What is risk? A simple explanation

In chapter 7 of his book “The Nuclear Energy Option“, Prof Bernard Cohen wrote the following provocative statement:

It is very difficult to predict the future of scientific developments, and few would even dare to make predictions extending beyond the next 50 years. However, based on everything we know now, one can make a strong case for the thesis that nuclear fission reactors will be providing a large fraction of our energy needs for the next million years. If that should come to pass, a history of energy production written at that remote date may well record that the worst reactor accident of all time occurred at Chernobyl, USSR, in April of 1986.

How could he have the audacity to make such a prognostication? Simple — because he, like most scientists, engineers and actuaries, understands the meaning of  probability and risk (as well as the fundamental physics of modern reactor design). In chapter 8, called “Understanding Risk“, he goes on to say:

One of the worst stumbling blocks in gaining widespread public acceptance of nuclear power is that the great majority of people do not understand and quantify the risks we face. Most of us think and act as though life is largely free of risk. We view taking risks as foolhardy, irrational, and assiduously to be avoided. Training children to avoid risk is an all-important duty of parenthood. Risks imposed on us by others are generally considered to be entirely unacceptable.

Unfortunately, life is not like that. Everything we do involves risk. There are dangers in every type of travel, but there are dangers in staying home — 25% of all fatal accidents occur there. There are dangers in eating — food is one of the most important causes of cancer and of several other diseases — but most people eat more than necessary. There are dangers in breathing — air pollution probably kills 100,000 Americans each year, inhaling radon and its decay products is estimated to kill 14,000 a year, and many diseases like influenza, measles, and whooping cough are contracted by inhaling germs. These dangers can often be avoided by simply breathing through filters, but no one does that. There are dangers in working — 12,000 Americans are killed each year in job-related accidents, and probably 10 times that number die from job-related illness — but most alternatives to working are even more dangerous. There are dangers in exercising and dangers in not getting enough exercise. Risk is an unavoidable part of our everyday lives.

That doesn’t mean that we should not try to minimize our risks, but it is important to recognize that minimizing anything must be a quantitative procedure. We cannot minimize our risks by simply avoiding those we happen to think about. For example, if one thinks about the risk of driving to a destination, one might decide to walk, which in most cases would be much more dangerous. The problem with such an approach is that the risks we think about are those most publicized by the media, whose coverage is a very poor guide to actual dangers. The logical procedure for minimizing risks is to quantify all risks and then choose those that are smaller in preference to those that are larger. The main object here is to provide a framework for that process and to apply it to the risks in generating electric power.

The failure of the American public to understand and quantify risk must rate as one of the most serious and tragic problems for our nation. This chapter represents my attempt to contribute to its resolution.

In this BNC post, Peter Lang provides a simple explanation of risk in relation to energy generation. In an Endnote, I quote a few passages from my recent book that also relate to this important — but often misunderstood — concept.

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What is risk? A simple explanation

Guest Post by Peter Lang. Peter is a retired geologist and engineer with 40 years experience on a wide range of energy projects throughout the world, including managing energy R&D and providing policy advice for government and opposition. His experience includes: coal, oil, gas, hydro, geothermal, nuclear power plants, nuclear waste disposal, and a wide range of energy end use management projects.

A recent comment on BNC stated:

I for one am glad nukes are being forced to be orders of magnitude safer than coal because the risks are orders of magnitude greater

In fact, the risks from nuclear are orders of magnitude lower than coal, not greater. Let me explain.

Risk is Consequence of an event multiplied by the Probability of that event occurring.

We need to define what we mean by the Consequence.

For electricity generation the consequence could be (for example):

1. Fatalities

2. Work-days-lost

3. Total health effects

4. Total damage costs (including health, environmental, etc.)

Fatalities can be subdivided into ‘immediate fatalities’ and ‘latent fatalities’. Fatalities can be subdivided into ‘workers’ and ‘public’.

We must define which measure of ‘Consequence’ we are using. Let’s keep it simple and use ‘immediate fatalities’ as our measure of ‘Consequence’.

The consequence of an accident might be 30 immediate fatalities (as happened at Chernobyl). The probability of occurrence might be 1 in 14,000 GW-years (123,000 TWh). The risk of such an accident is 1 fatality per 4,000 TWh (equivalent to 1 fatality in 20 years from severe nuclear accidents if all of Australia’s electricity was generated by nuclear power).

Now refer to Figure 1. To understand what this chart is telling us, consider the pink dot labelled “Chernobyl”. This is plotted at 28 Fatalities on the x-axis. Reading off the y-axis we see the frequency of nuclear accidents causing 30 or more immediate fatalities is 1.1 x 10-4 GW-years (or 1 occurrence in 9,000 GW-years of electricity supplied). That is about 1 immediate fatality in 2,800 TWh (equivalent to about 1 immediate fatality in 14 years from severe nuclear accidents if all Australia’s electricity was generated by nuclear power).

Figure 1: Risks of severe accidents in the different energy chains in the EU. Original Source of this chart (link no longer available). Original Data is in Figures 7 and 8 is here.

Now look at the coal accidents (the brown line). For accidents with the same number of immediate fatalities as Chernobyl we see that the frequency is about 1.15 x 10-3 GW-years. So, the frequency of severe accidents that causes 30 or more early fatalities is 15 times greater for coal generation than for nuclear generation.

Also on Figure 1, notice the pink line in the lower left corner of the chart. This is the Probabilistic Safety Analysis (PSA) of nuclear generation. It indicates that nuclear is about 4 orders of magnitude (10,000 times) safer than coal generation.

This chart includes only the immediate fatalities caused by severe accidents. It does not include the latent fatalities. For coal generation most of the fatalities are latent fatalities and these occur in the general public, not in the workers. However, in nuclear and renewable energy generation most of the fatalities are amongst workers in the industry — workers anywhere in the chain from mining materials, processing, manufacturing, construction, transport decommissioning and disposal. The figures are from full life cycle assessment.

For nuclear and renewables the Fatalities per TWh of electricity supplied are roughly in proportion to the quantity of materials needed per TWh over the plant life. However, for fossil fuels, the fatalities are dominated by the fatalities to members of the public due to the toxic emissions. The fatalities to the workers are dominated by those involved in the fuel extraction.

Figure 2 compares the total health effects of the main types of electricity generation in the EU. It shows that, in the EU, nuclear is about 50 times safer than coal generated electricity. Nuclear is safer than all except hydro in the EU.

Figure 2: Mean values of health effects, presented as deaths/TWh for the respective forms of electricity generation throughout the EU (Source here).

Outside the OECD, fossil fuel and renewable energy generation is much more dangerous that in the EU so nuclear is even safer by comparison.

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Endnote (Barry Brook): Here are some extracts on this topic from recent book, Why vs Why: Nuclear Power:

Nuclear safety and serious accidents

Safety is the most common fear about nuclear power, yet the nuclear power industry has an excellent operational safety record.

A study of 4,290 energy-related accidents by the European Commission’s ExternE research project examined the number of deaths per terawatt hour of energy for each of various technologies. It found:

  • oil kills 36 workers a terawatt hour
  • coal kills 25
  • gas kills 4
  • hydro, wind, solar and, yes, nuclear, all kill less than 0.2

(These figures ignore deaths from pollution and global warming.)

The fearsome reactor meltdown or terrorist act: what is the worst case scenario?

There is no limit to what the imagination can come up with regarding industrial accidents.

Imagine if a fire broke out in a natural gas refinery on the outskirts of a city. High winds then carried the hot embers aloft, setting ablaze nearby suburbs and the surrounding forest. What if this triggered explosions in adjacent chemical plants? This chain of events might ultimately lead to a city-wide conflagration that killed hundreds of thousands of people. Such a scenario is exceedingly unlikely, but not impossible. In the end, it is the probability that matters.

There is, for instance, some risk that a terrorist could hijack an aircraft, hit a reactor with pinpoint accuracy, breach containment, and cause the release of nuclear material. However, it is an incredibly low risk that all of these things will occur together. For instance, it has been estimated that only about one in every 1,000 direct aircraft strikes might crack a steel-reinforced concrete containment dome.

If we want to increase global security, then it is counterproductive to hope nuclear power will simply go away. We should instead discuss how to use this low-carbon energy source safely and cleanly, with minimum risk and maximum advantage. The risks of not employing nuclear power vastly outweigh the dangers of continuing to use fossil fuels or running out of energy.

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168 Comments

  1. Hi guys,
    interesting stuff. I think I pretty much agreed with the main points you’ve raised above if you read all my comments in context.

    Analysis like this will keep the bean-counters happy about ‘generic risk’, which is the rational global way to think about risk. However, as I said in the context of the debate,

    The reason I said I was ‘glad’ about the passive safety built into the physics of new designs, the containment dome, etc is because unlike the generic damage to the climate of coal-fired power, the potential damage of a reactor core meltdown and leak is so horrific geopolitically.

    The actual lives lost to coal mining and the environmental damage done to both landscapes, our lungs, and our climate makes coal and oil far more dangerous than nuclear.

    Yet the perceived risk of losing Sydney overnight resonates in a more immediate way with our monkey-brains. We ‘get’ that more than the abstractions of emphysema statistics and slow motion climate change.

    So while I agree that the global risks of nuclear are far less than fossil fuels, the local specific risks of nuclear seem far greater.

    Which is of course why I wanted to see the language about ‘not paying too much for safety’ turned down somewhat, as it implies cost cutting on the power plant itself. And as we saw in the discussion, this is not what Peter was arguing at all!

  2. Pingback: Being honest about Nuclear Energy and the Risks involved. « ThoriumMSR

  3. Charles. Your “contribution” is rather disconcerting.

    How about clean up workers from Chernobyl? Where are those accounted for?
    There is no such risk in hydro. When the water is gone everything thats left is structural damage.
    There would be also some risk in cleanup.

    Has there ever been any fatality from a failing wind turbine?

  4. Thank’s Barry and Peter. This is an important issue to discuss about. The numbers are clear, but people have emotions about something far more dangerous and that is difficult to change by showing numbers. The ‘big risk’ of nuclear is a very common argument against NP. Greenpeace said in one document that radioactivity released from nuclear veapons and from nuclear power are going to kill one million people worldwide. This was an argument against the two new NPP’s in Finland. How would you answer to such a claim?

    There are also claims about risks of nuclear wastes and mining. They say that a leak in ‘Onkalo’ could destroy the whole Gulf of Bothnia, thousands years into the future.

    I’m interested in uranium mining and it’s effects to the environment and people nearby. I never visited a uranuim mine and have not a very clear picture about it in my mind. Maybe a post in BNC about uranium mining and enritchment some time in the future?

  5. Eclipse – when I first heard Peter talk about the need to lower safety factors it caused an initial shock followed by some quite reflection followed by in principle agreement.

    I would agree with you that in a political debate designed for the unfocused masses such a remark about safety could be unhelpful but that is not the type of debate that happens in blogs such as this.

  6. I think a lot of people believe in a magic thing called luck that trumps probability. If you win the lotto against the odds it is due to luck. If a nuclear reactor is built next door then bad luck can trump the odds and cause it to melt down. People may not say they believe in this magic thing but their behaviour (eg in buying lotto tickets) suggests that they do.

    The other thing I notice about people is that the risk of collective simultaneous death is weighed much higher than the risk of distributed individual deaths. For instance if in any given year there is a 1 in 100 chance that a road accident will kill any one of us and a 1 in 100 chance that a cosmic event will kill every one of us then even though the consequence of the two risks is the same (ie 1% of population is expected to die each year) people will be willing to expend a lot more to avoid the second risk, or at least they say they would be. I believe this is a genetic adaptation where in our evolution death of the tribe had a greater selective effect than death of one individual. From the vantage point of our near immortal genes the death of the entire population is the only real threat and death and destruction on a smaller scale is merely noise.

  7. Back in 2007 Environment Minister Peter Garrett thought Chernobyl had killed 30,000 people. By 2009 he was approving new uranium mines. @ Kaj that was underground chemical leaching out in the desert (Four Mile) but hard rock drilling for uranium next to Adelaide’s water supply (Myponga Dam) was not allowed.

  8. How could he have the audacity to make such a prognostication? Simple — because he, like most scientists, engineers and actuaries, understands the meaning of  probability and risk

    I think most people are happy to leave the risk calculus to the engineers etc and will drive across any give bridge on faith that the engineers did their job right. However when something like Chernobyl happens people question whether the engineers are doing their job. Without the means to directly calculate the risks most of us operate on faith.

  9. One historical event worth mentioning when talking about industrial risk is the Bhopal accident. It’s amazing how many people has forgot it or don’t know about it. Everyone do remember Tsernobyl. Why? I have no idea. Witch one killed more people? It’s somehow emotional.

  10. It is an interesting discussion, but as I said on the other thread, most people aren’t aren’t actuaries or engineers and are not always risk trading in a purely rational way. Part of risk tradsing, even amonggst highly rational and informed people is about perception.

    The more apparently catastrophic the risk becomes and the more it involves people you care about, the less attention people pay to secular risk. That is why coal and gas and hydro get such a good run. For most people, it doesn’t matter if they are in practice a lot less safe than nuclear over time. The risk is largely borne by people that the users of these sources don’t care about because they are at geopraphic, social and temporal distance and because the damage is summative.

    One sees the same with what is called rather horribly the road toll. People accept it because they think the damage probably won’t affect anyone they care about and it is a slow drop on a regualr basis.

    Nuclear power accidents however, are, in the minds of many, existential and as Chernobyl showed, can utterly change the nature of states for generations. It doesn’t matter if people believe this is a tiny possibility, any more than aslmu seekers coming by bvoat are a tiny risk. A petrol taker that kills four times as many people in the DRC as Chernobyl is not an existential threat. Nuclear power? There it is — an existential threat.

    That perception is what one must deal with politically.

  11. So, following on from what I wrote above, how does one change the “brand” of nuclear so as to emphasise its advantages over other forms of generation?

    One way might be to have a website with a rolling clock of the various heads of morbidity (and the totals) associated with coal, gas and oil and then nuclear. You could even adjust it so it would be power output related — say in BTUs …

    Oil would be difficult because including the morbidity associated with war would be controversial, so you’d probably have to leave that to one side. Since we aren’t sure exactly how much morbidity will be associated with the 20th- and 21st-Century GHG-forced climate anomaly we’d probably have to leave that out too while noting it in passing. Yet even if we did, there would be rapidly rolling clocks for coal, oil and gas and one that was almost completely still for nuclear.

    We could call it “the Energy-Toll”. We could even include costs for wind via gas usage where that applied.

    Somewhere there should also be a cost in human health bill for coal and gas — related to other aspects of fossil fuel epidemiology — like poisoning from mercury from coal emissions or asthma from aerosols from gas plants.

    It’s probably much too complex to do of course, but even if we managed no more than quarterly updates I think this would begin to make real in people’s minds things that are not all that real for them. People would be reminded that coal and gas and oil are not really all that cheap if one attaches a value to human life.

    This is the thinking that drives me to think that a nuclear version of the IPCC should be set up in this country to report on issues related to nuclear power and to bring certainty to discussion where there is ignorance and hysteria.

  12. I think the nuclear brand is improving and I think it is due to the constant set of reasonable arguments that get put to the public. The way to improve it more is in my mind to continue along much the same path. At some point we will hit critical mass. Excuse the pun.

  13. Thanks for the comments so far.

    Isn’t it interesting how much people want to get into discussing risk in relation to nuclear power but have no interest in having a similar discussion about risks for coal, carbon capture and storage, solar, or the chemical plants dotted throughout our cities?

    Much research has been done on how people assess risks. TerejP and others are correct with the comments about people’s perceptions. However, the important point is that the majority of people do make rational decisions once they have the information. The Finns have just demonstrated this by voting 120 to 70 in favour of two new nuclear power plants in preference to renewable energy. The Finns have a better understanding than Australians do. So we need to inform our public so they reach the same level of understanding as the Finns. We will not achieve that by hiding the facts, as some on ‘Open Thread 4’ were arguing to do.

