Everything’s Coming Up Trilliums
by Jeremy Whitlock
Ah, Nuclear Power, my old friend. Please do come in. Have a seat. Again you’ve been away too long.
I feel silly coming here Doc.
Now, now, hush. Sooner or later, everyone comes here. Tell me, how are things going?
Well that’s just it Doc – on the face of it you might say things are going reasonably well.
Yes, I haven’t seen you on CNN for a while. Running smoothly then?
Well, all eighteen reactors in Ontario were running this summer – first time in over fifteen years! And often lately we’ve seen two-thirds of the province’s power come from nuclear fission! Sometimes almost 80%…
Wow, impressive. Like France.
Yeah I guess so. But…
But something’s troubling you. What is it?
Well, I can’t shake this sense of my own mortality. The feeling that all this could end very soon. I feel like one of those guys wearing the red shirts in Star Trek – you know, like I could buy it before the next commercial and nobody would care.
Interesting. And you feel this way despite basically running Ontario this summer?
But does anyone know that? Or care?
I pay you to care Doc. Even the Ontario government, though, which you think would give a damn – they don’t seem to be too bothered one way or the other.
Now wait a minute. Doesn’t the province’s 2010 Long-Term Energy Plan call for about the same contribution from you in the foreseeable future?
The LTEP? Oh please – I can see the script now: “unnamed guard in red shirt joins the Away Team on the shuttle…”
What do you mean?
I mean look what they’re doing with the LTEP three years later – humming and hawing, wringing their hands, getting ready to throw the Least Voteworthy under the bus.
Ah I see, the LTEP review underway this summer – you feel this is backtracking somewhat?
Backtracking? They’re practically putting the phaser in the alien’s hand and pointing it at my head.
Well that’s really interesting, Nuclear Power, because I’ve been hearing a lot about this LTEP review lately from your compatriots. It would seem to me that everyone’s a little concerned, and I wouldn’t say you’re being mentioned in any particular – how you say – “red shirt” context…
The others have been here? Even Coal? How’s Coal doing?
Oh, you know, dead man walking. Drags himself in here, smokes like a chimney for an hour, coughs up a lung and leaves.
Mostly stares off into space. Keeps mumbling about being the renewable energy source that everyone forgets about. Sad really. I had to bump him last week so Wind could take his appointment – you’ve got to take Wind when you can get him.
Ah, Wind… He can’t be too worried, surely…?
Interesting case, Wind. A real nervous type, you know? Keeps fidgeting, then falls asleep suddenly in the middle of a session. Then wakes up yelling, and runs out the door, and never books ahead his next appointment – too busy I guess. Never seems to know his own schedule from one day to the next.
What about Natural Gas? Surely he hasn’t needed to talk to you…
Oh on the contrary, I see that chap quite a bit. Giggles a lot. Seems to feel that things are looking up. Keeps saying good things about the rest of you – loves renewables, feels bad about Coal but wishes him well, wants to see every reactor in Ontario refurbished…
Hm, I wonder why. Maybe something to do with being the fall-back guy for the rest of us. I bet he’s salivating with anticipation.
Well, he does have a sparkle in his eye, that’s for sure. But flighty – every now and then he breaks down and complains about feeling guilty. Says that he’s not exactly being honest when he calls himself “clean”. But then he gets over it and becomes quite anxious – wants the province to make a decision right away, almost like he’s afraid people will change their mind.
Or the price of gas will go up.
Ah yes, as a matter of fact he did mention that, and he kept nervously looking at his watch and glancing out the window.
Hey … should you be telling me all this? What about doctor-patient confidentiality?
Oh please, nobody believes a word you say anyway. I’m safe.
I see. Well listen, the fellow I’m mostly worried about is Conservation…
Conservation! Great guy. That lad’s going places. Real go-getter.
You’re kidding – You’ve seen him too?
Well, sort of. He’s never shown up. Best patient I’ve ever had. Pays in full.
So… he’s not a real patient?
Of course he is. Booked in all next week as a matter of fact. I’m going golfing.
I don’t get it.
Neither do I. Listen, forget the Red Shirt thing. I think you’re all in the same boat – and in fact you’re the sanest one among them. I’d say you’re more like a Jack Nicholson, boldly leading the inmates in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”.
Yeah? How did he make out?
Um… times up. Thanks for coming. Please book again on the way out.
