1. Rod – off topic question, but what order of costs would be involved in installing say a set of 4 of the mPower reactors? Obviously that is a piece of string question, but both the local member (Tasmania) and his opponent in the coming election have shown interest and I’d like to put together a little briefing package on the options and the benefits.

    1. @Christopher

      I can put you in touch with people who might be able to answer the question. I am not at liberty to discuss any mPower cost estimates. Use the contact form to send me email.

  2. “Here is one more example of how inbred the group of antinuclear activists has become. I am talking here about the people who are so adamantly opposed to using nuclear energy that they do not even want existing nuclear plants to keep on producing clean, emission free, low cost electricity.”

    I wish the well-meaning Thorium folks understood this, that to most all anti-nukers, nuclear energy is nuclear energy, a peril is a peril, a rose by any other name, and it behooves Thorium people that while they’re hawking their THRnuke proposals, to help support _current_ nuclear plants in the public eye and cite their safety records, etc, because it’s by helping the public get over their media spoon-fed frets of _present_ nuclear energy that the path will be cleared for full acceptance of Thorium in the future. The _thermouclear reactor_ folks tried to disassociate themselves from current nuclear power by using the nuclear-detached catch-phrase “Fusion”, for all the PR good that’s done. Support the current stuff too, Thorium folks!

    James Greenidge
    Queens NY

  3. I’ll play the bad guy…..:)

    What is “clean, emission free, low cost energy”?

    I find that to be a product of something like group think. It is just word salad…”clean” and “low cost” only make sense relative to some comparison or criteria. And “emission free” simply isn’t true. If nothing else there is always waste heat.

    This statement is also not true. “….especially when it occurs at levels that have no chance of making them sick within their expected lifetime.”

    There is a very small chance that it will make them sick in their lifetimes. The probability is just very low and should be compared to other risks associated with other sources of electricity.

    One problem with nuclear energy politics is that the risk of a catastrophic accident is not zero. Arnie Gundersen recently made this point here at about 3:30:


    According to the NRC, the current ground movement design base risk is 1E-4. Even if all plants around the world had always used that risk coefficient, with about 400 plants over around 40 years you get 1.6 plant failures over that time. Something like Fukushima was highly probable.

    (Now I’m the good guy…)

    White-washing these risks works against the pro-nuclear cause because the anti-nukes have (or can find) the numbers, and they’d be right.

    There are risks, but we can win by putting them in context with alternative risks.

    1. “One problem with nuclear energy politics is that the risk of a catastrophic accident is not zero. Even if all plants around the world had always used that risk coefficient, with about 400 plants over around 40 years you get 1.6 plant failures over that time. Something like Fukushima was highly probable.”

      If Fukushima is an example of a (doom doom doom-doom!) “catastrophic accident”, then bring the nukes on! The oil and gas and coal and aviation industries and their related accident victims over the decades WISH they had “catastrophic accidents” as benign, limited damaging and nearly deathless as broken nukes have proved to be — and those guys injure health to millions as a consequence of their REGULAR operations!! The nuclear industry ought be shouting to high heaven about that!! it’s a PLUS!!

      James Greenidge
      Queens NY

  4. @Bob – The 2010 total average production cost for a nuclear plant operating in the US was 2.14 cents per kilowatt hour. That compares with coal at 3.06, gas at 4.86, and petroleum at 15.18.

    I think that qualifies for the term “low cost.” (Remember, we are talking about a 40 year old plant whose mortgage is already paid off.)

    Clean means clean enough to operate inside a submarine. That is clean enough for me.

    Emission free refers to what most people consider to be “emissions”, which are actual chemicals dumped into the atmosphere or water. Again – clean enough to run inside sealed submarines with an occasional need to get dilute a few relatively harmless chemicals like those used to control corrosion in piping systems.

    Please do not expect to get anywhere with me by quoting a disgruntled ex-nuke who has determined that working for the antinuclear industry pays better than teaching math and science in a private school.

  5. Rod –

    I understand those costs…I also understand that nuclear socializes much of its cost of risk via the Price Anderson Act and fossil fuels socializes much of their cost of risk by ignoring global warming.

    Well I guess if you ignore the radioactive discharges from the submarine, that would mean clean to you. I don’t know why you’d ignore them.

