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99 Comments

  1. Andrew, thanks for this great summary of evolving understanding of spent fuel pool risks.

  2. “Politicians like Senators Boxer, Sanders and Markey should be encouraged to stop bringing up the issue in an attempt to force nuclear power plant operators to spend money on unnecessary movements of used nuclear fuel into expensive dry casks.”
    Perhaps better still: politicians could be encouraged to facilitate the use of SNF as fuel. That could transform SNF from a financial liability into a financial asset.

  3. It was time — probably way past time — to stop spending more valuable time and money on additional analysis. It is also time to reassure people who live anywhere near such facilities that they have no reason to worry about the spent fuel pools, no matter how often activists try to induce fear, uncertainty and doubt.

    The risk goes to zero for a cladding fire (generated from decay heat in a drained pool) … but not for other types of incidents or accidents as documented in these reports: cask drops, severe earthquake, or acts of terrorism (the later of which have not been made available to public because of “sensitive information that could be useful to an adversary”).

    Such accidents (after a year or more of cooling) could potentially result in cladding damage (as described by Australian Physicist) in a large proportion of fuel rods, or significant exposure of general public to radiation (from a terrorist attack or plane strike involving a driving force component for radionuclides contained in damaged spent fuel). In either case, such damage would result in significant contamination inside (and potentially outside) of power plant boundaries, potential risk to workers at operating plants (or plants in SAFESTOR), and a difficult, time consuming, and costly clean-up of accident sites (likely also having indirect impacts on public confidence, regulatory certainty, nuclear options, resource planning, replacement power, etc.).

    Best practices in the industry are to move spent fuel to dry cask storage and then geological isolation (closing the fuel cycle), and not leaving fuel cycle open and keeping spent fuel stored on an “indefinite” basis in temporary cooling pools (close to population centers) outside of reactor containments. Any information provided to the contrary and to detract from long term planning goals, best practices in the industry, and closing the nuclear fuel cycle I find to be questionable, and to harm the long term prospects for public policy and expansion of nuclear power in the US and elsewhere.

    1. You forgot meteor strike and Godzilla attack. (I hear that Godzilla is making a comeback.)

      1. Oh you people just stopping there. Its still not safe. Why are you purposely ignoring the occult sciences? There are demons, zombies and witchcraft to consider. Wraiths, poltergeists and the various hobgoblin species. Sasquatches, yetties, and the known mischievous and having an affinity for spent fuel pools: cheebacabras.

        After all, like El says some person in a country with no nuclear power said in the media he thinks there might be an issue because of a possible process never really observed or documented. So that takes precedence over real energy comparisons and everything we do know and scientific study. Safety being equitable to fear.

        1. Reread EL’s post, then read your own.

          Now, imagine having no knowledge about spent fuel pools, nuclear rods, dry cask storage, etc. Whose post would seem credible and informed?

          Simply braying isn’t argument. Once again, some of you are actually DAMAGING the ability of this site to be percieved as credible. It is a disservice to Rod.

          1. God, what a total turd of a argument. When you want to discus all the assumptions and reasoning errors you made there ill discus my reasoning behind the use of the Reductio ad absurdum in the previous one.

            I thought this was going far off topic. But what a disaster that some of you are so inept. I doubt you are ever going to “get” it when it comes to a complex topic like energy. You dont even really try or care it seems. Stick to politics.

          2. John, looking at your post with a cool head, you are making POA’s argument for him.

          3. I have no problem with POA other than he is assuming a score keeping position with no actual attempt at longterm factual analysis or real score keeping. And that he is not being logical in this matter (although he assumes I am in some conflict with the person he is, am being arrogant and intolerant of him I gather when if anything I admire him for showing up here and am interested in how his history influenced it)

            I think ive also been excruciatingly clear in exactly why post what I do, where and when.

            In the end this is about ELs original claims. Not anyones style, personality, life history or whatever. If you would like to make a sterile argument that POA’s specifically, via whatever mechanism, supports that, feel free. I am listening. (and am actually interested).

            Opinion is a flitting thing,
            But Truth, outlasts the Sun —
            If then we cannot own them both —
            Possess the oldest one —

            -Emily Dickinson

          4. On the argument stuff, we talked about this before as a forum incidentally.

            ( https://atomicinsights.com/how-should-you-respond-to-debate-opponents-who-make-things-up/#respond )

            My response is near the bottom of the page, I still agree with and updating to now:

            I think this situation reveals the perils of remaining silent/non engagement over time with serial fabricators. The only people not ignoring them are probably the ones that have not made up their minds or have put a lot less thought/time into it.

            Silence in argument indicates acceptance or surrender.

            Argument is also not a singular individual process with a forum. Id still rather make a sacrificial ass of myself, cause a reboot, than allow a unreasonable state to continue and worsen while we generally profess a fond, chummy appreciation of grammar, style and civility.

            That is probably why we are here now, concerned about the yearly casualties form fossil fuels, cost, resource depletion and habitat degradation as opposed to achieving and enjoying significantly more clean energy at this point. No one laid the ground rules firmly for legitimate discourse and evaluation.

          5. @JT,

            “…than allow a unreasonable state to continue and worsen…”

            I think POA’s specific point is that some non-silent approaches do actually worsen the situation.

            I agree with both of you; to degrees. Disagreement is a requisite in arguments, however a level of civility is also required. While EL remains civil, long-time commenters, such as yourself, fed up with his incessant obfuscation, jump immediately to outright rebuking his tactics, with little attention paid to content nor construction and conveyance of counter-arguments. This doesn’t contribute significantly to the pro-nukers who read the blog (it’s just preaching to the choir), and is counter-productive to changing the opinions of those unfamiliar with the context of such comments.

            POA has a good point: for example, reading through EL and Rod’s discussion towards the end of this thread, EL put forward and argument; Rod, a counter-argument; EL, half conceding the counter argument; Rod, asserting the concession is still invalid and that the initial argument is still baseless. Rod remains civil and authoritative. This, in my view, is by far the best policy to furthering a cause.

        2. “…some person in a country with no nuclear power said…”

          Oh stop rubbing it in.

    2. @EL

      Any information provided to the contrary and to detract from long term planning goals, best practices in the industry, and closing the nuclear fuel cycle I find to be questionable, and to harm the long term prospects for public policy and expansion of nuclear power in the US and elsewhere.

      You’ve made it abundantly clear in the past several years that you have no desire to enable an expansion of nuclear energy anywhere. Besides, it sure sounds like you want to censor any information that conflicts with what you have declared is the “best practice.”

      IMO, the best practice would be one that doesn’t bother moving fuel to any temporary storage and instead moves it directly to a recycling facility. I have actually watched that system in operation in France, a place where there are no dry storage containers anywhere because all fuel that is cool enough gets transported to La Hague for recycling.

      Moving slightly used fuel to a deep geologic repository is NOT known as “closing the fuel cycle.” It is known as once through then out and it is a cycle that many people who are concerned about human prosperity into the distant future find incredibly wasteful. Used nuclear fuel still contains 95% of its initial potential energy. It should not be isolated from human society; future generations would be justified in cursing us for making access to that resource more difficult than it needs to be.

      1. @Rod Adams

        France has Bure. Recycling doesn’t remove the need (or best practice) of isolation and deep geological repositories.

        If it’s a best practice to remove spent fuel to a recycling facility … let’s do that! I’m not sure why keeping it at a cooling pool, close to population centers, outside of reactor containments, is the next best alternative?

        Nuclear has a long ways to go to solve these problems. It’s not going to get very far, in my estimation, without solving them. It won’t be solved tomorrow, but we should at least have some confidence that the problem won’t get much worse, and that we can expect such issues to be resolved on a commercial (i.e., private industry) basis at some point in the not too distant future. My desire (which you misunderstand) has little to do with it.

        1. @EL

          It won’t be solved tomorrow, but we should at least have some confidence that the problem won’t get much worse, and that we can expect such issues to be resolved on a commercial (i.e., private industry) basis at some point in the not too distant future.

          Private industry had a solution ready to implement in 1976. Actions by the Ford Foundation, led by McGeorge Bundy, with the encouragement of David Rockefeller and his Trilateral Commission (as documented by his own autobiography) convinced the Carter Administration to declare that recycling used nuclear fuel was a proliferation threat.

          The government awarded itself a monopoly on the back end of the fuel cycle and forced nuclear plant licensees to sign a contract with the government to provide the spent fuel services that they had expected would be provided by the private sector at Barnwell.

          That monopoly is still in place, even though the government is 16 years past due on its promise to begin supplying the service by 1998.

          Don’t put this failure on the back of private industry.

          1. @Rod Adams

            According to NEI … the solution proposed by private industry is not economically viable (certainly not with the current uranium price and competitive environment in energy).

            Even if the ban on reprocessing were lifted again, the practice is not economically viable at this time because the cost of nuclear fuel from reprocessing is considerably more expensive than new fuel production, and cost reductions in disposal are not yet evident.

“Reprocessing requires massive and expensive facilities, similar to large chemical plants, that the public or private sector must develop and license with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission,” Fertel said.

