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Nuclear Reactors 603 - History Of Uranium Production In The U.S. -4 of 4 Parts

Part 4 of 4 Parts (Please read Parts 1, 2, and 3 first)
         Energy Fuels and Ur-Energy have warned that U.S. and Canadian mines stop mining uranium, U.S. nuclear power reactors might have to go to state-controlled companies such as Russia and Kazakhstan to obtain uranium fuel. This would come during a time when the U.S. has imposed sanctions in the energy sector against Russia for annexation of the Crimea and interfering in the U.S. elections in 2016. If sanctions are relaxed and we have to buy uranium from Russia, this could lead to problems with uranium supply resulting from tension in international relations.
       The U.S. military is also concerned about the availability and cost of uranium. It maintains stockpiles of weapons-grade uranium to be used for the construction of nuclear weapons and the fueling of nuclear powered submarines and surface ships. The federal government estimates that the current stockpiles will be sufficient until 2060.
        The VP of regulatory affairs at Ur-Energy says that things are not that simple. As U.S. mines are shut down, the U.S. is losing the expertise that will be needed to supply the Department of Defense whenever the stockpile is depleted.
        The current Secretary of Energy and the current U.S. president have stated their commitment for industries in the U.S. to receive assistance in their competition with foreign industries. Both have stated their sympathy for the plight of coal and nuclear power plants in the U.S. and the president has been increasingly turning to the use of tariffs to help U.S. businesses compete.
       Utilities that operate nuclear power plants in the U.S. have been turning to the local and federal governments for subsidies because they may have to shut nuclear plants because they cannot compete in a free and open marked. Some states have responded by voting for subsidies for nuclear power plants that in danger of being closed. Closed plants mean a declining U.S. market for uranium which is experiencing already historically low prices.
       One of the big arguments for keeping nuclear power plants going in the U.S. is the claim by those worried about climate change that nuclear power is a zero-carbon energy source. The truth is that huge amounts of carbon dioxide are emitted during the construction of a nuclear power plant. It takes years for a nuclear power plant to pay back the carbon debt and begin to produce zero-carbon energy. The falling price of renewables and the rising cost of nuclear power plants along with the long lead time for licensing and construction strongly suggest that nuclear power is not a viable solution for climate change.
        There may be a new player on the horizon for supplying uranium to the world. Researchers have discovered how to use common acrylic yarn to extract uranium from seawater. Once that technology has moved from the laboratory to industrial production, the researchers claim that it will be competitive with mining uranium at current prices. This means that all the uranium mines in the world could be shut down the great benefit to the environment and that all the world’s uranium needs could be met for thousands of years. On the other hand, there is the danger of nuclear weapons proliferation because any country with access to the ocean would be able to mine the ocean for pure uranium at a reasonable cost.

Geiger Readings for Aug 14, 2018

Latitude 47.704656 Longitude -122.318745

Ambient office  = 128 nanosieverts per hour

Ambient outside = 100 nanosieverts per hour

Soil exposed to rain water = 100 nanosieverts per hour

Roma tomato from Central Market = 99 nanosieverts per hour

Tap water = 80 nanosieverts per hour

Filter water = 73 nanosieverts per hour

Nuclear Reactors 602 - History Of Uranium Production In The U.S. - 3 of 4 Parts

Part 3 of Part 4 (Please read Part 1 and Part 2 first)
       The director for fuel cycle programs at industry trade group the Nuclear Energy Institute said, “It's slowed down the growth of nuclear globally and led to some countries cutting back or ending their nuclear program. Supply was not as quick to react to this huge loss of demand.”
       The promised “nuclear renaissance” has not come to pass. New reactor builds in the U.S. such as the project in South Carolina have been cancelled after billions of dollars had been spent. Westinghouse, a major U.S. supplier of nuclear technology to the global nuclear market went bankrupt, partly as a result of over confidence in the expansion of the nuclear power reactor market.
      Since uranium prices peaked in 2007, prices have fallen from one hundred forty-seven dollars a pound to a current price of between twenty and twenty-five dollars a pound. An analyst of the uranium mining industry said, “There's such a glut of inventory in the market that it's just not profitable for some of the mines to produce, so the price has just really plummeted as a result of that." 
      Both U.S. and Canadian uranium mining companies have suffered from falling uranium prices. Cameco is major Canadian uranium mining firm. It has just announced that it is going to close the biggest uranium mine in the world indefinitely. Originally, the company had intended to close the mine for ten months out of the year while it waited for the price for uranium to rise once again.
         Energy Fuels and Ur-Energy asked the U.S. Department of Commerce to investigate whether or not the U.S. reliance on foreign uranium supplies is a risk to national security. The requested investigation began last month. One possible outcome could be for the U.S. to restore the old trade barriers to uranium import. This would guarantee that U.S. uranium miners would continue to be involved in supplying the U.S. military with uranium for fuel and weapons. The two private companies that called for the investigation want the U.S. to ensure that U.S. uranium producers control at least twenty-five percent of the U.S. uranium market. The companies complain that they cannot compete with uranium from countries such as Russia and Kazakhstan.
      Currently, about one half of the uranium consumed in the U.S is supplied by Canada and Australia which are long-time allies of the U.S. Although these countries do not have state-subsidized uranium operations, U.S. uranium producers are having difficulties competing with them too.
        A previous Department of Commerce investigation of U.S. uranium production in 1989 said that "One of the main problems beyond the U.S. industry's control is that the richest and most accessible uranium deposits are not found in the United States. The resources of Canada and Australia have higher uranium content and a lower production cost per unit.”
        The report found that the current situation with respect to uranium mining and importation of foreign uranium did, in fact, injure domestic uranium producers. George H. W. Bush, the new U.S. president inaugurated in 1990, took no action with respect to the conclusions of the 1989 investigation.
Please read Part 4