Editor’s note: Dr. Jeremy Whitlock has been publishing The Canadian Nuclear FAQ since April 24, 1996. He is a reactor physicist at Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd.’s (AECL) Chalk River Laboratories, and currently the Manager of Non-Proliferation and Safeguards. He is also a Fellow of the Canadian Nuclear Society (F.C.N.S.), as well as a Past President and a member of the Board of Directors (he is also a past Board Member of the American Nuclear Society, ANS). Dr. Whitlock has a PhD in Engineering Physics from McMaster University (Hamilton, Ontario) with a specialty in CANDU reactor physics.
This parody first appeared in the September 2013 issue of the Canadian Nuclear Society Bulletin, Vol 34, No. 3 and is reprinted here with permission.
Ontario Nuclear Power’s paranoia seems to have been justified with the decision to cancel the new reactors at Darlington. Pow! Pow! Another Red Shirt down.
Please replace Candian by Canadian
Dr. Jeremy Whitlock has been publishing The Candian Nuclear FAQ
And here too:
the September 2013 issue of the Candian Nuclear Society Bulletin, Vol 34, No. 3
and also replace nuclear by nukular … then you are good to go !!!
I really should not spot your typos with all the fantastic work you do ….
Proofing assistance is always appreciated.
All Candus are working for the first time in 15 years … Talk about resilience. One day, all German reactors will be back on line, at the same time.
I am convinced that when German companies start moving abroad in search of cheap electricity and that the EU will fine Germany for ‘disguised’ subsidies, Merkel will have to change her stance again on nuclear.
I wish I could forget about hydro.
Its Huge: Hydroelectricity supplies an estimated 20% of the world’s electricity and accounts for more than 85% of electricity from renewable sources.( http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110801134733.htm )
Its not that dependable (capacity factory comes in at about 50 percent ( http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/aeo/electricity_generation.cfm ) ).
It has safety issues. ( Banqiao Dam ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banqiao_Dam )).
Albeit downgraded, It has significant and unresolved GG contribution issues.
It has VERY significant land use and habitat destructing issues.
Dams and reservoirs are said to be the leading cause of aquatic extinctions:
Freshwater species and ecosystems are among the most imperilled. Dams are a principal threat to freshwater diversity and that threat is largely mediated through loss of habitat frequently involving modifications to the natural flow regime and to blockage of migrations ( http://intranet.iucn.org/webfiles/doc/archive/2001/IUCN850.pdf )
In the United States, about 20% of fishes are extinct or imperiled… ….Little debate occurs among fisheries professionals about the causes of imperilment and extinctions of southwestern fishes. Most frequently mentioned causes are construction of dams, loss of physical habitat, habitat degradation, chemical pollution, overexploitation, and introduction of nonindigenous species. Dam construction and regulation probably had the greatest adverse effect on native fishes of southwestern rivers, while the effects of excessive groundwater pumping have imperiled many spring systems and their associated fauna. ( http://cpluhna.nau.edu/Biota/fishes.htm )
Yangtze river dolphin driven to extinction ( http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2007/aug/08/endangeredspecies.conservation )
Ive gotten to where I now cringe when I hear the words “renewable” and/or “sustainable” as they usually seem to involve unrealistic hype and advancing some unseen if not purposely ignored environmental disaster.
BTW: The wiki on the Baldwin Hills Reservoir Failure is an interesting read. Ive read a few assessments on subsidence in the Louisiana delta region. Ive also seen the reports critical of fracking. I didnt ever notice this case until now, with documentation going so far back.
From the outset it was clear that ground faulting, including the aseismic fault movements that destroyed the reservoir, were probably related to the many feet of ground subsidence which had occurred a half mile west of the reservoir over decades of oil extraction in the Inglewood field….
….Following the discovery in 1970 by geologist Douglas Hamilton of faulting and surface seepage of oilfield waste brines along the fault which traversed and extended south of the reservoir, Hamilton and Meehan concluded that oilfield injection for waste disposal and improved recovery of oil, a new technology at the time, was a significant cause of the failure, triggering hydraulic fracturing and aggravating movements on a fault traversing the reservoir even on the day of the failure.
A long cold smoking gun of geologic hazards related to petroleum extraction? I think probably so.
From Science 1971 !!! :
Ground Rupture in the Baldwin Hills ( http://www.stanford.edu/~meehan/la/pubs/pubbaldw.pdf )
Its been a mistake to quickly discount the geologic implications of petroleum extraction and mass distribution changes related to warming.
That reminds me also of another dam and reservoir issue. Induced seismicity – has been a culprit in a few disasters. The largest being the Sichuan that killed around 80000.