He noted that, while reprocessing may have the benefits of further non-proliferation, the costs above what otherwise would be paid for fuel supply and waste disposal should not be borne by consumers.

            So yes … the government has an interest to secure spent fuel that is otherwise not economic to recycle or reprocess, and provide adequate safety, inspection, and oversight of such legacy hazardous waste (consistent with the public interest). This is no different from regulation and oversight of other hazardous materials (generated in manufacturing, mining, other industries, etc.). The nuclear industry has several options for pursuing recycling technologies (including working closely with government, lobbying for new legislation, and financing of their own R&D efforts to bring down costs of recycling). “Closing the nuclear fuel cycle by reprocessing … is used by 12 of the 33 nations that generate nuclear energy and all with ‘some form of government funding,” Fertel said.” (NEI).

            Taken as a whole, there doesn’t seem to me to be a viable private sector alternative that does not involve oversight of a highly technical and challenging public safety and national security interest, and cannot be done (in today’s competitive energy markets) without some form of taxpayer financing (or supplemental costs born by the consumer). Saying that private industry can solve these issues (if just allowed to do so) doesn’t seem to match global experience with these issues. According to GAO, Reagan lifted the deferment policy on reprocessing in 1981, and Allied subsequently cancelled the Barnwell project. The reason they provided: “project could not proceed on a private basis and that reprocessing was commercially impracticable …”

            1. @EL

              As a former businessman, I would like to testify to the near impossibility of attracting financing for an enterprise where there is a proven history of unilateral action by a single person declaring that enterprise to be illegal. That is especially true when the last instance of attempting a start up expended several hundred million dollars and had a facility undergoing final testing when the President put pen to paper and declared used fuel recycling to be contrary to the interests of the United States.

              Yes, lobbying can be done to change the laws and reduce the chances of such an occurrence happening again. However, as you also point out, under current economic conditions, there is no pressing motive for taking that action at this time. Freshly mined uranium is readily available at a low enough current price to make it uneconomical to go to the trouble of trying to change the law or of handling the more radioactive material that was discharged from operating reactors relatively recently.

              However, material prices change over time. Uranium prices have been especially volatile over the past couple of decades after a long quiescent period from about 1980 through the mid 1990s when a pound of uranium cost less than $10.

              That was the other part of the reason that Barnwell closed up shop even after Reagan lifted the ban – the demand for uranium was weak after the building boom of the 1970s ended. It stayed weak as test bans remained in place and as the Berlin Wall fell, releasing many tons of material from weapons-related inventories.

              About the time that oil and gas prices peaked in the 2004-2008 time frame, however, uranium prices also skyrocketed, coincidentally reaching $147 per pound, which was almost exactly the same price as a barrel of oil. The good news from a nuclear advocate point of view, however, was that heat from uranium fission, even at that elevated price, was still several orders of magnitude less per unit that oil heat. At $10 (1980s & 1990s) or at $30 (current) recycling is not economic; at $147 the model results change quite dramatically.

              My answer – store the material in accessible locations and spend only the amount of money that is necessary to provide adequate safety. Don’t add to the cost and the risk of damage by moving the inventory from place to place — by the way, that is one tenant of good inventory management taught in business schools. We have no idea where the recycling facilities are going to be or where the final repository for any materials that are not recoverable will be. (See NNadir’s posts here if you want to learn more about potential uses for various components of used fuel. No one is using it to its full potential yet. There is plenty of room for innovation.)

              If there is room in spent fuel pools, that is an adequately safe place for it. If the plant operators find that they would be better off storing the material in licensed dry casks, that is also an adequately safe place.

          2. that is one tenant of good inventory management

            I wonder what the terms of the lease are?  (ba-dum-CUSH!)

          3. That is especially true when the last instance of attempting a start up … had a facility undergoing final testing …

            @Rod Adams

            For a different version of this history, you might want to consult the 1982 article in the New Republic: “Nuclear White Elephant.” Two incidents figured prominently to seal the fate of this plant (with Carter playing a relatively minor role). TMI and rising uranium inventories (as you describe). Decommissioned weapons stock came much later (long after the plant had been abandoned). And India detonating a nuclear device in 1974 from plutonium separated at its “civil” reprocessing facility at Trombey. Deferment wasn’t an irrational action by a single individual acting immorally against the interests of nuclear, but a specific and reasonable response to much larger world historical events. TMI much the same. And Barnwell got a significant second look several years later under Reagan (with deferment policy lifted), and still couldn’t make a go of it.

            If “Private industry had a solution ready to implement in 1976” (which is your original claim), it sure doesn’t look that way on closer inspection. And I really don’t think all of this can be placed at the foot of Carter (with larger historical and industry specific and local circumstances in the mix). Two efforts preceded Barnwell: “The facility at Morris, Illinois, never was brought on line because of faulty design and construction. The plant at West Valley, New York, operated only intermittently between 1966 and 1971. It eventually was shut down because of radiation leaks and high exposure levels to workers, leaving the state of New York with a billion-dollar cleanup and 600,000 gallons of liquid, high-level waste on the premises.” By the time the Barnwell plant was being re-considered in 1981, nobody wanted to touch it. Its longtime cheerleader (James B. Edwards, former governor of South Carolina and then Energy Secretary under Reagan) was calling it obsolete. When offered up for sale, Allied (and it’s oil industry partners) could not find a buyer.

            Given the current scope of these development efforts, it appears we are NOT talking about private industry options, but are talking about coordinated government and public spending options. And they seem to require much higher energy prices (as you suggest) and a coordinated research and development program (of several decades) to bring to feasibility. Our challenges getting spent fuel inventories out of temporary cooling pools at reactor sites, and into interim and permanent storage facilities, seem to be much smaller hurdle in contrast, and yet another example of significant public supports and private industry challenges along the same lines. If we’re going to bring to market the long held notion of recycling (on a global basis no less), I’m not sure we have a clear picture of how this would work on a significant scale. Likely a topic for another time. Given nuclear is already having a difficult time competing against lower cost (and lower risk) alternatives, I have my doubts. When the small hurdles prove too difficult to clear, I’m not sure what can be said for the larger ones (even with someone like Reagan and an Energy Secretary like James B. Edwards taking command of the rudder).

            1. @EL

              I never said Carter was solely responsible. I’m pretty sure that I pointed out that he was following the advice of McGeorge Bundy’s Ford Foundation study. He was also strongly influenced by Ralph Nader, who helped him win the election by throwing his considerable (at the time) support to the little known governor from Georgia. I also mentioned David Rockefeller and his Trilateral Commission, which was another source of financial support and numerous Carter Administration cabinet members.

              Your interpretation of history is rather conventional and not terribly well informed by understanding the incredible financial implications of the potential of the “plutonium economy.” There were plenty of major players working hard to force the abandonment of nuclear fuel recycling, breeder reactors and aggressive building programs.

              It is interesting to me that Richard Nixon made his strongest nuclear advocacy speeches AFTER Watergate, when any policy that received an endorsement from him was almost guaranteed to result in opposition from all liberal Democrats.

    3. Best practices in the industry are to move spent fuel to dry cask storage and then geological isolation (closing the fuel cycle), and not leaving fuel cycle open

      If we needed any more proof that you have no idea what you’re talking about, that would do it.  “Closing the fuel cycle” involves reprocessing spent fuel and return of all fertile and fissile materials to reactors.  Geological isolation of anything except fission products is part of an open fuel cycle.

      It’s time for you to crawl back under your rock.  I hear rock shields radiation well, you should be safe there.

        1. BAS,
          Thank you for coming here and “trying on” your new interpretation of “closing the fuel cycle”. It fit funny and was off color.

          Are you going to wear it for a less technically sophisticated audience?

    4. The Andrew Yule comment is the “Australian Physicist” from your comment EL ?? He didnt say anything or make any speculative comments about “cask drops, severe earthquake, or acts of terrorism”. He didn’t really comment or speculate on plant safety at all.

      “Cladding damage”? No he was specific about heat related circumstances and modeling. Decay heat to be exact. ( As in “Removal from the reactor” )

      Why did you say that?

      And also he is a health physicist and computer modeler.

      From above:

      “This advanced modeling is substantially more accurate than modeling using SHARP and matches physical experiments well.

      From this we can see how our understanding of spent fuel in an exposed storage fuel has changed: Assuming it will be fine -> basic modeling indicating a potential issue in a worst case situation -> detailed modeling showing the there really isn’t a problem, including calculating actual limits that need to be observed and how long it will all take. ”

      Why no one else here pointed that out is particularly irritating.

      You completely misconstrued the man’s comments and context like it was some random affirmation of your “theory”. And then a attack that would spread spent fuel over a significant area ? Like a huge bomb – that would cause far more casualties used on its own against a populated target as opposed to at a nuclear plant and probably waiting decades for a few potential radiation related casualties (if it was possible to get that much material airborne for a significant distance and the weather was totally cooperative, and initial exposures were high enough before emergency measures).

      “Expose the public ” – You are making this up as you go.

