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Maria Korsnicks’ State of the Nuclear Industry

“The answer must include nuclear, or it’s no answer at all.”
Those are the exacting words of Maria Korsnick, the President and CEO of the Nuclear Energy Institute, better known by the colloquial acronym NEI. That statement came forth in the middle of her “State of the Industry” address on March 26th, 2019, reprinted in the Nuclear Plant Journal. Ms. Korsnick enters and withdraws from a host of avenues in which nuclear energy shapes our homes, our communities, our economy, our nation, and the world, but the overarching light of her address remains the same—nuclear energy is necessary for humanity.
Now we know a thousand mouths are suddenly shrieking blind indignation at those words. We know that green-spun environmentalists are weaving their retributive tapestries at these words, we know eager-lipped senators and congressmen are plastering themselves with buttons, stickers, and crocheted pendants displaying pick and paste adopted ideologies like “I’ve always put the planet first!” “We’re going green for our children!” “No Nukes, Not Now Not Ever!” and streaking their faces with non-GMO soil for measure, we know young Americans eager to join in on anything that makes them seem cohesive with whatever the current cultural ‘this is end of the world’ fad is are throwing themselves into the New Green Deal and lecturing their parents on the dangers of such words, we know there is a long and deeply-woven fear of the very word nuclear. We know all this and have known for the better part of seventy years. The only question left would be….is any of this really necessary?
The answer, of course, is no. But history and by proxy, cultures, are slow to warm to the winds around them.
Fortunately, men and women like Ms. Korsnick move quicker. So let’s take a look at three major themes she addresses: nuclear innovation, importance, and the carbon question.
The agency and stability nuclear energy possesses is paramount to understanding its vitality. Its complexity can be reduced to a simple notion—nuclear power is always on, 24-7/365 days a year and the numbers never lie. “Nuclear is responsible for a fifth of this nation’s total electricity”, Ms. Korsnick surmises, “It represents more than 55% of our emissions free energy. Which is even more impressive when you consider that out of the 8,000 power plants connected to the grid, less than one percent of them are nuclear plants.” And too—“We produced 800 million megawatt hours of nuclear energy last year—the most ever.” As Ms. Korsnick explains, the industry is constantly evolving and seeking better, more efficient, less special, less costly, less vulnerable means of producing energy—micro reactors, small modular systems capable of generating the same output as their massive counterparts, are passing through certification phases and are expected to change the way we think of nuclear power plants by being able to fit into communities and global necessities where traditional reactors just aren’t feasible. Additionally, as Ms. Korsnick notes during a visit to micro-reactor developer NuScale’s facility in Oregon, these reactors are capable of self-correcting during an emergency without the aid of operators—this has enormous implications considering the majority of global nuclear disasters are largely attributed to human error. “Today we operate at more than 92% capacity. A generation ago, we were at only 63%.”
The importance of nuclear energy to this country, to its people, and to the world cannot be understated. A short litany: nuclear energy is indirectly responsible for nearly half a million jobs and half a billion dollars in economic activity each year, nuclear energy powers electricity for 8.6 million American homes—roughly more than every single household in New York, nuclear energy is the only energy source proven to keep the lights on during a natural disaster, if America does not renew its resolve for nuclear energy, Russia and China will overtake us as the world leaders. It’s this last article that is most jarring—Russia and China are not as benevolent in their ideological pursuits as America. Imagine a world in which nuclear energy is controlled and dictated by the cold eyes of Communism, hungry, after a century of watching America, for supremacy.
Finally we come to the big one—the carbon question, and by extension, climate change. Ironically enough, nuclear energy has nothing to do with climate change and actually, by its very nature, works against it—but common sense is an arrow unrefined. Ms. Korsnick ticks off the irrefutable evidence:
– Nuclear energy generates the highest percentage of our countries carbon-free emissions
– In order to match nuclear energy’s production one would have to multiply 2018’s total solar output by twelve. For wind, you would need 3x the amount of turbines currently in existence
– Nuclear energy is always connected, always ready to produce. Wind and solar rely on the finicky whims of Nature
– Battery technology to back up renewables does not exist
If empirical facts are not enough to sway those who hold the weight of their opinions in the deepest trenches of their hearts, global organizations such as The Union of Concerned Scientists, The Nature Conservancy, Mass. Senator Ed Markey (who long opposed nuclear), The Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change, and Google have all endorsed nuclear energy as a necessary part of any real endeavor against climate change. The reality is stunningly simple to understand—“The answer to the climate crisis won’t be as simple as replacing carbon with renewables and batteries. The answer must include nuclear, or it’s no answer at all.”
Ms. Korsnick also mentions, “A new generation of entrepreneurs who are stewarding digital technology” and that’s where Otek comes in. As a Class1E company, we developed our Solid State Analog Meter (SSAM) to function as a cyber security exempt meter in nuclear I&C rooms. The SSAM was designed with without microprocessors in order so that it may be classified as a Non-Critical Digital Asset under NEI 08-09 regulation, as well has having the ability to replace obsolete ammeters and older DPMs wire by wire using the same panels and requiring only minimal operator training. With the SSAM beginning to garner huge interest across the industry, we’re gearing up in 2019 to help revitalize the nuclear industry all along the planet.
For more information on how Otek has aided the nuclear industry or our vast array of customizable technology driven products, please call us at (520) 748-7900 or send us an email at sales@otekcorp.com.

