Fukushima Open Discussion Thread

The Open Threads on BraveNewClimate.com are a general discussion forum, where you can talk about whatever you like — there is nothing really ‘off topic’ here — within reason. Please use this particularly comment thread to post anything on the Fukushima Nuclear Accident that is NOT directly related to the content/intent of the other threads (including status updates, engineering details, specific perspectives, etc.).

The sort of things that belong on this thread include general enquiries, soapbox philosophy, meandering trains of argument that move dynamically from one point of contention to another, and so on — as long as the comments adhere to the general topic of nuclear energy, climate change mitigation, energy security, and the Fukushima crisis.

Do NOT post the above style of comments on any other threads. In those posts, you must STAY ON TOPIC, and make some attempt to justify/substantiate any argument you make or piece of information you present.  If you go off topic on the focused posts’ comments threads, then they will be deleted and you will be asked to repost them HERE. (Ideally, I would simply move them to this Open Thread, but unfortunately WordPress.com does not allow this).  If you break the other commenting rules, the comment arrives quickly in the trash.

So… I guess this is also an appropriate time to revisit BNC’s simple commenting rules:

Comments Policy — I welcome comments, posts, suggestions and informed debate, from a wide range of perspectives. However, personal attacks, insulting/vulgar posts, or repetitious/false tirades will not be tolerated and can result in moderation or banning. Trolls will be warned then banned.

Civility – Clear-minded criticism is welcomed, but play the ball and not the person. Rudeness will not be tolerated. This includes speculation about motives or what ‘sort of person’ someone is. Civility, gentle humour and staying on topic are superior debating tools.

Relevance – Please maintain focus on the topic at hand. Do not attempt to solve big problems in a single comment, or to offer as fact what are simply opinions about complex matters.

Formatting — For guidelines on how to format comments and search the website and comments, read this.

Pretty simple, hey? Obviously for an Open Thread, the relevance criteria does not apply in the same way as it does in other threads, but the others most certainly do.

Some people have recently expressed surprise, disappointment, anguish, horror, accusations of ‘bias’ or ‘censorship’, whatever, at the fact that their comments on other threads on BNC are under moderation, and others are deleted. I make no apologies for that. This is my blog, and whilst I welcome a wide range of views, and you are quite within your rights to disagree with me, I DO NOT accept comments that break the commenting rules. Not only is this discourteous to me and the rest of the community here, it also undermines your own credibility. I have particular short patience these days for comments which are ad hominems, that is, are direct criticism of, or speculation on the motives of, the person making the comment rather than on the content of their statements.

Okay. Open fire.

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635 Comments

  1. I’ll start by reposting a iten that belongs here from another thread:

    @bchtd1parrot & the rest of the antinuclear squad posting here (and on other sites): I have just finished rereading Barbara Tuchman’s collection of essays, The Proud Tower: A Portrait of the World Before the War, 1890-1914 and in it she goes into some detail about two movements that were very active at that time; the Socialists, and the Anarchists. I am struck with the similarities between those old ideologies in comparison to the Greens and the Degrowth Movement (Club of Rome) of today. Both had some valid logical underpinnings; the Socialists were correct that the working class was being exploited and where being kept down by laws written to advantage the wealthy, and the Anarchists had a point that governments run by aristocrats was never going to change without violence. But both movements, (as they were at the time) driven by demagogy, rigid ideology and an obsessed leadership, failed to see what was and wasn’t possible and in the end made little difference.

    This is echoed in the calls suggesting that we must all do with less, and those pushing wind and solar in the face of mounting evidence that these do not work as well as it was hoped, and will never be more than spit in a bucket. It is this refusal to see that as much as it would be nice if these things were possible, they are never going to happen. People will not reduce consumption down to levels that will make any difference, emerging economies are not going to stop growing, nor will political parties that would try and force this by legislation get voted in. It is just not going to happen, and demanding it only marks those that do as fools.

    Furthermore, nuclear power, like capital, is here to stay. It does not matter what you do, or what your moral arguments are, in the end, what ever problems we have with those two things, they still are the only way to raise the standard of living, and deep down the majority knows this.

    The Anarchists never learned the lesson that you can’t dictate to the masses what they want or don’t want, and as a result they vanished. But the Socialists did after WWII, and have had a real influence on policy and world history. Ideologies aside they have been ether directly, or indirectly responsible for governments passing laws and instituting programs that have benefited the lower classes and raised their lot. The question now is do the eco-radicals of today tone down the nonsense and become part of the conversation, or do they wish to see themselves marginalized, left with only the obsessed demanding the impossible.

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  2. Is this the Open Threads board? Apologies if not.

    Something technical has been troubling me about the way the cooling operation is reported. The implication in almost all reports is that the spent fuel needs to be cooled in order to decrease its radioactivity.

    Now, remembering my Year 11 physics, radioactivity is a process that is not affected by heat nor pressure. That has to be true, otherwise we would be cooling nuclear waste currently, instead of burying it in mountains.

    So I guess the reduction comes about from the mass of water added to the pools absorbing radiation.

    Still, probably doesn’t pay to start enumerating the factual or reporting errors on this incident…

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  3. Thanks for the open thread, Barry. I’m surprised it’s not full already – I guess attention is waning…

    I just saw the Four Corners special on Fukushima. http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/
    There were a few points I thought were either glossed over or misrepresented, but overall, not too bad.

    The points I noted (in no particular order):
    1) The hydrogen explosions were described as blowing the top off the containment building – a person being interviewed was pointing things out on a illustration of the reactor, and described the lightweight roof as part of the containment building, rather than the reinforced concrete containment;
    2) One of the interviewees stated that the fuel rods start to melt and expose uranium *before* you get hydrogen generated (I understand H2 generation starts ~700-800ºC, compared to ~1200ºC for melting of the zirconium);
    3) They played the tape of the testimony to congressional committee stating the pools were empty – I would have thought they could have included the info from yesterday that they had plenty of water and weren’t as hot as feared;
    4) The environmentalist interviewed basically invoked Windscale, TMI, & Chernobyl (if not by name) as “proof” nuclear energy is unsafe despite what nuclear engineers say, and said “you can measure what’s on the outside, but you can’t measure the radiation that’s inside the children” – classic fearmongering, I thought , invoking the “think of the children” meme, even my wife commented on it;
    5) The last interview snippet of the main story basically spoke about the workers at the plant committing suicide by staying there to fight the problem, which I thought was rather misleading, to say the least;
    6) Kerry O’Brien, interviewing a nuclear expert at the end, seemed quite surprised when told that this incident showed that nuclear energy was quite robust.

    Hang on, just found a link to the transcript:
    http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/content/2011/s3169729.htm

    Worth a watch, or a read. I haven’t delved into the comments page yet, it will be interesting to see what is in there…

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  4. I must say, I do appreciate the take no prisoners moderation stance that has been adopted here recently. It must be hard work, but it will infuse the discussion with the set of values embodied in the commenting rules, and help to maintain the high standard of commentary that has been BraveNewClimate’s hallmark.

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  5. Hmmmm,

    I guess my closing posts on earthquake magnitudes got moderated into oblivion where we were discussing it earlier.

    Anyway, the question of the 1933 Sendai earthquake being reported in the literature of 1972 as an 8.9 and now at the USGS as an 8.4. I believe the discrepancy is that the current Moment Magnitude Scale did not come into use until 1979 where as the places the 1933 quake were listed as an 8.9 were published in 1972 and 1958 respectivly.

    This information is primairly for whalelawyer and Rational Debate from the One plus One and Why I Stay threads

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  6. The real risk with nuclear power is nuclear society with all its control over information, pretend scientific solutions, and misrepresentation of data.

    On another thread a “Ms Perpes” contested earlier claims that Japan had restricted information concerning radiation readings.

    Ms Perpes submitted a dataset dated 20 March as evidence supposedly that Japan had not hidden data.

    An examination of this data showed it was a very new development and did not answer the accusation that the Japanese authorities restricted the earlier data from march 11 through to 20 March.

    However there may be a time delay in identifying the earlier data, so we can only be tentative here. Ms Perpes needs to clarify where the earlier data is, or why the data was not released – as suggested by other posters.

    I do not think we can leave vague suggestions that the Japanese authorities released or did not release data on radiation covering last week, hanging.

    So, unless evidence arises to the contrary – it seems very clear that the data on radiation, precise locations, and wind conditions has been deliberately restricted to manage public opinion.

    Data from western sites are not useful if a breeze blows east. But consistently this is what is being reported by our unquestioning media.

    Other supposed data is being published but from sites 200 km distance, not 20 km distance. This is very strange.

    Remember too, part of the problem was TECO’s own falsification of equipment inspections. In nuke society – truth and information are the first casualties.

    How can we have faith in safety in these conditions???

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  7. Thanks for that review of 4Corners Bern. I just watched it too — for me, a bit of a Curate’s Egg. Tony Irwin was very good, but they had more anti-nuclear guys on there than engineers. And they left some strange impressions, e.g. implying that acute radiation sickness (ARS) is an issue: Viz: the threshold for ARS is about 1000 millisievert but the greatest dose reported so far at Fukushima is 106 mSv; workers now engaged in recovery operations have their doses limited to 250 mSv under health physics supervision. I was also disappointed that no indication was given of the lack of risk to the public. It left me with the impression that the public would be very uncertain about what their main message was.

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  8. Some people are saying nuclear power is now over. I remind them that a purely solar and wind solution will result in an unreliable electric grid which is too disruptive to our societies. We really have no choice other than to make nuclear power safe. I’m sorry the Japanese under estimated the earthquake potential. With hindsight, they should have designed for a magnitude 9 earthquake instead of 7. Furthermore they should have designed all the emergency and recovery steps needed if a 9 level did occur taking out all the infrastructure. Its apparent that the emergency plans were lacking. Can we learn from this mistake and move forward? I can tell you for sure the solution is not one of doing away with nuclear power. That’s just not going to happen.

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  9. Jek R:

    Adding water does not actually decrease the amount of radiation emitted from the fuel assemblies.

    It does two things:

    1) It literally cools the fuel. The residual nuclear reactions in spent fuel mean that it can stay warm for a long time, and it is practically important to keep it down to a manageable temperature. I’m not a nuclear expert[1], so I don’t know if it’s possible for spent fuel to heat up to melting point when in a dry cooling pond, but I’d strongly suggest not.

    2) It absorbs radiation. A deep pool is a very effective way of shielding people above from radiation, even gamma radiation (which can penetrate astonishing amounts of material).

    As far as I can tell (and I admit that my knowledge here is sketchy, so if someone can correct me, please do), the main problem with the ponds at Fukushima is that the dry ponds allow a lot of radiation (gamma?) to escape, making it hard to approach the area to work on solving other problems.

    Note that radioactive material is not being spat out of the pool, so in theory as soon as the water is replaced, the pool should be safe again immediately. Of course, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the area is safe (because radioactive material from elsewhere could have contaminated it).

    [1] Background – Science teacher.

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  10. Something as basic as flipping on the light switch is the end result of a series of political decisions that begin at the voting booth and make their way through the vast dark spaces of politics, bureaucracy, and commerce.

    Where nuclear is the only rational option, nuclear will be built, where the fossil fuel industry can use their right to employ money-amplified free speech to persuade the population that continued use of their products is their wisest course of action, nuclear will not be deployed.

    Nuclear energy is not dead, because it is the only game in town for several nations, but if the pronuclear side is not prepared to fight, it might slow down elsewhere.

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  11. Ok, I’ll bite.

    On the 17th March thread I wrote a sharp response to Barry’s admission of error arguing that it was quite inadequate and he was continuing to make essentially the same mistake.

    In my view it was entirely relevant and in accordance with the guidelines. Evidently the moderator(s) disagreed.

    Not expecting this, I did not keep a copy.

    It was deleted, I was put on moderation and subsequent posts were not published.

    Now that there is a separate open thread, please “transfer” that post here for discussion.

    If not, please explain why not?

    MODERATOR
    It is not possible to “transfer” from one thread to another so “off-topic” posts are sent to Trash and have to be re-posted by the commentor on the newly established “Open Thread”. Please read Barry’s newest post “Fukushima Open Thread” for more details.

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  12. As a followup of sorts to the initial comment on this thread by DV82XL, it seems to me that one of the biggest take-aways will be about the vulnerability of nuclear power stations to malevolent human agency. As of this writing, the very serious problems at Fukushima have been handled with essentially no quantifiable added risk to the general public. This is despite design flaws and despite the rather poor performance of TEPCO and the government in the early stages of the crisis.

    Not that it was ever hidden — but the informed lay discussions of the accident have given me a much clearer view of the vulnerabilities of nuclear facilities, with respect to both reactors and spent fuel storage.

    This is presumably equally true for the current generation of dedicated, ruthless nihilists and Believers (of various stripes).

    We have been fortunate — if that’s the word — that they have targeted skyscrapers, elementary schools, theaters, financial districts, and the like. I think this issue will need to be revisited in the wake of this month’s events.

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  13. Gene Preston, on 21 March 2011 at 10:42 PM said:

    We really have no choice other than to make nuclear power safe.

    This is a furphy. Baseload renewables can be developed – and should be. I happened to see a popular science magazine at the newsagent tonight with an article of new advances in algae derived bio-fuels.

    Remember nuclear technology was only developed through billions of research expenditure – renewables funding has been relatively scanty.

    New storage systems are emerging – liquid metal batteries.

    I particularly like the so-called ‘Blue-water” salt/fresh water membrane technology.

    Hydro and pumped hydro, hydrogen fuel cells, geothermal, tidal and wave power, biodiesel, can all contribute to baseload renewables.

    There have also been new concepts such as salt water capacitor.

    We have learnt a lot through the last 30-40 years of nuclear disasters, and the BP oil rig disaster combined with the exposed TECO falsification of compliance suggest that the commerical competitive nuclear industry is a unravelling disaster.

    There is no point saying:

    Its apparent that the emergency plans were lacking. Can we learn from this mistake and move forward?

    when antinuclear activists predicted the precise scenario that played out in Fukushima. [see Caldicott, H. “Nuclear Power is not the Answer…” (MUP:2006)]

    I can tell you for sure the solution is firstly placing a moratorium on nuclear power, blocking its development in Australia, and vigourously researching and developing baseload renewables.

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  14. I’m going to call suspicion of bogosity on that “zirconium fuel rod” video being circulated. From the website where the video is linked:

    “ABC 7 News in Berkeley, CA employs journalists with questioning ‘show me’ attitudes. Upon hearing stories about the risk of fuel rods in spent fuel pools catching fire and distributing radioactive materials into the atmosphere, they called up their local university to ask them to conduct an experiment. Despite applying a blow torch directly to a zirconium tube for long enough to make the tube glow, it did not catch on fire.”

    So
    That wasn’t a fuel rod.
    That wasn’t a sealed tube (air circulation inside could carry heat away rapidly).
    That was heated to the point it glowed, way lower than ignition temperature for zirconium; “bright red heat” is 850-950 C (http://hypertextbook.com/facts/2000/StephanieLum.shtml)

    Put a used, cracked, corroded fuel rod in an oven and heat it to its ignition temperature and show us the video, eh?

    Google this for the numbers on fuel rod temperatures:

    Operational Safety of Spent Nuclear Fuel
    Joseph C. Braun
    Lecture 6.1b 2 December , 2010
    Argonne National Laboratory

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  15. Thought for the day…

    According to information posted in the Sunday thread, Germany has apparently shuttered 7 nuclear plants and will buy Appalachian coal from the USA to replace the lost power. We in the USA need all the exports we can get and appreciate the money and jobs.

    However, I present you with a (rather Hobbesian) choice. You are recently unemployed and need a job. You must choose one of the following jobs:

    1. Join the Fukashima 50 to help stabilize the reactor. You will not be asked to be dosed beyond the current max radiation standards.

    2. We have an opening in an Appalachian coal mine. Someone needs to dig up that coal.

    Before making a decision, you may want to read this:

    http://www.usmra.com/disasters_80on.htm

    This is all about difficult choices, relative risks and the lack of zero risk alternatives.

    No offence intended to our German friends. I’m just using current events to illustrate choices. If the USA does not start making more nuclear plants we will make the same choice by default. Actually we’ve been making that choice for 30 years now.

    My choices are grossly unfair to the pro-nuclear crowd. Work at a normally operating coal mine or the front line of a nuclear plant in the middle of a “disaster”. And yet still I don’t think the choice is clear? That was the point of my point :-)

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  16. @amac78 -I cannot see how you could come to that conclusion. Clearly it requires a massively energetic event to cause the sort of problems that we are seeing here, and a response hampered by the backdrop of a national scale disaster. It is very unlikely that such an event could be precipitated by human action, and indeed, even if it could, the effort would not be worth it, based on the real level of damage the failure itself has caused.

    Compared to the impact of attacking a densely populated area, and causing many deaths, attacking a hard target like nuclear power station, does not meet a terrorist’s general strategic objective.

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  17. Is there an easier way to follow the discussions here than going to a thread web page and hitting refresh every few minutes?

    Sorry for the dumb question but this is the first online discussion I have regularly followed or participated in since USENET back i the 80s.

    Thank you

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  18. That video? Well, duh.

    From: “Andrew Higgins”
    Newsgroups: sci.space.tech
    Subject: Re: Metal Autoignition Temperatures
    Date: Mon, 16 Aug 1999 03:35:18 GMT

    … The temperature and pressure at which a metal (or any combustible material) will ignite are complex functions of the material’s shape and size…. in bulk form, they are extremely difficult to ignite. You can take a torch to an aluminum or zirconium rod and they will not ignite, because heat is lost to the bulk metal faster than it can be supplied by the torch….”

    So, that video? “Bo-o-o-gus!” — Car Talk

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  19. It was a personal snipe at me, rather than on the ideas/concepts, ‘Arthur’. If you didn’t see that, then you’ve been at the ‘attack dog’ game too long. I emailed the comment to the email address you provided in WordPress – if this is not a real email, then losing it is your own fault.

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  20. @Chris Warren – we have repeatedly heard the suggestion that the Japanese have released little if any detailed radiation readings of the surrounding area. You may be interested in this detailed map of 46 readings surrounding the exclusion zone, apparently issued as a news release on March 17:

    https://bravenewclimate.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/0317_1600_readings-at-monitoring-post-out-of-20km-zone-of-fukushima-dai-ichi.pdf

    That was posted to BNC here and linked from a daily report. I have not searched for daily reports, etc.

    “Remember too, part of the problem was TECO’s own falsification of equipment inspections. In nuke society – truth and information are the first casualties.”

    Any specific citations for problems related to THIS INCIDENT as a result of breaches of inspection protocols?

    The main “safety issue” is the fact that a 10 meter tsunami overwhelmed a 5.7 meter Tsunami wall. I doubt that TEPCO falsified the height of the wall in their safety reports.

    This issue of prior violations has been endlessly circulated through the media as part of the media FUD campaign. But the fact is that there are no indications that safety violations are part of the problem- nor likely could there be at this confused point in time. At this point it’s a Red Herring.

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  21. Hank, it’s fair enough to be difficult to convince on the zirconium rod and I also thought about how realistic the test was (and what a better test might look like).

    So an actual used fuel rod in air would have some differences:
    1. It would heat up much more slowly
    2. It would be heated from the inside out.
    3. It would only have one surface exposed to air (which could be good or bad)

    The rod in the video appeared pale-orange to pale-yellow, which indicates a very high temperature to me – from your link, somewhere over 1200C. So I think it was hot enough, but was it hot for long enough to make a fair test? Not sure.

    Your point about cooling down is less worrying. Zirconium cooling down by radiative/convective heat loss is a strong indication that the fuel rods will not reach high temperature anyway, becuase they will air-cool to below troublesome temperatures. Consider also that the inside surface of the tube would have been far less effective at losing heat in any case.

    I’m not sure that the direction of heating makes a sinificant difference. If anything I’d think it would mnean that higher internal temperatures can be tolerated.

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  22. @ Joshua, on 21 March 2011 at 11:22 PM:
    Right below the “Post Comment” button is a tick box labelled “Notify me of follow-up comments”.

    Tick the box when you post a message and a confirmation email will arrive in your IN-box. Follow the instructions from there on.

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  23. @Chris Warren – RE: Molten Metal Batteries. Do the calculations and find out the size of a one mega ampere-hour unit. Then look at the potential size of the impact of a breach in containment of one of these thing and tell me they are safer than a nuclear reactor.

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  24. @NR99 – I understand those 7 German plants are of the same basic design as the Fukushima Daiichi reactors, and have been taken off-line pending further safety evaluations. I suspect the Germans might make some modifications to ensure safe operation in a power outage, although they’re probably not subject to tsunami, so may be good to go as-is, after full review.

    Although, personally, I think some more robust containment over the spent fuel pools might be in order…

    Regarding the resistance to attack – Wikipedia has a little info on that jet/sled test:
    “In 1988, Sandia National Laboratories conducted a test of slamming a jet fighter into a large concrete block at 481 miles per hour (775 km/h). The airplane left only a 2.5-inch-deep (64 mm) gouge in the concrete. Although the block was not constructed like a containment building missile shield, it was not anchored, etc., the results were considered indicative. A subsequent study by EPRI, the Electric Power Research Institute, concluded that commercial airliners did not pose a danger.”

    The rest of it is about plant security – unless your hypothetical attackers have access to some longer-ranged heavy weaponry. Even then, they may be able to breach the outer containment building, but will they be able to crack open the reactor? Short of bombardment with bunker-busting bombs or missiles, it’s hard to see how they could do much damage before being stopped. And if you’re being attacked with that kind of military hardware, all bets are off – just ask the Libyans!

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  25. NR-99: I’d say that I’d go for the Fukushima 50 any day of the week!

    This is curiously because I am kind of the inverse of the normal member of the population.

    Having had a good scientific education and having grown up in a medical family, I was raised with a good understanding of how cancer risks etc. work, so I have always viewed radiation as a fairly understandable. Yes, those workers are in peril, but it’s a peril they know and understand. (I’d even suggest that, if they’re anything like me, they’re probably not accepting that they are anything other than invulnerable . . Male bravado can get you killed!)

    On the other hand, working in a coal mind is a disturbing thought. I have terrible claustrophobia. :)

    So if that’s my choice, hand me my dosimeter and geiger counter!

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  26. DV82XL,

    You said:-

    where the fossil fuel industry can use their right to employ money-amplified free speech to persuade the population that continued use of their products is their wisest course of action, nuclear will not be deployed.

    Is it your contention that we must put a stop to free speech in order to get nuclear power. Because if it comes to a binary choise between free speech and nuclear power then I’m afraid I’ll have to ditch my support for nuclear power. Free speech is simply too important an issue to sell out on.

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  27. DV82XL, on 21 March 2011 at 11:52 PM said

    Do the calculations and find out the size of a one mega ampere-hour unit.

    This is a furphy. Earlier this year the “New Scientist” magazine reported on a new liquid metal battery.

    It was 10 Mwh out of a battery the size of a shipping container.

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  28. @TerjeP – I was not implying that free speech should be limited, only observing that access to exercise can be purchased such that it can reach more ears. Free speech has never meant equal speech, nor should it.

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  29. This is a furphy. Earlier this year the “New Scientist” magazine reported on a new liquid metal battery.

    It was 10 Mwh out of a battery the size of a shipping container.

    So to store 16 hours of output from a 1 GW power plant, we would need 1600 such units.

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  30. > zirconium “rod in the video appeared pale-orange
    > to pale-yellow, which indicates a very high
    > temperature to me – from your link, somewhere
    > over 1200C. So I think it was hot enough …

    If they were heating a cracked and corroded actual fuel rod, probably so. Not a hollow tube of zirconium metal, though. I think it’s a bogus video and the claims going around with it make it less credible. It wasn’t a student project, it was a setup by the television station.

    Why? The melting point of Zirconium is 1852±2 º C.
    http://www.noblemind.com/search.exe?keyword=Zirconium+Melting+Point&var=2

    Boiling Point: 4377 C
    Melting Point: 1852 C
    … Solid metal will not ignite. High surface area material such as 10 micron powder may autoignite at room temperature. Fine chips, turnings, or grinding dust produced from this metal are flammable. Ignition point for powder varies from 200 oC to above 500 oC depending on particle size….”

    http://www.espimetals.com/index.php/online-catalog/316-zirconium

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  31. NR99, on 21 March 2011 at 11:39 PM said:

    You may be interested in this detailed map of 46 readings surrounding the exclusion zone, apparently issued as a news release on March 17:

    This is exactly the data I was looking for. So what is the link to the actual source, for past and intervening issues. In Japanese will be oK.

    “Remember too, part of the problem was TECO’s own falsification of equipment inspections. In nuke society – truth and information are the first casualties.”

    Any specific citations for problems related to THIS INCIDENT as a result of breaches of inspection protocols?

    I don’t think so. This is not the point.

    The main “safety issue” is the fact that a 10 meter tsunami overwhelmed a 5.7 meter Tsunami wall. I doubt that TEPCO falsified the height of the wall in their safety reports.

    Obviously.

    This issue of prior violations has been [opinion deleted] circulated through the media as part of the media … campaign.

    err, that is the role of a free media.

    But the fact is that there are no indications that safety violations are part of the problem- nor likely could there be at this confused point in time. At this point it’s a Red Herring.

    But noone has raised this “Red Herring”. The point about falsified records goes to the nuclear industry in general.

    As far as I am aware only NR99 has associated this with a cause of Fukushima.

    Very odd.

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  32. @Bern – to be clear I used the 7 German nuclear plants as an anecdotal example of one aspect of the coal vs nuclear issue. I was not trying to make any point about taking those plants offline and that’s why I mentioned the USA coal vs nuclear choices we have been making for 30 years since TMI.

    The link I cited listed listed 228 sure and certain deaths from USA cola mining “disasters” since TMI (1980). Those disasters were all related to cave-ins, explosions and fires (evening news stuff). Surely there were many more rather mundane single fatality accidents typical in coal mining or any other dangerous heavy industry but that would require more research and I could not come up with a total number.

    It might be safer to use oil instead of coal, but there there’s the Deepwater Horizon spill, with 11 crew members missing and presumed dead.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deepwater_Horizon_oil_spill#Explosion

    And the 2005 Texas City refinery explsion that killed 15 and injured 170…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Texas_City_Refinery_explosion

    Just as an aside, this snippet from the Wikipedia Texas City article:

    “The head of BP (Lord John Browne) retired early, amid the various problems plaguing BP in 2005 and 2006 (including the problems at Texas City, the shutdown of the Alaska pipeline, allegations of propane market manipulation, and start-up delays of the Thunderhorse project in the Gulf of Mexico).”

    It’s a good thing his successor tightened up the shop, especially with regards to the Gulf of Mexico Project…

    Choices, choices…. relative risks…. zero risk is so hard to achieve….

    Much discussion on Sunday here about “worst case scenarios” at Fukushima. Well, we saw a “worst case” in the Gulf of Mexico last year. Google “refinery disaster” to get a sense of worst case from that aspect of energy. I already provided “coal mining disasters”. Dwelling too much on “worst cases” is arguably a slippery slope that would lead us back to the stone age, as was discussed previously this morning here.

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  33. Finrod, on 22 March 2011 at 12:11 AM said:

    So to store 16 hours of output from a 1 GW power plant, we would need 1600 such units.

    You are not thinking straight – noone has suggested that a battery would substitute for a 1 GW power plant.

    A 10MWh battery would only apply to buildings that need 10 hours of power or 20 hours of power at a MW per hour. A factory could run 3 or 4 of these units, and absorb, non-baseload renewable energy.

    A centralised 1 GW plant has more losses through transmission lines to distant and decentralised customers.

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  34. For all German speakers, here is an interview that Barry Brook just gave to Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: http://www.faz.net/-01pwpy
    „Deutschland muss Atomkraftwerke bauen“
    Der australische Klimaforscher Barry Brook kämpft unverdrossen für die Kernkraft.

    I used Google Translate and got the gist of it. After 10 years of the Greens being in a German coalition government, the debate on nuclear on Germany is clearly ridiculous, and the general opinion is that they should and could get rid of all nuclear plants. Right now, they are doing this at the expense of huge reliance on coal and gas, and huge expense to build wind farms (how much space do they have left for them?!)

    It was interesting how all the questions to Barry were so very anti-nuclear, but I thought he fended them off very effectively. :-) Maybe open-minded Germans reading that might have a reconsider.

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  35. Hey Jek, I wanted to address the point you made:

    “The implication in almost all reports is that the spent fuel needs to be cooled in order to decrease its radioactivity.”

    Everything Johno said above is right, but I wanted to add my two cents: nuclear plants generate energy by exploiting the heat-generating property of element undergoing radioactive decay. Just like a releasing chemical energy from a substance by lighting it on fire, this thermal energy release can be easier to start than it is to stop, especially once it begins to get out of control.

    Cooling the fuel doesn’t change the actual amount of radioactive stuff, but if the fuel overheats, things like explosions and vaporization will happen which will spread the radioactive material over a wider area. The name of the game is keeping the radioactive material in the plant, and out of the atmosphere, the ground water, etc.

    In this and most nuclear accident situations, the direct radiation from the fuel in the reactor is really only dangerous to the people close by — in this case the heroic workers trying to cool the reactor. Most of the toxic effects we worry about are caused by the ingestion of radioactive material which then irradiates us at close range, from the inside out.

    Preventing the overheating is intended to prevent the loss of containment, which is intended to prevent the ingestion of radioactive stuff, either directly by inhalation or ingestion or indirectly by eating something, usually an animal or an animal product, which has ingested or inhaled the radioactive material.

    Hope this helps, nonscientist here, others should feel free to correct any misstatements.

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  36. One more comment now that we have an “Open Thread” (good idea, mods)

    We have all seen or read NRC commissioner Jaczko comments about reactor 4’s SFP running dry and Japan’s subsequent rather forceful denial of his allegations.

    Now to be very clear, I am not addressing the issue of who was right or wrong. We will not know that for quite awhile. My issue transcends that. Who was right or wrong is irrelevant to my comment.

    There has been much discussion about the quality of information, confusing information, and withholding of information (mainly directed at TEPCO and the Japanese government.

    In light of the above, am I the only one appalled at the FUD that developed out of Jaczko’s sensational pronouncement and his absolute refusal to provide any details whatsoever as to how the NRC came to that conclusion? Of all the FUD that has come out of this, I think this one is way up there.

    To put it another way, was it appropriate or advisable for the NRC to openly disagree with Japan over a crucial safety issue without the willingness to back up the assertion with at least some details?

    I also note that a huge amount of the FUD that developed out of TMI was likely/apparently/possibly a miscalculation by NRC engineers of the size of the hydrogen bubble. I do not have a handy cite for that (and the history is quite murky on this point) but I saw it briefly discussed in a TMI documentary aired on TV Saturday night and several days ago a commenter here who claimed to be in the control room of TMI also discussed the disagreement between “his” calculation and the NRC’s. It was the fear of the hydrogen bubble destroying the containment vessel and primary containment that emptied out Middletown and the surrounding areas, not so much the pressure releases.

    Histories of TMI that I have found suggest the bubble was successfully forced out of the reactor vessel. The documentary I watched and the commenter here suggest it never existed. FUD FUD FUD.

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  37. Your website is a very welcome resource for accurate and sane information. I am an operator at a plant in the US, and your website has become one of the primary sources of information for me and all of my friends in the nuclear industry. THANK YOU very much for all of your hard work in providing this resource, so that I may continue my battle against the hyperbolic and uneducated media in the US, and our willfully ignorant populace.

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  38. To Arthur: sorry, but I’m not posting your latest comment either (the one held in moderation). You just don’t seem to understand the commenting rules (or at least you have your own special interpretation of them) which is fine — it just means that this is clearly NOT the right sort of forum for you. So, I suggest you try a little harder on your phraseology, or go elsewhere. If you do want a copy of either post, feel free to email me with a real address, in private, and I’ll pass them back to you.

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  39. Hi, folks!
    I am talking from Portugal, where there is no nuc plant and there is a war between green climatic people who considers being climatic as being eolian, and a few people like me, who care about costs.
    By the way, I am a Professor of Power Systems at the Technical University of Lisbon.
    By now i just want to express my joy with what seems to be a happy end for Fukushima. I know the mess and the tremendous finantial loss they are incurring, but overall and after such a terrific earthquake and tsunami, I think this a a proof that engineering can really provide what humankind needs. Learning by mistakes, of course…
    I also want to add a pyilosophical point of view, by now: If humankind will ever wish to live in outer space, only nuclear can stand it. There are no fossil fuels or renewables out there. And the point is that we will need it one day: Earth will have an end, not to mention the asteroids that fall here from time to time.
    I know that may happen ina a very distant future, but the point is: only the way id to the outer space, the galaxy, soon or later. And that means nuclear power.

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  40. The current nuclear accident has probably caused many to re-evaluate the relative importance of costs and safety as they apply to nuclear power. However, they are closely inter-related. Safety is too often narrowed to a consideration of public health. It would seem (so far) that no member of the public is likely to die in consequence of the current nuclear accident. Following Chernobyl even, it would seem that only a few thousand locals developed largely preventable and almost all successfully treatable thyroid cancers
    (discounting the psychlogical damage associated with ignorance based fear). Notwithstanding, the Fukushima incident, resulting in the total loss of an admittedly elderly plant with associated clean up costs represents a safety failure with enormous economic and public relations consequences.

    I would suggest that enhanced safety can and has been achieved in newer designs, sometimes as a consequence of extra and expensive engineered safety and, less frequently as yet, by use of inherently safer designs which don’t necessarily cost as much in extra engineered safety. It would seem reasonable to conclude that, in consequence, accidents will become even less frequent in the future than they have been in the past and, when they do occur, they won’t cost so much to fix. So far so good. But one can never say never. Thus, from a PR perspective, there may be some merit in considering the consequences to the public of worst case scenarios for reactors of different designs.

    For example, suppose a Fukushima reactor failed to scram and it lost power for cooling with intact containment? What would have been the public consequences of a full core melt? Is it likely they would have been significantly more severe than currently with scrammed core, hydrogen explosions and inadequate salt water sploshing? Even with a core breach, would fissile fragment and isotope scattering have been any worse? Isn’t it the scattering/ dispersion that exacebates the public problem more than anything? I can see that better core catchers might help in newer LWR designs, but would passive cooling really help other than in the short term?

    What about IFRs and LFTRs? I can accept that unpressurised systems may make accidents less likely. However, are the consequences of an albeit much less likely catastrophic accident going to be as severe, less severe or more severe? I can visualise the dispersal potential of a good mix of air, water, heat and sodium as being quite powerful. Ditto for molten fuel, air, water, heat and graphite.

    On reflection, if Chernobyl represents a worst case, it really wasn’t that bad (with the benefit of hinsight and more knowledge about AGW and peak oil). Perhaps DV82XL is correct that nuclear advocates have an excellent opportunity, afforded by this accident, to try to get public understanding about radiation risks more aligned to reality.

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  41. NR99, on 22 March 2011 at 12:21 AM said:

    why I mentioned the USA coal vs nuclear choices we have been making for 30 years since TMI.

    IMHO The impact of TMI is overstated.

    1)The inflation adjusted cost of coal in the US steadily dropped from about 1970 to 2000.
    2) The utilization rate of our existing nuclear fleet in the US didn’t get past 90% until 1998.
    3) The vast majority of the 20 GW worth of coal plants built in the US between 1990 and 2009 are in the 100MW to 200MW size range.

    In Washington State we had the WPPS fiasco, cancelling 5 planned nuclear plants in various state of construction. We haven’t built anything since TMI. It’s more then 20 years later and we still export 20% of our power production.

    TMI just happened to coincide with a realization in the electric utility industry that the projected base-load electricity demand wasn’t going to materialize. Nuclear power isn’t cheap if the plants are running at 40-50% utilization rate.

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  42. @Douglas Wise – I know we have covered this before, but a distinction needs to be made between engineered safety, which is relatively inexpensive, and politically motivated ‘safety measures’ that are both expensive to implement, and largely ineffective.

    I disagree that there needs to be an exploration of what could have occurred at Fukushima, simply because it is too open-ended a question to provide any useful answers, and would undoubtedly be leveraged by the antinuclear side as proof that a major disaster was narrowly averted.

    Again, failure analysis is tied in with risk. I’m just not worried that Pickering or Bruce stations in Canada are at risk from events like the ones that befell Fukushima because geography shows that the possibly is vanishingly small. Thus any ‘what would happen if’ analysis is pointless.

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  43. ABC Four Corners program featured the Fukushima incident here tonight in WA.
    Overall, I thought it was a fairly balanced program hosted by Kerry O’Brien.

    There were a few sensationalist claims such as plutonium explosions and widespread deaths through inhalation of radioactive materials but overall it concentrated on the event and its management.

    Ziggy Switkowski gave a short contribution and what I took away was that in his view this WOULD set back nuclear power and would necessitate a re-think on safety systems. He said it would be a turning point for the industry.

    I hope this show was or will be aired more broadly and would be interested how other people reacted to it.

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  44. @DV82XL

    Could you elaborate, what is the basis of the following statement you made in the first comment:

    “(…)wind and solar in the face of mounting evidence that these do not work as well as it was hoped, and will never be more than spit in a bucket”

    I am especially interested, how can you be so sure about “never”.

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  45. Here is something to think about.

    The final death toll of the tsunami and earth quake is at least 10000. Ten thousand.

    Imagine if the reactors at Fukushima shut down as intended, with everything working fine. All reactors in cold shutdown, no damage to them whatsoever.

    At least ten thousand would still have died.

    Tsunamis are inherently dangerous. Thinking cold but rationally – in number of deaths – what did the Fukushima crisis add to the death toll? How many will die due to radiation? So far zero, and only the workers, not the public, are at risk of serious health effects.

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  46. Jose de Sa writes,

    : If humankind will ever wish to live in outer space, only nuclear can stand it. There are no fossil fuels or renewables out there. And the point is that we will need it one day: Earth will have an end, not to mention the asteroids that fall here from time to time.

    Yes, those asteroids definitely have had it.

    I think space does have renewables: it has dispatchable sunlight. Perhaps 1000 years hence the sun will be shrouded in a cloud of habitats, 300 million km from it in all directions — a spherical shell of habitat-dust, whose motes may be village-sized.

    As I recall, mass let down into a white dwarf, such as Sirius B, yields about as much energy as uranium. Any mass. So that’s another non-renewable that lasts a very long time.

    (How fire can be domesticated)
    Recall H.C. Brown’s microwave transmission

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  47. “Now, remembering my Year 11 physics, radioactivity is a process that is not affected by heat nor pressure. That has to be true, otherwise we would be cooling nuclear waste currently, instead of burying it in mountains.”

    That’s right; its radioactivity doesn’t change except by radioactive decay over time.

    The fuel is basically an intense source of gamma radiation. The deep pool of water acts as a radiation shield. With the water in the pool, you can stand around the top of the pool quite safely, but if all the water is gone there is going to be a dangerously strong radiation field without that shielding.

    This is entirely independent of the overheating of the fuel, or any damage, melting or burning of the fuel that may or may not occur.

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  48. Ok, let’s try a rephrasing of my response to Barry’s admission of error on 17 march:

    In sum, this accident is now significantly more severe than Three Mile Island in 1979. It resulted from a unique combination of failures to plant systems caused by the tsunami, and the broad destruction of infrastructure for water and electricity supply which would normally be reestablished within a day or two following a reactor accident.

    Any accident can always be said to result from a unique combination of plant failures.

    This accident clearly resulted from building a reactor that was not designed to cope with the conditions it was in fact subjected to. Attempts have been made to blame the Tsunami. But it should have been designed to cope with that big a quake and Tsunami.

    It is glaringly obvious that this inadequate design resulted from a gross regulatory failure in approving construction of a reactor with a design basis well bellow what was needed for a location subject on earthquakes and tsunamis on the “ring of fire”.

    The result was both foreseeable and forseen, with warnings from IAEA, resignation of a seismologist from the seismoogy review panel, another Japanese reactor forced offline for a year after earthquake failure and overiding of a court order to shut down a reactor not designed for sufficiently large quakes. The licence was recently extended for 10 years after what was supposed to be a thorough review in the light of recent earthquake and tsunami experience and several cases of falsifications of safety records by the operator.

    That license renewal testifies to a completely inadequate regulatory system in Japan.

    An obsessive focus on the technical details of the plant failures simply distracts attention from this very obvious central reality of regulatory failure. The threads should have been about how to deal with the regulatory failure in Japan, not pointless attempts to figure out how recovery operations are going minute by minute.

    A thread devoted to the technical operational details simply shuts down discussion on what’s actually important for future energy policy. It adds nothing useful to public understanding, let alone actual recovery operations, but simply helps participants to avoid thinking about what they will need to revise in their own positions.

    In particular the argument that levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) for nuclear could be reduced below that for coal if “excessive” regulatory costs and delays could be eliminated must now be taken off the table.

    Regulatory costs and delays are going to increase, not decrease. So coal and gas will remain cheaper unless massive R&D can change that.

    Propaganda for renewables and against nuclear would not have been successful in obstructing nuclear by exacerbating fears and hopes of alternatives if there was an equally interested and well funded lobby promoting it. There isn’t simply because nuclear LCOE isn’t actually competitive yet so there isn’t millions or billions at stake yet.

    My initial estimates of the extent of the problem, on March 12, did not anticipate the cascading problems that arose from the extended loss of externally sourced AC power to the site, and my prediction that ‘there is no credible risk of a serious accident‘ has been proven quite wrong as a result.

    Barry should not have expected to be able to anticipate the future course of an accident without the information available to those who had ordered the evacuation of 200,000 people at a particularly inconvenient time during which all resources were overstretched as a result of tens of thousands of deaths and hundreds of thousands displaced.
    [ad hom deleted]

    Simple common sense and basic respect for the people in charge of ordering the evacuation would have been enough. No special ability to anticipate cascading problems was needed.