      1. @John T. Tucker

        I have no idea what you are talking about here. You seem to be not following the conversation very closely, attributing comments to me that I have not made, not reading the comments from Yule (“Australian Physicist”) or understanding their context, or all of the above.

        You need to calm down, and approach this discussion in a more deliberate manner. And yes … I agree with you, this is “particularly irritating.”

  4. Why doesn’t “EL” do some research and determine why the SFP has 2, 3, 4 times as much fuel as originally designed for? Hint – Nevada?
    Why doesn’t “EL” do some research as to why they are keeping this “dangerous” stuff on sight? Hint – Nevada.
    Why doesn’t “EL” do some basic thermodynamics and consider the volume of the SFP, the surface area of the SFP, the Boron concentration of the SFP, the heat content of the fuel in the SFP (No chance of criticality wet or dry so it is all “decay” heat) and determine how long the “boil time” is for one week, one month and one year after offloading 1/3 of the core (normal refueling offload)? Look also at the effect on these calculations from adding just the water available from the typical garden hose to the SFP to make up for the increased evaporation loss due to this heating. Then go back and do the same calculation with what would be in the SFP if it was used as originally designed – Temporary storage until it cools off enough to send to safe storage by the government!

    So, who is causing the problem?

    1. Rich – Is that a trick question?

      Naturally, it’s because EL is a troll (whether paid or not is irrelevant, but I do note that he is conveniently anonymous) whose sole purpose here is to disrupt any message that Rod is trying to get out and to undermine any intelligent discussion in the comment sections here.

      1. Oh crap, here we go again……

        Its obvious Rod understands the wisdom of responding to EL with science and civility. After all, you may disagree with EL, and even question his motives, but an unbiased observer cannot help but notice that it is comments such as YOURS that “undermine any intelligent discussion”.

        EL laid out his argument in a civil manner, without an attack on Rod or the using sarcasm or ad hominem. You are doing EXACTLY what the anti-nuke sites are routinely accused of doing. Thats not obvious to you?

        You’d think you wouldn’t need to be told this “stuff”, Brian. Its really just common sense.

        By the way, my name is Jon Hall, and I am a 62 year old finish carpenter/cabinet/furniture maker living in Stallion Springs CA, just outside of Tehachapi, just in case you’re thinking about doing your standard whine and snivel about a commenter’s desire to use an internet psuedonym.

        It might suprise you to know that some us us WANT both sides of the argument. And I can assure you the Rod is doing an excellent job of presenting his case, WITHOUT your spit and venom UNDERMINING ANY INTELLIGENT DISCUSSION.

        1. Some of you might want to ask Rod how he feels about having a website that simply preaches to the choir. I really don’t think that would serve the NE community in any constructive manner. Rod gets it, and it would certainly aid his efforts if a few of you would make an equal effort to “get it”.

          It is the opponents such as EL that provide Rod’s opportunity to engage in a point/counterpoint exchange that is highly informative to those of us that are truly seeking answers and understanding to fill a void of knowledge. If in fact EL is selling snake oil, you must allow people like myself to see BOTH sides of the debate, so we can draw our own conclusions. Spitting out accusations of “trolling” at people who present civil and on topic opposing argument is counter-productive, childish, and irritating. So too is telling someone to “get back under thier rock”. Truth is, EL’s efforts here ENHANCE the discussion, and provide Rod with the opportunity to inform and present his case. Really, the blog could use a few more commenters that present dissenting opinion. It is those kinds of debates that teach us the most.

          Wise up.

          1. Horrific reasoning enhances discussion? What a insult to this forum. This is where all the grammatical appreciation posts regarding EL “work” fall irrecoverably down. Bad reasoning begets more bad reasoning. You cannot build a argument on it later. Even acknowledging some validity in aesthetic style and structure corrupts later arguments by placing methodology on the same footing as logic.

            Look up logic sometime:

            : a proper or reasonable way of thinking about or understanding something…
            : the science that studies the formal processes used in thinking and reasoning ( http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/logic )

            Were this not a scientific or factual discussion, of course, other methodology would be valid. Style would be a more important factor.

            Some things just don’t mix well. No matter how pretty they might look together.

        2. I’m with POA Jon on this one. As a non-nuke, but an interested, intelligent observer, he offers up a mirror to those of us who are advocates in terms of how we are publicly perceived.

          I know that Brian’s professional background/knowledge in nuclear technology far exceeds that of EL. But the latter’s calm persistence and well-written (I didn’t say “correct”) arguments are attractive to the fence-sitters who are waiting to be convinced.

          I am no stranger to the joys of sarcasm and snark, but I have to make an adjustment when readership includes those uncommitted as to the benefits of nuclear energy. When playing to the home crowd, it is great fun – but in other venues, as we have seen, those characteristics are off-putting.

          As to SNF transfer to dry casks, no evolution involving that material is entirely without risk or occupational radiation dose. The NRC has correctly determined that the risk of hundreds of unnecessary fuel handlings outweighs the minuscule risk of it remaining in thick reinforced concrete stainless steel lined pools, it’s decay heat load and radioactivity gradually decaying off until the site is decommissioned, or a new administration revives the closed fuel cycle philosophy.

          1. The problem is that EL uses a form of deception in which he masks his dismissal of valid dissenting points in his elegant writing and then proceeds to use this forum to post his lies and obfuscations in reasonable sounding language, while completely sidestepping the complete rebuttals he has already received.

            He’s a master at the art form. But it is simply a refinement of the method you see from pathological liars. His delivery is so smooth, it’s difficult to see that that is what he is doing. I suspect we are simply honing his skills.

          2. Jeff….

            If it is “lies and obsfucations” that EL is peddling, than you must have a pretty low opinion of Rod’s and your own ability to expose them as such. Personally, I find Rod’s rebuttals to be sound argument, if not completely convincing to those of us new to the debate.

            I suggest you imagine removing EL, and those that offer opposing argument, from the commentary here. Then what would this blog have to offer for those such as myself? What opportunity would be presented for Rod, and those such as yourself to expose and counter these alleged “lies and obsfucations”? Would you prefer that those such as myself go to the “anti-sites” to see what kind of argument is offered against the claims of the pro-nuke community?

            Sometimes its hard to recognize that that this is a site that prides itself on sound science and argument, if one considers the way some here react to scepticism or opposing argument. You should welcome the debate, and see it as opportunity. And those peddling “lies and obsfucations” should be the easiest to expose as frauds. So whats the problem?

            Just stick to the topic, counter civil opposing argument with the same, and give those of us new to the debate enough respect to realize that we aren’t idiots, and reasonable argument supported by factual and presentable evidence will eventually carry the day. But we need to make up our own minds, sans the distraction of petty accusatory horseshit, like was offered by a couple of commenters on this thread.

          3. @Jeff Walther

            Why not just respond to the substantive issues about nuclear and other energy topics (and just leave it at that). I appreciate that you think my writing is elegant (and thank you for the compliment), but this in no way precludes you from making elegant arguments of your own. I’m not sure why you view obfuscation as synonymous with elegant writing (Rod is very good at this at well). I would think this is something to encourage on the site and not diminish or attack? It certainly makes it a heck of a lot more interesting and engaging to read (and I would hazard to guess is a net positive for the site, and not a negative). I make every effort to substantiate my views with credible links, etc. Perhaps this is a practice that should be more broadly enjoyed by others on the site (rather than backhanded slaps and character scrums). I don’t do this, and most people who have a serious interest in making constructive (and thoughtfully engaging) contributions to this site don’t do this either.

            I enjoy it when we have a serious and constructive debate, and yes I hone my skills in these discussions. Aren’t you honing your skills as well? Why are you presuming these discussions are one sided (and you don’t benefit as well from thoughtful and critical engagement on the issues)?

            BTW … I’ve been spending my time this morning reading about Barnwell and have a comment in the queue in response to Rod’s comment above (it seems two links trigger the spam filter … at least in my case). It’s a really fascinating issue. I wouldn’t mind hearing what you have to say about it. Once the comment gets published, I hope we can have a thoughtful exchange on the issue (and perhaps both add to our understanding of these challenging issues and concerns).

          4. “(it seems two links trigger the spam filter … at least in my case)”

            My posts are not appearing as well, even without links. I’m beginning to think the “spam filter” might actually be sentient. That would be a huge disappointment to me. It would definitely be the end of my participation here.

            1. @POA

              Please accept my apologies for the behavior of the automated spam filter. I have no idea what triggers it, though EL is correct on at least one of the triggers.

              If it makes you feel any better, PP’s comments nearly always get routed to spam, many of BM’s, also seem to go there. Again, I do not have the source code.

          5. I dont know if the common model we use for “convincing” (how we want to think we think) is necessarily how the process actually works over time. Im also not sure if there is such a thing as a “fence sitter” that doesn’t have a combination very specific and strong opinions, usually based in other beliefs.

          6. “Why not just respond to the substantive issues about nuclear and other energy topics (and just leave it at that). I appreciate that you think my writing is elegant (and thank you for the compliment), but this in no way precludes you from making elegant arguments of your own. I’m not sure why you view obfuscation as synonymous with elegant writing (Rod is very good at this at well).”