A Secular Glance in Coal Among Northeastern Pennsylvania

Coal—the darkness animated by fire, the acrid smoke hurling future death into the air from chimneys, the ebony sheen, the stories deep in the black underworld of mines, the horrific recoil environmentalists liquefy into at the mention of its name, that long train whistle, burning dinosaur bones. Coal for all its uncovered malice, is nearly extinct in the United States. Seventy years ago half of America’s homes warmed their evenings and blistering winters with heat produced by coal—now, in 2019, that number has dwindled to less than 130,000 homes. What was once an American empire has been ravaged by circumstance—the Greenhouse effect entered the collective consciousness upon the backs of global climate related disasters, polar ice caps falling into the sea, monstrous hurricanes eviscerating New Orleans and Houston, the planetary temperature climbing higher inch by inch….these are sins by which coal now where’s the malicious mantle. But there are two sides to every hysterical coin….

In a recent NPR article, Northeastern Pennsylvania resident John Ord, among others, was profiled for his continued use of coal to heat his home. Once about every two weeks Mr. Ord drives to a hardware store in his rural community where he buys close to 400 pounds of coal in forty pound bags, which he then lugs home to feed into the hopper of a coal-burning stove in his basement. This keeps the house a comfortable 70-72 degrees throughout the harsh northeast winter months, and most importantly, is cheaper than oil and electric he says. “It’s cleaner too”, he says, pointing to a dry chimney atop the house, “No smoke at all”.

While it may be cleaner than the more common bituminous coal burned in industrial applications, this does not mean the anthracite coal Mr. Ord is burning is contributing CO2 free emissions into the Susquehanna skies, according the Energy Information Association. “It still emits quite a bit of dangerous sulfur dioxide, as well as heavy metals such as lead, arsenic, and mercury,” says Tom Schuster with the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign.

But there is a human side to this within the depth of the Quaker state. Pennsylvania sits atop vast coal reserves in its lumbering hills, which were tapped into for a century by the prosperous coal industry which called the state home. Generations of families grew up, lived, and died by the whims of the coal industry. Now all that remains are a few stragglers who are operating more out of namesake nostalgia than any logical pursuit of profit. Coal is contributing to the decline of planetary health yes, it fosters the Greenhouse effect’s meteoric rise, and is a piece that would need to be moved off the board to achieve a clean energy future by 2050—that’s all true. Yet before we throw our voices against the walls of Washington in circus-like, Twitter-funded hysterical cries for legislation and a New Green Deal utterly devoid of scientific reality, perhaps we should consider families like Mr. Ord. Perhaps we should help them transition to cleaner forms of energy instead of lassoing them to our conclusions with the firebrand whip of idealism.

Coal must be overtaken by cleaner alternatives, but those cannot be solar and wind renewables alone. Nuclear energy must have a seat at that table and it must be at the head. As they say, the numbers don’t lie. Just like the readings on all Otek’s digital panel meters—super bright LED technology is accurate, reliable, and efficient. We don’t know what will happen to individuals like Mr. Ord or bituminous coal facilities with their smoking towers when the dust settles in Washington, but Otek’s lights will still be on, faithfully keeping their measurement—instrumentation that measures up.

For more information on Otek products please call our office at (520)748-7900, or shoot our sales department an email at sales@otekcorp.com

A Homeric Look into Security Threats Facing the Water Treatment Industry

In a recent article published in Water Technology magazine, Indegy Director of Industrial Security and cyber-defense strategies guru Chris Grove draws attention to the types of cyber security threats currently facing industrial water facilities. What he extols is rather surprising—while nuclear power plants sit on a fevered pitch against cyber security hackers, Mr. Grove says that for the water treatment industry, the most subversive threat lies in what he terms “insider threats”. The Trojan horse passing through the gates of Troy to applause and falling garlands, only by the glint of shadows does it spill its lethal payload of soldiers unto the slumbering streets.

Mr. Grove identifies three main tricks of Odysseus that typically prey on water facilities from the inside: the malicious insider, the compromised insider, and the negligent insider. The malicious insider mostly closely resembles Odysseus’s famous trick—these are the employees who’ve risen through the ranks and endeared themselves to a company before the empty their soldiers’ knives into operational technology that comprises the facility; they are the lease prevalent invasion. The compromised insider resembles the unaware leadership of Troy who welcomed the horse into their city as an offering. This type of threat entails an employee whose access to the facility’s networks has been hacked or pilfered by an external threat, which then, unbeknownst to the employee, uses their information to spindle into the network with malware and other harmful programs. Phishing scams that ask for user ID and passwords are the typical manifestations of this particular threat. Last and sadly most common of all, is the horribly-preventable negligent insider. This is plain and simple human error. Engineers, as every industry on earth knows, are perpetually overworked and under herculean mountains of stress—which can lead to miscalculations, overlooked procedures, and erroneous reporting. While this type of accidental threat is wholly preventable, to expect flawlessness under such scrutiny is incorrigible with human nature—a diamond after all, only achieves its perfection under immense and suffocating pressure. Negligent engineers are not carbon crystals waited to be spun immaculate. This would be the Trojan common sense—wholly negligent.

