1. I am living in NYC, where it has been very hot for the last week or so. The power washer I use to protect my AV equipment informs me that I am currently being fed 114 volts (as opposed to the normal 120). I, unlike Governor Cuomo, am very happy that Indian Point is generating its 2 gigawatts of power through this heatwave. If for some reason, just one of the reactors at Indian Point were to go offline, NYC and the southern part of the state would be in big trouble and people will die.

    I think we need a sense of proportion here. Over the last weekend, I would expect that more people have died in road traffic crashes in the USA than have died as a result of the operations or failure of civilian nuclear power. Is anyone trying to ban automobiles as a consequence?

  2. So you’re a procedure writer (“process development lead”) for B&W modular reactors. And before that a requirements specialist for the Navy. You haven’t spent one single day working in a commercial nuclear power plant, but you sure make airs that you know all about it.

    1. Discrediting any one writer is almost off topic!
      Your facts are wrong about Rod period. Learn to address the topic and offer constructive facts concerning nuclear power or the alternatives. Your comment, loannes, is a point of view. The science is the issue and how it is superior to any other power source. Let us here some science from you?

      1. “Dr. Lyman is a professional antinuclear activist who has never actually operated a plant. He has a PhD in nuclear physics, but that does not mean that he ever studied anything about engineering or operations. It might not even mean that he studied anything about nuclear fuel.”

        Seems construing someone’s qualifications as inadequate is at least somewhat on-topic in this discussion. I’m not saying that what Rod implies about Dr. Lyman is wrong, I’m only pointing out that Ionnes was doing essentially the same sort of ‘analysis’ of Rod’s expertise as Rod did of Dr. Lyman.

        However: That said, I think I’d also point out that Rod *was* a reactor operator in the Navy *before* he was a requirements specialist. I also think that being a procedure writer for a nuclear reactor company means that you must first be an expert engineer on the reactor design for which you are documenting procedures. That is to say, I think that indicates as much or more expertise than any of the other engineers.

        Whereas being a nuclear physicist does not suggest to me that someone would probably have as much or more expertise as a nuclear engineer, on the safety characteristics of various reactor designs.

    2. I have 23 years experience working in commercial nuclear power and I find Rod to be spot on with his observations. Much to the surprise of many, while there is no 1 voice of nuclear power, many of us agree with Rod’s take. If you have a differing opinion I’m sure Rod would welcome the discussion.

      1. Welcome Michael. Isn’t it nice to carry on a conversation on a site where you’re not likely to be called an “industry shill,” “nuclear cheerleader,” or some other unpleasant term?

        Do you believe the pipeline for new nuclear workers can meet the demands of new nuclear plants coming online?

        1. Yes.

          There are more schools and universities than ever with nuclear engineering and technology programs. Just look at Vogtle as community colleges in the area start to train radiological protetion workers, pipefitters, welders, and plenty of other nuclear jobs. Not to mention the on site training program that is required by law where the first generation of AP1000 reactors operators are in training as we speak.

          What a great problem to have though, especially when we’re sitting on 9%+ unemployment nationwide!

        2. I believe it will be a struggle for enough nuclear workers for the new plants, even though it was recognized as a concern early and steps were taken to “open” the “pipeline”. About 40% of the current workforce is elgible for retirement in the next couple of years, couple that with new plant staffing and that means a serious challenge. Fukushima may have an adverse effect on students choosing to work in the nuclear field. Most of the jobs in nuclear energy are also needed in the non-nuclear sector, without the security and fitness for duty requirements; it will interesting to see how it all shakes out.

        3. In response to the potential workforce shortage, the EnergySolutions Foundation is working on a project to help junior high students better understand career opportunities in the nuclear energy industry. With more nuclear energy jobs becoming available and with nuclear plants paying their workers about 36 percent more than average salaries in the local area (http://www.nei.org/resourcesandstats/documentlibrary/newplants/factsheet/nuclearindustrydevelopsworkforce/?page=2), we want students to understand the opportunities available to them.

