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  1. Talk is cheap, Dr. Holdren: show me the bills.

    Just got off the phone with Ron Wyden’s office. Senator Wyden is sponsor of S1240, the Nuclear Waste Administration Act of 2013, which implements key recommendations of the President’s Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future. Or would implement them if the bill were ever moved out of committee, passed, and signed into law. The senator’s staffer said the bill is still viable and before the 113th Congress. Nothing more than what’s on the bill’s web site, but nothing less, either.

    Co-sponsors are Lamar Alexander (R, TN), Lisa Murkowski (R, AK), Dianne Feinstein (D, CA), and Angus King (I, ME).

    1. Isn’t Wyden the guy that claimed the sky was falling, due to the Fukushima event?

      1. The senator visited the plant in 2012 and seemed to get caught up in the panic over the state of the Unit 4 spent fuel pool. I think he stepped back from the abyss after expressing fear about the pool in at least one interview. OregonLive.com posted an alarmist article with this gem, “The reactor now warehouses Fukushima’s hottest inventory of radioactive fuel rods in a seismically jittery part of the world.” The Unit 4 reactor core had been moved to the spent fuel pool prior to the accident.

  2. “In other words, the issue is one of proper engineering, it is not a matter that needs more science.”
    Yes, indeed: More “paralysis by analysis.”

  3. Thats it? It really bothers me seeing exchanges such as Rod’s attempt at engagement cut short in these kinds of forums. I can’t watch C-Span for the same reason. If a caller strays off script, poof, the guest invariably offers a short bit of nothingness followed by the hosts immediate disconnection of the caller.

    One time they had on a Senator, talking government expenditures. A caller raised the issue of the 2 TRILLION dollars that was discovered missing during Dov Zakiem’s reign as comptroller of the DOD. (Yes, you read that right, TRILLION with a T). In response, the Senator told the caller that that number was incorrect, and that it “must have been 2 billion”. When the caller persisted, she was cut off, and the Senator once again insisted on his revised number.

    So, one of two things took place. Either this jacklass Senator was a typical DC scumbag, lying through his teeth, or, he was completely ignorant of a fact that ALL Senators should have been not only aware off, but up in arms about. But in either case, the end result was an audience that recieved invalid information from a source reputed to supply the exact opposite.

    (This missing two trillion, to my knowledge, was never investigated, because 9/11 occurred right on the heels of the report, and took center stage while Cheney and the monkeyman lied us into the GWOT.)

    Point being, though, that the way Rod was cut short implies a fear on the part of this panel and its moderator that points may be raised by Rod that are not flattering to thier own narrative. A strong argument doesn’t fear challenge.

    1. Well, the moderator was with the so-called “Bulletin of Atomic Scientists” whose title bears about as much resemblance to reality as “The Union of Concerned Scientists” does. There was never any doubt that the moderator would cheat.

      That’s what the anti-nuke forces do and have been doing for 40 years.

      The mystery is not that anti-nuclear activists lie and cheat. The mystery is that they still have a shred of credibility with the public.

      1. @Jeff Walther

        In all fairness to the moderator, there was a limited amount of time, I had already asked my question, and my last uttering was a statement, not really a question. I was not surprised or disappointed that she deftly moved on to the next questioner.

        1. But in truth, don’t you wish for a more complete engagement with forums such as this??? It just seems so worthlessly insubstantial when issues just recieve mention, but no debate or analysis. Did you get the impression at all that they were threatened by your presence? Were there other nuke advocates in the audience?

          1. @POA – Yes, I do wish for a more complete engagement, but I will not get it from a symposium scheduled for just 2.5 hours.

            I thought that the 35th anniversary of TMI conference was better because it provided a full day for talks and some discussion, but even better would be a two day meeting with social events on one or two nights. It would be great to have a roughly equal mix of serious nuclear energy proponents, nuclear energy opponents and people who have not made up their mind on the issue.

            My experience in attending meetings is that few people feel threatened by reasonable questions asked with some modicum of professional courtesy and respect. There was not enough time to talk with many people in the audience; the man I sat next to was not a nuclear opponent, but more of a curious person who did not have strong opinions one way or the other.

  4. Rod,
    I really like your stuff. A small correction. There is no Biological Effects of Atomic Radiation (BEAR) report. I believe it has always been BEIR, which I learned in the early 70’s. (BSNE’77 Madison). The “I” being ionizing, not “A” for atomic.(Everyone pretty much does say “bear” when talking about the report.)
    Keep the good work/fight up!

  5. Rod,
    Am I bad. Sorry, there was BEAR. I stand corrected. I think you do more homework than me!
    No idea what Ed is talking about.