Mr. Grove’s conclusion is that the water treatment industry should employ the same measures it takes against cyber security to these insider threats.

At Otek we know a little bit about cyber security. Our Solid State Analog Meter, colloquially referred to as the SSAM, was designed specifically to meet the cyber security regulation wrung around the nuclear industry by the NRC, in the form of NEI 08-09. When nuclear I&C rooms look to join the wave of digitalization they incur massive expenses in switching their analogs over to DAS systems that must pass ROI-bleeding security compliance measures. The SSAM avoids all that by being able to replace the obsolete ammeters individual using the wiring already in place and performing without any critical digital assets, rendering our new technology completely cyber security exempt.

For more information on Otek and our products please call us at (520) 748-7900 or email our sales office at sales@otekcorp.com.

The full article in Water Technology magazine may be found here: https://www.watertechonline.com/cybersecurity-risks-industrial-water-fac…

There is No Other Way

1979 was a year of pitchforks and flames. In March, The China Syndrome became sinisterly prophetic when twelve days later its silver screen quotations fell in tune with the alarm bells ringing across America from the hills of western Pennsylvania’s Three Mile Island. Six months later a treasure trove of the country’s most beloved musicians gathered beneath the lights of Madison Square Garden to sing out against nuclear energy in what became known as the “No Nukes Concert”. America, reeling from a Cold War’s arms race that threatened to swallow the globe in unholy mushroom clouds, was tired of hearing, seeing, and knowing the word ‘nuclear’. Construction plans for new plants were scrapped as the NRC, under intense pressure from the court of public opinion (who seems to always have a particularly nasty gavel), tightened regulations that made funding nearly impossible—to this date no nuclear facility has been built on U.S. soil since ’79. It was the beginning of a forty-year sojourn to the conversation America is having today in courthouses, in newspapers, and most embarrassingly, in a maelstrom of tweets. We are debating its death.

The New Green Deal implicitly states that nuclear energy is not to be a part of a clean energy future for America. One can see the Pavlovian conditioning from 1979 leeching into these youthful denunciations against the most reliable form of energy humanity has ever wielded. They scream, they beg, they moan for 100% clean renewables—“Save the children!”—but a closer inspection (one that takes into account actual scientific possibilities) reveals this to be a naïve fantasy, at least as our current technological capabilities stand. Renewables (god how we love neat little facile phrases!) are wholly unreliable due to their entire framework being dependent upon nature—wind and solar depend on the disposition of the sun and the wind on any given day—and would need to be supported by impossibly large battery systems that simply don’t exist yet. This would essentially boil down to New York City in the midst of a three-day rainstorm, the world’s biggest metropolis, needing to be powered with a battery. While a lovely idea, until technology can progress to meet this demand, it’s more suited to a children’s book than a congressional debate.

Yet if we can peel back from contentious politics and sensationalist posturing before the mirror—for the real 21st century disease is the unmitigated beauty we find in the sound of our own voice—we see that the Doobie Brothers, Jackson Browne, and the rest of their righteous friends rocking the Garden back then were really using one word too many in their slogan “No Nukes: The Muse Concerts for a Non-Nuclear Future”—if they had dropped ‘nuclear’ it would been very much spot-on and a good bit of foresight on their part. For what any climate change scientist, any professor worth his salt, hell—anyone with an honest ear to the ground will tell you, is that there is no future without nuclear energy. The planet is burning up with every carbon emission rifled in to the air—renewables like solar and wind energy will help to reduce these emissions yes, but they will not be able to shoulder the entire weight of America’s energy needs alone, it’s simply too much.

In a recent article for the New York Times, authors Joshua Goldstein and Staffan Qvist, along with Harvard psychologist Dr. Steven Pinker, endeavor mightily to dispel this unfounded notion that we can eliminate all carbon emissions by 2050 without nuclear energy. They point to France and Sweden, two countries who rapidly reduced their respective national carbon levels by converting their electrical grids to nuclear power in less than 20 years, as the defining blueprint. France now enjoys cheaper electricity than Germany, who famously dismantled their nuclear capabilities on another naïve outcry from its population—Sweden annually tops the list of the world’s most pleasant places to live with its lush emerald fields the envy of the planet.

Somewhat humorously the article states “This is a real solution to humanity’s greatest problem.” Why then, is America, self-proclaimed superpower of the world, dragging its feet on what France and Sweden discovered over twenty years ago? Again the text delivers it unadorned and true: “economics and fear”. Nuclear plants are notoriously expensive to build in the United States it’s true, but do they have to be? In the article the authors point to the simple solution of standardization and repetition—the old Henry Ford model. What is cantankerous and cost-soaring in one amalgamation can be fine-tuned and molded to streamlined precision in production—we could roll power plants off the production line in soliloquy’s of clean energy should public perception ever align with empirical fact.