    It remains to be seen whether my forecast on the possibility of containment breaches and the very low level of danger to the public as a result of this tragic chain of circumstances will be proven correct. For the sake of the people there, I sure hope it does stand the test of time.

    At no time has Barry had anything but an a priori belief to set against the detailed knowledge of the situation that resulted in the authorities ordering evacuation.

    If for example a correct estimate would be 99% likelihood of no serious damage from containment breaches and 1% likelihood of serious damage to 200,000 people as result of not successfully dealing with the cascading failures, then Barry would believe that when the 99% likelihood eventuates it somehow “confirms” his assumption that there was “no credible risk” of serious damage from containment breaches.

    The “forecast” of “no credible risk” HAS ALREADY BEEN REFUTED by the evacuation. No subsequent absence of damage from containment breaches can change what has ALREADY happened.

    Barry’s ongoing belief to the contrary indicates that he simply doesn’t “get” the concepts that MUST be understood when evaluating catastrophic risks to hundreds of thousands of people.

    It is important to really “get” this to understand why the strategy of pushing for a nuclear rollout in Australia now was never viable and has NOT just been postponed for 5 years or so by irrational responses to a random accident.

    Then you can also understand that the strategy of pushing for massive R&D now remains viable and is now the only viable path for keeping a nuclear option open. Dismissing that viable as “magic wands” and a “broken record” won’t wash and reflects an approach that has completely discredited itself and been proved completely unviable in its response to these events.

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  49. A lot of people on BNC are making the argument that you can’t metaphorically prepare for ‘godzilla’, risks are part of life etc, you can’t plan for everything etc etc.

    I disagree. We already have technology that insulates us from even these minor risks. Just look at the design of the AP1000 or the EPR, imagine considering how little damage Fukushima Dai-ichi and Daini took (considering the impact they took) how a modern plant would fair? I’d bet good money that an AP1000 in its place would be capable of generation the dat after the quake.

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  50. amid reports of new steam clouds and pullback from #3 SFP

    we get a report on radiation exposure to 6 plant workers….

    “A Tokyo electric official told CNN that six workers trying to restore electricity to that reactor have been exposed to more than 100 millisieverts of radiation. For reference, an individual in a developed country naturally is exposed to 3 millisieverts of radiation a year — though Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare has reset the exposure level upward to 250 millisieverts for those trying to combat the crisis at the Fukushima plant. That is 2.5 times the previous limit, according to the ministry.”

    I find it troubling that we merely get the report “over 100 millisieverts….. that could mean anything from 101 to infinity…. basically it’s useless information.

    http://www.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/asiapcf/03/21/japan.nuclear.reactors/?hpt=C1

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  51. Also from the same report….

    “Nevertheless, the USS George Washington pulled out of its port in Yokosuka, about 28 miles (45 kilometers) south of Tokyo, “as a precaution,” according to a posting on the ship’s Facebook page. The ship will remain off the coast of Japan, the posting said. The U.S. Navy previously repositioned the USS Ronald Reagan after radiation detectors found minute traces of contamination on sailors and equipment.

    Nature has helped to minimize airborne exposure since the quake, as winds from the northwest have blown many emissions from the plant out to sea. But the wind direction is expected to change through Wednesday, potentially pushing more of the material to the southwest and over land.”

    http://www.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/asiapcf/03/21/japan.nuclear.reactors/?hpt=C1

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  52. Arthur, you are still skating on thin ice, however in the interests of discussion I’ve let the latest version through this time. But do try to maintain an air of civility and focus on arguing against the point, not against those who are making it. It may be a different method to the scrummage you’re used to, but that’s the law of the land here.

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  53. GENEVA — The World Health Organization says Japan needs to act quickly and ban food sales from areas around the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant if the food there is found to contain excessive levels of radiation.

    A spokesman for the Geneva-based agency says radiation in food can accumulate in the body and poses a greater risk to health than radioactive particles in the air, which disperse within days.

    WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl told The Associated Press on Monday “they’re going to have to take some decisions quickly in Japan to shut down and stop food being used completely from zones which they feel might be affected.”

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/canadianpress/article/ALeqM5iSXdSBKS1mTv6-kJRrPCe7a_Q1GQ?docId=6318487

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  54. DV82XL:

    Thanks for your response. I know that we have previously discussed the differences between engineered safety and politically motivated “safety measures” and their cost implications. In no way do I disagree with you on this. I was attempting to ask about a separate issue – probably in a fairly opaque way.

    I really do think it is worth exploring worst case scenarios because I strongly suspect that they may not be nearly as bad as the antis make out. (I was opaque above because I am not sure that I was am right about this so was throwing in a few caveats). Anyway, it did seem that public risk is proportional the size of the point source and its potential for dispersion.

    Finally, I wasn’t primarily asking what further could have gone wrong at Fukushima – to which you replied “too open ended to answer” I was asking for worst case (outcome). In theory, I would have thought that there should only be one answer per reactor type

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  55. @zx81- One only has to look at the discrepancies between ‘nameplate’ value on any of the currently installed systems, and the actual output to see that the size of the installed base needed to provide a significant amount of our projected energy needs, without resorting to major inputs from fossil-fuels would be so vast and unwieldy as to make it impractical. This is to say nothing about the environmental impact of plants that size.

    Nor is there ever going to be storage that is cheap and effective such that it could be deployed in large enough scale to remove the inherent shot and long term variability of wind and solar.

    Belief that there is some magic new discovery waiting in the wings is a false hope. The historical path of any technology shows almost all of the major gains happen at the beginning, while only incremental gains are realized later in development. Like it or not, both wind and solar are past the initial stages, thus it is unlikely that some new development will place them ahead of other option, like nuclear.

    While I will not say that it is impossible, it is highly unlikely that wind and/or solar will make a huge leap in the near future, thus we cannot depend on them in planning for our long-term energy needs.

    It is this lack of assurance that they can meet the demands that we will place on them, that will sour the market, which will then turn to proven technology that justifies the term ‘never’

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  56. Peter Cordingley, a spokesman for the World Health Organisation (WHO), said: ‘Quite clearly, it’s a serious situation.

    ‘It’s a lot more serious than anybody thought in the early days when we thought that this kind of problem can be limited to 20 to 30 kilometres.

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1368357/Japan-tsunami-Staff-evacuated-smoke-rises-nuclear-reactor.html#ixzz1HFcJmvTU

    It’s safe to suppose that some contaminated produce got out of the contamination zone.’

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1368357/Japan-tsunami-Staff-evacuated-smoke-rises-nuclear-reactor.html#ixzz1HFcSiv8p

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  57. About the “green movement” or “eco-radicals”: IMHO the sad thing is, that their actions actually lead to the building of more fossil fuel passed plants. They are against nuclear and often also against hydro because of damage to the river ecosystem in general.

    And sadly we can see that their movement does have an effect like in Germany. It might not be long lasting but if coal plants are built now they won’t be replaced soon by nuclear. Would not be economic for the power company.

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  58. @harrywr2- with over 55% of our electricity generated by fossil fuels, verses slightly under 10% generated by nuclear, I find it hard to believe some of the fossil fuel capacity could not be replaced by nuclear. The cost curves just intersected due at least in part to all the anti-nuclear efforts.

    I am not an AGW advocate but that is the only way the carbon footprint in this country (USA) is going to be reduced without great pain. And electric cars don’t make much sense if the fossil fuel footprint is just moved downstream to the utility, as it would be in 60% (+) of the cases now.

    It is no longer just dollars and cents as it was 20 years ago..

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_in_the_United_States

    Similarly, anything we do to tinker with our carbon footprint is meaningless on a global level, with China growing 10% a year into the indefinite future. It is the developing countries where nuclear arguably has the most value. Might also help China with their smog problem.

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  59. Barry:

    I want to add my thanks for the fine work you are doing with this blog. Its just about the only place I can find mostly reasonable and serious discussions of the events happening at the nuclear plants in Japan. I do have one question for any reader. What does FUD stand for?

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  60. do it means we can take a glass spoon of dark matter from the sirius B into our earth.i’m sorry but i think that was impossible since just such a lighting merely could dissolve the nuclear residu.last but not least.this web is cool..heh

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  61. The lower exposure level for which there is confirmed experience of radiation-induced sickness is 100 mSv, be it in a year or a hour. However, 1000 mSv really is the level for which there is acute effects.
    ICRP assumes a linear relationship between exposure and cancer risk with a coefficient of 5%/Sv, wich yeilds a 0,5% cancer risck for a 100 mSv dose. Considering these numbers, raising the level to 250 mSv means to have increased the cancer risk to 1,25% with no accute implications.
    On the other hand and according to Chernobyl balance by the UN, the real danger is in the ingested Iodine and Cesium because of the thyroid cancer it can trigger in children. But Iodine has a half-life of 8 days and can be fought through iode ingestion…

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  62. @NR99

    The caveat is, China is a leader in solar development. As time goes on, that gap will only grow due to our “investment” in other energy sources.

    Nuclear is a crutch, a required energy source of today. But I firmly believe it is a 20th century energy source that is not viable as a growth energy source.

    Nuclear power was already dying a slow death before 3 mile island because the cost to power ratio did not make it as economical as was hoped. This was further compounded by the cost of newer safer reactors to replace the dangerous and inefficient GE Mk1 reactors. Both the financing and insurance and operating and waste disposal costs all add up to make nuclear power an economical loser. Then came 3 mile island which merely put the final nail in the coffin of new plant production. The main reason no plant has been built on US soil since 1979 has little to do with 3 mile island, it is because they are simply economically inefficient.

    Now, going forward, two things can happen.

    1) We must dismantle all gen 1 reactors.

    2) We must modernize all gen 2 reactors and waste management.

    3) We must invest in solar, hydro, wind, clean coal energy. Electric companies and the government should begin a leasing program where they lease small solar panels to home owners along with a supply/demand meter to the local power grid (or wind mills if the location prefers). This times millions of homes will make a large impact on residential power usage. Dedicate the coal and nuclear power to the high demands of industry. Which brings up another point, our industrial demand for power is leveling off because we are no longer an industrial based economy as we were pre 1980s.

    We can meet our energy demands with a mix of renewable green energy, coal, and nuclear power. I’m sorry, but I see no chance of any new nuclear plants being built until the TOTAL economic cost to liability ratio greatly improves. Perhaps 20 years from now gen 4 or gen 5 reactors may be more cost effective and we may have a better way to deal with the waste.

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  63. Nuclear advocates here seem to be focussing on the outcome being not that bad – eg far less bad than the tsunami.

    Bear in mind that we don’t yet know the outcome, but if we assume that things won’t get any worse this is true, but irrelevant.

    Nuclear engineers have assured the public that plants are safe and designed to withstand earthquakes and other rare events.

    This plant has been seen, very publicly, to literally explode when challlenged with these events.

    Just consider that again. When you ask nuclear engineers to build a safe plant it will go out of control and blow up.

    Very obviously desperate measures – exposing workers to high levels of radiation (100mS+) and using seawater in reactors – have been used to mitigate this. It is not at all irrational for the public to react to this with a deep mistrust of the nuclear industry and a desire to avoid further reactors being built. Indeed, any other reaction would be very surprising.

    If you want to convince anyone otherwise, you need to admit that the design was inadequate, and conduct a ruthlessly open and honest investigation into why, which addresses not just the technical issues but the wider safety culture. The approach of NASA post Challenger might be a reasonable model.

    If you respond to this with a “didn’t the design do well in the circumstances” attitude you will only convince critics and more importantly the wider public that you are close – minded and not to be trusted to learn from your mistakes. And even more imnportantly you will fail to learn the lessons.

    I’m writing as someone who has designed reasonably high risk facilities and is deeply concerned about the threat of AGW, not as any sort of “enviro-nazi”*

    Barry has it right, a “period of reflection and introspection ” is essential

    * quote from Bryan Alexander on March 21st thread and a great example of how to convince people not to listen to you.

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  64. Chris Warren, this blog grew so fast I did not see your comments until I was searching Arthur’s comments. I think Barry is objecting to the personal attacks is the problem Barry has with your postings Arthur.

    What about the items you have listed Chris? Those are just ideas Chris, without even a demo plant. A lot of them have no demo plant because the ideas do not work. We have to design the power supply based on what technology that works and what does not work. Just throwing more money at a technology does not make it work.

    You mentioned hydro and pumped hydro.
    There are more dams being torn down today in the US than put in service so that natural water ways will be restored. Look up the story of Hetch Hetchy.

    Hydrogen fuel cells. This was president Bush’s big push but after a lot of research, there are two big problems, how do you store the hydrogen in a car, and how do you make the hydrogen in the first place?

    Geothermal. Its risky, causes environmental damage, uses a lot of water, and lacks transmission infrastructure for large projects in remote areas.

    Tidal and wave power. Barry was even a proponent of this but I pointed out the problem with barnicles. Have you ever owned a boat that sits in salt water. It only lasts a short time before it has to be cleaned. The maintenance cost of Tidal and wave power will be huge.

    Biodiesel. Making fuel from plants is still in an R&D phase. The first use of this fuel will not be for electric power plants but for Jets. I’m still waiting…

    There have also been new concepts such as salt water capacitor. No such animal exists. Anyway capacitors only store short term energy, like fly wheels.

    We effectively have had a moritorium on nuclear power in the US and now it seems it will continue. If we shut down the existing nuclear plants in the US, the lights will also go out soon.

    Australia has the luxury of large coal reserves. Its unwise to eliminate nuclear altogether until you have a coal replacement that actually works. Do you really want to burn all that coal?

    Like

  65. Barry,

    I basically agree with the argument at http://fixtheclimate.com/ for devoting about $100 billion per year to R&D.

    I’ve seen claims (not checked) that this is about 50 times current R&D expenditure on clean energy.

    In that context differences of opinion as to what share should go to improving 3rd or fourth generation fission, fusion, renewables, geoengineering, carbon capture and storage, adaptation, fundamental research into “unknown unknowns” etc become of secondary importance.

    Nuclear fission advocates should sort out the priorities within that area. You get to establish research and development institutions with associated education institutions and actual plant facilities for experiment and education that will be necessary anyway for enabling a skilled workforce.

    I think those goals are possible because there is genuine concern about climate change and the other approaches to it are demonstrably going nowhere. The amounts involved are much smaller that the proposals for carbon taxes that won’t actually solve the problem, have no hope in the third world and are in deep shit in countries like Australia and the USA..

    You already know that you aren’t going to get anything more than a research and education institute in Australia for the next 5 years or so.

    I am particularly encouraged by this article from conservative economist Henry Ergas in The Australian p12 Friday March 18:

    Japan’s nuclear crisis removes easy path to a low-carbon world

    It provides a reasonably clear explanation of the need for technology innovation and that simply imposing a carbon price will not result in capitalist investment to deliver it. This is consistent with proposals for PUBLICLY FUNDED PUBLIC DOMAIN global R&D with no attempt to “capture” the benefits as “value added” royalties.

    “What time frame are you operating under?” As long as it takes.

    There is no chance of developing countries using more expensive technology during the next 50 to 100 years in which they will rapidly industrialize and become the overwhelmingly dominant source of emissions. Since R&D has long lead times including educating the researchers the earlier we start the less decades of overshoot we will have to deal with by the time we come up with something they can actually afford to use.

    Demands that we succeed by various deadlines are obviously not going to be met. Alarm about that has been counter-productive. It results in the erection of windmills, rooftop panels and appeals to the power of prayer but has not and will not displace any fossil fuel plants.

    “How will you get people to listen to you and implement your recommended course of action?”

    My approach tends to be to rub the noses of advocates of other approaches in the unviability of their approaches as demonstrated by particularly salient events.

    I’m sure you can come up with a better way ;-)

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  66. Nuclear power plants have become expensive after 3 Miles island because of the opposition to their building, and the long delays required by new safety requirements when the plants were already being built. Some plants were never allowed to work after being ready!
    That was the reason for having stopped building them, and not any problem with construction costs. For builders, the risk of investing without having assured the plants would work, was too high.
    However, wherever the plants were built with no public opposition, as in France, they provide power at a cost which no other means can compete with.

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  67. France doesn’t have the vast coal resources that we have. If they did, they would not have built so many reactors. This is not France, we are a much larger nation with many times the population and yes regulations. The reality is nuclear power is a money loser in the United States.

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  68. Here in Portugal we already have 25% of electric energy from wind. They have being building new pump hydros just to store the energy when the wind is strong, when wind plants work at 90% their rating and produce more than the comsumption! On the other hand, because of the random wind ramps, some gas-fired plants have allways to be on. The cost of all this is enormous!
    And yet pump hydros don’t work, because they forgot that when the wind blows stronger, it also rains! Therefore the dams face a competition between the water coming from the rain and the water coming from pumping, and the final result is simply to open the floodgates, dissipating the pumped energy! And yet the wind producers were fed-in no matter what happens to their production.
    Is there anything more stupid?
    Netherlands antecipated this, and because of that they have decided to limit wind power to 10% – and to order 4 nuclear power plants!…

    Like

  69. PS

    That doesn’t mean nuclear can’t be a viable US energy source in the future, after the cost to energy ratio is closed. That will require a few more generations of technological evolution.

    Like

  70. The reason for France to have not coal-fired plants has nothing to do with indigenous resources. We in Portugal had our main power basis in coal-fired plants before Germany commanded us to buy their wind plants, and the coal was, and still is, imported from Australia.
    France has no uranium either. It imports it from Congo in Africa.

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  71. @Arthur – I will address your points in order. Your words in italic.

    Any accident can always be said to result from a unique combination of plant failures.

    This accident clearly resulted from building a reactor that was not designed to cope with the conditions it was in fact subjected to. Attempts have been made to blame the Tsunami. But it should have been designed to cope with that big a quake and Tsunami.

    First, the design failure was not in the reactor, which survived both the earthquake and the tsunami, but in auxiliary support systems. While the point that these should have been hardened against this sort of event, is valid, this cannot be extrapolated to the reactor.

    The threads should have been about how to deal with the regulatory failure in Japan, not pointless attempts to figure out how recovery operations are going minute by minute.

    These pages do not belong to you, and what the owner chooses to allow, or disallow or what topics will or will not be discussed is his prerogative. You are not being forced to post here, and are free to find succor somewhere else with policies more to your taste

    In particular the argument that levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) for nuclear could be reduced below that for coal if “excessive” regulatory costs and delays could be eliminated must now be taken off the table..

    Yet nuclear power stations are built and operated by private concerns at a profit and others are planned. If you try to use the subsidy argument, I can refer you to an earlier posting on this site where I detailed the financial history of the Bruce and Pickering stations in Canada, showing that these were paid for by the utility and its customers, and what government involvement that there was, only increased the cost of these projects. When someone can prove to me that nuclear energy is not cost effective in the Provence of Ontario, I’ll consider the LCOE argument, until then it is demonstrably wrong.

    Simple common sense and basic respect for the people in charge of ordering the evacuation would have been enough. No special ability to anticipate cascading problems was needed.

    The reasons for the evacuations are not clear, and given that the whole country was writhing in the aftermath of an unprecedented natural disaster, may well have been wholly precautionary, and thus unnecessary. Attempting to read too much into a decision made at a distance, by people dealing with many ongoing emergencies, is unsupportable.

    At no time has Barry had anything but an a priori belief to set against the detailed knowledge of the situation that resulted in the authorities ordering evacuation.

    These pages are, when all is said and done, the work of a private individual, and given the magnitude of the task required to get useful information out of a county that is dealing with a host of problems, with both language and cultural issues to contend with, is daunting, to say the least for an amateur with thin resources to call on. Yet he still did a far better job at reportage than the professional media. Your criticisms therefore should be aimed at them, as they are charged with keeping us informed of the truth.

    Then you can also understand that the strategy of pushing for massive R&D now remains viable and is now the only viable path for keeping a nuclear option open. Dismissing that viable as “magic wands” and a “broken record” won’t wash and reflects an approach that has completely discredited itself and been proved completely unviable in its response to these events.

    Which of course is the real reason for this diatribe. Too bad for you that this event was not the disaster you and others anticipated, your disappointment is palpable, albeit utterly amoral. This is not the end of nuclear power, and the more you try to spin it, the lower your credibility is going to sink. I am going to take a good deal of pleasure dismembering the argument that I know are coming from the antinuclear zealots in the coming months, because they will bury themselves with their own hyperbole.

    Like

  72. Jose de Sa, on 22 March 2011 at 3:39 AM said:

    Hi, Shelby, how will you turn ont the lights by night with solar power?

    Hi Jose

    Obviously, as I said, the technology must be developed and whomever does will lead the world. Once way is both on site storage and off site grid storage of power. If the home batteries run low at night, power is drawn from the normal power grid until the on site solar panels are re energized. This is a crude current technology solution. We can only imagine what new solutions could be used with next generation solar technology. The main point is, whomever invests in the pursuit of solar technology today will be the winners of tomorrow.

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  73. Ok Shelby, but then don’t forget to add the storage cost to the solar power cost, and also may be to consider some gas-fired power to balance the solar power falls when it clouds, and regarding energy storage don’t forget that its efficency is at best 75%.
    If even so you can get a good price…

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  74. “Four days after the first alert at Three Mile Island, U.S. President Jimmy Carter was in the control room of the reactor. ” Photo here:

    http://www.pennlive.com/specialprojects/index.ssf/2009/03/timeline_of_the_accident_at_th.html

    “THE Japanese Prime Minister, Naoto Kan, was yesterday forced to cancel his first extensive visit to the areas hardest hit by the tsunami and nuclear crises as poor weather rolled into the area.”

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/poor-weather-in-reactor-zone-keeps-japanese-prime-minister-in-tokyo/story-fn84naht-1226025693659

    –bks

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  75. @Chris Warren…

    Here is a google search that will return the Mext radiation charts that you were after…

    Readings at Monitoring Post out of 20 Km Zone of Fukushima site:http://www.mext.go.jp

    That should get you started on a net search… the site also may have time series charts by prefecture,etc.

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  76. There is constant talk about insufficient design of Fukushima power plant against earthquake and tsunami. I don’t think it was the case. The nuclear power plant, at least the reactor itself, was not seriously damaged by earthquake nor tsunami, hence the design was a lot stronger than expected.
    The weak link was in accessories, namely the electric back up system. Allowing diesel engines to be flooded and fuel tanks to be washed away requires serious examination into the stupidity of that design. In addition it is not wise to rely on electric power only for emergency reactor and spent fuel storage cooling. Turbo pumps driven by steam generated in reactor itself would be better choice to deliver emergency cooling.
    In another words, in case of electric power failure the reactor could continue generating steam from decay heat by allowing water to boil in lower pressure instead of cooling it down completely. Steam generated by decay heat is more than sufficient to operate steam driven turbo pumps to deliver reactor feed water, to circulate cooling water for condenser at reduced volume and to circulate cooling water in spent fuel pool.

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  77. @Douglas Wise – Really there are only two worse-case events with any nuclear reactor: uncontrolled criticality leading to physical damage to the core; (meltdown in the popular usage) and loss of containment.

    The former is hopefully prevented by a series of SCRAM systems that would shutdown the nuclear reaction very quickly, and these vary between designs. The latter is universally dealt with by one or several nested containment barriers.

    I should think that any discussion in detail of failure modes, that is the possible sequences of events for each design, would be beyond the technical competency of all but a very few that contribute to these pages.

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  78. bks,

    For the younger readers… posting a pix of Jimmie Carter touring the control room has to include the fact that Jimmie Carter was a nuclear submariner (a bonafide nuclear engineer) in his younger days. So, as it was played in the media at the time, he more or less went up to TMI to get things straightened out himself. Carter was also known as a micromanager so it’s easy to put the pieces together to get a feel for the event.

    I add this because it is unusual to actually have a President that understands a problem like that.

    I mentioned previously today that I saw a documentary on TMI the other night. The way they spun it, at the point in time that Carter arrived at TMI two very divided groups in the control room – one the NRC staff, the other the onsite TMI engineers – were locked in stalemate in a bitter debate over the size of the hydrogen bubble in teh reactor vessel, with speculation that the whole thing would blow up at any minute and kill everybody within who knows how close, but certainly the control room next to the reactor building.

    And then a whirring of chopper blades and in walks “Jimmie”, who supposedly listened to the arguments and broke the stalemate, coming down on the side of the onsite engineers.

    I am not suggesting that account is true but as best I can articulate without a transcript that was the story spun by the documentary, which was called something like “TMI – 3 Minutes To Meltdown”.

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  79. @DV82XL

    I’m not picking on your many valid points. As a person agnostic to nuclear power, hell I grew up 10 miles from the Shippingport reactor (one of the first in the world). I find the TEPCO situation to be a useful study of what can go wrong with nuclear reactors, especially Gen 1 reactors with large stockpiles of fuel rod pools. I’m also turned off by the propaganda and general lack of information updates by their officials. I hope neither could ever happen here. As we hope for the best outcome at the least human cost, we must take a hard look at how badly wrong this situation is and what measures had to be done to contain and bring it back under control. For me it is horrific, I can’t come up with a better word.[deleted deliberate distortion of facts]I really think those who are pro nuclear, especially those who work in the industry, are making a serious mistake to downplay the horror and gravity of the situation. You all must find a better way to move forward that begins with acknowledging the fear this has caused citizens who are actually the nuclear power industry’s customers. My greatest fear is the misinformation on all sides. If I sense the industry trying to mislead or “con” the public, my natural reaction will be to shift from agnostic to against nuclear power. That is what is at stake.

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  80. @Brian — Not sure that NASA’s post-Challenger example is all that great. Many of the same behaviors — e.g., engineers keeping quiet about known issues w/ the insulation — persisted and contributed to Columbia’s demise.

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  81. @NR99

    “with over 55% of our electricity generated by fossil fuels, verses slightly under 10% generated by nuclear”

    In the US nuclear is 10% of our generating capacity but it generates 20% of our power.

    In the US we have 1,000GW of generating capacity with an average consumption of 469GWh.

    If the peak load is 1,000GW and the average is 469GW then the base-load is somewhere south of 400GW.

    200GW of US coal fired generating capacity was built between 1970 and 1989. Compared to 20GW between 1990 and 2009.

    For a nuclear plant to be profitable/economic it needs to sell 90% of the power it produces on day one of operation.

    At the moment, nuclear plants only come in one size, huge. If I build a nuclear plant in Texas which has a fairly high growth rate it’ll be at least 10 years before consumption increases to the point where my plant will be economical.

    Large areas of the US aren’t experiencing any growth at all in consumption.

    So the only way to build an economic nuclear plant is to either make smaller plants, wait for something else to reach retirement age or impose costs on fossil fuel plants or possibly a ‘clean energy standard’ greater then 20%.

    The problem with a 20% standard is the cheapest way to get to 20% is windmills. But the intermittent nature of windmills makes is more expensive to get beyond 20%. This is the problem in Britain now. They’ve built all these windmills and now the nuclear developers don’t want to invest because they have to share a portion of the ‘base-load’ market with windmills.

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  82. Nuclear accident ‘beyond belief’

    (UKPA) – 31 minutes ago

    Japan’s nuclear experts have admitted that the Fukushima reactor disaster was worse than anything they ever imagined was possible.

    “We have experienced a very huge disaster that has caused very large damage at a nuclear power generation plant on a scale that we had not expected,” said Hidehiko Nishiyama, deputy head of the country’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.

    And another official with the agency admitted: “There is nothing else we can do but keep doing what we’ve been doing.”

    Engineers are struggling to restore electricity to the plant, but getting the power flowing will not be the end of their battle.

    With its mangled machinery and partly melted reactor cores, bringing the complex under control is a monstrous job.

    Restoring the power to all six units at the tsunami-damaged complex is key, because it will, in theory, power up the maze of motors, valves and switches that help deliver cooling water to the overheated reactor cores and spent fuel pools that are leaking radiation.

    Ideally, officials believe it should only take a day to get the complex under control once the cooling system is up and running. In reality, the effort to end the crisis is likely to take weeks.

    Conditions at the plant have remained volatile since the earthquake and tsunami wrecked it. Early on Monday, a plume of smoke rose from two reactor units prompting workers to evacuate.

    In another setback, the plant’s operator said it had just discovered that some of the cooling system’s key pumps at the complex’s troubled Unit 2 no longer worked – meaning replacements have to be brought in.

    Tokyo Electric Power Company said it had placed emergency orders for new pumps, but how long it would take for them to arrive was unclear.

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/ukpress/article/ALeqM5hOlvEd33eYBa3ca60ViZwXwzYePQ?docId=N0118621300695654226A

    Like

  83. @shelby 2:28 A.M.
    The USS George Washington got underway today in order to maintain active U.S. Navy military posture, since the Reagan is currently being used in the humanitarian mission of earthquake and tsunami relief. Ref: http://www.cpf.navy.mil/media/news/articles/2011/mar/mar21_C7F_Update.shtml

    As for the Reagan’s avoiding the radiation hazard – that’s something a combat ship is well-able to handle, since the crew is trained for it and the hardware is designed to cope with possible radiation exposure. Plus, the mobility of an aircraft carrier means the humanitarian mission can continue while avoiding the downwind contamination from Fukushima.
    Commander 7th Fleet has stated – to a CNN reporter, no less – “… we will make excursions in that area as necessary, recognizing that the plume that is of such concern is blowing out to sea the vast majority of the time. And the forces that I have operating on the ground, while they have monitoring equipment and they carry in many cases personal dosimetry, have not been detecting activity in the area in which we’ve been conducting the relief operations for the Japanese people that were displaced. ” Ref: http://www.c7f.navy.mil/news/2011/03-march/042.htm

    Note that in your comment the report was from CNN – and the reporter who questioned (and follow-up questioned Admiral Willard) were CNN.

    In short, I would hard-set to trust CNN’s information very far.

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  84. Efficiency. Conservation.

    These are yet another energy solution that is grossly overlooked in america. Why? Because it is not profitable like building more energy capacity.

    But in Italy for example, most of their homes are equipped with smart meters and smart appliances. These communicate with each other to reduce the parasitic power drain caused by idle appliances.

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  85. DV82XL,

    I’ll number paras for future ref:

    Paras 1 and 2 were preliminaries to the argument that discussion should focus on the evident gross regulatory failure in Japan.

    Your responses could have been followed by either rejection of the claim that there has been a gross regulatory failure or discussion of what to do about it (eg Terje’s proposal to list design basis in wikipedia and “disown” those that are inadequate).

    Your choice to instead avoid discussing regulatory failure at all is quite striking. Think about why you do that.

    3. There are clearly places where nuclear plants have been and still are economic, and in any case they are still needed as a hedge to provide the basis for expansion in case they become more competitive with coal in future. But anecdotal examples simply cannot change the fact that world wide overall LCOE for nuclear is generally recognized as being significantly above coal (but of course well below solar).

    For Australia the figures in Australian Electricity Generation Technology Costs – Reference Case 2010 WILL be taken as “authoritative” by the relevant decision makers.

    If any nuclear power company can refute them and show a lower LCOE for nuclear it would be very much in their interests to do so. Anecdotes in blog comments won’t cut it.

    4.

    The reasons for the evacuations are not clear, and given that the whole country was writhing in the aftermath of an unprecedented natural disaster, may well have been wholly precautionary, and thus unnecessary. Attempting to read too much into a decision made at a distance, by people dealing with many ongoing emergencies, is unsupportable.

    Your equation of “wholly precautionary” with “thus unnecessary” is the sort of thing that makes people very nervous of nuclear engineers.

    Ordering an evacuation of 200,000 people AFTER a dangerous radioactive release would be a nightmare. ANY sane authority would want to move people while still able to assure them that they were in no immediate danger ie that it was necessary for their safety, but purely precautionary. That’s how evacuation plans are designed and it’s the only sensible approach. You really ought to know and understand that and grasp the futility of arguing against it.

    5. It isn’t hard to do a better job than media sensationalizing suggestions of “another Chernobyl” etc. It would not have been hard to simply present the actual facts as stated by the authorities without adding in your sort of suggestion that the evacuation of 200,000 people might have been “unnecessary”. That approach has not and will not change anyone’s opinion in favour of nuclear power [deleted personal opinion presented as fact]
    6.

    Then you can also understand that the strategy of pushing for massive R&D now remains viable and is now the only viable path for keeping a nuclear option open. Dismissing that viable [strategy] as “magic wands” and a “broken record” won’t wash and reflects an approach that has completely discredited itself and been proved completely unviable in its response to these events.

    Which of course is the real reason for this diatribe. Too bad for you that this event was not the disaster you and others anticipated, your disappointment is palpable, albeit utterly amoral. This is not the end of nuclear power, and the more you try to spin it, the lower your credibility is going to sink. I am going to take a good deal of pleasure dismembering the argument that I know are coming from the antinuclear zealots in the coming months, because they will bury themselves with their own hyperbole.

    I am not an antinuclear zealot (more like an anti-greenie zealot). Neither the anti-nuclear zealots nor people arguing for massive R&D need an actual disaster to make their point.

    The fact that 200,000 people had to be evacuated is quite sufficient to establish that Japan’s nuclear regulation is grossly inadequate. Greenie zealots who try to prove more than that can eventually be defeated by simply demonstrating that that is all it proves. But it won’t be made any easier by pretending that the simple fact of grossly inadequate regulation is not glaringly obvious, let alone by imitations of those Monty Python knights shouting “it’s only a flesh wound”, “come back and fight”, “the evacuations were unnecessary” while hopping around armless and legless.

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  86. Nuclear accident ‘beyond belief’

    (UKPA) – 31 minutes ago

    Japan’s nuclear experts have admitted that the Fukushima reactor disaster was worse than anything they ever imagined was possible.

    C’mon. That just shows their lack of imagination. Frankly, on a coastline notorious for big tsunamis, the idea that they couldn’t imagine a monster tsunami is a bit pathetic. They need to think a lot harder in future.

    Like

  87. @harrywr2 – you are arguing the last war :-). Twenty years ago, your arguments made sense, and on top of the spiraling costs of plant construction and the uncertainty and added unquantifiable costs of public resistance nuclear just wasn’t worth the hassle.

    But the debate can no longer be considered in a vacuum.

    Aside from facing increasing problems relying on the Mid-East for our energy…

    As each day goes by we are told that we are destroying the biosphere with carbon, and the end will come sooner and sooner. Last I heard we are rendering Earth uninhabitable by anything, presumably even cockroaches.

    Our governments want to do a zillion trillion dollar wealth transfer to “fix this apocalyptic problem” .

    I already have my heat turned down to 60F in the winter- how much lower do I have to go to satisfy the greens? I work at home and hardly drive anywhere. And how much of a carbon tax must I pay?

    In the meantime nuclear is here, a known doable technology but it doesn’t quite make economic sense (and I say this in context of the trillion dollar AGW wealth transfer scheme).

    Without getting deeper into the gory details, all of which we all understand, I’ll put it this way:

    If I can forget about AGW and carbon, then fine, tear down the nukes, I’ll pay what I have to pay for oil (and coal) and be done with it.

    But I can’t simultaneously deal with imminent global apocalypse on the one hand and zero tolerance anti-nuclear arguments on the other hand. Because then nothing will ever be done except my pocket will be picked for no good purpose.

    I think the nuclear debate either needs to be framed within AGW – which means defining reasonable nuclear risk in the context of global carbon apocalypse – or we need worldwide agreement to forget about AGW.

    I am an AGW skeptic (to say the least) so it is particularly difficult to watch all these cross debates that are unsolvable.

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  88. @NR99

    I think the hybrid of energy problems will continue to be addressed by a hybrid of energy supplies, so you might as well get used to it. The crossfire debate of weighing pros and cons of multiple energy sources will continue until solar energy is finally harnessed. That is why whomever invests in solar today, will lead the world tomorrow.

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  89. RE: Comment Posted By DV82XL, on 21 March 2011 at 10:12 PM

    People may not voluntarily agree to do with less, but I think the time is rapidly approaching when involuntary reductions in human economic activity are going to occur. The current system of exponentially expanding claims against economic output cannot continue forever, not even with the aid of nuclear power. If you believe that it can then you are not part of the reality based community. The fact that the fantasy based community comprises the vast majority of the human race does not mean that reality will not prevail.

    I should point out that I am not opposed to nuclear power. However, I do not believe that a massive buildup of nuclear power will enable business as usual economic growth to continue for decades into the future. I think that peak oil alone will prevent this, and on top of this water shortages, and environmental degradation will also assert strong negative pressures on economic productivity.

    By the way, I do not believe that the developing world should be frozen into its current level of real income. If limits to growth are recognized the only reasonably just procedure is for the highly developed world to reduce its demand on resources in order that the underdeveloped world may rise to meet us on some reasonable common ground.

    I realize such a vision of the future sounds like (and may be) impossibly idealistic. But I do not promote it because I am a left wing idealogue. I promote it because I cannot see any other path than intelligent cooperation which leads to a reasonable chance of a soft landing in the face of the current crises faced by humanity. I have tried hard to convince myself that such intelligent cooperation can take place in the context of a system of private finance and the competitive accumulation of consumption rights, but I have failed utterly to so. If life is not worth living if we cannot look forward to increasing the size of our pile of toys, then get ready to become a vampire or to perish.

    Roger Brown

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  90. jez9999 wrote:

    “… the idea that they couldn’t imagine a monster tsunami is a bit pathetic.”

    Bravo.

    Or that … they couldn’t have put their backup generators up higher than ground level.

    Or that … they couldn’t have arranged to have their backup backup generators to have the same kind of electrical plugs to actually perform their backup backup function….

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  91. @Shelby

    Therefore saying that solar power will never happen as DV82XL says is unwise to say the least. It is my belief that it will happen eventually. “When” it happens is another story. Possibly we will have to take advantage of nuclear energy in the meantime.

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  92. The problem with conservation is it allows the existing set of generators to continue indefinitely. This doesn’t solve the climate change problem. It does allow us to get by for a while. But the fossil fuel resources are depleted all the while. Our ideas are split between two faith based ideas. One it that nuclear can be made safe and is necessary. The other is that wind – solar- storage can be made to work economically. Which is most likely to succeed and when? I think I can show that the economics of wind – solar – storage are going to be too expensive even with breakthroughs.

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  93. zx81

    No telling how long it will take. My guess is viable solar power in 10 years. That is not all that long…. even if it is 20 years…. we still have plenty of crutch to get us there with our current technologies. But I really don’t believe that the current generation of nuclear power will see an increase in the United States. We just have too much coal reserves and the cost / waste issue with nuclear remains unsolved with current technology. I see the 30 or so gen 1 reactors being dismantled, and the remaining gen 2 reactors being updated with safer more efficient technology.

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  94. “More coal from the Appalachian mountains in the eastern U.S. will be routed to European power plants to replace an electricity shortfall in Germany, which this week issued a three-month ban on operations at seven old nuclear reactors.” U.S. Coal Miners Set to Profit as Fears Rise Over Nuclear Power

    Mountaintop removal in the Appalachians has to be one of the most egregious and costly destructions perpetrated on the environment by humans. This sort of thing will be the direct result of stopping new nuclear plants from being built.

    Successful exploitation of the fear of radiation will result in more short-term and long-term harm to humans. Attempting to downplay those fears leads to mistrust. Fears and risks must be acknowledged and countered with education. It takes time to shift mindsets.

    Generation IV designs can readily consume nuclear waste, so we shouldn’t hesitate to build new Gen III reactors. By all means, nuclear waste should not be shut inside mountains. There is plenty of fission left in them.

    Gen IV reactors have simple passive safety features such that loss of external power — which was the basic reason for the Fukushima Daiichi accident (not earthquake, not tsunami) — is not a problem.

    Clean coal has yet to be proven. Wind and solar are fine, but can only supply a small fraction of growing energy demand. The onus is on anti-nuke advocates to prove otherwise. I’m not thrilled about hydro because of the habitat destruction involved. Let the rivers and salmon run free. Growing demand, especially in the developing world, where billions of people currently have no access to electricity. Conservation in the developed world might reduce demand by a few percent.

    It’s good that we are focused on energy issues, because climate disruption is a threat to civilization itself.

    Faced with all of these issues, there doesn’t seem to be much choice. The path is clear.

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  95. @seamus

    All valid points…….

    Clean(er) coal, mined with respect to the natural habitat.

    Stop exporting coal, we need i more than they do.

    Nuclear power, retire all 30 year old plants, update the others. Make a solution for dry storage of spent fuel rods.

    Invest heavily in Solar energy and other green technology.

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  96. @Shelby – The apparent horror you feel over this incident is a direct function of your ignorance, and let me add quickly I use the term ‘ ignorance’ in its clinical sense of not knowing.

    This is at the root of the problem both on these pages and in the wider debate: those that understand, and are familiar with the details, that is the science and the engineering, understand that both the magnitude and potential impact of this event was not anywhere near the level that would warrant the levels of fear and dread among those that don’t have the background had.

    Now, I understand that I am just a few paragraphs of words that occasionally show up in front of you on a computer screen, and you have no way of verifying from what I write alone the veracity of what I am asserting, but some will take the time and make the effort to gain, on their own, a better understanding of nuclear energy and its real, as opposed to imagined risks.

    I have been at this for a very long time, first as a voice in the wilderness, then as part of a small francophone pronuclear group in Quebec, and for the past dozen years or so on the net. What I have found is that if you can get people to look into this topic themselves (even if it is only an attempt to refute what I am telling them) chances are they will come around and support nuclear energy. This is why I will continue to argue the nuclear side, and why continue to assert you are dead wrong in your evaluation of this event.

