts #67 and #115: http://www.wordpress.com

Article by TribLocal reporter, Sue Ter Maat: 

District 115 superintendent compensation and budget deficit questioned

Sue Ter Maat TribLocal reporter Wednesday at 7:59 a.m. Superintendent Harry Griffith’s salary and Lake Forest Community High School District 115 budget deficit this week became the focal point of a school board meeting when residents showed up to vent about both issues.

In a packed school board meeting Tuesday at Lake Forest High School’s west campus, seven people spoke out about district finances, peppering board members with a flurry of questions. While some residents said they were outraged by the way the school board had managed taxpayers’ money, a few applauded the board. Others simply wanted answers

At issue was Griffith’s $344,396 compensation package and the district’s $1.5 million budget deficit for this fiscal year, which ends in June. Lake Bluff’s Nancy Thorner, whose school district blog sparked community interest in the district’s money matters, asked for the resignations of board presidents Sharon Golan of District 115 and Julia Wold of Lake Forest School District 67. Griffith is superintendent of both districts. “This carelessness has cost tax payers so much already, but the board’s inability to act fiscally responsible is a mistake, costing millions of dollars for years to come,” Thorner said.

Lake Forest resident Ted Moorman chided the board for not being forthcoming enough in giving residents information, especially regarding district salaries. “If the board had taken a position of transparency, we would not have to be here” addressing the board, Moorman said. “The board should open up and let us know where all the money is going.”

But Lake Forest’s Janet Hughes disagreed that information was difficult to obtain. “I can’t believe the transparency,” Hughes said. “When I go to meetings, I get more information there than I know what to do with.”

Board members defended Griffith’s compensation and explained that the current deficit is due largely to the slumping economy. District officials argued that Lake Forest taxpayers spend $344,396 for the superintendent’s compensation, which is similar to other North Shore suburbs. Griffith runs two school districts, receiving $171,198 for District 115 and $173,198 for District 67, according to district figures. In Wilmette, residents pay $266,420 and $236,621 for high school and elementary district superintendent compensations, respectively, totaling $503,041, Lake Forest district officials said.

Griffith is expected to retire next year. The school board will be selecting a new superintendent whose salary will not start at Griffith’s current salary, which is based on 30 years of experience — 17 of those years in Lake Forest, Golan said. In regard to the deficit, board member said lower than expected revenues due to a decline in state funding and property tax revenue coupled with a five-year union contract hammered out when the economy was healthier, accounted for the shortfall. But the district has been addressing the issues since 2008 by not filling jobs and cutting operations, said board member Jim Carey.

Also, the district is poised to work out a new labor contract in June, he said. “There had been a cap on revenue growth and we had committed to certain expenses in a better (economic) environment,” Carey said. Golan said that the district would post a formal response to residents comments on the district’s web site at a later date.

On Saturday afternoon, April 9th, I attended a meeting on Zion’s nuke plant future hosted by my state Senator Susan Garrett (D-29) of Lake Forest, at the Lake Forest Health and Fitness Center on the campus of Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital, for an update on the 10-year decommissioning project that ZionSolutions has been charged to do by Chicago-based Exelon Corporation.
 
It was an extremely sad and heart-wrenching occasion for me! 

The Dual Zion Nuclear Plants had so much life left in them when put in safestore in 1998. It makes no sense at all to waste 2,100 MW of clean, safe, lowest cost electricity that is located on seismically approved ground !
 
ZionSolutions was formed by EnergySolutions out of Utah, Nevada, specifically to handle Zion’s decommissioning. EnergySolutions was established several years ago when several companies merged, all having past experience and expertise in decommissioning nuclear sites and working with nuclear waste.

ZionSolutions took ownership of liabilities and the $1 billion Trust Fund — paid for by rate payers — from Exelon Corporation on Sept. 1st, 2010. Exelon still has ownership of the land. When ZionSolutions completes its 10-year decommissioning program, the canisters holding the spent rods, the Zion licenses, and the security detail will revert back to Excelon Corporation.

At the meeting, I distributed a hand out containing eight questions that remain unanswered by Exelon Corporation and Zion Solutions, even as the decommissioning project is in ongoing and which soon will involve the actual removal of equipment from the two plants through an exit space specifically created for this purpose.

https://nancyjthorner.wordpress.com/2011/04/11/handout-il-senator-susan-garretts-d-29-lake-forest-hosted-event-on-49-on-zion-nuke-plants-future/

A majority of the fifty concerned individuals present came from communities in close proximity to the Zion Plant in northern Illinois. The over riding fear among attendees, and also expressed by Senator Susan Garrett, was that radioactive material would be discharged into Lake Michigan to pollute drinking water.

Patrick Daly, manager of ZionSolutions, attempted to dispel any fear of water pollution by explaining that any water put into Lake Michigan would be tested by an independent source for safety before being discharged into the lake.

