nuclear power

Former TVA board chairman John Waters dies age 88

John B. Waters, who served as chairman of both the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Tennessee Valley Authority,   has died at the age of 88, reports the News Sentinel.

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Former TVA manager gets probation in plot to provide nuclear info to China

A former senior manager for the Tennessee Valley Authority, recruited by an operative for the Chinese government seeking to buy information on American nuclear information, will avoid any time in prison for his activity, reports the News Sentinel.

Chief U.S. District Judge Tom Varlan on Thursday turned aside a bid by federal prosecutors to have nuclear scientist Ching Ning Guey, 63, imprisoned and instead sentenced the former TVA executive to a three-year probationary term.

Guey was among a half dozen nuclear engineering experts working in the American nuclear power production industry who were recruited by operative Szuhsiung “Allen” Ho, 67, as part of what Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles Atchley Jr., has called a plot by China to garner nuclear technological know-how the country was not allowed to access.

But Guey appears to be the only one of those experts who was charged, and court records indicate it was Guey who agreed to help prosecutors snare Ho, who has since confessed guilt and provided the U.S. government with intelligence on China’s nuclear production capabilities.Ho was sentenced last year to a two-year prison term.

Court records show Ho recruited Guey in 2013 to travel to the People’s Republic of China and, on China’s dime, speak at a “technological exchange” at which he disclosed three reports on nuclear safety analysis. He was paid $15,500, which he has since forfeited to the federal government, according to statements in court.

The reports he provided were not classified but fell under the regulatory auspices of a law that bars certain countries considered nuclear bad actors, including China, from gleaning without permission of the federal government.

TDEC hides data on low-level radioactive waste from public

Excerpt from a Tennessean report:

Ten years ago, when Murfreesboro residents learned the state had approved the dumping of low-level radioactive waste at a local landfill, a fierce community backlash swiftly put an end to the practice.

Today, Tennessee citizens have no way to find out how much low-level radioactive waste is going into other landfills.

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, or TDEC, has wiped that data from its website and said it is confidential.

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Corker holds hearing on use of nuclear weapons

Just a month after he warned that President Trump may be setting the nation on the path to World War III, Sen. Bob Corker will preside Tuesday over a hearing that will examine the president’s authority to launch a nuclear strike, reports Michael Collins.

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Trump poised to reshape TVA, Oak Ridge National Lab policies

The Times-Free Press today has a lengthy analysis of President-elect Donald Trump’s potential impact on the two biggest Tennessee operations under federal control – the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory operated by the Department of Energy.

At TVA, Trump will be able to appoint a majority of TVA board members this year. Given that he promised on the campaign trail to revive the nation’s coal industry, that sets up a potential clash with current TVA policy of reducing the use of coal in electricity generation.

TVA has cut its share of power derived from coal from more than two thirds of its generation in the late 1980s to only about a third of TVA’s generation today. TVA CEO Bill Johnson, appointed by the Obama board and recently given a pay raise, says TVA’s long-term goal is to get no more than 20 percent of its power from coal.

At ORNL, Trump has pledged to rebuild and modernize the nation’s nuclear capability. That could mean billions more in spending at ORNL and related facilities in Tennessee.

Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker are quoted saying, basically, they are content with the way things are going now at TVA and don’t expect any dramatic changes under a Trump-appointed board – though some business leaders and power distributors are quoted as being concerned about the prospect.

Both senators voice optimism about things at ORNL and the Department of Energy, where Trump has nominated former Texas Gov. Rick Perry as secretary – though Perry has called for abolishing DOE.

Franklin Haney, politician turned developer, buys unfinished TVA nuclear power plant

Chattanooga developer Franklin Haney submitted the highest bid for purchase of TVA’s unfinished Bellefonte Nuclear Power Plant in northern Alabama and plans to complete work on the facility, then start generating electricity, reports the Times-Free Press.

Haney, a 75-year-old real estate developer who has made a fortune on other deals with government agencies, agreed Monday to pay TVA $111 million to buy the Bellefonte plant within the next two years. Through an investment group he created known as Nuclear Development LLC, Haney could become the first individual to own and operate a U.S. nuclear power plant if his venture proves successful.

Haney was the highest bidder for the nuclear plant Monday during a TVA auction that initially drew 15 interested parties but ultimately only two bidders. The purchase capped a 15-year effort by Haney to acquire the unfinished nuclear plant, which TVA quit building nearly three decades ago but only decided in May to dispose of without finishing either of its two reactors.

“Today marks the first step of an exciting new journey for the people of Alabama and Tennessee,” Haney said in a statement after the auction. “The Bellefonte Nuclear Station will help transform communities across the region — many of which have been hit hard by the forced closure of coal power plants over the last decade.”

Haney said he hopes to finish Bellefonte, creating between 3,000 and 4,000 temporary construction jobs and an estimated 2,000 full-time jobs once both reactors become operational.

But Haney and his delegation, which included former Alabama Congressman Bud Kramer, declined to discuss any details of their plans or outline a schedule for restarting work on the plant.

…Haney has built a fortune on lucrative real estate and government over the past half-century. In 2000, Haney paid $23 million for a South Florida mansion once owned by the Hearst newspaper dynasty. He now lives there, having added a $52 million yacht to go along with his oceanfront home.

From his Chattanooga roots, Haney built a half dozen buildings leased to TVA, including the former Haney Building, Republic Building and Liberty Tower that previously housed TVA employees in Chattanooga. In Washington, D.C., Haney owns the Dulles Greenway Toll Road and the Portals Office Complex, one of the biggest government-leased offices in the district.

Note: Haney, as the TFP notes in a sidebar on his career, has some political history dating back to his work as an aide to the late U.S. Sen. Albert Gore Sr. and including runs for the Democratic nomination as governor in 1974 and for the U.S. House in 1966.