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  97. In assessments of Nuclear Power Plant Safety, such as the one documented here: http://pbadupws.nrc.gov/docs/ML0428/ML042860100.pdf
    Loss of Offsite Power (LOSP) scenarios are a significant contributor to the overall risk for incidents which result in core damage. For the report cited, the probability of such an event is very small, about one per million reactor years of operation. This small probability is a result that such a scenario includes not only loss of power from the grid, but also the failure of all (or nearly all) of the backup diesel generators. In normal circumstances the failure mode of the diesel generators could reasonably be assumed to be independent. However for the incident in Japan a common mode of failure resulted in the loss of the loss of all backup generators for an entire site, with multiple reactors operating. This might suggest that the assessments have been overly optimistic in estimating the likelihood of such an event, and may need to be updated based on type of scenario we just experienced.

    This would also seem to validate the intense effort toward developing a generation of reactors that do not depend on the presence of AC power to achieve a safe shutdown from the initiating transient. Unfortunately, one could infer from this that while the new generation of plants are likely to meet our safety requirements even under these more pessimistic scenarios, the previous generations may require substantial improvements in the reliability of AC power to meet the same standard.

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  98. @Barry

    Interesting FAZ interview, Barry. As a German I have to say that Germany is probably a ‘lost cause’ for the time being. You see, in the post-Cold War era, in our globalized world, nations seek to distinguish themselves from each other. Those Americans who rile against weapon control do so because they think they are right and everybody else wrong – as part of their national identity. Similar here in Germany with being against nuclear power.
    Fukushima might have made anti-nuclear sentiment a lasting part of German identity for some time to come.
    The idealism behind our green energy approach isn’t unlikeable but whether it’s realistic… well, the proof is in the pudding. The world will see different nations try to different approaches and I am not totally unhappy about that. Noone can claim their predictions are accurate, it all has to stand the test of time.

    The reason why I, as a German, am not prone to my countrymen’s angst (not that I am a nuclear fan) is that we have been running multiple NPPs for decades without a serious accident and I think we should be able to do so with improved engineering for the next 40 to 50 years too.

    Lastly, I would like to ask you for a ‘lessons learned’ topic. here I am an amateur but even I could think of improved designs in the light of Fukushima (venting of gases inside the reactor building, greater distance between units, better safety measures for spent fuel). I’d like to see what the pros have to say.

    cheers,
    Alex

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  99. DV82XL

    We have thousands of tons of nuclear waste just sitting around n fuel ponds. That is my main objection to nuclear power. I don’t want even more nuclear waste from new nuclear plants. That is purely insane. This industry has not been logically developed from the beginning. It has no credit whatsoever.

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  100. @Shelby – I made it clear that I was not calling you names, but clearly you have no real background in this topic, and thus you are devaluing your own opinions.

    However it is also apparent that you are only looking for a soapbox to air your opinions, and are not interested in a real discussion, or extending your understanding of this subject, so I will ignore you from this moment on,

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  101. DV82XL

    Since you and I both want to get rid of the waste, lets do it. The best way is to burn it up. Isnt that how we normally get rid of a pile of trash, just burn it up? The nuclear equivalent is to burn up the nuclear products in an IFR type reactor and extract the energy in the process. The US is probably the wealthest country if it burns up its nuclear spent fuel and probably will be one of the poorest in the distant future if its doesn’t.

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  102. Here’s an interesting paradox……..

    Hundreds of employees from the Tokyo Electric Power Company, which owns the disabled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, worked through the weekend to connect a mile-long high-voltage transmission line to the No. 2 unit in hopes of restarting a cooling system that would help bring down the temperature in the reactor and spent fuel pool.

    After connecting the transmission line on Sunday engineers found on Monday that they still did not have enough power to fully run the systems that control the temperature and pressure in the building that houses the reactor, officials from the Japanese nuclear safety agency said. (it’s also been reported that some valves, pumps, and other mechanical devices were damaged and would need to be replaced, ordered from sources yet unknown)

    Engineers were also trying to repair the ventilation system in the control room that is used to monitor conditions in the No. 1 and No. 2 units. When that work is completed, possibly on Monday, it will allow the power company, also known as Tepco, to begin cleansing the air in the control room so workers can eventually re-enter and begin using equipment inside to monitor conditions in the two reactor units.

    And here’s the propaganda………….

    An official at the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission said on Monday that those reactors were too damaged for cooling systems to restart immediately, even when electricity is restored. But the official, William Borchardt, also said that the situation at the plant appeared to be “on the verge of stabilizing.”

    Huh????

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  103. Shelby, how much would you be willing to invest in solar power today. If you annual consumtion were 12,000 kWh you would need to spend about $60,000 on solar panels or if you could buy centralized solar you would need to spend about $22,000. Are you able to spend that kind of money on either of those two? And you should not expect subsidizations because those costs are just passed on to other people. If everyone participated all the subsidies would just cancel out. and we would be paying the full price for solar anyway. I would be willing to spend about $8000 today for solar out of my pocket cash, but certainly not the $22,000 and especially not the $60,000 rooftop sustem. That would be just a huge waste of my money.

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  104. Hi Gene

    Leasing, it’s a beautiful thing.

    I can’t afford to own my 40k car either, can you?

    Power companies lease the panels to customers, the government backs the financing, the more panels that get built, the cheaper they become to produce. And that is totally ignoring the fact that investment in newer technology will make solar cheaper the way it works for any other product.

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  105. I was surprised watching ABC Four Corners that two or three interviewees said that Fukushima workers had received fatal radiation doses. At one point firemen were likened to kamikaze. I hope the issue of permanent harm is resolved before long.

    The program pointed out that NPP were likely to be rebuilt due to lack of other energy resources. My guess that would be Gen 3 technology at less vulnerable sites. If so other countries will take note.

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  106. I have a $32,000 Prius that I paid cash for and own it. The leasing deals are more expensive than ownership because their life is short and then you have to do it all again. Its like renting. You get a place to live but the owner of the apartment makes all the money while you stay locked in a lower state of ownership. If a power company were to lease a solar farm, and then try to sell the power on the market, it would not be competitive and sales would be very low. However if the power company encouraged individuals to buy and own their own piece of the plant, then the market bidding price of energy could be made less than gas and it would always win in the bidding contest. Ownership gives us a lot of advantages that renting does not.

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  107. “I was surprised watching ABC Four Corners that two or three interviewees said that Fukushima workers had received fatal radiation doses.”

    (What follows is not a rant at you personally, but at the people making these dodgy claims.)

    These people have radiological monitors throughout the plant. They have dosimeters. They understand health physics and radiation protection. They are employees of a nuclear power plant, for goodness’ sake. They understand how to monitor and to work safely in environments where radioactive materials and ionising radiation are present at elevated levels.

    They’re not going to knowingly let themselves and their colleagues be exposed to any genuinely harmful dose, let alone a lethal dose.

    You can imagine a nice Hollywood fiction scenario where a couple of valiant heroes would sacrifice themselves to lethal dose in order to save the lives of thousands of others – but such a situation has never actually physically existed at Fukushima.

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  108. Thanks Johno and Robert – Yes that is consistent with my understanding.

    I’ve been a little taken aback by the determination by all media uniformly to fixate on things getting worse.

    No matter what actually occurred in the day, no matter that radiation levels didn’t change materially, it was always reported as “the situation worsens”.

    It was like a cheerleading squad for nuclear cataclysm.

    And the utter nonsense graphics that were being produced by *international* news agencies that, frankly, ought to have access to the expertise to present facts realistically. One example was either Reuters or the NY Times (I can’t remember) showing that radiation levels in a radius of about 10 km from the reactor were sufficient to kill anybody outright. It was ostensibly some sort of US Govt modelling. The article didn’t make clear what the scenario being modelled was – it seemed to be something of the magnitude of massive containment breach, not something which actually had any prospect of happening. Appallingly irresponsible alarmist nonsense, and I wrote to them with words to that effect.

    So thank heavens for BNC, which I have relied on for a rational and comprehensive assessment of a rapidly developing situation, presented with the appropriate gravity.

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  109. Hi Gene

    alas, we arrive at our different world views :-)

    I believe that the old “ownership” society model is dying. The planet simply doesn’t have the resources to supply endless “growth” for the consumer economic model.

    The 21st century will be about cooperations.

    Leasing personal panels or larger panels for a cluster of homes makes perfect sense. Solar panels are not like cars that wear out. Next design panels may even be lifetime products. There would be no hazard for depreciation. If a customer no longer wants to lease the panels, they just get moved to a new customer that does.

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  110. Shelby, every piece of land and car and house and whatever is in this world is owned by someone. If you want to turn your ownership over to others, such as multinational corporations, then I feel sorry for you, because they will surely take your money until your are left with nothing.

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  111. @Gene Preston – the only thing I have against GenIV is that I do not believe that any current design is ready for commercial deployment, and in the face of AGW we cannot afford to wait until they are. God knows there will be a market for them when they are read regardless of how many GenIII power stations are built in the interim. What I don’t want to see is a ‘let’s wait for GenIV’ meme develop because we will have to wait too long, and this will play into the hands of fossil fuel.

    Spent fuel is no real hazard anyway once it has cooled and placed in dry cask storage, nor is there all that much of it when compared to ash dumps from coal fired generation. The whole waste issue has been made up from the start and simply falls away under any rational scrutiny. That waste that is truly a concern is overwhelmingly the product of nuclear weapons production, spent fuel is just not in the same class, and existing methods of sequestering it are more than adequate.

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  112. re post by Joshua, on 21 March 2011 at 10:28 PM

    Hi Joshua,

    You and I are thinking along the same lines. I just posted over on the ‘why I stayed’ thread a few minutes ago, then came here and found your post on the earthquake scale issue. I’ve copied my post from the other thread below. If you haven’t seen it, you’ve GOT to watch the video I linked to of Gallopin Gertie. Its a real doozy and I believe in engineering circles its one of those very well known “don’t do this” lessons learned type of thing. It’s not even earthquake, its just good ol’ wind and wave harmonics!

    Rational Debate, on 22 March 2011 at 7:01 AM said:

    re post by: whalelawyer, on 21 March 2011 at 9:56 PM said:

    but I will note that the 1933 quake was listed as 8.9 by Richter himself. With what accuracy could UGS rerate the event many years later ? There would be a substantial margin of error.

    Actually, Whalelawyer, I think you answered your own postulate right there. As best I understand it, the Richter scale is designed to measure moderate sized earthquakes, and falls apart above about a 7.0. It also is only accurate if the seismograph(s) measuring the quake are within about 370 mi of the epicenter. The further back you go in time, the less likely that was to be the case.

    The “Moment Magnitude,” on the other hand, was designed to be able to measure not only medium sized but also large earthquakes and does so far more accurately than Richter for large quakes. It falls apart for quakes smaller than something like 3.5 tho. So the Moment Magnitude is what we hear all the time today for medium to large quakes, and they’ll use other scales for small ones.

    As to converting older large quakes from Richter to MM, in most cases they ought to be able to do that quite accurately. The USGS (or whoever is converting one) just needs the measurement data from the original quake and that shouldn’t be at all hard to come by for any largish quake I wouldn’t think. In that way, they can almost certainly wind up with far more accurate representations of the size of quakes that were originally reported on the Richter scale but were bigger than a 7 (where Richter is no longer accurate).

    You are absolutely right that MM or Richter scale levels may not begin to tell the story at specific ground locations! Problem is that unless each site has the ability to measure the horizontal & vertical ground displacement, we’ve got no way to compare other than to use the general size of the quake and distance from epicenter as a rough estimate. We can’t even use damage to tell us which quake was worse, because building codes, materials, age of buildings, etc., all make a massive difference too. Which leaves us to have to fall back on the MM for comparisons. We’ll probably get g for Fukushima and the other Japanese nuclear plants, but was anyone measuring g in Christchurch?

    I’ve GOT to say that seeing video of the Toyko skyscrapers, and from high up within one during the earthquake were mindblowing. I’ve been in tall skyscrapers swaying a little with the wind and that’s disconcerting enough, I can’t imagine being in the Toyko skyscrapers during a large quake that way. Also seeing them made me worry/wonder if a destructive harmonic isn’t possible. I think they must have considered that, but I wonder… talk about mindblowing engineering gone wrong: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-zczJXSxnw (Tacoma Narrows Bridge – e.g., Gallopin’ Gertie)

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  113. Gene,

    I meant individual / citizen co-ops, and elected co-ops between them and corporations and our government. I’m actually very anti global corporate capitalism. It is doing great harm to local economies and communities. There is little we need to get from the outside world, and what little we do need, we must of course trade fairly for. A global economy is nothing more than giving multinational corporations the power to rule the world, as they see fit.

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  114. Jek R.

    Attenuation of gamma rays from short-lived fission products has been measured rather carefully for the purpose of designing fallout shelters.

    Spent nuclear fuel is of a slightly different character than fallout from a weapon(short-lived isotopes decay continously as a reactor operates, asymptotically approaching some maximum value within a few half-lives; where as longer lived isotopes build up); but it should do as a first approximation.

    You need 18 centimeters of water to block half of gamma rays from spent fuel; this is the “halving thickness”. If you have 20 halving thicknesses of water(3.6 meters) this will reduce the number of gamma rays reaching an observer above the pool by a factor of 2^20, approximately 1 million.

    Another way to measure the ability of a material to attenuate gamma rays is halving mass; the mass per unit area(usually grams per cm^2) required to absorb half of the gamma radiation.

    Some halving thicknesses and halving masses that might be of interest:

    air: 150 meters, 18 g/cm^2
    packed soil: 9 cm, 18 g/cm^2
    concrete: 6 cm, 20 g/cm^2
    steel: 2.5 cm, 20 g/cm^2
    lead: 1.0 cm, 12 g/cm^2
    depleted uranium: 0.2 cm, 3.9 g/cm^2

    That last one tells you that a lot of gamma rays from an unshielded spent fuel element get absorbed by the spent fuel itself.

    An unshielded spent BWR element that was discharged a year ago, consisting of some 90-ish fuel rods, with each rod having 3.6 meters of active length, will have a dose rate at 1 meter distance from its midpoint of ~100 SV/hr. That’s not instantly lethal; you’d have to stay around at 1 meter distance from it for approximately 20 seconds to get mild radiation poisoning(low white cell count, possible nausea or head aches) and about 3 minutes to have less than 50% chance of survival(4.5 Sv, whole-body dose).

    This is why it was at all possible for so many clean up workers to get up on the roof of the blown up Chernobyl unit 4, grab a few shovelfulls of radioactive debris(including bits of fuel rods, radioactive graphite blocks) and toss it down. The radiation level on the roof of chernobyl unit 4 during the time “bio-robots”(conscripts) were sent up there for ~45 seconds at a time has been estimated at 10000-12000 roentgens per hour, which for gamma rays is 100-120 Sv/hr.

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  115. Shelby those coops still don’t allow you individual ownership and choice. A fellow at our local Pedernales COOP said he had ownership in his coop. Actualyy he doesn’t. All his COOP can do is strike a cheaper deal. He still cannot sell his interest in the COOP because as an individual he owns none of it. His COOP has elected as a group to stay invested in coal power and gas plants and some wind but there is no solar power and no other kinds of power. As an individual you have no ability to invest in another source such as off site solar unless the coop decides to invest. But you as an individual do not have that choice. Suppose you wanted to buy some geothermal power but your coop did not want it? See what I mean. You are helpless because the larger coorporation controls you. You are at their mercy. How would you feel if the larger company you belong to begins making mistakes? How would you feel? You would want to bolt from their ranks. Thats how I feel about Austin Energy. They have invested in a 100 MW wood burning plant in East Texas that several people at the Texas PUC have testified that the plant will destroy the forest industry in Texas. Not only that they are paying way too much for it. The plant only costs 500 million but the “lease” of for 2.3 billion dollars. Wow what a bad deal is that! Get me outta here.

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  116. Lot’s of comments by nuclear detractors, and though I am an armchair advocate of nuclear power, much of their criticism rings true. The safeguards on this plant were not adequately designed. Period.

    It does not help the pro-nuclear position to quibble about this. What needs to be stressed is that this is a 50 year old design which would not be built today, and using it to gauge the safety of Generation III designs is like projecting the safety performance of an MD-80 based on the DC-10 record.

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  117. @Soylent

    I would like to know the source of your data regarding the shielding effects of various materials. I do not believe that uranium is as effective as your data suggests. Do you know what energy was assumed for the gamma rays that the data was based on?

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  118. Gene

    Something else I want to explain about leasing is that it’s based on a lease end value, or the value of the product at the end of the lease. Your payment is only based on the difference or the amount of the depreciation. In the case of an automobile, the depreciation is considerable, as much as 50% in the first 2-3 years. Thus your payment on a 2 year lease is based on 50% of the purchase price. With solar panels this could be much different.

    For sake of example let’s assume a solar panel which is not a wear item like an automobile, retains a projected 50% of it’s 40k value over the course of 20 years. That means your 20 year lease payment would be about $84/month plus whatever interest is charged (profit for the power company). Any excess power you generate would go back into the grid and come off your lease payment.

    I’m not presenting that model as “realistic” it’s just an example.

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  119. I think the excavation protocols for nuclear incidents need to be considered in much greater detail and separated out for different people. In particular the reports of elderly evacuees suffering more than they would have done had they stayed at home and things had gone worse than they have at the NPP should be taken on board for future discussion.

    The strategy of sheltering in place is fine for most purposes. Houses 10km downwind of a full-on spent fuel pool fire in Fukushima-style broken buildings might still not be getting dose levels indoors that it would automatically be a good idea to move someone to a location with fewer faciltiies. This is a tough discussion comparing unpleasant alternatives that should be held – if there is a venue where the more irrational aspects can be controlled.

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  120. I’ve seen a number of posts saying or implying that these plants should have been designed to withstand an earthquake larger than 9.0 and the largest possible imaginable tsunami from that.

    They go on to say that the fact they were not is anywhere from ‘poorly thought out’ to somehow an utterly reprehensible unforgivable failure of reason, logic, and engineering design.

    That ALL nuclear plants ought to immediately be designed or retrofitted to those standards, and otherwise shut down.

    Folks, these plants were designed iirc, to withstand an 8.4 earthquake (I’ve seen folks post much lower numbers, and while my memory might be off slightly, it is in the range of 8.4), and a 5 meter (16.4 ft.) tsunami. The wall of water that came at them was apparently 10 meters (32.8 ft).

    NO ONE expected this. Pretty much EVERYONE thought something to this degree to be very unlikely.

    Consider, please, that these plants were designed and built about 40 years ago.

    Then consider that there are roughly 1.5 MILLION earthquakes around the world EVERY YEAR. This earthquake, and it’s tsunami, was literally the 4th or 5th largest ever recorded. So that’s a handful of earthquakes this size out of more than 150 MILLION earthquakes (if we’re counting since about 1900).

    Is it really reasonable to use hindsight (20/20) to utterly castigate the designers and engineers of these plants that have operated safely providing large amounts of energy for 40 years?

    If all plants must now be designed to withstand a quake larger than this, where do you draw the line? a 9.5 quake? A 10.0? A 20? In areas around there world there are what are called Super Volcanoes. The Yellowstone Nat’l Park in the US is the caldera of one. If it blew as it has in the past, probably more than half of the USA would be wiped out and it would have world wide ramifications from the ash and dust and vapors spewed into the air. Should all nuclear power plants be designed to withstand being built right next to those?

    How do these risks REALLY compare to getting on an airplane? Stepping into your car every day? Walking or biking across a street?

    The Earthquake and especially Tsunami have ALREADY killed at least 8,500 people, with far more than 10,000 still missing. The nuclear plants have killed NO ONE (well, what the heck is the deal with the two guys thought to be in the unit 4 turbine building that are still being shown as missing?? Bet they weren’t in the building, and may have gotten washed away, but ??), and most likely won’t. Chances are that there won’t even be any measurable health effects, with perhaps a few exceptions depending on what worker doses wind up being, but even then health effects likely to be very small if any.

    So – why aren’t people screaming about how coastal towns MUST be designed to withstand a 9.0+ quake and 10+ meter tsunami’s?? About how everyone and especially designers, builders, and engineers involved in building those cities were short sighted at best but probably incompetent, failing to design such that in this situation people wouldn’t have been washed away, entire towns wiped off the map, power wouldn’t be lost, and so on?

    THINK about it folks. It’s pretty darned clear where the biggest risk and harm has been here.

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  121. Gene Preston, on 22 March 2011 at 7:39 AM said:

    Shelby, how much solar (in dollars) would you be willing to lease today? This was the original queston.

    —-

    I think the real answer to your question is different people will be willing to invest different amounts. Some wealthy eco minded people (that pay extra for hybrid cars and green homes for example) might pay a lot to own theirs outright. Others might lease them. Middle class people might lease a large panel for their block. I myself would spend as much as $300 a month for one. Maybe more if I saw a real effort by the government and power companies to push solar energy. See, that is the problem. They must lead the way. It can’t happen unless they make the commitment to promote solar power. Then, it will all fall into place.

    Who could have imagined that one day there might be billions of cars costing more than the average person makes in a year?

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  122. V. interesting thread. Thank you Barry, et al, for your moderation of the dialog. I have been following your threads throughout the crisis. Thank you.

    I agree with much of both the pro- and anti-crowd say about nuclear safety, the danger of waste, etc. A few thoughts:
    1. WIND: For the pro-wind group, please consider that many (most?) of the better wind sites are already in use, (i.e. ever diminishing returns)
    2. GRID: there is a huge public relations battle to face in extending the grid far and wide across the scenery for distributed wind power. Nobody wants a transmission line nearby. NIMBY = massive delays in wind build-out = higher costs. We need solutions now. That means making the best possible use of the existing grid.
    2. Safety: I suggest the new Gen IV (LFTR, MSR, IFR, …) nukes are at least as much of a safety advancement over the ’60’s BWR as a modern car over an old VW Beetle, 2CV or Corvair. Most people would be (rightly) terrified to drive the old car in modern traffic. So shut down the old nukes and replace with Gen IV.
    3. Spent fuel: this is dangerous stuff. Don’t bury it. Don’t transport it. Burn it. On site. Gen IV.

    A modest proposal: Install new, modular Gen IV on the old reactor sites. Burn the spent fuel in situ. Tap into the existing grid. Regulatory approval is going to be much easier for new safer nukes to replace existing older units. The local neighbourhood / workforce is already comfortable with nukes, and they see new, good jobs for the long term. No new transmission lines. No new site approvals. No transport of spent fuel. Modular Gen IV units can be installed quickly and incrementally scaled up. Build up capacity phasing in new power as we tear down the old.

    Another modest proposal: Much as above, but installing new, modular Gen IV at existing coal plants. A good public relations effort is needed to point out the massive problems with coal (including radioactive waste from coal). Non-trivial effort, but the truth will out: nukes are much safer than coal.
    Good jobs for the locals. Existing grid and transmission lines. Perhaps the new should be thorium to minimize spent fuel transfer from old nuke plants? The biggest problem will likely be that most coal plants are too radioactive to ever get a permit to install nukes :-) .

    “All” that’s needed is the investment to get modular nukes into production. Not mass production like cars, but a production line like those at Boeing, Airbus, Bombardier, Embraer. One unit a week on each of several production lines will go a long way.
    I’d suggest that a healthy, open* competition between IFR, MSR, LFTR, etc. would lead to several differing fit-for-purpose solutions, a win-win-win for economic growth (including developing nations), the public (everybody, not just the well-off), the environment and for posterity. Also ever-dropping costs (LCOE) thru’ manufacturing efficiencies without compromising safety.
    * open means open – all the information published all the time, including the political proceedings, design, test, production records, operations, maintenance. Everything.
    Just a thought….

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  123. After 10 years of the Greens being in a German coalition government, the debate on nuclear on Germany is clearly ridiculous

    Incorrect. The Greens are not in government, The current government is made up of a generally pro-nuclear coalition of centre-right parties.

    Barry’s interview with the FAZ is honourable, but it’s a lost cause. The Fukushima accident is the final nail in the coffin for nuclear power in Germany. The older plants will be taken off-line more or less immediately, the younger (post 1980) ones might run for another 10 or 15 years.

    As for new builds, forget about it. Politically impossible. Maybe not strictly forever, but for a long, long time. Maybe, just maybe, if there are demonstrably successful, demonstrably safe Gen IV designs, some time after 2050.

    Pro-nuclear forces have totally lost the public in a major economy. It could happen elsewhere. I suggest those on the pro-side take that to heart.

    [ad hom deleted]
    I wish you well, the pro-argument deserves to be made. But I can only say: Change your attitude, or be happy with achieving precisely nothing,

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  124. Rational Debate, IMO you provide very good arguments for the anti-nuke crowd.

    Either the risks are manageable or they are not, and in the case that they aren’t, then nuclear power cannot be the answer.

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  125. NR99, on 21 March 2011 at 11:16 PM said:

    According to information posted in the Sunday thread, Germany has apparently shuttered 7 nuclear plants and will buy Appalachian coal from the USA to replace the lost power. We in the USA need all the exports we can get and appreciate the money and jobs.

    I think the WSJ is engaging in wishful thinking. Germany currently gets most of its coal from Poland, Russian & South Africa, it would only start buying Appalachian coal if there was a price advantage.

    Any new Germany base load power plants will almost certainly use gas. It will get the gas direct from Russia via the Nord Stream pipeline currently under construction. A few weeks ago Nord Stream raised the 2.5 billion euros ($3.5 billion) fit needs to complete construction.

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  126. NR99, on 22 March 2011 at 3:57 AM said:

    @Chris Warren…

    Here is a google search that will return the Mext radiation charts that you were after…

    Readings at Monitoring Post out of 20 Km Zone of Fukushima site:http://www.mext.go.jp

    Not so.

    I have been there. The English version says:

    ==============================

    UPDATES

    Mar.2011
    Reading of environmental radioactivity level by prefecture, Time series data(Graph)(English version)

    ==============================

    But when you click, on the entry for Fukushima, you do not get a time series.

    I have not been able to find the previous sets of daily sheets either.

    So the label is there – but not the time series graph itself.

    So I am getting frustrated. I am walking down a Kafkaesque corridor where they say; “its through the next door”, so I open the door only to be hit with what I already saw. So then I hear another voice – its here, so I walk on further and open the next door, but that’s not it. “Yes it is” they say, as we all look at a brick wall. I suppose there is another door somewhere?

    Maybe someone who has skills in Japanese could just post the data here, radiation readings, Fukushima, 20km zone, March 11 – 20. or maybe the link to the various Ministry Media Updates that originally published this data.

    Please help Kafka escape his corridor ??????????

    Like

  127. Gene Preston, on 22 March 2011 at 3:17 AM said:

    What about the items you have listed Chris? Those are just ideas Chris, without even a demo plant.

    FALSE

    see: Demo Plant

    Also more information at:

    Osmosis Power

    Similarly, your comment that:

    There have also been new concepts such as salt water capacitor. No such animal exists.

    is FALSE as it appears to exist as a research program. See;

    D Brogioli; Extracting Renewable Energy from a Salinity Difference Using a Capacitor in
    “Physical review letters”, Vol 103, 2009

    And: More info

    I hope the links work, as this site does not have a preview.

    Clearly baseload renewables can be developed, and with new storage capacity, can replace fossil fuel and unacceptable nuclear power.

    We just need the political will and public consensus.

    Easy, peasey.

    Like

  128. You are not thinking straight – noone has suggested that a battery would substitute for a 1 GW power plant.

    whether you have smaller units distributed amongst customers or larger units in a centralised location, you will need a certain amount of capacity. Indeed no one is suggesting that batteries can replace power stations, but renewables advocates do require them as an additional adjunct to move their favoured designs closer to feasibility.

    A 10MWh battery would only apply to buildings that need 10 hours of power or 20 hours of power at a MW per hour. A factory could run 3 or 4 of these units, and absorb, non-baseload renewable energy.

    This scenario is somewhat glib. What are the losses involved in storing and releasing the power thus collected? What is the cost of the batteries? What is their effective life span? What is the cost of the ‘non-baseload renewable energy’ being used (and how much is that cost increased by using such batteries)?

    A centralised 1 GW plant has more losses through transmission lines to distant and decentralised customers.

    Transmission losses only become significant for distances of a hundred kilometres or more, and are one of the major cost factors associated with renewable energy projects, as their optimal location is usually in a remote location, hundreds of kilometres from population centres. Expensive HVDC lines are often proposed as a solution to make renewable projects more viable. In short, it is the renewable energy infrastructure which relies on very large centralised industrial infrastructure in wilderness areas, entailing new and expensive transmission. Nuclear power can be located close to the customers, minimising transmission losses and using already established grid connections.

    I put it to you that batteries will lose far more power through inefficiency than nuclear through transmission loss.

    Like

  129. Aside to Barry, I notice the ‘comment search’ function described in your ‘Notes’ isn’t retrieving recent items and wonder if it needs a manual restart. I was wondering if that could be used to search/list the images, PDFs, PPTs and other files linked to these topics, but didn’t find a way.

    Like

  130. @Phil Daniels, on 22 March 2011 at 8:13 AM said:

    I think the WSJ is engaging in wishful thinking. Germany currently gets most of its coal from Poland, Russian & South Africa, it would only start buying Appalachian coal if there was a price advantage.

    5900kcal/kg South African steam coal, FOB Richards Bay is currently selling at $117/tonne.

    Poland’s coal exports have been declining for years and was down to 14 million tons in 2009.

    A lot of the worlds coal export terminals are operating near capacity. So it’s not simply a matter of calling and ordering more coal.

    Any new Germany base load power plants will almost certainly use gas

    Germany has 8,000 Megawatts of coal fired electricity plants currently under construction.

    Like

  131. @Chris Warren 10:28pm

    …it seems very clear that the data on radiation, precise locations, and wind conditions has been deliberately restricted to manage public opinion…Other supposed data is being published but from sites 200 km distance, not 20 km distance. This is very strange.

    It seems to me that the areas of ‘no data’ are largely coincident with those of greatest earthquake damage. Is it not possible that the absence of readings is simply due to quake- and/or tsunami-induced loss of power and communications, rather than censorship?

    Like

  132. I can’t see any references to the Oganawa nuclear plant here (via wordpress site post & comment search).

    It’s on the Oshika Peninsula about 120km north or Fukushima. It appears to have survived the ‘quake and the tsunami with no vital damage. The nearby Oganawa township was absolutely devastated. I have two questions

    a) how come Oganawa survived, i.e. what are the critical differences between it and Fukushima, Was it higher sea walls, better infrastructure protection (mg sets, fuel tanks etc) or what ?

    b) I haven’t see it being used as evidence that nuclear power stations can be built to withstand very large ‘quakes and tsunami’s. Why’s that ?

    TIA

    Like

  133. Mark Duffett, on 22 March 2011 at 9:07 AM said:

    It seems to me that the areas of ‘no data’ are largely coincident with those of greatest earthquake damage. Is it not possible that the absence of readings is simply due to quake- and/or tsunami-induced loss of power and communications, rather than censorship?

    Evidence?

    This appears to be unsubstatiated, personal opinion.

    If emergency workers do not have robust, mobile radiation monitoring equipment, then they have no right to build nuclear power plants.

    Of course they have the data. Its the release of the March 11 – 20 time series, by monitoring station number that posters have indicated is and has been available.

    But I cannot corroborate this claim.

    It appears to be unsubstantiated personal opinions.
    MODERATOR
    Editing rules onthe Open Threads are more relaxed re opinions etc BUT ENFORCED FOR AD HOMS, INCIVILITY etc.

    Like

  134. re post by: Chris Warren, on 21 March 2011 at 11:09 PM said:

    Baseload renewables can be developed – and should be.

    Chris, a lot of things probably can be developed. The point is that to date the technology simply does not exist, not for anything that even comes close to meeting commercial needs at any sort of reasonable price. We’ve been right ‘on the cusp’ with fusion power ‘just around the corner’ for literally several decades now – point being that what we think we might be able to develop is never a sure thing until the technological break through are actually already a done deal. All too often throwing money at a problem, when the problem is a desired scientific breakthrough, doesn’t make a bit of practical difference either.

    Thinking otherwise is nothing more than hopes and wishes, pie in the sky.

    Remember nuclear technology was only developed through billions of research expenditure – renewables funding has been relatively scanty

    I’m sorry, but that’s just not the case. It is an all too common misconception, far too frequently repeated. Literally billions has been thrown at research into solar, wind, and other ‘renewables’ or ‘green’ or ‘alternative’ energy sources, especially wind and solar, and that’s just from USA government agencies alone.

    ….New storage systems are emerging…

    Again, ’emerging’ is a far far cry from developed, sound, practical, and able to be useful at a commercial scale.

    You mention a lot of different ‘would be quite nice if they pan out’ things – but none of them are anywhere near close at this point in time. For example, as of late 2009 at least, the most optimistic estimates of converting was that it costs anywhere from $10 to $100 a gallon (according to Al Darzins, a manager at the National Bioenergy Center at the National Renewable Energy Lab in Golden, Colorado, USA).

    Even those already in use have major drawbacks, as do those that are still in development or hypothetical too. Hydro is very limited because there aren’t that many rivers with sufficient water flow and current to be able to generate much energy. It has very serious risks to anyone living downstream too, obviously. Environmentalists also strenuously oppose dams because of the disruption to river life, and the land/wildlife habitat destroyed upstream from water submersion in the reservoir formation. Geothermal is also very limited in terms of suitable sites in most nations. Hydrogen systems – well, we’ve all just seen very vivid displays of some of the issues with hydrogen, now haven’t we? And so on. It would be great if scientific and technological advances create something for our energy supply that is better than nuclear and fossil fuels, but right now it simply doesn’t exist with very limited exceptions.

    You went on to say:

    We have learnt a lot through the last 30-40 years of nuclear disasters, and the BP oil rig disaster….

    Yes, we have learned a lot over the last 40 years. We’ve learned that serious problems with nuclear, while serious for the plant workers and immediate surroundings, are very very rare. We’ve learned that so far they have always been far less severe than the media circus and fear of the general public. We’ve learned from each how to make them even safer.

    We should have learned that it’s better to allow on land and shallow water drilling, than put those areas off limits and force more complicated and difficult deep water drilling. The current USA administration, however, appears to be blindly ideological and set on shutting down as much drilling of any sort as they possibly can, regardless of consequences. We’ve seen that nasty accidents can happen, but the deep water drillling reecord is still pretty darned good if you look at the industry as a whole. We’ve learned that the release of large amounts of oil into the Gulf of Mexico doesn’t do as much harm as feared either. (It truly buggars the mind just how much oil NATURALLY seeps into the Gulf from the ocean floor all the time).

    We’ve known that all of these things are very serious, with some very serious possible consequences, and that they require a lot of care and attention – but that’s a far cry from saying they are so dangerous that they ought not be used.

    Finally you said:

    combined with the exposed TECO falsification of compliance suggest that the commerical competitive nuclear industry is a unravelling disaster.

    Excuse me, but please provide anything supporting your claim that past TEPCO compliance issues had ANYTHING to do with the current situation. I’ve seen nothing that would support that claim.

    Furthermore, the level of honesty and openness throughout the nuclear industry pretty clearly seems to have increased, not decreased. Yes, humans are humans and some will do the wrong thing – but as a result of discovery of some past transgressions this way, including the reprehensible delay in warning and evacuating the public immediately around the Chernobyl plant has resulted in far better oversight.

    Where can you show any evidence of worsening in this regard or of ‘unraveling?’ Yes, there are major risks with nuclear power – and that is why it is one of the most intensively engineered, carefully constructed, carefully run, and most regulated and inspected industries in existence. INCLUDING TMI, Chernobyl, etc., the nuclear industry still has one of the best safety records of any major industry in terms of injuries, health, environment, and so on.

    Like

  135. CoalBurner, you responded to a comment I made on the update thread, which is now appropriate to respond to here (and I hope nesting blockquotes does what I think it will do:

    Mr. Morgan,

    3) Despite the lack of immediate casualties the number of long term deaths from cancer won’t be known for decades and could number in the [insert large number category here].

    There is nothing illogical or wrong or “left wing” about saying this.

    Would you be glad to own real estate within 50 km of Fukushim now?

    Conservative businesspeople must still be pissed right now about the incompetence and greed that led to this.

    The only way “environmentalism” becomes left wing is when you combine it with wanting higher taxes and wealth transfer and the formation of a world government and the use of bad science.

    Otherwise, there is nothing inherently wrong with caring about your property values and your long term health and feeling of well being (especially when its a government subsidized industry that may have shortened your life by 10 years).

    I’m completely confused by this response since it appears to bear no relation to my comment. I made no mention of left/right, environmentalism, property values or taxes. You say nothing apropos possible exaggerated claims of health impacts, which was the topic of my short comment.

    Are you sure you intended to address yourself to my comment, and not a different one?
    MODERATOR
    The comment by Coalburner has been deleted as off-topic and he has been asked to re-post on this Open Thread.

    Like

  136. @Arthur –

    1. & 2. In as much as I clearly wrote that indeed there was reason to be concerned that the auxiliary power system was inadequate and flawed hardly suggests that I was avoiding the question

    3. You made sweeping statements about the economic viability of nuclear power, without establishing that you were only referring to the Australian situation. While your observation may or may not be true there, as a generalization it is still wrong.

    4. You’re placing too much emphasis on the supposed reasons for a decision when you cannot claim to have been privy to what motivated it. Without that your assertions are best hypothetical, as were mine. Drawing any conclusion based on the evacuations alone, given the broader circumstances is little more than conjecturer.

    5. Again, the editorial position of this site is not your concern. There is no attempt at subterfuge and its very clear to any visitor arriving at the front page what that position is.

    6.I have been around this debate for a long time, and I have run into the ‘I support nuclear energy BUT’ ploy more times than I can remember, and I don’t buy it. The fact that apparently you had to rewrite the initial comment more than once before it could be accepted here demonstrates that your biases lie somewhere else.

    Like

  137. @JD I don’t pretend to understand German politics, but their energy policy does not seem highly rational. They rely heavily on brown coal for energy production. About the filthiest source you can find, which they dig out right from the surface with giant bucket-wheel excavators (the largest mobile machines on the planet) tearing the landscape apart. This is green?

    Like

  138. Anyone suggesting that workers or firemen have been exposed to anything approaching lethal doses of radiation should be ashamed. This is not Chernobyl, and there aren’t any “biorobots” running around in there. Those in charge are highly attentive to individual monitoring and checking the levels around the site, and personnel are rotated out when they’ve reached the exposure limit.

    Some good comments in this thread. That Monboit article is actually pretty encouraging. But some of the commenters there seem to be under the mistaken impression that large amounts of radioactive substances have been released. The only widespread fallout is the way the media have reported this accident.

    Like

  139. re post by: JD, on 22 March 2011 at 8:04 AM said:

    It’s at least as much about attitude as about facts.

    Isn’t that the truth! Perception trumps reality all too often.

    And listening to some people on this site, I’m sceptical about whether the pro-side can manage a productive attitude….. all characterised by a blithe smugness about the risks. Putting on an air of superiority, talking down from on high to the public may be good for an egotrip, but it is entirely counterproductive when it comes to actually getting plants built..

    This is a part of the problem, however, JD, and where all too often perception and pre-conceived notions come into play. Far far too often people who try to pass on factual scientific information, or who tries to put the situation into perspective based on known facts and relative risks gets labeled exactly as you note – as being snobby, or biased, or ‘acting superior.’ Its a wicked catch 22 – tell facts and the truth that happen to go against the general pre-conceived notions, and presto, you are a biased egotistical snob not worth listening to. Yet to NOT be so labeled, one would have to either avoid passing along solid useful information, or misinformation.

    I’m NOT saying that this is what you are doing, I don’t know just which posts or statements you are referring to from the folks you mentioned. But I can say that this occurs all too often, and is a very difficult problem.

    Some of those who react this way are just very set in their beliefs regardless of what contrary facts may exist. Not much of anything will matter to them unless it further supports their existing position, even when its more incorrect info. Others like this are grudgingly willing to learn or at least honestly debate and consider – but its a bad problem that makes trying to calm irrational fears with good information very difficult.

    But I can only say: Change your attitude, or be happy with achieving precisely nothing,

    The knife cuts both ways JD. Clearly it is good advice for those who are arrogant and/or dismissive of others, but it’s also good advice for those who are far too quick to label and denigrate and dismiss those who are just trying to pass along good information and answer folks questions where they can reasonably accurately.

    Like

  140. Forgive me if this question has been asked before. Apparently there are “several years” of spent fuel rods in the plant. Is this correct? If so, why would so many be stored there ?
    (PS I’m not anti nuclear energy )

    Like

  141. @ NR99 and others using the term FUD – translation please? Feeling a little stupid over here, or figure I WILL feel that way once I hear what it is…. if the FU is the same as i FUBAR, then at least I got that part, but I’m drawing a blank on what the D would stand for then…

    Like

  142. Rational Debate:

    You ask about PGA data from theChch 2011 quake
    Try

    http://www.geonet.org.nz/news/feb-2011-christchurch-badly-damaged-by-magnitude-6-3-earthquake.html

    The highest PGA recorded was 2.2g, other readings of 1.88g and 1.07g were recorded as well. The raw data is available (see redirection at the above site).