Daly’s overview presentation of the ZionSolutions decommissioning project in a large part centered on how ZionSolutions planned to handle the safety of the casks storing the rods and where their on-site storage would be located.

The spent or used nuclear fuel (uranium) at Zion — now being stored in a cooling pond with 24 feet of water above the rods — will go from wet to dry storage (2,226 in all). Some of the spent fuel rods have been cooling for 40 years, dating from the early 70’s until the Plant was permanently shut down in 1998 and put in “safestore.” It will be a four-year effort to remove the rods from the cooling pond and seal the spent fuel assemblies in carefully designed, concrete reinforced air-tight containers filled with inert gas. All Zion fuel rods have cooled to the point where they can be placed in dry storage.

When a question was raised about the possibility rod exposure in the cooling pond, it was explained that Zion could survive a loss of electrical power for up to 45 days, the time it would take for enough water to evaporate in the cooling pond, if not replaced, before rods would be exposed.

In all there will be 61 concrete canisters to hold fuel (high level waste) which will be stored at the south end of the Switch Yard, 1,300 feet from Lake Michigan on one-half acre of land, a distance further from the lake than the present cooling pond which contains the rods.

These vertical concrete casks weigh 314,000 pounds when loaded. It is anticipated that one container will be filled every week. When all 61 containers have been filled, moved, and located west of the Switch Yard, the security employed in moving the high level waste from wet to dry storage will be moved to the storage pad area.

The 61 canisters have been licensed for storage at Zion for 20 years. It is then the responsibility of the federal government to come and pick them up. As Carl Lambrecht of Highland Park mused, why isn’t the spent fuel being reprocessed as is being done in Europe now that Yucca Mountain has become a political “hot potato” as a national repository for high level waste? It was revealed that the repossessing of nuclear fuel was foolishly banned by President Jimmy Carter during his administration.

Given the recent Fukushima Japan reactor, citizens were assured that what happened in Japan could never happen at the reactors sites here in IL. The six current operating Illinois reactors, and the non-operating Zion Plant, were fitted with pressurized Westinghouse steam turbines; the Fukushima reactors were boiler-type reactors Uranium fuel pellets placed in Westinghouse steam turbine reactors undergo nuclear fission to provide the heat (energy) that turns water into steam to power the generators, which, in turn, produce electricity. Accordingly, the kind of oxidation that took place in the Fukushima plants could not occur in plants where pressurized steam turbine are utilized.

Even so the Fukushima reactors survived the earthquake, but it was the 40-foot wave tsunami in Japan that destroyed the backup electric power suppliers. To an individual who presented exaggerated and unrealistic scenarios of what could happen if . . . he was told that spent fuel rods can withstand a tornado up to 360 miles per hour and missiles up to 4,000 pounds. Furthermore, Lake Michigan has never has a seisch (a wave) of more than 20 feet high.

When asked about plant security, there was never a time when the Dual Zion Nuclear Plant was without a level of high security. Since Zion was shut down in 1998, all vehicles have been searched before allowed entry to the site.

By June there will be double the number of workers. There are now 250 badged union workers on site. Requirements to become a badged worker are set by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Applicants must pass all of the following requirements to receive a badge: 1) a background test, 2) a psychological test, and 3) a nuclear training course.

Four other notable facts from Garrett’s nuclear plant decommissioning briefing include:

1. Low level waste, such as concrete and pump valves, will be loaded onto train cars and taken to Clive, an exit on the highway about 85 miles west of Salt Lake City, Utah, operated by EnergySolutions to store low level waste from decommissioning projects.

2. ZionSolutions has hired three outside contractors to assist in the Zion decommissioning. One of them, Westinghouse, has been contracted to dismantle their Westinghouse-designed steam turbines Work will begin in June.

3. $20 – $30 million of the decommissioning Zion Trust Fund has already been obligated through contracts issued.

4. Zion Solutions LLC expects to return the 257-acre site back to productive use at the completion of its 10-year project.

FACTS ABOUT NUCLEAR POWER THAT PUT OTHER FORMS OF ENERGY TO SHAME:

Wind and solar power are not worth mentioning, because they will never become viable mass producers of energy!

One Uranium Fuel Pellet, without being reprocessed and recycle, generates about as much energy as 3 Barrels of Oil (42 gallons each), 2 Ton of Coal, or 17,000 Cubic Feet of Natural Gas.

Uranium-fueled electrical generating plants produce abundant, cheap, clean and safe energy. About 20% of electricity in the U.S. comes from uranium fuel. We depend on electricity to manufacture goods and provide services that assure safety, healthy living and conveniences in modern life.

When will the nuclear energy fear mongering stop that was so evident during the recent Japanese reactor incident?

