1. Brian – information about small reactors is NEVER off topic here at Atomic Insights. We certainly discussed that topic during the interview with Dr. Klein. Thank you for the link. I now know what I will be writing about this morning!

  1. http://www.gallup.com/poll/126827/Support-Nuclear-Power-Climbs-New-High.aspx?utm_source=tagrss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=syndication&utm_term=Politics
    There is a graph showing the support for nuclear power as measured by Gallup, as it has varied since 1994. Polls were taken in 1994, 2001, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2009, and 2010. Its hard to say that Democratic Party support has declined by the measured 1% during 2009 – 2010, as there is a stated +/- 4% sampling error.

  2. Great show, Rod. Klein sounds like a good guy. I’ve gained a bit of appreciation for Yucca, at least as an interim place, and a place that a lot of people have placed a lot of work into building.
    Klein related that “When someone asks the engineer what time it is, the engineer tells them how to build a watch.”
    I agree; however, as someone communicating here in a paratechnical capacity, sometimes there isn’t just a soundbyte that you can throw back at people; I worry, when explaining something technical, that if I dumb down too much, I can be accused of not being honest, as the question usually isn’t precise enough to get a precise answer. For instance, when asked, in relation to a BWR, “Are there buried pipes carrying radioactive fluids?”, you have a choice of 3 answers:
    A. No. There are no buried pipes carrying radioactive fluids.
    B. No, there are no buried pipes carrying radioactive fluids; there are pipes underground in trenches…not buried…carrying occasionally radioactive gasses.
    C. Yes, there are buried pipes carrying radioactive fluids. We do have water piped onto our site, all water contains radioactive fluids, such as a very low, but detectable level of tritium, however, the radioactive substance does not originate from – but merely passes through – our site. We also have pipes in trenches that carry radioactive gasses, but those aren’t buried, but they are underground.
    Which one of these would you choose, if you were under oath?
    People in technical and engineering trades understand that nothing is for certain, and that all options have their downsides. When we try to explain – and do so in a matter that is not succinct – we are probably thinking the person we are communicating with is a person like us, who understands that life is complex and messy and nuanced and that duckspeak (to use Orwell’s turn of phrase – to quack like a duck) is not acceptable and were we to dumb down the explanation, we could be accused of being less than forthright in oversimplifying things, even to the point of deliberate evasion.
    If we say too much, we are accused of obfuscating and filibustering.
    If we say too little, we are accused of being evasive and oversimplifying.
    And if we’re dealing with the public, their eyes glaze over the moment “thermal neutron”, “xenon-135”, “saturated steam”, or my old favorite, “net positive suction head”, find their way into any of our explanations.
    So how do we communicate? Some examples would be nice. Pre-packaged, quality responses to common – and not-so-common – questions asked by members of the public, including those pre-briefed as to what to ask by antis.

  3. Hi katana0182 (Dave),
    You have a great comment here. Let me see if I can add anything. I spend my life making complex things simple trying to communicate in a 2nd language or to speakers who use English as a second language. Sometimes I succeed.
    You bring up two different contexts. The first when facing a hostile (or at least suspicious) representative, the next when dealing with propaganda against Nukes by “antis”
    On the first, I would try the process of scale up scale down. That is, as you begin the testimony ask a series of clarifying questions. “Can you help me understand what you are asking because there are several answers to the question you have asked…” This helps the person understand you are not avoiding the question but that the answer might be complex. “Are you asking about pipes that are buried? or Pipes that happen to be below the level of the ground? Or any pipes at all that could carry radioactive liquids?” These questions allow the representative to understand that she / he has just asked a complex question and that a very technical answer could be coming.
    Then, a simple phrase – “We have pipes of all kinds some which carry minor safe amounts of radioactivity below the level of the ground. Some might be buried in dirt and some might be in concrete channels or tunnels. Can you help me understand why are are asking the question? What are you concerned about?”
    By returning the question with a question – the representative is forced to open up and explain their concern. This gives a chance then for the engineer to give a follow up technical answer, with a simple summary conclusion.
    I think it was Meredith Angwin that noted that the engineers were not properly prepared by their company to face this hostile audience.
    When dealing with the “antis” I think our best options are a few true statements in sound bite form.
    Plutonium is FUEL!
    Which kills more people natural gas or Nuclear?
    Are you afraid of your microwave too?
    Are you afraid of the baggage xray too?
    There are Nuclear designs cheaper than coal
    You CAN’T build a military weapon from used Nuclear fuel.
    Our aim is not to persuade the anti but to inform those listening to the argument. “If you want more information I can give it to you. How much do you want?”
    These kind of approaches help to move the argument forward and persuade more and more of the general public. I am greatly encouraged that a majority of both Democrats and Republicans feel that Nuclear is the answer to our energy problems. We are winning this.

  4. For me , it is another fast breeder design. I have same overall reaction-positive- and same reservations. Sodium as coolant is risky. I hope they get a suitable salt as coolant. As a suggestion, there could be PbCl2-MgCl2 eutectic using Cl37, which is a quarter of chlorine and could be cheaper to separate than U235 or dueterium..

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    Renewables people are masters in marketing. Unreliable intermittent generators whose output is all over the place, and usually badly correlated…

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