1. There is a lack of leadership and a fear to act on duty. For example, I read not too long ago that the DOE has studies regarding the situation at the Hanford nuclear site.

    Those studies, in depth, show that there is nothing to worry about. But the DOE won’t publish them because of the backlash they would get. (You guys are pro nuclear like the NRC)

    So much for pugnacity and duty. Ditto for the NRC.

    Also Prof Stephen Hawking’s main worry is climate change followed closely by nuclear proliferation brought by fission. Heck, he should know or understand as much as Nnadir or anyone with common sense on this board. He could come public and tell it like it is. But no. I wrote him a year ago and never got a response.

    I have many names on my mind of people who could stand up and do not. People who have means and do nothing. (Gates and Branson – They do the pro nuclear talk but no walk.)

    On the plus side, former Fed Bank Chairman Alan Greenspan spoke highly of nuclear in his book The Age of Turbulence.

  2. The future seemed more wide open then. Abundant energy and the resources and vastness of space lay before us inviting. Eisenhower founded NASA and I think the somewhat similar challenges of both the space program and the utilization of nuclear power are not a coincidence. Incidentally the first major discovery of the space program was the high radiation areas of the Van Allen Belts.

    Its interesting he had similar concerns, like those you discus with nuclear power, at NASA’s founding ( http://history.nasa.gov/monograph10/nasabrth.html )

    Of course as a gay man there are many things from those times I an not so nostalgic about and wouldn’t want go back to. But there also is plenty here worth recovering, dusting off, and setting back up up on the mantle of our greatest collective endeavors.

    I like Ike too.

    1. Hot off the press:

      Curiosity measures radiation at Martian surface

      The RAD data from Curiosity’s flight to Mars was reported earlier this year in the journal Science. Based on data showing an average daily radiation dose of 1.8 thousandths of a Sievert (Sv), the paper’s authors estimated that astronauts would be exposed to a dose of 0.66 Sv during a six-month, round-trip to Mars.

      The team then combined the figures from the flight to Mars with those on the surface of Mars to estimate the total radiation does an astronaut would receive during NASA’s template mission to Mars: 360 days travel time and 500 days surface time. That number comes to 1.01 Sieverts (Sv) , or about 10 times the radiation dose an astronaut receives during a six-month mission on the ISS. ( http://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2013/1209/Curiosity-measures-radiation-at-Martian-surface )

      1. Ok the ultimate in titles for all of you Huff Post FUKU vets ( I was JTT there before I got fed up with their fear mongering on many things and CXL’ed my account, NP and radiation most of all)
        Mars Radiation Not Harsh Enough To Block Long-Term Manned Mission, Rover Finds ( http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/09/mars-radiation-manned-mission-curiosity-rover_n_4413351.html )

        lol – I agree with it of course, but still cant believe its coming from that bunch.

          1. I tried to react to an inane remark about LNT and fissionable isotopes made by ‘jf12’ but Huff keeps freezing on me and giving me the strandball of doom. Could you please do the honours?

          2. I went with a safe “LNT assumes biological effects of ionizing radiation are directly proportional to dose. There is little scientific evidence of any measurable adverse health effects at radiation doses below about 100 millisieverts (mSv). ” part of which I ganked from a radiation safety site.

            Im kind of irritated at myself for doing that as Im not so sure anymore that the 100 mSv threshold is really a threshold at all considering what I read lately about screening effects.

          3. I mainly had trouble with the notion that radiation damage is somehow worse when it comes from fissionable isotopes. Sigh.

        1. Interesting to see what BAS will claim for lifetime cancer risk for that 1 Sv dose over 360 + 500 = 860 days. ESA claims 5% increase in lifetime cancer risk.

          BAS ________?

        2. lol – I agree with it of course, but still cant believe its coming from that bunch.

          Part of it comes from the New Age sect’s New World mantra to build a new totally liberated irreligious hedonistic societies on other worlds. L5 Society was chockful of that type. Check out roster of types lining up to take one-way-flight there!

          1. I wish Mitch. You need to get out more. If it doesn’t involve marijuana, correcting some easily perceived injustice, or proposed punitive measures against corporations the new left has no time for it.

            In the later years of the Bush administration I thought things would change. I thought the left had come to believe in reason; advancing civil liberties, science and were in general more curious about the universe respectaround them. I thought Obama, a professed “Constitutional Scholar” marked the beginning of a new age of reasonable human trust, science and exploration.

            Now I cannot look myself in the mirror after being so naive of course.

      2. Does anyone here remember NERVA? NASA’s current mission time-frame of around 700 days would probably necessitate the use of fission technology in more than one form. Some old and new Ideas:


        Project Rover: Main Series of Nuclear-Rocket Engines ( http://www.lanl.gov/science/NSS/issue1_2011/story4a.shtml )

        NASA Project ROVER NERVA Nuclear Rocket Engine
        ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GmxPRCyR-Co&noredirect=1 )

        NERVA Engine Testing (1964 – 1967) ( http://pbhistoryb1b3.grc.nasa.gov/NERVA.aspx )

        In flight and ground Power

        Researchers Test Novel Power System for Space Travel ( http://www.nasa.gov/centers/glenn/news/pressrel/2012/12-059_fission.html )

        NEAR TERM, LOW COST OPTIONS FOR MARS FISSION POWER. ( http://www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/marsconcepts2012/pdf/4384.pdf )

        While on the topic of great Eisenhower anniversaries – The 19 th of December will mark the anniversary of the first audio message to be relayed from outer space. It was broadcast on Dec. 19, 1958, from the world’s first communications satellite – Signal Communications by Orbiting Relay Equipment, ( SCORE. ) ( http://cecom.army.mil/historian/SCORE_Article.php )

        Eisenhower words to all mankind:
        ( http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/cf/SCORE_Audio.ogg )

        1. I work with a guy who was on NERVA. Has some various pieces of it around his office. Lots of great stories.

          1. I bet. It was way ahead of its time. Dont let him throw anything away and make write it all down!

  3. It is also interesting to see that the green aristocrats and elitists today are putting emphasis on energy sources that are democratic choices of the people, like wind and solar.