    Safety of the nuclear generating system is more than adequate and better than any other alternative. Since the safety of nuclear is more than adequate, what we should be concerned with is how we can get clean, safe, secure energy at the lowest possible cost. The cost is where our emphasis should be. On other threads we’ve discussed why it is important to get clean energy at the least possible cost.

    My message is:

    We should focus on cost not safety. Safety of nuclear power is more than sufficient.

  14. Stephan @ http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/07/04/what-is-risk/#comment-78845

    Figure 2 above is a comparison of ALL the health effects that result from electrity generation by the technology listed.

    Yes, it does include the projected, long tern (latent) deaths due to Chernobyl – and similarly for all other types of electrcity generation. The figures in Figure 2 are comparable for all technologies. The figures include the short and long term health effects from the mining, processing, manufacturing, construction, operation, decommissioning and disposal of all the materials for all technologies.

    Have a loook at the linked reference to get a better understanding of how this is done.

  15. Peter said:

    We should focus on cost not safety. Safety of nuclear power is more than sufficient.

    On the contrary, I don’t see cost as the key issue. Within reason, people don’t care about cost if they have reliability and perceived safety.

    Right now we must rebrand nuclear power as the safe, clean, environmentally-friendly, sustainable alternative to fossil fuels. Most on the right already think it is economically viable.

    We must show that on all the criteria that matter to those favouring renewables, nuclear does better or no worse. The TCASE series here has built an impressive body of evidence here to sustain that claim and we should not walk away from that by loose talk about lowering the bar on safety.

  16. Kaj, @ 5 July 2010 at 6.02 Said

    The numbers are clear, but people have emotions about something far more dangerous and that is difficult to change by showing numbers. The ‘big risk’ of nuclear is a very common argument against NP.

    I agree with you about the perception of risk.

    However, I do not believe we should get dragged into discussing all the various components of the risk – such as the mining component. I’d advocate we simply point out, continually, that nuclear is far safer than what we accept now. So by adopting nuclear we will be better off from a safety point of view as well as from many other points of view (as long as nuclear generated electrcity is no more costly than what we have now).

    Then we need to point out that demanding excessive safety, as OECD countries have done to date, means nuclear is too expensive. So we stay with dirty old fossil fuels. We will continue to delay until we get rational. We need to realise that it is cost that will control the decision to embark on nuclear in Australia, not safety. We need to demand a level playing field for safety requirements – that is the regulations are the same for all types of generators.

    Greenpeace said ….

    Yes. But people are starting to see through the ridiculous scare campaigns run by Greenpeace and other like minded groups. Your wonderful country has just demonstrated, by their 120 to 70 vote in favour of nuclear instead of Renewable Energy, the majority can make rational decisions once they are properly informed.

    I’m interested in uranium mining and it’s effects to the environment and people nearby. I never visited a uranuim mine and have not a very clear picture about it in my mind. Maybe a post in BNC about uranium mining and enritchment some time in the future?

    I would not advocate that approach. I do not think we should single out one component of the entire electricity generation life cycle. It is misleading to do so. If we were to look at mining, why just pick on uranium mining? Why not compare coal extraction and transport, oil extraction and transport, gas extraction and transport and the extraction and transport and processing of all the materials involved in the life cycle of a solar PV cell or a wind farm? We should not single out one component of the complete life cycle.

  17. Fran,

    I realise you represent a group who doesn’t understand finances and believes it is irrelevant (they think money comes out of an ATM). I do hear what you say. But IMO, it is this group, that you represent, that have been preventing progress since the time of Bob Hawke and before. So I’d advocate we bypass this group and educate the majority that will make the decisions – just as the majority did in Finland once the facts were placed before them. The group that you represent will stick with Greenpeace type beliefs for ever. There is no changing them.

  18. While I certainly don’t accept your slur on left-of-centre (and some non-political) people as not “understanding finances” the fact remains that you cannot “bypass” them.

    While they object, no progress will be made, because the right has bigger fish to fry than getting nuclear power up and running. Neither major party grouping will move on the issue.

  19. Fran – cost is what killed the ETS. To suggest that people don’t care about cost is horribly naive. The reason Tony Abbott keeps saying “great big new tax” and “Labors debt” is because he knows, and rightly so, that people do care very much about costs. If they didn’t then his mantra would be totally pointless and Rudd would still be PM.

  20. My experience of left of centre people is that opposition to nuclear power is pretty weak. If a left of centre leader (eg Gillard) was to say we should have nuclear power then they would fall in behind. The difficulty for the ALP is that the Greens will then pick up the far left.

    In terms of the right I think there is less ideological opposition to nuclear power but there isn’t wholesale advocacy either. Many right of centre people have the same fears and concerns as left of centre people. And they are less troubled by the existing energy infrastructure.

  21. Fran – cost is what killed the ETS.

    No it isn’t. What killed the ETS was the indebtedness on the right to mining and on the left a fear that this was some sort of greenwashed equivalent to the hanky panky that caused the GFC with payment to big polluters thrown in plus Stve Fielding — a representative of 2% of Victorians thrown in.

    The question is — who that is opposed to nuclear power doies so on the basis of it being too expensive?

    Answer: almost nobody.

    If we can present nuclear power as being opposed by corporate shills who want to trash the planet, and who know the price of everything and the value of nothing, then the left will split and the ALP can look to wedge the Liberals with its own left flank protected. Most of these won’t dare vote Liberal, even if the Libs were to oppose it — and they obviously couldn’t anyway, so defecting would be pointless.

    We’re a long way from there right now, but that is where we must go if we want to get this done. Make nuclear power look like low risk and high reward for the ALP and they will get on board. That is how to unpick the Gordian knot.

  22. Fran,

    One way might be to have a website with a rolling clock of the various heads of morbidity (and the totals) associated with coal, gas and oil and then nuclear. You could even adjust it so it would be power output related.

    I am not sure that would be a good image to have on a pro-nuclear web site, but it has given me an idea.

    I’d like to see a chart that shows the cost of electricity versus safety. The safety scale could be of total health effects – in units of equivalent deaths per TWh. The safety axis would range from what nuclear is at now to what the worst electricity generation technology is at now. The cost scale would be in $billion/TWh.

    Reading from Figure 2 above we can see that the total health effects of generating electricity from coal is 25 deaths/TWh and from nuclear is about 0.5 deaths/TWh.
    We can now work out the cost of safety.

    Very roughly Electricity costs from existing Australian coal fired power stations might be say $25billion/TWh and from existing European and US nuclear plants (Gen II) say the cost is the same, i.e. $25billion/TWh.

    Now we can work out the cost of the extra safety of the nuclear plants.
    It is huge and totally irrational. I am not going to print it here (because of the emotional reaction it will inevitably cause). You can work it out for yourself.

    Now, just before you all jump out of your trees and slaughter me, I do recognise that we cannot redesign the NPP’s that we would buy. We’ll have to buy off-the-shelf designs and comply with IAEA regulations. However, my point is that safety of NPPs is excessive, we are paying a great deal for it, and we can afford to look for the least cost plant available with little change to the safety – because all plants are exceedingly safe compared with the safety of our existing generation plants. We do not need to pay a lot more for a little extra safety. Most importantly, as we discussed on Open Tread 4, the cost of the regulatory imposts that Australia requires is what we must find a way to minimise. We must also find ways to minimise the investor risk premium (such as for sovereign risk), and also overcome the ‘First of a Kind’ costs.

    I repeat my message:

    We should focus on cost not safety. The safety of existing nuclear power is more than sufficient and it is improving all the time.

  23. Nor do I, Peter, advocate spending a lot of extra money for a little extra safety. OTOH, the optics of cutting safety to save a little bit of cost play very badly before those you have to win over.

    Where the rubber hits the road this is entirely theoretical though because each new design will be by definition, at least as safe as the last design. So why present yourself as wanting to cut safety when you can’t? It makes no sense.

  24. Fran,

    This discussion is pointless because you have little understanding of the financial side nor any interest in it. You do not understand that it is the finances that make nuclear a go or no-go. We are not talking about a little cost, we are talking about huge cost differences. No matter what imposts are imposed to try to keep your folk happy nuclear will never be OK. It will not matter how much we spend, your folk will never be happy. So I say forget this group. They are irrational. Leave them aside and deal with those people who can act rationally once they have the facts.

    I feel it is totally futile you and I trying to discuss this. You are ideologically bound and that drives everything you argue.

  25. Fran,

    Can I ask you to try to change your thinking for just a little while. Could you try this:

    1. What do we need to do to bring nuclear power to Australia at a cost that will be competitive with coal?

    2. What do we need to do to bring nuclear power to Australia at a cost that will be substantially less than coal?

    The reason for the second question is because cheap electricity will much more quickly displace fossil fuels, not just for electcity generation but also for heat and transport.

    Humour me for a while Fran. Give this a go.

  26. Or even better Terje — what safety features does Peter think don’t stack up in cost-benefit terms?

    1. Nuclear power is already cost-competitive with coal if the costs of coal are internalised. Indeed, it is already cheaper if you take account of the epidemiology of coal and gas, the imposition on the transport system of shipping coal, GHGs etc

    2. Why would we need to price nuclear power at a lower nominal price than coal?

    You win the internet irony award for today by claiming my ideology gets in the way of analysis.

  27. Fran,

    I presume you are going to avoid my suggestion to try to tackle this from a different direction. http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/07/04/what-is-risk/#comment-79010

    Is my presumption correct?

    TerjeP,

    Not an easy question. I’ve mentioned in previous posts on other threads comments like:

    We need to get nuclear at about A$3,000/kW to be competitive with new coal.

    The contract for four APR1400s awarded by UAE to Korea will cost about A$4,100/kW. But this carries a cost premium because it is a First-of-a-Kind for UAE. There are also higher costs associated with building in UAE than Australia. On the otherhand there are what I see as huge impediments to trying to build anything like NPPs in Australia due to the public’s ability to make ridiculous demands and to disrupt the process, seemingly forever. Most of such disruption would be claimed to be on the basis of ‘safety concerns’. NPPs are being shut down in the USA on the basis of trumped up safety concerns.

    My gut feeling is that, even if we removed the ban on nuclear, the government made lots of nice noises about encouraging the development of nuclear, gave subsidies to get over FOAK, and gave loan guarantees, we’d still pay a penalty of around 100% at the moment.

    Just to lay it all out, I also believe that if the anti-nuclear brigade had not caused the nuclear designers to have to over design NPPs over the past 40 years, we would now have about twice as much nuclear power as we do, a lot less coal power, nuclear would be replacing coal around the world, more of the world would be electrified, their would be less poverty.

    Importantly, I believe nuclear gnerated electricity would be about 50% of the current cost of electricity. Electricity would be much more widely used for heating (instead of gas) and for transport instead of oil.

    That is what I think the Green groups and their followers have done to us – and are still doing (although they cannot see it).

  28. TerjeP,

    My experience of left of centre people is that opposition to nuclear power is pretty weak. If a left of centre leader (eg Gillard) was to say we should have nuclear power then they would fall in behind. The difficulty for the ALP is that the Greens will then pick up the far left.

    In terms of the right I think there is less ideological opposition to nuclear power but there isn’t wholesale advocacy either. Many right of centre people have the same fears and concerns as left of centre people. And they are less troubled by the existing energy infrastructure.

    I think this is a correct sunmmary of the position.

  29. Peter Lang:

    You are, at last, beginning to clarify in more specific terms the ways in which you would like to see nuclear power become cheaper.

    These include subsidy for FOAK, a fair wind from government in streamlining planning consents and the provision of loan guarantees. Given subsidies for renewables, these appear to be reasonable requests/demands. You could add the requirement for an efficient regulatory system to prevent delays – one not supervised by any with closet anti-nuclear sentiments. Standardisation of designs would also help. However, none of these suggestions should have any adverse impacts on safety and you claim that, even were they to be effected, your gut feeling is that nuclear power would still be double the price of coal-produced electricity.

    Given that you would like nuclear power to be cheaper, you regret that the anti-nuclear brigade has forced nuclear designers into costly over-design. However, that’s history and all approved designs are, therefore, by your definition, overdesigned. What do you want to do about it?

    In a previous communication, you were apparently wanting Korean reactors of the type being constructed in Saudi Arabia. You described them as cheap to build and operate. When I asked why they should be any less safe, you failed to answer and contented yourself with an ad hominem attack – a response typical of you when any have the temerity to challenge your omniscience. It seems, now, however, that you have concluded that said reactors will still be too expensive unless you start stripping layers of redundant safety features from their design. Do you live in the real world or a parallel universe in which past errors can be instantly rectified with the wave of a wand?

    If you want nuclear power to be deployed rapidly, you will have to go with existing designs, accept those designs and not tinker with them. One could argue that 4th Generation designs with the potential of more inherent safety features (and hence less need for redundancy in designing safety), modular construction and factory build might prove significantly cheaper. Would you prefer to sit back and await their availability rather than deploying existing safe designs now? If so, how wouild you find the start charges necessary for their rapid deployment?

    If you trouble to respond at all, I’d be grateful if you’d answer the questions. Another explosion of bile in the form of misrepresentation of my views will only serve to increase my distrust of your judgement, even on matters such as renewables which I used to believe were evidence based and reliable.

  30. Stefan, on 5 July 2010 at 5.48 : “Has there ever been any fatality from a failing wind turbine?”

    Yes, of course!! just a quick look reveals for example :

    http://www.windaction.org/news/18626

    A broadside accident occurred Wednesday in St. Cloud between an oversized-load truck carrying wind turbine parts and a minivan, resulting in one death of an 85 year old lady (not a wind farm worker).

    &

    http://www.windaction.org/news/23138

    Maintenance worker dies on Caithness wind farm

    &

    http://www.windaction.org/news/19331

    Fines for deadly Worth County windfarm accident

    &

    http://www.windaction.org/news/16306

    Oregon, Siemens settle case in wind turbine death.

    hmmm, thats 4 deaths just from a quick look. They are all interesting reading…

    Also see the Caithness Wind Farm accident statistics :

    http://www.caithnesswindfarms.co.uk/page4.htm

    Of course non-human fatalities are larger e.g. birds, bats. See here relating to eagles for examples :

    http://www.iberica2000.org/Es/Articulo.asp?Id=4382

  31. this one is the latest :

    http://www.windaction.org/news/27419
    News is coming in of an accident at the Port of Harwich in the UK, where a crane has dropped a wind turbine blade this moning. We understand from people at the scene that a 45 tonne blade root was being lifted in an H-type lifting frame by the jack up vessel Sea Jack, when the frame gave way and dropped the load onto the banksman employed by Siemens.

    Hmmm, another Siemens accident.

    Have a look at some here :

    http://www.windaction.org/news/c49/

    the original report on the Siemens collapse in Oregon :

    http://www.windaction.org/news/11539

    A wind turbine tower crashed to the ground at a wind farm east of The Dalles, killing one worker and injuring another, Sherman County authorities said. Sheriff’s Deputy Geremy Shull said the collapse occurred Saturday afternoon. He declined to release the names of the workers, but said the man who died was from Goldendale, Wash. The injured worker was in serious condition at a hospital in The Dalles, Shull said.

  32. Douglas Wise,

    I got to this bit:

    When I asked why they should be any less safe, you failed to answer and contented yourself with an ad hominem attack – a response typical of you when any have the temerity to challenge your omniscience.

    which indicates you are still continuing with the same bating nonsense.

    Go back and answer the questions I asked you and you still haven’t answered. Until then please keep your personal opinions of me to yourself.

    As far as I am concerned you continually derailed all attempt to discuss what needs to be done to get nuclear to Australia at a competitive cost, and you continue to do so. I wonder if you are one of the types trying to disrupt the threads that DV82XL and Finrod have warned us about. The pattern certainly looks like like it.

  33. Peter Lang:

    I really don’t know whether continued dialogue with you is likely to serve any purpose.