            I don’t know where you got the idea that I consider them synonymous. I know my limits. I am neither as skilled a writer as you, nor as well versed in the topic at hand to see through all of the obfuscations that you use. You are truly skilled at this. However, you are eloquent in order to confuse and hide supported facts. Rod writes elegantly in an effort to find reality.

            But, you are not an honest debater. You intentionally continue to ignore clearly made and well supported points which undermine your entire position. When rebutted, you return to restate your falsehoods again and again, sliding around rebuttals and subtley changing the subject without actually ever addressing the rebuttal. Occasionally, you concede a minor point to appear reasonable.

            It is a tactic I have seen again and again amongst the anti-nuclear movement, but never so skillfully carried out, except, perhaps when Lovins stopped by for a few comments.

            “I would think this is something to encourage on the site and not diminish or attack? It certainly makes it a heck of a lot more interesting and engaging to read (and I would hazard to guess is a net positive for the site, and not a negative).”

            If you were an honest debater interested in education and joining together to reach well reasoned and researched positions, I would agree that it is something to encourage. However, you are here to confuse and bewilder and mislead with reasonable sounding words that ignore supported facts where inconvenient and continue to beat the same tired drum of falsehoods that we have come to know so well. When cornered you will facily change the subject to some other issue you can confuse.

            Your goal is clearly not to clarify and research but to make sure that undecided lurkers are presented with a set of bewildering lies which are too tangled to unwind.

            “I make every effort to substantiate my views with credible links, etc. Perhaps this is a practice that should be more broadly enjoyed by others on the site (rather than backhanded slaps and character scrums). I don’t do this, and most people who have a serious interest in making constructive (and thoughtfully engaging) contributions to this site don’t do this either. ”

            Most of us aren’t being paid for the effort. You’ve been provided with the links and support for the counter arguments at one time or another. You arrogantly ignore them in the next thread that you pollute.

            You are correct that having you here is an opportunity to sharpen debating skills of a sort. But they’re not skills of a debate meant to clarify and reach truth. The skills you practice are the skills of the adverserial advocate where the truth is only acknowledged when it helps to advance your cause, and never when it might lead to greater understanding.

            I will concede the possibility that you actually are a more or less honest debater whose goals are so far from anything that I would recognize as the well being of society that it’s just not possible for your conclusions to make any sense. But if that is the case, it should be apparent to an honest man by now, how different your goals are and you should have stated them explicitly to facilitate the discussion.

            Note to POA: I would agree with you if EL were an honest representative of opposing views trying to achieve greater understanding. But his real goal is clearly to confuse and obfuscate. He may still be welcome, as a type of opponent that Rod must face and is therefore useful to practice against, but I don’t find his arguments the least bit useful or enlightening. I’ve dealt wtih too many pathological liars (who act similarly out of involuntary compulsion, rather than willfully as EL does) in my life to welcome someone who uses the same “debating” tactics.

          7. One more thought for P. O. A.

            All the anti-nuclear folks I’ve run into on the internet who seem to be paid shills, unreasonable amounts of time available for responses, only one to a forum, etc. use a similar technique. When confronted and rebutted, they ignore the rebuttal, or appear to start a conter-argument, but then slide away from it and simply restate their conclusions in a different way without really ever addressing the meat of the rebuttal.

            Most of them are just not very good at it and can be pretty well defeated by using similar techniques with more supporting facts — but not so many that the writing becomes tiresome for casual reading.

            It is not hard to imagine that when they are hired, they are given a quick bit of training or instruction manual which explains this technique to avoid actually substantively engaging on topics where they will lose.

            However, EL seems to be the father of these internet monsters, these information vandals with the technique honed to a T. If you doubt that there are paid shills operating for the anti-nuclear movement you need only look back through the comments in older articles for the comment where Peter Bradford basically offered BAS a job.

          8. I find EL not so much elegant (Jeff Walther, June 12, 12:11 PM, higher up in this thread) as longwinded. I usually read his posts diagonally and only if someone else’s answer or rebuttal seems to indicate EL had actually said something interesting, I go back to his post.
            I tend to lose attention to ELs posts quite quickly and I can’t determine if that’s a byproduct of his style or deliberate.

          9. Most of us aren’t being paid for the effort. You’ve been provided with the links and support for the counter arguments at one time or another. You arrogantly ignore them in the next thread that you pollute … I’ve dealt wtih too many pathological liars (who act similarly out of involuntary compulsion, rather than willfully as EL does) in my life to welcome someone who uses the same “debating” tactics.

            @Jeff Walther.

            I’m going to politely ask you to stop this blather. You seem to be going on and on about it (and it is rather annoying). It has nothing to do with the topic on hand.

            If you think I have lied about something (preferably a matter of relevance to energy policy or issues), please give a specific example (and lets discuss it). Otherwise, there’s nothing here to reply to. You’re spouting off, and seem to be getting a little unhinged.

            Rod posted a lead article that originated in a previous thread (in which my comment is specifically mentioned, and a reply from another contributor on the site). The substance and citations for this discussion continue from the previous thread. I presume you read the lead article closely enough to be fully aware of this (and the context for the discussion here). Isn’t it my prerogative to continue this discussion in this new setting and context? I’m not sure why you find my contributions unusual (or motivated by anything else but my own interest in the topic, and desire to explore issues in energy that are meaningful to me, and presumably to other members on the site).

            If you have anything meaningful to add to this discussion … now would be a pretty good time to start. We’re wading through some deep ad hominem from you searching for a kernel of something relevant. Care to help us out some, I’m hungry for some nourishing morsels (and have had my fill of such noisy and distracting soup).

          10. “If it makes you feel any better, PP’s comments nearly always get routed to spam, many of BM’s, also seem to go there”

            Oh my. I missed it on my first reading of your comment.

            “PP” and “BM”?

            Now Rod, did you do that on purpose?

            In any case, thanks for the chuckle.

            1. @POA

              I rarely write anything without carefully considering the words I use. I am, after all, a loving grandfather of young children. Glad you enjoyed a chuckle.

    2. Which is not such a huge problem. Once it’s cool enough to be sent to safe storage, it’s also cool enough to not heat that much the pool.
      It can be sent to safe storage once it doesn’t emit too much gamma radiation anymore, but this is also when locally the risk gets much lower.

    3. Why doesn’t “EL” do some research and determine why the SFP has 2, 3, 4 times as much fuel as originally designed for? Hint – Nevada?
      Why doesn’t “EL” do some research as to why they are keeping this “dangerous” stuff on sight? Hint – Nevada.

      @Rich

      I comment on Yucca issues frequently on site (to cite just one example). This is an important context to my comments here (as you are suggesting). Yucca is a defunct process and is unlikely to go anywhere (for numerous reasons I have already discussed on the site). Holding out hopes for a change is a non-starter (and nuclear advocates should be pursuing workable solutions, based on best practices and historical experience on these issues, and moving the issue forward). There are many ways to do this. Faulting the government for the difficult challenges of siting these facilities and declaring game over does not advance these issues.

      1. Faulting the government for the difficult challenges of siting these facilities and declaring game over

        Disingenously written.  We fault anti-nukes like you for hyping the dangers of anything involving nuclear energy, and using the tactic of holding up the fuel repository to back up fuel at the plant sites in an attempt to force them to shut down.

        It is ironic that the antis were frustrated and wailed about dangers when the industry moved to dry-cask storage to bypass the constipated disposal process, and now the antis want everything moved to dry casks.  Such a pattern of behavior proves vexatious intent.

        1. @E-P

          now the antis want everything moved to dry casks.

          I know a bit of inside information about the business practices of a major dry cask storage supplier based on several conversations with former employees who could not stomach the tactics.

          I would not be at all surprised if that company was supplying talking points and financial incentives to politicians and opposition groups who are marketing dry casks pretty intensively.

          Selling casks at $1+ million per unit is a pretty good business, especially if you can increase sales with a minor investment in the politics.

          1. Yes, Rod, the cask mfgrs have an incentive (and opportunity).  But the fact that the anti-nuke groups turned 180° on their previous talking points, in return for money or not, is proof of their perfidy.

            1. @E-P

              IMO the antinuclear groups have been quite consistent – they actively want to impose as much additional cost as possible. A related goal is to impose as much schedule burden and uncertainty using whatever means are at their disposal. That means that changing the specific technical recommendations is part of their long term strategy.

              Outside of waste, think about the recommended alternatives. First it was coal, then renewables, then natural gas, then gas plus renewables.

              My working theory is that the decision makers in most of the leading groups are well aware of their real mission – maintain the competitive advantages of coal, oil and natural gas.

          2. IMO the antinuclear groups have been quite consistent – they actively want to impose as much additional cost as possible.

            Rod… that’s their real goal.  But there avowed reasons for concern have completely reversed.  First dry casks were dangerous, now they’re the only safe option?  The public should know about the reversal, and the agenda it reveals.

            My working theory is that the decision makers in most of the leading groups are well aware of their real mission

            But the public isn’t.  The ever-changing demands should be used to reveal it.