          We are developing a free, online game that allows students to experience what it’s like to work in a nuclear power plant. Students assume roles of various professionals as they work together to create power for a city. The game will also be aligned with national science education standards for middle school students. You can learn more about the game at http://corereaction.org.

  3. The CBS video shows some animation of how the AP1000 is supposed to work in an accident. It is pretty close, but the animation wrongly shows the condensation occurring outside of the containment. The condensation is supposed to happen inside.

  4. How long do you think it would take for the American public to welcome atomic plants all over if automobile ad agencies were tasked with promoting them?

    James Greenidge

    1. Never mind the auto sector – any professional ad campaign run by an agency that knew what it was doing would do the trick. It is what has been sorely lacking in this fight: the sort of PR that gets the message out to the masses.

      Antinuclear forces have been media darlings because they cultivated that status while the nuclear industry circled the wagons and seemed to believe that if they kept their mouths shut this would all blow over or that nobody would notice. Well the threat now IS that nobody will notice nuclear, while we dive headlong into windmills and solar panels that cannot produce a fraction of our energy needs. Many simply have no concept of scale, and in their minds a 50 MW wind farm equals a 1500 MW reactor.

      At the same time there seems to be a growing awareness that nuclear energy is not as evil as it has been made out to be — people are beginning to question the standard shibboleths that they have been served up for the last twenty-five years, and we are beginning to see a real desire to understand the issue where in the past it was reflexively negative. Although events in Japan have been a setback, they have not had the impact on public opinion that it could have. This represents a real opportunity and the industry should try and take advantage of it.

      This is where the ‘nuclear industry’ (such as it is) falls flat. They need to drive this sort of campaign but for reasons beyond me they haven’t.

      1. Ithink part of the problem is that other than Areva, there is not really a Nuclear Industry. Most of the companies that build nuclear plants also build fossil plants or wind turbines. GE is probably the best example, so it doesn’t really matter to them what we build to provide electricity. Most of the utilities don’t particulary care either since they are just looking for the lowest cost for the next year or so and don’t look long term. What it will probably take is for the people in the nuclear business such as most of us who visit this site to start an ad campaign and if we are lucky some entity with money would notice. Not that I think this very likely.

        1. David – if you are really interested in such an endeavor, please stay tuned for more information about the Nuclear Literacy Project.

          We will be looking for nuclear professionals who are willing to put up a bit of their own cash to show the industry what we can do by using the same techniques that work for all other products that are already superior. (I do not believe that ads can sell anything, but if you have a great product AND you advertise well, watch out.)

        2. Something doesn’t add up here. Yes there is no monolithic nuclear industry per se as the antinuclear movement would like to believe, and thus it is understandable why there isn’t an on going PR campaign in support of nuclear energy. What there is though is a number of companies that make products for, or have a position in nuclear power, and they are silent too.

          I can remember when Dofasco Steel (now ArcelorMittal Dofasco) ran radio ads every morning when I was growing up like clockwork on a station whose target audience was the daily commute in the city. Those ads didn’t push their product directly, but dwelt on the activities of the employees of the firm. I still remember the tag line: “Our product is steel, our strength is people.” These ran for years and I am sure that someone in the company had to justify the expense of these spots, so I assume they were effective. And the ads couldn’t have been cheap as this was the most popular morning radio station in the region, and the ads ran across the country.

          So why don’t the nuclear fuel companies run ads? For that mater why aren’t Areva and G.E. buying time on some of the specialty channels where spots are not that expensive? Why aren’t the 35 or so different power companies that operate nuclear power stations not running ads in their markets? Or better yet why are the not funding the organizations that are supposed to be the industries voice to mount a PR push? Is a banner ad on the boards of the Washington Capitals hockey rink the best they can do? Because that’s the only one I’ve seen.

          I cannot believe that every company in this business can’t afford to do a bit of PR to bring the message to the masses. Certainly they can’t expect a bunch of amateurs like us to carry the flag by ourselves.

          1. DV82XL – Those banners on the Capitals hockey rink are not the ONLY ads that the nuclear industry runs in Washington, DC. As a former DC area commuter who spent a large number of unrecoverable hours in traffic listening to NPR and WTOP, I can testify that NEI does purchase some drive time radio spots in the nation’s capital.