Fear seems to be the more insurmountable hurdle. Say the word nuclear to your average American and watch the mushroom rise in their mind. Contrary to the usual irrational humdrum of human lunacy, nuclear power plants cannot detonate into earth-altering explosions like the demonized nuclear bombs, they are not a mere finger flick away from being weaponized, and the waste they produce is not patiently waiting beneath the earth to rise up and mutilate future generations of our children. Nuclear waste management is an extremely regulated and transparent process—in fact, Finland, right now, is developing the world’s first permanent repository for nuclear fuel in massive catacombs 70 kilometers beneath ancient ice-age rock. France has even begun experimenting with the possibilities of recycling nuclear fuel for renewed energy production. As Dr. Pinker points out, our opinions are formed by the cultural tribes we inhabit—until we learn to leave the tribe and march under the banner of our own free thoughts, false barriers will keep us from the truth.

Forty years later we are still waiting to leave the tribe of our own mass hysteria. Nuclear power is the best chance humanity has at erasing the ravages it has laid upon the earth. If we want to protect the environment, if we want to save our children from our crimes, then we will embrace nuclear energy. If we don’t, then we won’t. There is no other way.

Otek is proud to stand with the nuclear industry. We are seeking partners around the world to join in this most important crusade. Our NTM and SSAM product models are specifically designed to this end—the equipment that runs nuclear plants is just as important as the energy it produces—and our contribution is reliable, accurate, and efficient instrumentation that measures up to the nuclear potential. We hope you will join us.

If you would like more information about Otek and its products, please call (520) 748-7900 or email our sales department at sales@otekcorp.com.

At the Edge of Midnight, the End of an Epoch

As midnight steals over the Prime Meridian and the sleepy emerald lawns of Greenwich, England wave in the opening seconds of April 6th, 2019, an invisible calamity will begin to unfurl across the globe. Slithering into the world’s banks, its tapestry of cellular towers stretching endlessly across spherical distances, its atmosphere of airplanes and drones, its oceans traversed by shipping vessels carrying planetary commerce, plunging into our cars, our Google maps, our precious cell phones, worming even into the modern human concept of timing, is the epochal death of our Global Positioning System. We have long forgotten how to heed the directional offerings of the sun upon stones, and an entire generation has risen on this earth without the ability to read a paper map. In short, the invisible hand guiding the rhythm of our existence is about to going sputtering by degrees.

Referred to as the GPS Epoch Failure or GPS Rollover, the eerily similar to Y2K event will occur when the Coordinated Universal Time Cock (UTC) reaches the maximum allowance for its calculation algorithm, its 10-bit “week number counter” or WN. At this moment, when midnight falls over the Prime Meridian’s shoulders, the satellite navigation system will revert back to the counted measure of its original existence—August 21st, 1999, the 0000000000 hour. That’s when this current iteration of the GPS epoch began—a cycle of roughly 20 years dating back to the system’s inception at the hands of Mr. Reagan in January of 1980. Due to the present 10 digit limit of the 31 satellite system that was created and still maintained by the United States Air Force, every 1,024 weeks the atomic clocks inside each satellite will run out of computation space and reset back to base zero. This happens because of the intricate processes which keep GPS humming through humanity’s galaxy of needs and demands: the system works by transmitting a time signature to the network of satellites orbiting earth where the unique code contained within the signature is unpacked, this code is compiled by the week and seconds within the initial week when GPS Time was birthed—January 6th, 1980. Once the internal limit is reached, the whole system leaps back to 0000000000—a dubious parallel to the “Beyond the Zero” narrative of Thomas Pynchon’s 1979 novel Gravity’s Rainbow.

So are we facing the global annihilation of technology? Will mankind be flung back into its darkened past of sundials and carrier pigeons? Not quite—most of the technological devices created in the last five years or less have firmware that’s already been programmed to handle the roll back, or is capable of receiving the necessary preventable updates. The danger lies in the distance beyond those years—think of trains, airplanes, banks, institutions that are traditionally slow to change their technology suddenly being thrown out of orbit. Think of driving down interstate 5 toward Santa Clarita and hearing directions for an avenue along the southern ridge of Easter Island, think of Google Earth detailing your route to a shopping mall that existed in 2001 and is a parking lot now—think September 1st, 1983 and 269 souls aboard Korean Airlines Flight 007 plummeting to their death after being blasted out of the sky by Soviet missiles as a result of faulty GPS coordinates deceiving the plane into unknowingly flying over Russian airspace. Doom by miscalculation.

While the worldwide impact will more than likely be negligible, this does offer an interesting moment for humanity to consider how reliant it is on technology. We’ve created gods out of electricity and the confluence of information, we’ve reduced the planet to a handheld device, and we’ve surrendered our ancient knowledge to digital arbitration. Yet the sun is still out there and its shadows still crawl across the stone dial—we have only to forget, and remember again.