          3. First dry casks were dangerous, now they’re the only safe option?  The public should know about the reversal, and the agenda it reveals.

            @Engineer-Poet

            There’s no reversal … you’re just entirely confused about reasoning and sequence (and are seeing hidden motives where there aren’t any). Most people would prefer to have spent fuel rods moved out of their community (especially if stored on an indefinite basis in dense configurations in cooling ponds not designed for that purpose outside of reactor containments). Geological storage is the preferred option. The next best option is dry cask storage (which alleviates fuel density in wet cooling pools and has some security advantages over spent fuel storage). This doesn’t mean onsite dry casks are a preferred option, and it doesn’t mean they are held up as an inherently safe option. It means they are a poor second choice (baring more reasonable, permanent, cost effective, and available alternatives).

            Let’s try and minimize the straw man arguments (meant to reveal secret hidden motives). Just plain old routine arguments are good for now, and regular motives (that most people who are familiar with these issues can plainly understand and recognize).

            1. @EL

              and are seeing hidden motives where there aren’t any

              In a way, I agree with you. There is no excuse for anyone who favors nuclear energy to fail to see the poorly hidden motives of nuclear energy critics. Despite any claims to the contrary and associated efforts to hide motives, the actual motives are quite clear – make it as difficult, time consuming and expensive as possible to use nuclear energy. That makes it a less attractive investment and is the surest way to slow its growth.

              Some have this motive because they idealistically wish for a simpler time when there were fewer people on the planet and weather-dependent energy flows — supplemented by forced human labor — were sufficient for the elites to live comfortable lives.

              Others have this motive because they are honestly fearful of radiation and nuclear energy and actually believe that there is an indisputable relationship between nuclear energy, nuclear weapons and nuclear warfare.

              Finally, and I personally believe that this is the most prevalent and powerful motive, there are people who believe that allowing nuclear energy to play on anything close to a level playing field will harm their ability to market competitive products at a sufficiently profitable price.

        2. “It is ironic that the antis were frustrated and wailed about dangers when the industry moved to dry-cask storage to bypass the constipated disposal process, and now the antis want everything moved to dry casks”

          I was unaware that the antis were anti dry-cask storage in the past. Certainly, I will expend some time to check that assertion. Can you provide fodder for my search?

          Tell me, EP, had EL not of commented, is that information that I would have been subjected to, absent your rebuttal?

          1. Dry casks prevented the shutdown of plants with full fuel pools, frustrating the goals of the anti-nuclear groups.  However, all the recent news items reflect the new reality of dry casks as a cost burden on NPP owners.

  5. I’m in agreement with POA also, but that said I concur with AR & JW’s assessment of the el. The guy is very good at his job, and all the flags are there. For one he appears to have a huge database available at his fingertips, for “anti” responses in several areas. Even real experts stick with one subject, and take some time to look up & find references for rebuttals. I imagine his job manual has a large “folder” subsystem, and his “cheat sheet” says post this for that, etc. Most of which he’s never read. I will apologize for a slightly non-civil comment, and judgmental attitude. However my excuse is when I think of “motive for” and “consequences of” that type of behavior… well, that’s just my excuse.

  6. “For one he appears to have a huge database available at his fingertips, for “anti” responses in several areas.”

    Can’t the same be said for Rod’s advocacy? What is wrong with EL having a database to “support” his argument, whether he is a troll or not? Frankly, he’d be a jackass NOT to have a supportive ( at least in his opinion) database.

    “I imagine his job manual has a large “folder” subsystem, and his “cheat sheet” says post this for that, etc”

    This kind of speculation, without confirmation, can only be considered as absurd and trite. On virtually every internet site dealing with controversial subject matters, you constantly see this kind of accusation trotted out towards any opposing commenter that offers well written comment that is supported by a seemingly extensive volume of supportive linkage.

    No doubt paid trolls exist. My interest in the policies and actions of the Israeli government have convinced me of this reality. The Israelis even have a name for it, “hasbara.” But raely, in fact, NEVER, have I seen irrefutable proof of an individual commenter’s participation in such an endeavor. So whats the point in making the accusation? Counter EL’s arguments if you can, but leave the crap out of the debate.

    Rod was doing just fine until you guys jumped in. Now, WHO derailed intelligent discussion? It sure as hell wasn’t EL.
    .

    1. @POA

      Can’t the same be said for Rod’s advocacy?

      Thank you for the kind words. I have a pretty fair “dead tree” library, a reasonable facility with search tools, a deep database of articles and links here on Atomic Insights, and some people over the years have complimented me on my memory for certain details that others might find trivial.

      Energy has been my passion for nearly 50 years – I date the start of that interest at age 8. I hope by now I am getting pretty good at the arguments for my favorite sources and against less capable choices.

    2. What is wrong with EL having a database to “support” his argument

      Because his database, if it exists, was crafted specifically to disinform.  He gets many basic things completely wrong, things verifiable with a half-minute of typing terms into search engines.  That shows a complete lack of any good-faith effort to seek trustworthy information.

      Counter EL’s arguments if you can, but leave the crap out of the debate.

      Propagandists, whether knowing or duped, should be called out wherever and whenever found.  We know astroturf is a real phenomenon.  We have to name it, shame it and neutralize it.

      Energy has been one of my passions for just about as long as Rod (I can’t put a date on it but mine may be older than his).  I’ve been stuffing my brain with facts for going on 5 decades, and the age of the Internet makes it easier than ever to cite sources to demonstrate a claim to be either firm or baseless.  There’s no excuse for letting obvious falsehoods go unchallenged any longer.

      1. Speaking of crafted specifically to disinform…

        While researching for non-technical but authoritative sources to rebut a writer in a Colorado journal who claimed that the Fukushima unit 4 SFP had “burst into flames” (a surprisingly difficult task using Google terms “Fukushima spent fuel fire”, since, other than AI, the first dozen pages return mostly FUD) I came across the Wiki article for “Fukushima_Daiichi_units_4,_5_and_6”. [avoiding auto spam filter]

        Apparently a cadre of anti editors there go to great efforts to continue to maintain that fiction. If anyone has the spare time to police this, it could be just as easily corrected, but be prepared to make it your life’s work. There is no one so tireless as a religious zealot, especially for a religion that combines the Hell of radiophobia with the Heaven of Renewables.

        The journal article is at “www.hcn.org/issues/46.10/the-leak-heard-round-the-nuclear-industry”

          1. Much better, nice job. Let’s see how long it sticks.

            Still have this FUD in first paragraph however – “On 15 March, an explosion damaged the fourth floor rooftop area of the unit 4 reactor; the source of the explosion is still unknown, although it is speculated to be due to hydrogen generation in the spent fuel pool.”

          2. EP, your change has been anonymously canceled without motivation which is a good reason to reinstore it if we can show you had included proper source for your changes.

            However at first sight, the sourcing is not as detailed as will be useful in this specific case:
            – “A hand-written summary of a conference call, taken by an aide to then-NRC chairman Gregory Jazcko” => Where is the source for that ? It’s not in the linked document just below which is http://www.latimes.com/news/science/la-fg-japan-reactor-damage-20110406,0,6240900.story
            – fuel ejection, “this was later found to be in error” : Would be better to have a source of the NRC recognizing the error.
            – “were found to be erroneous; later reports clarified that the fire did not involve the fuel pool” : Please give a link to one precise such report.

            I was about to included my own changes to the start of the article, with sources proving TEPCO statement and incident analysis is that the hydrogen came from Unit 3, might be useful to do even before you do any change :
            See Investigation of the cause of hydrogen
            explosion at the Unit 4 Reactor Building – http://www.nsr.go.jp/archive/nisa/shingikai/700/14/240724/BT-3-1.pdf
            and
            http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS_Theory_for_Fukushima_Daiichi_4_explosion_1705111.html

          3. The ANS paper is paywalled, Rod.

            I re-reverted the reversion.  I’m trying to find contact info for the admins to have them ban anonymous edits on that page.

          4. I stuck my neck out and unreverted the revert of your changes, giving my reasons on the talk page.

          5. Argh, looks like we were editing at the same time. Your post won. Anyway, job done.

          6. Nice work guys – unfortunately there are dozens if not hundreds of those throughout Wikiland, and they require periodic monitoring. NEI? ANS?

            Again, great effort.

            Now then – despite sending her a plethora of authoritative references, if I could only get this Colorado journo to retract her misinformation…

            So much FUD, so little time.

  7. “There’s no excuse for letting obvious falsehoods go unchallenged.”

    Then challenge them. Rod seems quite adept at it, without having to resort to the kind of crap exhibited by some of you, that adds nothing to the debate. A couple of commenters here seem to only contribute derision. What has Brian or Tucker said on this thread that is an enhancement to Rod’s efforts here? Frankly, it sours the reasoning behind coming here.

    1. He did. See several of his posts above. That you cannot seem to remember a few posts ago or recognize a on topic referenced argument or quality and relevant sources from a potato, doesn’t help your point.