            As NEI employees have told me, they and their industry sponsors think it is worth their time and money to invest in trying to reach policy makers. I personally believe they are terribly short sighted to think that policy makers are going to listen to what they hear in the city and not what they hear from their constituents at home – where no one is buying an pronuclear advertising to contrast with all of the pro wind, pro solar, pro coal and pro natural gas ads that are running constantly.

            Oh well, what do I know? I am just a guy who blogs in his PJs nearly every morning.

        3. DV82XL:

          So why don’t the nuclear fuel companies run ads?

          Perhaps you don’t realize how slim the profit margins are for selling nuclear fuel. To give you some idea, let me point out that, at least in the US, there are no companies that sell just nuclear fuel (they all also sell service, engineering, etc., and these other products often factor into fuel contracts).

          The customers of the fuel companies are the utilities, not the public, and sales depend heavily on the relationship between the two companies. A public ad campaign is not likely to improve fuel sales in any time frame that makes economic sense to justify the cost.

          A better case could be made for the reactor vendors, who hope to sell and build a new generation of reactors. (Note that we’re mostly talking about the same companies, however.) These companies are also trying to sell gas turbines, “renewable” technology, etc.

          We’re back to where we started.

        4. Brian the last time I looked Cameco was one of the world’s largest publicly traded uranium companies. The first quarter of this year they reported revenues of 454M dollars yielding a gross profit of 136M dollars. I find it difficult to believe that some shill selling a kitchen gadget can afford to run spots on Discovery ten times a day and they cannot run one due to money being too tight.

          That’s just one example, there are others.

        5. DV82XL – I’m saying that there’s no such thing as a pure “fuel company.” Even Cameco doesn’t get all of its revenue from nuclear fuel; it owns a 31.6% share of four reactors at the Bruce Power site.

          Cameco is also an exception when it comes to companies that sell nuclear fuel, since it has a monopoly on conversion services for CANDU fuel.

          In the LWR world, competition is stiff, and it’s not unusual for the fuel business unit of a nuclear company to operate at a loss. If all that company did was sell fuel, it would quickly go out of business.

        6. I don’t believe I suggested anything about a pure fuel company in my original post. I was referring to all firms in fuel cycle including uranium producing companies. I think you might have read something more specific into the phrase I used than I intended.

          The point still stands that players in nuclear power have not been doing their part getting the message out, and there is no good reason why they should not.

        7. Well, I work for AREVA, the nuclear company that has arguably been the most aggressive in purchasing ad time and trying to engage the public on the Internet. Ever since the company decided to get in on the “renewable energy” business (I guess that free money that is being wasted by governments on this stuff is just too tempting to sit by and let one’s competitors get it all), it’s blog has focused almost as much on renewables (off-shore wind and solar thermal) as it has on nuclear.

    2. Since individuals don’t buy a whole power plant but only buy the electricity, we would need utilities, which now offer “green” options, to offer nuclear aswell. Put a nice yellow logo on the power bill, market it as a “brand” of electricity, then consumers would begin to identify with it, just like they do with the car they drive. At the same time, letting consumers decide for the type of power would be a big setback to anti-nuclear groups.

  5. I just happened to blog about that article as well. Here is the passage I quoted, without commenting much:

    President Barack Obama said not long ago: “We’ve got to recognize that nuclear power, if it’s safe, can make a significant contribution to the climate change question.”

    Mr. Obama has called for billions in loan guarantees to build new nuclear reactors.

    1. President Barack Obama said not long ago: “We’ve got to recognize that nuclear power, if it’s safe, can make a significant contribution to the climate change question.”

      Ah, Obama, ever the politician to the end. “If it is safe”? There’s always a way out, isn’t there? 😉

      Of course, we’re supposed to believe that he is only concerned that nuclear power is “safe,” but who determines whether it is “safe”? Why his administration does, of course, just like his administration has determined that Yucca Mountain is not safe. There’s no need for the NRC to perform a technical review of the license application (which has cost billions of dollars to compile). Obama’s crack team of lawyers … er … scholars … er … lab administrators … er … (well … I guess he doesn’t have any real engineers working for him) … have decided this through a painstaking process of … er … whatever it is they do. In any case, the Obama administration has declared it to be unsafe by fiat. The technically informed opinion of the NRC is irrelevant.

