Look out for “market ingenuity” from stressed LNG project developers
On Wednesday, March 18, 2015, a sobering LNG market analysis article from RBN Energy, LLC titled A Whole New World-Big Changes Coming to LNG Market concluded with the following prediction.
Several industry forecasts suggest that, despite 2014’s pause in demand growth, LNG demand will rise at a healthy annual pace of 4 to 5% over the next few years—China and India’s demand (now at 20 and 15 MTPA, respectively) are each seen doubling by the early 2020s. That growth, combined with a little market ingenuity, suggest that this whole new world may work out after all.
With the hundreds of billions of dollars at stake around the world in LNG infrastructure projects, nuclear professionals need to pay close attention to the fact that “market ingenuity” for LNG producers can include efforts to force nuclear plants to shut down. The shutdowns might be temporary and extended by creative (or destructive) abuse of the regulatory environment or they may turn into permanent shutdowns under extreme pressure from front groups masquerading as environmentalists.
Actually, that is not completely fair. There are many sincere environmentalists who have drunk deeply from the antinuclear Kool-Aide they have been fed for the past four decades. While still under the influence of that propaganda effort, they truly believe they are working to make the planet a cleaner and safer place. They’re misguided, but need gentle, persistent reeducation vice condemnation.
It does not take much effort to figure out that closed nuclear plants inevitably leads to substantial increases in demand for fossil fuel, with spot market LNG being one of the quickest and easiest ways to fill in the gaps.
Most developed nations that operate nuclear plants have a large installed base of gas burning power plants that generally operate at low capacity factors. Because their fuel is relatively expensive compared to nuclear fuel, they are only operated during high demand periods. They are not intended to run at high capacity factors, but they have the ability to do so if needed.
Of course, the use of market ingenuity by some LNG interests will not be open and transparent; that would be less effective than using surrogates, propaganda, and backroom political power. Since the big LNG projects are operated by either governments that own entire media networks (RT, Al Jazeera) or enormous multinational petroleum companies with big ad budgets, it is easy for them to produce and distribute materials that increase fears of radiation, doubts about the ability of nuclear plants to operate safely, and uncertainties about the long term viability of the technology.
We have all heard comments like the following, “No one has figured out what to do with the waste. We shouldn’t produce more until we have solved that problem.” (In fact, only those who cover their eyes and ears believe there aren’t effective options available including reuse and recycling in addition to more efficient fuel designs. We must stop covering our mouths and repeatedly remind people about the technological truths.)
The motivation from LNG interests (shipyards, construction companies, pipeline companies, pipeline investing utilities, drilling companies, sand suppliers, water carriers, pipe fitters, welders, royalty collecting landowners, tax collecting governments, etc.) to shut down existing nuclear plants and to delay or halt construction of new nuclear plants is enormous. Regulatory regimes around the world give them plenty of means and the public perceptions created by skillful use of commercial media gives them opportunity.
We can appeal to their good will; we can give up without a fight; or we can expose their motivation and tactics widely enough to gain the support of people who have no interest in moving our energy system to a greater dependence on liquified natural gas shipments.
How bad is this new supply/demand mismatch, and what is it doing to LNG prices? Well, by the end of 2017, worldwide LNG production capacity is expected to rise by roughly 20%–from about 38 Bcf/d in 2014 to 46 Bcf/d 33 months from now. And, with the 2014 slump in Asian demand, there’s already an LNG glut, so you can imagine what that’s done to LNG spot prices. (By one measure—Platts’ Japan/Korea Marker, or JKM—spot prices dropped by two-thirds in the 12 months ended February 2015: from more than $20/MMBTU to less than $7, and they’re expected to stay below $10/MMBTU for the next year or two.) But wait, there’s more. The slump in Asian LNG prices has made Western Europe a more profitable destination for spot-market cargoes of LNG for the first time in several years. As we said in our blog title, a whole new world.
If you are a developer of one of the U.S. LNG projects on the drawing boards, all of this may sound a bit depressing, and in some ways it is. It’s certainly much more challenging to make money in a market like this. But the genius of markets is their responsiveness.
The capital investment requirements for LNG projects are enormous and start in the several billions of dollars. They cannot be viable with rapidly fluctuating prices any more than large nuclear projects. They need long term contracts that have been encouraged by an analysis indicating few alternatives in the foreseeable future.