As an industry leader in process measurement and control, as a well as an ardent supporter of technological progress, Otek prides itself on balancing the digital future with the past’s wisdom. That’s how we created our latest addition to our New Technology Fleet, the Solid State Analog Meter or SSAM, which was built with the analog past in mind so that the meter functions without critical digital assets and in harmony with our cutting-edge patented 2019 technology. We brought the past and the future, the ammeter and the DPM, together to give the nuclear industry its first cyber security exempt digital panel meter.

So tonight, as the clock folds over midnight and an epoch ends, we pause to remember the past as we consider the future. A future Otek will continue to push beyond the limits of panel meter technology.

For more information on Otek’s fleet of tecnologically advanced instrumentation, please call our office at (520)-748-7900 or email our sales office at sales@otekcorp.com

The Nuclear Question in June: ANS 2019

As the dry heat sinks into the sand this June here in Arizona, Otek president and owner, Dr. Otto P. Fest, will be traveling to the more humid saturation of Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he has been invited to present his scholarly paper “Nuclear Main Control Room Obsolescence & Cyber Security Regulations Are New Challenges to Overcome”. In the bowels of the Hyatt Regency hotel, delegates, keen-eyed CEO’s, suave executives, technicians, engineers, and the familiar faceless mainstays will gather under the nuclear umbrella to ruminate on the future of the industry—a future that currently sways in a murky and aimless wind.

With the nuclear industry being battered and besieged from a new political front seeking to submit its head to the guillotine, to say times are perilous would be a bit of a chaff understatement. With the New Green Deal and its foot soldiers rattling the death saber at nuclear energy with one hand and lifting flimsy renewables toward heaven with the other, perhaps more so than in recent years past, the 2019 annual ANS meeting rides into existence atop a fresh wave of urgency. Look no further than its ominously ambivalent title “The Value of Nuclear”—the powder keg awaits but a spark. The resolutions forged from June 9th to the 13th in Minneapolis will largely shape the directional battle that Washington will be entrenched with as the 2020 election rolls into play.

But there is more at stake than simply the justification for nuclear energy. In the midst of all this ideological warring lies the deeper issue of how to improve the U.S. nuclear fleet—specifically how to make plants more efficient, more reliable, and more hardened against inevitable technology obsolescence. The analog age has long been returned to dust, but its obsolete vestiges still linger on in I&C rooms across the country, reeking of potential disasters and free-flowing improvement expenses. Into this cauldron steps Dr. Fest armed with a solution that doesn’t require time-diminishing return on investments and cost-prohibitive flat-panel technology upgrades—a solution that has a future.

Sometimes, in order to find the future, one must peruse the footsteps of the past. Returning to an abandoned project from 2004, Dr. Fest unearthed an old prototype he had been molding into a control instrument with no programmable processors that could be powered by the highly-popular 4-20mA current loop signal. Infusing the old design with the latest in high efficiency pure white LED’s and a 4½ digit display with Accuracy and Resolution of ± 0.05%, a specialized Color-EX technique that uses custom color printed scale plates with color zones over the white LEDs, and several late-night sweat upon the brow sessions, the Solid State Analog meter sprang to neon life in a bright display powered by nothing more than CMOS logic. The resulting SSAM can be inserted into nuclear I&C rooms as a cyber security exempt asset using the same wiring, panels, and level of operator training that the old analogs grinded their years into. Dr. Fest champions this streamlined digitization as “Plug n’ Play”.

If you have any interest in America’s nuclear future, and what can be done to ensure there is a future, or simply wish to stave off useless ideologies devoid of feasible logic, we encourage you to join Dr. Fest in Minneapolis for the presentation of “Nuclear Main Control Room Obsolescence & Cyber Security Regulations Are New Challenges to Overcome”.

For more information on Otek’s presence at the ANS 2019 Conference, or product details of the SSAM, please call our office at (520) 748-7900 or email our sales office at sales@otekcorp.com.

Will the American Nuclear Industry Lose Footing to an Eager World?

As U.S. soil continues to be a sensational battleground for a rabidly politicized energy debate, the rest of the world is marshalling for the throne. Resting for decades on the laurels of being the planet’s leading nuclear authority, a hysterical new wave has cascaded from the shores of California to Rockport, Maine, embroiling the United States in murky questions over its nuclear future—and the envious eyes of the east have been watching.

Consider this: China and Russia, dubious regimes who’ve long coveted the American global empire, combine to build two out of every three new nuclear reactors around the world. As NEI president and CEO Maria Korsnick mentioned in her 2019 State of the Industry Address, “They are making massive investments, expanding their domestic fleet, and developing new technologies. Their efforts to promote nuclear power internationally are core parts of their foreign policy … and America is falling behind”. And where there’s blood, the sharks are soon to follow—Poland, Jordan, and the Czech Republic are all making advances for expanding their nuclear markets; in Saudi Arabia the country’s first nuclear reactor gleamed the light of day at a massive facility on the outskirts Riyadh. Heavy lies the crown indeed, and the world waits for nothing—it will simply pass you by in the wind.