    Re your last post – you concede that the Richter values are immaterial (eg the 2010 Chch M7.2 quake had far lower PGA than the 2011 M6.3) but you then go ahead with a long argument based on the very fallacy which you have just conceded – apparently on the basis that ‘there is nothing better!). I would argue that no conclusion is better than a false one. Your argument is built on sand. In fact, though, there may well be data – on the USGS site it is possible to obtain 3 CDs of raw data of historic quakes. Sorry I am about to leave for Chch and don’t have time to troll again myself. This is PhD student stuff.
    At the very least you must concede that the whole argument on the design spec vs the realised intensity is much more involved than you claim. The best info to date is that the PGA at Fuk-Daiichi
    was just over 500Gal, with a design spec of 600Gal. The evidence is there (from readings at nearby locations) that the spec should be revised upwards, but this is not an issue at this stage . If you are still interested in Moment values then I note that there is still discrepancy in recent (2011) articles on USGS re 1933, some quoting 8.6, some 8.4. One article discusses 8.7, and 8.1 is quoted (not on USGS). Given all the angels which I have fitted onto this particular pin (see the one-one thread), I can’t see any point in commenting further.
    This is a dead horse.
    Finally a remark based merely on personal experience. In 2009 I stood on the southern shore of Hokkaido and marvelled at the incredible extent of tsunami barricades in place. Often there was an eathquake escarpment within 1km of the coast, but the towns were built on the small coastal strip, cowering behind the barricades. There were many tourist stops giving info on past tsunamis and it seemed absolutley clear that many past tsunamis were far bigger than the barricades. I still can’t understand why the towns weren’t built on the adjacent small hills, which were big enough. Will the stoical Japanese just rebuild their houses (and power stations) on the .same ruinous sites that they have used before?

    Like

  143. re post by NR99, on 22 March 2011 at 12:57 AM

    Yes, I was pretty appalled at Jackzo’s proclamation without any apparently info regarding his sources or assumptions. I expect far more than that of the NRC at any level frankly, let alone the Chairman.

    So you’re sure not alone on this one!

    Like

  144. At Finrod, on 22 March 2011 at 9:01 AM said:

    noone has suggested that a battery would substitute for a 1 GW power plant.

    This makes no sense. It was precisely Finrod who exactly made the comparison with 1GW, above – noone else.

    So this line of argument is artifical and disruptive.

    However improved batteries and storage systems obviously increase the participation of wind and solar.

    Finrods remainder is somewhat glib. What are the losses involved in storing and releasing the power thus collected? What is the cost of the batteries? What is their effective life span? What is the cost of the ‘non-baseload renewable energy’ being used (and how much is that cost increased by using such batteries)?

    We will have to develop these as nuclear power is phased out. In the short-term costs may be higher, but cheaper in the long-term and there are massive not economic benefits.

    In short, it is the renewable energy infrastructure which relies on very large centralised industrial infrastructure in wilderness areas, entailing new and expensive transmission.

    Hardly – 10Mw batteries can easily be incorporated into any modern commercial building.

    Is this really what Finrod wants to

    (locate) Nuclear power close to the customers, minimising transmission losses and using already established grid connections.

    So is finrods proposing to place AP-100’s closer to customers than renewables?? Does this mean 1 AP1000 for Broken Hill, 1 for White cliffs, 1 for Bourke, 1 for Walgett, 1 for Armidale, 1 for taree, 1 for newcastle, 1 for Hornsby, 1 for Stathfield, 1 for minto, 1 for Bathurst, 1 for thirroul, 1 for Eden, 1 for Bega, 1 for bombala, 1 for Tumut, 1 for Condor, 1 for Ainslie, 1 for yass, 1 for Goulburn, 1 for cootamundra, 1 for Wagga Wagga, 1 for albury, 1 for griffith, 1 for Cobar and 1 for condobolin????.

    Where does all the waste go after each full load of fuel is spent every 500 days operating (see other thread).

    I put it to you that batteries will lose far more power through inefficiency than nuclear through transmission loss.

    This is unsubstantiated personal opinion. A bit like saying that nuclear power is “sufficiently safe”.
    MODERATOR
    Commenting rules are relaxed on the Open Threads with regard to personal opinion etc but are enforced for AD HOMS AND INCIVILITY>

    Like

  145. Rational Debate, on 22 March 2011 at 7:45 AM said:

    NO ONE expected this. Pretty much EVERYONE thought something to this degree to be very unlikely.

    I don’t think you or others realize how much you undercut your position with statements like this. The interpretation is, “these things are largely out of our control, and we cannot guarantee it will not happen again.”

    And, that is not only bad PR, it is just wrong. The latest designs could have shut down safely in the face of this earthquake and tsunami. PASSIVE STABILITY is the message you want to get across. We CAN DO IT, and this will NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN. Any other message is just counterproductive. Stop it.

    Like

  146. re post by: NR99, on 22 March 2011 at 12:57 AM

    Oh, and on TMI – this coming from old memory, but to my recollection the biggest thing that caused an utter media circus and public panic was when a reporter happened to be within earshot of a couple of plant personnel who were discussing rad levels. IIRC, it was a rad tech reporting to his boss, but not certain on that. Anyhow, back then they didn’t have a dedicated press room and were focused on dealing with the problem, not the press.

    Anyhow, the reporter was just within earshot, and overheard a dose rate being mentioned. Off he went, without bothering to check WHERE that dose rate was from. It got reported as if it were either at the plant main gate or the plant site boundary. It was actually from INSIDE either containment or the Auxillary building (sorry, told you, old memory so a bit vague on exact details).

    In other words, the level widely trumpeted to the general public by the media was vastly higher by an order of magnitude or more than any offsite reading (maybe even than outside readings on the plant ground, not sure), was within a controlled/contained building, etc.

    People panicked. People thought that crucial information had been withheld from them. People thought they had been lied to. All because of a really big mistake by a reporter, and the failure of the TMI executives to control information to the media.

    and from the Presidential Commission report of the accident – see if some of this doesn’t sound awfully like what’s been going on over Fukushima (my apologies about the formatting):

    We found that the mental stress to which those living within the
    vicinity of Three Mile Island were subjected was quite severe. There
    were several factors that contributed to this stress. Throughout the
    first week of the accident, there was extensive speculation on just how
    serious the accident might turn out to be. At various times, senior
    officials of the NRC and the state government were considering the
    possibility of a major evacuation. There were a number of advisories
    recommending steps short of a full evacuation. Some significant
    fraction of the population in the immediate vicinity voluntarily left
    the region.
    NRC officials contributed to the raising of anxiety in the
    period from Friday to Sunday (March 30-April 1). On Friday, a mistaken
    interpretation of the release of a burst of radiation led some NRC
    officials to recommend immediate evacuation.
    And on Friday Governor
    Thornburgh advised pregnant women and preschool aged children within 5
    miles of TMI to leave the area. On Saturday and Sunday, other NRC
    officials mistakenly believed that there was an imminent danger of an
    explosion of a hydrogen bubble within the reactor vessel, and evacuation
    was again a major subject of discussion.

    We conclude that the most serious health effect of the accident was
    severe mental stress, which was short-lived. The highest levels of
    distress were found among those living within 5 miles of TMI and in
    families with preschool children.

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  147. “this will NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN”

    If the nuclear industry wants to be taken seriously, this type of messaging will have to stop.

    Power plants are NOT implemented and operated by utopians. Like it or not, decisions taken 40 years ago and promises made on the then current understanding of the risks/problems-to-solve has resulted in this situation. This WILL happen again.

    The penalty for nuclear failure is extremely high, the cost to attend to that detail is money wasted on solving the use of fully renewable energy sources.

    Like

  148. I can’t see any references to the Oganawa nuclear plant here (via wordpress site post & comment search).

    I’ve been playing with Google Earth. (Hope this works.) Here is a side-view of Fukuyama Daiichi NPP:
    http://bbs.keyhole.com/ubb/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=1409041#Post1409041

    and Onagawa NPP:
    http://bbs.keyhole.com/ubb/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=1409040#Post1409040

    It appears that Onagawa NPP’s site is set further back and higher above sea level than Fukuyama Daiichi’s. Also, using Google Earth someone has placemarked the epicenter. While Onagawa is physically closer, it is also shielded by a group of island and a small penisula.

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  149. Rick Castillo, or any other operators or engineers (heck, anyone who’s heard!) Any idea why the emergency core cooling system failed? It should have run in all of the plants off of its stream turbine alone for high pressure systems anyhow. Or did they run, but had to continue long enough that the water temp was too high, so they swapped to low pressure?

    Then, low pressure cooling/residual heat removal systems worked with battery power for a bit – why couldn’t they bring in more batteries, or was the problem again that the water in the system just got to a high enough temp that venting and water injection was the only option?

    I gather there were some differences in timing and failure mechanisms between units 1-4, but have been scratching my head over just what sequence of events occurred this way in each plant, versus the engineered fault tree/series of backups.

    I haven’t run across anything that seemed to explain this very well – or do we just not have that info yet?

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  150. hello joshua, wherever you are, barry deleted my post which was a reply to you, havent got time to rewrite whole thing (just put the reply there for convenience sake) but basically just wanted to say sorry made mistake re bhopal, was thinking in general about the risks and benefits of dangerous industries being unfairly geographically distributed. and had put that original point to agree with your point. and had explained further about nigeria, and Ogoni campaign, but you can just google if interested. sorry, but cant keep up with all this censoring / deleting.

    barry if you want to convince people you have to let your arguments stand amongst their opposition. this blog is not very convincing with all opposition summarily deleted and or censored arbitrarily.

    MODERATOR
    Your post was deleted for being off-topic in the wrong thread. We do not have the ability to transfer comments between threads. We invited you to re-post the comment.It is your responsibility to ensure you post in the right area. Off topic comments glue up the thread and make it hard to follow.People have been complaining about that.These commenting rules are for everybody, (you have not been singled out), and have been re-inforced and explained by Prof Brook on this Fukushima Open Thread post

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  151. Bart, on 22 March 2011 at 10:56 AM said:

    PASSIVE STABILITY is the message you want to get across. We CAN DO IT, and this will NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN.

    Passive safety is certainly a design goal and always has been.

    Absolute certainty doesn’t exist, at least not in the world I live in. Proclaiming it exists just sets up something easy to falsify.

    Risk management is part of life. We address safety concerns as best as we can and go on.

    If ‘absolutely safe’ is the standard then we have to turn off all of modern society and go back to living in caves.

    Unfortunately one of us will figure out fire and a club. Then someone else will have to figure out to protect themselves against an angry person with fire and a club.

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  152. @DV82XL, on 21 March 2011 at 10:12 PM

    I think you have it backwards. It’s the modern day anarchists who advance progress. The socialists are the ones who dictate to the masses pushing solar and wind to to line the pockets of their connected friends. Socialists have not raised the living standards of what you call the lower classes. The free market has done that. laws can’t create wealth, i.e. increase the standards of living. Only the freedom to exchange resources in a free market can do that.

    Regarding nuclear power in relation to that, I think if you compare the costs and remove all subsidies from all energy then nuclear will be the cheapest and best option.

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  153. > why the emergency core cooling system failed?

    Something was said. You might try searching “ECCS” in the first or second thread; I vaguely recall seeing mention that the battery systems were the first ones used, and they were trying at one point to get more batteries in.

    There was some reason early on given for choosing not to run one of the two emergency cooling systems (either ECCS or the other one) — at the time I recall guessing to myself that they didn’t want to risk thermal shock by dumping cold water into the hot system early on.

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  154. “chris warren, on 22 March 2011 at 8:33 AM said:
    Not so.
    I have been there. The English version says:….”

    Chris, from this link I get a list of prefectures:

    http://www.mext.go.jp/english/radioactivity_level/detail/1303986.htm

    Each one I clicked gave me a time series EXCEPT Fukushima, which gives a daily report. Obviously one bad link. Maybe you can email the site and get it corrected.

    I did figure out the name of the time series web page for Fukushima:

    http://mextrad.blob.core.windows.net/page/07_Fukushima_en.html

    Or in Japanese (no data):

    http://mextrad.blob.core.windows.net/page/07_Fukushima.html
    But it has no data :-(

    I think this is what you are talking about above?

    For the daily reports go here:

    http://www.mext.go.jp/english/radioactivity_level/detail/1303962.htm

    That gives you Fukushima numbers, by station, with a map, for at least once a day starting March 16.

    Happy hunting :-)

    Like

  155. as i said, i thought a reply was relevant, why are all my posts deleted not joshuas, which are on the same topic? not that i think you should delete joshuas post, i think they are relevent – this discussion is largely about the responsibilities of dangerous industries to the public, specifically with regard to accidents.
    MODERATOR
    Joshua’s comments were probably made before the Fukushima Open Thread was established late last night. In fact Joshua directed you to the Open Thread to give your answer and switched there himself.

    Submitted on 2011/03/22 at 12:32 AM
    Karen

    Bophal was a pesticide plant in which the feedstoce was phosgene and something even nastier. Nigeria is a major protracted social conflict revolving arround oil revenew and ethnicity. (As are many others)

    If you would like to discuss the various social issues which may or may not be caused/helped by nuclear power on other power generation please join me over on the Open Thread

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  156. Rational Debate asked why the cooling systems failed…

    Was sent this info and wonder if it has any relevance to the question of failing cooling systems, generators, or failing anything at the plant.

    I wonder if any well versed in these matters could invalidate or confirm the possibility of this virus playing a part.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/02/01/us-nuclear-amano-iran-interview-idUSTRE7104UL20110201

    http://www.presstv.ir/detail/163222.html

    http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/T101004003493.htm

    http://current.com/13vs34c

    From the final link: “can theoretically influence specific processes and operations in a very specific automation environment or plant configuration in addition to passing on data,” though it has been unable to verify that finding in testing.” and “in theory: what could it do?
    A: It could adjust motors, conveyor belts, pumps. It could stop a factory. With right modifications, it could cause things to explode.”

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  157. harrywr2, on 22 March 2011 at 11:44 AM said:

    “Absolute certainty doesn’t exist, at least not in the world I live in.”

    Let’s not get wearingly existential, shall we? This is splitting hairs. Yes, an asteroid could hit right on top of a Gen III reactor tomorrow. But, short of an event which would make the accidental release of radiation small potatoes, they’re as close to perfectly safe as makes very little difference, and Gen IV is even more so, if the designs ever get off the drawing boards.

    As for this reactor, it had a single point failure mechanism in that the tsunami swept away all the power system and all its illusorily redundant backup systems. Single point failure modes on critical systems indicate BAD engineering. They CAN BE eliminated by design.

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  158. Spent fuel rods have to remain onsite to cool down.

    Once they’re cooled down they can then be reprocessed to recover usable fuel, or transported to a high level nuclear waste facility.

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  159. re post by: Jose de Sa, on 22 March 2011 at 3:11 AM said:

    The lower exposure level for which there is confirmed experience of radiation-induced sickness is 100 mSv, be it in a year or a hour.

    Actually, Jose, at 100 mSv, there won’t be any radiation sickness. This is the lower level at which, if you get an acute exposure (e.g., a few hours, maybe a day or so) that there may be an increased risk of cancer in the next decade or two.

    And that is if you get that dose in a very short time period. Spread it out over months, let alone a year, and you wouldn’t see anything even in terms of blood work – but it is thought that this is the lowest dose at which your long term cancer rate might be increased.

    How rapidly you get a dose is crucial at higher doses. Spread it out, and the body can handle and repair. All at once (minutes, hours) and it is much harder for the body to cope.

    It isn’t until an acute dose of about 250 mSv to 500 mSv that some percentage of people might get sub-clinical blood changes for a short time, such as a decreased white blood cell and platlet count. No symptoms would be expected.

    It’s not until about 1000 mSv that radiation sickness is a real issue, and some people may get fatigue, nausea, skin reddening.

    For those interested, here’s a brief US Nuclear Regulatory Commission page on it: http://www.nrc.gov/about-nrc/radiation/health-effects/high-rad-doses.html and here’s a health physics society training presentation for hospital staff dealing with an emergency situation: http://www.hps.org/hsc/documents/emergency.ppt

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  160. @konst – If you read my comment again, you will find that I specifically referred to the Anarchist (capital A) movement that existed in the period between about 1860 to 1939. Contemporary anarchism has a much more broader ideology ( to the extent that it has a central ideology at all) and encompasses several political philosophies.

    They are not the same thing at all.

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  161. The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency just held a press conference, here’s the rundown. Elevated levels of radionuclides (I-131, Cs-134, and Cs-137) were detected in seawater samples taken 100m south of the plant’s water outlet. Due to this being inside the evacuation zone, there’s no immediate threat to human health. More samples from a wider area are needed and will be conducted. It would be premature to draw any conclusions from this information.

    The current plan for the spent fuel pools is to evaluate the access and also the radiation dosage before having the Hyper Rescue team spray on unit #3. Yesterday there was talk of getting a shielded tank to clear some of the rubble which makes it difficult to position the water cannon trucks, no new info about that.

    A decision on whether to use the concrete pumper to spray water (not concrete!) on the spent fuel pool at unit #4 will be made by noon. If the pumper can’t be used, they may resume water cannon operations there.

    Equipment checks at unit #2 continue before power is turned on. Cable has been laid to units #3 and #4 and electric work continues there. It may take some time to fix anything broken at #2, but hopefully electricity will be working there within the next day or two.

    Unit #6 is still depending on the backup diesel generator so they are working on connecting it to the external power supply.

    There have been no major changes in the radiation levels around the facility.

    That’s basics of the report. The official started to take some questions from reporters, but then the live feed cut back to the news desk. I wish they would have stayed with the press conference for the question period.

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  162. @Chris Harries:

    noone has suggested that a battery would substitute for a 1 GW power plant.
    This makes no sense. It was precisely Finrod who exactly made the comparison with 1GW, above – noone else.
    So this line of argument is artifical and disruptive.

    It’s good to get an idea of the scale at which a system needs to be deployed to address the requirements of a significant volume of customers. One GW is a useful figure to kick around. If Chris is concerned about how that shows the system he’s promoting in a bad light, that’s his problem.

    However improved batteries and storage systems obviously increase the participation of wind and solar.

    Not very likely. If batteries and storage can be improved enough to make solar and wind marginally viable, nuclear’s attractiveness will be greatly enhanced, as it will reduce the total nuclear capacity needed to ensure baseload. Nuclear will be even cheaper than it is now.

    Finrods remainder is somewhat glib…

    That was an invitation for you to make your case by providing the details we need to make a proper assessment of the technology you’re espousing. It is noted that you chose not to do that.

    In short, it is the renewable energy infrastructure which relies on very large centralised industrial infrastructure in wilderness areas, entailing new and expensive transmission.
    Hardly – 10Mw batteries can easily be incorporated into any modern commercial building.

    You are waving your hands and your words in an attempt to hide the massive renewables infrastructure which would be needed to provide all the ‘non baseload renewable power’ you say is going to charge these batteries. Hiding the storage in suburbia and the inner city won’t long disguise the fact of vast tracts of countryside dedicated to the extensive industrial infrastructure needed to extract meaningful quantities of power from such dilute sources as the sun and the wind.

    Is this really what Finrod wants to
    (locate) Nuclear power close to the customers, minimising transmission losses and using already established grid connections.
    So is finrods proposing to place AP-100′s closer to customers than renewables?? Does this mean 1 AP1000 for Broken Hill, 1 for White cliffs, 1 for Bourke…

    I was thinking of major population and industrial centres such as Sydney, Wollongong and Newcastle. Some larger regional centres are likely candidates for small modular reactors once they become available.

    But of course, in the long run, niclear power will not just be running the electricity grid, it will be providing the basic thermal power at the root of all processes, including liquid fuel synthesis, fertiliser production, water desalination, synthetic food production, smelting of metals, cement manufacture, plastics, and possibly powering large scale energy intensive geoengineering projects.

    While at present developed nations average about 1kW of electrical generation per person, the total energy use is more like 10kW per person, so we should expect that the latter figure will be a reasonable lower estimate for future permanent electrical generation. If we assume for the sake of argument that Australia’s population stabilizes at 30 million people, this indicates a long term target of around 300 GW of nuclear capacity, say by the end of this century (by that stage, most or all of it will be advanced gen IV breeder designs).

    Lets assume that standard future reactors will be about 1.5 GWe output, and that they are clustered in sets of six per plant. Each plant will then have 9 GWe output, and the country’s needs could be met with ~35 such plants. Let’s be generous and give each plant 20 km^2 in which to reside. We have then set aside 700 km^2 of land for nuclear power to do its thing, so the land footprint nationally will be less than a square of land 27 km on a side. and these parcels can be located where we want them, not where nature has dictated the fickle wind or sun blows or shines the most.

    The point to this, of course, is that Chris was attempting to make light of the sugestion that large nuclear facilities might be located near smaller population centres, but the logic of the situation may well evolve to where exactly that happens naturally.

    Where does all the waste go after each full load of fuel is spent every 500 days operating (see other thread).

    Into the spent fuel pond, then to dry storage and presumable some sort of central facility to be stored for future use in a gen IV fast breeder. The waste from the gen IV breeders of the future will possibly be diluted in some medium such as synrock (unless better uses can be found for it) and stored for a few centuries, after which it will be safe.

    I put it to you that batteries will lose far more power through inefficiency than nuclear through transmission loss.
    This is unsubstantiated personal opinion. A bit like saying that nuclear power is “sufficiently safe”.

    Fine. So provide the figures to back up your claim.

    Like

  163. re post by: Frank Kandrnal, on 22 March 2011 at 4:03 AM

    Hi Frank,

    BWR’s do exactly what you are suggesting – in other words, use a separate smaller turbine run off steam from decay heat to cool the core should there be a loss of both off site power and emergency diesel generator power. It would have/should have spun up within 10 seconds of the reactor scram. That’s why I’m having trouble figuring out just what happened at Fukushima. At some point the water in the reactor, torus, and suppression pool can become warm enough that this is no longer sufficient cooling, and then the system shifts to battery operated low power (high volume) systems. But I thought that took a good bit longer, like a few days, than when the Fukushima reactors began having problems… I think that I may have read about one of the high pressure pumps failing at one of the units, but at this point I’ve read so much I’m not even sure of that – and it wouldn’t explain why the other 2 had problems also.

    Here’s some basic information on typical BWR emergency systems:

    http://www.enotes.com/topic/Boiling_water_reactor#The_safety_systems_in_action:_the_Design_Basis_Accident

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  164. When the dust settles so to speak on Fukushima even more recent issues deserve to be discussed. In the wake of the uranium conference at which I believe Barry spoke are calls for a local enrichment industry. This ties in with the cost of fuel re-import and whether to consider CANDU type reactors or wait for Gen 4.

    Since Fukushima may turn out to be a fizzer for nuclear opponents I note the new directions they are taking. One is the cost of all energy subsidies discussed here previously. Another is the rapid uptake of renewables in the Northern Hemisphere. My rejoinder is yes we tried generous subsidies here it was called the home insulation scheme.

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  165. Shelby, you are missing key points wrt the economic feasibility of nuclear power in the United States. Several key factors really increased the costs of building plants that we currently have – a number of those have been significantly reduced.

    First I should note that fuel for nuclear power is extremely cheap. Second, that operation and maintenance of plants is also low cost relative to other methods of large scale electrical production. Jobs at nuclear stations are generally highly sought after and quite well thought of.

    Factors that drastically increased the costs of building nuclear plants in the USA. Utilities building nuclear reactors were not allowed to put them into the rate base up front, as is done for coal, oil, gas plants. When a utility determines that additional power is needed and that they are going to build a plant, they get approval from the regulator (government) to put that into the rate base right away – in other words, they are collecting some funds from ratepayers as the plant is being built. If you can’t do that, then you have to finance the entire cost of the facility up front – something that is very difficult to do and that adds huge interest payments to the total cost of the facility. As best I know, if a utility wants to build a nuclear plant now, they would be allowed to put it into the rate base just as they would for other types of plants – this will drastically reduce the cost of the plant right there.

    Next, everyone pretty much designed and built their reactors differently. Of course the primary systems were effectively the same, but for the most part each plant in the US is unique, there was no standardization like there was in France. Now plants would most likely be fairly standardized – this will also significantly reduce costs and speed construction.

    Next, and in part because of the lack of standardization, and because this was a very new technology, there were many regulatory reviews required at multiple steps along the process of design, site selection, construction, start-up, etc. The NRC has gone thru a very in-depth process to streamline this process while maintaining as high or higher level of safety. This will make the process from first deciding to build a nuclear reactor all the way to final approval of a finished plant much faster – that helps reduce costs in many many ways, including significantly reducing any interest payments.

    Along those lines, several Gen III reactor designs have already been licensed by the NRC. That means that if you build one of those reactors in accordance with its design parameters, you don’t have all the multiple regulatory reviews during your design process. Several others are on the cusp of licensing approval assuming they’re found to be sufficient. You’d still have many other reviews along the way, but not during the design process. So, again, speeds the process significantly from start to finish.

    Finally, another factor that threw a monkey wrench into construction deadlines etc., was all of the anti-nuclear activities, especially frivolous law suits. Those were responsible for slowing construction significantly, and subsequently caused significant cost increases. I think, but I’ll be darned if I can recall for sure now, but think the gov. passed some laws that would help minimize this problem if it occurred again.

    Anyhow, Shelby, the point is that it is NOT the technology that increased costs of nuclear plants here in the USA. The technology is easily competitive in terms of economic costs.

    Wind, solar, and other alternative energy sources are NOT. They aren’t anywhere near economically competitive.

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  166. @ soylent,
    It is good to know that someone understands personnel protection and radiation shielding around here.

    I was appalled to see helicopters trying to deliver water to the spent fuel storage pools inside the reactor buildings. Readings as high as 250 mSv/hour were recorded at 30 meters above the pools so the water was dumped from 90 meters where the radiation flux was roughly 10 times lower (inverse square law).

    When you fly over there is very little material to intercept the radiation, so it is dangerous for the crews and a poor way to get the water to precisely where it is needed.

    When dealing with powerful radiation sources one needs several “tenth value layers”. This is the thickness of shielding that reduces the radiation intensity by a factor of ten. Concrete works well for gamma rays and neutrons (owing to its hydrogen content).

    For modest energy gammas (~1 MeV) a “tenth value layer” is 6 inches thick, so two feet of concrete reduces the flux by 10,000 times.

    When approaching from the side, the walls of the storage pools reduce the direct gamma flux to insignificant levels.

    You still need to be concerned about “sky shine” which is the radiation scattered by materials above the pools. This would include whatever is left of the building above the pools and atmospheric scattering. Sky shine needs to be measured on site but readings should be several orders of magnitude below the direct radiation levels.

    More serious is the radioactive dust and debris that workers will have under foot. There will be “hot spots” that may need to be moved using pressure hoses or other means.

    Once a path has been cleared to the pool, relatively small pipes (~2′ diameter) can deliver sufficient water to keep the pools topped up on a continuous basis.

    Assuming that the buildings are damaged to the point that hydrogen explosions are no longer a hazard, the next concern for people installing pipes and other equipment would be the ingestion of radioactive dust from the burning fuel rods. Standard breathing apparatus designed for the use of firemen should take care of this.

    My experience includes the construction and operation of radiation safety systems for powerful radiation sources. Inside our buildings over two feet of concrete shielding is universal and in some places as much as four feet of lead and ten feet of concrete is used.

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  167. http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS_Insight_to_Fukushima_engineering_challenges_1803112.html
    ———-sequence of events——-
    “… a high pressure coolant injection (HPCI) system, powered directly by steam emerging from the main reactor system. Separate from the large steam turbine used to generate power, the HPCI is connected only to a pump which injects cooler water from the large torus suppression chamber beneath the reactor as well as a water storage tank.

    Click to enlarge
    The boiling water reactor system
    In addition, pressure can be controlled by venting steam from the reactor pressure vessel to the torus, which then condenses to reduce pressure in the main circuit.

    However, all the systems rely on a finite source of water within the plant, which gradually heats up. The HPCI and torus venting systems also rely on a difference in temperature between the reactor system and the torus. When the temperature in the torus heats up to 100ºC, the system, including the injection from the HPCI, becomes ineffective. …

    … at the Daiichi plant. Units 1, 2 and 3 were operating at full power but shut down on the earthquake. They too were flooded by the tsunami and lost their sea water pumps – but this was exacerbated by the loss of emergency diesels as well. One factor in this could be that the Daiichi plant is at a slightly lower altitude than Daini, making the tsunami relatively more powerful.

    This meant that heat was building up in the power plant in the same way as at Daini 1, 2 and 4, but that core cooling sprays could not be powered.

    At Daiichi 1, 2 and 3, the steam-driven HPCIs were left as the only cooling system, which eventually heated the units’ toruses to the point that they stopped working…..”

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  168. re post by: Shelby, on 22 March 2011 at 6:02 AM said:

    We have thousands of tons of nuclear waste just sitting around n fuel ponds. That is my main objection to nuclear power. I don’t want even more nuclear waste from new nuclear plants. That is purely insane. This industry has not been logically developed from the beginning. It has no credit whatsoever.

    [ad hom deleted]
    Shelby, ALL of the spent nuclear fuel from over 50 years of operation in the USA, 20% of our electricity from nuclear for decades, and you can fit it all literally into the space of a single football field a few yards deep.

    What is even more ironic is that we are perfectly able to reprocess that spent fuel if so desired, and that would result in more usable fuel and the waste volume reduced to 1/100th the current amount.

    Siting and development costs for a high level waste repository has already been more than paid for by the taxpayers, only to have Obama/Pelosi/Reid shut down Yucca Mountain for NO justifiable scientific or technical reason. That’s AFTER more than $13 Billion spent to find multiple suitable sites, winnow those down, settle on Yucca, design it, and start construction. The USA government was required by congressional Act to begin taking possession of spent nuclear fuel from around the nation no later than 1998 (and I think that was the delayed deadline, not the original, but not certain). Billions more remain in the fund for it. Meantime, utilities have sued the federal government for the failure to take fuel and associated costs incurred, and won. They have to incur costs to design & get licensed either greater spent fuel pool capacity, new spent fuel pools, or above ground spent cask storage. Which of course ultimately is paid for by the taxpayer, who has already paid the federal government more than enough for a national repository.

    Talk about insanity.

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  169. This is about failure. Failure probabilities, distributions, conditional probabilities, failure modes and what-ifs. It is also about countering complancey that I have seen exhibited by nuclear proponents as regards the early days of fukushima, and about gen II, III and gen IV.

    I read this and noted that the failure standards have raised the probabiltity of a radiation leak from 1 in a million for Gen II to one in 10 million for gen III with no info on Gen IV..
    http://www.kansascity.com/2011/03/19/2739268/new-designs-for-nuclear-power.html

    I also note the post Rational Debate about economics. I suspect that whilst delays and reviews do cost, a significant reason for high costs in nuclear plants is safety standards for plant, waste, clean-up and associated compliances. I would assume (as in other industries) that the nuclear industry inevitably fights against increases in safety requirements given the impact of costs on a market that is dominated by fossil fuels.

    It seems to me that these Gen III targets are weak and their derivation somewhat simplistic and dangerous. The reason is the assumption of single failures, insufficient consideration of correlated events and the fact that external elements of the safety design (outside back-up systems) and external events are not considered within the design of the reactor but are bolted on as back-ups to tweak up the availability of that system (ie electrical feed).

    The evidence from fukushima is as follows..No venting in building for vented hydrogen. Buildings too close together at fukushima meant that explosion damaged next door reactor control/safety systems. No feed pipes for water, Spent rods outside of containment. The electrical panels were on the ground by the sea. The diesel gens were exposed and the batteries only provided 8 hours 9damb lucky they did). These deck of card scenarios are obvious but they do not occur if you only consider single failures. It seems to me that this has to change urgently, that standardised what-if scenarios be included in safety design cycle and compliance/certification, that specifically include multiple failures and also correlated failures. This specifically means that side impact of failures and associated conditional probabilities be included in calculations of failure requirements for plants.

    Further, raising the standard from 1 to 10 million means we have the same effective standard (radiation exposure) in place if 10x the number of gen iii reactors operate compared to Gen II. This hardly seems a big step forward.

    Now as regards all the claims about Gen IV I would like to raise the following points. Driving a reactor into higher pressures and temperatures inevitably increases volatility, complexity, broadens conditional probabilities and the correlation of failures. It is why building reliable rockets is so hard despite the component and system failure probabilites looking great on paper. This seems a very poor direction for future plants and I much prefer the reverse design direction of inherently increased stability (ala pebbles). Now that does not mean passive cooling which seems to me to be a great marketing line and little else. The physics and technology for convection cooling were known before Gen I and discounted for various reasons. It should be clearly understood that in some designs this is just a pump by another name, with its own failure modes. The pump is the cooler which must function to maintain the delta Temp that drives the convenction. I also feel that removing an active control is not a good idea around a volatile system because it will one day be needed for sure. The Gravity pool designs add something for sure but is 72 hours of water cooling so much better than increasing the number of batteries to give you the same time, especially when the 8 hours is pitiful. To me both a passive and an active option should be available as well as a gravity pool, It also seems to me that this is all tinkering around the edge though when the major problem is the lack of consideration of correlations and conditional probabilities, what-if scenarios and that dangerous complacency that stops you looking beyond the obvious to find the insidious lurking behind.

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  170. Regulars here will recall the impassioned exchanges between our now banned commentator, Peter Lang, and pretty much everyone else on the subject or regulatory ratcheting. It was Lang’s view that “excessive demands for safety” at nuclear power plants had caused nuclear power to be a lot more expensive than coal-fired power. In Lang’s view, having nucelar power at 10-100 times the safety of coal plants was unreasonable and much could be saved by having a much more level safety playing field.

    Regular contributor here, DV82XL did an especially patient and robust job of demonstrating the implausibility of such claims in engineering terms. Others pointed out how this would play in the wider debate amongst people we need to win over or at least persuade to have an open mind.

    Peter was not to be denied however, but one thing is clear: the events at Fukushima have made “the safety question” absolutely central in the minds of most. What was said last year against the Lang position is even more compelling now.

    On a more positive note, George Monbiot, respected environmentalist and long time opponents of nuclear power has defected, on the strength of the Fukushima incident.

    It’s worth a read but it essentially retraces the longstanding line of argument put by our esteemed host.

    Credit where it is due … Monbiot has shown sense and integrity on this matter, and at a time when it stands to count.

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  171. I am confused – my understanding is that all radioactive particles with a reasonable half-life(i.e more than a few seconds) have been contained at Fukushima, yet i read of increased radiation in food found kilometres away.

    How could this be?

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  172. DV8 has done a great job pointing out the inevitability of nuclear power. No matter how many bumps there are along the road, absent some breakthrough such as fusion power, fission will rule.

    Personally, I would favour a technology that does not have flammable materials such as graphite moderators, zirconium fuel rod cladding or liquid sodium coolants. I guess that puts me at odds with Barry and the many other people here whose opinions I respect.

    There may be another lesson from Fukushima. Are economies of scale so important? When things go wrong, large scale seems to translate into unmanageable. Having too many eggs in one basket also makes the system less secure and more vulnerable compared to a de-centralised electricity generating system.

    DV8 has demolished my visions on previous occasions but I still suspect that the future of fission reactors is in a few designs centred around 200 MW thermal output. This size would be ideal for replacing existing coal fired heat sources. Closed fuel cycle designs should be encouraged by demanding that waste storage and de-commissioning costs be fully funded before licenses are granted.

    Furthermore, designs with liquid fuel such as MSRs or the LFTRs would lend themselves to production in factories and shipment to site on trucks.

    Finally, I reject the idea that NPPs should cost $5 in construction costs for every Watt of nameplate capacity. I also reject the idea that it would take 20 years to develop a small reactor that is safe and cheap. You just have to get the lawyers out of the loop and take the shackles off the creative folks (scientists, engineers and technicians).

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  173. @Fran I have to agree that Peter Lang’s view that nuclear safety could be relaxed wouldn’t have gone down well as the moment. He didn’t respond graciously to suggestions that only modest carbon taxes were needed. However I think he hit the nail on the head when he said that carbon taxes in the absence of the nuclear option wouldn’t achieve the required CO2 cuts. I think as long as nuclear remains prohibited in Australia the effect of the carbon tax will be to trim some fat then we will simply tread water.

    When the halo of Fukushima has receded it might be the time to ask the tough questions. As in whether carbon taxes + subsidised renewables will actually get us where we want.

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  174. “Now as regards all the claims about Gen IV I would like to raise the following points. Driving a reactor into higher pressures and temperatures inevitably increases volatility, complexity, broadens conditional probabilities and the correlation of failures.”

    Hmm, I’m kind of a beginner, but this seems like a sweeping allegation with a lot of syllables and little backing. The Gen IV Sodium Fast Reactor and Molten Salt Reactor basically work at atmospheric pressure, for instance. Liquid metal coolants have high thermal inertia, wider operating margins. Simplicity and passive safety are part of these designs. https://inlportal.inl.gov/portal/server.pt/community/nuclear_energy/277/next_generation_of_reactors_home

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  175. Rational Debate,
    I am with you on most of your points but you are plain wrong about the high level nuclear waste repository known as Yucca Mountain.

    The state of Nevada refused to approve this project, so the federal government would have to trample on state’s rights and the tenth amendment to the constitution to proceed.

    Operators of NPPs can no longer expect the federal government to take care of their high level waste. There will be some unexpected consequences from this that may favour new technologies that “burn” high level wastes.

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  176. gallopingcamel, on 22 March 2011 at 3:13 PM — I am in general agreement. I suspect construction, operation and financing all suggest small to medium modular units until Gen IV actually becomes operational.

    Conf. on small modular nuclear reactors; Nuscale in presentation session I-P:
    http://bnrc.berkeley.edu/documents/forum-2010/

    http://www.nuscalepower.com/

    [I only emphasize the Nuscale design because it is supposed to be available from late 2015 and also because I am in no position to determine the merits of one versus another.]

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  177. Barry, apparently you attended the 2011 Paydirt uranium conference, and gave a presentation?

    I would be interested to hear how that went, what you presented, how it was received, and anything else you discussed or learned at the conference. If you plan to write a post about this in future, when you get around to it of course, that would be great. :)

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  178. re post by: Bart, on 22 March 2011 at 10:56 AM said:

    I don’t think you or others realize how much you undercut your position with statements like this. The interpretation is, “these things are largely out of our control, and we cannot guarantee it will not happen again.”

    And, that is not only bad PR, it is just wrong. The latest designs could have shut down safely in the face of this earthquake and tsunami. PASSIVE STABILITY is the message you want to get across. We CAN DO IT, and this will NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN. Any other message is just counterproductive. Stop it.

    Bart, I understand where you are coming from, and I’m sure that to some extent you are correct. The problem is that you are conflating utterly separate issues.

    I have more faith in the average person to understand logic and facts than it would seem you do.

    One issue is how robust or reasonable the design of the Mark I BWR, 50 years ago, was or wasn’t. Avoiding that issue by only discussing how much better Gen III reactors are, and Gen IV once actually feasible might be, doesn’t change what was, or what happened.

    Frankly, to avoid that discussion will look shifty to many who will suspect that those they think are ‘pro-nuclear’ and those associated with the actual industry are unwilling to face problems and learn from mistakes.

    Not to mention that you are then leaving many very wild and unreasonable claims hanging out there as if they are accurate and true.

    Besides, I am intensely interested in the sequence of events myself (from the very technical & mechanical/professional standpoint). I’m not into propaganda and manipulation of any sort. Sharing info, learning, teaching, science, facts, THAT I”m interested in.

    A somewhat related yet separate issue is the siting of that facility where it was.

    Many of the same issues here that I’ve already addressed above. It’s quite unreasonable for people to expect anyone to have a crystal ball. Hind sight is 20/20, and many people who are carping from a hindsight point of view will at least recognize that it’s not really reasonable if it’s pointed out to them. We are all human and we all fall into this sort of fallacy at various times.

    Then there is the issue of the robustness of current designs. There is NO question that they are vastly superior to 50 year old designs. I’ve brought that up in multiple posts. Even so, it is wrong to say a serious accident could never happen with an advanced design. You have no way of knowing that, you have no crystal ball. We can and should talk about relative risks, probabilities, safety designs and factors, and so on. But you ruin your own credibility with many people, especially those more educated, when you try pulling the ‘it could never happen this time’ number.

    People also need to start recognizing where they are drawing the bar for just what qualifies as “safe” with nuclear power compared to everything else in their lives. There has been a huge disconnect in that regard, and that causes a lot of unnecessary fear, angst, and misunderstanding.

    Rather than giving an ambiguous promise that “it will never happen again” I prefer trying to help folks understand what’s really going on, how that compares to other major industries, and so on. I think that’s more likely to help calm unnecessary fears and concerns generated from media sensationalism and a general lack of good information.

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  179. re post by: Paul Lindsey, on 22 March 2011 at 11:07 AM

    Paul, when I use the link, it goes to a page with another link to a downloadable file. What program(s) can the file be opened with? Does it have to be google earth?

    Also, suggest you look at Fukushimi Diaini (sp?) too – it’s virtually next door, got a massive Tsunami too, swamped their diesels too I believe, and yet they quickly recovered and made it to cold shut down. A few glitches along the way, but clearly nothing like the other site is going thru…..

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  180. @alex:

    “…I am confused – my understanding is that all radioactive particles with a reasonable half-life(i.e more than a few seconds) have been contained at Fukushima, ”

    Well, the above is not true. Yes, radioactivity has escaped out into the environment. I don’t think anybody ever really expected zero escape of radioactivity in a severe fuel damage accident.

    Most of the radioactivity is short-lived fission products – Xe-133, Te-132, and I-131. Longer-lived Cs-137 is present in much smaller quantities since it is not so volatile and mobile.

    The amounts of radioactivity escaping out into the environment off the site are not harmful, however.

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  181. re post by: TomH, on 22 March 2011 at 12:06 PM

    Hi Tom, I’d be utterly amazed if a computer virus had anything to do with it. I can’t say for certain it’s impossible – I don’t know exactly what controllers etc are involved in that BWR system, but I’d say the chances of something that way being involved is super super low.