    Nuclear of course is not a democratic choice.

    But soon, 60 new countries will join the civil nuclear community. Are they anti democratic or do their governments act for the good of their people?

    1. If you go where they hang out invariably they get to agreeing on how there are just too many people and other depressing, negative garbage.

  4. “There are many reasons why many decision makers have resisted implementing Eisenhower’s ideas.”

    Dwight D. Eisenhower, Republican.

    Establishment decision makers (all anti-nuclear):

    Governor Andy Cuomo, NY, Democrat.
    Former Governor Mario Cuomo (his father), Democrat
    Representative Ed Markey, Democrat
    Senator Harry Reid, Democrat
    Representative Barbara Boxer, Democrat
    Former Representative Dennis Kucinich, Democrat
    The list is as long as there are Democratic Establishment Decision makers (with exceptions, very rare, here and there).

    And who is pro-nuclear?

    Republican former Senator Pete Dominici
    Republican former President George W. Bush
    Republican former Presidential candidate Mitt Romney
    Republican former Governor Sarah Palin (vilified, condemned and castigated by all the right – er, left – thinking people – if the right did to leftist women politicians what the left routinely does to Sarah, all hell would break lose).

    You have inherited what you voted for. Sow the whirlwind, reap the whirlwind. See how Barack Hussein Obama says it’s OK to erect windmills that kill bald eagles, but won’t support safe, clean nuclear energy. Thus do the people get the government they deserve. Want nuclear power? Throw the likes of anti-nuclear decision maker Andy Cuomo and his ilk into the trash bin of utter and complete defeat. Defeat the Establishment.


    1. Wow Paul…

      I think you give the two-party system way too much credit. The left-right dukeing-it-out paradigm is a farce.

      It gives the people the ILLUSION of choice.

      On all matters of SUBSTANCE, nothing changes. Policies continually benefit those with real power – the money behind the scenes – no matter the party. Notice how the name calling flies back and forth, but nothing REALLY changes.

      You must understand – it is all a GAME… Wall St. gets away with murder under Republican and Democrat alike. Taxes get cut under R and D’s alike. Its was Clinton who signed financial deregulation into law (a.k.a. repeal of Glass-Steagall). Gitmo: still there… gutting of civil liberty protections under “Patriot Act” done with bipartisan support… the fundamental tenets of “War on Terror” still in place to keep justifications flowing to fund the excesses of the Military-Industrial Complex (a term coined by Ike)… Democrats propose and implement former Republican health-care strategy and now Fox-bots freak out calling it derisively OBAMACARE… wind mills and ethanol mandates promoted by R and D’s alike with one thing in common: hydrocarbon hegemony is never threatened. Military spending into the stratosphere is sacrosanct but D’s are on-board with “Social Security Crisis” meme and the need for more TAX CUTS. The NRC has been ratcheting regulations under R and D’s alike over the past 4 decades.

      There are the odd dissenters, but on balance the interests of Big Money are served by BOTH parties. Do you really believe that George Bush would ramp up nuclear power when it would cut the throat of Big Oil? REALLY? He had 8 years, why didn’t he? Nothing changes that would threaten the wealth and power of those people behind the scenes pulling the strings. The R vs. D, liberal vs. conservative nonsense is all a sideshow.

      If you want to see who is really causing the problems with this democracy, you have to look BEHIND the curtain.

      All is not as it seems…

      1. TL;DR Statists are going to work to grow the influence of the state, no matter the letter in front of their name.

        But so is the result when you give the government the power to control entire industries. Giving politicians so much power to sell invariably attracts the easily corruptible to hold those positions. There is a reason the Founding Fathers of the United States did everything they could to keep power distributed at the state level with minimum Federal influence.

        1. @Smiling Joe Fission

          I think you’ve misinterpreted the motives and action of the founding fathers who decided to replace the very weak Federal powers identified in the Articles of Confederation with the Constitution. You’ve also ignored the importance of the Civil War in reinforcing the notion that states are, first and foremost, a part of a federal system that is far stronger when united than when a confederation of petty fiefdoms dominated by landed or propertied gentry.

          I highly recommend adding The Federalist Papers to your reading list.


          If time is limited, this is where I would start the reading.


          You can balance them with the Anti-Federalist Papers, but it’s pretty obvious to me which argument won the day.

          We agree on the fact that government regulations — at any level — should be limited and not result in bureaucrats running industries.

          1. I already own the Federalist papers, but thank you for the links Rod. I understand where you have exception to my comment, I phrased it incorrectly.

            I agree with the Federalist’s argument (and some of the anti’s as well) and am not saying that the States being strongly united through a Federal government is a bad thing. In my opinion, the Federal government has far and away overstepped what the founders intended. The Federal government’s main purpose was to unite the states by ensuring the defence of the United States from foreign attack, ensuring free trade/travel between the States, ensure that the bill of rights (and amendments added) was followed by the States, and be the ultimate arbiter in State v. State issues. Much beyond that was supposed to be up to the State’s government.

            My main point was that keeping the Federal government from becoming an overreaching government power of the United States was an important part of the constitutions contents. I did not state that as coherently in my initial comment.

    2. Many of us Dems vote based on other issues than nuclear power by itself…like who is more likely to start another war, putting our military at risk, who will wage war on women, trying to curtail access to effective hormonal ,ontraception, who will take action on climate change, who will defend the rights of labor, who cares about the increasingly squeezed middle class, who wants to build an empire abroad vs who wants to nation build at home, who is more or less likely to start a nuclear exchange with the axis of evil member du jour, etc.

      For instance, though I despise Governor Shumlin’s war on VY, his effort for single payer healthcare is worth many reactors.

      Nuclear is important, but not THAT important. It is one option among several, one I view as superior, but we can choose other inferior options if necessary. Eventually society and the Dems should come to accept it at a time when it is more needed, and other clean fuels are scarcer and more highly priced.