    And I guess if you choose to use a very narrow definition of emissions, then emission-free makes sense. I don’t think most people who care about the environment only consider chemicals when discusses emissions. They care about radioactivity, thermal energy, electromagnetic fields, etc.

    Perhaps you should consider whether or not you are a victim of group think.

    And you might want to consider avoiding ad hominem attacks. That also hurts the pro-nuclear cause.

    1. Strangely enough the Price Anderson Act doesn’t socializes the cost of risk for the nuclear industry outside the US and it’s doing well thank-you very much in those places.

        1. No I am not forgetting them, however the same argument claiming that nuclear risks are socialized applies to hydro as well, and the record there is hardly snow-white.

          Furthermore costs incurred by hysterical overreaction, or attempts to leverage an event to cover the costs (or at least the blame) of decades of industrial pollution from other sources should not count in this matter.

          The fact remains that the Price Anderson Act was created to bolster the illusion that nuclear was so dangerous and the impacts of an accident would be so large, that its risks could not be underwritten by any other means. Yet the facts surrounding nuclear accidents to date, and what we know of possible and potential failure modes indicates otherwise.

    2. I was thinking about Price Anderson, and nuclear liability in general lately. Why don’t all the nuclear plants in the world get together and form a ‘risk pool’. That is, get together with an insurance company and say that they want to buy, I dunno, 21Billion dollars worth of coverage per member plant. There’s about 400 nuclear plants in the world, that would yield about $400 Billion of insurance.

      Nuclear plant liability insurance shouldn’t be like health insurance – sooner or later, *everyone* makes claims on their health insurance. But with nuclear plants, the big concern people express is that every once in awhile (20-50 years perhaps), you have something like Fukushima Daiichi, where one plant in the world causes $200 Billion of “damages”. Then you go decades longer with no such problem. The vast, vast majority of plants will be built, operate for their 40-60 year lifetimes, get decommissioned, without ever causing any claims against the insurance.

      Seems like a giant shared risk insurance pool would be the perfect solution. As more nuclear plants get built and buy into the pool, the pool coverage will continue to grow

      1. “and say that they want to buy, I dunno, 1 Billion dollars worth” (Apparently I’m suffering fat-fingers syndrome today).

        1. I think it would be very difficult to get all the nuclear plants around the globe together. There’s all kinds of problems like currency exchange rates, some plants are privatized some government-owned, some plants are owned by some countries seen as hostile by others, etc.

          But in the U.S., we have American Nuclear Insurers which is jointly owned by insurance companies to provide nuclear insurance. ANI also provides reinsurance for some foreign plants.

          Contrary to DV82XL’s claim regarding why the P.A. act was passed, it was actually passed because the owners of Shippingport realized they couldn’t obtain enough insurance in the existing market to cover their perceived liability. The market was limited to $60M of coverage at the time. And no single insurance company was going to stake its entire existence on a potential claim.

        2. I stand corrected. Antinuclear forces have been leveraging the existence of P-A as ‘proof’ that nuclear is too dangerous and too expensive for so long, I forgot the real reason it was enacted.

      2. How is your plan different than using the government as the insurer, and the taxpayer as the insured?

        At the end of the day, the same people pay the same bills.

        The current solution works. No need to make it “perfect.”

      3. About 40 years ago I did a research paper for a graduate course on insuring nuclear power plants and why it was government and not private. As I remember the overriding concern of the private/commercial insurers (even those like Lloyds) was that there was no risk history. No one would presume a risk and then write a policy based upon the assumed (unknown) risk. The government based their risk upon a risk assessment that compared the similarities of a nuclear power plant to other power plants and included risk probability of failures of components in the NPP with that of the known failures for those components used in the industry, even including rail and air transportation. I think now, even though we know what the “risk” is, the government has a cash cow they will not give up.

    3. @Bob Applebaum

      Mr. Gundersen has one agenda and that is to make money by opposing nuclear power even if that money is coming from the very nuclear power plant he is opposing. Vermont Yankee was forced by the State of Vermont to pay for the opposition’s time and engineering assessments. Part of that money was then funneled to pay Mr. Gundersen approximately $300/hr for consulting fees to develop reasons to declare Vermont Yankee unsafe.

