The 2024 Nuclear News Energy Quiz

January 19, 2024, 7:02AMNuclear NewsJames Conca

Are you an energy genius? It’s hard to tell whether or not Americans are really aware of the energy that controls our lives, so the following quiz should be revealing. Click through the multiple-choice options below to reveal the answers. Most answers can be found in the pages of the 2023 issues of Nuclear News—if you’ve been a diligent NN reader you should do fine!

Scoring: Zero to five correct answers out of the 20 questions means you may need to read up on energy in order not to be at the mercy of others. Six to 10 correct answers is a good passing grade. Eleven to 15 right answers means you’re really energy literate. Sixteen to 19 correct answers means you should be advising Congress. Twenty right answers suggests you’re Mr. Spock reincarnated.

Atoms for Africa

December 18, 2023, 10:56AMNuclear NewsJames Conca
Africa is home to 1.5 billion people in 54 countries living on 12 million square miles. The economies of many of these countries are hobbled by a general dearth of energy that nuclear could solve without adding to the harm of global warming.

The World Nuclear Association and the African Commission on Nuclear Energy (AFCONE) last year signed a memorandum of understanding to encourage the use of nuclear energy in support of economic growth and sustainable energy development in Africa.

Washington state’s new nuclear energy caucus starts with a breath of fresh air

October 16, 2023, 9:15AMNuclear NewsJames Conca

Barnard

It’s late March 2023, and freshman state Rep. Stephanie Barnard (R., 8th Dist.) moves quickly through the halls of the capitol building in Olympia, Wash. She enters a room packed with state legislators—both Democrats and Republicans—who are waiting for a meeting to begin.

The event is part of the recently formed Nuclear Energy Caucus, and the featured speaker is Carol Browner, director of the Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy under President Obama and the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency during the Clinton administration. The meeting is a success, with animated discussion following Browner’s address.

A conversation with Grace Stanke, Miss America 2023

August 24, 2023, 12:06PMNuclear NewsJames Conca

“I see nuclear energy as the obvious path forward, and it confuses me as to why everybody else doesn’t. That’s the primary goal with my Miss America policy platform of ‘clean energy, cleaner future.’”

Recently I sat down with Grace Stanke, the current Miss America and a student at the University of Wisconsin in nuclear engineering exploring subjects like nuclear fuel enrichment and reactor performance (as well as being a virtuoso violinist, for good measure).

This year she’s touring the country advocating for clean energy in a cleaner future and for America to reach net zero with the help of nuclear power, while correcting misconceptions and improving communication about nuclear science and encouraging young women to pursue STEM careers.

We talked just after she had finished visiting the Hanford Site while she was on her way to appear at Town Hall Seattle at the request of grassroots pronuclear group Friends of Fission Northwest. I was impressed with the depth of her knowledge and her ability to communicate difficult issues in a concise manner that didn’t require any deep background to understand. I mean, who knows the intricacies of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant? I was tempted to ask her to run for president.

The comfort of nuclear power

July 27, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear NewsJames Conca

I am lucky. I live near a nuclear power plant—arguably the best run and most beautiful power plant in the world. It’s comforting.

It’s comforting to see Columbia Generating Station’s clean white plume of pure steam rise into the air every time I leave my house. Every time I’m driving home. Every time it’s freezing outside. Every time it’s scorching hot.

Even the few times when it has gone quiet for refueling, the plant stands like a Norman castle protecting the region from energy poverty. It’s comforting.

The 2023 Nuclear News energy quiz

January 11, 2023, 7:00AMNuclear NewsJames Conca

Are you an energy genius? It’s hard to tell whether or not Americans are really aware of the energy that controls our lives, so the following quiz should be revealing. Click through the multiple-choice options below to reveal the answers.

Scoring: Zero to five correct answers out of the 23 questions means you may need to read up on energy so you’re not at the mercy of others. A score of 6 to 10 correct answers is a good passing grade. Answer 11 to 15 correctly, and you’re really energy literate. Getting 16 to 19 correct means you should be advising Congress. Twenty or more right answers suggests you’re Spock reincarnated.

The trouble with tritium

October 31, 2022, 7:00AMNuclear NewsJames Conca

The trouble with tritium is there is no trouble with tritium.

At any level outside the laboratory, either experimental or manufacturing, tritium is harmless. Every year, we routinely release millions of gallons of slightly tritiated water to the ocean, large lakes, and large rivers from almost every commercial nuclear reactor in the world, and have done so for decades, all in accordance with globally accepted nuclear safety standards. And no adverse effects on the environment or humans have ever been seen.

Why Japan’s response to Fukushima radiation failed while Utah’s response succeeded

August 18, 2022, 7:02AMNuclear NewsJames Conca

Aboveground atomic bomb test at the Nevada Test Site while troops look on. These clouds of material often wafted over to Utah during the 1950s. (Photo: NNSA)

In 1953, the United States detonated above­ground nuclear weapons during tests at the Nevada Test Site. In 2011, the Fukushima Daiichi meltdown occurred in Japan. Both events spread radioactive material over many miles and over population centers. Neither event resulted in any adverse health effects from that radiation.

But the response to the Fukushima event was disastrous because of the irrational and misinformed fear of radiation. That fear—not radiation—killed at least 1,600 people and destroyed the lives of at least another 200,000. That fear seriously harmed the entire economy of Japan, stopped cold the fishing industry and other agriculture in that area, and, overnight, reversed the country’s progress in addressing climate change.

The U.S. tests spread two to three times more radiation than did the events of Fukushima over the people of Utah, particularly the town of St. George. Like with Fukushima, no one was hurt, there was never any increase in cancer rates, and no one died as a result. But in Utah, the economy and people’s lives were unaffected. Why was there such a different result?

Conca implores Congress to rethink funding for the VTR

August 26, 2021, 3:02PMANS Nuclear Cafe
(Image: INL)

The nuclear community continues its collective push to restore funding for the Versatile Test Reactor (VTR) project at Idaho National Laboratory for fiscal year 2022. We first heard from the Department of Energy’s Katy Huff, followed by Argonne National Laboratory’s Jordi Roglans-Ribas. Now add Nuclear News opinion columnist James Conca to the list of supporters hoping to change the minds of those in Congress regarding the crucial VTR project.