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  1. I think that the construction of thermal plants ( LWR. PHWR) has already peaked in North America and Europe and the time has come for Waste burning fast reactors with molten salt coolant and/or fuel.. Many US states and European countries have put a stop to LWR construction till ‘Waste’ problem is solved. That is not yet the case on other continents. Russia, China and India are continuing with fast reactors. There are US blogs saying much the same.
    The US govt has put in place a very restrictive NRC which also effectively hinders the new development. AP-1000 is an example of the US firms having to go to China to develop the new designs.
    The US DOE. faced with the responsibility of waste management, must take the lead to sponsor the waste burners and put a halt to consumption of fresh uranium. This will halt the generation of fresh SNF and give time for management of fission products.

  2. Jagdish,

    As much as I would love for waste burners to become a reality, the current reality is that we are a couple decades away from Gen IV reactors feeding power to the grid. We have PWR’s right now, proven designs that can be built and produce power.

    I am a big fan of molten salt reactors but their development will not speed up the nuclear industry, anti-nukes hate nuclear power no matter what form. The licensing of the AP-1000 took years, imagine how long the NRC will take to license a liquid fueled reactor that is completely different from anything ever built before. MSR’s are definitely something that needs to be invested in, but we can’t lose sight of the fact that we need to be building plants right now. And right now that means PWR’s.

  3. It should be emphasized that the AP article on cost overruns that Rod links to above repeatedly refers to “licensing-delay charges” not so much the “soaring construction expenses and installation glitches”. In fact the article notes that borrowing costs are at historic lows and construction workers are available in this depressed job market. Rather the culprit is stated quite simply: “utilities expect the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to adopt new safety rules in response to the accident; they cannot predict the exact costs.” I.e. regulatory ratcheting just as after TMI that was largely responsible for the notorious cost spirals of the 80’s.

    I believe it is high time for the out-of-control and absurdist regulatory regime of the NRC itself to become a major focus of criticism from fission enthusiasts along with anyone else who advocates for a clean environment and energy independence. It should not require any more than say 25,000 worker-hours (full time work for a dozen NRC employees for a year) to obtain a COL for an approved reactor design at either an existing licensed NPP or the present location of a coal station grandfathered in under the 1970 Clean Air Act.

    A big part of the problem I think is that the relevant safety standards should not be open ended or arbitrary but should be based on real-world cost benefit analysis. According to the National Academies of Science, Abt Associates, and the Harvard School of Public Health (PDF) between 10,000-20,000 lives are being shortened every year in the US because of coal burning for electric power generation. This is a far greater mortality rate than any possible nuclear accident even if we were to accept the Green Peace figures on Chernobyl mortality.

    We’ve just had the proof from a triple-meltdown and hydrogen explosion that no acute “prompt fatalities” or radiation sickness result from the most dire accident scenarios at Western-design reactors among plant workers and certainly not members of the general public. Now we need more push-back like at the APS annual meeting late last month in Chicago. The BEIR based LNT theories must be revised, we must insist upon the application of empirical science-based standards if we are to avoid future travesties like the forced evacuations of elderly people from around Fukushima

    1. One interesting idea might be if the NRC was somehow financially responsible/liable for “licensing-delay charges”. Some types of limits could be set on what would constitute reasonable delays versus unreasonable ones that the NRC would be liable for. Instituting such a plan would probably require a significant change in the funding model for the NRC, but the present model could use some overhauling as well.

      NRC financial liability for unreasonable licensing-delay costs (PROTECTING rate payers) would be considerably more helpful for getting plants built than the “wonderful” (tongue-in-cheek) DOE Loan Guarantee program that has produced such rousing successes as Solyndra, and it would require some level of delusion for such an arrangement to be called a subsidy (in my opinion).

      I do imagine that Ralph Nader, despite his alleged consumer advocacy, would be in favor of such a scheme, despite the windfall that it would be for electricity consumers.

      1. Another reform would be to simply demand constitutional equal protection from the government vis-a-vis coal and other fossil generators, dams, gas fatalities and their history of mass casualty accidents, etc and shift the burden of proof back on to the government where it belongs. Can the government prove in a court of law that nuclear fission is somehow inherently more dangerous than other energy sources in order to justify its added regulatory burden which is not applied to other sources of primary energy or industrial operations routinely engaged in our society? Could LNT theory be accepted as a valid argument in a modern court room without population epidemiological evidence to back it up? Let’s put Muller’s work on public trial. The debate would be sure to engage the public and the news media.

        1. Re: Aaron Rizzio

          Good mention, but one doesn’t need any trial! All you need are history books and industrial records! Did or not oil and gas production and accidents kill and maim XXX tens of thousands of people since 1941 (when first reactor was born) as opposed how many XXX tens of people killed by nuclear power the same period? It’s a no-brainer assessment in black and white. I’d like any lawyer to prove nukes are deadlier than its rivals with those down-to-brass-tacks stats. Our main problem isn’t having the proof, but getting it out and loudly to the masses which is hard to do since the main pipeline to news for most people, the mass media, are stridently and philosophically anti-nuke and aren’t going to do the truth any favors! Also, I wonder whether LNT theory will be on NASA’s dish when planning manned interplanetary missions through solar storms and cosmic rays!