      1. “He did. See several of his posts above”

        I see Rod removed my original response to this comment. Regrettable, but understandable. I attached a pseudonym to you that was apt and deserved, but inappropriate to the forum. Some honesties are best left unsaid. Suffice to say that you’ve conducted yourself on this thread in exactly the manner one would expect from you.

        I noticed EP’s challenges. My suggestion that he “challenge them” was offered as a general argument, not as an accusation that he hadn’t done so.

        I see too that you finally saw fit to actually offer argument against EL’s assertions, instead of just drooling your normal and expectable spittle. You oughta nurture that germ of intelligence that finally motivated such an action. Perhaps it’ll grow into something resembling character.

        1. Heheh, lord. I doubt it. Its a bit late for that.

          I missed your post. I guarantee you ive been called worse. So whatever. Chances are ill forget even having this discussion in a day or so.

          I notice EL still cant provide decent reference for his opinions. Saying basically the same things over and over (and over and over and over) doesn’t make them true. He doesn’t like nuclear power. He doesn’t like the rules for logical discourse either because he cannot “win.” So its forever this hodge podge of vague facts, substandard sources, innuendo and invalid argumentative forms.

          It literally can and will go on forever unless ground rules are laid. That incidentally is my main beef with most of the nuke “professionals.” They have allowed it and let it slide too long.

          I wonder if you considered it? The reason it seems we “gang up” on the antis here is that they are eventually required here to have reasonable reference AND perspective in their arguments. To be specific in their criticisms.

          Have you ever considered they always seem to fail because they might be generally dishonest and inept? Probably not. You just think, like them, that the rules should be about something other than reasoned science and logic.

          Its strange to me, as I was a art major that I am the one constantly ranting about this. But with all the things like Critical theory ( http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/critical-theory/ ) hammered into us in the arts perhaps its not so strange I like to keep the ground level and the rules specific. Else I know you are going to end up where, with respect to science and reasoned choices, you should not be.

          I really enjoyed reading Jeff’s comments above too BTW.

          El response had me almost falling out of my chair too:

          I’m going to politely ask you to stop this blather. You seem to be going on and on about it (and it is rather annoying). It has nothing to do with the topic on hand.

          Classic. You could not make this stuff up.

          1. “The reason it seems we “gang up” on the antis here is that they are eventually required here to have reasonable reference AND perspective in their arguments”

            Suddenly two or three abrasive jackasses are a “gang”? Gee, who coulda guessed it?

          2. You just think, like them, that the rules should be about something other than reasoned science and logic.

            Like the “reasoned science and logic” exhibited by spitting ad hominem, and accusations of trolling, being paid to troll, etc. Like “get back under your rock”. Like “Thats a turd of a comment”?

            I am no stranger to an art background. I went to, but did not graduate from, the Art Center College of Design. Prior to its move to Pasadena. At that time it was on West Third in L.A.. The draw of the sixties was more powerful than my desire for a structured education. I have no regrets.

            This is not the forum to parade my contributions to society through my sense of form and design. Suffice to say I’ve had a rewarding and productive career, that continues to this day. I recognize talent when I see it, and commend personal devotion to one’s talent. It is one of the reasons I have come to respect our host here.

            I also recognize arrogance and unrestrained ego. Thats a bit harder to find respect for. Perhaps thats why an exchange with you is like grating my fingernails over a chalkboard.

          3. Oh, someone had said something like:

            “Some of you might want to ask Rod how he feels about having a website that simply preaches to the choir. I really don’t think that would serve the NE community in any constructive manner. ”

            and

            “Sometimes its hard to recognize that that this is a site that prides itself on sound science and argument, if one considers the way some here react to scepticism or opposing argument.”

            My bad thinking it was you. We can discus it more when its not “miller time” I suppose. Anywho I wonder if you still remember we have not seen any sources for that original EL opinion yet? or any in general for his comments? I guess he did cite himself back there somewhere. Is that enough? A new topic comment is forthcoming too I hear. Thats exciting.

            None of this is new or unusual behavior for EL. And yes people say things that can seem not nice sometimes; or always, guaranteed in any discussion open to multiple perspectives. There indeed will always be the opportunity and the chance of misinterpretation and insult when it comes to even the most “civil” forum. Probably just as a result of the “civil” label, if it is forced on it. You are an adult, navigate your way through it and give a thoughtful and logical assessment beyond what one would expect from a concern troll ( http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Concern_troll ).

            Can you not do that? No ? Perhaps you need the abrasive jackassing. You sure like to jump into it as much as I probably do.

            Being ignorant is easy. We are born that way. If you want to hang out at a anti site and see no difference, then do so. Hop from fear crisis to fear crisis with no critical thinking or even real memory whatsoever. They take care of that stuff for you. Being wrong is no big sin I guess and is inescapable if you don’t want to have to update and change your mind constantly, really don’t care about what is right, and have no firm rules or methodology for recognizing truth and self correction.

            Right?

          4. I notice EL still cant provide decent reference for his opinions.

            @John T. Tucker

            We’ve cited a slew of studies (which you appear to have completely failed to notice). They are summarized in the link that Rod has provided (and the page numbers I have identified).

            http://pbadupws.nrc.gov/docs/ML1325/ML13256A342.pdf

            We’ve clarified the issue of cladding fires (and I agree with the statements made on this topic), but these aren’t the only concerns with spent fuel pools. If you think these haven’t been referenced in these studies, you don’t seem to be paying very close attention (or spending any time reading these reports).

            “This study does not examine all scenarios that would need to be considered in a probabilistic risk assessment for a spent fuel pool, although seismic contributors are considered the most important contributors to spent fuel pool risk” (xi).

            “Offsite impacts from routine operations, doses to workers from routine or accidental exposures, or non-safety related impacts such as costs of spent fuel management, were not considered. Furthermore, staff focused on studies associated with accidents, rather than studies of safety consequences associated with deliberate human actions such as sabotage or terrorism” (230).

            Do you consider this to be a gaping hole … I do. The study (which is a summary of available research to 2013) is very thorough, and specifically mentions a 2004-2005 National Academies study mandated by Congress evaluating fuel pool risks and accidents (and specifically examining terrorism risks in the aftermath to 9/11). Study (in classified and public versions) recommends “the earlier movement of spent fuel from pools to dry cask storage would be prudent, dependent on the outcome of plant-specific vulnerability analysis” (14). “Reference scenarios” used by NRC were quite different from “maximum-credible scenarios” (as examined in the NAS report). NRC disagreed with this finding, but also promised to continue to study the issue closely, and “evaluate whether any change to its spent fuel storage policy is warranted.” Follow-up plant specific security assessments have not been made public (due to national security and sensitivity of the information).

            You may not have a response to these issues (documented in these reports and elsewhere), but you certainly can’t deny that they exist (or that nobody has provided “decent” and fully vetted references debating these points). Rod has done so. I have done so. The NRC has done its work too (and specifically highlighted the factual basis for its regulatory decision making, and where further work is needed or is lacking, and on what basis). Why haven’t you?

          5. EL you said:

            The risk goes to zero for a cladding fire (generated from decay heat in a drained pool) … but not for other types of incidents or accidents as documented in these reports: cask drops, severe earthquake, or acts of terrorism (the later of which have not been made available to public because of “sensitive information that could be useful to an adversary”).

            First off from your link (did you read it? )Appendix B:

            B.7.3 Pool Uncovery Frequency from Cask Drop Events (N load , P drop and P damage )

            Heavy load drops have the potential to damage the SFP, possibly leading to uncovery of the fuel. In general, casks are considered to be the only loads handled over the pool heavy enough to have the potential to cause structural damage. Other heavy loads are usually prevented from traveling directly over the pool.

            B.7.4 Pool Uncovery Frequency from Seismic Events (F seismic )
            The frequency of seismic events damaging the pool liner and leading to fuel uncovery depends on both the seismic hazard (i.e., the frequency of the initiating event) and the fragility of the SFP (i.e., the probability that the liner fails given that the event occurs).

            Now beyond teleportation or the use of a fission enhancing beam I think we can assume a terror attack would be an attempt to damage/drain the spent fuel pool.

            THIS STUDY COVERS :

            “Hot Fuel in the Spent Fuel Pool.” Configuration 1 encompasses
            the period commencing immediately after the offload of the core to a point in time when the decay heat of the hottest assemblies is low enough such that no substantial zircaloy oxidation takes place ( given the pool is drained ), and the fuel cladding will remain intact (Le., no gap releases).

            After this point, the fuel is considered to be in Configuration 2 – “Cold Fuel in the Spent Fuel Pool.” The fuel can be stored on a long-term basis in the spent fuel pool, while the rest of the plant is in safe storage or decontaminated (partial decommissioning). Alternatively, after decay heat loads have declined
            further, the fuel can be moved to an ISFSI (designated as spent fuel storage Configuration 3). This would allow complete decommissioning of the plant and closure of the Part 50 license.

            Spent fuel storage Configuration 4 assumes all spent fuel has been shipped offsite. This configuration assumes the plant Part 50 license remains in effect only because the plant has not been fully decontaminated and cannot be released for unrestricted public access ( http://www.osti.gov/scitech/servlets/purl/510336 )

            So again what you asked is not only covered (and laid to rest ) in this report but in other documents as well.