    You invit eme to go back and answer the questions you asked me. On this topic, I can only find one question – a collective one addressed to Fran Barlow, EclipseNow and myself. You stated that it was your position that we opposed a level playing field for electricity generation (stated in a variety of ways) and asked if you had misunderstood our position. Fran has already given her answer in an explicit way and, from my last response, my own views should have been implicit to a reader using cognitive rather than emotional faculties. However, to avoid doubt, yes, you have misrepresented my position as you have on other occasions (eg in relation to globalisation).

    If you took the trouble to read carefully what has been written, rather than going into an instant state of emotional self justification at any hint of criticism, you would appreciate that our views are not that far apart on the issue of nuclear safety. It was not your views, but your clod-hopping way of expressing them, that I took issue with. (Have you ever heard the expression “with friends like you, who needs enemies?”?)

    I will ask if I am misrepresenting you by suggesting the following: You advocate the import to Australia of Korean NPPs, the design of which you then wish to modify on economic grounds in order to strip out layers of redundant safety.

    As far as I can tell from a logical analysis of your posts, this is what you are saying. However, I credit you with more intelligence than to believe that this is what you really mean. By the way, have you read Charles Barton’s recent posts on safety at his site? I would also commend you to read what DV82XL has written on the subject in past threads here.

  34. Just for the record Peter, I’m in favour of doing anything to make nuclear power cheaper that does not compromise the level of safety we have now attained. I absolutely support the idea of picking the best few configurations for mass production and rolling them out. That ought to cut the cost quite a bit. It might even contribute to safety in practice.

    That said I find it odd that someone who enjoins us so often not to get down into the weeds keeps doing so himself. I accept that you and I share a jurisdiction but sometimes it is hard to believe you have been paying attention to the last 30 years or so.

    If you and I can persuade the bulk of those who currently oppose nuclear power that it won’t wipe out large swathes of the country for agriculture Chernobyl-style, insidiously cause mutant babies or cancer or leave them with irradiated food by waste leaking into water tables, they won’t care whether it costs $4000 per kW or $400per kW. Fail to convince them of that and it won’t matter if it costs $40 per kW. It won’t even be discussed. It’s as simple as that.

  35. Douglas Wise,

    I really don’t know whether continued dialogue with you is likely to serve any purpose.

    I feel the same way. When you actually contribute something instead of trying to twist everything I say and place it out of context, I may take some interest in what you are saying. At the moment I see you as trying to disrupt. This impression stems back to when you continually wanted to raise red-herrings about ‘stranded wind turbines’ and ‘tidal pond storage’ as a distraction from contributing to the discussion about what we really need to do to get nuclear power at a cost competitive with coal. I note that you have never been prepared to contribute, positively, to that discussion. But you do want to put your ideological beliefs burried in cleverly disguised questions with long introductions. So I can’t be bothered playing your distracting games any more. So please spare me any more psychological analysis.

  36. Fran,

    You write so much utter rubish, with ongoing burried attacks, that I can’t be bothered with it. You haven’t answered the question here: http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/07/04/what-is-risk/#comment-79010. When you have a real go at doing so, I’ll take an interest in your prattle.

    You are infatuated with wanting nuclear at 10 to 100 times the safety of coal and think that would be a level playing field – I suspect you are simply trying to push your ideological agenda.

    You must have been absent for 30 years if you don’t realise the nonsense you are preaching is the same nonsense preached for the last 30 years by the groups who’s ideological beliefs you support. You may not have noticed that during the 30 years you and these groups have been pushing these beliefs, we’ve made no progress on nuclear. I suspect in this case correlation is a fair indication of cause.

  37. bryen, its good to see you posting again here.

    Thank you in particular for your link to the article on bird strikes. I have seen many commenters remark that bird strikes are not an issue, that cats kill many times more birds than wind farms and so on. Rubbish. Show me a cat that came off better in a tussle with a Tasmanian Wedge Tailed Eagle. To read that TWTs are being killed at Woolnorth in Tasmania, and that hundreds of eagles will be killed at a new windfarm in Victoria, leaves me furious.

    The article mentions kills of orange bellied parrots. A few weeks ago I travelled to Melbourne, to French Island in Western Port Philip Bay, with hopes of seeing an orange bellied parrot. No luck. I found a ranger on the ferry back, who told me they hadn’t been seen in years and now very few in number. My 13 year old son, a keen birdwatcher, was crushed by the news. I fear his birdwatching from here on out will be marked by many such disappointments.

    Maybe the best hope of seeing an orange bellied parrot is to look for carcasses under wind turbines. Bastards.

  38. TerjeP said:
    “I think the nuclear brand is improving and I think it is due to the constant set of reasonable arguments that get put to the public. ”

    This optimistic message resonates with me. The work of BNC is contributing to the progress that is being made. At the same time, disasters in coal mines and the oil leak in the gulf of Mexico are reminding the public that the winning of fossil fuels kills people.

    Looking to the future, nuclear fission has many ways of becoming even more safe than it is today:

    1. Molten Salt Reactors can be designed to be inherently safe even if all pumps and electronics fail.
    2. MSRs can operate at atmospheric pressure, thereby reducing the probability of an explosion.
    3. Thorium fueled reactors imply a factor of 4,000 reduction in ore volume, thereby reducing the probability of mining accidents.
    4. MSRs can consume the nuclear waste from earlier generation NPPs, thereby addressing one of the issues that has been used to scare the public.

    I could go on but DV8 will probably do much better.

  39. gallopingcamel,
    You hit the nail on the head, add its negative temperature coefficient of reactivity, and the fact that MSR coolant won’t catch on fire, and the fact the core plug will melt and drain the core if it overheats, and the ability to clean noble gases and volatile fission products as well as any other fission product you care to remove from the fuel salt, and you have the ultimately and absolutely safe reactor.

  40. Yes, Charles. We’ll get there …. if we can ever get started!!!

    Well said Galloping Camel.

    Good point about “Eagle Mincers” John Morgan, although I tend to leave this type of argument to the emotive types. For me, all environmental costs should be properly compared in the Life Cycle Analysis of external costs – such as done in the ExternE Project and many studies before and since. I don’t like to pull out one item like bird kills because then others point out: “but more birds are killed by cars and windows (on houses and buildings)”.

    Some argue that the anti-nuclear brigades use emotion so the pro-nuclear groups need to too.

  41. Nuclear power advocacy and the emphasis on nuclear safety versus cost.

    An irrational person says: “I don’t care what it costs, I want nuclear to be at least 10 times safer than coal, or I’d rather stick with coal”

    A rational person works out where our liminted funds are better spent. What is the least cost way to save a life? Is it better to spend our limited funds on making the electricity supply industry safer or to spend it in the Health industry (for example). Which gives us the greater return for our funds?

    Let’s consider an example. The cost to save a life by replacing coal with nuclear in Australia (at ten times safer than coal) would be about $1 million per life (from the figures above). That same amount, if spent in the Health industry, would save about 5,000 lives.

    The rational person would say “spend the funds on Health”. The irrational person just does not get it. They want to spend the funds wherever their emotions lead them.

    We are offered the choice: save 1 life for a cost of $1 million or save 5,000 lives for a cost of $1 million. The emotional/irrational person says: “I don’t care about the cost, I want nuclear to be 10 to 100 times safer than coal; otherwise I’d rather stick with the devil I know (coal)”.

    The nuclear debate in Australia has been dominated by the emotive, irrational people for the past 30 odd years. I suggest it is time to try a different route. Let’s get to where Finland got to in its recent vote: 120 for nuclear, 70 against nuclear. That means we need to work to provide information to the rational majority and leave the emotive, irrational people to carry on discussing their fears with the groups such as Greenpeace, ACF, WWF, Green Party Australia, and the controlling influences in the Labor Party, etc.

  42. Peter Lang wrote : For me, all environmental costs should be properly compared in the Life Cycle Analysis of external costs..

    I have zero time at the moment to reply, but I agree here wholeheartedly! The LCA should be properly addressed for wind, to date it hasn’t been by the time it gets to the planning and development stage. (which would mean it would be addressed rationally, not emotionally).

  43. It seems clear to me Peter that you are incapable of or unwilling to understand simple logic. Your path can lead nowhere.

    Your strawman on “cost per life saved” is simply a vacuous, evidence and model-free and futile attempt to cover what is essentially the single-minded pro-business position you take on every issue.

  44. Cohen makes a general statement about where he gets “most” of his information, on risk assessment and everything else he writes about in the book you take your quote from him from, i.e. “The Nuclear Energy Option”.

    Cohen’s discussion starts on page 4 of Chapter 1. http://www.phyast.pitt.edu/~blc/book/chapter1.html

    Pro nuclear advocates who think climate science is a hoax or is somehow or in some way unsound, which is a lot of the U.S. pro nuclear advocates, would do well to read this chapter.

    I suspect it wouldn’t matter.

    Pro nuclear advocates, I’m finding out, cite whatever source that agrees with their beliefs, and ignore whoever and whatever they have a problem with even if its the same source.

    I wonder how many would agree with what Cohen says in his chapter 1, even as they quote what he says in his chapter 7.

  45. What Cohen says in Chapter 1 as given by your link seems at first glance to all be reasonable enough. Perhaps you can quote the contraversial portion because I couldn’t spot it.

  46. Peter Lang said
    “…We’ll get there …. if we can ever get started!!!” But so long as the pro/anti nuke debate is polarised along left/right political lines you never will. Even in opposition, an anti-nuke left wing party retains an effective veto on construction because they constitute an unacceptable degree of sovereign risk for anyone contemplating investing. The implied threat that when they get back in they will change the rules so as to ensure losses for plant constructors is too great a risk when there are plenty of other places in the world – mostly in Asia – to invest without taking such risks. You have to win the political argument, and shouting insults at the opposition is a poor strategy.

    People like Fran – and Gwyneth Cravens and Stewart Brand and a growing list of converts, famous and otherwise – are extremely valuable because they know the arguments that convinced THEM, and are far more likely to be able to make the case to their former fellows. Anyone who can be convinced to support nuclear power by the kind of rationalist arguments you are presenting is already convinced. You are preaching to the converted, and we need missionaries to the heathen – and as a missionary, I fear Peter would have made a good stew.

    On a lighter note, this old joke illustrates a rational solution that is likely to be politically difficult

  47. I will make one further observation Peter and then leave you to play in your own rather murky pond.

    Someone wishing to discredit nucear power could cite your estimate that it costs 5000 times as much to save a life using nuclear power as by resort to health system spending to utterly discredit state support for nuclear power. On these figures, saving a life by resort to nuclear power would become competitive with resort to the health system when nuclear power cost $0.80kW to install. I doubt you can roll out 4kW of even the most unsafe NPP imaginable for less than the cost of a gourmet icecream.

    You spend so much time abusing of others for being driven by ideology, yet it is very clear that you hope to press this campaign and this place into the service of a broader right-wing cause, and with this in mind you will not shrink from making even the most absurd of claims. That is unfortunate indeed.

    Teje said:

    What is wrong with being pro business? A world without business would be pretty awful

    What is wrong with preferring business advantage to human wellbeing you ask? Fairly obviously, a policy of preferring the interests of a handful of alreaqdy privileged people to the interests of the many who are not would be a nightmare.

    Again, this shows where your political paradigm takes you Terje.

    Doing right by the majority does not entail having a world without business. That is simply a silly strawman of your devising. The challenge for policy is the more complex task of reconciling legitimate business activity with the interests of the populace as a whole.

  48. Luke,

    I understand what you are saying. I’ve been listening to the same argument for the past 30 odd years. There is nothing different about repeating it again now. There will always be a group that will hold their beliefs no matter what. I disagree with you that explaining the facts to the rational people is “preaching to the converted”. This is not correct. The vast majority of the public have only heard the scare campaigns run by the Green groups for the past 30 years. They have never been exposed to the facts in Australia (unlike in Finland where people are better informed than here).

    So I say let’s get the facts out to the public. When we get to 120 for, 70 against nuclear we’ll be in good shape. That will not happen while nuclear is a more expensive option. As long as nuclear is safer than coal, and has a path to become safer still not less safe, that is plenty good enough. Demanding that nuclear must be 10 to 100 times safer than coal will not be supported if it means electricity will be more costly than from coal.

  49. Quite right Luke. I cut my political teeth, inter alia fighting uranium mining in the 1970s. I worked hard with ALP activists in 1977 to put as many obstacles in the way of development of mines at the ALP conference that year. During the 1980s I was with a left-wing party that had no view at all on nuclear power and was indifferent to uranium mining, but personally I didn’t like the position and quietly assisted those of like mind. After I left in the 1990s I went back to assisting renewables and opposing nuclear power with whatever resources I could muster. I got to know pretty much all the players and knew which arguments against would work for which people.

    It’s also a mistake to assume that all people opposed to nuclear power are on the left. The nimby factor is huge here. Very few people, even of those who accept nuclear power being reasonable, like the idea of nuclear power plants within range of their homes or holiday houses. On the day after someone said — let’s bring nuclear power to Australia, the anti-nuclear nimbies would make the anti-wind nimbies look like rank amateurs. 2 dozen coalition MPs and almost all ALP MPs would swear on a stack of bibles that they’d not countenance nuclear power in their electorates. We had a presentiment of that when Howard made some off the cuff remarks prior to being defeated at the last election.

    The major parties know that and so, until the safety issue is neutralised, there can be no progress. Nobody who lives in this country can be unaware of this reality.

    Let me be clear: I don’t think Peter Lang is trolling — I think he really believes what he is saying makes sense. The trouble is that it would be about the worst thing you could say to anyone who is not utterly enamoured of nuclear power. Casting nuclear power as the most pro-business solution if only we could abandon all those messy safety regulations is exactly what a divisive troll would assert. People doing the job I was doing up until about 2003 would cite this loudly and often to harden up the opposition.

  50. What is wrong with preferring business advantage to human wellbeing you ask?

    That isn’t what I asked. I asked what is wrong with being pro business which is what you criticises Peter for.

  51. Fran – if you said you were pro nuclear and I infered that this meant you prefered nuclear power to human wellbeing don’t you think that would be something of a deliberate distortion? Likewise if somebody said they were pro environment or pro liberty or pro privatisation.

  52. I’ve refined my rough scenario analysis of the cost of requiring ridiculous level of safety.

    I calculate a cost per life saved if we implement nuclear instead of coal. I consider four options based on different total health effects of nuclear relative to coal. The four options have the ‘total health effects’ of nuclear as 100 times, 10 times, 2 times and 1.25 times safer than coal. (1.25 times is 25% better)

    I assumed the following cost of electricity for the scenarios;

    New coal = $50/MWh
    100 times safer = $100/MWh
    10 times safer = $80/MWh
    2 times safer = $60/MWh
    1.25 times safer = $40/MWh

    I assumed Australia generates 200 TWh per year.

    I calculate the cost per life saved as follows:

    100 times safer = $2 million
    10 times safer = $1.3 million
    2 times safer = $0.8 million
    1.25 times safer = -$2 million

    The last figure is negative $2million per year.

    No matter what assumptions we enter, it is clear that we are far better off to get nuclear at least cost – as long as it will give us better total health effects than we have now., which clearly replacement of fossil fuels with nuclear will do.

  53. Terje’s last post posed the question as follows:

    What is wrong with being pro business. A world without business would be pretty awful

    Which, avoiding his strawman, I congruently rewrote as follows:

    What is wrong with preferring business advantage to human wellbeing you ask?

    Terje then continued:

    That isn’t what I asked.

    It is what you should have asked, had you not been keen on inviting me to accept your own paradigm as a condition of responding. For Peter, it is clear that being pro-business is favouring, in his words, lowering the bar on safety to the low standard of coal in order to create a level playing field at the worst possible level for human well-being. This is a mere instantiation of what it means to be pro-business or to have “business friendly” policies more generally. Everyone on both sides knows what this means. Your faux naivety fools nobody.

  54. Peter Lang, on 6 July 2010 at 10.01 — There are standards, widely acepted, for cost per life saved. I don’t know the current figures (which would hae to account for inflation), but the figure used to be around one milion dollars.