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  182. John Newland said:

    However I think {Lang} hit the nail on the head when he said that carbon taxes {CO2 pricing} in the absence of the nuclear option wouldn’t achieve the required CO2 cuts. I think as long as nuclear remains prohibited in Australia the effect of the carbon tax {CO2 pricing} will be to trim some fat then we will simply tread water {My edits}

    That’s possible but one good thing about CO2 pricing is it concentrates the mind on what can in practice be done. A CO2 price of under $30 tCO2 is unlikely to be enough to get nuclear online, though it will escalate year on year until 2015. Once it becomes clear that traditional renewables can’t do the job we want them to do, and coal is no longer viable with a price locked in, the debate on nuclear will be on in earnest.

    Moreover, a successful CO2 pricing scheme here would underpin action overseas and weaken the opponents of mitigation here.

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  183. Luke,

    What are these amounts that you think are not harmful? I think anything over 10 microsieverts per hour is cause for concern. Perhaps you could tell us the maximum yearly dose you think is okay and we could see if anyone outside the 20 km radius might be exposed to tha much if Reactor 3 should start emitting red smoke.

    –bks

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  184. Rational Debate, on 22 March 2011 at 2:26 PM said:

    We have thousands of tons of nuclear waste just sitting around n fuel ponds. That is my main objection to nuclear power.

    I have often heard the claim;

    ALL of the spent nuclear fuel from over 50 years of operation in the USA, … can fit it all literally into the space of a single football field a few yards deep.

    So with all you cries for facts, how is this calculated.

    How much fuel comes out of a reactor per MW by reactor type?

    What is the containment? Is this in synrock? or vitrification?

    How much nuclear MW are produced in 10 years in America?

    What evidence?

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  185. Here’s a simple example..Gen III is speced for 1 in 10 million radiation release.

    Whats the probability of a 10m tsunami in 40 years.. small anywhere..but we would now likely say pretty decent in 40 years of the coast of japan

    Whats the probability of a 10m tsunami going over a 7m wall..assurred

    whats the probability of that water taking out the mains, diesels, batteries and ground level electrical panels etc..very high

    I would suggest any current Gen II and III plant may well have gotten into serious trouble because the knock-on effects were unlikely fully considered,,

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  186. Firstly, I am no climate sceptic but ala Tony Abbot it hardly matters what we do to the world. Yes a carbon tax and emissions trading will put greater financial pressure to wind down coal and gas and of course providee the support for renewables etc, but come on… leave the base load fossil plants in place, spend the moey to clean them up, and use the subsidized renewables to fill in the rest whilst taking fossils out of every other market where there are other options. Oh and flatten the distrivution networks, Technology is going to improve dramatically in solar cells and low cost efficient eletrical distribution and we can then avoid letting pandora run amok..

    Secondly, this is not just about Australia but the prospect if we go down this nuclear path of plants on FIJI, plants in Indonesia, plants in unstable and undeveloped countries all around the world..does that seem sensible..when the effects of a mismanaged accident are global and the lessons from all prior accidents has been the massive and skilled resources required to keep things under the lid (or partially outside) In fukushima we had the US flying in coolant, US spyplanes flying overhead, specialised military and civilian resources available and that amazing sense of duty that they exhibit ..are we going to have that everywhere ? its just way to dangerous to contemplate.

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  187. @Luke

    ‘The amounts of radioactivity escaping out into the environment off the site are not harmful, however.’

    Is this on a statistical or absolute per person statement. I mean all the neasurements are averaged over some period and averaged also by location (as water or wind move). is there currently no possibility that an unlikely person could have serious health effects. Isn;t it possible that concnetrating processes exist in nature that will create toxic sources..??

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  188. re post by: gallopingcamel, on 22 March 2011 at 3:31 PM

    Hi Gallopingcamel,

    Unfortunately the Fed Gov tramples states rights all the time. It is something I can very easily get up on my soap box about – commerce clause is the typical excuse and it is grossly abused by the fed. Heck, look at Obamacare.

    I can tell you that the state, including Reid and Oscar were happy as a lark with one hand out taking in the taxes from the site, and demanding more, all the while bashing it verbally so as to look good to the general public. They were more than willing to let it be there without major battle until development was far along many years later.

    States rights wasn’t the deciding factor however. Obama’s anti-nuclear ideological beliefs are the problem. He has made it clear that he simply doesn’t believe that it’s possible to safely handle or dispose of nuclear waste, period. If we had a President who honestly believed in science, Yucca Mountain would be under construction still.

    The thing is that this is not a situation of the NPP operators blithely expecting the fed to take care of their waste. The federal government thru congressional Act, decreed that NPPs would be required to hand over their spent fuel, that this was something that ought to be a federally controlled thing, and that it was safer/better to store all the spent fuel and other high level waste (yes, it included all the military high level too) in a single location. NPPs are still responsible for paying for this. Here’s a brief summary from the NRC:

    Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982, as Amended

    This Act establishes both the Federal government’s responsibility to provide a place for the permanent disposal of high-level radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel, and the generators’ responsibility to bear the costs of permanent disposal. Amendments to the Act have focused the Federal government’s efforts, through the Department of Energy, on studying a possible site at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. If the Department and the President recommend to the Congress that a permanent repository be built there, and if the recommendation survives the special procedures that the Act establishes for Congressional review of the recommendation, the Department will apply to the NRC for authorization to construct the repository. The Act provides for extensive State, Tribal, and public participation in the planning and development of permanent repositories.

    (full article which I haven’t read but would assume is reasonable at: http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/nuregs/staff/sr0980/v2/sr0980v2.pdf#pagemode=bookmarks&page=141)

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  189. concerned: Do you eat red meat? Go to BBQs? Examine the feces of anybody after a red meat meal and you will find colon cells with DNA damage … exactly the same kinds of damage as in bowel cancer patients. An Australian has about a 1 in 17 chance of
    getting bowel cancer with about half of that chance
    being down to red meat. Now according to Mayo clinic experts

    http://boingboing.net/2011/03/17/radiation-dose-and-r-1.html

    A 1000 milliSievert dose will increase your chances of cancer some time in your life by 1 in 125.

    If you are worried about cancer, then average
    intakes of red meat, alcohol and tobacco are far more potent than any exposure of anybody at Fukushima … with possible exception of some reactor workers.

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  190. Fran re carbon pricing Peter Lang preferred to use cost estimates that claimed nuclear was up to 80% more expensive than combined cycle gas. Several other sources said the costs were comparable, albeit for countries that already had NP. That suggests even a modest CO2 price as low as $10/t could immediately tip the scales in favour of NP.

    However complicating factors are
    – siting issues since gas plants can be air cooled
    – build times which are quick for gas plant’
    – future gas price shocks already LNG is up this week
    – future traded CO2 prices eg a Euro style collapse.

    But we have to start somewhere. If say the CO2 price starts at $25 from 2012 then we hit $150/b oil and extreme weather in 2013 I’d say people will be begging for low carbon energy at a stable cost.

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  191. Hi Geoff..

    i know mate but i just wanted to damp down on the notion that there is NO effect here. There is of course an effect but just arbitarily judged soclially accptable (and thats fine). Once that is clear, and admit there are no free passes here, then we can move on..

    Now as to red meat, wine, open fires, smoking etc..the issue to me, and I think to most people, is that i have a choice over that. I have a choice on whether I jump into a plane and increase my Gamma ray exposure etc.(and have regularly chosen to do so..hands up who wants to live next door to the nuclear plant or the watse depo, or have the truks go past the end of their road (and yes i have been there)

    But no-one in Japan had a choice its just thrust on them..just as by the way the fossil explosions exposed them to other types of effects..And that is especially galling when everyone told them it was perfectly safe, and many even did that after the tsunami..and that behaviour continues…

    Radiation is insideous..thats what people do not like about..but they will gladly wash their dishes in detergent and eat burnt toast..thats the reality

    And if we are interested in fundamentally protecting the earth from polutants then lets seriosuly understand that radiation is a biggy, and long lived elements something that can be there long after we have gone..

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  192. @Rational Debate

    its not appropriate to label anyone as anti-science just because they don;t believe in nuclear..many professional scientists believe the same and for very clear and reasonable reasons..

    and many agree with nuclear for different reasons..thats ok..we debate we discovery we nudge along but at the end of the day there is no right answer for everyone

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  193. Award winning journalist Amy Goodman, who is otherwise a good reporter, wrote an [ad hom deleted]inaccurate article fear mongering nuclear power and the Fukushima incident in the Guardian newspaper.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/mar/16/nuclearpower-japan

    I’m impressed that many commentators didn’t fall for the nonsensical arguments she used. I wish people in the USA were smart enough to see past the lies of anti-nuke propaganda.

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  194. Rational Debate:
    [Obama’s anti-nuclear ideological beliefs are the problem. ]
    This is absurd. Even Republican senators acknowledge that the Obama administration is very pro-nuclear, even more so than the previous administration:
    http://motherjones.com/mojo/2010/01/graham-obama-admin-pro-nuclear-power

    George Bush’s first Energy Secretary was a lawyer, whereas Obama went for a pro-nuclear power physicist who happens to be a Nobel prize winner.

    During the Democratic primary it was obvious that Obama was much more open to nuclear than Clinton.

    Oh, and what exactly did the previous administration do to promote the development and investment in nuclear power?

    If anyone’s ideological beliefs are getting in the way of rational debate, it is yours.

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  195. thanks kost for signalling, maybe it’s worth to send it to the
    http://jpquake.wikispaces.com/Journalist+Wall+of+Shame
    journalism wall of shame…..

    luckily, on the same page of “Guardian”, in the right On comment section, one can read this more honest and equilibrate article http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/mar/21/pro-nuclear-japan-fukushima
    that gives some hopes on the possibility of a correct use of the brain, even in newspapermen….

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  196. Firstly, could someone specify the mean, as well as peak and min (by location) for background radiation in Australia.

    Secondly, can someone state here the legal limit in Australia for nuclear radiation release and for nuclear radiation health exposure, and whether it varies by decay type and isotope..

    Thirdly, can someone give us an idea on the basis for the limits on release and exposure, specifically in terms of any depednances on acceptable health effects and risks.

    Thanks (I only know UK and unfortunately used to live over a lot of radon – go figure)

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  197. On a separate collection event, does anyone know the tonnes of CO2 that Australia would avoid emitting for base load power, if we went nuclear tomorrow for 50 years for base load only, and the fractional saving over global emissions that this would represent. Assume that base power demand is constant both locally and globally over the 50 years, but that case 1 no-one else goes nuclear, and case 2 everyone else does and case 3 we stick with stick with CO2 instead of nuclear.

    I assume this has been modelled yeh..I mean its that saving in carbon that is the justification right…I am assuming that the risks, costs and effort of going nuclear just look silly on that comparison…but want the data for sure

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  198. The ICRP (International Commission for Radiological Protection) has such data.
    They assume a zero minimum threshold por risk, and a linear risk: 5% per Sv. That means an increase in cancer of 0,005% per mSv.
    They also assume that doses are cumulative in a year. I mean, 100 mSv in a hour or in year has the same result.
    However, things are a bit more complicated, because the same rad (radiation emission) yields different Sv, depending on the afected organic tissues.
    According to the Chernobyl experience, the only real risk is for ingested I-134 and Cs-137 by children, which are very thyroid cancer prone.
    According to WHO, in the next 20 years after Chernobyl, a total of about 4000 thyroid cancers were observed in children, allthough the long-term survival rate of that cancer is in between 5 and 10%. The ex-soviets say that the survival rate was better than 99%, but I doubt it.
    Anyway, the really important point here is the radioactive amount of C-137 on the soil. Chernobyl provided relationships between that amount and the increased risk of thyroid cancer.

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  199. If I thought that Concerned was actually going to understand the information he/she seeks in relation to baseload CO2 offset achieved by going to 100% nuclear (as against what base case?), I would do the maths and put something up, however the recent posts from this person indicate that there is at work a deep seated antipathy towards nuclear power, which cries out for a more complete response than is possible in a short message.

    Further, the phrase “base load power” can be interpreted somewhat elasticly. Growth of power demand over time, including that of base loads, is also subject to many variables and is too complex an issue for a 500-word contribution here.

    So I will not answer the question directly.

    Following is a link to a thread on this site. This thread provides copious material relevant to the question, but with particular emphasis on IFR’s. There are dozens of links to follow to dig into the subject and follow the trail. Of course, if the questioner wants us to assume another technology than IFR/Type IV then the answers will be different.

    https://bravenewclimate.com/integral-fast-reactor-ifr-nuclear-power/

    Second, I strongly recommend a very readable book which is advertised at the top right hand of many pages of this blog. Barry’s half of this short book addresses the issues of demand, cost, safety, availability of fuel, and much more. Buy or borrow “Why Vs Why – Nuclear Power”, Pantera Press, 2010. It’s on the shelves for less than $20.

    Why Vs Why is very short and easily digested. The book even includes equal time for Emeritus Prof. Ian Lowe, who argues the opposing case.

    If it is not in your local library, ask them to borrow it in for you… or shell out a redskin like I did and buy a copy. You will not be disappointed.

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  200. sorry, I really don’t know wether this issue has already been posted, but I have no time to read all the thread.

    thinking about the total pollution caused by quake/tsunami double blow, everybody is concerned of the (at the moment only possible) radionuclide harmful pollution of air, soil and water, and its consequences as a higher cancer rate of the population.

    anyhow, just looking at the pictures of Fukushima plant, one can see the two huge fuel tanks in the front right (probably the reservoir for the diesel cooling system pumps), vanished after the wave.
    they can be either scattered in the countryside, or on the bottom of the ocean, but their content is certainly not inside anymore, and it has been spread over land and maybe over again when pulled back to the ocean.
    now, try and multiply this pollution by all the fuel, ammonia, gas, PLG, gasoline, paint, solvents, chlorine (and, why not?, radioactive products used in hospital and similar structures) containers and tanks in all the industrial plants in an area of about 4×600 square kilometers from the coastline, not mentioning some million vehicles and relative fuel tanks and gasoline, and the several day’s smoke from oil and gas which went aflame.

    I mean, radiations, over a certain degree, are known to cause cancer or anyway rise sharply the possibility of getting it, proportionally with time of exposition and intensity.
    but surely radionuclides are not the only stuff that can harm human health and the environment.

    this is an aspect of the comments and evaluations on the aftermath of the quake I could not read anywhere, neither on the discussion over energy, nor the ones over environmental damage, is there some kind of study, or modeling about the consequences of all that?

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  201. @seams The safety advantages of liquid metal cooled designs seem to rely heavily on the assumption that the liquid metal coolant system itself remains functional. What are the risk factors that need to be controlled with such systems and what are the consequences of failing to control them?

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  202. Paul Lindsey, on 22 March 2011 at 11:07 AM said:

    It appears that Onagawa NPP’s site is set further back and higher above sea level than Fukuyama Daiichi’s. Also, using Google Earth someone has placemarked the epicenter. While Onagawa is physically closer, it is also shielded by a group of island and a small peninsula.

    Thanks Paul – GoogleEarth gadgets worked.

    Last week I saw a before/after picture that was captioned “Oganawa nuclear power station”. It seemed to have been inundated. Unfortunately I can’t find it now, I think it was on a financial media site.

    But it doesn’t detract from the fact that the Oganawa NPP is in the same area, and it did survive without any critical damage. Ergo nukes can be built in a safe manner near locations where big earthquakes & massive tsunamis come ashore.

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  203. Regarding thyroid cancer: what is missing is the ‘natural’ rate of thyroid cancer, which you have to compare with. For example in the USA in 2010 alone, there are 44670 new cases of thyroid cancer. This means that over 20 years the number could be in the magnitude of 1 million cases of thyroid cancer in the USA (i’m not sure how much the annual rate varies so this is a rough estimate for perspective only).

    http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/thyroid

    Yes I know the USA is much bigger than the Ukraine but it goes to show you have to be careful in attributing cancer deaths, of any type, to nuclear power. Furthermore the health care level in eastern Europe at the time of Chernobyl was very poor which also adds to diseases and related deaths.

    It would be interesting to see a study of, say 10000 people near Chernobyl and 10000 people some distance away (but still the Ukraine) to compare the cancer deaths in both regions. That would be a much more valid study than simply stating that there were 4000 cases of thyroid cancer in 20 years.

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  204. Josa de Sa, if you use the no threshold model, how do you explain the fact that people in Ramsar, Iran are subject to background levels of radiation, mostly from terrestrial sources, many of which are bone-seeking, of up to 26 rem/year or 260 millisieverts/year, but do not have increased cancer rates compared to the rest of iran and in fact have fewer chromosome abberation diseases?

    http://www.probeinternational.org/Ramsar.pdf

    Also how do you explain that people in Taiwan lived in highly radioactive buildings contaminated with cobalt-60 for many years while actually reducing cancer incidence while the rest of Taiwan suffered increased cancer rates? Those people were subjected to levels of radiation up to half a sievert per year. Their cancer incidence dropped almost immediately when they moved in the radioactive appartments. The source was cobalt 60, a hard gamma emitter with a short half life.

    http://www.ecolo.org/documents/documents_in_english/low-dose-Cobalt-taiw-06.pdf

    Clearly something else is going on than linear no threshold.

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  205. for concerned – for background dose rates across 80% of Australia go to http://www.ga.gov.au/energy/projects/awags.html
    For information on what can be released the ARPANSA website has all the information you need in the Radiation Protection Series of publications. Of course none of this shows that a major issue in Aust is that no state or federal government has had the intestinal fortitude to approve a properly sited repository for low-level wastes which remain scattered throughout our larger cities in less than ideal containment.

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  206. I was trying to pin down DV82XL on worst case scenarios for possible nuclear accidents because most discussion recently has concerned their probabilities/causes rather than their consequences. It seems tacitly to have been accepted that the consequences have/had the potential to be dire

    It is clearly important from an economic perspective to prevent accidents and their frequency and to design ways of so doing. However, does this have any significance from a public health point of view? Possible danger to the public arises almost solely from the leakage of sources of ionising radiation. So far, the worst civil nuclear power accident was that at Chernobyl. It certainly had serious health consequences to members of the public. However, these were almost exclusively attributable to radiophobia. In fact, Jaworowski, in a paper entitled “Lessons of Chernobyl – with particular reference to thyroid cancer” (www.world-nuclear.org/info/chernobyl/health_impacts.html ) suggests that a) even the supposedly extra cases of thyroid cancer were probably an artifact of a combination of intensive screening and high levels of occult cancer of this type and b) that a case can be made that residents in the high risk areas might have benefitted from reduced cancer rates due to hormesis. However, he contrasts these minimal effects (harmful or beneficial) of Chernobyl with the extremely harmful effects attributable to ionising radiation from the explosion of a 10 MT nuclear bomb.

    If Jaworowski is close to being correct, it would seem that evacuation and subsequent arguments over the appropriateness of its extent, do nothing but fan radiophobia in an attempt to remove citizens from doses of extra radiation which are either harmless or beneficial.

    However, there are plenty of people who would be scandalised by Jaworowski’s views and who firmly believe that the Chernobyl death toll attributable to radiation is in the hundreds of thousands and continuing to rise. It seems that, until this issue is resolved and LNT theory is demolished, opposition to nuclear power will remain strong.

    Finally, I am not suggesting that Chernobyl did necessarily represent a worst case scenario. For all I know, it might be possible for a civil nuclear accident to have consequences that approach those of dropping a 10 MT nuclear weapon. This, I think, was the question that I should have addressed to DV82XL and others with appropriate expertise.

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  207. Wow this thread filled up fast!

    I’ve got another question…about renewables.

    Barry’s Environment Institute at Adelaide Uni hosted a talk by an interesting character that had visualised a ‘battery’ that could run the whole of Australia for 10 hours if the wind and solar went down!

    The idea is to build a large shallow hydro dam at the top of the Great Australian Bite. When you have excess solar and wind, pump seawater up. When you need the energy back, run it back down the 90 meter cliff back into the sea! It doesn’t use up freshwater or drown valleys, just desert. And we’ve got plenty of that!

    The only thing is I haven’t seen whether or not this is a crackpot idea or if engineers have peer reviewed and costed it as feasible. Then we’d have to build a true super-grid across Australia. Add that to the already more expensive solar thermal costs … and why are we doing this again when Gen3 nukes allow more reliable, local power grids that are already baseload without huge energy vulnerabilities should this ONE huge dam fail in a terrorist attack!?

    http://tinyurl.com/5rndh2l

    But this kind of idea is just so crazy it might catch the imagination of Sci-Fi Geeks. It’s like one of those George Lucas landscapes … woah, a huge hydro dam that could run Australia for 10 hours! The mind boggles … I almost want to see them try to build this sucker! (Like my earlier fascination with the 1km high solar updraft tower with the huge glasshouse umbrella down the base driving baseload power even in a week of rain. Hypothetically. ;-)

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  208. @John Bennett

    It is of course clear and true that there is indeed a deep seated antipathy (which I hope isn’t the problem) whilst it seems the assumed inability to comprehend is…or does it more interestingly mean that one is highly correlated with the other in your mind…

    I would very much welcome a full response of course..but in the interim am just tyring to efficiently garnish some help to try to take the debate along..anyone else have a ball they are happy to share..?

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  209. @EclipseNow

    Love the battery idea though am now worried that I must be a sci-fi geek lol

    though evaporation rates out of large shallow pool sounds terribly like net losses would always dwarf practical charging rates from renewables..but maybe the maths has been done ?

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  210. @bruced and others

    Thanks for the pointers..will explore..and yes the scattering of stoarge is a big prob but I guess indicative of the present overwhelming reaction to storage of this type..a real reality (as opposed to VR or AR) that has to be properly considered in any forward plan in this space

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  211. With Fukushima, in the context of all the other nuke disasters, accidents, and mishaps, a new reality has set in.

    A new exposure of the actual nature of nuclear information sharing, of the purported economic basis, the empty proposals for waste management, the slighting of safety needs with, for example, Finrod’s vague “sufficiently safe” (for GenIII+), has led to massive public distaste for this industry.

    The development of baseload renewables, (closer to roll-out than fusion, or other techno-dreams such as transmutation), looms as a more attractive alternative, particularly when the interests of future generations, and the threat of contemporary terrorism are put into the policy matrix.

    The nuclear lobby has great difficulty understanding the community’s high expectations and on several occasions the response has been a childish cartoon “FUD” – this when their industry is FUBAR (!?).

    But once the threat represented by plants represented by the cost-cutting and non-compliance represented by TECO and BP and as represented by nuclear pundits such as Peter Lang, only increases peoples concerns.

    Finrod is an exemplar of the argument and the basis for the nuclearisation of Australia. We do not want mini-nukes scattered around Australia nor AP1000’s hovering over large population centres.

    Economically the nuclear industry costs society millions of dollars and is not economic in Australia without subsidy, and so far no insurance company will insure a plant against costs of damage, rectificatoin and claims for compensation arising from a Fukushima incident.

    Nuclear pundits base their arguments on sandy postulates:

    – plants are ‘sufficiently safe’
    – waste will be stored in “some sort of central facility” [60 used rods per reactor per year is typical]
    – future generations will be the really safe option
    – breeder waste will be safe in a few centuries.

    None of these survive detail examination in a real world.

    The nuclear age is gone. It was a fancy for a few years, but reality has finally struck.

    All we can do is start spending dollars on developing baseload renewables and storage systems. This may cost more cash than cheap and nasty nukes but buys us a safe secure future for us and future generatoins.

    There is no alternative.

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  212. Regarding health effects..remember that the body is not a passive receiver of pollution..it has various defence mechanisms to defend and repair cell and DNA damage as well..I have no doubt that local populations would have evolved over centuries an appropriate balance of processes to deal with their local radiation environment which might explain ramsar.. Taiwan might indicate that these defences can ramp up quite quickly with the side effect that other types of cancers also get protected against..the problems come with the step changes maybe ?..especially at high enough levels to leave the bodies defences with no learning time..maybe it also depends on type, energy level and byproduct off decays..will be interesting to see down the track when our understanding of this and affects of microwave radiation is better understood..

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  213. A better way to use intermittent renewable power could be to use the electricity generated at source to make ammonia rather than going to the expense of feeding it into a grid that would rather not have it . It would probably maximise its CO2 sparing potential. However, this is a layman’s guess.

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  214. I have a question for the nuclear industry people here. This is not fear mongering, this is just technical curiosity.

    I assume that all of the instrumentation connected to the various reactor components is electrical based, not mechanical based. Correct me if I am wrong here.

    When the lights went out at the plant, and the backup batteries were exhausted, would it be correct to assume that the required electrical power to run the instrumentation was also lost? It seems that there would then have been no instrumentation whatsoever. No temps, no pressure readings, etc. Or are there backup mechanical based readings? And if so, it was reported that the control room was abandoned early in the event, with monitoring and control done off-site. That would surely require power to the instrumentation as well as the communication devices to such remote locations?

    I know my thinking is flawed somewhere here… please fill me in :-)

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  215. Yes there may be step changes, as in, acute high dose radiation effects, which are likely more damaging than continued exposure.

    It is not clear, but the supposed scientific explanation – unverified of course – is that damaging radiation signals repair in cells, which then not only repair the damage by ionizing radiation, but also any previous defects.

    This may sound strange, but we do see this in other areas – for example in immune system response, the body makes more white blood cells and anti-bodies when exposed to pathogens. This actually makes you healthier than a person that always keeps his or her house squiky clean, because the latter has the effect of turning the immune system ‘lazy’ with a lower concentration of white blood cells and/or antibodies.

    It is also seen in neuro-toxins, where moderate doses of neurotoxins stimulate nerve cell growth. Bee sting therapy – where patients are deliberately stung each day or so with bees, to regenerate numbed limbs, is a funny example of that.

    I’m no biologist so perhaps I am not explaining this correctly, but there are several statistical studies that show a clear radiation hormesis trend, and there are oddly also some studies which show no effect at all below some threshold.

    Statistics remain hard to interpret to causation, but its clear that linear no threshold is not scientifically valid. Studies done based on Fukushima nearby residents and also close monitoring of the workers, will no doubt raise some interesting insight, and I mean that sincerely not sadistically, though no doubt some residents and workers might disagree…

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  216. Rational Debate, on 22 March 2011 at 9:28 AM said:

    Excuse me, but please provide anything supporting your claim that past TEPCO compliance issues had ANYTHING to do with the current situation. I’ve seen nothing that would support that claim.

    —-

    This is a preliminary report, but I believe it will evolve as time allows for deeper investigation into recent regulation and inspections.

    http://www.huliq.com/3257/fukushima-nuclear-power-plant-skipped-inspections

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  217. Also, TEPCO has a history of falsifying inspections…. most interestingly for the know it all engineers…. In a document entitled Lessons Learned from the TEPCO Nuclear Power Scandal, released by the company and seen by The Times, TEPCO blamed its “misconduct” in 2002 on its “engineers’ overconfidence of their nuclear knowledge”. Their “conservative mentality” had led them to fail to report problems, the company said, resulting in an “inadequate safety culture”.

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/fukushima-nuclear-plant-owner-falsified-inspection-records/story-fn84naht-1226023073141

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  218. Civil R
    First, It was’nt me who do not assume any threshold for radiation patology: it is ICRP. The truth is that, according to a lot of institutions, there is no proved effects below 100 mSv/year. However, that is not a real problem, because if the linear relation between increased cancer incidence rate received dose is 4.4%/Sv (for adults), a260 mSv/Year will yield only an increase of 1% in cancer. However, that increase is random and has to be related to many other local factors, so I really don’t believe any body can prove anything. But that is the position of ICRP.
    Regarding tyroid cancer: of course I assumed a natural rate. I mean, WHO did it. In Beleraus+Ukraine there were 6880 tyroid cancers in children (aged less than 18), of which 4000 were assigned to radioactivity. In addition, you can not conclude anything from the number of thyroid cancers in the USA, because I (and WHO) am only talking about CHILDREN thyroid cancer, and in children that cancer is very unusual, less tnat 10% of the total thyroid cancers. On the ohter hand, no increase in the thyroid cancers in adults were proved, or any other type of cancers.

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  219. I’m sorry fot the spelling errors! I will try to be more carefull. I meant:
    ” because if the linear relation between increased cancer incidence rate AND received dose is 4.4%/Sv”
    and
    “Regarding thyroid cancer: of course I had assumed a natural rate”

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  220. As ABC News reports today, “Thirty-five years ago, Dale G. Bridenbaugh and two of his colleagues at General Electric resigned from their jobs after becoming increasingly convinced that the nuclear reactor design they were reviewing — the Mark 1 — was so flawed it could lead to a devastating accident.”

    The problems we identified in 1975 were that, in doing the design of the containment, they did not take into account the dynamic loads that could be experienced with a loss of coolant,” Bridenbaugh told ABC News in an interview. “The impact loads the containment would receive by this very rapid release of energy could tear the containment apart and create an uncontrolled release.”

    Like

  221. NR99, on 22 March 2011 at 11:12 PM said:

    All instrumentation is kaput. Official can only work with aerial photos and speculation. According to the latest reports:

    [link deleted – does not substantiate your statement]

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  222. RE: bks and a couple of other comments above who wanted clarification of my comment about radiological doses that are not harmful.

    Current dose rate measured at Tsukuba is 0.29 uSv/h.

    The natural background radiation dose rate in the United States is about 3.1 mSv/y, which is 0.354 uSv/h.

    A dose rate that is equal to natural background dose rate in the United States isn’t harmful, in the real world, let alone a dose rate that is even less than that.

    And the actual dose rate that a person in the United States gets from all sources is about double that, once you’ve added in medical imaging and the like. Higher still if you live at higher altitude, in Denver for example.

    No dose rate that is anything close to these kinds of dose rates, dose rates that average people experience across the world, is associated with any kind of health risk or elevated cancer risk, as we know from actual scientific epidemiology.

    Not even the 30 uSv/h (260 mSv/year) that you get as the natural geological background dose rate in Ramsar, Iran, can be linked to ill health or increased cancer rates or anything like that, through actual statistics and scientific epidemiology.

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  223. Can someone confirm these figures?

    The Fukushima Daiichi plant has seven pools dedicated to spent fuel rods. These are located at the top of six reactor buildings – or were until explosions and fires ravaged the plant.

    On the ground level there is a common pool in a separate building that was critically damaged by the tsunami. Each reactor building pool holds 3,450 fuel rod assemblies and the common pool holds 6,291 fuel rod assemblies. Each assembly holds sixty-three fuel rods. In short, the Fukushima Daiichi plant contains over 600,000 spent fuel rods.

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  224. Use of concrete pumping truck verified —

    Heightened discharges as pump truck arrives, World Nuclear News. Published 22 March 2011 at 1.08pm [GMT??]

    … At 5.17pm today [22 March 2011 at 5:17pm JST??] efforts to refill fuel ponds at units 3 and 4 were upgraded significantly by the arrival of a concrete pumping truck of the kind usually used in construction. It will supply water at up to 160 tonnes per hour through a 58 metre flexible boom via remote control.

    It is hoped that this extra reach, capacity and flexibility will enable Tepco to reduce issue of fuel pond levels and cooling until such time that normal systems can be brought back into operation.

    [Also, earlier in article, concerning seawater contamination –]

    Tepco released the results of a half-litre sample of water taken 100 metres south of the discharge channel from damaged units 1 to 4.

    Testing for a range of radionuclides showed amounts below regulatory limits for cobalt-58, iodine-132 and caesium-136. Detections were far above limits, however, for caesium-137 [half-life 30 yr], caesium-134 [half-life 2 yr] and iodine-131 [half-life 8 d].

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  225. @concerned: remember that not only radionuclides and radiation have a negative effect on health. there is a lot of other chemical poisons dangerous for the human, that normally are kept in safe places under strict regulations, but in this case have been spread throughout a very large area (differently from the radionuclides contained inside the reactors which, as far as we know, are still safe inside airproof containers).

    what I mean is that there is a strong (and correct) concern about the radioactive fallout, end the consequences of accident, bit it seems that the media lacks somehow about the concern about all the others threats to the population, hypothetical or already happened, and those threats are of great number and may have dire consequences.

    it would be curious if three years from now one could measure a sharp rise in, say, lung cancer in Chiba (far away from Fukushima) because of a 7 days fire of oil refineries, or a big number of itai-itai byo caused by a a cadmium poisoning in areas where battery factories (and consequent cadmium storage) used to be working.

    so, I think at least a wise thing to have a very deep and wide look pointed to ALL the real and potential danger that quake and tsunami posed and are still posing to japanese people, without leaving apart the nuclear issue, but also without ignoring other kind of pollution.

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  226. Rational Debate,
    Your moniker is truly apt! We probably agree when it comes to the federal government abusing the constitution in general and the tenth amendment in particular. The “Commerce” and “General Welfare” clauses can be used to justify almost anything the federal government wants to do.

    While I am well aware of the underpinnings of the nuclear “status quo” in the USA such as NWPA and Price-Anderson. My motivation is quite subversive in that I believe the nuclear establishment in the USA has outlived its usefulness.

    The triumph of Uranium reactors was inevitable given the public policies of the “Cold War”. The elimination of long term storage projects such as Yucca could drive a stake through the heart of “once through” NPPs but more likely it will stimulate the commercialisation of technologies that will “burn” 99% of the waste.

    Getting specific I support funding sub-critical nuclear reactors, MSRs and LFTRs. While the management of this site is firmly in the IFR camp dissidents like this camel are tolerated.

    Like

  227. Hello all. I have a question that I’m hoping someone out there can answer. In the reactor cores, the water has been ~ 1m below the tops of the fuel rods for several days, despite them pumping a significant amount of seawater into them. My questions are:
    1) What is going on physically and chemically to these exposed rods in the reactor?
    2) what is the destiny of the air and water inside the reactor? Is it being let out?
    3) Why hasn’t the pumping of seawater into them led to their submersion?

    Thanks for your help and for a great website.

    Like

  228. Chris Warren, on 23 March 2011 at 12:19 AM said:

    NR99, on 22 March 2011 at 11:12 PM said:

    All instrumentation is kaput. Official can only work with aerial photos and speculation. According to the latest reports:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/23/world/asia/23japan.html

    —–

    To the engineers on this blog; Is it possible that due to the combined damage to the control rooms, and their mechanical sub systems, that despite outside power being reconnected, the level of damage to the reactor systems of 1,2, 3 might make it impossible to regain control of said reactors using what it left of the plant systems? And if so, what could be done to bring them under control using external methods? I’m seeing little discussion about backup backup plans if these reactor control systems are damaged beyond repair. From what I understand, pouring water on or into the reactor core is merely a stop gap measure. The cores will eventually overheat unless more conventional systems are restarted.

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  229. @Shelby

    I have a gentle suggestion regarding your question. It is more useful to ask engineers if a situation or series of events is “probable”, rather than “possible.” And asking at what their confidence level is for a “probable” event. This allows them to eliminate the Godzilla or meteor impact damage scenarios from their answers.

    NHK is reporting restored power to all 6 reactors and showing video of a ‘lights on’ control room. Sensing and control is being restored. At what level I don’t know.

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  230. DrD

    As a publisher, editor, producer, and person with years of experience decoding propaganda, I say poppycock. The gist of the question is clear, only the answer remains mired in uncertainty.

    Like

  231. A new exposure of the actual nature of nuclear information sharing, of the purported economic basis, the empty proposals for waste management, the slighting of safety needs with, for example, Finrod’s vague “sufficiently safe” (for GenIII+), has led to massive public distaste for this industry.

    I had no idea I was so influential! Anyway, why do you think I’m wrong? Can you give me an example of a Gen III+ design which would have failed in the place of Fukushima Dai-ichi, and explain why it woulf have done so?

    Finrod is an exemplar of the argument and the basis for the nuclearisation of Australia. We do not want mini-nukes scattered around Australia nor AP1000′s hovering over large population centres.

    Do you claim some mandate to speak on behalf of others, or have you taken to using the first person plural?

    Nuclear pundits base their arguments on sandy postulates:
    – plants are ‘sufficiently safe’
    – waste will be stored in “some sort of central facility” [60 used rods per reactor per year is typical]
    – future generations will be the really safe option
    – breeder waste will be safe in a few centuries.
    None of these survive detail examination in a real world.

    Go on then. Supply the detailed examination which these ‘sandy postulates’ won’t survive.

    By the way, my advocacy of Gen IV technology for the long term is based on their sustainability rather than their safety. Chris Harries is simply attempting to confuse the issue by ascribing safety concerns as the reason for my support for Gen IV.

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  232. If expecting precise answers, one should ask precise questions. “You knew what I meant!” cannot be accepted in these circumstances.
    The term “possible” defines a probability greater than zero and an honest answer must then include exceptionally improbable scenarios. Such answers are misleading in our real world. Individuals with clarity of thought should reject misleading answers. Better than rejecting them is not soliciting them in the first place.

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  233. This is a link to the NRC Radiological Toolbox. It does, among other things, compute does (Sv) for exposure (Bq) by tissue for various radionucleotides for inhalation and ingestion. It does these calculations based upon data in various NRC publications which are referenced it its manual. I would recomend familiarizing yourself with those documents before trying to interperate the output of this program. I have noticed that it is a bit buggy and crashes sometimes.

    http://www.nrc.gov/about-nrc/regulatory/research/radiological-toolbox.html

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  234. We have 3 reactors that are being “stabilized” by pumping seawater into them to cool the cores, then venting that steam into the outside air. As long as that continues the core heat and pressures remain in a stalemate. Or temporary containment. But the water levels in the cores are only partially full, no one knows how full. Simple physics would say that pumping seawater into a heated pressurized space could not result in completely full tanks. So there is almost certainly exposed material in the cores that could become hot again if cooling were stopped. Reports of improving conditions seem to be entirely based on a power line that has been connected to the plants. However, it is reported that power line does not supply enough power to even run the systems of one reactor (2), let alone all 3 active reactors and 6 fuel ponds. There has been official reports of damaged valves, pumps, switches, and other machinery that had to be ordered for the 3 active reactors, but no one has said where from or how long it might take. There are also reports that control rooms are currently too radioactive and must be scrubbed for engineers to enter. The reports of improving conditions seem based on the fact that outside pumping of seawater is having a limited effect (as long as they keep pumping) and lights are now on in the reactors / control rooms. Lights are now on in the reactors?? Wow! Yet they have no idea if any of the systems can be made functional, or if they even have enough power being supplied to operate these systems. In summary, it seems to me that it is the officials at the site who are engaging in wishful or hopeful thing, which is being reported in the media and here at this blog as progress!

    I’m merely asking, what if they are wrong? What is the backup plan to bring these reactors back to cold shutdown if the plant is effectively a wreck?

    Like

  235. @Shelby,

    Rather than speculate endlessly on the final score, or the range of possible scores, or who will win the over and under bets, it may be best to just sit back and watch the game play out.

    Considering the horrific events so far (earthquake, tsunami, 3 major building explosions…) I figure if the engineers were smart enough and persistent enough to be able to stay in the game this long, with the score where it is now, my money is riding on the Engineers, not Armageddon.

    And time is on their side. Time removes heat. Time allows for more equipment to be repaired and replaced. As long as they maintain access to the site time is on their side and they inch their way closer to the final goal line (cold shutdown of everything).

    I don’t mean to make light of the situation via my analogy but it was the best way I could put it. And it is really a game- just a very deadly serious real life game, but a game they are winning now if only by inches.

    Like

  236. > a Gen III+ design which would have failed
    > in the place of Fukushima

    with the earthquake and tsunami?
    ‘failed’ has too many possible meanings, from a slight interruption in power to a longterm problem.

    Would you agree the current GenIII+ and Gen4 designs will get a review once the current experience is understood, and might be improved?

    Like

  237. A few thoughts..
    In many parts of the world the competition for new power is not coal but gas. Gas plants are modular, inexpensive, standardized and quick to install. If nuclear is to compete with gas it must share those traits, then it becomes no contest on LCOE as fuel costs round off to zero.
    I believe the economics of small modular Gen IV with ongoing production efficiencies and briefer pre-operations financing will beat the efficiencies of scale of large plants with their longer build times.

    I have lost the thread, but ‘thank you’ to the commenter who noted that many Gen IV designs are at atmospheric pressure and passively cooled on shutdown. These factors drastically reduce cost and risk.
    Presumably, ‘small’ modular designs could even be ‘shaken’ on a test-bed to demonstrate their resistance
    to earthquake accelerations. (analogous to crash-testing cars)

    Like

  238. Numerous posters have noted Prof MAcKay’s book:
    I do not have the background to do the work, but having read “without the hot air” by Prof MacKay, it would be a great service to have such information compiled for other countries based on his models.
    The results will differ for various renewables based on climate, pop density, etc., but the conclusions will likely be similar: renewables aren’t ever going to be sufficient. Nuclear is essential.
    I believe the world would be well-served if we are all working from consistent, thorough, energy models such as in Prof MacKay’s work. Globally consistent expertise and shared results will benefit everyone.

    A clear, open* model can produce results which are far less susceptible to distortion (by media, rabid greens, the coal industry, etc)
    This would be a great basis for student research papers.
    * open as in having the sources for all the numbers cited (much like this blog). That we we argue facts not opinions.

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  239. DV82XL Writes:

    @Roger Brown – You’re right, I find your ideas impossibly idealistic, and given the lessons of history, I’m not the one not connecting with reality.

    I wrote elsewhere in these pages that I see a parallel to this limits-to-growth ideology, and that of the Anarchist movement of the early 1900s who believed that humanity could get along fine without government of any kind. A nice idea, but monumentally impractical. That is why that movement has been relegated to the dustbin of history.

    DV82XL,

    Limits to growth is a hypothesis, not an ideology. The fact that history shows that people do not want to believe in it is irrelevant to its truth or falsehood. If you had presented evidence that limits to growth is of no concern to anyone now living, and I had misunderstood and misrepresented your arguments, then you might have a basis for calling me an ideologue. But since, in fact, you did not present a shred of evidence, I have no choice but to regard your attack as an Ad Hom which reveals your own ideological bias.