      PS. Could you explain the constant right wing obsession with stating Obama’s middle name? I’ve always wondered why that is.

      1. Could you explain the constant right wing obsession with stating Obama’s middle name? I’ve always wondered why that is.

        Hussein: LOL! Not that hard to figure out – propagandistic messaging to the paranoid base that believes he is an illegitimate secret Muslim usurper of the office, something sinister. Hussein –> Saddam-like evil. Load messaging with a negative payload. Fox “News” is the master of this technique.

        Other example: “dangerous nuclear waste” (instead of spent nuclear fuel).

        1. You missed the sarcasm there re Obama’s middle name. Oftentimes sarcasm doesn’t come across online. I forgot the /s too. Sorry.

      2. “Could you explain the constant right wing obsession with stating Obama’s middle name? I’ve always wondered why that is.”

        I think it’s a reaction to the previous use of “George Herbert Walker Bush” at every opportunity; that one seemed to imbue Bush-I an atmosphere of elitist aristocracy and snobbery. Or maybe the later “dub-ya” thing; which imbued Bush-II with a kind of dopey, frat-boy, “smarts skips generations” atmosphere.

      3. Energy is the engine of our economy and different fuels are needed, consistently and affordably, to make it run efficiently. Over-regulation, excessive environmental reviews, endless litigation by groups opposed to any development anywhere (even when the local population is in favor of the exploration/mining/extraction/refining), and the resultant increased cost to the consumer are part of what is keeping this economy from growing robustly. Most people vote their pocketbook/bank account balance no matter what their political affiliation is or what second-order issue may be on the ballot.

        If the administration’s economic policies actually did what they were projected to do, the growth would dwarf the “social” issues. Since we are stuck at (or well above, if you take the Labor Participation Rate into account) 7%, talk is diverted to obfuscate that outcome. And to blame the preceding administration for the mess.

        I don’t much care what his middle name is. It’s his policies and how he presents them and ignores alternatives presented to him, all while declaring no viable alternatives have been put forth, that I find troubling. If the economy were growing there would be the resources necessary to confront some of the social issues you champion.

        1. I don’t support over regulation, “green tape” like EISes, BANANA people, or myopic environmental lawyers. This is especially true when it comes to nuclear energy, because government regulation is so disproportionate compared to other energy sources.

          On the other hand, I’m barely old enough to remember when car exhaust smelled nasty, and diesel exhaust was even worse. I wasn’t around when that river caught fire, but I kinda think it’s a good thing we don’t dump flammable or toxic stuff in rivers any more or spray dioxin tainted oil on dirt roads as a dust reducing agent. It’s also a good thing that coal plants aren’t allowed to spray NOx and SOx into the atmosphere any more. Slowly, we’re dealing with acid rain.

          Energy is an important part of our economy. However, it’s only one part of our economy. I disagree that the slightly higher electricity prices will cause massive damage to the economy, especially when coupled with efficiency measures along with policies like LIHEAP. I do agree that gas prices are a much bigger issue than electric prices because there’s no LIHEAP for gas, and you’re stuck with whatever car you bought in terms of efficiency, you can’t just replace a thermostat on your car to save 20% on gasoline expenses.

          Admittedly, were I to vote based only on energy issues, I would be a Republican, of the Christine Todd Whitman variety, with the exception of carbon policy, which I feel is of great importance.

          But I don’t vote solely on energy issues. Based on past performance, Republicans = wars + destroyed civil liberties + unilateralism + disrespect for international law + disrespect for both separation of church and state and separation of church and hate + regressive social policy + “f#!I you, I’ve got mine” economic policy + general meanness, cruelty, and lack of concern for the suffering of others, etc.

          As such, I’m a Democrat, and will remain one until the Republicans appeal more to me than the Dems do. I doubt they will.

          1. Based on past performance, Republicans = wars + destroyed civil liberties + unilateralism + disrespect for international law + disrespect for both separation of church and state and separation of church and hate + regressive social policy + “f#!I you, I’ve got mine” economic policy + general meanness, cruelty, and lack of concern for the suffering of others, etc.

            I am no Republican, but how do you not equate Democrats to all of this as well?

            Obama stayed in Iraq until GWB’s withdrawal date. We are still in Afghanistan with no real intention of leaving. Obama tried his hardest to start a war with Syria. We started, for all intense and purposes, a war with Libya. And this isn’t even mentioning the drone attacks that seem to be great at killing women and children in the process of killing the alleged terrorist (who by the way gets no trial before being executed).

            destroyed civil liberties
            Really? The Patriot Act hasn’t been abolished after 5 years of Democrat President+Senate. The NSA is spying on most everything you do online. No Federal drug policy changes (IMO the worst civil liberties nightmare). Forced purchase of health care. IRS bullying non-profits on the other side of the political aisle. The list goes on.

            The Democrats are the team of bi-partisan action? They were prepared to shut down the government over any proposal to even delay the ACA (which they should have done if we look at the performance of the exchange website so far). The Democrats negotiating is: cave to us or we will scream that you won’t compromise!!

            I’m not going to go on. If you can’t look at your TEAM and see that it has all the same problems that the other TEAM has, you are simply just a TEAM partisan. The difference between the Republicans and the Democrats is semantic. Would you like your authoritative government with a side of socialism or fascism?

          2. Rod could you delete the comment at 8:16 a.m. above? I posted it and it did not appear so I rewrote a condensed version.

          3. @Smilin Joe,
            I’m not saying the Dems are perfect, I’m saying they’re better. Compare Iraq and Libya.