Hydro, long-term is the cheapest form of electricity there is. Like any other energy source it has it’s problems. It’s not really an option going forward though, especially in the west where 50-80% of exploitable reserves are already tapped. Even in china which has the worlds largest hydro resources they’re likely past the halfway point right now. Most of the worlds untapped hydro resources are in africa and south America.
Here in the USA we make about 275twh per year of hydro. We could maybe push that 350-400 if we wanted to but it’s not going to make much of a dent in our 4,000+ twh consumption.
This is not just cute and clever but also serves as a promotion of nuclear power. Few people can summarize in such a short piece what is going on and still paint the picture of the irony that Ontario’s success may just be a passing phase. It points out the tragedy and missed opportunity that has taken place and how the industry may not recover if we let its accomplishments go unnoticed.
Oh please, nobody believes a word you say anyway. I’m safe.
When the Discovery and Science Channels have shows like “Strip the City” and “MegaEngineering” that say Toronto is lit by Niagara Falls in a full feature about it and pass up mentioning anything about nuclear, seems to me that someone at Ontario Power’s been asleep at the public relations switch.
In the unintentional comedic attempts department the anti nukes are going to pull out all the stops tomorrow in a furious twitter storm. Whats got them all riled up? The mysterious much prophesied yet impossible spent fuel cataclysm. RT (of course) is providing the backdrop.
Fukushima readies for dangerous operation to remove 400 tons of spent fuel ( http://rt.com/news/fukushima-operation-spent-fuel-618/ )
In the worst-case scenario, the pool could come crashing to the ground, dumping the rods together into a pile that could fission and cause an explosion many times worse than in March 2011.
“The worst-case scenario could play out in death to billions of people. A true apocalypse, ” Consolo said.
What will happen when the antinuclear activists cry wolf one more time without a visit from the wolf? We need to be ready with our own storm of people with questioning attitudes and technical understanding of the options.
No one seems to be keeping score Rod. I think thats part of the problem.
RT likes to malign anything that will threaten Gazproms revenue.
And al-Jazeera will also have an incentive to badmouth nuclear, an incentive called “Qatari LNG”.
Except that sooner or later, Qatari like UEA and the Saoudis will start to use nuclear to escape from the Export Land Model and offset as much as possible of their internal consumption with nuclear : http://www.theoildrum.com/node/3018
Maybe they’re already starting to change their nuclear stance :
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/10399576/Qatar-and-Kuwait-in-talks-with-EDF.html “Qatar and Kuwait ‘in talks with EDF over Hinkley Point nuclear stake”
The internet seem to be boiling with doomsday scenarios related to the spent fuel transfer. The RT article refers to the radioactivity of cesium 137 contained in the Unit 4 reactor. (The reactor that had the core removed shortly before the earthquake.)
This apocalyptic scenario has been trotted out every few months since 2011. Russia Today (rt.com) is especially fond of it. Most of the major doom-criers of the anti-nuclear movement have written about it (some several times) as well.
Russia Today is *very* anti-nuke, with one notable exception: they are lavish in their praise of Russian nuclear technology.
There’s also a fellow who writes that if there’s ever a solar storm and/or CME on the order of the one in 1859, every single nuclear reactor will become an “instant Chernobyl”. I haven’t kept up with him, so he’s probably claiming “instant Fukushima” these days.
Yes, indeed: Billions Will Die! But not from nuclear mega-super-duper-hyper catastrophes.
On a related note, I have just discovered that my wife maintains within her household sewing box enough straight pins to permanently blind 500 infants!
I swear this is true!
Millions and millions if they are used more than once you paid straight pin shill!
Geek quibble: The bad guys in Star Trek used disruptors, not phasers.
Sometimes they pick up the phasers from the hapless Red Shirts they just killed off…
Perhaps, but by then, the guy in the red shirt is already dead.
Great article: Funny and spot on! Got to love those Canucks!
Very funny but sadly true. Loved it.
The ‘guards’ or security officers in Star Trek wear yellow shirts, by the way.
Not in the first series, and the phrase remained.
Is this true from William Tucker :
China just passed the United States on total electricity generated
That is some news …
A very futuristics article from Tucker. Nuclear, China and the US dollar:
First wind turbine down in the British storm ( http://www.torquayheraldexpress.co.uk/SOUTH-DEVON-WEATHER-UPDATE-Ferries-events/story-19992556-detail/story.html )
Seems to happen every time a storm blows: BBC News, and scroll to the list of related stories at the end of the page.