That fall in Asian LNG demand can be largely credited to South Korean nuclear plant restarts. Those plants had been shut down for repairs and safety evaluations after discovery (or was it purposeful exposure) of some irregularities in quality assurance records for wiring and components and a certain level of corruption on the part of some government officials.
Though natural gas is an excellent fuel source and valuable raw material, there are legitimate questions that should be answered regarding the environmental impacts of a growing LNG infrastructure and the safety of a continuing growth in LNG shipping.
Liquefaction facilities on the coast require steady supply volumes. One of the few export terminals that has been approved in the US is the former reception terminal at Cove Point in Maryland. That facility is next door to the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power plant. One of the largest resources in the US is the Marcellus/Utica Shale formation, which is on the opposite side of the Appalachian Mountains from Maryland. There are at least two proposed pipeline projects — Mountain Valley Pipeline and Atlantic Coast Pipeline — near my central Virginia home that are at least partially motivated by the desire to connect the Marcellus to lucrative east coast markets, including that export terminal.
Both of those pipelines are attracting well motivated opponents that have a strong desire to protect some of the most beautiful land in the eastern US. One of the pipes is planning to pass well to the north of my home and one will pass well to the south, but this picture from the land in between those pipelines is reasonably representative of what they will have to pass through while going from West Virginia to eastern markets.
LNG shipping has the potential for serious consequences. Though each shipment carries a low probability of an accident, the ships must pass close to large population centers. The more shipments, the higher the chance that there will be a major event with a significant loss of life.
Even if natural gas burns more cleanly than coal, the energy inputs required to liquify and ship it reduce the advantage considerably. The capital invested into LNG projects is too specialized to be generally useful to the economy, and the basic raw material cost of energy from burning LNG is frightfully high compared to coal or nuclear energy.
Just because there are strong vested interests that like LNG does not mean that an increased dependence on LNG and larger world markets for that product are good for most people on the planet.
Nukes need some market ingenuity of our own. We have a reliable, safe, environmentally friendly product. We’ve lost cost and schedule control, but we have the power to make substantial improvements in those areas. Now we need to learn to tell our story better than we’ve done in the past.
PS: I highly recommend that any energy professional that is deeply interested in learning more about oil and gas subscribe to the RBN Energy Blog. Your education will come in easily digested snippets, and you will probably find yourself digging through the post archives to learn more. Get to know your competition by reading their intelligence reports.
S. Korea is continuing to build new reactors. Japan will turn on their reactors some day (when they come to their senses). The Turks are going to build nuclear plants to reduce importation of Russian natgas (curiously with Russian reactors). I don’t think LNG has a bright future. Piped gas will be important for much longer.
I concur with your surface analysis, but what does that say about the actions that might be taken by people that have already invested vast amounts of money into building up the LNG production and transportation infrastructure.
They didn’t pay cash, but incurred long term debt. Do you think they will just roll over and default? Will they say “That was a bad bet?” or will they take action aimed at trying to make the investments pay off?
I would not be optimistic about the future of Japan. They are simply not reproducing; their energy needs will shrink in the future.
@Rod, another excellent ‘gas’ essay by you. Not enough of us pay attention to the gas industry and it’s subtle anti-nuclear offensive…
I think, however, describing the problem with S. Korean nuclear plants thusly “some irregularities in quality assurance records for wiring and components and a certain level of corruption on the part of some government officials.” is a bit…glib. it was quite serious and it’s dealt with in the link but this was outright fraud on part of both the gov’t regulators and the contractors and was in fact a real, very real set back for a nuclear industry that had achieved the highest on-line capacity factors of any country on the planet.
They DID deal with it, quickly, and effectively. People got fired (and exiled from the industry for the rest of their lives) and even arrested.
But…during this process a gov’t think thank came out with a simply terrible “White Paper” that drastically reduced the percentage of nuclear the Republic of Korea wanted to increase to. The White Paper was commissioned in large part because of Fukushima. But the corruption scandal didn’t help.
I agree that the S. Korean plant issues were serious, but I continue to wonder if there wasn’t some malice of forethought involved in the scheme.
I think it was just greed on the part of the suppliers and contractors. They clearly have dealt with it but it set them back a year. We should watch S.Korea more closely as they deploy their latest advanced reactors there and in the UAE.