            Iraq: 4486 US fatalities and 1e5 to 1e6 civilian and insurgent casualties. Source: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casualties_of_the_Iraq_War

            Libya: 0 US fatalities and between 2e3 and 2.5e4 civilian and military casualties. Source: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casualties_of_the_Libyan_Civil_War

            Under CheneyBush, Jose Padilla, no Boy Scout, but a US Citizen living on US territory, as well as being a human being, was detained by the military acting as a Posse Comitatus, a violation of the very old and very important Posse Comitatus Act, and was arguably tortured on the (illegal) orders of CheneyBush and/or flunkies thereof. Source: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jos%C3%A9_Padilla_(prisoner)

            I can only imagine what would happen if Snowden or Assange/Manning happened during CheneyBush, Cheney would probably put out a hit. I’m not joking either.

            Unilateralism was meant as a reference to foreign policy, not to bipartisanship or the lack thereof.

            IMO, the only law CheneyBush knew was that of the iron law of power: power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Obama’s dodgy IRS investigations and continuation of certain CheneyBush policies ain’t even in the same league.

          4. You can delete the condensed version than Rod. Thank you.


            We seem to be arguing over degrees of awful foreign policy. I don’t agree with the Iraq War and I am in no way a fan of the Bush/Cheney administration. But Obama railed against the war and then got power and let it go on for most of his first term. And besides that point, the Iraq war was not a completely Republican partisan adventure. 40% of the senate Democrats at the time voted yay to the Iraq resolution.

            Regarding Cheney trying to assassinate Snowden, what do you think Snowden is doing hiding in Russia? He knows he faces certain prosecution in court, if not tried as a terrorist and held with no rights if he returns. Obama/the Democrats are just as ferocious to perceived threats to their power as the Republicans are.

            IMO, the only law CheneyBush knew was that of the iron law of power: power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Obama’s dodgy IRS investigations and continuation of certain CheneyBush policies ain’t even in the same league.

            I guess Obama assassinating an American citizen (al-Qaeda Cleric Anwar al-Awlaki) and his 16-year-old son (in a different strike) doesn’t demonstrate the same corruption? Can we ignore these events? Can we ignore the completely inhumane double tap tactic used by drones that Obama has ultimate control over? What rule of law does Obama respect? His clothes are slowly coming off as more and more documents are leaked by Snowden.

            Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans hands are clean. They are both corrupt parties that use their power for their own ends with little authentic sympathy for us proles. To announce allegiance to either party as a whole is to associate yourself with a group that is rife with a history of immorality and corruption.

        2. Wealth is petrochemical feedstock inputted to chemical plants on sovereign soil backed by sovereign capital.

          The dreamers in this country believe its quantum mechanical toys or various other pipedreams (stable plasma, quantum computers, and a pile of other university concocted scams). The Clean Mafia. Mention the word ‘Clean’ at least a dozen times every day. ‘Clean’ is tax…or its impair…it is marxism at work.

          1. @starvinglion

            For a guy who rails about international banking cartels, you are awfully comfortable with their primary means of control and wealth generation. Do you have any understanding whatsoever of the relationship between the multinational hydrocarbon extraction industry and the multinational banking industry?

            Do you honestly believe that ExxonMobil’s wealth and power came from its extraction of hydrocarbons from US “sovereign soil” and not its lucrative arrangements in Middle East oil concessions and the follow-on developments after 1973 under a slightly different arrangement that provided a somewhat larger portion of the wealth to the people that actually owned the soil above the resources that Exxon and Mobil claimed?

            Why don’t you let ExxonMobil’s historians give you a little flavor of its “sovereign capital” generation history.


    1. What life? “Educated” physical chemist Merkel from morally and financially bankrupt communist East Germany doesn’t have any children so I guess she supports extinction after running a giant retirement home for a short while.

      She needs to go back to university for another 10 years to empower more women to end holed up in some tiny apartment that other people pay for.

  5. There is no growth in your Atom Economy. Thats why Germany is going back to coal despite the idiots they imported from East Germany who peddled the renewables garbage.

    1. Germany never left coal. Also as their NPPs were already there Nuclear was cheaper than new coal for them.

      Also there is far far more uranium than coal in the solar system. Colossally more energy available. Then thorium – the moon even seems to have been blessed with thorium.

      Coal is the dead end. In several ways and several times over.

  6. Asia has always housed most of the world population and the West Europe now joined by North America have dominated the World economy since the industrial age. Now the manufacturing has moved to sweat shops of Asia.
    If the nuclear power is let loose, it will develop in Russia and Asia. (It already is on the way though constrained by NPT). What happens to Western economic supremacy?

    1. That’s a little too zero-sum for me. I think if wonderful new developments in nuclear technology come from Russia and Asia, it will benefit everyone, including Europeans and Americans. Let’s face it, Asia certainly benefitted from developments in the West. I hope it will happen … but a discouraging example is Japan. Once Japan reached the status of a wealthy, fully-developed country, I thought a lot of marvelous inventions would arrive from them … it never happened. I hope the Chinese have a culture that will encourage invention more than we have seen from Japan, we will all benefit.

  7. Those days were definitely different. They could dare to do big things and accomplish them because they were not over-managed and burdened with the countless tedious worries we have added to our lives in modern life. Not only at work where human resources tries to control the employees but just living day to day with less and less leisure time and more ways to spend our money.

    I relate to what SteveFost says above. Our brains are simply too busy with no room to breathe and the workplaces have become clearing houses with too much emphasis on meeting budgets and quotas caused by the need to please the shareholders desire for profits and the idea of having fun has been long gone for so many jobs.

    This article helps explain what happened to the nuclear industry, and not just the nuclear industry. http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/the-curious-wavefunction/2013/12/06/the-future-of-nuclear-power-let-a-thousand-flowers-bloom/ The over managing and elevating the role of human resources is part of the problem. Employees need breathing space and the opportunity to work without the pressure of deadlines, budgets and quotas.

    1. Interesting article, but I disagree with the part about “the computer designers of the Silicon Valley garages.” I realize that this is the romantic version of how things happened, but it’s largely a popular myth.

      What we think of as modern computing is almost entirely the result of people working for large organizations with substantial R&D budgets. Everybody likes to remember Steve Jobs building computers in his garage, but it’s amazing how often we forget that microcomputers were either toys for hobbyists or expensive luxuries for technology enthusiasts until IBM introduced the Personal Computer in 1982. That was the event that changed everything.