    1. Neither do I. But my link is the same as Rod’s. In other old news, I found testimony Secretary Moniz placed before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee last July 30 relating to nuclear waste management. DoE does seem to be making some preparations, but at least at that time the Administration had not taken a position on S1240 (NWAA of 2013).

  6. Whew! That was a bare, their was just to many names too keep strait, about everyone blue it, except the English Major (or Commander); I was about to bee homophonic.

  7. > peak ground accelerations of up to about 0.3g.
    (quoted above as, I think, the standard used in the US?)

    That would be 1/3 of the acceleration of 1 gravity, which is _____ cm/sec2

    Help me do the math here —

    How does that criterion compare to the observations?

    (I found this, it’s a very old paper about how acceleration from an earthquake falls off with distance from the source, with numbers that were probably considered good at the time):
    http://www.bssaonline.org/content/80/4/757.short

    “The median estimate of peak horizontal acceleration at the source region is 620 cm/sec2, independent of earthquake magnitude.”

    1. g = 9.8 m/sec2 = 980 cm/sec2 = 980 Gal. From Nuclear Power Plants and Earthquakes:

      “In March 2008 Tepco upgraded its estimates of likely Design Basis Earthquake Ground Motion Ss for Fukushima to 600 Gal, and other operators have adopted the same figure. (The magnitude 9.0 Tohoku-Taiheiyou-Oki earthquake in March 2011 did not exceed this at Fukushima.) In October 2008 Tepco accepted 1000 Gal (1.02g) DBGM as the new Ss design basis for Kashiwazaki Kariwa, following the July 2007 earthquake there, and Chubu accepted the same for Hamaoka. Tohoku has also accepted it for Onagawa, though the maximum recorded there in March 2011 was 568 Gal. The new Nuclear Regulation Authority is now responsible for determining DBGM levels required.”

      There is much more at the above link.

    2. I think the .3g value is a little misleading here. I assume the design basis earthquake is defined by a spectrum for which .3g is the maximum input shaking at any single frequency. The actual ground motion could be modeled as the composite of the response to shaking at a finite number of frequencies and would exceed that value. The state of the art of evaluating equipment response involves the computer modeling of structural dynamics.

      1. Yadayadayada……..

        It always amazes me seeing mother nature discussed as if we can match muscles with her. You ever seen the films of a major volcanic eruption? A giant rift in the earth due to a massive quake?

        Obviously we cannot live in constant fear of nature’s power, nor should our realization of that power stifle the advancement of our technologies. But we kid ourselves if we think we can match that power with numbers and ego.

        We’re mites on a camel’s ass, and all that camel needs is an occassional bath to stop the itch.

        1. OK, we can’t control nature, but we can design for survival. The Fukushima plants are built on bedrock, and the reactors safely survived the magnitude 9 earthquake. I read that the local coastline subsided a couple of feet in the earthquake, and of course the plants moved with it.

          Somewhere else I read that the ground level at the site was planed off to get down to the rock. Bad move.

          Aren’t we on the back of a giant turtle?

  8. Mercury in Fishes from 21 National Parks in the Western United States—Inter- and Intra-Park Variation in Concentrations and Ecological Risk

    Across all fish sampled, only 5 percent had THg concentrations exceeding a benchmark (200 ng/g ww) associated with toxic responses within the fish themselves. However, Hg concentrations in 35 percent of fish sampled were above a benchmark for risk to highly sensitive avian consumers (90 ng/g ww), and THg concentrations in 68 percent of fish sampled were above exposure levels recommended by the Great Lakes Advisory Group (50 ng/g ww) for unlimited consumption by humans. ( http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2014/1051/ )

    only 5 percent had THg concentrations exceeding a benchmark (200 ng/g ww) associated with toxic responses within the fish themselves.

    WHAT !!?? These fish were from our most remote rivers and waterways. Five percent having toxic responses to Mercury in these areas is phenomenal. Yet its not really even being covered all that well.

    1. I still would ask where and what the perspective is. I couldn’t get past that going into this conference. I know this conference gets people talking about NP but jheez. Where have they been.

      Nearly 16 Percent Of China’s Soil Is Polluted


      A nationwide investigation has shown that as much as 16 percent of China’s soil contains higher-than-permitted levels of pollution

      The ministry found that 82.8 percent of the contaminated samples contained toxic inorganic pollutants, including cadmium, mercury, arsenic, chromium and lead. ( http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/04/17/us-china-pollution-soil-idUSBREA3G16I20140417 )

      I cant imagine what the levels are in wildlife.

      1. Still guys I dont see near the level of concern that we get for trace radiation or less, released as a result of a a horrific natural disaster and not as part of SOP (even with emission controls), that has no known effects and degrades over time.