  55. Nor have the other advers effects, on the environment, been figures into the price of using coal. These ar currently absorbed by the enivornment, in the form of degradation, and not internalizeed by the coal burners.

  56. Everyone on both sides knows what this means.

    Somebody forgot to tell me.

    I think you are expecting us to accept your paradigm. Which is that business is bad for human well being. I’m not inclined to go there.

  57. Fran hasn’t answered my question above yet. I wonder why she avoids it. Here it is again. I invite every one to contribute to answering these two questions:

    1. What do we need to do to bring nuclear power to Australia at a cost that will be competitive with coal?

    2. What do we need to do to bring nuclear power to Australia at a cost that will be substantially less than coal?

    The reason for the second question is because cheap electricity will much more quickly displace fossil fuels, not just for electicity generation but also for heat and transport.

    Please, everyone, have a go.

  58. Peter – your costings justifying cheap nuclear are compelling but you need to do some work articulating the basis for these costings. Assuming they are correct the cheap nuclear is indeed compelling and I think this is a very useful way to frame the argument.

  59. David B Benson,

    I agree that there are widely accepted figures for the average value of a life. The ExternE project has detailed studies of the cost of total health effects. The value of a life depends on the country. You are probably correct that it is around $1 million in USA. Last time I knew the figure for Australia it was around $500,000.

    However, that is not what I am talking about. What I am trying to convey is that the very best thing we can do is to get nuclear implemented as soon as possible. The cheaper the better in many ways. So we should not hold up the process any more by demanding excessive levels of safety. Any thing better than coal is good enough, as long as the path ahead is for improved safety compared with other cost competitive alternatives.

    Cost is what counts.

    By the way, we do have a reasonable idea of the cost of externailities. We’vee been studying and reporting on this for 30 odd years. The ExternE project is one of the most authoritative studies on the cost of externailites for electricity generation.

  60. TerejP,

    Thank you for the question about the basis of the costings. I can’t post the spreadsheet here and it is not worth publishing it as an article. But perhaps Barry might have access to someone more qualified than me who could do this analysis and write an article.

    If you are simply asking me about the basis of my assumptions of the cost of electricity for the different scenarios, I’ll explain how I came up with my rough figures which range from $100/MWh for 100 times safer than coal to $40/MWh for 1.25 times safer than coal. According to Figure 2 in the lead article for this thread, nuclear is about 100 times safer than coal in the EU. According to the ACIL-Tasman report, the Levelised Cost of Electricity (LCOE) sent out would be (roughly):

    new coal = $50/MWh
    nuclear = $100/MWh

    I have argued on other posts why I believe nuclear could and should cost less than coal. So I’ve assumed $40/MWh for the case where nuclear is 1.25 times safer than coal.

    It matters little what figures we apply, the principle is the same. That is: we need least cost electricity as long as it is no less safe than what we have now and will get safer over time.

  61. David Lewis,
    Thanks for that link: http://www.phyast.pitt.edu/~blc/book/chapter1.html
    Like TerjeP, I went ahead and read all the way to chapter 7. In my opinion an excellent account that has stood the test of time quite well.

    My disagreements with Cohen are mostly quibbles. For example his calculations of long term mortalities arising from the Chernobyl disaster are based on a linear model that has been shown to be pessimistic by more recent studies.

  62. I likewise see nothing to argue about with Cohen’s chapter 1. So, this is the opinion of people who are seriously concerned with anthropogenic climate change (me), neutral (TerjeP) and unconcerned (gallopingcamel). So David Lewis, what are you saying?

    gallopingcamel, in later parts of his book he looks at evidence for and against the LNT model, and finds none of the former and plenty of the latter. In Ch1, he was using it as a ‘null’, prior to his detailed exposition on why it is likely to be invalid.

  63. Estimates on generating costs are dependent on the capital investment required to build the plants in the first place. My (admittedly rather dim) understanding is that coal fired plants are cheaper to build than NPPs.
    No doubt this is well documented elsewhere on this site if I was patient enough to look for it. Assuming a 1,000 MWe plant size:

    Coal plant capital cost ~ $1.50/We USA, “Clean Coal”
    Nuclear plant capital cost ~ $6.00/We, USA, Price-Anderson Act

    Oak Ridge National Laboratories is promoting the construction of Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors. These reactors would be so safe that the spat between Fran Barlow and Peter Lang (et. al.) over safety would be moot, yet ORNL predicts lower capital costs than for coal plants:

    http://energyfromthorium.com/2009/04/12/lftr-cost-may-run-as-low-as-1-billion-per-gwe-of-generating-capacity/

    DV8 (where are you?) would point out that we don’t have reliable materials for containing the molten reactor salts yet. Maybe he can tell us how big a problem this is likely to be. Is it like the confinement problem in fusion reactors or can we expect a solution in my lifetime?

  64. Terje said:

    I think you are expecting us to accept your paradigm. Which is that business is bad for human well being.

    Whereas I think you are trying to do an end run around my explicit claim above that reconciling legitimate business activity with human well-being is what good public policy entails.

    This is not at all the same thing as claiming that business is bad for human well being. So again, you are the one playing fast and loose here.

    I’m not inclined to go there

    Plainly, that’s exactly where you want to go, because you feel you’d like to take a picture of me dancing with this strawman.

  65. Terje tried:

    Fran – if you don’t want to be framed on the basis of the words you use then use different words

    Either that or I should find more honest (or perhaps perspicaceous) interlocutors. You could choose to enage with what was being said.

    Again you underscore the point I made about Peter. Your own paradigm obstructs you either understanding simple English or accepting it as the basis for discussion.

  66. Fran,

    The things you keep saying about me apply to yourself. You are avoiding answering the question I put to you above. It is quite clear you are avoiding it and I expect the reason for this actually reflects on your motives and your integrity.

    I think this applies:

    There is a blindingly obvious answer to [Fran's argument], which, even though [she] is intelligent, [she] can’t or won’t see. It is trying to force itself into [her] mouth but [she] is turning [her] head and clamp like a child being asked to swallow unpleasant medicine.

  67. You’re right Fran

    When I go out to sell opponents on the idea of nuclear power, I put the added safety right up front. That is the key selling point over coal and gas — that is is way safer.

    Not a bit safer, but 100 times safer. I was down at the pub a while back chatting with one of my doubting colleagues while watching the cricket and I said to him — whom would you want batting for Australia? Jim Higgs? Bruce Reid? Donald Bradman?

    He was incredulous that there was that much difference. We got into a whole discussion about radioactivity and mercury from coal plants and silicosis and I pointed out the real human costs of that.

    In the event that someone repeats Peter’s comments back to me — and I have sent a couple of acquaintances here, I am going to simply point out that every good movement attracts the occasional oddball and not to judge us all by the standards of our most eccentric brethren.

    It is clear Fran that Peter and Terje are simply unwilling to deal honestly with anything that doesn’t fit with their agenda and to simply try and hector others into silence for the sake of not making a fuss. You’ve been very patient Fran, but I’ve had my own run-ins with Peter in the past and in my experience, when he gets to this point (really — childish paraphrasing! I know I am but what are you?), he is simply out of the reach of reason. It might be best to just let him have the last word.

  68. Hmmm. All very interesting, if in places, a little tiresome. I think it would be in everyone’s interest to take a break from arguing about cost issues to actually get out there and point out that something like 53 countries have now decided to include nuclear power in their future energy mix. They would have presumably debated all of the cost,safety etc issues before deciding that nuclear was a big part of a clean, safe energy future for themselves and the planet. I mean China is currently building 24 reactors, Vietnam has 14 planned and Finland has another couple on the go. I’ve just written to Julia Gillard, Martin Ferguson, Bob Hawke, Don Argus and a couple of SA MHA’s urging them to get the outdated, illogical, hypocritical anti-nuclear policy of the ALP changed. Why don’t some of you join me in getting stuck into our leaders. I’ve been doing it for 12 years now and we are making progress. More and more are coming to accept nuclear now and so all of we pro-nukes should be shouting its benefits from the rooftops.

  69. Ewen,

    Why don’t you argue nuclear must be 1000 times safer than coal before you’d consider it?

    If you cant give a rational answer to this question it should alert you to how irrational you and Fran are being on this issue.

    I simply cannot understand why you and Fran think that cost is not the key discriminator. But this argument sure is a reminder of how the irrational, emotive people think. Luckily, they are not the majority.

  70. Terry, I agree and I have been writing to our federal MPs and Senators. I’ve posted some of my recent letters to them on Open Tread 4. It was Fran’s response to one of my letters and the ensuing discussion that prompted me to write the article at the top of this thread.

    I accept your point the argument is tiresome. However, I feel it is important to refute the nonsense being sprouted by Fran, Ewen and occassionally others.

  71. I simply cannot understand why you and Fran think that cost is not the key discriminator.

    Because it isn’t. Few know what it costs, and fewer still care. It’s power. Like water or petrol, you pay what you are charged. End of story.

    What an embarrassing admission to make, but it’s scarcely surprising. I grant you though, the argument you put is tiresome, especially since, as eclipse points out, it’s not actually something you can do anything about. All you can do is derail the part you can do something about — getting nuclear power accepted by those who don’t accept it by having a totally pointless rant about something on the other side of a not yet achieved reality.

    I could almost understand that if a commitment had been made we might want to have a discussion about what was worth doing and what was not, but that’s so far off, I can’t but wonder what you are attempting to pull here.

  72. I’ll try to make my point another different way.

    Suppose the government offered the Australian people the choice between:

    1. Nuclear power, 100 times safer than what we have now, but the cost of electricity will increase by 100%, or

    2. Nuclear power, 25% safer than what we have now and electricity cost will be reduced by 20%.

    Which do you believe the Australian population would vote for?

  73. Ewen – I’m not trying to silence anybody. I have merely disagreed on several points and on the whole I have tried to remain polite.

    I agree that people need to be brought up to speed on the safety of nuclear power. I agree that this is key to winning people over so long as they are assuming that nuclear is unsafe. However I don’t think this is incompatible with the view that there is a trade off between cost and safety and that nuclear power is currently too safe. In fact claiming that nuclear power is too safe underlines the fact that it is safe even if in a somewhat confronting manner.

  74. I should also say that as part of offering the public this choice, the government would advise that higher cost electricity means:

    1. a reduction in Australia’s international competitiveness

    2. Which means that the economy will perform worse

    3. Which means higher costs for everything and less remuneration for workers (on average)

    4. a reduction in services and higher costs for services

    5. reduced funding on Health, Education, Infrastructure, environment, etc.

    6. Slower replacent of coal fired power stations and slower reduction in CO2 emissions.

  75. Ewen

    I can’t but wonder what you are attempting to pull here.

    You, Fran and some others see the best way to get nuclear accepted in a very different way to me.

    I understand your proposed approach is influenced by you believe are the people who need to be persuaded to get nuclear supported.

    I am influenced by what I believe are the people who need to be persuaded.

    I am convinced I am correct. You are convinced you are correct.

    I am convinced you are wrong because I have seen what you are arguing argued by Bob Hawke’s government and pretty much the same ever since. This approach has failed.

    I am convinced I am correct for many reasons. The fight over the RSPT (Resource Super Profits Tax) and the government’s partial back-down on it, is one recent example that convinces me I am correct. There are many others. These demonstrate the majority of the public has an innate understanding of when they are being conned. They realise that higher cost electricity means they will be worse off. Just as they realised that if the government applied the RSPT they be worse off.

    The public wants to cut CO2 emissions, but not if it is going to significantly reduce their standard of living, reduce their income, increase their costs, etc. They do understand this, but in a gut feel sort of way, not in the way of a cost benefit analysis. They just know when they are being treated as mushrooms (fed BS and kept in the dark).

    I am completely convinced that it is the cost that will be the clincher. I believe it will not matter how many of the Green activists you can convince, if we cannot offer nuclear at a cost competitive with coal, it will not get supported by the majority of electors.

    That is why I am totally convinced that it is the cost that is the issue we need to focus on.

    And I do believe we can get nuclear to Australia at a competitive cost. But we cannot do that if we are demanding nuclear be 10 to 100 times safer than coal. To me that argument is completely irrational. It is the sort of argument the majority of the electorate will see through and class an BS – or all spin and no substance.

  76. TerjeP,

    Actually “Nuclear power is too safe” would make a great title for a speech at the Festival of Dangereous Ideas.

    Yess. Too safe and, therefore, too expensive!

    Unnecessarily safe.

    Unnecessarily expensive !!

  77. Lang, like many on BNC, will have been one of the lads in the front row in mathematics classes who were the teacher’s pet while sleeping through history and English lessons, especially the poetry ones.

    Nothing new there, except that I would ask him as engineer to review his unshakeable “faith”, because that is what it is, in his notions of Emotion and Irrationality. An engineer ought not to use tools which are not fit for purpose.

    By now there is a considerable science literature on the nature of these two natural phenomena and how they have been shaped by evolution.

    As that literature is written in the natural science mode by eg graduates in physiology or medicine of the type who Lang, as Reason adherent, would gladly consult for health problems, and not “just” by Green Loony Left (sic) psychologists reviled by him and persons like him, I am sure he would find perusal of it edifying and credible

  78. The ultimate cost of electricity may not be a factor in influencing whether people such as Fran and her associates support nuclear power, however, there are far more people on low/moderate incomes, pensions etc who will regard their ability to pay to be THE deciding factor.
    Fortunately everyone’s vote is equal in our democracy thus the majority will decide on the future of nuclear power in Australia.
    I agree with Peter – a reasonable price will be the clincher.

  79. Ms Perps
    The majority (65%) think we shouldn’t have troops in Afghanistan but that doesn’t mean that the issue will so much as arise at a general election.

    You must win over coherent election-winning cohorts to get policy changed in a country where a 5% swing on an existential issue gets you government.

  80. Peter Lang:

    You ask how nuclear can be brought to Australia at a cost equal to or less than that of coal.

    I suggest that a society that has access to the most affordable energy is, all other things being equal, going to have a competitive advantage over other societies. Furthermore, access to cheap energy can provide huge lifestyle benefits. David MacKay, for example, has suggested that one human slave will only be able to provide 1kWh/day of useful work to his owner in the absence of fossil-fuel derived power. Thus, each of us is currently powered by the equivalent of hundred(s) of slaves, thanks to fossil fuels.

    I would agree with Peter, therefore, that energy costs are of major importance. To this extent, I disagree with Fran and Ewen that it doesn’t matter too much what it will cost to obtain clean energy. I also agree with Peter that nuclear power has the potential, from a physical and engineering perspective, to provide power more cheaply than can coal and that costs are higher than they need be due, in part, to the activities of anti-nuclear campaigners and political and regulatory responses to them and, in part, due to the nature of existing approved NPP designs.

    Back to Peter’s question: The only immediate and practical way of getting nuclear costs down relative to coal is to make coal more expensive by internalising its non CO2 emissions costs and, further, requiring that CO2 is captured and sequestered too (or taxing it). In the longer term, new nuclear designs offer the promise of providing power even more cheaply than dirty coal does now.

    Peter rightly says that, if Australia makes its power more expensive, it will put itself at a (short term) competitive disadvantage to those societies that don’t transition to clean energy. However, he rejects a partial possible solution – the imposition of tariff barriers against non compliant states.

    The best that Peter can hope for is that nuclear is introduced into Australia with full governmemnt backing and that safety is supervised by a professional regulatory agency with no inbuilt anti-nuclear baggage. Existing designs of NPPs will then provide power more cheaply than can renewables and not much more expensively than newly constructed coal plants with non CO2 emissions control. One could then look forward to (or hope for) falling power prices following licensing and introduction of new generation designs.

    To give the impression, as Peter now does, that Australia must win over its electorate to the adoption of nuclear power while simultaneously (and uniquely in the world) making it more dangerous seems to me to be naive in the extreme. (Please accept that less safe will, by antis, be translated as more dangerous.)