      Jobs also stole almost all of his ideas for software and user interfaces. Much of what made a Mac a Mac in the 1980’s was actually developed over a decade earlier at Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), which got its ideas (and some of its people) from SRI. Of course, we all know that Bill Gates then stole his ideas for Windows from Jobs.

      Not only did the old Macs rely on technology not originally developed by Apple, but the new Macs do too. The operating systems that run every modern Mac — and the majority of web servers in the world — are derivatives of an operating system originally developed at Bell Labs (i.e., AT&T) and subsequently improved by Bell Labs and the computer science department at UC Berkeley.

      Speaking of the World Wide Web, Ethernet, which is still the preferred technology for most local area networks, was developed by Xerox, while what eventually became the Internet was a research project that was originally funded by the US military. The language of The Web, HTML, was developed by a researcher at CERN, the high-energy physics lab in Europe. The first program that we would recognize as a web browser was written by two employees of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), an organization that is funded by government and large businesses.

      IBM, Xerox, AT&T, and the various government-funded labs are not “the Silicon Valley garages.” This technology did not come from garages. The garage dwellers mostly stole their ideas.

      So what does this all tell us?

      Well, first, real innovation requires significant, sustained resources for R&D and an attitude by management that will get the hell out of the way. This is one of the things that Bell Labs was good at, which is why their research has won seven Nobel Prizes.

      Next, the people at the top need to realize when they have a product that is worth something. This is what Xerox was terrible at. This company could have been where Apple is today, competing to be the largest company in the world. Their research center at PARC had all of the ideas and technology to make it happen, but the executives at the top thought of Xerox as just a copier company (the business was quite lucrative at the time). They failed to capitalize on it, and opportunists like Jobs snatched it from them.

      Finally, expecting all, or even most, good ideas to come out of garages is just plain silly.

      1. Software is one area that got it right with sharing, incentives and R&D. A lot of credit should also go to internet and open source methodology. I may be biased from the number of times I was rejected from IT jobs but I feel human resources science kept me from landing a decent job. The article does not target HR but they are a symptom of the same problem. Taking the fun out of work. Overmanaging, budgets and quotas and of course over-regulating in nuclear and under regulating in finance has given us a near impossible downward spiral to break.

        1. Rick – Personally, I don’t think that I would want to work in IT these days, and I say this as someone who is an official system administrator for many of my company’s high-end computer systems. The field has really gone downhill in the past couple of decades. These days, it seems to me to be less about using computers as a tool to get things done and more about using computers as a means of control. For me, the best IT professional is one that gets the hell out of my way.

          Historically, open source (and the equivalent older term “Free Software”) has been as much a movement as a methodology. As a movement, the emphasis has been on the freedom to innovate and to create tools that are useful for doing something other than just selling a gadget that will be nothing but junk in a few years. Software has the unique advantage that the fruits of one’s labor can be given away with virtually no cost, which encourages sharing. It’s a situation that is much closer to academic publishing than to industrial entrepreneurship.

      2. I knew none of that. Thanks for the history lesson.

        BTW, as someone actively engaged in designing one of the (hopefully) next generation plants, I love hearing outsiders wax poetic about our lack of creativity. Does anyone with a clue really think that Westinghouse, GE, Areva, and B&W are unaware of ANY reactor technology out there? That we lack creativity? That all we can possibly see or think about is light water with Uranium?

        Of course not! However, we are not charities. If we want to make money (I know…evil profit drivers!), we have to design reactors we would actually be allowed to build. When the NRC point-blank tells a company, “You can submit a fast reactor, but it won’t be looked at until everything else is done and you’re going to pay us to learn about them,” they are unlikely to devote hundreds of millions or billions of dollars to develop it.

        If the US Government said, “We are committed to nuclear and we want to encourage development like we did in the 1960s. GE, GA, B&W, and Westinghouse, have at it,” we have designs and people immediately available for other technologies. Obviously GE has a few people in a closet working on PRISM and GA is already pushing Gen IV stuff. I’m sure B&W could dig out some stuff too, although I know less about their organization.

        1. It’s pretty pathetic that you have to pay the NRC to educate itself about non-LWR technologies. It’s like paying someone to learn how to best hinder, annoy, and harass you. It’s especially unjust when one is proposing inherently-safe non-LWR technology like modern HTGRs or PBMRs which are impossible to melt down.

          1. Dysfunction on purpose is really easy: appoint incompetent hacks to run the show, keep ratcheting the rules, charge a fortune for the “service” of getting in the way, promise to get back to the applicant in 5 years for a standard application – 10 years for something non-standard like a novel intrinsically safe and low-cost reactor design – then sit back and watch the industry “melt down”. For the bonus points, opponents then get the opportunity to bleat about the high cost of the technology!

            Pure genius!

        2. Cory – As someone who tries to work on new reactor designs whenever he can, I agree with what you’re saying. The situation for the innovative reactor designer/vendor in the US is rather bleak. In addition to having to pay the NRC while you teach them about your technology, you’re also at the back of the line, behind all of the other “more important” projects with more committed customers.

          Thus, it’s not surprising that companies like NuScale and B&W are going with fuel assemblies that are very similar to fuel used in contemporary PWR’s, only shorter, for their new reactors. Is this an optimal design for these reactors? Almost certainly not, but it is well understood by industry and the regulator, which is in itself a kind of optimization.

          1. @Brian Mays and Cory Stansbury

            The question for both of you, and for other passionate designers, is what can we do to change our current situation? Like both of you, I used to work in the design group for a company that was hamstrung by the NRC barrier to entry. However, I eventually realized that the company’s strategy of fitting into the current rules carried a risk that I was not willing to bear. They may eventually succeed in getting their design approved, but that process will not result in our country having a more affordable and accessible clean energy option in the time frame that matters to me.