        These Mercury levels are significant.

        I even looked at Germany because I know they have environmental concerns burning so much lignite. Seems aside from the hype of health concerns surrounding dental amalgams they really have no clue and don’t really even pay that much attention to it st all, even though their air and environment is probably significantly more polluted than much of the US.

    2. “Yet its not really even being covered all that well”

      Just today, on NPR I heard a report on it.

      Mercury poisoning in our nation’s fresh water fisheries is not a new phenomena. When I moved to Coeur ‘d Alene Idaho in my early twenties, some forty years ago, (ouch), you weren’t supposed to eat the trout out of lake Coeur ‘d Alene because of the high mercury levels. In that case, it was due to the mining that was done in the Kellogg/Wallace area upstream from the lake. It was actually quite surreal, seeing this pristine north Idaho lake, surrounded by north Idaho mountain beauty, and realizing the trout were toxic.

      The incidence of lead poisoning in the children that lived in Kellogg and Wallace was reputedly the highest in the nation. At that time, they were hauling the topsoil out of nieghborhoods in Kellogg and taking it to toxic waste sites. You would see houses with five feet of soil removed from around them, with planks leading to the front doors. Bizarre, it was. I don’t know how it is now. Sometime shortly after Mt St. Helen’s blew, whatever year that was, they shut down the Bunker Hill mine, and allowed it to flood. I gotta believe the area is still highly toxic. That crap like lead and mercury doesn’t just go away, particularly after the long history of extensive mining in the area.

      The brothels took a hard hit when they shut down Bunker Hill too, but thats probably not a topic Rod would care for me to elaborate on……

  9. Good post. I am happy to say that I voted AGAINST the man who put Jackzo then MacFarlane in charge of the US NRC. My reasons were many, among them of course being what I knew would be his apathy towards if not antipathy against nuclear energy.

    I am reminded again of Aesop’s fable of the fox who wanted the grapes. Such is the mantra of hope and change. We had the Global Nuclear Energy Program under Bush. We had a renaissance. Then his successor stifled it.

    1. @Paul

      Score for Reagan, Bush 1, and Bush 2. Lots of talk. Not a single new nuclear plant start in those 20 years. Of course, the other side has been little different. Antinuclear actions are bipartisan.

      1. Bush II signed into law the Energy Policy Act of 2005.  That, IIUC, established the COL protocol and eliminated the possibility of a plant completed to spec being denied an operating license by “intervenors”.

        Without that, we would not have a single AP1000 under construction in the USA.

        1. @E-P

          Without the exemptions from the Clear Water Act included in that same bill, we would also not have had a “shale gale.”

          It’s 2014, nearly nine years after the passage of the act that you tout as Bush’s big contribution to nuclear energy. What is the result so far? By my count, the number of operating reactors in the US is down by 4, with a 5th scheduled to be shut down by the end of the year. The first completion of a reactor supposedly enabled by the bill will not happen until 2017, unless there are some ITACC related delays.

          1. Would fracking technology not have come without the CWA exemption?

            Five nuclear plants under construction is five more than we had ten years ago.  The Vogtle COL applications were filed in 2008.  First concrete wasn’t poured on a brand-new plant until 2011.  Whatever else is happening, this is positive and offers proof that the nay-sayers are wrong.

            The 2017 completion date may even be a good thing.  If the gas glut has evaporated by then, the builders will look prescient.

            1. @E-P

              According to the EIA, total US shale gas production was virtually constant at <2.5 Billion cubic feet per day. Since 2005, the rate has increased steadily to its current level of nearly 32 billion cubic feet per day.

              http://www.eia.gov/naturalgas/weekly/ – Scroll down to graphs of monthly dry shale gas production.

              The technology existed before 2005. It did not become economical until after 2005. Of course, the rapid increase in gas prices from 2004-2008 also played a role.

              By the way, first concrete for new nuclear was in 2013, not 2011. Also remember that Obama could only promote Jaczko to Chairman because he was already on the Commission when Obama was elected.

              http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/first-nuclear-concrete-placed-at-plant-vogtle-expansion-198193151.html

          2. Rod….you’re facing a wall built with partisan bricks. You ain’t gonna budge it, unless you can recruit Rush Limbaugh to dismantle it. (And even then, you might need Coulter patting ‘ol Paul on the fanny, as well.)

          3. Rod, I’d just like to see you admit that the key legal change enabling the infant renaissance in US nuclear power was signed by a Republican, and would certainly not have been signed by either IFR-killing Clinton or Keystone-XL-stalling Obama.