      Those consulting fees would more then likely have only been paid to a licensed professional engineer in other states except for Vermont which has an agenda to take Vermont Yankee off line by any means possible. This strategy is illustrated by various elected officials within the Vermont government instituting laws that specifically target Vermont Yankee for closure. Laws and governmental actions that Mr. Gundersen was more then willing to exploit for profit all in the name of his version of the public good.

      By the way did I mention Mr. Arnie Gundersen is NOT a licensed professional engineer, so many of his “consulting opinions” could be open to legal challenge especially if he proclaimed himself a “professional engineer” at any point in time during the review of Vermont Yankee operations? And if he did not declare himself a professional engineer then as an engineer myself I have to ask why is he out there providing consulting opinions to a state entity without earning a license?

      It is standard for governmental entities to only hire licensed engineers to provide consulting opinions for a reason. Yet Vermont did not in this specialized case which begs many other questions to be asked as well about Mr. Gundersens’ involvement in reviews of Vermont Yankee operations and his ties to the State of Vermont.

      However, if Mr. Gundersen were a licensed professional engineer then it would be unethical to attempt to sell anti-radiation cures, or “body cleanses” as he calls them, to people on the West Coast as part of his fear mongering about hot particles from Fukushima. Otherwise he could be brought up on ethical charges before his state licensing board and quite possibly could lose that license if he had ever bothered to earn it in the first place.

      By the way those hot particles were at such a low level the University of Washington stopped monitoring for them back in April only a few weeks after Fukushima happened. However Mr. Gundersen kept proclaiming them a danger well into June and July of this year thereby making his proclamations fear mongering.

      Now it may seem we are ganging up on you and you would be correct as many of us have been down this road. You may also accuse me of ad hominem attacks against Mr. Gundersen and that would be your right to do so.

      But there is one thing at really gets me going as a former Navy Nuke who earned a Mechanical Engineering degree on the GI Bill at a respected university and it is why I am taking the time to respond when other pressing matters call for my attention. That is someone of Gundersen’s education and experience attempting to make money by selling fear of nonexistent dangers as he was planning to do back in June of this year and then hooking other people into his hyperbole as it appears he has with you. (See Chris Martenson’s interview with Gundersen where the subject of body cleanses is discussed as a means of mitigating hot particles http://www.chrismartenson.com/martensonreport/part-2-arnie-gundersen-interview-protecting-yourself-if-situation-worsens ).

      In my opinion Mr. Gundersen is and always will be a fear monger that is looking to profit off of people’s fear of nuclear power. A fear he has helped to perpetuate.

      A true engineering professional would not be looking for opportunities to be on CNN spreading untruths or half-truths about an ongoing technical situation which continues to be a very fluid one and is being actively worked by many dedicated engineers. A true engineering professional with knowledge of nuclear power would attempt to teach, educate and provide sound solutions if given a public forum. But then true education about nuclear power does not create headlines so does not increase the bottom line for Mr. Gundersen. Hence he has little motive to change his ways unless people who are pro-nuclear step up and challenge him at every turn on his proclamations instead of being yet another advocate of “perfect” nuclear power.

        1. Rod,

          No I wouldn’t mind. I reviewed my post again after a day of contemplation and stand behind what I said. I have included additional commentary. I apologize upfront for the length of this post but due to the serious and nuanced nature of what I am discussing, I want to make every attempt to be as clear as possible concerning my issues with Mr. Gundersen’s lack of professional license. Please feel free to use whatever is appropriate to your requirements.

          I have posted on this issue of Mr Gundersen’s lack of professional license while provide consulting services to the State of Vermont in several forums including yours. It is a legality that prevents me from providing consulting engineering services in my state until I have earned the specific license for my discipline which I am currently working towards. So this subject is near and dear to me as I am unable to legally refer to myself as a consulting or professional engineer, hang my shingle so to speak and carry professional liability insurance until I have earned that right to stamp design calculations, engineering assessments and/or design drawings.

          In my current position working for a municipal utility I must have a PE license to continue working and that was understood when I was hired. My situation is not unique as many engineers who work for state, city, and other municipal entities, or work for private companies that provide design services to government organizations, are hired with the requirement they will earn their license within a specified timeframe in their specific discipline in order that they can sign their own work. Professional licensure is also the primary way engineers can be held accountable for their actions when providing independent assessments of another engineer’s work.