      Who’s to say that they won’t declare nuclear power plants to be unsafe at some point in the future via the same process?

      Mr. Obama has called for billions in loan guarantees to build new nuclear reactors.

      Actually, that was the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which was passed by Congress during the Bush administration. How many loan guarantees have been granted?

      1. This very same technique was used to kill a low-level waste facility in Nebraska. The governor got elected using the same phrases, “We will build it if it is safe. The facility will help create jobs, etc., etc.” Once elected, he had his environmental guru deem it unsafe after an extensive environmental review had reviewed and approved it. Seems his environmentalist had found an area, less than an acre, of “wet-land” on an area of the over 500 acres of property that was not to be used, not impacted, and not even near the facility. Worse yet, once he got it shutdown, Nebraska had to pay to fight the ensuing lawsuits, pay back the states investment in the project (several millions each), pay the AE and contractor back, and raise taxes in NE to resolve the budget shortfall. Most homeowners property taxes went up by over 5% to make these payments.

      2. I think we should remember that Bush had a GOP Congress and Senate for a some years while he was president. This is not the case with Obama.

        I think Bush had more leverage and could have done better.

  6. The head line is a little premature at least in the USA. If Obama was serious about nuclear power he could have made some moves to create a regulatory environment that would entice private investors.

    Who wants to invest in nuclear power plants in a country that could build the LILCO reactors but could not bring them into service?

  7. President Obama with the help of the State Department negotiated a nuclear policy limiting the commercial use of new nuclear steam technology with Russia. This was done to maintain the “Stable” hydrocarbon fuel industry and jobs. It is also the reason fission nuclear has been soft peddled to Congress. Unless and until the White House takes the initiative to develope new technology rather than lip service to that goal, our industry will remain hostage to the hydrocarbon giants.
    CO2 created today will kill millions tomorrow. It will be subtle like a tornado or hurricane and rising sea levels but never will energy policy be held accountable because they are unrelated, right?
    Murder by arsenic poisoning takes time and so does CO2.

  8. NHK WORLD NEWS : Japan’s Food Safety Commission just issued this lifetime guideline for food intake:

    ‘A government food safety panel has recommended that safeguard measures be implemented to limit cumulative radiation exposure during a person’s lifetime to no more than 100 millisieverts.’

    That means that eating 2.8 bananas a day (each having .01 REM) for a year will get you a dosage of more than 100 millisieverts.

  9. Auto fatalities in the US run about 50,000 per year – about 140 deaths per day. Interestingly it’s been the same absolute number since the 1960s! Since the 1960s, the death rate per xxxx miles (I think xxxx was 1,000,000 miles) driven has dropped almost linearly from about 7 in the 1960s to 1 by around 2008. Two thumbs up for traffic / car safety improvements and nuclear power.

    An interesting tack on the nuclear death toll is that some news outlets are blaming many suicides in Japan on the nuclear disaster. Maybe if the Japan government can find it’s way to providing coherent guidance about anything related to the earthquake / tsunami / nuclear power then things would look better. It’s really quite unimaginable how poorly the government has reacted to this problem.

      1. From your source (it only goes back to 1995), there is about 42,000 fatalities per year. Dead flat statistically from 1995 to 2009. The second number is the rate per 100 million miles. A linear trend from 1.13 to 1.73 from 2009 to 1995. Give or take 10,000 or so deaths per year the trend extends back to the 1960s where the death rate is something like 7 per 100 million miles. It’s just startling to me that it trends for 50 years.