            It wasn’t an unalloyed blessing.  I never said it was.  Companies have been dumping toxic frac water on dirt roads just a couple counties away from me.  That doesn’t change what the COL is doing.

            1. @E-P

              My point is that opposition to nuclear energy is bipartisan. R’s might talk more nicely and even pass legislation that seems to favor nuclear, but they are just as effective in slowing development.

              For example, who signed the legislation that estaished the EPA and also signed the act that disestablished the AEC?

          4. Its inexplicable to me, Paul, that you seem to recognize the despicable nature of modern American politics, yet you still buy into this purposely divisive concept that one side is polar to the other side.

            The gears running both machines are attached to the same motor, Paul. Why can’t you see that?

            Do you really think that We The People can turn this thing around while bickering amongst ourselves about carefully scripted differences that are designed to render us impotent? They’ve got ahold of your strings Paul, and you’re moving just the way they want you to. Change channels, man.

          5. “For example, who signed the legislation that estaished the EPA and also signed the act that disestablished the AEC?”

            Rod….I understand that the EPA has become an elephant in a hamster cage. But surely you cannot believe that industry can be self policing? I can only imagine our environment had we of not created the EPA some fifty years ago, particularly in regards to our air and the auto industry.

            Regulations are not the problem. The problem is a corrupt government, representing special interests, that manipulates the science that drives the regulations. We need regulatory agencies. But when you inject politics into the regulatory process, the regulations will only be as “clean” as the politics.

            I am not insinuating that you have advocated for the abolishment of regulatory agencies. But it seems that sometimes the actual problem becomes blurred, and the agencies are faulted, when it is the actual politics and the Washington sell-outs that should bear the brunt of the blame.

            Industry is damaging enough to our environment, even with regulatory constraints. Remove those constraints, even in thier current corrupted form, and industry will sacrifice people to the advantage of profits to a degree as yet unrealized.

            We need the EPA, and we need constraints on industry. The question is, how do we replace politics with science in the process of regulation? If you can’t clean up the politics, you can’t clean up the regulations. They will favor special interests over sound science.

            1. @POA

              I agree that we need good regulation. Businessmen will often only do what they are required to do, especially if better performance — more than the minimum required — means a short-term cost and a longer term benefit.

              However, the EPA was born as an elephant that has never learned how to properly evaluate risks versus rewards and has always applied an LNT type model to all potential carcinogens except those that were already being released from facilities owned by powerful interest groups before the regulations came into effect. Those have normally been grandfathered in with very long, often repeatedly delayed compliance deadlines.

              I’m not advocating getting rid of the concept of environmental regulation, but pointing out that the EPA as currently structured based on its original legislation is not doing its official job very well.

          6. And Paul…..about your attempted partisan capitalization on the issue of fracking…..

            Living in an area where fracking has become a hot issue, and has been practiced for years before it came into the spotlight, I can assure you that the loudest endorsements for the process come soundly from your heroes on the right. If you truly want to somehow paint your favored party in a positive light, I think you’d be well advised to leave fracking out of your argument.

  10. @Rod,

    Being Canadian, my knowledge of American politics is limited (probably to what I see on “House of Cards”), but I understand that in order to influence Washington, powerful lobbyists are needed. Does the US Nuclear industry have any?

    Canada also lacks the political will to promote Nuclear; it is easier for our politicians to garner so-called green votes in order to get re-elected than it is to promote what’s in the long-term best interest of the country.

    1. @Andy English

      There is a group in the US called the Nuclear Energy Institute that is ostensibly THE nuclear industry lobby group. It was formed in the 1990s out of three existing groups that each represented different parts of the nuclear industry.

      The NEI is dominated by companies that have numerous energy industry interests. It will never engage in comparison marketing or lobbying that criticizes other types of energy. It is a big supporter of the Administration’s “all of the above” rhetoric.

      The NEI is good at what it does, but I think there is room in our large, diverse country for another nuclear industry lobby group that focuses on the benefits of nuclear energy technology and is willing to engage in competitive marketing.

      The trick is finding the businesses and individuals whose economic interests are focused enough to pay for such a group.

      1. Hi Rod. I’m attending the Thorium Energy Alliance Conference in May. I hope to be making a plea to attract some people to take on a role as part of a newly forming non-profit organization called the Energy Reality Project. This kind of organization could become an effective way to influence change. I want to emphasize the need for fund raising to handle costs of materials, organized events, transportation costs of members, conference fees etc. If well managed such an organization could afford to pay a small staff. My vision is global but there is no place that needs such an organization more than in the US.

    2. “Being Canadian, my knowledge of American politics is limited……”

      Don’t feel bad, the same can be said about 90% of Americans…

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