          And that is the way it should be for all engineers are responsible for designing or reviewing systems that affect public safety and welfare. However, Mr. Gundersen has been allowed to step away from this legal responsibility despite providing consulting services to the State of Vermont. My arguments presented in my various posts on this issue is a nuanced one where I very briefly delve into the issues of professional ethics and ethical behavior as well as state laws on professional engineers. However it is a point that I find amazing and frustrating we are even discussing considering the number of motivated engineers who achieve professional status every year as a requirement for their work as well as a means to furthering their knowledge of their chosen craft. But at the same time I am sadly not surprised to see occur due to the actions of various Vermont officials towards Vermont Yankee.

          I also discussed this issue with colleagues who have their licenses. They take their professional responsibility very seriously and were less then favorable to hear a degreed engineer may be offering consulting services, as the term is legally defined, without a license.

          There are several additional issues I would append to my original post:

          #1 The link concerning Mr. Gundersen’s discussion on hot particles was provided as a reference not as an endorsement of the interviewer, Mr. Martenson, or his business.

          It was an interview that popped up due to Google searching for hot particles when family and friends mentioned the subject. They were concerned after hearing about hot particles several months ago and asked for my opinion. I then had to spend time researching this issue to quell their concerns as well as discuss the hazards of buying homeopathic “remedies” for anything related to Fukushima. Thankfully, my reasoned discussion carried more weight than the dramatic proclamations from Mr. Gundersen and others. I just bookmarked the site for future reference for this very type of situation.

          #2 If I were to change anything in my original post, I would change the tone to make my post more about Mr. Gundersen and his followers and less about Mr. Applebaum. In my original post, I assumed Mr. Applebaum tacitly agrees with Mr Gundersen based on Mr. Applebaum’s multiple references to Fairewinds press releases and videos. Without direct communication with Mr. Applebaum or his input here within this forum, it might be incorrect for me to assume he completely supports Mr. Gundersen’s activities.

          To close out this long post, I would like to provide the State of Vermont legal definitions of “Professional Engineering” and the “Practice of Professional Engineering” which are very similar to the legal definitions in the state where I live:

          “Professional engineering services” means any service or creative work, the adequate performance of which requires engineering education, training and experience in the application of special knowledge of the mathematical, physical and engineering sciences. This includes consultation, investigation, evaluation, planning and design of engineering works and systems, planning the use of land and water and accomplishing engineering surveys. Such services or work may be either for public or private purposes, and may be performed in connection with any utilities, structures, buildings, machines, equipment, processes, work systems, projects, and equipment systems of a mechanical, electrical, hydraulic, pneumatic or thermal nature, insofar as they involve safeguarding life, health or property


          “Practice of professional engineering” means providing, attempting to provide, or offering to provide professional engineering services for a fee or other consideration.


          “Professional engineer” means a person licensed under this chapter.


          So I continue to struggle with the fact that Mr. Gundersen was allowed to provide what I consider to be professional engineering services to the State of Vermont since he conducted, at a minimum, investigations and evaluations of Vermont Yankee operations with the intent of providing written and verbal reports in a public forum. Without a professional license I could not do what Mr. Gundersen did where I live without running afoul of the state laws and that is assuming the state would even consider signing a contract with me which they wouldn’t since I am not licensed yet. Yet Mr. Gundersen was able to perform professional engineering activities not only under contract to the State of Vermont but by all appearances managed to profit quite handsomely as well.

          Bill Rodgers

    4. I did some original research at one point on the size of the subsidy provided by Price Anderson. It is present but it is small.

      Let us assume the risk of a core damage accident is the conservative upper bounds of NUREG-1150 and WASH-1400, roughly 1 CDA per 1e4 reactor years for your stock GenII plant. Let us further assume for the sake of argument that every core damage accident leads to a Fukushima-class release (though TMI II proved that large, dry containments are able to accept some types of CDA without substantial release).

      To establish the insurance that we need, we need to figure out the maximum damage that a reactor can cause. Let us use the real world example of Fukushima to establish this. Let us set damages for Fukushima (3 reactor release) at $250 bn, per a conservative, anti-nuclear source, an article in The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (article: http://www.thebulletin.org/web-edition/features/nuclear-liability-the-market-based-post-fukushima-case-ending-price-anderson ). $250 bn / 3 reactors = $83.3 bn in damage per reactor. Let’s round insurance per reactor up to $100 bn, which should be an adequate limit of coverage.