            How can we, as technical people, build more momentum to push for changes? The risk averse bureaucrats that run the large companies have more power than they realize to press the political angle, but they are afraid to work to disrupt the current situation. I may be a little harsh on them, but I suspect their willingness to try to work with the existing system is because they think they can work their way through the maze while keeping true innovators out of the market.

          2. Rod – It’s not just the big companies. Some of the projects that I have worked on were Department of Energy projects.

            I hate to say it, but as time goes on, I become more and more pleased that I elected to take Russian in college. It could end up being a very useful skill before my career is finally over.

          3. I intend to reply. However, I want to ponder first. It’s a great, but very difficult question.

            First step is probably electing me as dictator. 😉

          4. The fact that Brian Mays promotes the useless internet as an example of societal progress is just laughable. What are we accomplishing here, anyways? Get outside and what do you see? Poverty, everywhere. The internet “geniuses” consider chemical industries to be of low value and polluting when in fact its the very foundation of wealth building.

            Freds completely ridiculous state backed ‘nuclear powered electron economy’ is an international banking cartel’s wildest dream. Now even more nation builders head to the capital to hand out the birth control pills and tax the crap out of the carbon “polluters”. The Soviet Union collapsed because the industrial infrastructure fell into disrepair. Same is happening here and the internet cheerleaders are making it worse.

            You people are exactly the same as BAS and his wealth transferring ilk. The electricity producing nuclear reactors are of no use. Both camps (nuclear and renewables) are chasing the same dream: storage of electrical energy. Nuclear is just as burdened with those lousy batteries (in their ICE free cars) as the renewable fools. The dense energy of uranium is lost in building all the batteries. At least the sellouts in Germany know how to run a ponzi scheme proper with strong growth fueling it. The ethanol and nuclear fools don’t even know that much.

            Both camps ultimately are selling *export* electricity as a means of wealth generation. But there are no legitimate export markets for electricity. Any sovereign public wealth generation is done via the chemical industries…electricity is simply one component of making that happen..

            1. @starvinglion

              Get outside and what do you see? Poverty, everywhere.

              Not in my town. There is a good deal of building and a growing level of prosperity here.

              Your disrespect of electricity exposes your ignorance of the way the world works. Just in case you have any sense of curiosity about history and what life was like without electricity, please read the following excerpt from http://www.randomhouse.com/knopf/authors/caro/desktopnew.html (Caro on Lyndon Johnson bringing electricity to the Hill Country):

              Because there was no electricity, there were no electric pumps, and water had to be hauled up–in most cases by the women on the farms and the ranches, because not only the men but the children, as soon as they were old enough to work, had to be out in the fields. The wells in the Hill Country were very deep because of the water table–in many places they had to be about seventy-five feet deep. And every bucket of water had to be hauled up from those deep wells. The Department of Agriculture tells us that the average farm family uses two hundred gallons of water a day. That’s seventy-three thousand gallons, or three hundred tons, a year. And it all had to be lifted by these women, one bucket at a time.

              I didn’t know what this meant. They had to show me. Those women would say to me, “You’re a city boy. You don’t know how heavy a bucket of water is, do you?” So they would get out their old buckets, and they’d go out to the no-longer-used wells and wrestle off the heavy covers that were always on them to keep out the rats and squirrels, and they’d lower a bucket and fill it with water. Then they’d say, “Now feel how heavy it is.” I would haul it up, and it was heavy. And they’d say, “It was too heavy for me. After a few buckets I couldn’t lift the rest with my arms anymore.” They’d show me how they had lifted each bucket of water. They would lean into the rope and throw the whole weight of their bodies into it every time, leaning so far that they were almost horizontal to the ground. And then they’d say, “Do you know how I carried the water?” They would bring out the yokes, which were like cattle yokes, so that they could carry one of the heavy buckets on each side.

              Sometimes these women told me something that was so sad I never forgot it. I heard it many times, but I’ll never forget the first woman who said it to me. She was a very old woman who lived on a very remote and isolated ranch–I had to drive hours just to get out there–up in the Hill Country near Burnet. She said, “Do you see how round-shouldered I am?” Well, indeed, I had noticed, without really seeing the significance, that many of these women, who were in their sixties or seventies, were much more stooped and bent than women, even elderly women, in New York. And she said: “I’m round-shouldered from hauling the water. I was round-shouldered like this well before my time, when I was still a young woman. My back got bent from hauling the water, and it got bent while I was still young.” Another woman said to me, “You know, I swore I would never be bent like my mother, and then I got married, and the first time I had to do the wash I knew I was going to look exactly like her by the time I was middle-aged.”

          5. Fundamentally, I guess I look at the question in two or three ways.
            1) What is going to happen soon which will sway the market?
            2) What technologies are likely to be released which will change our priorities?
            3) What can we, as individuals and companies, do to change our “station” in life?