When will saner heads come forth to educate the American people about the physical properties of nuclear energy, etc., and the important energy role it must assume here in America.

Do the American people really wish to experience black outs in the future when energy needs are not sufficient to meet demand, coupled with a sky-high increases in their electric rates. I don’t think so!

May the American people wise up before it is too late. Other nations are investing in nuclear energy while this nation sits on the sidelines. Since the time of Admiral Rickover the Navy has had Nuclear Powered submarines, Aircraft Carriers and Destroyers, all with a stellar record of safety.

As was intoned by FDR in his First Inaugural Address: “Only Things We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself.” Fear over Nuclear Reactors — not in my own backyard — is both irrational and unwarranted. If allowed to continue, it will lead this nation to a standard of living for future generations far below that which we now enjoy and take for granted.

For without sufficient energy to create and manufacture goods, this nation will be reduced to a country that will be subservient to the whims of other countries, some who wish us harm.

For power is what drives the engine of our economy. An ever increasing amount of energy will be required in future years to fuel this nation’s economic growth and to sustain the quality of life for those who follow.

Nuclear power is the way of the future. If this nation fails to act decisively and in a timely way, the decision-makers of today will reap the post-mortem blame for their shortsightedness.

THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS DEMAND ANSWERS FROM EXELON CORPORATION AND ZION SOLUTIONS:

 1. Since it takes many years to satisfy the surrounding population, the seismic requirements, the lawyers, the environmentalists, etc., before one shovel of dirt is moved to begin excavation for a new nuclear plant, why tear down the Zion plant? It has already been paid for by ratepayers, along with its $1 billion decommissioning trust fund?

2. Why didn’t Exelon Corp. attempt to sell the Zion plant to another party if Exelon found Zion unprofitable to operate?

3. Why does Exelon refuse to release its financial calculations as to why the decision to shutter the Zion station in 1998, and then keeping it shuttered until the dual Zion Nuclear Plant was transferred to Zion Solutions for decommissioning in 2010? 

4. If considered feasible to construct the dual Zion plant, which was fully paid by ratepayers, why after only 24 years and seven months of commercial operation did Exelon make the decision that both units were no longer needed?  

5. What is the hurry to dismantle the two nuclear reactors when up to 60 years is permitted? A 10-year time frame is way too optimistic for a first-time project of a size never before? attempted? 

6. Who is going to look after the interests of the ratepayers to make sure the decommissioning is done at the lowest possible cost in order to protect the ratepayers’ interest in residual (if any) in the decommissioning fund? 

7. Is there a watch dog group to observe that the Decommissioning Trust Fund will be spent prudently? 

8. How much of Zion’s 257-acre land front site will be unrestricted and opened to the public when decommissioning is completed?  

The cost and physical limitations of solar and wind are prohibitive and impractical for mass production of energy. Nuclear is cheap and also serves as an economic stimulus.

When the Zion Plant was closed, the economic situation in Zion went from good to bad. Since then Zion has struggled with budgetary shortfalls.  

The growth in overall U.S. electricity demand is expected to increase by as much as 30 percent over the next 25 years. Citizens should be outraged and demand answers from their elected representatives.

It is insane to waste 2,100 megawatts of energy that a refurbished Zion plant could provide. Nuclear plants produce zero emissions of harmful greenhouse gases. It is a clean energy which gives the biggest bang for the buck.

On the other side of my handout is a photo of The Zion Station and these comments:  

Pictured are Two Modern environmentally Clean, Safe, Lowest Cost electricity Generation, 3 Loop 1000 + Megawatt Westinghouse Designed and Built, Operating Nuclear Fuel Pressurized Water Reactor (PWR) Electricity Generating Plants, Located on Seismically Approved Ground, in your backyard, in Zion that was Prematurely Shut down in 1998. 

With Proper Routine Maintenance and Upgrades as Happens to All Machinery, they both could be Safely Operated for a Hundred Years or more. 

As Your Electric bills Keep Skyrocketing, if the Zion Plants Prematurely closed were Refurbished and Reopened, it Might Stabilize and/or Lower Your and All the Grid’s Electric Bills, for both Residential and Commercial Users.

Below is my TribLocal article posted on Tuesday morning, April 5th, before it had to be removed early in the afternoon of the same day.
 
“Lake Forest School Districts #67 and #115 – Communications Consultant Whipple: Third Highest in the District”
https://nancyjthorner.wordpress.com/2011/04/05/lake-forest-school-districts-67-115-communications-consultant-whipple-compensation-third-highest-in-district/
A letter was written by Al Boese of Lake Bluff after being informed that my TribLocal submission zeroing in on Communications Consultant Anne Whipple at Lake Forest High School Districts #67 and #115 had to be taken down the second time in as many days (It is the policy at TribLocal to take down an article if an outsider questions its validity.).
Response of Al Boese to my Anne Whipple TribLocal post:  The term, politics is an ugly business, is proving true even in Lake Forest.  It appears that truth and facts can be very inconvenient, even troubling, when it impacts an institution that has advertises itself to be one embracing the practice of transparency, open communications and a free press.