            This study is huge. It wipes out mountains of anti nuclear arguments and fear mongering in one fell swoop.

          6. @John T. Tucker

            Yes John … a cask drop has the risk of a radioactive release independent of a cladding fire.

            What exactly are you refuting in my statement (or summary of this study)?

            And yes … I have also described the configuration examples in the Brookhaven study correctly as well. Gap releases are possible in the absence of a cladding fire (discussed by Andrew Yule in the lead article as well). What is your dispute with me?

            Can I add a statement from the NAS study, if you don’t mind: “The work to date, however, has not been sufficient to adequately understand the vulnerabilities and consequences of such events. Additional analyses are needed to fill in the knowledge gaps so that well-informed policy decisions can be made: (pg. 6). Does it bother you at all that the NRC has specifically excluded “deliberate human actions such a sabotage or terrorism” from it’s probabilistic risk assessment of spent fuel pool risks in the report we are discussing (and a less rigorous methodology of “reference scenarios” as opposed to “maximum-credible scenarios”). It bothers me. I think it bothers a lot of us.

            Thanks for looking more closely at these studies, and including your specific comments on them.

            1. @EL

              No, it does not bother me in the least that the NRC has excluded deliberate human actions from its probabilistic risk assessment. There are so many other less protected and more dangerous targets for attack that the assigned probability would be so close to zero that it would be decimal dust in the computation.

              Please help me understand how you interpret the report as indicating that a cask drop “independent of a cladding fire” includes the risk of a radioactive material release. What is the material of concern, what is the driving force that makes it leave the confines of the pool, and how can it reach any member of the public outside of the boundaries of the plant?

              Andrew’s description included the information that any “gap release” that might occur at a cladding temperature that would allow swelling has no radiological consequences unless there is I-131 present in significant amounts. That isotope is essentially gone 80 days after critical operations in a reactor. It is even more gone after 7 months, which is the BWR critical decay time or 17 months, which is the PWR critical decay time.

              The whole point of this post and its companion post at ANS Nuclear Cafe is to make a clear, supportable statement. It is time to accept the fact that spent fuel pools are not a potential source of any health risk to anyone outside of the boundary of a decommissioned nuclear power plant as long as the plant has been shutdown longer than the critical decay time.

              A more specific target of the pair of posts is to demonstrate that the focused attacks from Senator Boxer about San Onofre are completely misguided and unsupportable by science.

              If the good senator truly wants to serve the millions of people who live within 50 miles of the facility, she should stop her efforts to add stress and unjustified uncertainty into their lives and to add to the already enormous costs that her previous actions to interfere in the facility’s operational recovery have imposed on the people who are forced to pay elevated electricity rates.

              By your stubborn insistence of continued risk – without any qualifiers or quantification of the supposed risk or any comparison to the costs and risks of alternative courses of action – you are exposing your true aim. It is clear to me that you support efforts aimed at making nuclear energy economically uncompetitive and investment in nuclear energy projects financially unattractive.

              Despite all of its proven technical superiority over alternatives in terms of energy density, low volume waste production, reliability, and emission-free operation, it is possible to tie down the atomic Gulliver by the continuing addition of Lilliputian strings. Until, of course, Gulliver stops being so darned deferential to the pompous, self-important little people who fail to recognize gentle, restrained, useful power when they see it.

          7. You mean like a local split spent fuel thing from a cask? Thats your major concern? Workers probably should not lick it or breathe the dust but such a incident would have about zero health consequences for the general public.

            From this report ( Independent spent fuel storage installation = ISFSI ) :

            Alternatively, after decay heat loads have declined further, the fuel can be moved to an ISFSI (designated as spent fuel storage Configuration 3). This would allow complete decommissioning of the plant and closure of the Part 50 license.

            So there is even less risk. Its covered in a case study. So no I am not concerned at all. Whats more its also covered in other studies,

            What do you think is going to happen – it will horrifically explode or something?

            And Isn’t that NAS study from like 2004 and based on a earlier NRC publication (before this and the phase 2-3 stuff)? C

            What is your concern that has not been evaluated?

            “The NRC has also conducted analyses of spent fuel pool (SFP) vulnerability. The calculations have shown that SFPs are robust structures that are difficult to damage. Even under conditions in which fuel is damaged, current analyses predict the time to begin and magnitude of a release is consistent with that considered by the EP planning basis. However, additional calculations continue to be performed to ensure that a reasonable spectrum of initial and boundary conditions is evaluated.

            Technical Study of Spent Fuel Pool Accident Risk at Decommissioning Nuclear Power Plants,” dated February 2001. Based on the analysis performed to date, the staff has not identified any spent fuel pool accident issues that would invalidate the EP planning basis. ( http://www.nrc.gov/about-nrc/emerg-preparedness/respond-to-emerg/response-terrorism.html )

            Do you have any affirmative evidence of a specific issue here? This is still not logical concern.

          8. Do you have any affirmative evidence of a specific issue here? This is still not logical concern.

            @John T. Tucker

            Yes. I have concerns for plants that are still in operation (and fuel density in pools with recently offloaded fuel). I think offloading to dry casks after 5 years and minimizing fuel density in pools is preferable to continuing to pack in assemblies.

            For decommissioned plants, I think it is preferable to move spent fuel to a central interim or permanent repository (designed for this purpose) and minimize safety and security concerns and hotel costs at such sites (simply because more viable and less costly alternatives have not been developed in a timely manner). This does not increase public confidence that nuclear can solve it’s own waste problems (at any near or distant time in the future), and it further pushes onto the government and taxpayer liability for legacy waste at nuclear plants (especially if decommissioning funds are inadequate at the start of the process). This is a bothersome practice, especially when the proliferation of such insecure sites near population centers only increases the admittedly undocumented risks of deliberate actions such as sabotage and terrorism at such sites (rather than minimizes it), and other low probability risks.

            Even under conditions in which fuel is damaged, current analyses predict the time to begin and magnitude of a release is consistent with that considered by the EP planning basis.

            If only this were the case? Indeed, the issue that appears to have most directly motivated the ire of Boxer is that the NRC has a proposal before it to reduce the EP basis at San Onofre during decommissioning. I’m not sure why we should be making it easier to sustain the unsustainable (simply because nobody is willing to make the tough calls on moving forward with geological interim and long term storage). If your position is that the status quo is acceptable (even preferable) on an “indefinite” and perhaps “permanent” basis, I’m not sure you are doing the industry any favors. Asking for further concessions from regulators (for an industry wishing to expand the role of nuclear power in the US) I believe is the wrong approach to take.

          9. I favor reprocessing. There is no real chance of a fuel pool release at San Onofre. It was dumb to close the plant from all perspectives, especially health and safety. Then end.

    2. Do you even relize the EL copmment that started all this:

      The risk goes to zero for a cladding fire (generated from decay heat in a drained pool) … but not for other types of incidents or accidents as documented in these reports: cask drops, severe earthquake, or acts of terrorism (the later of which have not been made available to public because of “sensitive information that could be useful to an adversary”).

      WHAT REPORTS? It was NEVER qualified with a single reference? Why do I need to even spell that out? The above article has multiple references, there is a free PDF ( http://www.osti.gov/scitech/servlets/purl/510336 ) which is in turned referenced in FIVE freaking pages of high value references.

      And after spewing out several half baked arguments on top of it we still dont have one reference from EL for the original comment.

      Seriously. How can you be so biased and incompetent if its not by design?

      1. So ask him for a link to the reports, instead of crapping all over the thread.

        1. um.. um…. um…… seriously ? Ok.

          Well first off its not even phrased correctly as consideration for “other types of incidents” were part of the study as the reference studies contained them, were used for the modeling and were discussed in the report.

          So off the bat its incorrect. Where to now?

          1. Read you own links (appendix B) as well as the scenarios covered in this study. Create a Venn diagram if necessary.

            “and the reports you are claiming don’t exist” – Really, I said that? are these the same ones you didn’t read and/or basically comprehend ?

  8. On another note the Configuration 1 results were also interesting, as a ball park estimate of the repercussions of a absolute wost case (and possibly impossible) scenario with hot fuel. I wish they had talked more about timing (some but basically calmed to be variable and ignored) and mitigation (there is a bit on some prevention 4-4) but they basically modeled it as involving the full fuel pond completely draining, cladding fires starting quickly, spreading to the whole pond and occurring with no warning(?). They did model some evacuations but it was after a high initial exposure it seems and via multiple routes (air,food,water). Its bad, but even that is not close to the totally incompetent “evacuate japan or the northern hemisphere” bizarro kookyness (which it turns out was massively multiply incorrect due to timing, previous evacuation, release estimates and even fear mongering in the US) and not anywhere close to fossil fuel casualties over a year’s time, of course – but anyway will probably look at some of the sources for more info.