    At Peter’s request, I have omitted the temptation to ponder in public about his psychological state – a conciliatory gesture.

  81. I don’t know that even this is the correct thread for this Douglas Wise. Check out the war on Open Thread 4! It had Fran and Peter attacking each other and psychoanalysing one another and then playing interesting word Cludo by the end of it.

    The in-fighting at BNC is getting bad.

    I begged Peter to explain what safety expenses he wanted to cut. I initially agreed with Fran’s concerns about the language providing ammunition to the anti’s. In the end he was talking about reducing anti-nuclear activism that stalls constructions and blows budgets, as we have seen occur in France, not reducing actual plant safety. If Peter could only explain that more clearly in less inflammatory language then I think it would be more accessible. I can agree with Peter’s concerns, but think it is way too premature because nuclear power is still illegal in Australia.

    But what concerns me MORE than Peter’s word choice is that BNC is degenerating into a bunch of armchair generals throwing down their own political ultimatums, dictating the way Australia ‘has to go’. In the meantime we are busy questioning the motives and psychological disposition of ‘opponents’ on BNC!

    Some are stuck in the “Tears for fears” song, “Everybody wants to rule the world!”

    What’s going on? Don’t we all want nuclear power adopted in Australia? Don’t we agree (for now) that the first problem is one of public education? Don’t we want to educate the public about the benefits of new reactor designs? Or do we want the whole nuclear movement to short circuit right here, right now, in the mother-of-all pissing contests on BNC?

    The bottom line: getting BNC emails is starting to become a chore, especially when I realise it’s just another political rant. I wonder if we need a mission statement that we can all agree on, at the most basic level?

  82. Good point, Barry. I’ll try to develp this approach. It will be a valuable skill to learn, no matter whether it succeeds at first or not. I agree, what I’ve been trying isn’t working. However, my son is coming tonight to stay for day or two, so I’ll be off-air more than on. Hopefully others may try to resolve this in the meantime.

    I’d welcome contributors thoughts on these questions I asked up thread:

    Suppose the government offered the Australian people the choice between:

    1. Nuclear power, 100 times safer than what we have now, but the cost of electricity will increase by 100%, or

    2. Nuclear power, 25% safer than what we have now and electricity cost will be reduced by 20%.

    Which do you believe the Australian population would vote for?

    and these:

    1. What do we need to do to bring nuclear power to Australia at a cost that will be competitive with coal?

    2. What do we need to do to bring nuclear power to Australia at a cost that will be substantially less than coal?

    The reason for the second question is because cheap electricity will much more quickly displace fossil fuels, not just for electricity generation but also for heat and transport.

  83. Barry – I’m all for persuasion via respectful questions. However your article on the topic does not say what to do when basic questions are take as evidence of a faulty paradigm or are ignored entirely. Rarely do people willingly submit to a series of questions based on somebody elses logic chain. I agree we should keep our cool but you’re presenting an idealised version of how a debate is prosecuted. In practice conflict is a somewhat inevitable product of divergent worldviews colliding. I’d suggest that the best option is to fight the good fight as diligently and politely as possible and then move on and don’t take it personal. That debates sometimes get heated merely proves that people care and that is surely a nice thing and probably even a good thing.

  84. EclipseNow,

    I begged Peter to explain what safety expenses he wanted to cut.

    I thought I answered this before. It is not a question I can answer in the way it is framed. For one thing I don’t know anywhere near enough about the details of the nuclear fuel cycle. More importantly, it suggests the exact opposite of what I am suggesting.

    I’ll try to explain why it is not a question I can answer. The owner can either specify the detailed design and call bids to build that design. Or the owner can state the requirements that must be achieved – the performance criteria.

    If the owner knows more than the bidders about the overall system than the owner might follow the first approach. That is how the Snowy Mountains Scheme was built and how the French built their fleet of NPPs.

    If the bidders know more about the overall system than the owner, as would be the case with building NPPs in Australia, then I expect we would follow the second approach.

    Following the second approach the owner would specify the requirements to be met. If we were to be unbiased about which technologies we would accept (ie a level playing field for all technologies) we might include requirements such as:

    1. the generating system must be capable of providing baseload power with availability greater than 95%, and capable of an average annual capacity factor greater than 80%.

    2. The generating system must emit less than 50 g CO2/kWh.

    3. The generating system shall have total health effects, at least 10% better than the existing generating system. (The method for demonstrating this would be specified in the Request for Tender).

    The bidders will then submit bids to achieve the requirements we specify. They will find the most innovative ways to achieve our requirements at the least cost. The lowest bid that is fully compliant with all our requirements will win the contract. This is similar to the tender process I expect would have happened for the UAE bid which a Korean consortium won.

    This is the way we get the lowest cost bid that meets all our requirements. It also does not specify any technology. Wind and/or solar with pumped-hydro and gas backup could bid for this if such a generating system could meet all the requirements.

    I hope this explains why I cannot answer the question the way you framed it.

    The bidder will want to know how we will supervise the contract. They will be evaluating the risk of disruptions and delays. They will factor the risks into their bids. We (the owner) has to find innovative ways to reduce the cost by such things as:

    1. offering loan guarantees. From the bidders perspective it is very important that we have a sizeable investment or sizeable share of the risk so it is in our interest to prevent occurences of the risks that are the owner’s to control (eg workforce disruption, union activism, public disruption, etc).

    2. Subsidies to offset the First-of-a-Kind costs

    3. Laws to prevent public disruption that delay construction or operation.

    4. Laws to prevent public mischief and the effects of changing governments changing their minds and reneging on previously made deals. This is a big cost risk to the bidders and Australia is not looking very good in this area. We’ve recently reneged on Telstra, the Resource Super Profits Tax, Gunns Pulp Mill, and many people would like to see the government close down dirty coal fired power stations without compensating the investors – “because they should have seen it coming”

    5. Technology transfer to Australia

    6. There are others, but that’s enough to give the idea.

  85. This thread was about risk and I must profess ignorance about how such things are handled in Australia. Here in the USA we have safety regulations that are enforced at both federal and state level.

    While working in North Carolina, I was responsible for nuclear operating safety in accordance with the state’s “Yellow Book”. While this involves a great deal of work it was still only a minor factor in our overall operating costs. Like everyone else working in this field, I strongly support the state’s oversight, audits and system of inspections. My point is that nobody is advocating an easing of the regulations relating to nuclear safety as they apply to day to day operations.

    When it comes to reactor design (above my pay grade so I defer to DV8 in such matters) the big impact on costs is felt in federal regulations which ban certain designs and mandate sturdy containment structures. These are the regulations that would reject the Russian RBMK for use in the USA. I have have not come across anybody who advocates cutting corners in this area either.

    So here is a question for people who are debating the desirability of building NPPs in Australia. Would you consider following US nuclear regulations or are you looking for even higher levels of safety?

  86. while we all at times share eclipse’s frustration, and I have made the same type of plea (simultaneously not thinking it would do any good, and simultaneously aware that I was as much a source of antagonism as anyone else), I basically agree with Terje’s point above about conflicting world views (even as we both think each other is wrong about most things).

    Most of us want to see safe nuclear power spread quickly around the globe, but we have fundamental differences on how this ought to take place, differences bound up with conflicting “paradigms,” or “world views.”

    Further, these differing world views are bound up with our fundamental political allegiances. calling for common sense or pragmatism won’t do any good on these differences because pragmatism isn’t separate from these competing world views but is interpreted differently depending on that world view (crude example: pro worker, pro union/pro market/pro investor, etc). My view of pragmatism is that it sweeps the worldview problem under the rug, pretending that it does not have one.

    Some of us see “unleashing the market” in a rational (a view of rationality that assumes that markets will bring us good things if we take off the leash or adjust it properly) regulatory environment as the key to spreading nuclear fast; others see “unleashing the market” as opposed to the forces of human cooperation and democratic accountability that need to shape the spread of nuclear power; or view the “unleashing metaphor” as itself fundamentally problematic since markets already contain their own leashing mechanisms. On this “view,” markets are not just about ceaseless innovation but about ceaseless barriers to innovation as well–asset inertia, sunk capital as a barrier to technological change, barriers to entry and exit.

    That said, with an understanding of these competing views, we can probably avoid calling each other irrational, though it can be satisfying to do this: it vents our frustrations, and makes us feel smarter than rivals.

    but it does no good, that’s for sure. though avoiding namecalling probably won’t do much good either on convincing others that their fundamental vantage point is wrong.

    Not that I’m a relativist on these “worldview” questions. but I do think rational paradigm change is relatively rare because where a paradigm is sophisticated enough, it has lots of resources for maintaining itself.

    (I realize that some may call their “conversion” to nuclear a paradigm shift and maybe it is but this sort of shift is easier than shifts involving things like class allegiances or sector allegiance–investor/union; boss/worker, conservative/liberal/radical etc)

  87. “What is wrong with preferring business advantage to human wellbeing you ask?” – Fran

    That’s a red herring if I ever saw one.

    Cheap energy IS human wellbeing. Health care, material comforts and everything else becomes much less affordable if you are forced reckon with expensive energy. If you try to push deaths in the power industry too low, deaths elsewhere increase by more than the amount they decrease in the power industry because you blew all your resources in the wrong place.

  88. cheap energy is a component of human well being. They’re not identical.

    The BP gulf disaster was a consequence of the pursuit of cheap energy thru business advantage says one paradigm.

    Govt. regulations “forced” the corporations to drill in unsafe (further from shore/deeper) places says another paradigm. Government regulations are responsible for the environmental disaster and affiliated effects on human well being. etc.

    Telling Fran she’s gripped by a false dichotomy opposing business to human well being has no chance of persuading her (or me). She has more than enough resources in her paradigm to parry such a charge.

  89. Apologies for another drive-by comment, but after looking through the above I just can’t resist.

    This post and thread typifies what I like and dislike and BNC in equal measure:

    Likes:
    Interesting post on an important topic deserving of further discussion (there’s a lot more which could be said about risk perception, but I’ll leave it for another time!)

    Intelligent people from diverse backgrounds engaging in revealing debate (perhaps not always revealing in the way intended by the commenters themselves).

    Dislikes:
    Circularity of arguments.

    Entrenched positions.

    Ultimate irrelevance of these arguments for anyone who has already accepted the following, which I’d say is consistent with the ‘core’ BNC viewpoint [I'm sure Barry will correct me if otherwise]–
    1. It is of paramount importance that worldwide fossil fuel use is supplanted by non CO2 emitting energy sources in coming decades
    2. Nuclear power represents the best option for doing this in a way that allows our civilisation to broadly maintain its current structure and processes

    I could elaborate on the final dislike, as it’s the main reason I’ve stopped following this blog regularly and turned my attention back to realclimate etc.

    Basically– no matter how rationally we argue for NP, we’ll still be banging our heads against a brick wall until there is a more profound and widespread recognition of the unacceptability of the serious alternatives (principally coal). There needs to be a sea-change in public opinion, and this means going back to the climate debate.

    Or perhaps it just means that BNC has served its purpose in my case.

  90. Peter Lang wrote:

    They
    have never been exposed to the facts in
    Australia (unlike in Finland where people are
    better informed than here).

    The public opinion in finland seems to be against the two new NPP’s, so it is the government and parlament witch are better informed. They really seems to understand, that cutting CO2 leave us no choise but increase NP.

    Here

    http://www.sci.fi/~yhdys/eas_08/english/eas-etied_08.htm

    is an interesting study of tue public attitudes of the energy issue in Finland. The repport is in English, you may find in interesting. It has been done for seweral years and attitude for NP has changed more positive all the time. Coal lies far behind nuclear.

    Have you any similar study of attitudes in Australia?

  91. Soylent proposed that wrighing business advantage and human well-being on opposing metrics was a red herring in the following way:

    Cheap energy IS human wellbeing. Health care, material comforts and everything else becomes much less affordable if you are forced reckon with expensive energy. If you try to push deaths in the power industry too low, deaths elsewhere increase by more than the amount they decrease in the power industry because you blew all your resources in the wrong place

    As a general proposition, this is true. We of Marxist disposition take as our starting point the proposition that the satisfaction of human needs entails the deployment of human labour power. Access to energy suitable to the deployment of machines (loosely defined) can radically improve labour productivity, creating more and cheaper and higher quality goods, underpinning labour specialisation, and the surpluses that permit tertiary labour, the knowledge economy and so forth.

    Ceteris paribus more labour-efficient production and deployment of energy is therefore a good thing. However, the benefits of cheap energy are merely part of a wider system of resource allocation, so ceteris paribus does not apply in all cases. We have a system which empowers some and dispossess others in all thing, including energy. The developing world is radically short of cheap energy, and they pay a huge price for that deficit. The developed world has relatively abundant cheap energy and the citizens live qualitatively better right now than is the case in the developing world. Marginal variations in the cost of energy will not affect our life chances very much at all. Nuclear power, as currently configured, rolled out here, would radically reduce the epidemiologies associated with fossil fuel combustion, which go not merely to death, but also to damaged life. These impose cosdts both on quality of life and in losses of productivity, health ands welafare system costs and so forth. Since the same community ultimately pays these costs, the internalisation of these costs within the energy system, reflected as higher energy costs is at once an accounting difference and an advantage because this cost shift is a profitable risk and cost trade.

    This is how one can return to the original principle described by Soylent as a “red herring”. Leaving coal-fired generators to do as they please, externalising their human casualty costs to the community as a whole, is to act in a pro-business way at the expense of human wellbeing. Business, in a narrow sense, is advantaged, but the entire economy, if one means the total benefit of organised society, human wellbeing, suffers.

  92. Kaj – if the public is against it and parliament for it and it is the right decision then it is an example of representative democracy working. The whole point of representative democracy is that representatives ought to be better informed because they can devote themselves more to being informed. The thing that undermines representative democracy is popularism and the politics of obtaining it.

  93. In the spirit enunciated by Professor Brook above …

    I will propose my own “socratric” questions. Before doing so, I will make explicit my own assumptions about this topic.

    1. Regardless of the views each of us holds about the ethical warrant of particualr sets of social arrangements attaching to the deployment of human labour power, the character of social property, the means of resolving conflicts over these matters, and the specification over human wellbeing, each of us favours the earliest, systematic, adequately-scaled cost-efficient and global deployment of nuclear power technology at the expense of fossil thermal or other energy production technologies less well-suited in each setting to the advancement of human well-being.

    2. In this topic, our focus is on what will secure (1) in within Australian jurisdiction.

    3. Nuclear power in Australia is not yet well accepted as a legitimate technology, as evidenced by the refusal of any party represented in any parliament either to propose its use or to even raise it as an item of active discussion.

    With this in mind …

    a) What single factor do the proponents of (1) think is the decive reason for (3) above?

    Is it

    a. (i) The perceived safety risks attaching to nuclear power (including the prospective leakage of hazmat now or at some unspecified time into the future and the associated legacy question, localised epidemiology, catastrophic plant failure, work-based OH&S, prospective terrorist attack, hazmat spillage in transit through populated or environmentally sensitive areas, ecological damage form uranium mining)

    (ii) End user power cost of nuclear relative to coal, including the potential for a 100% rise in the cost of power

    b) Do the proponents of 1) believe that the achievement of a simple or even a significant majority in favour of deployment of nuclear power would lead to a change in the position of one of the major parties (or the development of a new coherent party grouping capable of effecting a change of policy) in this matter?

    c) Bearing in mind the reality that no ruling party in the history of Australia since Federation would have held office in the face of an adverse swing of 5.3% 2PP and no opposition party would have avoided devastation in the face of such a swing … what does this suggest about the ways in which those of us favouring 1) in an Australian context should act?

  94. The most recent overview of wind turbine noise related health effects :

    http://www.audiology.org/resources/audiologytoday/Documents/2010_07-08/WindTurbineNoise.pdf

    Again, as Peter mentioned earlier upthread, this issue “should” be accounted for in the Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) of wind turbines (or indeed whatever technology is being touted). But as the wind industry and governments continue to ignore this issue it never gets into the LCA for wind turbines.

