published Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

U.S. Department of Energy funds work on small reactors

DOE funds work on small reactors

The U.S. Department of Energy announced Tuesday that it will pay up to half of a $450 million program by Babcock and Wilcox, Bechtel and the Tennessee Valley Authority to develop a design for small modular reactors. The government aims to have these reactors, which have attracted private funding from investors including Bill Gates, in operation by 2022. One of the first could be built on the site of the former Clinch River Breeder Reactor in Oak Ridge.

Small modular reactors are typically about one-third the size of current nuclear power plants and could be made in U.S. factories and moved to remote or small areas that cannot support large reactors.

Flight attendants authorize strike

Flight attendants at US Airways Group Inc., looking to bring more pressure on the carrier to reach a contract agreement, voted by a 94 percent margin to authorize a strike, their union said Tuesday.

The workers, represented by the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, twice this year voted down a proposed contract with US Airways, which is in talks with bankrupt American Airlines parent AMR Corp. about a potential merger. The union's negotiating committee said it would take its proposal for better economic terms, backed up by the strike vote authorization, to the U.S. National Mediation Board and press for additional mediation sessions in hopes of reaching a joint contract that workers would ratify.

Hostess-union mediation fails

The maker of Twinkies said Tuesday that it failed to reach an agreement with its second-biggest union. As a result, Hostess plans to continue with a hearing today in which a bankruptcy court judge will decide if it can shutter its operations.

The talks between Hostess and the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union came after the company declared last week that it would move to sell off assets in bankruptcy court. The company cited a crippling strike that was started on Nov. 9 by the union, which represents 30 percent of workers. After making its case to liquidate on Monday, the judge noted that the two sides hadn't tried resolving their differences through mediation. Both sides agreed to mediation Tuesday.

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