oil and gas industry is a pretty amazing scene these days:
Crude oil prices may retreat one day only to come back up to hit
a new high the next.
are darting all over the place to find and produce increasingly-elusive
new natural gas deposits to meet growing demand.
terminals are in vogue.
are wait-lists for drilling rigs in some locales -- both land
scenario, it's no surprise that rhetoric abounds about the need
for the United States to move away from a fossil fuel-based economy.
of folks envision cars powered by fuel cells to be the solution,
even though current fuel cell technology depends on hydrogen derived
from natural gas. And even with adequate supplies, the nature of
hydrogen itself presents other hindrances to its use as a replacement
for oil and gas.
power sources such as solar systems and wind turbines have their
champions, too, although others suggest their application would
be successful only on a small regional scale. These sources also
depend on substantial amounts of fossil fuel-based energy, e.g.,
to manufacture the equipment.
a growing number of experts and others who think nuclear energy
is the only real solution to the much-talked-about coming power
overall plan to keep the lights burning brightly, it's clearly nuclear,"
said Michael Campbell, who heads up his own environmental and mining
consultancy and also serves as chairman of the Uranium Committee for the AAPG's Energy Minerals Division (EMD). "It's not frontier
technology anymore; it's been used over and over, and it works."
Committee members recently completed a comprehensive report focused
on nuclear power, "Recent Uranium Industry Developments, Exploration,
Mining and Environmental Programs in the U.S. and Overseas." The
report is posted on the EMD section of the AAPG Web site.
explained the concept behind this effort:
talk about a resurgence of nuclear power, you have to deal with
all those people who are still scared," he said, "so we went into
detail to write a piece aimed at those people who might likely come
out of the woodwork in opposition.
also for people like ourselves -- the industry in general -- to
get a good heads up on what's happening now," he said.
thing is I think the 'liberals' are coming around, saying things
like 'nuclear power is a helluva lot better than coal' with respect
to the environment," Campbell added. "I get the feeling more people
are concerned about drilling sensitive areas than about nuclear
believer that the country is headed toward a hydrogen economy in
the automotive area, Campbell pointed out that nuclear plants with
certain special design features offer the added benefit of producing
"incredible" amounts of hydrogen -- and producing it cheaply.
of nuclear power often conjures up thoughts of the Chernobyl disaster.
Yet the international community had warned the Soviet nuclear industry
the reactors were poorly designed and accidents were likely, according
to the EMD report.
United States, failure occurred at the Three Mile Island plant despite
the superior design. However, even given the technology at that
time, the incident was brought under control with no casualties
and no harmful radiation exposure to the population.
more knowledgeable, highly trained personnel are in place in the
industry to take on the level of professional responsibility appropriate
to manage and operate the technology.
adequate domestic supplies of uranium in both known and frontier
areas to accommodate a resurgence of nuclear power in the United
States, according to Campbell.
a lot of money getting after it in the late '70s, and all the new
techniques to find additional ore were put into place," he said.
"We were finding ore bodies hand over fist.
Mile Island went down, everything in the entire field froze," Campbell
said. "Everyone committed to uranium exploration had no life. Things
are sitting there now, ready to start up again."
leaching (ISL) is the method-of-choice to mine the uranium versus
open pit mining.
mining procedures have little environmental footprint," Campbell
said, "and a lot of controls to prevent groundwater contamination."
jury's still out regarding the hoped-for impact the committee's
report might have on the general populace, Campbell noted it's getting
a good reception thus far.
it's imperative to come together to support nuclear power.
don't bring these people in by encouraging them to look at this
a little differently this time," he said, "the lights will go out."