    I have not spent my life railing about limits to growth. Until about six years ago (when I became convinced of the high probability of a near term peak in oil production) I ignored the issue, not because I was in love with capitalism but because I had indeed learned the lessons of history well enough to understand that the momentum of the current economic system was only going to be halted by grievous external circumstances. Whether or not such external circumstance would occur in my lifetime I did not know or attempt to guess. Nevertheless if anyone had asked me whether limits to growth would sooner or later come into play, I would have answered ‘yes’ because it appeared to me than common sense could come to no other conclusion.

    If you believe that common sense can come to contrary conclusion please present your reasons, keeping in mind that ‘It has not happed yet’ is not evidence; One generation before they start dying off the yeast in a vat are fat dumb and happy. Of course there is an important difference to the production of yeast cell and the production economic output; The amount resources required to produce a new yeast cell is pretty much a fixed quantity, while the amount of resources required to produce an unit of economic output is not. Therefore you can invoke dematerialization of economic output as a way of evading limits to growth, at least for a period time (The usual period being at a few decades longer that the life expectancy of the evoker).

    Unfortunately the day when our economic activity is focused on selling new software apps for our forty year old electronic devices does not appear to be approaching very rapidly. There there is another difference between human economic activity and yeast reproduction which tends to counteract the benefits of increased manufacturing efficiency. The needs of yeast cell do not change over time. If you drop a yeast cell in vat twenty years from today its nutritional needs will be essential identical to needs of a yeast cell today. On the other hand consumer needs in a growth based economy are constantly expanding. When I went off to college thirty-seven years ago I had a suitcase of clothes, an alarm clock, an electronic calculator, and a dictionary. Today a middle class college student ‘needs’ a cell phone, a laptop computer, a television, a sound system, a digital camera, and probably a bunch of other toys of which my old fogy status has kept me in ignorance. If we learn to produce existing products and services more efficiently we use the resource savings to produce new toys and luxuries and fire up the advertising machine to produce ‘needs’ for these new products. The whole tendency of the modern economic machine is to put constantly increasing pressure on the earth’s resources. The fact that the size of the earth’s resource base and the cleverness of human engineering have allowed us to ‘get way with it’ so far, does not constitute evidence that we will be able to get away with this procedure forever.

    Believe me the cowardly side of my nature wishes that business as usual would hold up for another few decades. I am fifty-five years old and the men in my father’s family tend to keel over and die from an heart attack when they are in their late seventies or early eighties. Another two and half decades and I can probably leave some other generation holding the bag. However in any public discussion I am going to speak what I see a the truth about the strategy that we should pursue: Cooperate in the production and distribution of basic economic necessities minimum ecological foot print and focus our quest for psychic income on some other goal than the competitive accumulation of consumption rights.

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  240. with the earthquake and tsunami?
    ‘failed’ has too many possible meanings, from a slight interruption in power to a longterm problem.

    Good Point. I mean a situation where the earthquake and tsunami cause damage sufficient to result in the sort of cascading failures we’ve seen in the present instance, not a situation where the reactor just goes into a safe scram and stays in that condition pending inspection, repair and restart.

    Would you agree the current GenIII+ and Gen4 designs will get a review once the current experience is understood, and might be improved?

    It seems likely. Note that my response was to Chris Harries’ shot about Gen III.

    Like

  241. A few hundred years ago the limits of growth were dictated by the number of trees left to cut down for energy, plus materials to build ships, among other things. America was the land of unlimited energy and ship building supplies (trees). Or so they thought at the time :-)

    Oil got us to another level but we are scraping the bottom of that barrel now too.

    We have had a new source, nuclear, but we are afraid of it so we just play with it.

    Every few generations we will need a new source of energy. I think nuclear is the stop gap to get us to that next level.

    I don’t think anyone has any clue how to live productive lives without economic growth. The best solution we are likely to come up with is to utilize all sources of energy to the extent feasible and sensible. I don’t think nuclear energy will be important in 200 years, but it is for the next 50-100 years. It may be life or death to our economies unless some magic renewable comes along.

    A big part of the solution is to convert internal combustion engines into something else and electric makes as much sense as anything else now. That conversion will create huge power demands that have not been considered in many of these discussions. Just my opinion…

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  242. This is my first time commenting ever, on any type of blog. Being a practicing nuclear engineer, I have become increasing incensed with how some pseudo-environmentalists and the American media have been using this event as a propaganda tool. It seems the whole motivation is throw out out-of-context facts and misleading comments in an attempt to prevent a fair and open discussion of nuclear power. I personally enjoy debating the pros and cons of nuclear energy with reasonable people, unfortunately those seem to be largely absent in the current public debate. Responses by Chris Warren clearly demonstrate the strategy used to ensure that a fair fight is not possible. They bring up the cost of construction in the US, but fail to mention that the construction costs of the current plants were driven up by frivolous lawsuits filed by the same people complaining about the costs. They also fail to mention the improved regulatory structure and streamlining of the design process which both improves cost and safety by standardizing designs. They mention the issue of waste, then refuse to entertain any of the currently proven methods to deal with said waste. Being “environmentalists” one would think they would love the idea of recycling waste, but instead all I hear is “Oh the Plutonium!” Once this statement is uttered, a reasoned discussion is usually no longer possible. It doesn’t matter if you point out that the 240/239 ratios make this type of material unsuitable for weapons, the fact that it could possibly, with enourmous amounts of time energy be made into a bomb makes it a settled “fact” that it is a proliferation risk.

    @Shelby When u ask an engineer if it is possible that a 20m diameter meteorite could score a direct hit on an operating reactor vaporizing the core and sending the entire contents into the jet stream, a well trained engineer would answer yes it is possible. That is what we are trained to do, evaluate the risk and the benefit of a given design. The risk of anything within the laws of physics happening is non-zero. The risk of another beyond design basis accident happening at a US plant is not zero. This is why conservatisms are put into the design process, and multiple layers of protection are added. In addition, having run the calculations thus far, the cooling needs of the core are very limited at this point. Full coverage of the core is not needed to provide cooling for the exposed rods. The residual heat in the covered portion of the fuel generates steam which cools the upper rods. This is sufficient to prevent additional core damage.

    At this point, understanding the very real risks of nuclear power, I understand that the risk I take stepping into my car in the morning is much greater than the risk I take living 20 miles from a nuclear power plant, and yes I do live 20 miles from a BWR. This is the key, that for every action there is a risk which needs to be weighed against the benefit. While I would love to have a world entirely powered by wind and solar, I realize that only a small portion of our needs can be met within the laws of physics. This is why I went into the nuclear field. I realized that the risk/benefit ratio for large base load power generation was basically tilted towards nuclear.

    To the moderators, I will apologize if any of my comments seem too confrontational. Feel free to edit as necessary. I have reached my breaking point, and cannot sit on the sidelines while my profession, and by extension myself are slandered.

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  243. Rational Debate, on 22 March 2011 at 4:01 PM said:

    “Frankly, to avoid that discussion will look shifty to many who will suspect that those they think are ‘pro-nuclear’ and those associated with the actual industry are unwilling to face problems and learn from mistakes. “

    I must have muddled my message. I am not arguing to sweep things under the rug. I am arguing we should not try to defend what was clearly an inadequately safeguarded facility, but point out the strides which have been made in reactor design in the decades since it was constructed, and explain how a Gen III design would not have suffered such a crisis.

    The key problem in the Fukushima design was that there was a single point failure mechanism in the cooling power system and its illusory backups. At least one backup power generator and its fuel should have been located in a spot inaccessible to a monster tsunami. Such an event was not by any means beyond the imagination of the designers, had they thoughtfully considered the unique characteristics of the site.

    The argument that we cannot safeguard any eventuality, and that we simply must accept that we will fail in not-utterly-improbable scenarios is a losing argument, and is not true. Passive designs safe themselves automatically. It actually requires active human intervention to make them unsafe.

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  244. Dear Dr. Brook,

    Thanks for the open thread.

    Last week, Bill Scranton, former Lt. Governor of Pennsylvania, was on NPR talking about his role in the Thrill Mile Island disaster. He said that the most difficult aspect of the disaster from his point of view was the ability to get reliable information from the plant operators. He mentioned that the owners were reluctant to give information and that reluctance let to a deepening disaster.

    He mentioned that Japan seemed to be having the same problem. The utility is not a source of reliable information.

    Later, I saw Hans Blix who, as head of the IAE, oversaw the disaster at Chernobyl. He said, “the problem early in the disaster was the inability to get real information. We had no reliable information and the Soviets were not forthcoming. That gap in information probably cost lives. It certainly delayed efforts to deal with the situation and probably lead to more exposure for thousands.”

    This lack of good intel early has deepened the crisis in Japan and, generally, lead to more panic and fear than there should have been and, arguably, more radiation exposure than there should have been.

    There has been a lot of talk about how Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukusima are different events in scope and nature, but not enough information has been shared on how they are very similar, and in no way more than this huge gap between what plant owners want to say (to protect financial or political assets) and what the world wide public needs to know.

    And this, I think, is what separates nuclear energy from other energy sources: it is a global energy source. When a hydroelectric damn collapses in China, for example, it is clearly a human disaster of major magnitude. But at the same time the greatest danger is local. When the US ventures to Iraq and engages in a war in part to secure oil, again it’s a local disaster. When a nuclear plant has a disaster, it is potentially global event, not just from direct radiation, which is local, but from the transfer of radiation via weather and the insidious transfer of radiation through the food chain.

    And the lack of reliable information from the front lines adds to the panic, though the plant owners usually think the opposite is true.

    Transparency is the key. It might have helped turn the tide at Fukusima, at least in the realm of public opinion.

    Nuclear energy owners, ironically, are the worst ambassadors for nuclear energy.

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  245. According to NYT, IAEA complains that is has very limited data on the status of reactors in Fukushima:

    In Vienna, an official at the International Atomic Energy Agency complained about a lack of information from the Japanese authorities, Reuters reported.

    “We have not received validated information for some time related to the containment integrity of unit 1,” the official, Graham Andrew, said. “So we are concerned that we do not know its exact status.” He also said the agency lacked data about the temperatures of the pools holding spent fuel rods at the No. 1, 3 and 4 reactors. Another agency official said that the site continued to emit radiation but that the source was unclear.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/23/world/asia/23japan.html?hp

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  246. On the bright side, it took a 30-40 foot wall of water (a once in a hundred year event, maybe a thousand?), resulting in the destruction of almost everything important outside of the containment buildings, including the power, water and communications infrastructure of the surrounding region, to generate unanticipated results.

    At TMI, it only took one stuck valve and a poorly engineered and apparently misunderstood indicator light to take that reactor down and destroy it.

    We are making headway here, slowly but surely :-)

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  247. @gallopingcamel – There is one design on the market now, the Indian 220 MWe pressurized heavy water reactors (PHWRs) based on the CANDU 3, (which is no longer offered by AECL) an Advanced CANDU 3, as it were. They have had some interest, but no one has bought as yet.

    @Douglas Wise – I cannot think of a worse case than Chernobyl. The huge block of burning graphite, and the lack of secondary containment, puts that incident in a class by itself. I cannot think of any current configuration or projected design of reactor that could fail so spectacularly, and deliver so much to the environment. Thus I think it is reasonably safe to assume that this was a worse case event.

    @Roger Brown – I believe that you are deliberately misinterpreting my remarks, because you are spoiling for a fight on this issue. Frankly I am not interested. For the record I was referring to the ideologies of the Club of Rome, not the neo-Malthusian hypothesis you seem to be supporting. Specifically I was pointing out that those that seem to think that it will be possible to stop growth by a moral appeal, or by legislation are not likely to contribute to how things trend in the future, because, like the Anarchists of the 1900, their ideas are not practical.

    As for how we can continue to grow, that is the point of the energy debate. In essence, with unlimited energy available, technology can overcome any limits on the material side, and while we have not harnessed fusion and beyond as yet, there is no reason to think we will never.

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  248. An interesting little clip “The triumph of coal marketing”.
    Very simple. Very clear. Very poorly understood by the media.
    http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2011/03/the-triumph-of-coal-marketing.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+typepad%2Fsethsmainblog+%28Seth%27s+Blog%29
    More people need to see this type of messaging if we are to begin a rational debate on the safety of nuclear energy (beyond this blog which is unfortunately nearly unique in that it does foster rational debate)

    Like

  249. Eclipse Now re your suggestion up thread about the Great Australian Bight. I don’t know if the pumped sea water hydro idea makes sense but I’d point out more and more voices are calling for that part of the country to become a low carbon energy hub. Apparently WA has 20 or so potential uranium mines and Premier Barnett favours NP. The SA Mines Minister wants a local uranium enrichment industry. Olympic Dam needs a large coastal desalination plant. Lastly there have been calls for a high capacity HVDC cable to unite the eastern and western grids. The GAB is smack dang in the middle of all of this.

    Like

  250. There are a number of posts here that I ‘owe’ answers to, and others that I’d like to reply to – hopefully I have a chance to get to at least some of them.

    Some of the most important points are also more complicated – while the individual pieces are fairly straight forward, when you put it all together, it’s complicated and entire books are written on the various subjects, such as radiological exposures, or the various design aspects of a power plant.

    I’m not a systems engineer, but have some education/training/experience with some of these issues and so may be able to help with at least partial information.

    Starting with a couple of issues that have been brought up about system readings such as pressure and temperature.

    First, they haven’t lost all readings as someone posted. They are regularly reporting some of the key data for reactor vessel, containment vessel, and spent fuel pool temps, pressures, etc.

    That said, it is clear that some of the instrumentation or connections to the instrumentation have been damaged, and some of that key data is missing as a result. I don’t know what caused those to be lost – tsunami, earthquake, hydrogen explosions – or some combination thereof…. that could probably be pieced together by looking at when they did have readings for a particular instrument and then when it was lost compared to when these various things occurred. At this point any trained person will be looking at all readings with some skepticism, and trying to correlate readings with other known factors to determine if they are accurate or not. That is only prudent, and is how they are trained.

    Someone asked if all readings were electronic, or if there are ways to get mechanical data. For most major systems, there are mechanical methods also. The problem in a situation like this is whether they can get to those locations, either because of debris or radiation levels. Those mechanical methods, gauges, sample ports, etc., for key systems would have to be on the specific system of course.

    Restoring electrical power should, for each system with connections or instrumentation that isn’t too damaged, give them readings for backup instrumentation on crucial systems, many secondary systems, less crucial areas, and so on. All of that information will help them better understand what is occurring with each system and where there are problems. It will also relieve the need for battery power to a large extent.

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  251. NYT: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/22/world/asia/22nuclear.html?ref=asia

    “Japan Extended Reactor’s Life, Despite Warning
    Published: March 21, 2011
    TOKYO — Just a month before a powerful earthquake and tsunami crippled the Fukushima Daiichi plant at the center of Japan’s nuclear crisis, government regulators approved a 10-year extension for the oldest of the six reactors at the power station despite warnings about its safety.

    Several weeks after a 10-year extension was granted for the Fukushima Daiichi plant, its operator admitted that it had failed to inspect 33 pieces of equipment related to the plant’s cooling systems….”

    Sigh.

    Like

  252. Finrod, on 23 March 2011 at 2:15 AM said:

    Can you give me an example of a Gen III+ design which would have failed in the place of Fukushima Dai-ichi, and explain why it would have done so?

    What a very strange way of testing nuclear safety?

    A test of the ability to survive a over-8 magnitude earthquake and 25 metres of saltwater inundation and backwash, may be useful for reactors at Indian Point on the Hudson River near New York, but this is not a reasonable test for general nuclear safety.

    All GenIII+ reactors will fail if attacked by terrorists, American bunker-busting bombs, or even departing armies as Saddam destroyed oil wells as he departed Kuwait.

    The Pacific continental plate is moving constantly and over time predictable geological events must happen. The recent observations started with the, Mt St Helens explosion in 1980 and the Kīlauea Volcano (Hawaii) that began in 1983 which is still erupting. Whether the Indonesian and Icelandic volcanos are part of the same general settling of the earths crust – I don’t know.

    The plate pushed New Zealand closer to Australia this year, and has moved Japan. So in the next 40-50 years, it is likely that associated events will occur on the Western side of the same plate.

    So the real test, is to identify what reactors are on fault lines along the San Andreas fault.

    So how does a genIII+ retain its radiation if a Tsunami of rubble hits it similar to the cascade from a mount St Helens type event (1980).

    What GenIII+ retains its radioactivity if terrorists fly a hijacked aircraft into its core?

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  253. Critics take aim at Japan’s nuclear optimists

    An excess of optimism has become a recurring theme of Japan’s nuclear crisis, the world’s worst for 25 years. For critics of Japan’s atomic energy policy in general, and of the official response to breakdowns at Fukushima in particular, the emergency has been framed in terms of chronic failures to acknowledge risks and prepare for worst-case scenarios.

    (more)
    https://bravenewclimate.com/2011/03/21/fukushima-open-discussion/#comment-120139

    Like

  254. re post by: chris warren, on 22 March 2011 at 4:42 PM

    Chris, some people use the “thousands of tons” of spent fuel rods very much as a scare tactic that has no sense of proportion and is very misleading. To most of the public, it sounds like a huge amount, a huge volume of material to deal with. Uranium is, of course, a very dense heavy metal, so referring to it by weight only is misleading.

    Not to mention that when this tactic is used, they virtually never bother to compare to the tons of waste put into our atmosphere by a typical coal facility. That has been vastly reduced with scrubbers, but is still a massive amount. That’s not including CO2. Where would you prefer to have waste, in solid form that can be handled and buried (or reused) – or released in the atmosphere?

    That all those x tons could be fit into the space of a football field by a few meters deep helps put things into perspective. It isn’t a calculation of storage. It is a calculation of the volume we’re dealing with and can be made fairly easily just from the weight.

    The volume has been calculated this way by any number of different scientists, organizations, utilities, and government agencies. One example, the Nuclear Energy Institute: http://www.nei.org/resourcesandstats/nuclear_statistics/nuclearwasteamountsandonsitestorage/ You can find similar statements made by reputable sources pretty easily with a little googling.

    For that matter, the number, diameter, length etc. of spent fuel rods is well known to the appropriate departments in the NRC and DOE (including, of course, the designers responsible for the size aspect of Yucca Mountain High Level Waste Repository). Probably to others also. It’s also pretty well known just how much more will be generated in the future by existing plants. We are talking about licensed, highly regulated, and frequently inspected material that you certainly can’t just walk off with.

    I’m not sure what you’re asking re MW per 10 years – but its not hard to find statistics related to nuclear power.

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  255. I have a question related to Tsunamis, in the event anyone trained in that field cares to answer.

    The suggestion has been made that because the height of this Tsunami exceeded the height of the Tsunami barrier that the barrier was insufficiently engineered. Without addressing specifically how high the wall should have been for this site, which I think is Monday morning quarterbacking… I have some questions about exactly what it takes to stop such a wall of water.

    We all know now that Tsunamis are not simple waves like we see at the beach. They are very long period waves and have tremendous depth (depth extending back from the front crest) and volume.

    We know that water sloshes when it hits a barrier and a wave can easily overcome a barrier even though it is not quite as high as the barrier. I see that clearly when normal waves hit a breakwater or stone jetty.

    So… assuming a 10 meter Tsunami and a 10.5 meter barrier, I’m not a hydraulic engineer but I suspect that won’t stop a Tsunami of this magnitude because the water will back up behind the barrier until it rises a half meter then it will spill over and the continuing wall of water will then easily flow past. The barrier may stop some of the force of the water but the question is how much, and how much higher a wall needs to be in order stop a large Tsunami. And remembering that this is not a typical short period wave hitting a jetty or harbor breakwater.

    With none of the recent Tsunamis (this one and the Indian Ocean Tsunami in particular) do I recall hearing about Tsunami walls that actually stopped a major Tsunami. Maybe they just aren’t reported or maybe no one builds them large enough to stop the big ones.

    Now the main question: given that these events are quite rare is there any real world experience that conclusively proves Tsunami walls really work when dealing with 10+ meter Tsunamis? And how much do they have to be “over-built (exceed the nominal height of the water) in order to do the job?

    You can overkill things and build a 10 foot barrier to protect against a 5 foot wave but I’m not sure if that scales up realistically when the wave heights are 10+ meters?

    Is this on the order of trying to stop a Hurricane?

    P.S. Here is an example of what I am thinking. My assessment of that image is that the nominal height of the water *may* not have exceeded the wall because I see a “hump” just seaward of the wall. This still image is, I think, part of a video that many of us saw on TV. What I never saw was a photo or video of a wall that actually worked and stopped the water. It is difficult to evaluate the relative heights, of course.

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  256. @DV82XL

    Since your responses to me are largely personal attacks and political BS I can understand why you are not interested in a substantive discussion of limits to growth issues; You apparently have nothing substantial to contribute to such a discussion. Your one attempt to refer to the underlying physical reality (unlimited energy = unlimited growth) is laughably delusional.

    Of course there is no such thing as an unlimited supply of energy, but let us suppose the existence of a very larger reservoir of energy, say 10 orders of magnitude greater that the total energy consumed by the human race since the 1500. In the presence of such a reservoir I agree running out of energy would not be an issue for a very long time to come. However, the amount of energy which can be usefully be delivered to the economy is not determined solely by the size of the available reservoir. Two other factors are involved.

    The first of these factors is the cost of delivering a useful unit of energy to end users. Solar energy enthusiasts never tire of informing us that the total solar energy reaching the earth’s surface every year is 10,000 time greater than humanity’s current yearly consumption of energy. Satellites in space could conceivable access a much larger reservoir of solar energy than this. However, as you know very well, if the cost of delivering a unit of usable energy from solar sources is much higher than coal and natural gas then economic activity will be negatively impacted no matter how large the reservoir may be. Even if fission energy and fusion energy have lower costs than renewables their costs are not zero. An energy source that has a finite cost cannot support infinite per capita economic growth.

    The second factor limiting how much energy can effectively be utilized is the negative externalities associated with human economic activity. Your assumption appears to be that if carbon emissions disappear so will negative externalities. I beg to differ. I would give more details of why I believe this to be the case, but I am losing interest expending intellectual energy in a one sided dialogue.

    Like

  257. re post by: ShowsOn, on 22 March 2011 at 6:58 PM
    I’m hoping nesting blockquotes works, have been meaning to try it anyhow, so here goes:

    Rational Debate:
    [Obama’s anti-nuclear ideological beliefs are the problem. ]

    This is absurd. Even Republican senators acknowledge that the Obama administration is very pro-nuclear, even more so than the previous administration:
    http://motherjones.com/mojo/2010/01/graham-obama-admin-pro-nuclear-power

    George Bush’s first Energy Secretary was a lawyer, whereas Obama went for a pro-nuclear power physicist who happens to be a Nobel prize winner.

    During the Democratic primary it was obvious that Obama was much more open to nuclear than Clinton.

    Oh, and what exactly did the previous administration do to promote the development and investment in nuclear power?

    If anyone’s ideological beliefs are getting in the way of rational debate, it is yours.

    Showson, you need to look a little deeper. Obama is and has been strikingly anti-nuclear. He talks as if he is pro-nuclear but virtually always adds a caveat along the lines of “if we can find a way to safely handle the waste.” He has, however, made it pretty clear for years now that he does not believe this is possible.

    It is a prime example of political misdirection. Makes his ‘pro-nuclear’ stance entirely contingent on whatever his definition of ‘safe’ handling waste, while making it clear he doesn’t believe that is possible. That is anti-nuclear if I’ve ever heard it.

    A 2009 Scientific American article even touched on Obama’s position wrt high level waste:

    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, is a leading opponent of storing nuclear waste in his home state. Pres. Barack Obama appears to agree. In 2007 Obama, then a junior senator from Illinois, wrote in a letter to Reid and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D–Calif.) noting that “the selection of Yucca Mountain has failed, the time for debate on this site is over, and it is time to start exploring new alternatives for safe, long-term solutions based on sound science.”

    And on January 5, Reid said in a statement that Obama “reiterated his promise to work with me to prevent the dump from ever being built.”

    There are many other examples out there.

    As to Obama appointing Chu as Sect. of Energy – 2 weeks after his appointment, the man had no clue that he was responsible for fossil fuel issues, dealing with OPEC, etc. The gross lack of basic understanding of the position he was appointed to was mind boggling – to borrow a term from across the pond, I was gobsmacked. Chu is a highly specialized theoretician and academic, and he is avidly pro alternative energy regardless of cost or practicality. You say he’s pro-nuclear – but he has agreed with Obama on the waste issue.

    This is all similar to the political theater they’re presenting wrt oil drilling, and that federal courts have found the administration in contempt of court over – they SAY that they support ‘safe’ drilling, then first impose a drilling moratorium that was specifically in contradiction to their own scientific commission’s recommendations. Federal court rules that there is no basis for the moratorium, the Admin simply implements a second one that wasn’t significantly different from the first – and then they effectively halt issuing any permits.

    They say one thing, but the contingencies they require and their actual actions put the lie to their words of being “pro” or “supporting” these industries which are so crucial to the well being of our nation.

    You ask what the previous admin did to support nuclear – well, they didn’t block development of the repository, that one is a gimmee. My point, however, had NOTHING to do with comparing administrations – it was about what is happening right now and how that is affecting the situation here in the USA.

    Like

  258. @Roger Brow – There is nothing in anything I have written that could be construed as a personal attack by any reasonable person. If you don’t like what I have written, that is your prerogative, but frankly I do not care to waste my time debating this point with you ether.

    I still think you are grossly misinterpreting my original point which was talk of limiting growth is not likely to draw enough popular support to have any impact on policy. I drew a comparison with another movement, from a century ago, that also failed to make an impact, because there ideas did not receive wide support.

    And yes it is one-sided because I have no intention of being drawn into debate on your terms.

    Like

  259. @ DV8,
    what kind of growth are you advocating? Population growth? Growth in consumption of all our resources? Won’t the earth be ‘full’ one day if it is not there already?

    I *hope* we can meet the needs of 9 billion people for a comfortable modern life (in New Urbanism / ecocities, NOT suburbia and McMansions!) mainly because meeting all human needs for fresh water, food, education, health care, and a dignified life seems to curb the population growth.

    If we can do that based on sustainable energy and renewable materials sciences then we’re home! (And some heavy conservation policies and rolling back of suburbia into more concentrated town cores, but that’s another hobby horse of mine).

    But back to the main point: are you talking about ‘growth’ in the sense of economic growth, which hopefully can be decoupled from increasing impact on the environment by cleaner energy sources and increasingly renewable / recycled materials processes?

    Like

  260. Can we please stop calling this an accident? An accident is the result of human error or plant failure, like Chernobyl. This was caused by the tsunami. If this is an “accident” then we can presumably also say that 20,000 people died accidentally in Japan recently, that bridges and dams accidentally collapsed, and that oil refineries accidentally caught on fire

    Like

  261. Food for thought: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2011/03/the-triumph-of-coal-marketing.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+typepad%2Fsethsmainblog+%28Seth%27s+Blog%29

    Be sure you notice the little dot to the left-bottom side of the ‘oil’ block, and that this graphic compares not just coal and oil, but nuclear also…

    Where are all the calls for shutting down oil and coal until they can be made ‘safe?’ In Japan with this earthquake and tsunami, a dam failed washing away more than 1800 homes, almost certainly killing hundreds of people. Look up statistics on deaths from hydro, wind, solar – and then compare to nuclear power generation. Some people are having a cow over the situation at Fukushima, saying that all nuclear power needs to be done away with, or that all older plants immediately closed, and so on.

    I’m all for making things as safe as reasonably possible, but we all use energy and have the best lives in the entirety of human history because we DO have cheap available energy.

    That’s unquestionably a good thing – nations that have more cheap energy are also the cleanest – we are able to worry about the environment and about protecting it, because of the life that the cheap abundant energy allows us. You can’t do that when you are in third world nations barely able to scratch out a living and desperate for even minor improvements (like stoves to cook on that don’t spew heavy smoke into your house, or power to run a well pump so you have a chance at readily available water, clean water).

    Developed nations also have the lowest birth rates – we don’t need to have huge families to work our farm with us so we can manage to survive. Arguably cheap abundant energy also significantly reduces the rate of world wide population increase. People worried about total population really ought to be pushing hard to get cheap abundant energy to third world nations.

    There just seems to be a major disconnect between the reality of risk and many folks perceptions of risk, especially when it comes to nuclear power. Nuclear isn’t the be all and end all and there are places where it’s not the best option – but it is a far better option than many others in many places in terms of almost any parameter you choose to look at, and there are places where it is the best option (and I don’t mean not yet commercial ready Gen IV’s, I’m talking about current plants and current commercial ready/operating designs).

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  262. re post by: Mark Imisides, on 23 March 2011 at 9:17 AM said:

    Can we please stop calling this an accident? An accident is the result of human error or plant failure, like Chernobyl. This was caused by the tsunami. If this is an “accident” then we can presumably also say that 20,000 people died accidentally in Japan recently, that bridges and dams accidentally collapsed, and that oil refineries accidentally caught on fire

    Very valid point and you are absolutely right. Unfortunately I think people fall back on it because it’s easier to say/type “Fukushima nuclear accident” than “natural disaster caused problems at Fukushima nuclear plant.”

    I can’t even imagine they mess, including huge amounts of hazardous materials, that they’ve got to deal with throughout the area. Supply problems, power problems, and even reports of large delivery or transport trucks running out of gas right on the roads and blocking roads, and so on.

    Like

  263. I’m sorry, I hit send before adding the blockquotes… my post should have been:

    re post by: Mark Imisides, on 23 March 2011 at 9:17 AM said:

    Can we please stop calling this an accident? An accident is the result of human error or plant failure, like Chernobyl. This was caused by the tsunami. If this is an “accident” then we can presumably also say that 20,000 people died accidentally in Japan recently, that bridges and dams accidentally collapsed, and that oil refineries accidentally caught on fire

    Very valid point and you are absolutely right. Unfortunately I think people fall back on it because it’s easier to say/type “Fukushima nuclear accident” than “natural disaster caused problems at Fukushima nuclear plant.”

    I can’t even imagine they mess, including huge amounts of hazardous materials, that they’ve got to deal with throughout the area. Supply problems, power problems, and even reports of large delivery or transport trucks running out of gas right on the roads and blocking roads, and so on.

    Like

  264. @ Chris Harries:

    What a very strange way of testing nuclear safety?

    So you have been unable to find an example of a Gen III+ plant which woulf fail that particular test.

    All GenIII+ reactors will fail if attacked by terrorists, American bunker-busting bombs, or even departing armies as Saddam destroyed oil wells as he departed Kuwait.

    Outline the sequence of events in each case for said failure to occur. Except for the case of attack by US bunker-busting bombs. I’ll concede the likelihood of failure in that case. But it’s a pretty stupid scenario to use as a test of nuclear safety.

    So how does a genIII+ retain its radiation if a Tsunami of rubble hits it similar to the cascade from a mount St Helens type event (1980).

    Provide details of what would happen to a GenIII+ plant in such an event.

    What GenIII+ retains its radioactivity if terrorists fly a hijacked aircraft into its core?

    All new nuclear plants in the US are required to safely withstand such impacts. The NRC recently cleared the AR1000 for such.

    You have not bothered to defend the rest of your claims. Why not? Are you unable to?

    Like

  265. Rational Debate, on 23 March 2011 at 8:04 AM said:

    Chris, some people use the “thousands of tons” of spent fuel rods very much as a scare tactic that has no sense of proportion and is very misleading.

    Hardly. If people want to assess the costs and benefits of different power sources then this is exactly what they need to judge. You ought not provoke peoples legitimate concerns as “scare tactic”.

    The rate of flow of American waste is 2.3 X 10^6 Kg/pa.

    It is not stored close together to avoid inadvertent criticality.

    Vitrification would add to the storage volume.

    But the waste from any exponential growth in nuclear generation will choke any practical long-term storage capacity.

    Surely even pro-nukers, would see the sense in at least requiring a plateau. If not what is the doubling period, expected for the increased rate of waste storage needs?

    Like

  266. Thanks, David. Interesting read. So iterestig I copied it below.

    For anyone interested in building a sea wall tall enough to take “anything nature can throw at it” should read your entire link. I would suggest a wall at least 60-100 feet high but to take anything ever thrown at Japan it may need to be 300 feet or better, or something along the lines of Hoover Dam, I guess. Sobering stuff.

    “1933: Showa Sanriku, Japan (昭和三陸地震)
    Main article: 1933 Sanriku earthquake
    On March 3, 1933, the Sanriku coast of northeastern Honshū, Japan which had already suffered a devastating tsunami in 1896 (see above) was again stuck by tsunami waves as a result of an offshore magnitude 8.1 earthquake. The quake destroyed about 5,000 homes and killed 3,068 people, the vast majority as a result of tsunami waves. Especially hard hit was the coastal village of Taro (now part of Miyako city) in Iwate Prefecture, which lost 42% of its total population and 98% of its buildings. Taro is now protected by an enormous tsunami wall, currently 10 meters in height and over 2 kilometers long. The original wall, constructed in 1958, saved Taro from destruction of the 1960 Chilean tsunami (see below). However it failed to protect Taro from the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami which inundated the village with 12-15 meters of water.[22]”

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  267. But the waste from any exponential growth in nuclear generation will choke any practical long-term storage capacity.

    Surely even pro-nukers, would see the sense in at least requiring a plateau. If not what is the doubling period, expected for the increased rate of waste storage needs?

    A 100TW (100 terawatts, 100,000 gigawatts) civilisation using breeder reactors will procuce 100,000 tonnes of fission products each year. This will provide an average of 10KW of power for everyone in a population of 10 billion. Assuming storage for the 300 years such waste would remain at above background radiation levels, 30 million tonnes would be in storage at any given time. At the moment we pump 30 billion tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere each year to maintain a ~15 TW civilisation.

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  268. Chris Warren, on 23 March 2011 at 12:21 PM — The once-through fuel rods are currently being reprocessed in France, Russia and I think Japan. Eventually IFRs will be built to use even that [and also unwanted nuclear bomb materials]; the resulting waste has low volume (2–5% of orginal) and needs only be sequestered for 200–300 years.

    Like

  269. I see while the carbon tax demo was in full swing on Parliament lawns the PM visited the same wind farm visited by her predecessor. Recall when Rudd visited it was producing about 2 MW of the nameplate 137 MW, the idea being to ‘offset’ the Kurnell desalination plant 300km away in Sydney. Anyways today it was a bit more windy near the ACT and parts of Sydney had downpours so less need for desal.

    I see different levels of misconception. First that the carbon tax will dramatically favour wind power. It’s all due to RECs not carbon penalties. Perhaps the PM doesn’t grasp how fickle and puny a single wind farm is compared to a big coal station. Meanwhile back in nearby Canberra some carbon tax protesters were interviewed on TV. My impression is that many of them simply don’t like change.

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  270. re post by: Chris Warren, on 23 March 2011 at 12:21 PM said:

    Rational Debate, on 23 March 2011 at 8:04 AM said: Chris, some people use the “thousands of tons” of spent fuel rods very much as a scare tactic that has no sense of proportion and is very misleading.

    Hardly. If people want to assess the costs and benefits of different power sources then this is exactly what they need to judge. You ought not provoke peoples legitimate concerns as “scare tactic”.

    The rate of flow of American waste is 2.3 X 10^6 Kg/pa.

    It is not stored close together to avoid inadvertent criticality.

    Vitrification would add to the storage volume.

    But the waste from any exponential growth in nuclear generation will choke any practical long-term storage capacity.

    Surely even pro-nukers, would see the sense in at least requiring a plateau. If not what is the doubling period, expected for the increased rate of waste storage needs?

    I see, so you prefer to trumpet the weight of spent nuclear fuel alone, without bothering to mention the actual volume involved, and in isolation from any comparison to the wastes involved in other electricity production methods. This you think is a valid, fair, and reasonable way to ‘evaluate’ things?

    Vitrification is a huge waste with spent fuel – it is a resource, not waste. I’ve said this before, you chose to ignore it – reprocessing would reduce the already small volume to 1/100th of its current size.

    Of course spent fuel isn’t jammed together for storage, what does that have to do with anything? No one has suggested otherwise. I’ve been to Yucca Mountain – it’s roughly 120 miles from Las Vegas, in the middle of rank desert that entire distance (Las Vegas average ANNUAL rainfall is barely over a whoppin 4 inches), and on the edge of the Nevada Test Site (e.g., where all the above and below ground nuclear bomb testing was done).

    That single site can easily hold 50 years worth of spent fuel in its current form and spread out far more than it needs to be from a safety standpoint. You’re going to try to make out that space constraints from waste volume would limit the use of nuclear power? Please. Drive out to the Yucca Mountain area, thru 120+ miles of rank desert, see how tiny the site is, then talk to me about space issues.

    Next explain to me why you apparently prefer far larger tonnage of pollution being released into the atmosphere from coal, not to mention fly ash issues etc. Perhaps because it’s effectively invisible and so it’s easily ignored – even tho it actually kills people where the controlled spent fuel rods don’t?

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  271. Article worth reading regarding media sensationalism over nuclear issues:

    No Nukes: How Three Mile Island was Disaster for Media Credibility

    By Julia A. Seymour | March 22, 2011 | 10:28
    Julia A. Seymour’s picture

    The massive earthquake and tsunami that rocked Japan on March 11 claimed many lives and knocked the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant offline reviving decades-old fears as well as liberal media bias about nuclear power.

    The news media have promoted anti-nuclear positions since the Three Mile Island accident in 1979, although that incident did not injure or kill anyone and no long-term health impacts have been proven. At that time though, the frightening network coverage was “eerily similar” to the fictional Hollywood account of a nuclear disaster in a film released just days earlier: “The China Syndrome.”

    Three Mile Island was no “China Syndrome,” yet some press outlets specifically sent reporters who had seen the film to cover the Harrisburg, Pa. nuclear accident, according to a PBS program aired in 1999.

    Following the Japanese disaster, ABC’s “Nightline” declared that “the new images from Japan have given the [California] doomsday earthquake scenario new urgency, with an added twist, the threat that a quake might be followed by a nuclear meltdown.”

    Like “Nightline” some recent reports have spread fear and worry concerning nuclear energy. CNN polled viewers on the question: “Should nuclear energy be a source of electricity?” Martin Bashir on MSNBC and others on ABC included left-wing anti-nuclear “experts” without noting their liberal perspective.

    Continued online, Read more: http://www.newsbusters.org/blogs/julia-seymour/2011/03/22/no-nukes-how-three-mile-island-was-disaster-media-credibility#ixzz1HNy3rTds

    Like

  272. @Eclipse Now – One of the reasons that I avoid this debate is that the term ‘growth’ is too ill-defined to allow for a definition that everyone finds satisfactory, and often I find that my opponent and I are talking past each other.

    I am also confident that humanity will continue to develop and move forward and that we must. History shows very clearly, that failure to do that dooms a culture to extinction. While we lived in more-or-less self-contained societies, a collapse did not maternally effect the others. But we now live in a highly interconnected global civilization, where an attempt to halt ‘growth’, (regardless of what parameters used to define it) is not only impossible to implement, but dangerous even to try, and would likely lead to a complete fall of or civilization in the unlikely event it could be done.

    Also, very long ago I lost interest in discussing anything that does not have practical foundations. Building Utopias was an entertaining pastime when I was young, but the years have ground away the belief that ideal solutions to any but the most trivial problems can be applied in practice. Color me a bitter old man if you wish, but in the long run, those that have looked for what was possible, and tried to make it happen, have been far more successful than those that tried for the perfect solution.

    So I won’t waste my time on what I believe is a sterile topic, there are other subjects more worthy of my attention.

    Like

  273. quick thoughts somewhat late, WordPress was having troubles for a while there:

    almost any accident starts to happen many hours and many steps before the headline event, with choices made or overlooked.

    The proverbial “bolt from the blue” — an idiom for something purely an accident — once understood is a known risk to be avoided. http://www.crh.noaa.gov/pub/ltg/crh_boltblue.php

    Look at some old numbers in this article and compare them to the numbers coming out of Japan:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8690599
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8635444

    Human error often involves skipping or postponing some maintenance or inspection; after something happens, those get looked at for “lessons learned” and after that’s done, you can say how much of what happened was unavoidable.

    Like

  274. RE: Finrod, on 23 March 2011 at 12:14 PM claims:

    People need to be very clear on the logical errors represented by this begging for details of what would happen – when the real disaster occurs when the unexpected happens. No doubt the designers and captains of the Titantic never considered what would happen to their ship if it struck a iceberg.

    Most readers will be able to conceive of continental plate derived scenarios such as; volcanos setting off lava flows, earthslides, suffocating ash, earthquakes and tsunamis.

    Tsunamis have recently wiped out huge swathes of Indonesian, PNG, and Japanese coasts, destroying homes and hospitals. It is not hard to envisage a magnitude 9 earthquake under New Zealand, which could send a Japanese Tsunami westward.

    Many nations have coastlines vulnerable to Tsunami and earthquakes around 9.1 or 9.3 create larger Tsunamis as in the 2004 Tsunami – a wave around 100 ft. See:
    100 ft Tsunami 100ft Tsunami- 2004

    Such an event could hit west Australia.

    Finrod wants to place a nuke at Newcastle (Australia’s worst earthquake) and Wollongong where the Illawarra escarpment will pool any 100ft tsunami.

    So the onus is on THOSE WHO PROPOSE a specific technology as “sufficiently safe” (?!) to provide the necessary details. I just say they are safe if they are NOT built. This is clear.