      Divide $100 bn by 1e4 reactor years, gives $10 mil a year in premium. Your average US nuclear plant runs 90% of the time and generates 1000 MW, giving a total annual generation of 7.884 TWh/yr. At a wholesale price of $.04 per KWh, this gives the average reactor revenue of ~$315e6 a year. $10e6 per year in insurance cost would not substantially affect the financial viability or profitability of a reactor, which is very high.

      Further, the figures I’ve used are conservative and would not apply to Generation III reactors, which have substantially superior safety profiles. PRA for both the ABWR and AP1000 claim 1 CDA in e7 years (meaning insurance premiums in the range of $10k-$100k per year), while the ESBWR has 1 CDA in e8 years (meaning premiums in the range of $1k-$10k/yr).

      Now anti-nukes could come in here and start talking about fat tail risk and whatnot, but all that can be obviated by reinsurance and building a large enough risk pool. Some of the largest reinsurers have gross written premiums in the $e10 range, so handling this sort of potential loss is possible.

  6. This description of radioactive discharges from submarines has always resonated with me:
    “Since 1971, the total amount of long-lived gamma radioactivity released each year
    within 12 miles from shore from all U.S. naval nuclear-powered ships and their support facilities, combined, has been less than 0.002 curie (0.074 GBq); this includes all harbors, both U.S. and foreign, entered by these ships. As a measure of the significance of these data, this amount of radioactivity is less than the quantity of naturally occurring radioactivity in the volume of saline harbor water occupied by a single nuclear-powered submarine, and less than one tenth of the quantity of radioactivity naturally occurring in the volume of saline harbor water displaced by a single aircraft carrier. This means that a U.S. NPW releases far less radioactivity than exists naturally in the comparable volume of seawater.”

    1. I’ll note the “within 12 miles” caveat…I’ll also note spent fuel, and low level solid wastes are forms of emissions (ie, the are emitted from where they were formed).

      I’ll also note that U.S. naval reactors, to the extent they decide to, can maintain safety issues confidential for national security.

      I am pro-nuclear, ex-navy nuke, and a health physicist…I just try to find weaknesses in the pro-nuclear argument.

      1. @Bob Applebaum:

        “I am pro-nuclear, ex-navy nuke, and a health physicist…I just try to find weaknesses in the pro-nuclear argument.”

        Why? Don’t you think there are already plenty of professional antinuclear activists doing that?

        I defy you to honestly read what I have written at Atomic Insights over the past 16 years and then believe that I am a victim of “groupthink.”

        Besides, what was your rate when you left the Navy? How much real responsibility and knowledge did you display? What was the highest watchstation that you qualified to stand? (I have deep respect for navy nukes, but I also know that all nukes are not equal.)

      2. Bob,

        What exactly is your goal in constantly playing devil’s advocate?

        I work in manufacturing and do a lot of lean design, and efficiency work. But when your running a 2% scrap rate it sometimes is better to just go out and spend the money to increase production by 2% at 98% good product. Than to keep running at the old the volume but 99% good.
        1.02 * .98 = .9996
        1 * .98 = .99
        .9996 > .99

        It becomes exponentially more and more expensive to push closer and closer to 100%. This “IS” the whole anti-nuclear strategy, to require nuclear to be so close to 100% that it eliminates the 1 million to 1 energy density advantage and make it more expensive than existing.

        Because the competition is coal and air pollution, those costs are human lives.

        1. Well put, Mr. Kobos.

          Mr. Applebaum’s hobby perhaps is like a vaccine. Poking with a little poison makes the host a lot stronger. To me his arguments are easily shown to be insignificant, especially when compared to other forms of power generation. But it is weird coming from a pro-nuke. Nuclear power doesn’t need any more vaccine. Like you said, there’s no benefit so close to that asymtote of 100%

          The 12 mile limit is politically driven. And it results in dilutions so immense as to be indistinguishable from the noise of natural radioactivity. Probably be true doing de-gassing pierside also.

          An ex-Navy-Nuke, health physicist, if not an officer, then probably was MM/ELT like me.