Unfortunately, it is quite impossible to unweave the naiveté of political infighting over nuclear energy in the U.S.—this is now the land of shouting logic into shadows. So what can be done to bolster our nuclear industry, what can be done to keep us ahead of the snarling pack? Improved export financing is one avenue, Mrs. Korsnick highlights, “Without a fully functioning Export-Import Bank, US nuclear suppliers can’t even compete in a global market on international tenders. This year, we hope the Senate confirms a quorum on the bank’s board and we hope Congress will reauthorize the bank itself,” she said.

Ultimately though, the battle will not be fought in courts or on legislative parchment—it will be fought in the collective American mind. What began with The China Syndrome and Three Mile Island in 1979, has reached full bloom in the mouth of the Green New Deal, it has ratcheted to new octaves off the screeching lips of those who suddenly find themselves ravenous for clean energy—though this author must admit his skepticism as to whether these new screechers actually believe in what they’re demanding, or if they simply joined the circus because it was passing through. As the largest source of clean energy in the country, any future for the American grid must include nuclear—therefore a persuasive battle must be waged for the prevalence of common sense among the American mind. As Mrs. Korsnick lays plainly for all to see, “The math is simple, really. If we want to stop the surge of polluting emissions, we have to start investing more in making our most reliable energy option even better. Protecting our energy, economy and environment means that nuclear isn’t optional at all.”

Otek has long pledged its support to the nuclear industry, and now as a Class 1E company, we’ve reinvigorated that pledge with our latest invention, the Solid State Analog Meter (SSAM). Built without critical digital assets such as microprocessors and using CMOS logic, the SSAM is designed to replace obsolete analog and digital meters in a nuclear I&C room form, fit, and function using the same wiring, panels, and only minimal training for operators, as a cyber security exempt technology. We’re committed to strengthening America’s nuclear fleet, meter by meter.

For more information on the SSAM and Otek’s promise to the nuclear industry, or any of our products, please call our office at (520) 748-7900 or email our sales department at sales@otekcorp.com.

40 Years in the Shadow of Three Mile Island

A 40-year anniversary is usually cause for jubilant celebration, of endearing reflection—unless you are staring down the 40th anniversary of the worst nuclear accident in United States’ history. Shortly after dawn broke over Dauphin County on March 28th, 1979, the mechanisms of what would eventually come to be known as the Three Mile Island disaster began to swirl. While morning migrated across the western Pennsylvania sky there had been silence—operators working, technicians’ eyes roving across display panels, the plant in the practiced motions of normal operations. Then, before most of the surrounding population had even lifted themselves from their beds, proverbial hell broke loose. A cacophony of alarm bells and sirens began screeching across the plant—down corridors, orange strobe lights oscillating through sleepy hallways and control rooms, rattling the startled brains of the only people on hand—four young operators armed with insufficient training and a rapidly deteriorating situation the likes of which they had never faced.

Curiously enough given the end result, the operators performed to the exact letter of their training—the problem was the training itself. The specific type of malady that befell the TMI 2 reactor that morning, a Loss of Coolant Accident (LOCA) and the one specific postulated accident that can breach two of the three safety barriers at a given plant (sealed fuel cladding, reactor core enclosed in the reactor coolant system [RCS], and the umbrella containment building), had not been accounted for in their training. The reason for this grossly negligent omission was the fault of the plant designer—Babcock & Wilcox (B&W). The base zero of the entire TMI disaster was a Pilot Operated Relief Valve (PORV) and the upstream PORV Block Valve, that was remained open after it should have been closed by the block valve. This occurred because the safety functions of the PORV was not taken into account, despite several previous valve failures at other B&W designed plants—this became a whirlwind problem when TMI initiated safety protocol and the PORV was not built for dual functions: normal operations and safety operations. LOCA’s had been incorporated into the designer’s safety analysis report submitted to and approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, but as was horrifically revealed in the harrowing hours of mad, sweat-soaked scramble during that early morning light, the report was not wholly inclusive. NRC requirements dictate that all possible breaches to the RCS must be studied in the safety report, ranging from large double-ended breaks of piping down to the small-sized breaks in which the water coolant system can overcome with increased and maintained production. It was generally assumed that consequences of the large-break were more devastating than smaller breaks and so on down the spectrum—yet right after the point where the report ceased its analysis, the 0.1 sq ft mark, break behavior changed. Yes, small breaks were of less danger than large-scale breaks, but very small breaks reversed the trend and behaved in quick succession like the malice of larger breaks. Smaller breaks were not analyzed at all and because of this Three Mile Island was essentially a ticking time bomb—albeit, a wholly preventable one.