I wonder what sort of FUD the LNG people could spread about technologies like this:
The company claims to have a cheap way to make methanol from natural gas, that can be done on a small scale such as single well with a plant that can be brought in on one or two flatbed trucks.
That would tend to eliminate the reasons to build LNG plants & shift natural gas to transportation uses.
The massive LNG traffic between countries would not be affected much by such retail technologies.
It’s clear from reading the trade press that the market LNG shippers covet is the electricity market. It has economy of scale, customers that make frequent, routine purchases, and fixed delivery locations.
There may be a market for GTL in electric generation. If a gas-fired plant needs to hold liquid fuel as a backup against interruption of pipeline supplies, it may be cheaper to make methanol on-site than to purchase fuel oil. Just a thought.
@Jim: I think that GasTechno targets stranded gas wells: one or a few potentially good producers far from an existing pipeline. Something to get the operation off the ground.
@Rod: One does assume that low-Cf turbines are capable of sustained high-Cf operation. Thiks might not always be the case. In an 1 March 2015 article Time for the truth on EPA’s plan, reporter Vincent Carroll quotes a joint comment on the EPA’s Clean Power Plan from the Colorado Dept of Public Health and Environment, and the Colorado Energy Office submitted last December along with your’s, mine, and a cast of thousands:
The context here is that EPA plan suggests Colorado can easily meet our CPP CO2 reduction mandate by switching from coal — of which we have plenty — to fracked gas — of which we’ve plenty more.
Ignoring the elephant in the tent: eliminating all coal in favor of natural gas will postpone the inevitable by maybe a decade. We’ve got to do better. Much better.
Hi Rod, I wonder if there are any of your “smoking guns” visible in Japan in the opposition to the nuclear plant restarts that seem to be in a perpetual cycle of delay at the moment.
Hey, what does it matter whether we use LNG, coal, or oil?
Ted Cruz says climate change isn’t real. Man, that takes the stress off, eh? Heck, those ‘ol hydrocarbons are harmless apparently. Gee, ya gotta hope this guy gets in the White House, doncha? ‘Bout time someone gave science the ‘ol heave-ho anyway.
Now, about that myth known as “evolution”……
A lot of people support the current state of revenue flows with the obvious hyperbole that the billions of tons of C02 in the atmosphere is harmless. More insidious IMO is the obvious hyperbole that the alternative of carbon pumping is “renewables”, lead mainly by sunshine and breezes. We therefore have power policy defined by an obvious granfaloon since “renewable” elements have only the category in common.
Since investment in “renewables” is a costly misdirection, I find that far more insidious than the flat statement that carbon dumping into the atmosphere is harmless. Renewables is the bigger lie from those that know better, but strive to maintain the fiction.
Since investment in “renewables” is a costly misdirection, I find that far more insidious than the flat statement that carbon dumping into the atmosphere is harmless. Renewables is the bigger lie from those that know better, but strive to maintain the fiction.
Agreed. I also cannot help reminding the audience here that the most logical source of strength behind the renewables (aka unreliables) distraction effort are people that participate in the global fossil fuel extraction, refining, delivery, and financing enterprise. They all are at serious financial risk if they do not somehow slow or stop the move towards a much more capable energy source, one that has the proven ability to “move the needle” in terms of reducing fossil fuel dependence and total consumption rates.
It would not take much additional supply to drive prices down to the point where only the lowest cost resources can be sold at a profit. The piece of the puzzle that most die hard antinuclear members of environmental groups do not seem to grasp is that the best way to protect from extreme extraction in sensitive areas is to drive prices so low that those areas are no longer attractive investments.
“Since investment in “renewables” is a costly misdirection, I find that far more insidious than the flat statement that carbon dumping into the atmosphere is harmless”
Why would a politician ignore science and orate from a soap box denying climate change, if not at the behest of the fossil fuel folks? This being the case, such a motive hardly encourages optimism that this politician will be a bandleader for NE, does it?
Obviously science doesn’t provide the motive for climate change denial. So what’s left? Either religious fanaticism, or catering to special interests. And in Cruz’s case, probably both. And he is not alone in spitting out RW nonsense denying climate change and global warming. The RW media mouthpieces in the fore are helping spread this kind of crap as well. Hannity, Limbaugh, etc, blahblahblah…..