          Rod, I like your analogy about the paint can. Also, the paint is just waiting to be used. All those HEU reactors at Hanford (mine included) still have a lot of potential energy stored up in a tight volume.

  7. One more thing – used fuel and low level solid wastes are not emissions because they are not released to the environment in any form. They are carefully controlled and placed into monitored, controlled locations. They are no more emissions than a carefully stored can of paint in your garage is an emission.

  8. Rod, If you’re going to quote me, at least quote me correctly.

    What I said was that I had seen a poll that indicated that 95% of the people in the world had heard of the Fukushima accident. I went on to say that these people had seen GE Mark I reactors explode and release toxic radiation. I did not say or imply that they knew anything about GE Mark I reactors, which surely about 99% of them don’t. My “inbred” little world is a little larger than you assume….

    Here is the video so everyone can see exactly what I said: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ybg3s74ATo&feature=youtu.be

    And while I agree that video of the Unit 4 fuel pool appears to show it in pretty good shape, Unit 3 is a rather different story. Here is a very short video that appears to indicate pretty substantial damage to that pool: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qP5dU8kMzQI&feature=related

    A quick search on youtube will produce other videos of the unit 3 pool. Difficult for me to understand the claim that nothing happened to the pools at Fukushima given the evidence that there seems to be virtually no fuel left in the unit 3 pool…

    1. @Michael Mariotte

      Thanks for stopping by. I am sorry if you believe that I misquoted you, but I was quoting the article, not directly quoting you. Perhaps you need to speak to the author of that piece. Here is the exact quote from her work:

      Ninety-five percent of the people in the world know about Fukushima, Michael Mariotte of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service said.

      “It took a really extraordinary event for 95 percent of the people in the world to know about it,” he said. “If they know about Fukushima, they know about Mark 1 reactors exploding in the air and releasing toxic radiation across the world and they know that’s not a good thing. Something has to be done to make sure that never happens again.”

      My point is that there are billions of people in the world who do not have a television because they may not even have electric lights or running water. Even in your comment here, attempting to correct my misunderstanding of your quoted comment in Southern Maryland Newspapers, you state that you think they “had seen GE Mark 1 reactors explode and release toxic radiation.” My assertion was that they would have no idea what you are talking about. I also asserted that they have never been taught to fear radiation, especially radiation at doses similar to that released by the brief H2 driven explosions. I cannot agree with your use of the word “toxic” because the term generally does not apply to something that only has a small probability of causing an increased cancer risk – in several decades.

      Unlike Americans and Western Europeans, the large majority of people living in the places that I listed do not sit glued to 24 hour news programs designed to spread fear, uncertainty and doubt with teasers to try to keep them tuned into the next update. Those updates often come immediately after the advertisement for “America’s 100 year supply of clean natural gas” and the one about all of the effort that ExxonMobil has invested in extracting fuel from algae – which has employed the starring PhD since the 1970s in a futile effort.

      I watched the video that you linked to from the Unit 3 fuel pool. I hope you understand just how large fuel pools are and how lightly loaded the fuel pools at Fukushima were compared to some of the re-racked fuel pools in the US. The perspective in that video did not change during its run; it shows just a few cubic feet of a very large pool. It is pretty disingenuous to point to it to state that it provides “evidence that their seems to be virtually no fuel left in the unit 3 pool.”

      You and your allies in the advertiser supported media have worked very hard to discredit Tepco and the Japanese government. However, some of us – who have been targets of your discrediting actions for years – actually believe that the people with first hand knowledge have done a reasonably good job at sharing as much accurate information as they have been able to access. Here is what they say about the condition of the fuel pool for unit 3 in their October 15, 2011 update.

      “At 7:47 pm on June 30, we started cyclic cooling for the water in the spent fuel pool by an alternative cooling equipment of the Fuel Pool Cooling and Filtering System.”

      There is no indication that there is any damage and they have reported no changes in the status for several months.

  9. For those interested in FACTS Wikipedia has links to acceptable data on the risks associated with nuclear power generation. Search for the following on Wikipedia.
    WASH-740 – 1957 risk assessment of commercial nuclear power.
    WASH-1440 – A 1975 update (complete overhaul) of above, by Norman Rasmussen.
    NUREG-1150 – Seems like UCS was not satisfied with the above, so a new one was developed which took into consideration lessons learned from TMI and the new (black art) probabilistic risk assessment (PRA) analysis of actual operating US reactors.
    SORACA – State-of-the-Art Reactor Consequence Analyses – The name says it all, PRA on steroids.

