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A rendering of the AP1000 reactor by Westinghouse  (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Prospective workers train in China to become operators at the world's first AP1000 reactor, an advanced Generation III+ reactor design by Westinghouse. The U.S. has several applications for the new reactor type pending, but with construction already started on the Chinese plant, China will almost certainly beat the U.S. to become the first to build the new reactor.  (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
While adoption in the U.S. still languishes, China's nuclear power is flourishing

One of the biggest controversies in the environmental community is the topic of nuclear power.  Some see it as the best short-term hope for clean, affordable alternative energy.  Others are fearful of the waste that is associated with older reactor designs.  Despite modern reactor designs recycling much of the spent fuel and being built with safer designs, these fears remain. 

The net result is that despite a couple pending applications, the U.S. is stuck with aging nuclear reactions, which indeed play to critics worst fears -- lacking much of the safety and waste recycling of modern designs.

Elsewhere, though, times are kind to the nuclear industry.  China, in particular is looking to join France and Japan in providing a large portion of its power from nuclear energy.  The nation, which currently relies heavily on coal power, is including nuclear development in a diverse program which also includes massive solar and wind power growth.

Concrete was just poured at the site of a new reactor in Sanmen, China, built by the Westinghouse Electric Company, The Shaw Group Inc., China's State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation, and the Sanmen Nuclear Power Company of China National Nuclear Corporation.  The reactor will be the first of four 1,100 MWe reactors built.

The new reactor, the Westinghouse AP1000, is an extremely advanced design which focuses on modularity and automation, as well as safety and optimum fuel use.  It is classed as a Generation III+ reactor and is the only such reactor to receive Design Certification from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

In total, the four reactor project will cost the nation approximately $8B USD.  However, it will put them in a position of nuclear leadership, with no other nation currently employing this reactor design, the latest from Westinghouse.  Westinghouse President and CEO Aris Candris states, "Completion of concrete pour is a major milestone that visibly moves the Sanmen project from the design and discussion stage to the construction stage.  More importantly, by getting this project underway on schedule, we are further helping to ensure that baseload electricity generation will begin at this plant as intended in 2013."

Some Chinese feel less than comfortable about the new reactor, though, stating that their country's people are being used as test rats for unproven designs (source in Chinese).  Regardless, construction appears geared to continue as planned.

The U.S., despite strong opposition, in coming years may roll out an even more advanced reactor design, with Georgia Power Company reaching an agreement late last year to construct two Revision 16 reactors in Vogtle, Georgia.  There are, in total, twelve such pending Combined Construction and Operating Licenses (COLs) filed for, though the go ahead from government regulators still remains.  The proposed plans may have to survive heavy legal pressure from anti-nuclear groups if they hope to advance.  Thus the status of the U.S.'s nuclear future remains significantly more questionable of that of China.

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RE: Its time for us to move on...
By FITCamaro on 4/20/2009 11:34:14 PM , Rating: 3
This needs a 6.

I'm tired of worn out environmentalist arguments that nuclear power is some dreaded curse when France has been using it for years. I mean come on. The French. We saying we're too chicken to do something France does?

RE: Its time for us to move on...
By jcbond on 4/21/2009 2:32:32 PM , Rating: 2
Give the French a little respect. After all they are pursuing the pirates wherever they are regardless of whom they (the pirates) are attacking. And they do so quite violently - They have become the one flag that pirates fear. We could learn a little from that.
Also, if it hadn't been for the French, a little country I like to call home wouldn't exist.

RE: Its time for us to move on...
By TA152H on 4/21/2009 6:12:16 PM , Rating: 2
What country wouldn't exist without the French? Austria? Luxembourg? You'd probably be better of part of Germany, at least you'd be relevant.

The French are very brave indeed when they go after pirates who generally do not like to fight. In that way, they are alike. Since there's rarely ever deaths in these "conflicts", it's perfect for the French. They get to pose without much real risk.

They sure showed their violence in Iraq and Afghanistan, huh? But, truthfully, those people had guns they'd be fighting against, and they really would fire them.

RE: Its time for us to move on...
By jcbond on 4/23/2009 11:50:33 AM , Rating: 2
I live in the US. Without French support, the Revolutionary War would have taken a very different path.
As for the pirates, the French are indeed losing people going after the pirates - not the soldiers but the hostages that the pirates take.
In terms of the pirates let's look at the US vs France.
CINC orders a destroyer to the vicinity of a pirate attack. ROE were to only engage if the life of the hostage is threatened. In other words, SOP for every police department in the country. The OTSC makes the decision that the hostage's life is threatened and gives the go-ahead to 3 Seals - who execute an outstanding coordinated sniper attack between two platforms with different cycles of movement. If the attack goes wrong, who takes the fall? OTSC because he made the judgment call. This is in no way a statement of national conviction.
The French? They are engaging and taking down the pirates wherever they find them, regardless of who are attacking or what they are doing. They have only negotiated as ruse for time to put their military in place to execute a strike, and they have done so time and again. They have made a statement of national intent.
And the pirates are well aware of it *and* fear the "French Option". They are starting to avoid the French flag.
I wish you could say the same about the US, but days of Tripoli are apparently long behind us.
As for Iraq and Afghanistan, there were quite a few politics being played about Iraq. And I believe that France has about 3000 troops deployed in Afghanistan - about half on the ground. Also I believe Sarkozy recently made a statement indicating that they were going to up their contribution - not bad, considering the highly publicized ambush losses late last year.
I think the French are waking up and beginning to understand the Islamo-Fascist threat. They're stepping up, and it looks like they have elected a leader who understands that sometimes you have to shed some blood (including your own) in defense of your freedoms and way of life.
Oh - just in case:
CINC - Commander in Chief could also be NCA, National Command Authority, although this seems to be used to indicate Cabinet level officials too, I think
OTSC - On The Scene Commander (in this case the Captain of the Bainbridge)
ROE - Rules of Engagement, which covers the conditions under personnel are allowed to use deadly force.

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