For several days after that morning the nation sat in hallowed fear. Eyes roamed the western Pennsylvania sky for the nasty word hanging silently on all their lips, radiation. The invisible terror. Public support for nuclear energy disintegrated into flames and pitchforks—another nuclear power plant was never built again on U.S. soil. There were no deaths or horrific mutations to the surrounding environment, but the line was drawn and the curse had been cast. Nuclear became entrenched as ugly, dirty word. A harbinger of Armageddon. The idea that the world could be turned inside out in a second sank itself into the American psyche.

Now we have the New Green Deal rattling the death sword for nuclear energy. The industry’s coffin is being eagerly prepared by the new wave of young politicians. Yet ask any sane scientist, or anyone who’s honestly looked into the problem of clean energy, and you’ll get one unified answer: we need nuclear energy to foster a stable future. Energy spins the world and the world is spinning faster day by day.

Otek is spinning with it. Recently launching our pledge to help the nuclear industry evolve and thrive, we recognize the dire need for nuclear I&C rooms to digitize. The financial and feasible challenges of doing so are great, but the Otek technology has the potential to revolution the process. Our New Technology Meters (NTM), our Universal Panel Meter (UPM), and especially our cyber security exempt Solid State Analog Meter (SSAM), are designed specifically to combat NEI 08-09 regulation and the difficulties of efficiently replacing the obsolete analog meters that overpopulate too many of our nuclear power plants.

If you recognize the need to digitize and want to help the nuclear industry meet its gargantuan potential, please visit our website www.otekcorp.com for a complete purview of all our products, including the obsolescence hardened NTM, UPM, and SSAM. Our phones are always open at (520) 748-7900 and our sales team is waiting to assist you at sales@otekcorp.com.

March 28th, 1979. All these long years later—what have they brought us?

Digitization – A Necessary Connection

Whether we like it or not, the world is going digital. Gone are the quiet evening hours with books and a low lamp light, the limpid and soft hymns of nature floating to your ears atop an afternoon breeze, having a conversation with someone in the checkout line, the practiced beauty of listening to jazz in between the scratches of an old record player, gone is the lost art of writing a letter, the simple joy of waiting by the mailbox—now comes the big boom, the personification voices squawking out reminders and playlists at you throughout your house, 24/7 social media pandemic that seems so omnisciently oppressive it feels written in the very spasms of one’s nerves, the impatience on the other end of text messages when you dare not look at your phone for 30 seconds, all the gutless diatribes of YouTube videos, phone updates, a galaxy of useless and horribly redundant apps that nobody can seem to stop talking about, the internet slipping its way into every single avenue of your life including the bathroom, big brother and who knows what else listening to the exotic sounds your daily activities, advertisements tailor made for you seemingly by the thoughts that run though your mind, the doped-sick image of 21st century man walking in hunched over legions, heads bent toward the inescapable blue lights of the phone, a generation of slaves—god help us all.

Yet it’s not all so bad—digitization offers the path to a more responsible and lucrative future across many industries, perhaps none more so than the power generation industry. In a recent article for Power Magazine, associate editor Darrell Proctor championed the digital age, which he refers to as the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”. The advent of digitalization offers the industry an opportunity to move away from “reactive maintenance to proactive, predictive maintenance.” This means all operations of a plant, a grid, and company etc., are feeding real-time data to operators and decision-makers that can be tracked and analyzed for future predictive processes. Mohamed Shishani, a deployment leader at Schneider Electric, observed, “How is it ‘OK’ to have a main breaker feeding your equipment not connected and supplying data?” One extremely useful tool brought on by the digital age is the use of Digital Twins as part of asset performance maintenance—essentially these are digital computer models mimicking the actions and operations of real-world applications that spot potential problems before they occur and offer up to the minute data on all monitored activity. Maintenance downtime and service costs have all been reduced by the inclusion of digital twins in major industry leader operations, the article states.

Right behind the power industry in reaping the benefits of this century’s digital wave is the U.S. nuclear fleet. “There is tremendous cost pressure for nuclear plants”, Paul Donnellan, a partner at a Chicago-based growth strategy company says, “The combination of all those pricing pressures is putting a lot of emphasis on maximizing assets and reducing costs. Identifying problems before they happen.” Added Mr. Shishani, “You cannot improve what you don’t measure.”

And that’s where Otek steps into the fray. As a 45 year expert of measurement and control processes, we are riding the crest of the wave that is going to wash the world in digitization by the quarter century mark. Our New Technology Series (NTM’s), Solid State Analog Meter (SSAM), and extremely versatile Universal Panel Meter (UPM) are all powered by our cutting-edge technology that was designed this century, unlike 1890’s analog technology, and designed to maintain our efficient, reliable, and accurate standards. And like all great glittering upheavals, digitization is not without its dark shadow of cyber security threats—which all three of our aforementioned models meet: the NTM and UPM models carry a cyber security compliant classification, while the SSAM is cyber security exempt by the ingenuity of being built without any critical digital assets.

Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you
Is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’.

And indeed they are—Otek is swimming full bore into the new digital future, with a fond remembrance that our technology stands on the shoulders of that which came before it.

Want to join us? Call our office today (520) 748-7900 for more information on our products and how our technology can be customized to your application needs. You may also email our sales department at sales@otekcorp.com.