    It is possible that Americans and other Western states will be able to protect nuclear facilities from amateur terrorism, but this requires a large exclusion zone; such as:
    [deleted dead link]
    However if more plants spread throughout Africa, South America, Middle East and Asia, this does not apply.

    Finrods claim that:


    All GenIII+ reactors will fail if attacked by terrorists, American bunker-busting bombs, or even departing armies as Saddam destroyed oil wells as he departed Kuwait.

    …is a pretty stupid scenario to use as a test of nuclear safety.

    is cavalier and threatens future calamity for many of the world’s peoples. We know in Australia some prepared to attack a military base at Holdsworthy.
    Finrods reference to his claim that:

    All new nuclear plants in the US are required to safely withstand such impacts. The NRC recently cleared the AR1000 for such.

    is vague and unsubstantiated. It is also outdated as more recent reviews are developing a better understanding. See: [deleted dead link}
    and:
    [deleted dead link]
    Accidental plane crashes probably will glance off a nuclear building as planes are very light in comparison to their size. But this does NOT apply to a deliberate targetted terrorist event using a hijacked, heavy, long-haul jet.

    It certainly does not apply to professoinal terrorists with shoulder launched missiles as supplied to rebels by the CIA in Afghanistan.
    MODERATOR
    Please ensure that links give actually lead somewhere.
    Links are randomly checked and if this occurs again you will be put on moderation.

    Like

  275. Hi, I basically have very little knowledge about radioactivity, so my question might sound really outsider. I came across this radioactivity fallout measurement produced by MEXT Japan:
    http://www.mext.go.jp/component/english/__icsFiles/afieldfile/2011/03/22/1303966_2219.pdf

    It shows that in Tokyo:
    I-131 — 32,000 MBq/sq km
    Cs-137 — 5,300 MBq/sq km

    The number seems very high, but is it in dangerously level?

    And is it directly proportional to measurements in Sievert?

    Like

  276. Chris Warren said:

    Finrods claim that:

    All GenIII+ reactors will fail if attacked by terrorists, American bunker-busting bombs, or even departing armies as Saddam destroyed oil wells as he departed Kuwait.

    …is a pretty stupid scenario to use as a test of nuclear safety.

    is cavalier and threatens future calamity for many of the world’s peoples.

    Having no valid argument against my point, Chris Warren now resorts to shallow misrepresentation of my statement. What I actually said was:

    Outline the sequence of events in each case for said failure to occur. Except for the case of attack by US bunker-busting bombs. I’ll concede the likelihood of failure in that case. But it’s a pretty stupid scenario to use as a test of nuclear safety.

    As anyone who can read for comprehension will readily understand, I was calling the scenario of attack against a nuclear plant using American bunker-busting bombs a stupid scenario against which to rate a nuclear plant’s safety. Same for point blank attack with megaton-range nuclear weapons, or capture of the plant by an enemy nation which then sends in teams of demolition experts to deliberately expose the core, and other similar silly examples.

    People need to be very clear on the logical errors represented by this begging for details of what would happen – when the real disaster occurs when the unexpected happens. No doubt the designers and captains of the Titantic never considered what would happen to their ship if it struck a iceberg.

    Come on, Chris. Can’t you even outline the sequence of events leading to Fukushima-equivalent plant failure for the examples you yourself introduced? You’re asking me to prove that nuclear plants are able to withstand any concievable impact from an unspecified catastrophic event. That’s ridiculous.

    Finrods reference to his claim that:
    All new nuclear plants in the US are required to safely withstand such impacts. The NRC recently cleared the AR1000 for such.
    is vague and unsubstantiated. It is also outdated as more recent reviews are developing a better understanding. See: 2011 – AP1000 vulnerable due to cost cutting
    and:
    2011 – Plane Risk to Nukes
    Accidental plane crashes probably will glance off a nuclear building as planes are very light in comparison to their size. But this does NOT apply to a deliberate targetted terrorist event using a hijacked, heavy, long-haul jet.
    It certainly does not apply to professoinal terrorists with shoulder launched missiles as supplied to rebels by the CIA in Afghanistan.

    My ‘reference’ wasn’t vague and unsubstantiated. It was non-existent. I didn’t bother providing one. If you really insist, here you go:

    http://energy.ihs.com/news/nuclear-power/2006/ap1000-nrc-approval-012006.htm

    And here’s one refering specifically to aircraft impact:

    http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS_Nuclear_reactor_gets_OK_on_aircraft_impact_2401111.html

    I reckon it would take an awful lot of shoulder-launched missiles to break through the containment of an AP 1000, and a rather large and extremely well armed horde of terrorists to fight through the security perimeter of such a plant and get close enough to launch them.

    Now Chris, how about providing some backup to the claims you made previously? You can start by providing the figures for the efficiency of your liquid metal batteries.

    Like

  277. @chris warren – several studies have examined the possibility of attacks by a large aircraft on reactor containment buildings. The US Department of Energy sponsored an independent computer-modeling study of the effects of a fully fueled Boeing 767-400 hitting the reactor containment vessel. Under none of the possible scenarios was containment breached. Only ‘bunker busting’ ordnance would be capable – after several direct strikes – of penetrating the amount of reinforced concrete that surrounds reactors. And besides, terrorists have already demonstrated that they prefer large, high visibility, soft targets with maximum human casualties rather than well-guarded, isolated, low-population targets.

    Like

  278. Rational Debate,
    Many years ago while studying physics at the Cavendish laboratory I used to play Rugby for Cambridge University in the UK.

    Although quite large (200 pounds and 6′ 2″) I played wing three-quarter. For those of you that are more familiar with American football this is a combination of “Wide Receiver” and “Corner Back”.

    My running style was not as graceful as I would wish so the Galloping Camel moniker stuck.

    Like

  279. @chris warren, on 23 March 2011 at 1:58 PM said:

    You have a zero tolerance policy for nuclear. One nuclear death – in any scenario – and it’s too risky- better not to build them and avoid the death. In most or all the scenarios you present nuclear issues are the least of your problems.

    History suggests if you get a 100 ft Tsunami you will lose up to 100,000 people (or double that), instantly and surely. You will likely have 500,000 homeless.

    Worst case if the reactor Chernobilizes you might lose 200 people, or another 0.2%. And maybe another thousand 20 years from now if the right people study it, More likely the same thing will happen as in Fukashima. The reactor will be the only thing left standing on the coast and no one will die. From the reactor.

    If you are really worried about “sufficiently safe” I would move all those people at least 5 miles back from the coast. It’s simply too dangerous.

    A nuclear plant is not a very productive terrorist target. It’s a waste of a good airplane and pilot. Because again, you *might* get a couple hundred deaths (here mostly due to the plane) and the terrorist has to wait 20 years to try to get a study to say another 1000 died of cancer. Or he might just kill the passengers and the guys in the control room.

    Any decent terrorist with an airplane can kill 5000 people in one building (or 50,000 in a stadium) and it’s a much easier target. It’s already been done- it’s a tried and proven target. I think there”s a reason they didn’t go after nuclear plants on 9/11. They read the Chernobyl reports.

    Like

  280. See: 2011 – AP1000 vulnerable due to cost cutting

    and:
    2011 – Plane Risk to Nukes

    These links provided by Chris Warren don’t lead anywhere.
    MODERATOR
    Thankyou Finrod. I have checked the links and deleted them.
    Chris Warren has been warned that any further incident of dead links will result in him being put on permanent moderation.

    Like

  281. @Chris Harries: Your taxdollars pay for the CIA and the the Defence Dept to prevent any terrorist hitting any sort of power plant with a hijacked aircraft.
    @NucEng : Thanks for your comment, and make sure to buckle up during your commute to work.

    Like

  282. Chi Yin, on 23 March 2011 at 2:40 PM,
    Those numbers are not scary as the Bequerel is avery small unit. When they start talking Curies (a very large unit) run for the hills.

    Fukushima seems to have an unusually low level of background radiation. For several days the reading at the front gate of the Daini plant was 0.036 micro-Sieverts/hour or 3.6 micro-Rem/hour.

    Where I live in Florida the background is 14 micro-Rem/hour and in Ramsar Iran the number is 3,000 micro-Rem/hour. The radiation at Ramsar is of natural origin and has been extensively studied as it is an order of magnitude higher than the recommended maximum dose for “Radiation Workers”. The folks in Ramsar get 26 Rem/year (260 mSv) compared to 2-5 Rem/year for radiation workers.

    When it comes to man made sources, people remember Chernobyl but are ignorant of other major radiation accidents such as:
    http://www.ecolo.org/documents/documents_in_english/taiwan-cobalt-60-apartmt-04.htm

    The Taiwan accident involving Cobalt-60 affected 10,000 people with more positive health consequences than negative. Some say that what does not kill you makes you stronger.

    Like

  283. As DV82XL, said:

    It is possible that terrorists prefer large, high visibility, soft targets with maximum human casualties.

    But as the number of plants increases, the risk also increases.

    But more likely is a strike by a rogue military state, particularly (currently) Israel. See:

    Israel Targets Nuclear Plant .

    As the US ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, is reported:

    Bolton noted that he doesn’t “have a clue” as to whether Israel would actually attack, but he said, “If Israel was right to destroy the Osiraq reactor, is it right to allow this one to continue? You can’t have it both ways.”

    Israel took out Iraq’s Osiraq reactor during a stealth mission in 1981. It is also believed to have conducted a similar strike on an alleged Syria nuclear site in 2007.

    Bolton also thought “… that once Russia has loaded the fuel into the reactor — slated for Saturday – Israel would no longer be willing to strike for fear of triggering widespread radiation in an attack.” You will not find this commitment on and Israeli government website.

    So there is a clear risk that Israel will bomb a nuclear reactor. – and then oterh Arab states to strike back in revenge.

    You cannot pretend this problem away.

    This scenario can play out in the future in any number of conflicts around the world, in proportion to the number of nuclear plants sprouting up.

    UNfortunately this is the case.

    Like

  284. Dear Moderator,

    chris warren, on 23 March 2011 at 1:58 PM earned your attention re dead links.

    Here is another: The 100 ft tsunami link is also a dead end.
    MODERATOR
    Thank you John. Chris Warren has been put on permanent moderation.

    Like

  285. Hi Chi Yin,

    Just for whatever added reassurance this might give you, Gallopingcamel is right – those levels are very low and nowhere near dangerous. They aren’t directly proportional to Sieverts either. MBq, or MegaBecquerel, is a measure of activity – very very tiny amounts of activity — Spread out over a very large amount of land, which is why the number is so large. My guess is that they took ‘swipes’ – basically wiping a set surface area down with something ike filter paper. That is then counted for activity. They probably did that in several spots, then extrapolated the average amount to a square km.

    For whatever it’s worth, don’t run just because you happen to hear or see the word Curie – notice the prefix first. A picoCurie isn’t much. A plain Curie is tho, so then you could take Gallopingcamel up on his advice. :0) Here in the US we tend to use Curies where you use Becquerels. You’ll see these used a lot for air samples taken in confined spaces like mine tunnels or inside reactor containment buildings – then of course they’re collecting a set volume of air over a filter paper, so you’ll see X number of pCi/m3, or maybe X Bq/cm3, that sort of thing.

    Like

  286. So there is a clear risk that Israel will bomb a nuclear reactor. – and then oterh Arab states to strike back in revenge.

    This makes as much sense as the rest of Chris’ stuff.

    The other Arab states did not attack Israel when they bombed the suspected Syrian reactor. They are hardly likely to take revenge on behald of Iran!

    The suspected Syrian reactor was likely a gas-cooled graphite pile didicated to the production of weapons grade plutonium (WGP), same as the North Korean reactor. Bushehr is a light water reactor, singularly unsuited for the production of WGP. If Iran is bent on acquiring nuclear weapons, its most logical route is to use highly enriched uranium. Bombing Bushehr would achieve nothing. The Israelis are certainly aware of this.

    Like

  287. This article, published in 2003, adds another perspective to the issue of nuclear reactor waste.

    Reducing the Hazards from Stored Spent Power-Reactor Fuel in the United States,
    by Alvarez, R., Beyea, J., Janberg, K., Kang, J., Lyman, E., Macfarlane, A., Thompson, G., and von Hippel, F.N.,
    Science and Global Security, Vol 11, 1:1-51 (2003)

    Abstract:
    Because of the unavailability of off-site storage for spent power-reactor fuel, the NRC has allowed high-density storage of spent fuel in pools originally designed to hold much smaller inventories. As a result, virtually all U.S. spent-fuel pools have been re-racked to hold spent-fuel assemblies at densities that approach those in reactor cores. In order to prevent the spent fuel from going critical, the fuel assemblies are partitioned off from each other in metal boxes whose walls contain neutron-absorbing boron.

    It has been known for more than two decades that, in case of a loss of water in the pool, convective air cooling would be relatively ineffective in such a “dense-packed” pool. Spent fuel recently discharged from a reactor could heat up relatively rapidly to temperatures at which the zircaloy fuel cladding could catch fire and the fuel’s volatile fission products, including 30-year half-life 137Cs, would be released. The fire could well spread to older spent fuel. The long-term land-contamination consequences of such an event could be significantly worse than those from Chernobyl.

    No such event has occurred thus far. However, the consequences would affect such a large area that alternatives to dense-pack storage must be examined—especially in the context of concerns that terrorists might find nuclear facilities attractive targets. To reduce both the consequences and probability of a spent-fuel-pool fire, it is proposed that all spent fuel be transferred from wet to dry storage within five years of discharge. The cost of on-site dry-cask storage for an additional 35,000 tons of older spent fuel is estimated at $3.5–7 billion dollars or 0.03–0.06 cents per kilowatt-hour generated from that fuel. Later cost savings could offset some of this cost when the fuel is shipped off site.

    The transfer to dry storage could be accomplished within a decade. The removal of the older fuel would reduce the average inventory of 137Cs in the pools by about a factor of four, bringing it down to about twice that in a reactor core. It would also make possible a return to open-rack storage for the remaining more recently discharged fuel. If accompanied by the installation of large emergency doors or blowers to provide large-scale airflow through the buildings housing the pools, natural convection air cooling of this spent fuel should be possible if airflow has not been blocked by collapse of the building or other cause. Other possible risk-reduction measures are also discussed.

    “Review of ‘Reducing the Hazards from Stored Spent Power-Reactor Fuel in the United States’,” by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), Science and Global Security, Vol. 11, 2-3:203-212 (2003)

    “Response by the Authors to the NRC Review of ‘Reducing the Hazards from Stored Spent Power-Reactor Fuel in the United States’,” by Alvarez, R., Beyea, J., Janberg, K., Kang, J., Lyman, E., Macfarlane, A., Thompson, G., and von Hippel, F.N., Science and Global Security, Vol. 11, 2-3:213-223 (2003)

    http://allthingsnuclear.org/tagged/Japan_nuclear?utm_source=SP&utm_medium=more&utm_campaign=sp-nuke-more-3%2F13%2F2011-pm

    Like

  288. Moderators & folks, the ‘dead llinks’ from Chris, or at least the first two, were because of an extraneous character at the very end of the link – I can’t recall now if it was a quote mark or apostrophe – but if you simply deleted that off the end of the address in the URL that appeared as ‘dead,’ the links went thru fine.

    Suggestion to Chris – if you put any punctuation at the end of a copied link, be certain you first add a space between the link address and the punctuation.

    One would hope that the web service would automatically “see” punctuation as such (some sites do), but apparently it’s not here, so valid links aren’t clicking thru properly as a result. In other words, it’s not like Chris is giving us dead links on purpose, this is accidental/techological and easy to recognize as a problem once you’ve seen it occur before or heard about it. So anytime I hit a bad link or page not found, first thing to do is look for things like this in the addy.
    MODERATOR
    Noted, however it is every commenter’s responsibility to make sure that their links work and actually support what they are saying.

    Like

  289. Chris Warren,

    Your continual contrarianism and unfounded doubt-mongering waffle is a bit of a waste of my time and that of others.

    Do you have anything cogent to say which is actually based on… y’know… real world facts and observations?

    The contribution on 23 March 2011 at 4:37 PM is full of puff and nonsense. Guesses about Israeli motives, what a rogue state might do, and an unfounded assertion at the start and the end of the item, that, somehow, just because there may be more nuclear power reactors, then the risk of attack of these reactors increases in proportion to the number of reactors.

    I deny that this is so.

    If there is any plausible risk of attack of a nuclear, then this perception of risk must rely on a perceived method of delivery of the attacking force. In the vast majority of cases, as Finrod stated, there is simply no point in attacking a NPP, because there are other higher value targets available, such as places with higher population densities (for terrorists) or lower defences (for conventional military).

    The only case you have provided is that of an Israeli operation against a single reactor which was assessed as being potentially capable of producing nuclear fuel.

    What, then, is the credible attack scenario in relation to the majority of NPP’s which do not and cannot produce weapons grade output?

    What about the possible reasons for attack against Type IV NPP’s when they are more widely constructed? These CANNOT produce weapons grade product and are actually the only viable technology available for burning warheads and soent fuel and the other nasties which are better off removed from our planet for ever.

    Your repeated assertions that NPP’s are attractive military targets are simply straw men.

    Consider, though… should we stop constructing hospitals, because through history, hospitals and hospital ships have been attacked and people have been killed? Your hypothesis lacks validity. Even your links fail. Why persist?

    Like

  290. about the best solution for spent nuclear fuel (apart from using it in fast breedig reactors) my father, who used to teach Nuclear plant safety at Turin Politecnico, Italy, told me once about a very clean and definitive solution, involving the natural dustbin that our planet offers us: seal the rods in a secure concrete container and dump them in some very specific subduction zones.
    the combination of weight and earth crust movement would grant a one-way trip to the depths of the mantle, where the parcel would simply vanish in the surrounding extra hot (and radioactive) lava.
    maybe some thousand years after a fraction of the waste will come out again in an eruption from the oceanic dorsal volcano, nothing to worry about.
    does anybody know more about this possibility?

    Like

  291. about the best solution for spent nuclear fuel (apart from using it in fast breedig reactors)…

    That would surely work, but it seems a bit of a waste to throw away all that lovely fuel.

    Like

  292. That would surely work, but it seems a bit of a waste to throw away all that lovely fuel.

    indeed. I don’t know how much a waste a IV gen reactor produces. I knew that fro three spent bars one can generate one new bar foe traditional reactors (as far as I remember from some old conversations), that could be anyhow a very convenient solution for something nobody want to hear about for a couple of millennia, be it nuclear waste or low quality beer…..

    Like

  293. @Chris Warren

    I can’t believe you are trying to make it out like nuclear requires some large amount of land for a security zone. While I haven’t tried to chase down land/siting requirements for oil or gas/co-gen sites, I know for a fact that for the same MWe, including the security zone and everything else, nuclear uses vastly less land than solar or wind. From a quick check it seems that coal requires about 3 acres per MW – which would be over 4.7 square miles for a 1000 MW unit. There are 1000+ MW nuclear sites on 0.5 mi sites, and current plant designs require less space than those older designs.

    Meanwhile, much of the land at a nuclear site is “green” and even gets set aside as wildlife refuges, etc.

    Then there are the issues of waste volumes to deal with, along with ‘terrorist’ or natural disaster threats all of which Chris keeps harping on as if these are problems that are only seen with nuclear power.

    Well, coal ain’t so sweet in this regard. Per http://www.brighthub.com/engineering/mechanical/articles/23142.aspx

    …it must be ensured that sufficient coal is available round the clock. Just to give you a rough idea a power plant with 1000 MW capacity approximately would require more than ten thousand tons of coal per day hence the necessity for continuous supply and storage capability of coal in the power station.

    Ash if the main byproduct of combustion and since the amount of coal used is huge, you can intuitively imagine the amount of ash generated and it is certainly in the region of thousand tons per day. Ash is much more difficult to handle as compared to coal since it comes out hot from the boiler and is very corrosive in nature. Disposing of such huge quantities of ash requires a large amount of empty space where it can be safely dumped.

    There must be ample space for the storage of coal, disposal of ash…

    and per: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coal_power_in_the_United_States (caveat, I take ANYTHING from wikipedia with a large grain of salt. Articles there are notoriously incorrect – anything there needs to be verified eisewhere, but it is a convenient staring place and you can do verifications yourself if desired)

    …The Environmental Protection Agency classified the 44 sites as potential hazards to communities, which means the waste sites could cause death and significant property damage if an event such as a storm, a terrorist attack or a structural failure caused a spill. They estimate that about 300 dry landfills and wet storage ponds are used around the country to store ash from coal-fired power plants. The storage facilities hold the noncombustible ingredients of coal and the ash trapped by equipment designed to reduce air pollution.[13]…

    They further show the dirtiest large (over 100 MW) coal fired plants as emitting sulfur dioxide at rates of up to 40+ lbs/MWhour. And if you’re concerned about CO2 and mercury, they say:

    Although coal power only accounted for 49% of the U.S. electricity production in 2006, it was responsible for 83% of CO2 emissions caused by electricity generation that year, or 1,970 Tg of CO2 emissions. Further 130 Tg of CO2 were released by other industrial coal-burning applications.[16]
    [edit] Mercury pollution

    U.S. coal-fired electricity-generating power plants owned by utilities emitted an estimated 48 tons of mercury in 1999, the largest source of man-made mercury pollution in the U.S.[17] In 1995-96, this accounted for 32.6% of all mercury emitted into the air by human activity in the U.S. In addition, 13.1% was emitted by coal-fired industrial and mixed-use commercial boilers, and 0.3% by coal-fired residential boilers, bringing the total U.S. mercury pollution due to coal combustion to 46% of the U.S. man-made mercury sources.[18] In contrast, China’s coal-fired power plants emitted an estimated 200 ± 90 tons of mercury in 1999, which was about 38% of Chinese human-generated mercury emissions (45% being emitted from non-ferrous metals smelting).[19]

    And while it’s rather trivial, I gotta say I was a bit floored by Chris’s claim that Titanic designers/engineer’s didn’t consider iceburgs. They were designing a very large ocean going ship with planned routes thru known iceburg waters. They very clearly designed the ship to withstand collisions, be it with, well, whatever. All ocean going vessels have to be designed with possible collisions in mind. There are many who say it is quite amazing that the Titanic managed to stay afloat as long as it did, and that it did so only because of a robust design. Not cutting edge state of the art, but solid robust design. That it was unable to withstand that particular impact, at that particular angle and speed, in the particular temperature water and so on in no way means that such impacts weren’t considered and factored into the design. So I find it awfully difficult to credit that claim.

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  294. Welcome NukeEng and very well said. I’m just a pro nuke layman,unlike all of the other professionals writing on this blog and I’m still doing my bit to educate the people and politicians. I spent all day today writing to the two pro nuke SA government ministers and Amanda McKenzie, president of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition. I’ve asked her to invite me to address her organization on why Australia needs to put less faith in the renewables etc and to adopt nuclear instead. Wish me luck. Thanks Barry for all of the Fukushima info and for your case for in the Advertiser today. I wish David Noonan would do a bit of research on the nuclear industry. He’s sounding very out of date and still mouthing the same rubbish he fed me when I challenged him at Womadelaide a few years ago.

    Like

  295. NR99, on 23 March 2011 at 3:38 PM said:

    You have a zero tolerance policy for nuclear. One nuclear death – in any scenario – and it’s too risky- better not to build them and avoid the death.

    Can you provide any evidence for this concoction? I do not think that one-death-too-risky-better-not build.

    This is a fabrication.

    I have zero tolerance for increasing radiation.

    I do not accept the morality of people who try to slip nuclear deaths into society by comparing it to deaths through dam bursts, air travel, road deaths, coal pollution and etc.

    I oppose deaths to the extent they are preventable, and to the extent that causes of deaths are passed on, as a legacy to future populations. This is immoral and unethical.

    Nuclear, gone wrong, kills for years and pollutes large swathes of countryside.

    So 1 death of a worker on a building site due to lazy employers is more objectionable than 10 deaths caused by cyclone.

    Nuclear deaths are insidious and avoidable. We just have to avoid nuclear society. Which can be done.

    Like

  296. re post by: Jane Jackson, on 23 March 2011 at 5:57 PM

    Hi Jane,

    The Alvarez paper is probably getting more note in the last few days than ever. We actually discussed it a bit on another thread: https://bravenewclimate.com/2011/03/20/why-i-stay-in-tokyo/

    I haven’t looked into it much recently, but I know some experts don’t believe that zircalloy fires as postulated by Alvarez are possible, while others do.

    His paper was pretty hotly contested, however, primarily in terms of a number of his assumptions and the degree of potential harm. Keep in mind he was evaluating a worst case terrorist attack scenario also, and yet numerous experts felt that his conclusions weren’t credible because they were far too extreme.

    From a technical standpoint, it is going to be fascinating to find out the condition of the spent fuel in the Fukushima pools. Not to mention the condition of teh pools themselves, e.g., how did they hold up not only to earthquake (massive) but also the hydrogen explosions, etc.

    Like

  297. The concern about terrorism needs to be considered with the actual links I originally posted, working correctly.

    This is the quote about cost-cutting increasing the risk from terrorism.

    The NII, he said, was concerned that a new design method proposed by Toshiba-Westinghouse, aimed at speeding up construction and cutting costs, could mean that the reactor’s exterior concrete shell would be less robust than a conventionally built nuclear power plant.

    And this is the source reposted – in plain text:

    http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/utilities/article7029697.ece

    Clearly there is a risk and it has been recognised by some.

    Like

  298. @GallopingCamel – thanks much for the moniker explaination. I love it – unique, and what a great way to come by it.

    I think you’d mentioned nuscale earlier in this thread, and so you’re probably aware of the many ‘small’ nuclear designs that are being worked on… but just in case, or for others here who might not be: http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf33.html

    Searching with keywords such as “small nuclear reactor” and “mini nuclear reactor” and “micro nuclear reactor” in addition of course to “advanced nuclear reactor” and the like, will turn up a lot of interesting stuff for folks to read who may not be aware of some of these developments.

    Frankly some of the small-ish sealed types that are specifically designed such that no maintenance what-so-ever is needed and proliferation can’t be an issue look awfully promising for getting cheap, reliable & safe energy to third world nations, not to mention remote areas. Far more promising than anything else I’ve seen out there, including ‘alternative’ or ‘sustainable’ or ‘renewable’ options.

    I’d love to see some of these come to fruition, AND manage to make it past the all too common political barriers that seem to work against getting really directly useful things into the right hands. I mean, which would you prefer, donate $25 M in funds to the pocketbook of a third world dictator, or install one of these by the nearest large population center that desperately needs the energy and could do wonders with pulling themselves up if they had it? I know, that comparison maybe a bit simplistic, but I think it gets my drift across…

    Like

  299. @NukeEngineer – THANK YOU AND WELL SAID!!

    I’ve missed reading patches of this thread, and didn’t catch your post until I saw it mentioned by a couple of others, and went to find it.

    I couldn’t agree with you more wholeheartedly.

    Like

  300. Dear Chris Warren,
    I agree with your moral assertions about evitable deaths.
    However, nuclear plants are designed to cause no deaths. Hydro dams too. Airplanes and cars too (they have brakes, etc). And yet things happen. The hydro dams failure in Banqiao, China, was a cause of 170 thousand deaths, in 1975.
    So the point is not YES or NO can we design things with no danger, but the evaluation of that danger. And so we have to quantify and to compare that danger, what you say you don’t like, but what you do when you say that nuclear hazards keep killing for a long time.
    But this leads us to a technical issue, not a moral issue. How many people are really dead in the long term by nuclear hazards? The point is that there are theoretical estimates, based on the linear relationship between cancer risk and radioactivity dose, but no clear evidence. Howver, I can accept that we have also to account for long-term deaths resulting from industrial hazards, but then not only from radioactivity. In Chernobyl, for example, more people seem to habe been killed by depression (suicide, alchool, risky behaviors, etc) resulting from relocation than from radioactivity-induced cancer. The point is that that accountability is never done for other hazards: how many people are going to dye in the long-term, because of the earthquake and the tsunami in Japan – by the effects of depression, poverty induced by the loss of houses and employments, atc?
    I think your main point it the last: “We just have to avoid nuclear society. Which can be done”.
    I don’t think it can be done: you can’t “desinvent” nuclear technology, both civil and military.
    And I also don’t share the intention of giving-up any technological power humankind has achieved. That’s a matter of beliefs, but mine is that we will not stop behind any “last frontier” – and out there nuclear power is the only possible source. Do you think you can power a human facility in Mars with solar power?

    Like

  301. Regarding land area for energy, this paper is interesting ->

    Energy Sprawl or Energy Efficiency: Climate Policy Impacts on Natural Habitat for the United States of America

    Concern over climate change has led the U.S. to consider a cap-and-trade system to regulate emissions. Here we illustrate the land-use impact to U.S. habitat types of new energy development resulting from different U.S. energy policies. We estimated the total new land area needed by 2030 to produce energy, under current law and under various cap-and-trade policies, and then partitioned the area impacted among habitat types with geospatial data on the feasibility of production. The land-use intensity of different energy production techniques varies over three orders of magnitude, from 1.9–2.8 km2/TW hr/yr for nuclear power to 788–1000 km2/TW hr/yr for biodiesel from soy. In all scenarios, temperate deciduous forests and temperate grasslands will be most impacted by future energy development, although the magnitude of impact by wind, biomass, and coal to different habitat types is policy-specific. Regardless of the existence or structure of a cap-and-trade bill, at least 206,000 km2 will be impacted without substantial increases in energy efficiency, which saves at least 7.6 km2 per TW hr of electricity conserved annually and 27.5 km2 per TW hr of liquid fuels conserved annually. Climate policy that reduces carbon dioxide emissions may increase the areal impact of energy, although the magnitude of this potential side effect may be substantially mitigated by increases in energy efficiency. The possibility of widespread energy sprawl increases the need for energy conservation, appropriate siting, sustainable production practices, and compensatory mitigation offsets.

    http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0006802

    Its a freely downloadable pdf. Citatation :

    McDonald RI, Fargione J, Kiesecker J, Miller WM, Powell J (2009) Energy Sprawl or Energy Efficiency: Climate Policy Impacts on Natural Habitat for the United States of America. PLoS ONE 4(8): e6802. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0006802

    There was also a brief article about the paper in Nature :

    http://www.nature.com/news/2009/090826/full/news.2009.862.html

    Like

  302. Chris Warren,

    We just have to avoid nuclear society. Which can be done.

    Yes, it certainly can. In fact we avoided it until 1954. We did so by burning coal, oil and gas. And that is how we would do it again, if we chose to abandon nuclear power now.

    But I don’t think thats a very good idea.

    Like

  303. “chris warren, on 23 March 2011 at 7:00 PM said:

    Can you provide any evidence for this concoction? I do not think that one-death-too-risky-better-not build.
    This is a fabrication.
    I have zero tolerance for increasing radiation…”

    We’re making progress, Chris. You are down to justifying your zero tolerance position by parsing words.

    You have zero tolerance for increasing radiation but are you railing against the radiation known to be emitted, by design, from coal? Is that better or perfectly acceptable radiation?

    You seem to imply that if a dam failure kills thousands that is somehow preferable to whatever few deaths are the worst case of nuclear to date?

    Some deaths by certain failures are better than others, no matter how many deaths?

    I have never seen the “clean renewable killing” argument before. It’s new to me.

    You are unwilling to acknowledge that all current energy production kills at various rates in various ways.

    You are unwilling to acknowledge logical, mathematical trade-offs of risks, with no risk free alternatives to provide the amounts of power civilization requires.

    In other words, your philosophy is aligned perfectly with the media’s anti-nuke reporting slant, where a dam failure wiping out 1800 homes gets only a footnote while over half the coverage revolves around fear mongering a nuclear accident that has killed no one yet.

    I am out of this discussion because I won’t logically argue the illogical nor will I argue that some deaths are preferable to others, regardless of the ratio.

    Like

  304. Im with Chis Warren wholegeartedly whe he says
    “Nuclear deaths are insidious and avoidable. We just have to avoid nuclear society. Which can be done.”

    It can be done and the pro nuclear people could be dong so much more than foisting this dangerous technology on us. We know its dangerous but one thing the uclear indutsry wants to play down is the dominance iof short term profits over safesty issues

    Lets look back to the past (we know all about the present)
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908/vp/42222780#42222780

    Like

  305. Barry, I’m sorry for posting this accidentally in a wrong thread. I’m trying again..

    Something I’ve been thinking about. Mostly according to my own experiences, not in nuclear, but other process industry facilities.

    The seawater is very corrosive and it can be expected to cause a lot of corrosion products (=rust) in all systems where it has been used for cooling purposes. This could cause severe problems for the cooling pumps which are designed to pump only clean demineraralized or fresh water. Corrosion products in such pumps could cause clogging, erosion and failures in shaft seals causing the water to leak out of the pump. Any maintain work for the pump would be extremely difficult because the high radioactive contamination in the water.

    Seawater is far from clean. There are on huge cocktail of all kind of dirt in those reactors and containments at the moment.

    I think the situation in SFP are a big concern because there is a huge amount of debris in there causing the cooling pumps most likely to fail shortly after starting them. The pools are going to need cooling for a long time to come. And I don’t think anybody knows yet what kind of mechanical damages there are in the fuel rods caused by explosions and debris falling in the pools after explosions.

    Another concern is the zircaloy claddings in of the fuel rods now exposed to seawater. How long will it take before zircaloy tubes are ruptured because of the corrosion? This could cause a huge amount of fission products to be released. From SFP this release will go directly in the environment. In reactors, it will contaminate the whole interior of the containment and torus. I there are some leakages in those structures, there is no way to prevent the spent fuel to escape the containment.

    As it is, I think it will take quite a long time before the situation is finally under control. A much longer time than anyone did expect in the beginning.

    Like

  306. @NR99,

    In other words, your philosophy is aligned perfectly with the media’s anti-nuke reporting slant, where a dam failure wiping out 1800 homes gets only a footnote while over half the coverage revolves around fear mongering a nuclear accident that has killed no one yet.

    just for precision: I searched extensively any new about the Rikuzentakata dam (is the name of the wiped out village, Iwate prefecture). from what I know, tere has not been a hydro dam failure (also because one cannot see any kind of basin uphill from the village (see GoogleMaps
    http://maps.google.it/maps?client=safari&q=Rikuzentakata,+Iwate&oe=UTF-8&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Rikuzentakata,+Prefettura+di+Iwate,+Giappone&gl=it&ll=39.014716,141.629562&spn=0.046816,0.095701&t=h&z=14 ), and from the video I saw it appears clearly that the water is coming from the seaside.
    what I think (and this is NOT an argument against or in favor of hydroelectric dams, since there are none there) is that the “dam” is actually a coastal wall, or barrier, against tsunami, that has been overwhelmed by a really out of scale wave.

    sadly, this does not change anything for the people that lose life or home (and does not change anything about safety of hydroelectric dams either)

    Like

  307. @BerGonella – I don’t have the link previously provided here but if that is the same dam, it’s good news.

    I did find a smaller dam failure report here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fujinuma_Dam

    But that failure “only” washed away 5 houses with 8 missing or confirmed dead.

    Which of course does not change the context of my argument in any way; everyone except Chris Warren understands that.

    I’ll also add that Chris has speculated on all sorts of terrorist attacks and what might happen but I would hate to speculate on all the possible dam failures around the world, especially considering report of 85,000 in China here:

    http://www.sjsu.edu/faculty/watkins/aug1975.htm

    That is just what happened, not what could happen. I would hate to speculate on the consequences of the failure of the Aswan dam, for example.

    Like

  308. Jose de Sa, on 23 March 2011 at 9:28 PM,
    Thank you for an excellent rebuttal of Chris Warren’s “Zero Deaths due to NPPs” mantra.

    I would like to challenge Chris Warren’s assertion that nuclear hazards “keep killing for a long time”.

    This hypothesis rests on the “Linear” model of nuclear radiation that has been discredited by many studies of large scale human induced nuclear hazards. For example the aftermath of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs.

    Here is a link to a study of a more recent major nuclear event. Instead of killing people it appears to have had some beneficial effects on human health:
    http://www.jpands.org/vol9no1/chen.pdf

    Like

  309. > John Morgan
    >> Chris Warren,
    >> I have zero tolerance for increasing radiation.
    > The we should proceed forthwith to replace
    > our coal reactors with nuclear reactors.
    > Coal Ash Is More Radioactive than Nuclear
    > Waste : Scientific American

    Important point. You’ll hear industry beancounters argue that nuclear plants should be allowed to emit as much radioactive material as coal plants (they conveniently ignore transuranics, of course).

    Capture the fissionable and radioactive part of the coal ash has been avoided. You can see why — it’s easier to control hard rock mining than coal ash dumps, if you want to limit access to uranium ore.

    Like

  310. chris warren, on 23 March 2011 at 7:13 PM said:

    This is the 100foot tsunami and the 9.1-9.2 magnitude earthquake

    Tsunami height is a function of offshore shelf geometry and shoreline geometry and the amount of energy is the wave itself. The same amount of wave energy is going to produce a different Tsunami height in different locations.

    Like

  311. I don’t see much discussion here about Natural Gas as yet another energy source. So let’s toss it into the mix too. The US has vast Nat Gas reserves both tapped and untapped. Many investors such as T Boone Pickens are well known proponents of Nat Gas as a growth energy. My opinion is Solar energy is the true growth energy source of the future. Coal, Gas, and Nuclear, are all crucial energy sources of today to keep the country running until we develop and deploy large scale solar energy, especially for residential electricity and the charging of electric hybrid cars. My sense is that all forms of non solar energy are vying to position themselves as the major energy source of the future because they know that its only a matter of time and investment before solar takes a major chunk of the electricity production away from them. If they can sway investors to invest more in Coal, Gas, Nuclear, they can postpone the investment and deployment of large scale residential solar power. Thus making as making as much profit as possible today while entrenching themselves as firmly as they can in the energy institution of tomorrow. In this thesis we have a rather troubling paradox, that being capitalism is actually standing in the way of real progress for the welfare of society at large, so it can maximize profit for today’s investor class.

    Like

  312. I’ll also add that mere Conservation and Efficiency can reduce our energy demands enough to stabilize our demand to supply ratio for the near future. This could free up billions of dollars to be invested in solar technology and deployment. In other words, current energy shortages are entirely self inflicted and totally manageable with conservation and current energy supplies. There is no short term energy crisis for the next 20 years or more. It is a fear mongering tool of the non renewable energy industries. It is in fact a conspiracy to detract large investment in solar energy.

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  313. @Shelby – Real, productive societies need real, industrial-sized power. Don’t even mention conservation. Conservation is no energy policy. Conservation is no more an energy plan than fasting is a food supply. Sure, greater efficiencies save energy, but we immediately have more uses for it.

    William Stanley Jevons noted in 1885 that when coal burning got more efficient, people burned more coal. The Jevons paradox, sometimes called the Jevons effect, is the proposition that technological progress that increases the efficiency with which a resource is used tends to increase (rather than decrease) the rate of consumption of that resource.

    The greens have a religion. Their religion tells them that only renewable energy is “good” and all other energy is “bad.” Their definitions of good and bad are in their minds. They are the useful idiots, if you will, of those who wish to continue the status quo of carbon-based fuels. Wind and solar are stupid little toys; they will forever remain toys. They will never power an advanced civilization. They are a waste of our economic resources, our attention and our time.

    Like

  314. DV82XL

    I actually here more religion and emotional fear in your arguments. To attack something you / we don’t even understand fully yet is my definition of a religion. Imagine attacking genetic research the same way? Oh wait, the same conservative minded leaders do that too.

    Like

  315. DV82XL

    Something else I want you to just consider is that someday soon, perhaps even in your lifetime, the very methods of manufacturing could change drastically. We are still producing products in basically same arcane way we have since the industrial revolution. 21rst century physics and genetics are going change that in drastic ways. There will a day when heavy industry is only a small fraction of our manufacturing process, You can’t base our energy demands of the future on our 18th century methods of today. I realize that is fairly esoteric but the signs of near future advances in materials and manufacturing are everywhere. Just read the Journal Science.

    Like

  316. I’m sort of on a roll here…. but…. let’s look at a few major products.

    If automobiles were merely made of more rust resistant alloys they could last for decades, or 300k miles before needing to be recycled. That would great reduce both energy, materials, and personal budget expenses. It merely requires a change in attitude from a consumer society to a conservation society. The same could be said for computers and other electronics which are produced with a planned obsolescence (new products are actually many generations behind the current level of technology available) to promote annual replacement of dated technology. That is a terrible waste of resources. Same goes for the medical industry. Same goes for the building industry. There is a tremendous amount of wasted resources and personal income built into the consumer society.

    Like

  317. @Shelby – I have spent longer that you have been alive in industry, in aviation, as a materials scientist. Thus I find it somewhat amusing that you would chide me for attacking something I do not understand. There are advances in materials and the processes used in manufacturing, but the over all savings that could be realized from increased efficiencies in unit production will be swamped by general growth in consumption, as poorer parts of the world rise to meet our standard of living.

    Nor is your assertion that manufacturing uses 18th methods today valid, in fact it is dead wrong, and demonstrates that you cannot know enough about the subject to make any valid predictions.

    Like

  318. People lived perfectly rewarding lives 200 years ago with their small home, fireplace, barn, crops, or small business. I’m not saying we should go back to the 18th century, I’m just saying we have been tricked into believing we have to be on this hamster wheel of constantly consuming more products and working harder for less pay so we can buy more cheaper products now built by third world countries.

    Like

  319. DV82XL, on 24 March 2011 at 3:18 AM said:

    There are advances in materials and the processes used in manufacturing, but the over all savings that could be realized from increased efficiencies in unit production will be swamped by general growth in consumption, as poorer parts of the world rise to meet our standard of living.

    Ironically, that is exactly my point. Rising to meet our standard of living is the problem metastasizing. The world should be aspiring to move away — from a consumer economy, not promoting its religion on a global scale. That alone is not possible given the finite resources of the planet.