        2009: 37,423 1.13
        2008: 41,259 1.26
        2007: 42,708 1.36
        2006: 43,510 1.42
        2005: 42,836 1.46
        2004: 42,884 1.44
        2003: 43,005 1.48
        2002: 42,196 1.51
        2001: 41,945 1.51
        2000: 41,717 1.53
        1999: 41,501 1.55
        1998: 42,013 1.58
        1997: 42,065 1.64
        1996: 41,817 1.73
        1995: 40,716 1.73

  10. Rod wrote: “As NEI employees have told me, they and their industry sponsors think it is worth their time and money to invest in trying to reach policy makers. “

    Ya, I can see how well that is working out for them as well.

  11. Hi Rod,

    Thank You for stopping by The Report to help educate us. It is making more sense now what you say.

    I am curious though, If the Cesium isn’t harmful to humans, (Bare with me here, still learning) then why was the Green Tea banned from export and human consumption? Along with, of course, the affected mushrooms, rice, pork, beef, etc.?

    Thank You In Advance,

    1. @ Crisis

      You can read my post on how eating 2.8 bananas a day for a year will bust the 100 millisieverts threshold just imposed by Japan’s Food Safety Commission. Pure non sense.

      Another example is this bit from NHK World News last March 3rd when meat was taken off the market:

      Japan’s Health Ministry said Thursday that it had ordered more tests after a cow slaughtered for beef more than 70 kilometres from the plant was found to have radioactive contamination slightly higher than the legal limit.

      Officials said the meat did not reach the market, and its total cesium radiation level of 510 becquerels per kilogram was only slightly higher than the legal limit of 500. A person could eat beef with that level of contamination for decades without getting sick.

      1. Interesting, Daniel.

        Then why the hell are they trying to scare everyone?

        Most of us are not nuclear experts. We simply do the best we can to educate ourselves based on what “Facts(?)” are presented.

        As a Master in Chess, I can teach you strategy, tactics, maximizing resources, (Development)positional awareness, attack, defense, etc., though I have no clue what is going on with the; ‘Rems’ ‘Micro sieverts Per Hour, ‘Becquerels’…

        Seems rather daunting.

        Though, All Greek to me.

        1. Well, these other bits of information are also common knowledge and shared on the WEB, yet cities in Japan were evacuated based on a 20 millisieverts yearly exposure threshold:

          In Guarapari, Brazil, a city of 80 000 inhabitants built on the seaside, peak measurements made by EFN on the thorium-rich beach were as high as 40 microSv/hour or 350 millisieverts per year (about 200 times higher than the average natural background radiation in other areas of the world).

          Meanwhile in Ramsar, Iran, naturally high background radiation delivers a hefty dose of 260 millisieverts per year to local residents, a hundred times higher than 2.7 mSv/yr experienced by the average UK citizen.

        2. Thank You, Daniel.

          I appreciate your sharing the information.

          So, do I tell my audience that it is safe?

          Would that be the responsible thing to do?

        3. The human body has an ability to mend with radiation. Nuclear medicine can vouch for that and so can science.

          Cities in India, China, Brazil and Iran have high background radio activity and no one suffers. The medical archives are surely available for you to derive your own conclusions.

        4. Right you are of course.

          Thank You for playing along.

          Unfortunately, I am not convinced that your industry is safe.

          Though as long as you are making money, why not sell Out others for your new plasma T.V.?

          Have a Great Night!

        5. Crisis – I also spent some time learning and teaching strategy and tactics. My studies were at the Naval War College where there is a bit more real politics involved than in chess.

          You asked “why in hell are they trying to scare everyone?”

          Have you ever heard of the sales technique called spreading FUD about your competitors? (FUD – fear, uncertainty and doubt)

          One of the largest, most established and most profitable businesses in the world is selling combustible hydrocarbons (coal, oil and natural gas) to people who think they have no other choice. When people are taught to fear nuclear energy and radiation, they do stupid, but very profitable, things like shutting down 8 operating nuclear plants in Germany as a result of a tsunami in Japan. They rush out and buy potassium iodide tablets in California when there is no need for taking the pills if you are more than a few miles away from the power plant. They force the continued shutdown of nuclear plants that have been operating safely for years even when they need electricity so that more LNG gets shipped from places like Qatar, Russia and Australia.

          Fear of radiation is very big business – 10s to 100s of billions per year.