    1. … they basically modeled it as involving the full fuel pond completely draining, cladding fires starting quickly, spreading to the whole pond and occurring with no warning(?) …

      @John T. Tucker

      Configuration 1: Case 3 (pg. 3-7) does NOT involve a cladding fire, but a gap release a year after shutdown (of cesium, iodine, and tellurium groups based on experimental observation), and projects land contamination of between 2-25 sq miles, and latent fatalities in the thousands.

      “Case 3: Complete pool drainage occurs one year after shutdown. The lowered decay head does not cause rapid oxidation, however the assemblies reach high temperature and 50 percent of the fuel rods in the pool fail, resulting in a gap release.”

      I’ve already commented that “subsequent studies” have indicated these risks are very low. Numerous other parameters impact an assessment of these risks as well: burnup, total decay heat in pool, open spaces for airflow, building ventilation rate, etc. That after a year, the risk of a cladding fire goes to zero.

      Do you have anything else to add?

      1. Note the question mark in my statement. This is a special case of the “hot fuel” scenario.

        Because as stated in the Document:

        Configuration 1.
        Spent fuel storage Configuration 1 commences immediately after the permanently shutdown facility has completed the reactor vessel defueling. This configuration models the potential consequences of rapid zircaloy oxidation resulting from an event which has caused the draining of the spent fuel pool.

        Seems like the 100 th time ive said that.

        So actually it is a set of diminished outcomes and reduced effects for configuration 1. A HOT FUEL scenario in the event of a unmitigated pool failure with hot fuel and the same lethargic, unrealistic response. Do you realize that? You are actually making a argument for a even more manageable event under the worst conditions/circumstances

        None of which incidentally, has anything to do with spent fuel sitting a few years at a decommissioned/out of service plant which your other posts were about.

        And of course all scenarios that have never actually been observed in scale and NONE of which comes close to the yearly casualties from the only defacto replacement for nuclear over the last 50 years: Hydro and Fossil fuels. Not to mention environmental damage and the casualties and issues involved with that.

        So getting very tired of it EL. Probably even more so than the regulars here. Seriously. What was the specific point of that other than some attempt at mealymouthed backhanded nitpicking?

      2. @EL

        Case 3: Complete pool drainage occurs one year after shutdown. The lowered decay head does not cause rapid oxidation, however the assemblies reach high temperature and 50 percent of the fuel rods in the pool fail, resulting in a gap release.

        Did you miss the following statement just above the list on page 3-7?

        “This study examined four cases for Configuration 1. The assumptions for each case are described below.”

        The description that you quote for Case 3 is not the result of careful modeling with realistic inputs for properties of materials, air flow, ambient temperatures, radiative heat transfer, chemistry, decay heat production, or any other physical parameters.

        It is a description of the assumed conditions. The computer code mentioned is essentially a database of isotopes that would be in the fuel inventory after known periods of decay. It serves to calculate the “source term” of material that is assumed to be available for release. It then assumes that the material somehow leaves the spent fuel pool and the building that surrounds the spent fuel pool and gets wafted into the air — somehow — to be distributed in modeled distribution pattern. The latent fatalities are then calculated based on the resulting “person-rem,” otherwise known as collective dose. The vast majority of the resulting computed latent fatalities come from multiplying the tiny LNT risk numbers associated with tiny doses times a very large population of affected persons.

        That is exactly the kind of collective dose calculation that international radiation protection bodies warn against.

        Collective dose is not intended as a tool for epidemiological risk assessment, and it is inappropriate to use it in risk projections. The aggregation of very low individual doses over extended time periods is inappropriate, and in particular, the calculation of the number of cancer deaths based on collective effective doses from trivial individual doses should be avoided.

        Source: The 2007 Recommendations of the International Commission on Radiation Protection, ICRP Publication 103 see paragraph (k) on p. 13

        Those warnings were not as strong or as widespread in 1997 when the Brookhaven National Laboratory undertook the contracted study for NUREG-6451/CR.

        Did you notice that you did not find that document on the NRC web page listing the NUREG/CR that the NRC considers to be still valid?

        http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/nuregs/contract/

        Do you think there might be a reason why the NRC no longer lists NUREG-6451/CR on that page?

        1. Seems like the 100 th time ive said that …

          @John T. Tucker

          Yes indeed … and you’ve still surprisingly failed to read further in the document where it states: “decay heat is low enough to preclude rapid oxidation,” but not before the end of the configuration defined as “the cladding remains intact upon extended exposure to air” (pg. 3-1).

          Geez … stop cherry picking your comments, and read what the document actually says. There’s no reason to be making unsupported statements for the 101th time, we should be fine and able to get it right on the 1st.

          The description that you quote for Case 3 is not the result of careful modeling …

          @Rod Adams

          It’s my understanding (from statements made in the document) that Table 3.2 are “release fractions” as clearly described, not source therm available for release in the spent fuel. And they have been modeled (and are not simply assumed), and are based on “experimental observations” as mentioned in the text (pg. 3-8).

          Indeed … collective dose is a blunt instrument (at very low levels and extended time frames, and is outdated). NRC (and others) seem to prefer more targeted methods for calculating and assessing risks of low level release of radiation: “reasonably maximally exposed individual (RMEI),” as opposed to collective dose divided for a large population over extended time frames.

          1. EL – 1. Please name those plants that would begin moving a cask across the SFP to load in older spent fuel Immediately after fuel offload. Every plant I am aware of has “Heavy Load Paths” that restrict the movement of heavy equipment over the SFP/Reactor, etc. Some even have load cell activated cutouts that make it impossible to move Heavy Loads over these areas! The Analysis is a “Worst Case Study.” A plant would have to do several things (more than two) WRONG and/or bypass interlocks, before this could happen at an operating/licensed NPP. It is a purely hypothetical event. Quit worrying about it. Do you know what “worst case studies” are?

            2. Please calculate the quantity of water from a garden hose (Fire hose) that would be necessary to PREVENT/mitigate the accident scenario and assumed consequences that would result from the above accident wherein they assume no corrective actions are taking place. (Keep in mind that even with the quickest refueling, the reactor would have been shut down for about a week, and even longer if a complete fuel offload.

          2. @EL

            It’s my understanding (from statements made in the document) that Table 3.2 are “release fractions” as clearly described, not source therm available for release in the spent fuel. And they have been modeled (and are not simply assumed), and are based on “experimental observations” as mentioned in the text (pg. 3-8).

            It’s my knowledge, from a more complete understanding of the way this analysis was completed, that your understanding is incomplete. The release fraction may be “modeled,” with information gained from some experiments, but those models start with the conditions assumed on page 3-7. Those conditions assume that the fuel reaches a failure temperature and assume that the cladding of 50% of the fuel rods in the pool fail sufficiently to release the isotopes that are modeled based on burn-up and decay period since last critical operation.

            The part that was not modeled in 1997 was the actual performance of the materials in the spent fuel pool as water leaves and as decay heat continues to be produced. There was no modeling of specific heat capacity, specific heat of vaporization, radiative heat transfer, conductive heat transfer, or convection heat transfer as air/steam moves as a result of the hot materials in the pool. There was also NO credit given for any action by anyone. The assumption the Brookhaven National Lab contractors made was that the operators and all responders either do not exist or they ignore the pool and never even attempt any actions to halt the slow heat up.

            Collective dose is not a “blunt instrument.” It is a false (incorrect) assumption with historical uses in setting regulations and evaluating consequences whose use is discouraged in risk assessment.

          3. There was no modeling of specific heat capacity, specific heat of vaporization, radiative heat transfer, conductive heat transfer, or convection heat transfer as air/steam moves as a result of the hot materials in the pool.

            @Rod Adams.

            This is not correct. It is my understanding that previous studies and then current codes (that form the basis for Brookhaven NUREG/CR-6451) do model beyond design basis accident scenarios on this basis (for all configurations).

            From NUREG/CR-4982:

            “Subsequent to the Reactor Safety Study, A.S. Benjamin et al.[NUREG/CR 0649] investigated the heatup of spent fuel following drainage of the pool. A computer code, SFUEL, was developed to analyze thermal-hydraulic phenomena occurring when storage racks and spent assemblies become exposed to air. The computer model takes into account decay time, fuel assembly design, storage racks design, packing density, room ventilation and other variables that affect the heatup of the fuel.

            Further experimental data (Pisano, et. al.) was used to refine the SFUEL computer code, and was adapted for use in the Brookhaven Study.

            Pisano, et. al. study (in draft only): “The Potential for Propagation of a Self-Sustaining Zirconium Oxidation Following Loss of Water in a Spent Fuel Storage Pool,” prepared for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission by Sandia Laboratories, (Draft Manuscript, January 1984).

            Brookhaven developed SHARP code (Spent-Fuel Heatup: Analytical Response Program) incorporating these previous models and experimental findings, including modelling for structural failure of cladding at temperatures below 650 C.

            1. @EL

              Okay, I will modify my statement slightly:

              The only modeling of specific heat capacity, specific heat of vaporization, radiative heat transfer, conductive heat transfer, or convection heat transfer as air/steam moves as a result of the hot materials in the pool was derived from simplified codes and engineering assumptions chosen before 1979 and using the limitations of 1970s vintage computing power

              .

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