Read the full article in the February 2019 issue of Power Magazine.

Nebraska’s Nuclear Peril Beneath the Wave

Winter lobs one final bowling balll at the Midwest. As the yellow rays and warm currents of spring begin their encroachment on the Earth this month, lifting the air with heat here in southern Arizona and painting the east coast with rain, the Midwest is sliding beneath the wave. A lethal combination of blizzard vestiges and rapidly warming temperatures was catapulted into disaster by a period of intense rainfall these last two weeks, which loosened the soil, sent the snow running downhill, and unleashed the Missouri River. It’s the river which is the serpent beneath all of this—it’s turgid waters swelling beyond the brim of muddy banks and crawling across already saturated soil where it gains the momentum of an escaped lunatic and goes dashing through the countryside—the carcasses of young livestock washing up under the mangled iron of fence posts, whole farms eradicated of the future in waves, the wind actually licking sinister white tops as the water rolls across helpless peoples’ livelihood, one farmer lamenting “This is it for us…”, highways and airport runaways drowning beneath brown water and alienating towns like Fremont, Ogallala, Elkhorn, Gretna, York, and Brownsville to the cold denunciation of access only by air or boat, four-way intersections of small towns and those red brick cobbled avenues of the Old Market in Omaha overrun with the gurgling flow of water carrying all matter of debris, the sick underbelly of society dredged up and floating by, trash walking on water, four dead and countless realities submerged—but it’s in Brownsville where the most diabolical threat looms quietly, waiting for the moment when the water will exact its most striking terror.

The Cooper Nuclear Station in Nemaha County near Brownsville, reported to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Friday evening, an ominous three words: Unusual Event Emergency. Inside that simple phrase was the very real danger that the facility would soon be besieged by water levels that could shut down the reactor and breach containment walls. Beyond the loss of half the state’s electricity during its most critical natural disaster in decades, the inherent hysteria of a nuclear meltdown began running red through all that dirty water swirling from the Missouri. At a quarter past five Friday night, the plant manager notified the NRC that the water had come within inches of the 45.5 feet threshold level that would initiate a reactor shutdown. Soldiers from the National Guard desperately heaved sandbags around the facility and readied the use of drop-down “blast doors” to prevent Mother Nature from turning the miracle of atom-splitting into humanity’s latest calamity. At 6pm the water moved right up to the line and evacuation orders were prepared, the NRC was notified of an impending shutdown—and there the water remained. For the next three days the Brownsville community and anyone with access to a television or radio in Nebraska rocked on the balls of their feet as the water held its line—on Tuesday morning the flooding finally broke, the water began to recede, life came out to recuperate itself. Their land was broken and their roads smashed, but in the state where highways stretch on forever into the mauve tapestry of sunsets reclining into an enflamed horizon, the people and their power plant held the line.

Yet in those harrowing hours when the plant was preparing to shut down its reactor, when water level indicators blinked out orange warnings and screeched the Armageddon bells, and the frantic voices of operators went bouncing off the imperiled walls, when the world was ending for everyone in a small corner—Otek instrumentation would have been perfectly at home dutifully going down with the ship. Intelligent measurement and control right up to the final bell. Our New Technology Series of models are designed to hold their accurate, reliable, and efficient readings right down to the mad scramble of sweat pouring down foreheads at that 6pm deadline to call off the shutdown—every drop of water funneled into the reactor to keep it cool would have passed the ever watchful eye of our metering technology.

Our NTM-M, -N, and -3 models are especially popular in nuclear I & C rooms, namely for their unique ability to easily replace, wire by wire, the numerous DB40 analog meters that dominate the industry, in particular the Cooper plant in Brownsville. The “ease” comes from the NTM series’ streamlined form, fit, and function design which makes use of existing analog wiring and signals, so that our NTM’s can slide into place of the old analog meter on an individual basis as the analogs fail, or in an overarching sweep during a single planned outage, all using the same operators and without shutting the plant down for lengthy installations. Obviously, there’s also the financial angle—replacing analogs in an I & C room with NTM meters is substantially lighter on your bank account than refitting the entire operation with sleek, new, but wildly cost-prohibitive flat-screen technology.

All three models, the –M, -N, and the -3, are cyber security compliant and approved for Class 1E safety-related and nuclear qualified applications, as well as maintaining the ability to meet Military-Specs -461, 167-1, 810F, 901C, and IEEE-344 respectively. Highlight features of all three models include: automatic tricolor bar graph with intensity control, self diagnostics, isolated serial I/O, math functions, USB or RS485, a configurable bar direction, and over thirty isolate input signals.

So as we sip our morning coffee at the office or slide into the dim grooves of a bar for that happy-hour relaxing elixir, let us not forget that disaster is matter of inches—and no one is better at measurement than Otek. Don’t drown in possibilities—hold the line with intelligent instrumentation.

For more information on the NTM series, or our latest development the Solid State Analog Meter (SSAM) please call our office at 520-748-7900 or email our sales department directly at sales@otekcorp.com.