      2. @ Daniel

        Although the banana-dose-equivelant is a good teaching tool it’s not quite an accurate way to describe what’s happening. Eating more bananas wouldn’t give you additional dose because your body would just increase the rate it filters out the potassium (assuming healthy kidneys) otherwise you would suffer from an electrolyte imbalance. I would like to see a variant of the b-d-e based on the Brazil nut with its 1.5 pCi/g of radium, then compare to the amount of plutonium that would have to be in your food to receive a similar dose.

        1. I’m thinking my Cigarette Equivalent Dose could be useful. If it were shown that the dose incurred from being X miles from Fukushima would elevate cancer risk about the same amount as smoking 1 cigarette every 2 years, that might hit home for a lot more people (maybe for too many nuclear workers who smoke?).

          Non-cancer respiratory and cardiovascular risks from smoking could be omitted from the equivalency for simplification.

        2. @ John & Joel

          A millisievert is a millisievert no matter if it comes from a banana, brazil nut, cesium, Tc 99 or a cigarette. It does not matter if the radiation is either external or internal.

          The brain does not qualify the components of a millisievert to subsequently discard it.

          For teaching kids about the nil impact of living next to a nuclear plant or the great benefits of hormosis; I am going long bananas and shorting cesium !

        3. And of course someone receiving a life saving dosage of 20,000 millisievert as part of a nuclear medicine radiotherapy treatment over several weeks would see a lot bananas and brazil nuts.

          Sorry, no cigarettes or cesium for teaching kids the benefits of radiation therapy !

  12. Like this for example: (What does this mean? Are they suffering from Radiation Poisoning?)


    So far 154 U.S. servicemembers have “elevated” internal radiation, up to 250 microsieverts — Military declines to release radioactivity levels where personnel worked
    July 27th, 2011 at 05:49 PM
    U.S. wasn’t fully prepared for radiation risks following Japan earthquake, top general says, Stars and Stripes by Seth Robson, July 27, 2011:

    U.S. Forces Japan has declined Stars and Stripes’ requests to release the levels of radiation or toxic substances detected in areas where U.S. personnel worked during Operation Tomodachi. The military also has not released levels of radiation detected on servicemembers’ clothing and equipment. […]

    The military has already done “internal monitoring” of radiation levels inside the bodies of 7,700 personnel who worked in parts of the disaster zone closest to the damaged power plant, including those who flew over the disaster zone, [U.S. Pacific Command’s top surgeon Rear Adm. Michael H. Mittelman] said. […]

    Mittelman said that among the 2 percent of servicemembers (about 154 individuals) with elevated internal radiation levels the highest readings were about 25 millirems [250 microsieverts], equivalent to the dose that they would receive from 2 1/2 chest X-rays. […]

    1. You know what I’d love to see? A Comparative Health Impact Scale that takes millirems and millisieverts out of the scary esoteric into the layman world in terms of “equal health effect” For example, here in NYC you can get some bad home and industry fires and all that black smoke just goes far and everywhere — including lungs. So near everyone in NYC has a tiny smoke turd in their lungs with a fire’s name on it (forget even including cars!). What would be the equivalent millirem health effect level to that tard of smoke in one’s lungs? World Trade Center first responders are coming down with _something_. What would be the millirem levels required to induce similar health affects? Are they enduring Chernobyl levels of millirem-equivalent health damage? Are Tokyo residents getting a one-cigarette in a lifetime smoke health effect equivalent of whatever level rad exposure they got from Fukushima? How goes the smoke/rad health comparison work on the residents of Kobe after breathing all that oil and debris tainted soot from THEIR quake? Remember when we used to burn autumn leaves in the streets here in the USA? Wonder how many rads it’d take to equal the health damage of all that heavenly aroma! Break this down to such simple terms and you start clipping the radiation mystique from anti-nuker’s teeth.

      James Greenidge

        1. Banana Equivalent Dose has some limited useful application, but I could see Cigarette/Smoke Equivalent Dose being a much, much more appropriate unit.

          The radiation from bananas is harmless, cigarettes, not so much.

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