            1) The U.S. is in an interesting position right now. We currently have around 570ish coal plants (changes almost every month these days). 500 of those are likely to go offline very soon, as they are almost 50 years old on average. We have a nuclear fleet that is starting to reach end of life (60 years). So, assuming the plants don’t get extensions to 80 or 100 years, we will be losing several dozen coal plants and a few nuclear plants per year between now and 2050. This is all evidenced in the severely shrinking reserve capacity. In fact, we will probably be at a perilous reserve capacity within the next 2-3 years, if not even sooner (assuming no builds). Lastly, the price of new generation of any sort will result in prices increasing. The cheapest thing you can possibly bring on the grid is just about double the wholesale price of electricity right now.
            This makes me have several thoughts:
            A) New builds will have to happen. While I think that will result in a lot of expansion of NG, I don’t believe it will be 100% that direction. Utilities aren’t dumb. They know they need some stabilizing factors, can’t build coal, and that unreliable are just more gas.
            B) As new builds come on line at an increasing rate and people realize they cost money regardless of what they are, the idea of charging ratepayers ahead of time won’t seem as ugly.
            C) As Europe’s grid has increasing problems and as the U.S. electricity stability (both service and price) decline (assuming we don’t act fast), people will begin to realize you cannot wish a solution into place. Hopefully some good investigative reporting will start to shed some light on what we’re doing to ourselves.
            D) The success with which Westinghouse (my company) is able to complete the AP1000s will have a large impact on the immediate future of new plant sales. Of course they won’t be perfect, but I’d like to think they will come online within a reasonable time period. I don’t think the general public or average politician will raise a huge fuss if a nuke plant is a year late on a first of a kind. However, we certainly can’t pull a Flammanville or Olkiluoto and expect to sell a bunch of plants. I think once the first AP1000s are operating, we can really push to drive economies back into the design. Everyone here knows how it is…your first is never as perfect as you’d like. So, I think there is definite fat to be trimmed and we will do that.
            E) I do believe that once we get past the current administration and maybe vote Reid out of office, there will be some opportunity to get a little more serious about Spent Fuel. The sooner that becomes a less sexy issue, the better off we’ll be. The industry should devote resources towards helping that solution along, as sitting around and bitching about the government’s failed politics probably costs more in hidden costs than just fixing it. Fix it and then bill the government later.
            F) Fukushima’s successful defueling of the units will put another nail in the coffin or the anti’s cries of wolf. As pain occurs due to our history of terrible policy, that could be another talking point used in the discussion and maybe more citizens/environmentalists will have a “Pandora’s Promise” moment. We need to beat the media over the head with this when it occurs.

            2) A lot of us like to sit around and envision an entirely closed fission fuel cycle and bemoan that the U.S. seems to be ill-equipped to make that happen (100% politics of course). I tend to believe that we won’t get that far. All of this talk about MSRs and critical fast reactors has a good chance of being for naught. I believe, for the first time ever, that fusion isn’t so far away as to be written off. There are more than a couple groups quietly doing some meaningful work and once that nut is cracked, the fission path forward will change. I don’t necessarily think that utilities will stop buying LWRs, but I doubt they’ll want anything exotic on the fission side unless it’s coupled to fusion. Fusion provides a lot of neutrons and may make possible some very elegant ADS solutions for burning our spent fuel cheaply, with minimal long term waste, and with high efficiencies. I do, however, think that Thorium may still become “a thing,” as price parity (including fab costs and SWUs) may come well before the EOL of newer units. I also think the public acceptance of Thorium will be beneficial. If fusion shows us the end of the spent fuel problem, I think building well-vetted LWRs cheaply, en masse (South Korea style), may be possible while fusion matures.

            3) On a company-level, I think I already established that the best thing we can do right now is execute our current offerings. I also have believed for a long time that companies should be showing off their technology a little more. I always liked the idea of a multi-part ad that shows why an AP1000 or ESBWR is passively safe. Run a new one minutes segment every month and take some of the mystery and “trust us” mentality away. Certainly evaporation and condensation are not beyond most people’s ability to comprehend. In general, being proud about our technology and not so timid would be a good start.
            I feel that nuclear plays the waiting game too much with regards to other technologies failing so that we can be viable again. I think there are lots of costs to be taken out of LWRs and we should be focusing on doing that so that gas at $4 isn’t a walk around the bases. Modularization, passive design, and standard design/licensing is a great start. We should not stop refining those. I’d also like to see more push on the secondary side and overall heat rate of the plant.
            As Rod mentioned, utilities should be more aggressive in pushing Washington to quit picking winners and losers and just set up a framework/objectives within which they should work. Every new law is a new profit-making loophole which will be exploited rather than having the problem fixed, . BTW, my thoughts on racing regulation are the same. Quit telling everyone how to build their car and instead tell them they have X weight range, X allowed fuel, X allowed fuel consumption, X allowed tires/race, and X safety.
            On a personal level, I think more of us need to do what the atomic insights crowd is already doing; Taking to message boards, public meetings, online courses (I TA’d a Coursera course with over 30k students), congressional letters, and talking to as many people as you can about the amazing gift that is nuclear power. Only a small part of nuclear professionals do this and we’re not a big group to begin with. As such, encourage your fellow coworkers…get them involved in ANS, NA-YGN, and other organizations.
            Politically, we need to do whatever we can to get a raise energy policy to the national stage during the next election, rather than a side show. As energy policy ties directly into the economy, it needs a much bigger presence. I say this not because I expect nuclear to suddenly become the darling of a candidate. I really just want someone to go into office with energy policy being where they focus their staff’s attention. Any group, even half competent (I know…a lot to ask in Washington), will undoubtedly have to come back with nuclear playing larger role if we’re going to be financially stable and meet our pollution and carbon targets. The first step to reigning in the NRC’s constant entropy is having an administration who actually favors nuclear energy (rather than paying lip service to it while having his guys beat it in the alley like Obama).
            Lastly, we need to push radiation dose regs very hard. This should come from every nuclear organization. ANS, NA-YGN, INPO, and others should be actively pushing against the absurdity that is LNT. It’s killing people. It’s not conservative. Wrong is wrong. Even Chairman Magwood himself just about admitted to me that our dose policy is dumb “but it’s politically impossible to change.”
            The Summary from all this is;
            1) Wait a few years for the pain to start in earnest
            2) Leverage the political cycle at that time
            3) Reduce NRC dominance (BTW, I have met plenty in the NRC who know the organization is out of control)
            4) Embrace new technologies to make existing ones better
            5) Actively seek to fix your “problem” areas
            6) Be more aggressive against antis (I suggest kidnapping)
            7) End LNT
            8) Don’t be complacent with current competitiveness. Aim to beat whatever the price leader is.
            9) Fire Harry Reid
            10) Make me dictator

          6. The fact that Brian Mays promotes the useless internet as an example of societal progress is just laughable.

            For once, I agree with Starvinglion. His comment has provided an outstanding example of just how little “societal progress” (or at least, progress in societal intelligence and maturity) has been made in the Internet age.

            What are we accomplishing here, anyways?