Districts 115 & 67 have reacted rather swiftly and decisively to silence exposure in the press to the compensation and employment status of Anne Whipple, Public Relations specialist and assistant to Superintendent Dr. Harry Griffith.

Mrs. Nancy Thorner wrote an extensive essay on the subject, complete with facts, links and other supporting documents, revealing the existence of Mrs. Whipple, her employment relationship and compensation levels received over a two year period of time. This revelation was submitted to an electronic publication, “Trib Local, Lake Forest.”

It was immediately challenged by the Districts and removed until further evidence and facts could be provided and verified. The District further claimed too much unsubstantiated opinion. A subsequent submission was prepared by Mrs. Thorner that addressed these objections. That second submission was again posted. Once again, the District protested and persuaded the publisher to remove the article.

Such a fuss over an article laced with facts obtained from the Districts own books, and collected through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), is troubling and mysterious. Such rapid and defensive response only raises more questions. What is behind such behavior? As we have learned from history, it is the cover up that brings down administrations, a lesson learned from Watergate and many other such efforts to subvert the truth.

If we wondered why Districts 115 & 67 needs such high powered Public Relations resources, this may be the explanation. School districts are public institutions, funded by tax payers consequently do not have the luxury of privacy and secrecy. Transparency and disclosure is required, and when not available, demanded.

While Mrs. Whipple, as the resource for PR and spin at the districts is, at the moment earning her retainer with damage control and crisis management, that is not how public institutions are expected to operate. A free press is the foundation of our democracy, stifling the press is odious and offensive to a free society. Let the facts speak for themselves. 

My request made to tax payers of Lake Forest and Lake Bluff:   As a taxpayer, you should be outraged over the lack of financial stewardship displayed by Lake Forest School Districts #67 and #115 with your tax money.  We all want good schools, but much of our tax monies are instead being spent to enrich the financial rewards given to teachers and administrators (and consultant, Anne Whipple) while teaching and during retirement with their lavish pensions.

Please show your dissatisfaction — there will be an opportunity to speak if you so desire –  by attending the District #115 (high school) Board meeting on Tuesday, April 12th at 7:00 p.m. at Lake Forest High School West Campus. 

A united community front must be displayed in front of board members and Superintendent Harry Griffith to demand change and to effect change or the unacceptable status quo will remain.

I’ll see you Tuesday night, April 12, at Lake Forest West Campus for the District #115 Board meeting.  Bring a friend or two!

 

 Last month the federal government spent eight times more than it took in.   

Despite a federal debt of $1.5 trillion for the year, Democrats continue to believe that the uncontrollable and unsustainable spending does not present a problem. 

Senators Schumer and Reed have described as crazy and extreme the rather minuscule $61 billion in budget cuts proposed by Republicans which still leave this nation with a $1.4 trillion deficit problem for the year. 

Is it any wonder why our federal government is heading over a fiscal cliff!

 

Heralded with much fanfare by President Obama and news pundits, was a Bureau of Labor report on Friday, April 1st, announcing that the U.S. Economy had added 216,000 jobs in March, resulting in a jobless rate fall to 8.8%.  

The report was immediately spun, even by those who should know better, as news favorable to Obama’s bid for re-election in November of 2012.

A Gallop poll, however, tells a different story.  It’s unemployment rate for March came in at 10.0%, little changed from the 10.4% unemployment rate a year ago at the end of March.

But what about the underemployment rate?  Gallop reports how underemployment fell to19.3% in March of this year from 19.9% a month ago.

The March statistics released by the Bureau of Labor and used in calculating the government’s unemployment rate, do not include the millions working temporary jobs, the millions involuntarily working part time because they can’t find full time work, the millions who had been looking for work but not in the last 4 weeks, the one million who have given up looking looking for work, or an unknown number of students who haven’t been able to find a job since graduating.

According to Stephen Moore of the Wall Street Journal, “Every state in America today except for two — Indiana and Wisconsin — has more government workers on the payroll than people manufacturing industrial good, almost the exact reversal of the situation in 1960. 

If this trend continues and government agencies keep hiring more and more workers, a decrease in unemployment rates could prove a drag on the economy.  Why:  Because public sector workers impose on state and local governments — paid by taxpayers — huge expenditures of money to pay for their benefits. 

 Job creation continues be front and center in the Obama administration and in the minds of the public arena.  For meaningful job creation to occur, it must happen in the private sector where people create things, in contrast to the public sector where people take things.