    Australians in particular should be alarmed about a recent National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) report, which echoes other industry reports such as the Canadian Wind Energy Association and claims the problem doesn’t exist. See here :

    http://www.nhmrc.gov.au/publications/synopses/new0048.htm

    Of course the NHMRC is aware of all the peer reviewed information, because the Australian Landscape Guardians told them in their submissions :

    “Australian Landscape Guardians Press Release

    4 July 2010

    On Friday 2 July, the Australian Government’s National Health and Medical Research Council released it’s long awaited findings on it’s investigation into “Wind Turbines and Health”.

    The report with it’s secondary title “A Rapid Review of the Evidence”, was ironically commissioned back in November 2009.

    In March of this year, Nicole Craig, A/g Assistant Director, Emerging Issues, NHMRC, after inquiries from Victoria’s Department of Human Services on our behalf, invited submissions of information in relation to the health effects of wind turbines.

    Submissions in relation to health effects and wind turbines were made to the NHMRC over the ensuing months which included peer reviewed scientific literature as well as information specific to individuals suffering in Australia and New Zealand.

    A list of the information provided to Nicole Craig of the NHMRC is attached.

    It should be noted that none of the scientific papers nor the specific personal evidence submitted to the NHMRC was either noted or referenced in their final decision (also attached).

    Why Not? ”

    (Note : this came via email, I have not included the ref’s. I’ve forwarded these to Barry)

    —–

    ** The most recent peer reviewed paper on wind turbine low frequency noise :

    Responses of the Ear to Infrasound and Wind Turbines

    Cochlear Fluids Research Laboratory, Washington University in St. Louis

    http://oto2.wustl.edu/cochlea/windmill.html

    The paper is freely available as a PDF from that site.

    Another site worth visiting relating to health issues is The Society for Wind Vigilance :

    http://windvigilance.com/

    I wonder when these issues will be acknowledged by gov and industry (and also by the general public unaffected by “wind farms”), and when will they be factored into the risk assessment / LCA for wind?

  95. I think this is a really important issue.

    Price is not a big factor in power. Yea, people always hate paying more, but the difference between coal and nukes is not something people are going to think about a lot.

    I also don’t agree that you can count up lives the way some people do here.

    It’s fair enough if you are running a business that is seasonal — like tourism for example — to look at average revenues and costs over a few years and to see how wortth it it is to be in business.

    But you can’t say oh … sure, every now and then some people get killed in one place in a disaster and that is compensated by some people some place else and at some other time not dying or getting injured.

    Like Peter says about windfarms — you have to take the worst performance and see if that is good enough to still do it.

    Now if on a day by day basis nuclear is never worse than coal, then that is fair enough — but that is what you have to compare.

    So maybe nuclear isn’t on a day by day basis 100 times better than coal. Maybe it’s onlty quite a bit cleaner. You still have to totally take out the possibility of one of these places going ballistic on everyone’s arse., or get everyone convinced that you have.

    Just my opinion — but I can’t see myself trying to explain why someone’s lost family is just some sad and weird arse stat which doesn’t count against someone else’s health.

  96. One other thing.

    When Peter Lang talks about sovereign risk, isn’t he running the same argument?

    He’s saying that because some disaster in the future might (maybe) affect the investment return that people have to get more of their money in the here and now … and if they were safer from that in the future, then it would be cheaper now.

    Well that sounds fair enough. But if sovereign risk applies to money, doesn’t it also apply to people’s lives? If there’s a rough chance you will and your family be killed and not get the benefits of nuclear power in the future, isn’t it reasonable to expect more safety benefits up front, or swap these for no chance of being killed in the future but a shared chance of being slowly made slightly sick now?

  97. Fran – 6th July at 18.27
    You misunderstood my point.
    The point is that IF/WHEN the adoption of nuclear power for Australia is put to the electorate, the majority (who don’t have the financial luxury to agree to it at any price) will ultimately be influenced by the price being equal to, or less than, coal fired electricity generation or renewables.

  98. That may or may not be true, Ms Perps. I rather doubt it. Nobody for example, is ever asked whether they’d like a new tollway, or whether the tolls on the road will be too high, or which things should count as MAEs or whether rat runs should be permitted.

    We are presented with fait accompli and you can take it or leave it.

    It’s hard to imagine that nuclear power won’t work the same way. Do you really think we will all be polled on our willingness to pay for various configurations of power service with information on costs and safety in the mix?

    But even if, unbelievably, that were the process, we are plainly a long way from that day. Right now, if you could offer nuclear power for free because it was too cheap to metre, enough people would go to the mattresses to stop it to kill the idea — and we know that it is not going to be free or even cheap, even if it were utterly unsafe compared with coal.

    You shouldn’t put the cart before the horse, Ms Perps. It’s a basic rule in sales that you a overcome objections and then close the deal. Later on you can haggle over the details.

    We can’t close the deal until almost all people (and a clear majority of current opponents) think it’s safe. Once safety goes, warm inner glow (pun intended) can follow and then cost can come down.

  99. Geodoc

    Basically– no matter how rationally we argue for NP, we’ll still be banging our heads against a brick wall until there is a more profound and widespread recognition of the unacceptability of the serious alternatives (principally coal). There needs to be a sea-change in public opinion, and this means going back to the climate debate

    I disagree. I think pretty much everyone agrees that coal needs to be phased out as quickly nas possible. The trouble is that those who are keenest oin this think renewables are the answer. They are the cognitive dissonant’s answer to getting rid of coal. The halfway house is gas.

    We need to show that renewables are no kind of answer — at least on a world scale. (Even if some places can do geothermal, for example) so that they are forced to confront the choice between coal and nuclear. That was largely what sold me, along with the realisation that nuclear power was actually less unsafe and less environmentally unfriendly even than renewables.

  100. Fran
    Do you honestly believe that any political party would put forward a policy to develop nuclear power until and unless public opinion had changed? This surely implies that the safety of nuclear technology, compared to other power tehnologies, had been demonstrated to and accepted by the populace.That is why I say that, ONCE PROPOSED as a policy, the final judgement will be made PRAGMATICALLY on what the cost will be to the consumer.
    It would be political suicide to present the electorate with a “fait accompli” (I presume you mean while in government) – as you say they can take it or leave it and they are likely to leave IT at the next election – along with the political party which had the temerity to impose the policy without reference to the people.

  101. I certianly don’t propose that the government present nuclear power as a fait accompli. I merely make the point that getting down intoi the weeds, to borrow from Peter, is pointless.

    We are in no position to assess the tradeoffs in safety and cost 5 years or more out from the time when perhaps, opinion will have changed enough in the right places to get the matter up for serious discussion. We might as well discuss the relative merits on various house designs on Mars.

    We need to deal with the key stumbling block to progress — and that is safety.

    You should note by the way that the numbers for and against nuclear are about the same as the numbers for and against the Rudd version of the RSPT — and yet that saw, for the first time in Australian history, a first term PM fall before an election. And that despite the fact that he was clearly ahead in the polls and the fact that a clear majority thought that mining profits should be more fairly shared.

    The wedge works.

    You have to destroy that wedge on nuclear power first.

  102. Fran
    I am not denying that we first have to make nuclear power acceptable to the general public. That is taken as read.
    I am saying that ultimately COST will be the DECIDING factor in the minds of the vast majority of the public.They are in the middle to low income brackets or on pensions/benefits. I would have thought that was obvious – particularly to a self confessed leftie which, incidently, is also my political bent. Perhaps your socialist leanings are academic and not as a result of your life experiences. When one doesn’t have enough money to pay for utilities life can be very bleak. Please keep to the point which is – what will ULTIMATELY decide whether the Australian public embrace nuclear power, and not what will get them to accept the proposition in the first place.
    BTW Fran – how do you know so much about so many things? Why is your grammar, spelling, punctuation and typing so variable. How can you always be on-line and why did you disappear before when “Aged Husk” suggested you may be cloned?

  103. Please keep to the point which is – what will ULTIMATELY decide whether the Australian public embrace nuclear power, and not what will get them to accept the proposition in the first place.

    Really? I thought pre-determined prejudices against nuclear power lead to the protests which lead to expensive construction delays which lead to high costs. In other words, already existing prejudices cause the cost blow-outs, not the cost blow-outs causing a prejudices.

  104. EN
    Which is why I prefaced that sentence with:
    “I am not denying that we first have to make nuclear power acceptable to the general public. That is taken as read.”
    Please re-read my post.

  105. BTW Fran – how do you know so much about so many things?

    I have been engaged with public policy discussion since at least the time I was 14, in 1972.

    Why is your grammar, spelling, punctuation and typing so variable.

    It is time-driven. When I am in a hurry, I sometimes don’t bother proofing. I am longsighted, and sometimes if I am not wearing my glasses, I miss things.

    How can you always be on-line

    I have a wireless laptop. I am also currently on school holidays.

    and why did you disappear before when “Aged Husk” suggested you may be cloned?

    I have no idea who “aged husk” is, when he/she suggested this, or why.

    I did withdraw for a while after some suggested I was harming the nuclear cause and advised Professor Brook at the time. On reflection, I decided that this was unwarranted.

  106. Hi Fran,

    I did withdraw for a while after some suggested I was harming the nuclear cause and advised Professor Brook at the time. On reflection, I decided that this was unwarranted.

    I hope it was not me that gave you this opinion. I was trying to point out that the fighting and character attacks you and Peter were dealing out at each other were, like many other debates here, getting little heated.

    On this issue I immediately agreed with you that the language used is extremely important and should be called anything but ‘cost cutting on safety’, because from what I hear Peter actually describing, it may not be that at all anyway, so why on earth would we risk bad press calling it that?

  107. I value many of your contributions, especially when they are calmly and rationally argued.

    Nuclear power is the underdog opinion here in Australia. I suggest we all watch each other’s backs and get along as best we can.

    Back on topic:

    Anyone got ideas on how to summarise risk for a poster, or is this topic so touchy we’ll just forget that? (We’re already so busy I’m not sure when we’ll get to another poster I’m already discussing with Marion, but it might not hurt to brainstorm a ‘safety’ promotional poster after all this discussion and I’ll file it away on my VAST “To-Do” list.)

  108. Fran Barlow and I are poles apart politically but this I can agree with:

    “We need to show that renewables are no kind of answer — at least on a world scale. (Even if some places can do geothermal, for example) so that they are forced to confront the choice between coal and nuclear. That was largely what sold me, along with the realisation that nuclear power was actually less unsafe and less environmentally unfriendly even than renewables.”

    In my mind NPPs are inevitable and the “enemy” is the false god of “renewables”. Can we muster sufficiently persuasive arguments to kill wasteful subsidies for renewables? Must we go through an extended period of large scale field trials of wind and photo-voltaic solutions?

    Why must Australia (or the USA) ignore the lessons learned in Denmark, Germany and Spain? Repeating the same behavior while expecting a different result is one definition of madness.

  109. I think pretty much everyone agrees that coal needs to be phased out as quickly nas possible.

    Pretty much everyone?

    The evidence suggests otherwise.

    Sure, the scientists agree. And greens of course, and most commenters here. Journalists and politicians mostly go with the flow of public opinion.

    As for public opinion: while the polls suggest that a majority of people agree that global warming is real and a problem, a small but vocal and growing minority– actually already a large minority in US– say otherwise.

    In any case, polls tell us little about genuine strength of feeling, and virtually nothing about depth of understanding. Just that most people have identified global warming as vaguely threatening, and of course people don’t like threatening things, vague or otherwise.

    Many people also see nuclear power as a vaguely threatening, of course. But this will change when real public understanding of AGW forces a rigorous comparative appraisal of non-fossil fuel energy sources.

    The problem is, we’re not there yet.

    Or to put it another way: NP doesn’t need to be perceived as “completely safe”– only “safer than the alternatives”.

    [Some polls:
    http://www.gallup.com/poll/126560/americans-global-warming-concerns-continue-drop.aspx
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8500443.stm
    http://www.theage.com.au/environment/global-warming-drops-down-list-20091012-gu1w.html%5D

  110. I am posting this comment under duress, as I really want to take a break from the nuclear debate, but someone suggested I look at the discussion on safety in this and the previous thread, and against my better judgement I did. Now I have to weigh in on this issue, because it is plain that everyone here is talking past each other and this is a critical issue.

    To start off with, unless you intend to design a reactor from scratch, you are going to have to accept whatever level of safety is designed into the one you buy. No OEM is going to derate their product to cut costs for you. And that will go for things you will have to build yourself, like the containment, and spent fuel facilities. No one is going to risk their brand letting you install their product on a substandard site. But this is not where costs get out of control anyway.

    Nor is it in operating safety protocols, which at any rate are tied into general plant integrity routines that must be done anyway. Ultimately cutting back in this area runs the risk of some failure occurring that might stop the plant from producing power, (i.e. stop making money) or causing harm to an employee. In other words most of this falls under housekeeping anyway.

    The only place where costs can be controlled which is often (erroneously) referred to as safety issues, is unreasonable procedural nonsense during the initial build. Even this is not the real expense in and of itself, but it is the delays that these can cause that push cost overruns into the stratosphere. It is seeing that these do not get out of hand that is the real way to keep costs down. In any sane world too, most of these procedural issues would be properly referred to as Quality Assurance, or Quality Control, as they would have little to do with real safety issues, but in the politically charged world of NPP builds, the antinuclear forces spin these to security and safety issues their own ends.

    OK. So how to avoid this sort of pitfall. First and foremost there must be only one government agency/department/ministry/whatever, in charge of oversight, and it needs to be at the national level, and it needs to exercise eminent domain. Once the project has broken ground, it cannot be delayed by politics, or by lower levels of government. Some local water commissioner up for re-election cannot be permitted to bring the project to a halt while he grandstands demanding a second opinion on groundwater contamination, two years after the first one was done and approved. Similarly, abuses of the legal system by NGO’s have to be made impossible as well. Many of these like Greenpeace, are well aware of the financial dynamics of these builds, and are past masters at using the courts to get injunctions for the sole purpose of running up the costs, in the hope of getting a project cancelled. In fact they have been successful more than once with this tactic.

    Next, the agency that does have oversight must operate under a rational set of rules. This is not as hard as it may seem. Most national aviation authorities have a time-tested set of protocols with with they administer their bailiwick, and they seem to be able to do it without disrupting the civil air transportation system unless they have very good reason. Nuclear regulators should have a similar set of rules, legislated into the laws that created them, so some commonsense prevails.

    One of the cornerstones of transportation regulation (at least on the technical side) is the emphasis placed on the chain of responsibility. It is inculcated into everyone, from the first day you start, that every action is traceable, and every individual accepts unlimited criminal liability every time they sign off a job. Furthermore. it is made clear that your job is not in danger if you refuse to sign. If your supervisor is comfortable that the job is done right, and feels that you are wrong suggesting it is not – then he signs it off – and so on up the chain, until someone decides to take responsibility, or the job gets done again. The situation that cannot be allowed to develop is one where the regulator has to be involved at every step, and at every minor deviation. Yes, they should have independent on-site QA people, overseeing the quality process, but under no circumstances should the regulator need to sign off at every step.

    How does this work? More to the point why does it work? It works because everyone is made to understand that they can be traced and tracked down, and will face charges if they are found to be responsible for shoddy/illegal work, if necessary years latter. This creates a culture where caution and attention to quality comes from the bottom up, rather than enforced from the top down. Small deviations will still be made, and time will be saved, but these will not be anything outside the comfort zone of all involved, and reason will prevail.

    [aside: To give an example, for awhile I had a job clearing deviations for a group of Canadian subcontractors to a U.S. bus manufacturing firm. The client firm required strict adherence to their standards, or the signature of someone certifying the change was equivalent. The sort of deviations I was signing off were for things like using a paint with the colour "009876" instead of the standard "009875" a difference almost indistinguishable to the naked eye, for a bracket that would never be seen by the public. If they had not employed me, every change would have to go to engineering for approval, wasting time and money. However they hired me because I was expected to know which changes to let through and which need higher approval.]