The anti nukes are making a point of highlighting the normal precautionary shutdown of Dungeness nuclear power station because of electrical line damage.
Dungeness nuclear power station shuts down following hurricane-strength winds ( http://www.telegraph.co.uk/topics/weather/10409160/Dungeness-nuclear-power-station-shuts-down-following-hurricane-strength-winds.html )
That windmill could have easily killed someone. Another small wind turbine had to be dismantled in the storm by emergency personnel. God knows how many windmills had issues in Europe. But the big news no one is that interested in is that a tree fell in Hounslow, west London and ruptured a gas line creating a bomb that killed at least two and destroyed three houses.
UK storm: Two dead following explosion caused by ruptured gas main in west London ( http://metro.co.uk/2013/10/28/uk-storm-houses-collapse-after-gas-explosion-caused-by-tree-falling-in-west-london-4163605/ )
But energy reality is not as titillating as nuclear fear.
Two people have died here yesterday repairing or checking for storm damage to a wind turbine. Four men were on it when a fire started, two could save themselves, two could not. So horrible. Turbine on fire, in Dutch.
Thanks, I ran it through translate ( http://translate.google.com/ )
Utterly horrific. Why has there been no English media mention of it? There is nothing I can find.
From the video it doesn’t even look like rescue and firefighting equipment could do anything, much less reach it. No automatic fire suppression even?
No, they almost never can. It’s too high for most firefighting equipment. The only thing that can be done is to watch it burn — perhaps shoot a video for You-tube. Nevertheless, the fire crews still need to show up. Their job is to chase down and extinguish all of the little fires that are started from burning debris that is carried on the wind as it falls to earth.
How are you going to get water up there? These turbines are taller than typical water towers, and you’re certainly not going to stick a water tower on each turbine. Thus, you’ll need to pump the water up, which requires power, which probably isn’t available because of the fire.
I suppose that some sort of gas-based fire suppression system could be used, but (1) it would add additional expense to an already capital-intensive form of power generation and (2) the fire system itself would introduce a new hazard for workers.
To John Tuckers complaint about no english media, I found some mention of it in english, here and here.
They seem to be meant more for english speakers with a connection to the Netherlands, no mainstream english media.
More in English:
Two dead after Dutch turbine fire ( http://renews.biz/52979/two-dead-after-dutch-turbine-fire/ )
And I dont know if this outlet ins anti wind but they seem to think this is a rather common occurrence:
DUAL DEATHS IN WIND TURBINE FIRE HIGHLIGHT HAZARDS
The wind industry has long claimed that wind turbine fires are rare. But after creating a Google alert for the term “wind turbine fire,” ECM has received clips from media outlets around the world documenting that in fact, wind turbine fires are far more common than the industry would have prospective buyers believe.
Vestas has been plagued by wind turbine fires in the past. The company blamed a 2011 wind turbine fire on a brake problem. In 2012, a Vestas V-112 wind turbine in Germany caught fire; Vestas blamed the blaze on a loose connection that caused an arc flash. Also in 2012; a similar arc fire occurred in a Vestas V-90 turbine in Spain during maintenance; in addition a Vestas turbine collapsed in Ireland. Then in April 2013, a Vestas V-80 wind turbine in Ontario, Canada, burst into flames. ( http://eastcountymagazine.org/node/14273 )
Arcing seems to be blamed a lot. I wonder if its not a combination of mechanical and electrical problems – like part failure\friction too.
I think there is a bit of media suppression going on. This story should probably be spread even by pro wind advocates as it appears to be a significant safety issue that would factor into repair decisions and planning.
“Better a burning wind turbine than an exploding nuclear reactor.” – Wind station operator Ökostrom Freiburg.
German media focus on turbine fires ( http://www.windpowermonthly.com/article/1218982/german-media-focus-turbine-fires )
Wind power proponents have swept legitimate safety concerns under the carpet far too long.
I dont know how many of you remember the solar groupies cheering on the Juno mission ( a solar – low powered imaging/passive field research mission to Jupiter) as being some kind of ludicrous anti nuclear space proving mission.
Well on a recent slingshot flyby through earths shadow the damn thing broke of course and it looks like solar power was an issue:
Juno Status Report ( http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/juno/news/juno20131023.html#.Um_33bMjulM )
Hopefully they will fix it soon. Should have used nuclear power.
How bad is hydro honestly :
China’s dam boom is an assault on its great rivers ( http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/nov/04/china-dam-hydropower-boom-rivers?commentpage=1 )
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