            Starvinglion – Well, just think about it for a moment. Thirty years ago, someone like you would have had to stand on a street corner — possibly holding some sort of sign and smelling really badly — and hand out poor-quality, mimeographed flyers to get his message out. So while the Internet arguably might not have contributed much to societal progress, it certainly has made the lives of people like you much much easier.

            Today, you can reach people all over the world without even leaving the comfort of your parents’ basement, your prison cell, your padded room, or whatever venue you use to concoct such nonsense. Perhaps you shouldn’t bite the hand that feeds you.

          7. @ Starvinglion.

            I work and study at home, thanks to the internet. I order my food online. I buy pretty much everything online, in fact. I communicate with my friends, family and collegues online. I get a great deal of my entertainment online. I don’t need a car, and barely use one.

            Of course, I’m an economic parasite, what with my service job and student loans. Not to mention I don’t need that sweet, sweet juice that we pump ~90mil barrels per day.

            Yes, yes, yes. Indirectly I’m wholely reliant upon it all. I do care, really i do. I think it’s just the philantropist trying to squeeze his way out of me; trying to make everyone richer at my own expense. Come to think about it, I’m helping everyone on earth. I’m a great guy. Send me a Christmas card in the post.

        3. It’s not completely correct :
          – Areva has a HTGR even if they’re not doing much to make it more visible http://us.areva.com/EN/home-2169/areva-inc-areva-congratulates-ngnp-award.html
          – However the persistence of GE Hitachi in telling UK that burning it’s plutonium stockpile inside a PRISM SMR would probably the best value for money option is commendable and has actually some hopes of being successful http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/WR-Prism_proposed_for_UK_plutonium_disposal-0112114.html

          1. Areva has a HTGR …

            Actually, we have two — both of which are based on the same ideas for the core, but with different power conversion systems — but that link is to the one that is getting all of the R&D money these days.

            … even if they’re not doing much to make it more visible …

            Hey, I co-authored two papers on the design in the last year or so — and that’s in addition to my regular day job — so some of us are at least trying. The entire NGNP program is very low-key these days.

        4. Cory Stansbury and Brian Mays cannot build a reliable high temperature nuclear reactor. The NRC is irrelevant.

          1. And the risk averse bureaucrats are the engineers themselves. People want liquid fuels (money). The nuclear engineers want electricity (welfare checks). The expertise of todays nuclear engineer goes down the chute the instant the public demands liquid fuels. What good are the engineers at Areva and Westinghouse when it comes to molten salts? Or new corrosion resistant materials? They are obsolete. The NRC is a convenient scapegoat.

            So Brian Mays waves his white flag in surrender to Gazprom. LOL.

          2. Well, that’s that isn’t it? Cory and Brian, better find yourselves another job. Starvinglion has spoken.

          3. Well shucks. I guess Brian and I should just go work for Best Buy or something. Obviously we were mistaken about our talents.

          4. Actually, I doubt that two people could build any kind of nuclear reactor or any other kind of power plant that generates electricity.

            Do you realize how many man-years go into an industrial project such as that?

          5. Cory Stansbury’s nuclear “solution” is the usual hail mary: Fusion

            I’m not surprised. Its the Big Government ‘Raison d’être’ (Reason to exist). There is no possible private capital formation at the national level because of this monster called Big Government Interference (which is controlled by pools of international capital), so the engineers at atomicinsights.com who sheepishly live with the status quo of western deindustrialization have nothing better to offer than to mutter that ‘Fusion’, or some other stock market darling quantum mechanical “innovation” sideshow that turns Brian Mays crank, will save the day. Meanwhile, you just bloody know that that dirty petrochemical industry is buggered in these parts. Land for costume jewelry (or Ipods, solar panels, TV panels, in this case)…

            Lets all go to the universities and write the “definitive” 15,000th book on quantum mechanics and solve those plasma instabilities…c’mon now our fate depends on it…

  8. @Cory Stansbury December 9, 2013 at 6:28 PM
    You define the problem well in a big picture snap shot. However your statement “If the US Government said, “We are committed to nuclear and we want to encourage development like we did in the 1960s…” doesn’t provide a workable solution all by itself. Because as you point out that was in fact done in the ’60s, but it got derailed. In order to fix it, the root cause of the derailment needs to be fixed. There are several causes, Rod points out many, but one common denominator is always the NRC. To fix that problem requires revision the the Atomic Energy Act, and that is not going to happen in the poisoned dysfunctional political environment of DC. I laughed at your all too true NRC attitude of “…you’re going to pay us to learn about them…”; only in the government…, anyplace else we’ve all worked the response would be “You’re fired!”

  9. Really enjoyed the tone of this post, a nice contrast to things like what I’ve seen in the news the last couple days. I can’t vouch for The Guardian as a news source, but it appears to have readership.

    They posted this — the day after CritMass, as a matter of fact:


    I am not certain I could recommend, in good conscience, perusing the comments section. Examples like this represent some serious quagmires of misinformation:

    I’m inclined believe these are the kinds of things that other posters here have acknowledged as a persistent pox upon public understanding of Nuclear pros and cons.

    1. That’s why I agree those sites need to be aggressively pounced on with the truth and proof to snuff the FUD. They spread unfounded poisonous propaganda and they don’t even have to be truthful to be effective scaring people!

  10. @Cory Stansbury December 10, 2013 at 6:44 PM
    Thanks for taking the time and energy to try to answer this difficult question. Your 10 step summary provides a good starting point for further dialog. I assume your summary item 2 means establishing a National Energy Policy, where science and engineering establishes a solution to a science and engineering problem, not politics. As you point out it has not yet become painful enough for our country’s two tribes to decide peaceful coexistence, with differences, can accomplish more than constant war.
    Before you get my vote on number 10, what exactly would you do with the NRC? I can’t quite crack that nut myself. It can’t go away, without speed limits people will speed. But they definitely have lost their way. By policy they license on “acceptable risk”, but they seem to “certify” on zero risk, to them. I think this is still fallout from TMI in that their attitude is “we won’t get burned again”. regards, mjd

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