    As it stands in most jurisdictions, nuclear builds do not allow for this sort of thing. Every change must go through the full process of being approved by all the stakeholders including the regulator, no matter how minor. Many of these are not safety issues, and if they are legitimate QC issues they shouldn’t need global approval. Worse, as can be seen in the trials Areva is enduring in Finland, a regulator with too much responsibility coupled with a lack of experienced people, does more harm than good.

    If Australia wants to lower the cost of building NPPs to help make them cost competitive, the area to focus on is not lowering the safety threshold, (which at any rate is likely impossible) but by controlling runaway costs generated by counterproductive bureaucratic overhead, and closing the avenues that permit NGOs and others to practice barratry. At the same time the public needs to be constantly assured that quality and safety, while related, are not always codependent and must be managed separately to assure both objectives can be met.

    That’s it. I’ve said my piece on this matter, and I will not defend my points – take them or leave them – I’m going back to my knitting. I may start posting again in a few months, but for now I am taking a break, and I won’t be suckered in reading any threads here again until then.

  111. Thanks DV82XL. My reading of what you have said is:-

    Safe design good.
    Accountability in construction good.
    Excess beaurocracy in construction bad.
    Political interference during construction bad.

    I take it that excesses in the later two creep in more in the nuclear power industry bacause of safety concerns. Otherwise other technologies (ie wind, solar, gas, coal) would suffer the same problems.

  112. Safe design good.
    Accountability in construction good.
    Excess beaurocracy in construction bad.
    Political interference during construction bad.

    And that is exactly why I’ve been saying this isn’t a matter of ‘cutting safety costs’ at all! We should avoid that language because that is not what is being discussed. We are talking about bureaucracy and obstruction — effectively industrial sabotage! Any hint of talking about ‘cutting costs on safety’ should be abolished as fertile grounds for anti-activists.

  113. geodoc wrote:

    As for public opinion: while the
    polls suggest that a majority of
    people agree that global
    warming is real and a problem, a
    small but vocal and growing
    minority – actually already a large
    minority in US– say otherwise.

    Somehow this minority seems to oppose NP less than the majority. A fact that must not be ignored. It’s a possibility to mobilise the climate skeptics to act for clean energy. I don’t think there is a better way.

  114. And I can also give my unqualified support to what DV8 said. The kinds of cost imposts that are serious and corrigible have little if anything to do with anything one could legitimately call a safety issue and it would be madness to concede this ground in pursuit of mythical cost savings.

    Removing cumbersome, redundant cost-benefit-contra-indicated bureaucratic oversight and compliance makes excellent sense and has nothing tangible to do with where the bar is on safety.

  115. EclipseNow asked:

    On this issue I immediately agreed with you that the language used is extremely important and should be called anything but ‘cost cutting on safety’, because from what I hear Peter actually describing, it may not be that at all anyway, so why on earth would we risk bad press calling it that?

    Firstly, I am not arguing to reduce safety. I am trying to increase safety of electricity generation by replacing fossil fuel with nuclear. We can only do that if we can have nuclear at a cost that is competitive with coal and, preferably, as much cheaper than coal as we can achieve while still meeting all our requirements (including increased safety).

    To get nuclear at a cost competitive with coal, or cheaper, we must jetision our ludicrous requirement that nuclear must be 10 to 100 times safer than coal or we wont accept it.

    I understand that we have to educate the population. I understand it will take time and it will not be properly understood, or generally accepted, by the population at first given its current fears. But I say we have to confront those fears and educate. I’ve made suggestions how we go about doing that. Education is major part of what I am proposing.

    If we do not tackle this issue (ridiculous safety requirements and high costs because of it) head on, we will be in the same position in another decade or two – that is, nuclear is too expensive because we are placing ridiculous requirements on it. People will still be arguing “Because it is too expensive we’d better wait untill CCS or solar power can solve the problem. After all, solar power will be economic any day now (as we’ve been told continuously for the past 20 years) (sarcasm alert).

    By the way, I believe that, by continually making the point:we have a choice between nuclear which is safer than coal at a cost competitive with coal, or nuclear that is 10 to 100 times safer than coal but we’ll pay twice as much for the electricity, we are actually educating the population. I think many people blogging here have come to realise that but didn’t before. The are starting to realise it because we keep repeating it and backing it up with evidence such as the charts and references linked in the lead articel to this thread.

    So EclipseNow, that is the line that I would hope your posters on safety would advocate.

    GallopingCammel, @ http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/07/04/what-is-risk/#comment-79357

    I would not want to see the USA nuclear regulatory environment imposed on nuclear power in Australia. In fact it is about the very last nuclear regulatory environment I would weant to see imposed on Australia.

    I want, at the top level of the requirements tree, safety regulations that are defined based on outcomes and are equally applicable for all electricity generation technologies. For example: total health effects for new plants, shall be say less than 1 death per TWh equivalent on a life cycle analysis basis.

  116. DV82XL,

    Thank you for your excellent post. Enjoy your sebatical and come back soon.

    I agree with all you’ve said. I would like to comment on some of your points.

    To start off with, unless you intend to design a reactor from scratch, you are going to have to accept whatever level of safety is designed into the one you buy.

    True. But we don’t have to buy NPPs from USA or Europe. We can buy them from Russia, India or Korea. If they cost less and their safety meets our requirements, then why not do so? We do not need 10 to 100 times the safety of coal.

    So how to avoid this sort of pitfall. First and foremost there must be only one government agency/department/ministry/whatever, in charge of oversight, and it needs to be at the national level, and it needs to exercise eminent domain.

    True. But very difficult to achieve in Australia because the states are reluctant to give up their powers to the federal government.

    Once the project has broken ground, it cannot be delayed by politics, or by lower levels of government. Some local water commissioner up for re-election cannot be permitted to bring the project to a halt while he grandstands demanding a second opinion on groundwater contamination, two years after the first one was done and approved.

    The problem is not just during construction. It is for the life of the project. In Australia, each new government can change the laws that the previous government passed. So investors realise there is high risk that a future government will change the rules – eg to required more stringent safety regulations, perhaps with a new body to regulate. This would devalue their investment. The probability that this will happen means investors place a higher risk premium on investment in an NPP and therefore need a higher return on investment. I suspect that many people do not realise that this can be a huge cost. MIT says the investment risk premium for NPP in the USA is 26%. I expect it would be far higher in Australia.

    Next, the agency that does have oversight must operate under a rational set of rules. This is not as hard as it may seem. Most national aviation authorities have a time-tested set of protocols with with they administer their bailiwick, and they seem to be able to do it without disrupting the civil air transportation system unless they have very good reason. Nuclear regulators should have a similar set of rules, legislated into the laws that created them, so some commonsense prevails.

    I agree. However, again, our history of regulation of the aviation industry is rife with political interference. Australians will remember that frequently CASA (Civil Aviation Safety Authority) becomes embroiled in politics and this can last for years. It is relatively quiet at the moment but many will remember the corporatisation of CASA, the political appointments to the Board and CEO, union disruptions, the cost of safety arguments that lasted a decade as the new traffic control regime was established. Australia has a bad record of political interference and politicising its regulatory agencies. Other examples are the Chief Scientist and the regulation of our uranium mines.

    I agree with what DV82XL says is the objective. But given the current state of politics I see it will be very difficult to achieve in Australia. This is exactly what I feel we do have to raise all these issues and confront them. We do have to make it clear how all these sorts of “safety related” issues can double or quadruple the cost of nuclear power in Australia. We have to tackle these issues head on. We have to get them out in the open and discuss them, not try to bury them.

    As it stands in most jurisdictions, nuclear builds do not allow for this sort of thing. Every change must go through the full process of being approved by all the stakeholders including the regulator, no matter how minor. Many of these are not safety issues, and if they are legitimate QC issues they shouldn’t need global approval. Worse, as can be seen in the trials Areva is enduring in Finland, a regulator with too much responsibility coupled with a lack of experienced people, does more harm than good.

    This is exactly what will happen in Australia, in spades, if we don’t set out to stop that happening before we get started.

    If Australia wants to lower the cost of building NPPs to help make them cost competitive, the area to focus on is not lowering the safety threshold, (which at any rate is likely impossible) but by controlling runaway costs generated by counterproductive bureaucratic overhead, and closing the avenues that permit NGOs and others to practice barratry. At the same time the public needs to be constantly assured that quality and safety, while related, are not always codependent and must be managed separately to assure both objectives can be met.

    I agree whole heartedly. So let’s ensure we get the debate on all this out in the open. Let’s not try to avoid it. People must be aware that the cost difference between excessive/bad “safety” regulations and appropriate regulations is very high. An AP1000 cost about $6000/kW in USA and about $1500/kW in China (rough figures off the top of my head).

    Closing remark:

    This is an enormously valuable contribution from DV82XL and I thank him for it.

    I hope we can really take note of this and spread the word about what we need to do to try to get our NPPs at a cost as close as possible to the cost they are in say China, rather than the cost they are in USA and Europe.

  117. @ Peter
    Your statistics are fine and highlight that nuclear currently appears far safer than coal. There’s no need to lecture me on that. I’m not arguing with the statistics.

    But unless you are actually talking about safety cuts to the actual reactors, I suggest you’re your own worst enemy right now. The language below is just too strong, it is misleading, it does not say what you are trying to say and will only freak people out.

    Please consider that I’m with you all the way on your concerns about bureaucratic waste and the industrial sabotage of anti-nuclear protests. Let’s call a spade a spade and use those terms!

    Because the language below is unnecessarily confrontational. The way Aussies are wired, it can only do more harm than good.

    To get nuclear at a cost competitive with coal, or cheaper, we must jetision our ludicrous requirement that nuclear must be 10 to 100 times safer than coal or we wont accept it.

    Based on the statistics you provide, how many times safer is nuclear than coal? Let’s market nuclear as that, rather than put people off.

  118. EclipseNow,

    Sorry, I do not agree. I reckon the point I am making needs to be made and needs to keep on being made.

    If we don’t keep making this point then people simply do not understand the enormous gap, and the enormous cost difference, between what they really want (safer power) and what they are demanding (ridiculously safe requirements at high cost). The discussion on this thread reinforces my opinion that we need to get this message out, not hide it. The more I see people trying to pretend we can have nuclear at 10 to 100 times the safety of coal but with no significant cost penalty, the more I am convinced we’ll never make much progress until we can get people (including on this site) to recognise that the more stringent the safety demands, the higher will be the cost.

    Strident demands for safety, to the Australian public, imply all the things DV82XL has pointed out we need to avoid.

    We have to get the Australian public aware of what we need to do to bring nuclear to Australia at a cost that is competitive with or less than coal. This debate needs to be out in the open, not swept under the carpet..

  119. Barry,

    I think DV82XL’s post is so valuable it would be worth posting it as a TCASE article so we can always find it easily in the future. It will be useful to point others to in the future.

  120. Anti NPP folks make the absurd argument that the US government is subsidising the NPP industry via the Price-Anderson Act. Among other things, this act mandates an “up front” insurance bond prior to the construction of all NPPs in the USA. The insurance bond is intended to ensure that money will be available to cope with serious accidents even if the organisation responsible for the disaster goes out of business.

    Here is a comment by Fran Barlow on Deltoid (Tim Lambert’s blog) on January 24, 2010:

    http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2010/01/more_monckton_2.php#comment-2224869

    Fran points out that there is almost $10 billion in the kitty for fixing up nuclear accidents in the USA but almost nothing has been withdrawn in the 53 years since Price-Anderson was enacted.

    Contrast this with the fact that BP has created a fund for $20 billion to cope with the consequences of a single oil well accident in the Gulf of Mexico.

    Now tell me that nuclear power is more dangerous than fossil fuels.

  121. It would be hard to argue that NP shouldn’t get Federal indemnity after Gorgon operator Chevron was let off the hook for CO2 escape from Barrow Island, WA. The plan is to separate up to 120 Mt of CO2 from raw natgas and inject it into saline aquifers 2km below the island. If it leaks out I guess the government won’t need to pay itself carbon tax. As the lawyer says it sets a precedent.

  122. As you note GC … I also argue the cause or rational risk assessment and burden-sharing in places where nuclear power is not the least bit popular.

    That’s something those who wonder out loud about my agenda ought to bear in mind.

  123. Hi Fran,
    I’m interesting in how this would work in practice? Imagine the unimaginable — terrorists cause another Chernobyl, only this time in a a prosperous western city. How would the government manage it?

  124. http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/07/04/what-is-risk/#comment-79839

    The contributor Eclipse Now, describing himself as an Australian Social Liberal, ie enthusiast of various dubious elements such as Senator Chipp and Cheryl Kernot, designates anti-NPP protest as industrial sabotage and cries out: ” call a spade a spade”.

    Interesting. The Chinese and Russian governments would not doubt agree in the context of their criminal codes and relevant punishments eg gaol, labour camp, execution on the grounds of damaging State property.

    Please draft relevant legislation for AU with reference to the injunction of Sir Robert Askin against anti-war demonstrators in front of his official car in the 70s, “Run the bastards over”.

    Last time I cited Askin on BNC in this context, the Blog Owner and J Morgan replied merely by way of calling on me to outline an alternative to NPP rollouts.

    So to quote the type of “robust, non-nonsense” language
    favoured on this blog, it seems “you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs.”

  125. The short answer is that they couldn’t Eclipse, or if they had the expertise and connections to carry it out they could do something equally bad that was a hell of a lot easier to accomplish. Your average petro-chemical plant is a lot less well protected. So is your average gas plant.

    In any event, mass casualty attacks are a lot more effective, quite low tech, difficult to parry and expensive to deal with.

  126. Peter Lalor

    Are you actually going to make a specific proposal for an energy system or not?

    Assuming, as I do, you don’t think existing arrangements suffice, it is incumbent on you to outline something else that would.

  127. @Barlow: ( I seem to have missed your solemn investiture as sole BNC content arbiter: when was it, please?)

    even more interesting, all we need now is G Meyerson and D Walters to come out in favour of a police state on BNC too, and the Marxist troika, including yourself, on BNC is complete.

    Still, you will be aware of the voluminous literature on Marx and his concept of “freedom” , so QED.

    As deaths 1945- per Gwh produced, or similar indicators, are used to compare coal, natgas, hydro and nuclear, please construct a meaningful set of ratios for demonstrator death and incarceration applicable to your AU NPP rollout scenario. Should the raw data be adjusted e.g. for age (dead 70s hippies count less)?

    I take it that as a socialist, your sense of social equity would prevent you wanting to weight the data by prior net annual income of the corpse.

    Interesting that even the neocon/neoliberal P. Lang is willing, so far at least, to permit anti-NPP protest.

  128. @ Peter Lalor,
    You’re ranting about ghosts from Christmas past again. Nothing you refer to has anything to do with me, or Fran, or the current conversation. Stop being a troll and grow up. Or is that ‘wake up’? Try the blue pill next time. You’ll have nicer dreams.

    @ Peter Lang,
    Do you have a bottom line for how much safer nuclear is than fossil fuels? Is there any objective way to measure that? I might start brainstorming a poster based on a positive message.

    I think ‘most people’ do require that nuclear be 10 or 100 times safer than a coal plant, in the sense of the plant itself being incredibly reliable with the dangerous materials it deals with. But I would also argue that we are nearly there anyway because of efficient running times, reliable servicing, and passive safety systems.

    I’d argue for speed of deployment (and why we need to avoid obstructionism) and ask one Federal body to run safety checks.

    As I’ve said above, and will not say again: I’d argue FOR all these good things, rather than “against nuclear power being safe” — which is the way the average Australian will hear it. But it’s your paper, and your call. Maybe after a few years of pushing this line you’ll change your tune. We shall see.

    Has anyone here put up the ‘Waste’ poster yet? Any luck with tear-off tabs being used?

  129. EN, Yes to your question. I’ve answered it in the lead article to this thread, and in numerous posts on this thread. Open Thread 4, and on various other threads before. Look at the charts on the Lead article and the description of what those charts mean.