          James Greenidge
          Queens NY

        2. It does not matter if LNT is accepted or not. The radiation releases to the atmosphere during normal operation of a nuclear power plant are extremely small. Even using LNT this would cause and extremely low rate of illness.

          In order for anti-nukes to use LNT to show huge numbers of fatalities they need to use a huge quantity of release and almost always assume every single gram of this material ends up in somebodies body(even if the material never leaves the site or decays in minutes)

          I understand that when you guys who work at NPP talk about reforms your talking about cutting a lot of excessive wasted money on in plant protections against vanishingly small quantities of radiation that have historically shown to be of little concern. When people outside the industry hear you talking about reducing regulations thought immediately jump to Deep water Horizons.

          When people outside the industry hear you talking about switching LNT to hormoesis it sounds like your trying to make it so you can release all the radiation you want and it won’t matter (because its good for you). That is the logic, you get the limits lowered so you can release more. You don’t get the limits lowered so you can release the same.

          I believe that LNT like all other aspects of science should be continually challenged. If it is good it will withstand the assaults, if it is bad then a better theory will prevail.

          You can use LNT to prove to people that nuclear fission reactors are safe to operate. Trying to get LNT overturned before proving them safe just seems like a coverup. I’m just saying…

  4. “Did or not oil and gas production and accidents kill and maim XXX tens of thousands of people since 1941 (when first reactor was born) as opposed how many XXX tens of people killed by nuclear power the same period? ”

    The problem you are up against here is that those who fear nuclear power tend to believe that it is causing many thousands of cases of cancer world wide.

    As it is generally impossible to locate the exact cause of any particular case of cancer, this superstition is hard to overcome. For example, there is a woman in Cumbria, UK, who is 100% certain that her daughter’s leukemia was caused by radiation from Sellafield. I don’t think you could ever convince her that it was much more likely to have been caused by a virus.

    So there will be enormous disagreement as to how many people have been killed by nuclear power.

    1. Don:

      Use demographic health statistics. The US spends hundreds of millions, maybe billions, of dollars every year gathering all manner of statistics, particularly in the area of health. Lawyers in civil liability lawsuits employ them all the time. For example we all have about a 40% chance of contracting some form of cancer and about 1-in-4 chance of dying from it. Cancer rates and mortality figures for all forms of cancers are collected UK statistics show that the longer we live the greater are our chances are of developing some form of cancer, which only makes sense.

      We know from US and WHO data that areas of relatively high natural radiation background, far higher than around any NPP site (even Chernobyl or Fukushima Daiichi), there is no positive correlation between doses which vary from region to region by up to three orders of magnitude and chances of developing cancer. In fact the population of the state of Colorado has some of the lowest cancer rates and highest background doses people are naturally exposed to in the US.

      Demographic statistics are known to be misused on occasion for example the “Texas sharpshooter fallacy” employed often in alleged “cancer cluster” lawsuits. You must draw your circle first and then look inside it, not look around for clusters of holes to draw a target around.

    2. Don,

      You are right that it is hard to determine the exact cause of any particular cancer. I have lost track of how many times drinking a glass switched from being a cancer cause to a cancer reducer. So, its no surprise that just about everything you can or can’t do has a study somewhere that shows how it causes or prevents cancer. Every single one of these studies gets its 15 seconds of fame in the news.

      At least for me cancer has been everywhere all my life that I have become numb to it. I don’t ignore it. I’m aware of it, but I don’t run from it. I could change my lifestyle and cut my cancer risk by say 10% but who is to say tomorrow I find out all those options that were supposed to be safer actually raise my risk?

      Yeah people talk about cancer a lot and the news loves to talk about cancer a lot, but do people really fear cancer from radiation?

      In your example with that lady you could easily replace radiation with cell-phone, herbicides on food, etc. She is just one lady who the news touts about because of their love to do so. How many mothers in this town who’s children have leukemia don’t think the power plant did it? I will guess that it is the majority.

      I understand the cause to get public opinion changed. But, what is the public opinion in the first place? How many parents of children think their kids get leukemia from NPP? If it is low they why even bother trying to convince these few of a view they don’t want to take?

      Just a word of warning, don’t worry about trying to change the minds of those who don’t want their minds to be changed. Worrying too much about what you can’t change usually leads to missing out on things you can change.

  5. People who complain that he projects are not happening perfectly on schedule and budget are just complaining because then never wanted them to begin with.

    Budgets and schedule delays are relative ideas. One could schedule longer and higher budget to start, then you end up in a situation where your ahead of schedule because those 3 months you spent repairing concrete was less than the 5 months you scheduled for concrete repair. Your budget could end up being met because you get .5% better rate on interest than you planned.

    It is a matter of perspective.