    I retired shortly after NUREG-1150 and am not familiar with the SORACA, but was intimately familiar with 740 and 1400, using them often. Even though the USC and others did not like them because of their “conservative assumptions,” 740, 1400, and 1150, all included accidents that defied the imagination and logic in the opinion of most nuclear engineers, e.g., breach of containment on loss of ECCS due to fuel melt through (of containment) [China Syndrome]. If anything, TMI proved that this would not happen. Many of the actions taken by the operators at TMI exacerbated the accident, and it still did not melt through. I think they will find that conditions of the vessel are not much worse in Japan. Yet these are still in them. All give probabilities of death associated with nuclear power generation as less than that of being hit by lightning.

  10. OOT – Rod, you should write a piece about this:


    This research is obviously a waste of money and an insult to intelligence – Antarctica, the Himalayas and the Andes are found to be excellent solar energy collection sites.


    But how do you transport all that electricity back to cities and population centers?

    This is such typical unrealistic BS from “unreliable energy” advocates. And oh, what shall we do when the Antarctica isn’t getting any sunlight for 6 months?

  11. I don’t just want anti-nuclear activists to be small in numbers. I want them to be HATED in much the same way as neo-Nazis are hated.

  12. Rod,
    You may want to clarify that video as being from Unit #4. Unit #3 is in much worse shape. With respect to Fukushima, I think the stance of several journalists is aggravated fear mongering (the cases you showed fitting that mold). However, being selective of the information we share can be deleterious.

    When we initially got in contact about the spent fuel pools and using the concrete pumping trucks, you gave me radiac readings from helicopters at two different altitudes. 1000 ft 413 mrem and 300 ft 8.77 rem. As a note on my units I am a dinosaur and use rem and Ci. Doing some math, I came up with a point source of 1E5 Ci and 9.8 E4 Ci respectively. The model was a little more in depth that the Navy’s good ole fashioned Curie-Meter-Rem rule, but based on similar principles. There was 2% error in those two readings which checks with what you would see in field applications.

    Those numbers are too consistent to be from anything else other than a very very large point source. From the videos of the pools, it looks like the point source was likely Unit #3. There are only a few point sources large enough in the world to give you those kinds of readings. There were only 5 in that general area. Unit 1,3, and 4 spent fuel pools and Unit 1, and 3 cores (unlikely due to size and location of cores and shielding of primary containment.)

    I trust general area radiac readings the most. As long as you have it on and it gives consistent results it is near impossible to mess it up, especially with an auto ranging radiac. With two consistent results, the only explanation I can give is a loss of shielding in a spent fuel pool.

    Looking at Unit #3, my guess (17MAR11) of an average depth 8″ of solid concrete and no water is not too far off from what likely happened. Based on the model the pool would have a roughly 2 kg/s (35 gpm) leak rate.

    1. @Cal – those readings were taken from a helicopter above the pool. There is no concrete in the path from the fuel pools to a helicopter. My assumption is that the doses did, in fact, come from the spent fuel pool whose water level had dropped considerably as a result of evaporation and sloshing during the earthquake. There might even have been some leakage. However, since your calculations lead you to believe that there was some shielding equivalent to 8″ of concrete, it is also a reasonably hypothesis to believe that the shielding was being provided by some water over the top of the fuel bundles. Not the meters of water that would normally be there, but the 16″ or so that would be equivalent to 8″ of concrete with regard to gamma ray shielding. If there was any water at all above the fuel bundles, then those fuel bundles were very likely to have remained intact throughout the event.

      The only video I have seen of Unit 3 does not change perspective and only shows a few cubic feet of murky water. It tells me nothing about the condition of the pool.

      1. @ Rod
        I had 1.25 meters of water equivalent or a couple of feet of loose concrete debris from the roof, post explosion. (mu_water=2.4 m^-1, mu_concrete=0.35 in^-1)

        We worked through the evaporation numbers. It would take the pool 11 days to boil and 371 days to get to those low levels. Sloshing would have been a factor in every other pool on the site, which is was not. Here is the footage for Unit 3:

        Meaningful makeup supply was not brought to the site until concrete pumping trucks arrived. This would put the fuel high and dry for almost a week. Since we are talking about #3 spent fuel pool, its DHR is much lower and could survive being “air cooled” indefinitely. However, if the fuels’ cooling geometry was obstructed it is possible for the fuel to overheat and cause a fission product release.