    I’ve have explained repeatedly why it is ridiculous to require nuclear to be ten time safer than coal or you won’t consider it. Illogical, irrational, emotive, many other adjectives you can look up if these don’t suit. If you and others can’t understand it, no wonder why nuclear remains such an emotive and irrational issue for the general population. You actually think it is more dangerous than coal. Oh my gawd!!

  130. I seem to have missed your solemn investiture as sole BNC content arbiter: when was it, please?)

    even more interesting, all we need now is G Meyerson and D Walters to come out in favour of a police state on BNC too, and the Marxist troika, including yourself, on BNC is complete

    Non-responsive your honour. The witness is evading the question …

    What do you propose as a sufficient answer to the energy supply of this country?

  131. Peter Lalor,
    I don’t like Fran’s politics either but I like the fact that she makes no bones about “being of the Marxist” persuasion. What bugs me a lot more are the people who trot out Marxist proposals while pretending to be something else.

    She gets my respect for her knowledge rather than her politics.

  132. Wow Fran! 1972? That’s ages ago. My gran is only 8 years older than you! You sounded much younger (No offence!)

    I think it’s so great when oldies stay involved in stuff and aren’t all you know “you can’t do anything about anything”. My gran is a bit like that. What you say makes a lot of sense.

  133. @ Peter,

    You actually think it is more dangerous than coal. Oh my gawd!!

    You’re being irrational and emotional and unkind. I said nothing of the sort!

    Your statistics rightly focus on coal’s worldwide health impacts and tally of mining accidents. I applaud you for pointing them out. I have repeatedly agreed with you that nuclear is already safer than coal in this regard! I don’t know what more I can do to demonstrate that I agree with you on this. The fact that you fling that last line at me indicates that you either have trouble with basic comprehension, or are just plain rude.

    Far from contesting the global statistics you present, I’m not even talking about them! You don’t get this. You have simply decided not to hear what I am saying.

    Global statistics are one thing, but local catastrophe is another. I’m talking about the fear of evacuating beautiful cities like Sydney, whether or not anyone dies in the accident! Rational or not, global statistics do not generate the same NIMBY fears that images of fleeing Sydney do.

    You are feeding the NIMBY’s by your choice of rhetoric. We can still share the same message, but in a more positive vein. Instead of “let’s not demand nuclear be 10 to 100 times safer than coal” why not “Let’s have open inspections and a streamlined single Department in charge.” Instead of “cutting costs on safety” why not “Cut bureaucratic red tape by having one department run deployment?” Instead of getting people’s backs up with poor language, why not tell the same story and achieve the same ends in a way that every citizen can agree with? Why alienate people on purpose? Is it to draw attention to your beautiful statistical graphs? Is it because everyone must know exactly what you know? Every Tom Dick and Harry in Australia must bow down at Peter Lang’s superior statistical presentation?

    If you can’t condense the message into 10 appealing words or less, you’re done for.

  134. EclipseNow,

    I agree with where you are trying to get to, but not the way you are trying to get there. And I may be missing some of your message. I admit I have reaced the point that I am bundling some like minded people together (possibly unfairly) and by doing so missing some of the message. However, I must say that I do get the impression that you also frequently misunderstand, or misinterpret or forget and take out of context what I have said. Repeatedly talking about blowing up Sydney does turn me off.

    I wrote the following this morning, but decided to hold off posting it. But now I shall because I don’t want to leave the discussion of the last two days with any misunderstanding about what I think.

  135. EclipseNow and others,

    Just to be absolutely clear where I stand on the issue of the cost versus safety requirements for nuclear in Australia:

    Nuclear power costs (roughly, from memory):

    $1,500/kW in China (actual cost)
    $6,000/kW in USA (recent estimates)
    $10,000/kW in Canada (recent bid)

    Why the difference?

    It is because of the different political regimes and the different requirements placed on the nuclear industry by the regulators in each country.

    If Australia adopts the path that is being advocated by many of the contributors on the BNC web site, we can expect the cost here to be even higher than Canada’s cost.

    That is because people here want safety to be the main issue – the main topic of discussion (this is obvious from the angst this thread has created).

    You can just see what this approach will lead to. Our main political parties will be competing to out do each other on the grounds that only they can be trusted to ensure that nuclear in Australia will be “world best practice” then “the safest in the world”.

    This is inevitable if we follow the approach that many of the contribiuters here are advocating.

    What I argue we should be trying to achieve is:

    1. Safety is off the table as an issue between the main political parties. The Australian public understand that nuclear power, procured from anywhere, is plenty safe enough. So we do not need to specify ‘safest’ or even be overly concerned about safety. We will of course require the vendors to detail in their bid of how they will provide safety and how they will transition Australia’s workforce to being able to own and operate the NPPs. We will have to have our own regulator (but let’s get started on the right foot so we avoid as much as possible of the avoidable problems that DV82XL highlighted)

    2. Focus our attention on is how can we get nuclear at a cost less than coal in Australia. That is where we want the political parties need to compete.

    How can we avoid the ridiculous levels of regulatory control that apply in Canada and USA?

    Econowise, for your posters I would advocate as follows

    We must remove safety as an issue and focus on cost. We must emphasise that any nuclear is far safer than what we have now. Getting nuclear will be cleaner and safer than what we have now. We do not need to be concerned about safety. What we need to concern ourselves with is how to get nuclear in Australia at a cost less than coal. The main things that will prevent us doing so are:

    1. Regulatory environment.
    2. Investor risk premium (due to sovereign risk)
    3. A political fight over safety which leads to a high cost regulatory environment
    4. First of a Kind costs

    ps, The cost of electricity from new coal in 2020 would be about 50/MWh (in 2010 A$). The capital cost of new coal (without CCS) in 2020 would be about $2400/kW. Source: Table 52, p82 here: http://www.aemo.com.au/planning/419-0035.pdf

    Therefore, we would need to get nuclear in Australia at somewhere between $2500/kW and $3,000/kW, and have low operating costs, to allow nuclear to compete with coal. That is what we have to achieve.

  136. Yes I kind of see where you’re comming from Peter, but thast post by the Canadian guy DV82XL seemed to be saying that the main problems were not with the design but all the regulation and stuffing about.

    If we could get that fixed up we could have nukes 10 or 100 times as safe as coal and still only pay about what they pay in China or a bit more. That still wouldn’t be as cheap as coal, but it would be at a price even poor people could live with.

    So the main thing is to do what DV82XL said — get a simple set of rules and keep bureaucracy light.

    The safety would just flow from the design of the system, right?

  137. Ady, you are correct on most of this.

    But if we had nuclear at anywhere near the cost it is in China it would produce electricity in Australia at less than the cost of coal.

    The point is: STOP talking about Risk and Safety. It is plenty good enough. The focus needs to be on how to get nuclear at a cost less than coal. That is a really big issue. You are correct that if we could prevent the sort of nonsense that DV82XL discussed, we could have nuclear at a cost less than coal. But as long as people want to discuss safety and risk instead of cost, we’ll never achieve it.

    We are all talking about the wrong subject.

  138. Ad Gil said

    I think it’s so great when oldies stay involved in stuff and aren’t all you know “you can’t do anything about anything”. My gran is a bit like that. What you say makes a lot of sense

    Hmmm … yes … amazing at my age!

  139. EclipseNow,
    The question about evacuating a major city is really something for DV8 but I will have a go at it as he is on “sabbatical”. The subject came up during the LILCO (Long Island Lighting Company) licensing process and it was the main pretext for preventing the operation of the Shoreham nuclear power plant in the late 1980s.

    This was a poor decision that would have gone the other way but for the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

    Here is a link (thank you David Lewis) giving Cohen’s account of events leading up to the disaster written by :
    http://www.phyast.pitt.edu/~blc/book/chapter7.html

    The Russian RBMK reactor is graphite moderated and water cooled. This is an excellent design if you want to produce plutonium but a lousy one from a safety standpoint. The “void coefficient” is positive, which means that the reaction rate increases if the water boils. The Shoreham reactor is water moderated so it has a negative void coefficient; if the water boils the reaction rate falls.

    If by accident or malice all the safeties on the Shoreham reactor (or any other US reactor) were removed the reactor core could melt down but it is not possible to achieve a “prompt critical” situation that could release enough explosive force to breach the containment structures.

    Even if you assume that miraculously the Shoreham containments could be breached there is no graphite to catch fire so the bulk of the radioactive materials would remain within the NPP perimeter. The down wind “fall out” would be several orders of magnitude less than at Chernobyl.

    Now take a look at what actually happened at Chernobyl. Thirty one people died and all of them received their fatal radiation doses within the NPP perimeter or flying over it. Not a single person died outside the NPP perimeter and here’s why:

    According to Cohen the most exposed individuals outside the plant received 50,000 mrem. If the levels had been 600,000 mrem about 50% of exposed individuals would have died within 4 weeks. You might argue that with a 12 times smaller dose, 50/12 = 4.2% of exposed individuals should have died, whereas in fact the mortality was zero.

    One of the strange things about nuclear radiation is that its effects on humans cannot be calculated by “straight line” methods. An acute dose of 1,000,000 mrem will kill over 90% of exposed individuals whereas a dose that is ten times smaller may kill none at all.

    You are radioactive and so is the entire planet. Where I live the ambient dose is 120 mrem/year but there are places where the dose exceeds 5,000 mrem/year purely from natural sources.

    My point is that even a poorly designed nuclear reactor operated by the Keystone cops is less dangerous than a single passenger jet crashing on a major city. Would you advocate banning commercial jets from over flying our cities?

  140. EclipseNow,

    One of the points you’ve been making has got through to me. You’ve been saying ‘emphasise the positives not the negatives”.

    I’ve been pointing out the negatives of an ETS or price on carbon for a long time. Here are the positives of not putting a price on carbon, but instead, allowing clean electricity to be cheaper than dirty electricity:

    1. higher rate of economic growth
    2. stronger economy
    3. more and better jobs
    4. faster real income growth
    5. higher income for workers relative to growth in prices of products and services
    6. more tax revenue
    7. more funds for services such as Health, Education, infrastructure and Environment
    8. faster displacement of fossil fuels for electricity generation
    9. faster displacement of fossil fuels by electricity for heating and transport
    10. faster reduction in CO2 emissions

  141. @ Peter:
    They are all good things to talk about but not what I was focussing on. We really have some ‘noise’ in here to get through, and I feel like I have to scream to be heard from my end!

    I was not talking about the general benefits of nuclear power: all of which are great and deserve a poster in their own right! (Not that I am promising another 10 posters!)

    I was asking you how to focus on bringing the costs of nuclear down without once mentioning the word ‘safety costs’, because that is simply not what you are concerned about. You said it yourself: nuclear power is safe enough.

    Instead, you don’t want excessive legislation. So focus on that! You don’t want protests and counter-suing adding to utility costs. So focus on that! Write about the means of fast deployment in the positive. “Creating a smoother legislative environment” or “A seamless and timely inspection regime, by the experts, exactly when it counts!” Etc.

    I really don’t know how you’re going to just make people ‘stop’ talking about safety. Imagine you’re at a rally and someone asks whether or not nukes are safe and how we are going to ensure they are safe. What’s the answer? “SHUT UP!” isn’t going to win any friends.

    How are we going to make sure they are safe AND cheap Peter? “Don’t talk about safety!” Yeah, right. Like that’s gonna work. They’ll just say “Nazi” and embrace the renewable guy.

    1. Safety is off the table as an issue between the main political parties. The Australian public understand that nuclear power, procured from anywhere, is plenty safe enough. So we do not need to specify ‘safest’ or even be overly concerned about safety. We will of course require the vendors to detail in their bid of how they will provide safety and how they will transition Australia’s workforce to being able to own and operate the NPPs. We will have to have our own regulator (but let’s get started on the right foot so we avoid as much as possible of the avoidable problems that DV82XL highlighted)

    How are you going to achieve this?

    Lastly, this next bit was ill advised.

    Repeatedly talking about blowing up Sydney does turn me off.

    Yes, you have ‘bundled’ me. I never said anything about Sydney “blowing up”! I was talking about a Chernobyl style evacuation.

    “Global statistics are one thing, but local catastrophe is another. I’m talking about the fear of evacuating beautiful cities like Sydney, whether or not anyone dies in the accident! Rational or not, global statistics do not generate the same NIMBY fears that images of fleeing Sydney do.”

  142. EclipseNow, thank you for these comments. And, by the way, I think your web site is great. Well done.

    I was asking you how to focus on bringing the costs of nuclear down without once mentioning the word ‘safety costs’, because that is simply not what you are concerned about. You said it yourself: nuclear power is safe enough.

    Instead, you don’t want excessive legislation. So focus on that! You don’t want protests and counter-suing adding to utility costs. So focus on that! Write about the means of fast deployment in the positive. “Creating a smoother legislative environment” or “A seamless and timely inspection regime, by the experts, exactly when it counts!” Etc.

    I did attempt to address these questions on the TCASE 11 tread here: http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/07/08/tcase11/#comment-80839
    Did you see that post? I’d be interested in your comments on that attempt to answer what you are asking for.

    How are we going to make sure they are safe AND cheap Peter?

    As I laid out in various posts: nuclear plants are plenty safe enough wherever we buy it from. We have to train the operators and maintain the safety culture. If the other 30 odd countries can do it so can we. It is no big deal. We do not have to go overboard. The point is that nuclear is far safer than the alternative we have now. If we want safer we have to be able to afford it. We can only afford it if we don’t make ridiculous demands. So any nuclear that is commercially available is plenty safe enough. We need to get it at a price that is competitive with coal, or we will stick with dirty coal.

    I feel like I have to scream to be heard from my end

    That is how I feel too!

    “Don’t talk about safety!” Yeah, right. Like that’s gonna work. They’ll just say “Nazi” and embrace the renewable guy.

    I agree. I’ve tried to explain how I am suggesting we approach this (see my post on TCASE 11), but feel what I am saying is not being heard. Help me to find a better way to get across the message I am advocating, which is:

    Nuclear safety is far better than what we have now, but

    We can only get it if we are willing to focus on working out how to get nuclear at a cost that is competitive, or cheaper, than coal,

    If we do not get it at a cost less than coal, we wont get it at all, or it will be a very slow process,

    so we will stick with dirty old coal.

    It is the cost we need to focus on, not requiring ridiculous and extreme safety regulations and regulatory regimes.

    I feel I am shouting again !!!!!

  143. I hear you Peter, and I think we’re on the same level now. If I think of anything about how to communicate what it is we are trying to communicate it will probably make it onto a poster or campaign slogan!

    School holidays are on: gotta run.

    Regards,
    Eclipse

  144. Pingback: How some nuclear advocates are drilling for the truth « ThoriumMSR

  145. I just came acxross these linksa and am posting them here so I can find them for future reference:

    “ExternE: Comparing Nuclear Health and Environmental Effects”
    http://seekerblog.com/archives/20100921/externe-comparing-nuclear-health-and-environmental-effects/

    “MacKay: risk assessment for energy-related severe accidents”
    http://seekerblog.com/archives/20100921/mackay-risk-assessment-for-energy-related-severe-accidents/

    “PSI: risk assessment for energy-related severe accidents”
    http://seekerblog.com/archives/20100921/psi-risk-assessment-for-energy-related-severe-accidents/

    “OECD/NEA: Comparing Nuclear Accident Risks with Those from Other Energy Sources”
    http://seekerblog.com/archives/20100921/oecdnea-comparing-nuclear-accident-risks-with-those-from-other-energy-sources/

    “NRC: Fact Sheet on Probabilistic Risk Assessment (PRA = PSA)”
    http://seekerblog.com/archives/20100921/nrc-fact-sheet-on-probabilistic-risk-assessment-pra-psa/

    “IAEA and ExternE-Pol comparative assessments of external energy costs”
    http://seekerblog.com/archives/20100921/iaea-health-and-environmental-impacts-of-electricity-generation-systems-procedures-for-comparative-assessment/

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