    Like

  320. A global economy based on constant growth is absolutely doomed to the laws of diminishing return. A global society based in conservation and a reduction of GDP / growth is a sustainable society. We don’t need all this “stuff” to be happy human beings!

    Like

  321. Getting back to the topic at hand, rather than investing billions of dollars in current energy expansion, how bout we conserve energy to meet current supplies, and invest those billions in Solar. The main argument against a solar panel at every American home is cost. Let’s invest those billions in how to produce cheaper solar panels. We already know how to make solar panels, it is completely absurd that given proper investment we can’t figure out how to mass produce them cheaper. One thing is for sure, if that investment is deferred to building nuclear plants or drilling for oil in expenses places, we will NEVER develop affordable solar panels.

    Like

  322. A Moderators:

    Shelby is flooding this thread with ideological blather.

    @ Shelby:

    We’ve heard it all before. If you want to know how happy people were two hundred years ago, there are places in the world still like that. One of the chief distinguishing characteristics of the people inhabiting them is the desire to move to more developed nations.
    MODERATOR
    Agreed, but, it is legitimate in an Open Thread.

    Like

  323. harrywr2, on 24 March 2011 at 4:02 AM said:

    @Shelby

    People lived perfectly rewarding lives 200 years ago with their small home, fireplace, barn, crops, or small business

    Life expectancy in 1840 was 45.

    —-

    Hi

    That was mainly due to lack of antibiotics, cures for consumption, and other disease. That doesn’t really mean their lifestyle of being happy while buying less products and consuming less resources is any less valid.

    Like

  324. Finrod, on 24 March 2011 at 4:03 AM said:

    A Moderators:

    Shelby is flooding this thread with ideological blather.

    @ Shelby:

    We’ve heard it all before. If you want to know how happy people were two hundred years ago, there are places in the world still like that. One of the chief distinguishing characteristics of the people inhabiting them is the desire to move to more developed nations.

    Hi

    I’m sorry if you think I’m talking too much.

    Words are all we really have…..

    As for the plight of developing nations, my heart goes out to them, I have no ill will toward them. I think that by reducing our wasteful consumption of resources, we actually help to liberate ourselves and them from poverty. If we someday invent affordable solar panels, that can only help liberate them in time as they migrate away from fossil and nuclear fuel to solar power. We can effectively lead them out of poverty, rather than dooming them to someday being in our current position.

    Like

  325. I also wish to say that I have nothing but high respect for nuclear scientists and intellectuals. I just have a problem with (some) of their animosity to solar power. It seems displaced and self centered for such an enlightened group of thinkers. We must all pull together to solve these problems. Fighting for dominance only serves the masters, not society.

    Like

  326. In closing I’d like to remind everyone that we are blessed with major population centers in southern California, Texas, Florida, and the south east, these areas are all prime locations for residential solar power. The southwest, midwest and parts of the northeast are also areas with fair to good solar potential. This combined with hybrid electric cars could supply a large amount of our personal energy consumption. Industrial consumption could then be easily met with less coal and nuclear plants, not more.

    Thanks for allowing me to share my views.

    Like

  327. @ Shelby: what I wonder is the reason why you solar fans have always to put the sun in competition against nuclear power.
    try and see that we have in this world two completely separate sets of energy suppliers, and the competition is only inside those two blocks.
    and is clear that sun and uranium are not in the same block.

    it is just a matter of numbers, comparing the solar or wind energy with the nuclear is just useless, you can compare the sun with the wind, and the coal with the gas (you can make any kind of match), but you must stay inside those two blocks: on one side you have fossil and nuke, on the other you have wind, sun, water and biomass. all the speculation should be about which mix of two or more sources from both blocks is the best in order to eliminate (or substitute the lack) of one or more of the fuels….

    Like

  328. Hi BerGonella

    In most ways I agree with you, I tried to articulate that in my posts above. I do believe that coal and nuclear have a lasting place as industrial power and mass transit power sources (high speed regional and light rail). Actually I see cleaner next generation nuclear technology as the main source of industrial power in the future. With that said, I see solar as the primary energy source for our homes and cars (charging of hybrid electric cars). If you multiply millions of people using solar for their personal energy source it adds up to a very large portion of our total energy usage.

    Like

  329. Also, perhaps thousands of small to mid size offices and businesses that mainly use electric for lights, computers, HVAC, could potentially use solar.

    Sorry this comes out in spurts, I’m just brain storming.

    Like

  330. @Chris Warren Unfortunately, these types of lawsuits are still happening. Google Nancy Burton and the Connecticut Coalition Against Millstone for some rather interesting lawsuits. While I agree that the term frivolous is a subjective term, I think this more than aptly applies to some of the stunts that Burton has pulled. There has also been much legal wrangling over Bellefonte in recent times. My favorite was that they objected to the wording in the application that the plant will provide a reliable source of electricity. Their demand was that TVA proves that they could maintain a reliable source of uranium over the 40 lifespan. I think logically, this type of argument is just designed to stall and increase costs. A simple google search turns up plenty of examples along these lines.

    @Terry Kreig I definitely wish you luck. Unfortunately, it is in the public relations arena that is where we engineers typically fail. We understand the systems, and consequences, however we speak an entirely different language than the public at large. It becomes really difficult to simplify the discussion to a point where the public at large can understand without being seen as patronizing or condescending. This is where educated members of the public are really valuable. They serve as the translator to boil down the information into something easy to understand without being seen as an over-educated patronizing engineer.

    Like

  331. re post by: chris warren, on 23 March 2011 at 7:31 PM said:

    Rational Debate, on 23 March 2011 at 6:42 PM said: I can’t believe you are trying to make it out like nuclear requires some large amount of land for a security zone.

    Here is the link…. The area looks like around 400 acres to me.

    Chris, it doesn’t appear that you bothered to read my post beyond the tiny bit you quoted. Heck, I GAVE you that nuclear might take up more than 400 acres.

    The point is that 400 acres, or even a square mile (604 acres), is SMALL for a 1000 MWe plant, relatively speaking, totally aside from how much is a security zone. That the same size coal plant would apparently require about 4.6+ square miles – e.g., 3000 acres. That both wind and solar would require vastly more than coal even for a 1000 MW facility.

    So for anyone to try saying that nuclear uses a lot of land period, let alone trying to blame it on the security zone, just looks really unreasonable.

    Like

  332. @Shelby,
    I understand your vision of a better society. Unfortunately, I’m with the guys who think you can find those old-fashion societies in places as Africa. And you can live there with antibiotics and all that stuff – if you are a settler. I know it because I was born there as a colon, when Portugal had a colonial empire. :-) Now that we have left Africa, everybody there is trying to come to Europe…
    Here we call the people who think the way you think as ecotopic, from Eco-utopic. And we are at war, here. Ideas war, of course.
    That is not because of different ideas. It is because the ecotopics make big money with the fed-in wind and solar plants, they sacrifice the people wellfare to their ideology with very expensive energy, and they also control the media. I sincerely think we are walking to a green dictartoship in Europe, and I hope Obama will give up in trying to follow us.
    Now, talking technical, why do you stand that much for solar? Why do you think its affordability depends only on investment? The point is that there are fundamental scientific obstacles to solar, as they are to electric cars (another ecotopic unfeasible ideia in the short-term). Prices can not reduce further unless some crytical breakthroughs are made. In the long term, may be that will be reached, as well as for the batteries of electric cars. But the point is that we really don’t know how to do it, and science does not depend on wishfull thinking.
    Nuclear, that does not depend on any special breakthrough. It is an already old science and technology. It only needs to be step-wised improved.
    In this blog I have found myself very in sinthony with the blog’s owner, which is happy, because people thinking our way in here are just a few and almost undergrounded.

    Like

  333. DV82XL,

    You write:

    One of the reasons that I avoid this debate is that the term ‘growth’ is too ill-defined to allow for a definition that everyone finds satisfactory, and often I find that my opponent and I are talking past each other.

    and then later:

    Don’t even mention conservation. Conservation is no energy policy. Conservation is no more an energy plan than fasting is a food supply. Sure, greater efficiencies save energy, but we immediately have more uses for it.
    William Stanley Jevons noted in 1885 that when coal burning got more efficient, people burned more coal. The Jevons paradox, sometimes called the Jevons effect, is the proposition that technological progress that increases the efficiency with which a resource is used tends to increase (rather than decrease) the rate of consumption of that resource.

    So let met get this straight. Anyone who mentions conservation is an impractical idiot. But you will not engage in a discussion of limits to growth because the subject is too abstract and subjective for objective understanding. Absolutely perfect.

    Like

  334. We have a very strong point in Europe regarding nuclear versus ohter power production ways: Electricity price in France, which has 80% nuclear, is about the HALF the price in countries such as Denmark, Spain or Germany. And yet Germany gets its electricity mostly from coal…

    Like

  335. NukeEng, on 24 March 2011 at 6:31 AM said:

    I definitely wish you luck. Unfortunately, it is in the public relations arena that is where we engineers typically fail. We understand the systems, and consequences, however we speak an entirely different language than the public at large. It becomes really difficult to simplify the discussion to a point where the public at large can understand without being seen as patronizing or condescending. This is where educated members of the public are really valuable. They serve as the translator to boil down the information into something easy to understand without being seen as an over-educated patronizing engineer.

    —-

    I worked as a designer in architecture, and light specialty manufacturing, and engineers can be frustrating to deal with for creative people. Many times I would be making a suggestion or objection for a functional or ergonomic reason, while the project engineer would be making making dense arguments. If he didn’t get his way things often turned hostile. They often seemed condescending and egotistical, but they had to be dealt with, so I had to figure out how to appease them. I’m one of those people with liberal arts skills and technical aptitude that you speak of, and I still find engineers sometimes difficult to deal with. The irony is that I totally respect their profession and consider myself somewhat of a Jeffersonian scientist. There must be a better way for all of us to share ideas.

    Like

  336. Limits of growth?
    Our destiny is the galaxy. There are no limits!
    I don’t assert this from any teological statement.
    I’m only extrapolating from all the history of humankind since the times our ancesters were out of Africa (about an hundred thousand years ago).
    Of course we can try to engineers a new humankind. That is just what I am afraid of. It was already tried. By Lenin, Stalin, Hitler,…

    Like

  337. @Shelby,

    and this is the key theme througout your statements: If we someday invent affordable solar panels,

    Scientific breakthroughs and technical advancement don’t come simply because we wish them to, or because we throw money at them. If solar were anything close to competitive, the free market would be all over them. As a matter of fact, when it comes to the few areas where solar is viable (remote areas where bringing in transmission lines is prohibitively expensive or outer space) then the free market, capitalism, has functioned beautifully. So long as what CURRENTLY exists in terms of the technology isn’t competitive with existing energy sources, then trying to force a change to the non-competitive item by government fiat is a very distructive thing for society.

    You don’t lift poor people up by requiring them to plan on things that don’t currently exist, or to use things that are vastly more expensive. You ensure they remain in abject poverty.

    I ask you – what natural resource have humans ever run out of? “Peak Oil” was first predicted for the 1920’s. Worldwide population has exponentially exploded since then, as has demand for oil, and yet today we have more proven reserves than ever. We haven’t even begun to tap into a lot of the resources we know we’ve got. Why ration things that aren’t in short supply, in favor of things that drag everyone down because of unreliability, and costs?

    Meanwhile, Shelby, you personally might be happy with the lifestyle from the 1800’s. Have you stopped to consider, however, that with our population increase just how much wildlife and environment would be disrupted if almost everyone migrated out of cities onto small farms? Furthermore, while you can speak for and decide for yourself what might make you happy, you certainly cannot do so for others.

    DV82XL isn’t denigrating the possibility of advances in solar at all – he’s pointing out how destructive and unreasonable it is to try to plan and force large societies to count on something that isn’t here yet and may never come. Once practical, economic solar is possible, I’m sure he’ll jump right on the bandwagon as would many of us. There is huge incentive for folks to work on developing just that, within the free market system itself. if it is possible, those advances will happen without the need to force it by stealing from other currently functional, practical and economic activities and the taxpayers to pump all those resources into something that might never occur. It just drags everyone down.

    Like

  338. @Roger Brown – You have apparently mistaken me for someone who cares what you think. I find your pathetic attempts at sophistry tedious. I have no interest in engaging in any discussion with you if you keep misrepresenting what I write.

    Like

  339. All “green” energy advocates and idealists please download this free ebook by Prof. Davic MacKay. It discusses all energy options in a balanced manner including solar and wind.

    You can use it as a reference for discussions.
    Even if you don’t agree you will know the arguments other people are making so you’ll know how to respond to them.

    It’s a free pdf file, 50 MB in size

    The link is

    http://www.inference.phy.cam.ac.uk/sustainable/book/tex/sewtha.pdf

    Like

  340. @DV82XL

    “I ask you – what natural resource have humans ever run out of?”

    I’d like to suggest:
    Whales, elephants, bison and cod.

    If you assert that we really didn’t run out of these, then I’ll add passenger pidgeons and the dodo.
    We may have found alternatives, but those resourses WERE lost. Their ultimate value is undetermined.

    Like

  341. Rational Debate

    I think we just have opposing world views. And they are being played out in the court of public opinion (votes and social movements). You have a market economy world view. I think that ship has already sailed, I liken hard line free market preachers to the hard line communism preachers of the declining Soviet Union. Both are unwilling to evolve their extreme world views. As the old saying goes, adapt, or die. All things evolve. Democratic governments with socialism / capitalism hybrid economic systems are the wave of the future because they address the needs of advanced societies. If we cling to old ways purely on ideological grounds, we may very well get passed by other more flexible societies. In either case, it won’t be settled in this blog. It will be settled in the court of public opinion.

    Like

  342. Shelby,

    I envy you your idealism and energy. Idealists are useful to push the envelope of debate and force realists to reasses their judgements. That said any solution to a large scale problem that starts “if only they…”  is just not going to work. Period. “They” have made rational judgements on how to run their lives, economies and nations and will do nothing to jepordize any of them simply because there might be a better way to do things. Risk and uncertianty are anathama to all levels of society. 

    Maybe you can live with less stuff, maybe almost everyone in the developed world can live with less stuff but very few want to. To a lot of people stuff equels security. Ask people to do without and you create scarcity, which creates profit potential for cheaters, which brings you back to where you started.

    If the very basic psychology does not argue against utopian solutions, how do you think a nation will respond in the analogous situation?

    Like

  343. DrD, I agree to the point that for most of your examples we came CLOSE to destroying those resources. We didn’t run out of them, however.

    While each case is interesting, the point is that even when we were far more inclinded to short-sighted use of natural resources, we never (almost never?) actually did run out of one because we were always able to find something else to replace it – typically something significantly better.

    These days with information sharing and communications being so much easier, technology allowing us to monitor things far better, we are if anything far less likely to run out of a natural resource by over using it. Typically for mineral resources, long before there is risk of actually running out of something, the price increases due to supply tightening winds up with viable economically competitive alternatives being developed and implemented.

    On to the interesting but not main point discussion aspects….. Seems to me that there are still whales and their populations are increasing as best I know. They are still being hunted too (I wish they weren’t, at least until the populations have rebounded even further). There are also still Bison. Elephants I confess to having no idea how you tie them into a resource lost – ivory perhaps??? Still LOTS of elephants, and unfortunately too many are still being killed by poachers just for tusks, but they’re not gone and neither is the ivory. How did man wipe out passenger pidgeons, and how did we use them as a natural resource? I draw a blank on that one. It appears that we wiped out the Dodo not by using it as a resource, although that may have contributed some, but inadvertently by introducing foreign species that destroyed their eggs and nests (dogs, cats, macaque’s, etc.) – so we didn’t run out of a Dodo resource (sorry, couldn’t resist!) because of over use either. I’m open to any issue you care to take with what I’ve said here.

    Don’t get me wrong – I believe that we should consider these things and use good judgment. I’m just pointing out that much of the more extreme doom-saying over resource depletion and peak xyz doesn’t seem to be supported by history and therefor I feel is pretty overblown.

    Like

  344. re post by: DV82XL, on 24 March 2011 at 8:43 AM said:

    @DrD – Would you care to indicate where I made the statement you are attributing to me?

    Now I am being openly misquoted.

    Not certain DV82XL without going to double check, forgive me for not, but I think DrD was referring to one of my posts and accidentally swapped our names. All too easy to do in a thread like this.

    DrD, correct me if I’m wrong of course.

    Like

  345. Jose de Sa, on 23 March 2011 at 9:28 PM

    People opportunistically grabbing deaths from all over the place to justify nuclear deaths are ghoulish and only using a tactic of last resort.

    If deaths come from asbestos mining the community will and has closed down asbestos mining – without considering how many deaths came from dams failing or coal pollution. Although asbestos companies probably tried the gambit.

    If deaths come from nicotine, the the nicotine industry gets down, and having experienced the arguments from nicotine executives makes it easy to jump over the same tactics from nuke pundits.

    Deaths come from fossil fuel mining and it needs to be closed down – not supported because more deaths come from dams failing or it is risker driving to work each day.

    The Chinese dams failed due to a cyclone, and I do not use this opportunistically as many houses also fail due to cyclones. Does this mean that houses are killers or dams are killers or that houses are inherently risky, or that dams are inherently risky.

    The nuclear fuel cycle is inherently risky. The globe already has elevated background radiation. The quantities of waste plus growth trends mean we pass on an unacceptable legacy to future generations.

    But, uniquely, the nuclear industry is littered with incidents and leaks of radiation, from tritium in the ground water in France, to Caesium, and Iodine, in Japan.

    Here is a list of incidents for Japan.

    According to New Scientist [Here], the readiness of Japan’s reactors to survive major seismic events has been a growing concern. What’s more, the nation’s entire industry – not just Tepco – has an undistinguished history of nuclear accidents and a poor record for transparency when things go wrong.

    December 1995
    Eight tonnes of sodium coolant leak from a pipe at the Monju experimental fast-breeder reactor, run by the now-defunct Power Reactor and Nuclear Fuel Development Corporation (Donen). Monju’s managers tell the Japan Science and Technology Agency that the leak was discovered 8 hours later than was actually the case, and supply a doctored video excluding the worst of the spill. The attempted cover-up causes public outrage.

    March 1997
    An explosion rocks the Tokaimura waste reprocessing facility, triggered by a fires in a building where waste is mixed with asphalt for storage in drums. Donen officials initially report radiation levels 20 per cent above normal outside the building, but later admit that the true level of contamination was at least 10 times higher. Seven maintenance staff are later found to have been out playing golf.

    May 1998
    The Japanese parliament passes a bill to reconstitute the discredited Donen as the Japan Nuclear Fuel Cycle Development Institute, monitored by an independent panel of experts. This in turn became part of the Japan Atomic Energy Agency in 2005.

    July 1999
    Twenty tonnes of radioactive water leaks from a cracked pipe at the Tsuruga power station, run by the Japan Atomic Power Company. Although the leak was contained within the plant, elevated radiation levels mean that clean-up workers can only spend only 3 hours a day in the area.

    September 1999
    In what is billed as the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl, three reprocessing workers at Tokaimura inadvertently create a critical mass of uranium, severely irradiating themselves and triggering chain reactions that continue for several hours.
    International safety experts are flabbergasted to learn that the workers were pouring a solution of uranium oxide in nitric acid into a sedimentation tank by hand, using buckets. JCO, the company that now runs the facility, and the Japanese government are criticised both for allowing such a dangerous procedure and for a sluggish response to the incident.

    December 1999
    Hisashi Ouchi, one of the workers irradiated in the Tokaimura criticality accident, dies after three months in intensive care; his colleague Masato Shinohara perishes four months later.

    October 2000
    Six managers from JCO are arrested and charged with professional negligence for failing to prevent the dangerous procedures that triggered the chain reaction at Tokaimura.

    September 2002
    Freshly revealed reports from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), dating from the 1990s, describe safety precautions at Japanese nuclear reactors as dangerously weak. IAEA inspectors visited four reactors in 1992 and 1995, finding 90 deficiencies in safety procedures.
    The revelation follows the confession by four companies – Tepco, Chubu Electric Power, Japan Atomic Power and Tohoku Electric Power – that they concealed flaws in their reactors from government regulators.

    August 2004
    In the deadliest workplace incident for Japan’s nuclear industry, a steam leak from a power turbine at the Mihama plant kills four people and injures seven. There is no radiation leak, but the Kansai Electric Power Company is criticised for failing to inspect the failed pipe.

    March 2006
    A diplomatic cable from the US embassy in Tokyo, later released by WikiLeaks, discusses a case in which a court orders the Hokuriku Electric Power Company to shut down a reactor at its Shika nuclear plant because of concerns over its ability to withstand powerful earthquakes. Both the company and the Japanese government oppose the ruling. The cable states: “Though not legally obligated to cease operations in this case since this is a civil suit, [the company] will face an uphill battle to regain the support of local citizens for operating a nuclear facility in their backyards.”
    A court did indeed order the plant to be shut down, but a higher court reversed the decision, and the plant resumed operation in 2009.

    July 2007
    Three reactors at the world’s largest nuclear plant, Kashiwazaki-Kariwa, shut down after a 6.8-magnitude earthquake. A fire briefly breaks out in one of the units. Tepco initially says that the quake caused no radiation leaks, but days later admits that 1200 litres of radioactive water had washed into the sea and several drums containing nuclear waste lost their lids after falling over.
    In the wake of the incident, experts debate whether Japan’s nuclear plants are engineered to standards high enough to cope with major quakes – the country’s Nuclear Safety Commission stipulates that all new plants must be built to withstand only a magnitude-6.5 event. Worldwide, there are about 150 earthquakes above magnitude 6 per year.

    December 2008
    According to a diplomatic cable from the US embassy in Tokyo, an IAEA representative has said that guides for seismic safety have been revised only three times in the past 35 years, and that the IAEA is now re-examining them. The cable continues: “Also, the presenter noted recent earthquakes in some cases have exceeded the design basis for some nuclear plants, and that this a serious problem that is now driving seismic safety work.”

    While it obviously is possible to build a nuke strong enough to withstand a civilian terrorist attack or civilian airliner (which are relatively lightweight) this does not apply to nukes we already have.

    All we have is vague assurances that American regulators have developed approval standards for their future reactors, but the details are missing.

    We are having nukes foisted on us purely because, in the short-term, energy comes very cheap, and companies can make huge profits selling in markets where the price is determined by existing producers cost-structures.

    This means nuke companies reap huge surpluses.

    However, if nuclear is the main supply, this surplus will be competed away, and competitive cost-cutting will intrude, and society ends up with a nuclear BP disaster.

    America is producing around a football field of waste per year. Any highschool student will show you that this is unsustainable if it continues at an exponential rate.

    The worlds energy demand, including American, will grow at an exponential rate.

    So if waste storage area doubles twice each generation, it would be best not to kick-start this process until after the waste problem has been fixed – in practice, not as a concept.

    All competitive commercial industry cuts costs, and fights regulation, not just nuclear, and this results in deaths in all industries. So nuclear needs to receive the same coup de grace as the nicotine, asbestos, and chloroflurocarbon (CFC) industries.

    What every economic benefit Australia gets from yellowcake is far exceeded by recent increases in our services exports. So we can afford to ditch yellowcake. There is a huge potential market for hi-tech renewable solutions.

    Like

  346. I think that is a known fact that not everything found on the internet is true. I am puzzled as to how the unproven hypothesis of radiation hormesis is presented as fact based on miscellaneous web links, and then assumed as fact by readers of these sites. I would like this blog to continue as a reliable science based source of information, but I am not certain that this is possible if radiation hormesis is deemed factual on such flimsy evidence.

    Do we all try the green stone based on a weblink?

    http://radiationhormesis.com/stones/

    MODERATOR
    rpl – that is why we have an Open Thread. Opinions here are not necessarily endorsed by BNC.

    Like

  347. People opportunistically grabbing deaths from all over the place to justify nuclear deaths are ghoulish and only using a tactic of last resort.

    Nonsense. People who opportunistically leap on every mishap in the nuclear power industry and then ignore the far higher death rates resulting from the use of competitor technologies to nuclear power, and the vastly higher death rates in low power societies, are the true ghouls.

    The worlds energy demand, including American, will grow at an exponential rate.

    If so, nuclear power is the only conceivable technology to take us there. But if it is so for any extended period of time, you’re talking about a civilisation expanding beyond this planet.

    Nonetheless, it’s nice to see you concede that we will need huge quantities of energy going into the future. After all,

    Being clear and making honest claims is an important element in helping you build a responsible reputation.

    http://www.chriswarrenonline.com.au/responsible-reporting

    As you don’t like nuclear, please let us know what energy source you think is going to be used.

    Like

  348. Hormesis links are in more than this one thread though. I appreciate that BNC is not responsible for random commentor’s posts. I am not criticizing BNC in any way. Am I allowed to make an argument?
    MODERATOR
    Apologies if I have missed some of the previous off-topic remarks re hormesis.
    There is only one of me and I do have to sleep sometimes:)and I do sometimes get it wrong.
    Please do make your arguments: we appreciate your input.
    To everyone : please try to keep your comments on the correct thread as otherwise the current thread becomes rambling and glued/bogged down.

    Like

  349. re post by: chris warren, on 24 March 2011 at 10:07

    And yet he utterly fails to provide any alternative that is any better, gives us a page long list that is no different than what we can easily generate from any other major industry, uses examples of things that have been done away with that aren’t even correct (nicotine is still in cigarettes, plus you can get it in gum and patches left and right). Car accidents kill FAR more people each year – are they outlawed? The solar power and wind energy industries, as tiny as they are, kill more people than nuclear ever has. Have they been shut down?

    Where in the world do you get your waste volume figures from, and do you bother to compare those to any other electricity producing industry?

    Clearly, Chris, as far as you are concerned it is back to the dark ages for ALL of us. Only one slight snag with that plan – far MORE people would then die from the lack of medicines, transportation, air conditions, refrigeration and freezers, and on and on.

    The rationalizations you are using are truly mind blowing when reality is considered. Discussion with you has become a pointless waste of time.

    Like

  350. Unfortunately my computer system cannot handle such threads and back-scrolling crashes Firefox.

    Someone tried to dispute the development of grid-storage.

    They should take time to read:

    http://dmse.mit.edu/faculty/faculty/dsadoway/

    http://dmse.scripts.mit.edu/news/?p=2600

    Similar developments with salt/fresh water membranes will be able to provide power even for micro-states like Fiji, St Helena, and Falklands etc.

    Solar can serve for land locked desert states – how can they every have water cooled nukes?

    Like

  351. Look at this picture of building 3, where is the SFP?

    That is a stunning image….. I see nothing mechanical or identifiable.

    Researcher Gerhard Wotawa of the Vienna-based Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics says that the radiation released from the Fukushima power plant has been about the same as the radiation released in Ukraine’s Chernobyl nuclear accident in 1986 – but with an important difference.

    “Chernobyl did not lie close to the Pacific Ocean and the wind did not go into the ocean in that direction,” said Wotawa.

    That, Wotowa says, has limited the harmful effects of the radiation leaks. He also notes that there has not been a major explosion at the Fukushima power plant. But he warns that high levels of radioactive cesium remain a concern.

    http://www.voanews.com/english/news/asia/Experts-Cite-Improvements-and-Dangers-at-Crippled-Japanese-Nuclear-Reactor-118543829.html

    Like

  352. Solar can serve for land locked desert states – how can they every have water cooled nukes?

    Nuclear plants can be designed to be air-cooled. There is an efficiency hit going down that path, but it is possible, and superior to other options.

    Like

  353. So can solar plants. Either way, the availability of cooling water as a desideratum weighs equally on solar and nuclear. Both either use a lot of water for cooling, or rely on a more expensive air cooled design.

    Like

  354. Chris Warren, I don’t believe you have either read or understood those MIT pages you link to. Prove me wrong by telling me some of the performance parameters of the technology being described, so we can figure what its capabilities are.

    I don’t believe you can, because the details are not available:

    Because the technology is being patented and could lead to very large-scale commercialization, Sadoway will not discuss the details of the materials being used.

    Again, prove me wrong by giving the most basic operational parameters. But I think you’re just blowing smoke.

    Like

  355. Rational Debate, on 24 March 2011 at 10:46 AM said:

    re post by: chris warren, on 24 March 2011 at 10:07

    And yet he utterly fails to provide any alternative that is any better,

    Huh?

    Salt/fresh water membranes…
    pumped hydro ….
    Liquid metal batteries ….
    Ammonia fuel ….
    Fuel cells …..
    Algae fuel ……
    Wind …..
    Solar …..
    hydro …
    Run-of-river systems ……
    Wave power ……
    Tidal power …….
    Saltwater capacitors …..

    Plus whatever else researchers have on their work-benches.

    Like

  356. Water isn’t just needed for cooling for solar, large amounts are also needed for regularly cleaning the panels – that’s going to be especially true in the desert where sand winds up on everything as it is (this comment coming from someone who is currently living in a region that gets average annual rainfall of barely over 4″). I know they are, or it sounds like they are making some progress in solar designs that don’t use as much water for cleaning, but as I last understood it there is still a huge water demand. Solar panel output drops pretty drastically when covered with even thin layers of dust or sand.

    Like

  357. @ Chris Warren,

    Your list of technologies there is great, and I hope all of those things can contribute to fighting climate change. Nuclear also.

    Opposing any viable and proven technology in the face of climate change is utterly irresponsible.

    Like

  358. @ Chris Warren:

    If you are going to claim that there are superior technologies available to replace the one you’re attacking, it’s not enough to just list them. We already know what they’re called! To make your case for them properly you have to provide QUANTIFIED arguments demonstrating the superiority you impute to them.

    Like

  359. Selby and Chriswarren,

    Idealism is not a problem, provided that it is tempered by realism.

    You both appear to have the blinkers well and truly on, leading to repetitive unquestioning support for solar PV and some other even smaller players in the energy debate.

    Realism: Considering what other resources will be consumed as the dream is followed. Let’s say that, after maintenance roads and all other losses are adjusted for, solar PV in broad acre developments, shoulder to shoulder panel after panel, is good for about 50% coverage and 200 watts per square metre. That is, 100 W/m2 averaged over the site.

    Reducing this by a factor applicable to sunlight hours after rain, cloud and night have been taken into account, and the nett is about 20 watts/m2. NB I am not even bothering to worry about storage, batteries, switchyards, etc. Just raw energy.

    Two power stations in the Hunter Valley occupy about 5 square kilometres between them and generate, reliably, continually, 4800MW plus at above 80% availability: 3840MW continuous average capacity.

    That is 3,840,000,000 watts on 5,000,000 square metres, or 770 watts per square metre continuous.

    To produce the raw energy equivalent of these two power stations would mean covering about 200 square kilometres of land with solar panels.

    To produce enough solar for Australia’s current needs, again disregarding time of use and similar constraints, would require not hundreds of square kilometres, but thousands of square kilometres.

    Solar thermal is potentially better at thermal storage, but the area would be comparable.

    Pumped hydro is out on environmental grounds and because there simply are nowhere near sufficient valleys in Australia capable of being dammed at the top and the bottom. Besides, it is not generation, but a form of high cost storage.

    Liquid metal batteries, ammonia and hydrogen. Storage devices again. All highly dangerous. None suitable for transport.

    Wind… hasn’t enough damage to our ridge lines been done already? The wind turbines required to power even 10% of Australia would also occupy thousands of square kilometers of land.

    This isn’t easy or simple. The alternatives are all difficult and the road ahead is full of potholes.

    Why you two so carelessly discard the positives and promises of nuclear options as being part of your energy mix is beyond rational consideration.

    I am not demanding that any option is taken off the table: you two are.

    I have not denied the value of alternative energy systems, no matter how difficult thay may be to commercialise, or how far into the future they may be able to compete, yet you two have written nuclear power, in all of its forms, off as though it was a decree from heaven itself that justifies this action.

    Your arguments have persuaded nobody, mainly because you refuse to argue – when I look for argument, I find assertions.

    What about cost?

    What about safety?

    What about capacity and room for growth?

    What about counter argument instead of ranting and raving?

    I wish it was otherwise, I really do, but without nuclear options in the mix, we are condemning the human race and the world around us to a brutish future of low energy availability, low food supplies, hunger, wars and decline.

    Is that what you really want? Are you really arguing that humans should commit collective suicide?

    BTW, the major health differences between 200 years ago and the present are not due to antibiotics, but to sewerage, clean water supplies and vaccinations, coupled with mechanised food production and distribution. Engineers have had a far greater impact for good during this period than have the medical profession.

    Like

  360. re post by rpl, on 24 March 2011 at 10:14 AM.

    rpl, just how many different research papers, experiments, and epidemiological studies do you need to give hormesis some credit? It isn’t a new idea, and the evidence for it outweighs anything that argues against it in terms of science, biology, biochemistry, experiments, and so on. The idea is and has been fairly widely accepted as being anywhere from ‘at the very least credible’ to ‘almost certainly correct’ in a large number of radiological experts. It is also in line with how biological cells and organisms respond to almost any insult or exposure that occurs. Why would it make sense for radiation to be the outlier where this doesn’t occur?

    I’m not even saying that the theory is ‘certain’ or ‘correct’ but I am very much saying that there is a lot of solid data out there indicating that it is likely, and that the idea certainly shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand. That an objective evaluation of what is known leans significantly towards either hormesis or no effect below a rather high threshold (high relative to our typical gen. public & occupational limits), and away from LNT.

    NOT saying the following are the best examples, and they certainly aren’t in any order, but just to get you started with a few that are out there and easy to find:

    You can find other articles or abstracts by this author on the subject also, but for this one, Full article online at: http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=1&sqi=2&ved=0CBQQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.sustainablenuclear.org%2FPADs%2Fpad2008jaworowski.pdf&rct=j&q=Jaworowski%202001%20hormesis&ei=jaiKTdakJMi4twf1s6H6DQ&usg=AFQjCNEVs2xbWFdIeA-jDdeeeWRUGa-7Sw&cad=rja
    Int. J. Low Radiation, Vol. 5, No. 2, 2008
    151
    The paradigm that failed
    Zbigniew Jaworowski
    Central Laboratory for Radiological Protection
    ul. Konwaliowa 7, 03 194 Warsaw, Poland
    E-mail: jaworo@clor.waw.pl

    ‘The paradigm that failed’, Int. J. Low Radiation, Vol. 5, No. 2, pp.151–155.
    Biographical notes: Zbigniew Jaworowski, MD, PhD, DSc, is a Professor
    Emeritus of the Central Laboratory for Radiological Protection in Warsaw,
    Poland, a member of the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of
    Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) and its former Chairman. He is the President of
    the Association of Environmentalists for Nuclear Energy (EFN), Poland. His
    research fields are radiotoxicology, radiobiology, nuclear emergencies, the
    historical monitoring of radionuclides and heavy metals in humans in the
    past 5000 years, the temporal and geographical distribution of pollutants in
    the global troposphere and stratosphere and the validity of the ice core records
    for the reconstruction of the past chemical composition of the atmosphere
    and climate. He has published more than 300 scientific papers, four books and
    one patent.

    Crit Rev Toxicol. 2001 Jul;31(4-5):681-95.
    Radiation hormesis: data and interpretations.

    Upton AC.

    Department of Environmental and Community Medicine, UMDNJ – Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, New Brunswick 08901-2008, USA. acupton@eohsi.rutgers.edu
    Abstract

    Although the biological effects of large doses of ionizing radiation are predominantly harmful, low-to-intermediate doses have been observed to enhance growth and survival, augment the immune response, and increase resistance to the mutagenic and clastogenic effects of further irradiation in plants, bacteria, insects, and mammals. The existence of these stimulatory, or “adaptive”, responses implies that the dose-response relationships for genetic and carcinogenic effects of radiation may be similarly biphasic, or hormetic, in nature, a possibility with far-reaching implications for radiation protection. As yet, however, the extent to which such responses may actually reduce the risks attributable to low-level irradiation remains to be determined, pending further elucidation of the relevant dose-response relationships and the apparent lack of responsiveness in some individuals. Therefore, further research is needed to resolve this question.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21234801

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3123411

    CT lung scans reduce cancer risk: http://opinion.financialpost.com/2010/11/05/lawrence-solomon-the-scan-that-cures/

    http://www.angelfire.com/mo/radioadaptive/inthorm.html

    Wildlife thriving in the Chernobyl exclusion zone: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2006/04/0426_060426_chernobyl.html

    http://townhall.com/columnists/anncoulter/2011/03/16/a_glowing_report_on_radiation (don’t dismiss it out of hand, look at the reports, studies, and articles that she cites)

    Hum Exp Toxicol. 2010 Apr;29(4):275-81.
    Biological effects of low level exposures to ionizing radiation: theory and practice.

    Liu SZ.

    Department of Radiation Biology, Jilin University School of Public Health, Changchun, China. drliusz@yahoo.com
    Abstract

    This paper briefly reviewed recent reports on the epidemiological and experimental data on low dose radiation effects that support the concept of radiation hormesis. These reports point to the possibility of existence of a threshold dose in cancer induction by ionizing radiation and in some cases the occurrence of hormetic effects with stimulation of host defense mechanisms. The possibility of the use of low dose radiation in cancer treatment to improve the outcome of conventional radiotherapy was raised by citing previous reports on experimental studies, which showed increased efficacy in tumor control with significant reduction of total dose of radiation when low dose radiation was used in the combined treatment protocol.

    PMID: 20332172 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

    Hum Exp Toxicol. 2010 Apr;29(4):263-70.
    Radiation hormesis–a remedy for fear.

    Jaworowski Z.

    Central Laboratory for Radiological Protection, ul. Konwaliowa 7, Warsaw 03-195, Poland. jaworo@clor.waw.pl
    Abstract

    Personal reflections on radiation hormesis for the past 50 years are presented. The causes of ignoring and rejections of this phenomenon by international and national bodies and by radiation protection establishment are analyzed. The opposition against nuclear weapons and preparations for nuclear war was probably the main factor in inducing the concern for adverse effects of low doses of ionizing radiation, a byproduct of activism against the nuclear weapon tests. UNSCEAR was deeply involved in preparation of the scientific basis for cessation of nuclear test, and contributed to elaboration of the LNT assumption, which is in contradiction with the hormetic phenomenon. However, this authoritative body recognized also the existence of radiation hormesis, termed as ‘adaptive response.’ The political and vested interests behind exclusion of hormesis from the current risk assessment methodology are discussed.

    PMID: 20332170 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

    Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2007 Jul 1;222(1):122-8. Epub 2007 Mar 7.
    Biological stress response terminology: Integrating the concepts of adaptive response and preconditioning stress within a hormetic dose-response framework.

    Calabrese EJ, Bachmann KA, Bailer AJ, Bolger PM, Borak J, Cai L, Cedergreen N, Cherian MG, Chiueh CC, Clarkson TW, Cook RR, Diamond DM, Doolittle DJ, Dorato MA, Duke SO, Feinendegen L, Gardner DE, Hart RW, Hastings KL, Hayes AW, Hoffmann GR, Ives JA, Jaworowski Z, Johnson TE, Jonas WB, Kaminski NE, Keller JG, Klaunig JE, Knudsen TB, Kozumbo WJ, Lettieri T, Liu SZ, Maisseu A, Maynard KI, Masoro EJ, McClellan RO, Mehendale HM, Mothersill C, Newlin DB, Nigg HN, Oehme FW, Phalen RF, Philbert MA, Rattan SI, Riviere JE, Rodricks J, Sapolsky RM, Scott BR, Seymour C, Sinclair DA, Smith-Sonneborn J, Snow ET, Spear L, Stevenson DE, Thomas Y, Tubiana M, Williams GM, Mattson MP.

    School of Public Health, Morrill I, N344, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01003, USA. edwardc@schoolph.umass.edu
    Abstract

    Many biological subdisciplines that regularly assess dose-response relationships have identified an evolutionarily conserved process in which a low dose of a stressful stimulus activates an adaptive response that increases the resistance of the cell or organism to a moderate to severe level of stress. Due to a lack of frequent interaction among scientists in these many areas, there has emerged a broad range of terms that describe such dose-response relationships. This situation has become problematic because the different terms describe a family of similar biological responses (e.g., adaptive response, preconditioning, hormesis), adversely affecting interdisciplinary communication, and possibly even obscuring generalizable features and central biological concepts. With support from scientists in a broad range of disciplines, this article offers a set of recommendations we believe can achieve greater conceptual harmony in dose-response terminology, as well as better understanding and communication across the broad spectrum of biological disciplines.

    PMID: 17459441 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

    this one not about rad hormesis specifically, but rather supporting my saying that hormesis is a generally recognized phenemena in biological systems – and there are tons more along these lines out there too: Crit Rev Toxicol. 2005 Feb-Mar;35(2-3):89-295.
    Hormetic dose-response relationships in immunology: occurrence, quantitative features of the dose response, mechanistic foundations, and clinical implications.

    Calabrese EJ.
    Environmental Health and Health Sciences, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts 01003, USA. edwardc@schoolph.umass.edu

    and the list goes on and on – there are a ton of peer reviewed papers out there supporting hormesis or at the least, the threshold paradigm and not linear no threshold.

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  361. re post by; chris warren, on 24 March 2011 at 11:55 AM said:

    Rational Debate, on 24 March 2011 at 10:46 AM said: re post by: chris warren, on 24 March 2011 at 10:07 — And yet he utterly fails to provide any alternative that is any better,

    Huh?….[followed by longish list without one large scale commercially feasible economically practical alternative, and all of which have major limitations or drawbacks]

    Plus whatever else researchers have on their work-benches.

    Research on the bench does NOT even begin to replace electrical generation at scales needed & currently filled by fossil fuels and nuclear.

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