  13. George Carty
    October 15, 2011 at 6:29 AM
    I don’t just want anti-nuclear activists to be small in numbers. I want them to be HATED in much the same way as neo-Nazis are hated.

    I Really really do not understand how anyone can make such a comment. Can you explain yourself? Is this a joke? Its quite an offensive one if so. Please rethink your statement.

    Im a scot living in europe and have been following the best I can the fukushima story up til now especially the last couple of months since news of more leaks came out. Im not a scientist or anything, im not even completely anti nuclear – just want intelligent decisions to be made. ive a question about the spent fuel rods proposed removal in November. How dangerous is this project? Can someone explain to me after reading the following from the 2013 Nuclear Industry status report, with peer review science what is going to happen…so maybe i can sleep better.
    On unit 4 ”At the time of the earthquake and tsunamiUnit-4 was not operational and was undergoing a periodic inspection. All fuel had been taken out of the reactor vessel and moved to the spent fuel pool, where older spent fuel assemblies were also stored. At approximately 6:10 am, 15 March 2011, the Unit-4 building exploded, blowing the upper-floor walls and the ceilings away, leaving the spent fuel pool filled with 1,535 assemblies (1,331 irradiated ones and 204 fresh ones) [279] in the open air without containment, though debris fell into the pond. The cause and mechanism of this explosion are still unclear. Unlike the earlier explosions at Unit-1 and -3, no video-recording is available; even the exact time of the explosion remains uncertain. A likely explanation is that hydrogen came from Unit-3 via the piping; there is also a probability that Unit-4 spent fuel pool temperature went high enough to cause radiolysis of the water, producing hydrogen gas.
    What if the spent fuel pool gets cracked and loses its cooling water? What if the already severely-damaged (and, as it seems, slightly leaning) reactor building collapses and the spent fuel pool crashes down, perhaps triggering a spent fuel fire? This could lead to a worst case scenario that was drawn up in March 2011 by Prof. Kondo, Chairman of the Japan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC), would still apply. Evacuation of over 10 million residents in the wider Tokyo megalopolis within a 250-km radius of Fukushima Daiichi, depending on wind direction, may be required. [280] Radioactivity of the Unit-4 spent fuel pool is more or less equivalent to three full reactor-loads; i.e. the quantity of the irradiated fuel rods kept in that single pool roughly equals those in Unit-1, -2 and -3 reactor cores combined. Thus, full release from the Unit-4 spent fuel pool, without any containment or control, could cause by far the most serious radiological disaster to date.
    TEPCO claims that the Unit-4 building has been reinforced enough to survive further quakes, but retrieving the heat-generating spent fuel from the pool is nonetheless imperative and as quickly as possible. TEPCO puts a top priority to the construction of a crane-supporting iron framework over the Unit-4 building. Retrieval of the assemblies is scheduled to begin in November 2013 and to be completed by 2014.

    1. What scares me far more than any nuclear accident such as Fukushima or Chernobyl, is the thought that some people would be willing to condemn humanity to mass die-off so that the survivors could live using renewable energy alone. We must never forget that there are 7 billion people on our planet, and without the assistance of the Haber-Bosch process (which requires large amounts of energy to operate) we would only be able to feed 2 billion of those. Some environmentalist and “sustainability” campaigners openly speak of their desires for depopulation.

      Both the Nazis and today’s anti-nuclear environmentalist radicals are reactionary anti-capitalists who yearn for a simple rural way of life. Peasant farmers were one of Hitler’s key political consistencies, as Nazi promises of Lebensraum were music to their ears — not surprisingly as most had less than 10 hectares of land, forcing both men and women to live in grinding poverty and work for over 72 hours a week. One common myth about WWII is that the Nazis refused to employ women in their war factories for ideological reasons — the truth is that they couldn’t work in factories because for the most part they were already working on farms!

      During the 1930s food prices in Nazi Germany were fixed to about double the prices on world markets, effectively subsidizing the rural poor at the expense of the urban poor.

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