Perhaps renewables are an expensive and useless solution. I’m not convinced of that. But even if they are, at least they are not being marketed by climate change denial. So, in a way, that greases the skids for you NE advocates to offer a sane marketing program. Both renewables and NE share a marketing rationale that the renewable PR guys are peddling with success. You need to figure out a way to capitalize on that success. But voting people in that deny a huge portion of that successfully marketed rationale doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, does it?
Why would a politician ignore science and orate from a soap box denying climate change, if not at the behest of the fossil fuel folks?
It is quite possible for a politician that is focused on manufacturing, jobs, overall prosperity, and lower / middle class mobility to deny climate change if he or she does not understand that there is an alternative BESIDES wind and solar. People whose understanding of reality is high, but lack an full understanding of nuclear energy could very well see that a move away from fossil fuels, or one that prices them out of reach for the common man would be a bad idea.
There’s no reason to over analyze. Ted Cruz is a senator from Texas. Jim Inhofe recently threw a snowball out onto the senate floor as a demonstration that “global warming” was nonsense. He’s a senator from Oklahoma. Science is not a part of either man’s motivation. It’s merely politics. They both have an oil based plutocracy to answer to, and campaign contributions to justify.
The jet stream for most of February pushed arctic air down over the central and eastern part of North America in cold front after cold front indicating, to Jim Inhofe, that global warming was a foolish ruse, or so he seems to believe. Washington was apparently also on the receiving end of this Arctic air. I wonder: What does he think replaced this air that flowed south? In his minds eye, does he figure a vacuum is forming above the 66th parallel? It is of course being filled in by warm air from the west coast and the pacific oceanic air flowing north, warm front after warm front. On days it was below zero Fahrenheit in Central New York, it was frequently near thaw temperatures on the arctic circle in western Alaska.
Science simply is less important than politics to successful politicians, which indicates to me that all successful movements will not be lead by those in power, but must be organically sourced from grassroots advocates.
Snowballs disprove global warming as much as heat waves prove it.
I’m not sure what point you are trying to make. If it is a current events allusion, I’m not up on the latest from TV news.
My point was that not an effort to justify climate change denial, but merely an attempt to show that it is not only the fossil fuel interests that have a motive for ignoring or minimizing the potential risks.
It matters not one wit if people deny the harm that excessive CO2 in the atmosphere does, if the only perceived “solution” is to build so-called renewable generation.
Renewables will not reduce CO2 emissions, so as long as the popular belief is that renewables are the alternative to fossil fuels, climate change deniers are doing no additional harm.
“Hey, what does it matter whether we use LNG, coal, or oil?”
Ignoring the global warming thing, it may still matter. Despite the recent finds in North American energy, choosing the wrong course could lead us back to the expensive importation of needed energy products. This has led to aggressive behavior by the United States in certain regions of the world. This behavior may have repercussions that may affect the world for generations to come.
“This has led to aggressive behavior by the United States in certain regions of the world. This behavior may have repercussions that may affect the world for generations to come”.
Gosh, you mean we are doing this to insure that our addiction to fossil fuels can continue unabated?? Damn! Here all this time I thought it was to conquer the hordes of pagan terrists that are coming to force sharia law upon us, rape our daughters, and behead our sons.
Gosh, you mean we are doing this to insure that our addiction to fossil fuels can continue unabated??
More specifically, the upper crust of the elite establishment in the US-UK is doing this in large measure to maintain the petroleum/gold standard economic domination we established in the wake of WWII – with help from the Marshall Plan.
Under Kissinger and his cohorts, they took a slightly different tack in the 1967-1973 period. They moved to the petrodollar economy because the leaders of producing nations decided they needed a larger cut of the pie if they were going to continue helping the US-UK elites maintain that domineering position.
If the rest of us slow our purchases of petroleum and its byproducts like natural gas, the foundations of many fortunes will be disrupted.
“Ignoring the global warming thing, it may still matter”
Good idea!!! Lets all vote Republican.
“Good idea!!! Lets all vote Republican.”
I’ve been reading your exhortations for some time and hadn’t realized that you and Ioannes had come to an accord. Cool! Many on this site will applaud your political choice, however, I may differ with your choice from time to time. For example, I like a party that provides health care to poor sick people.
It will be a long time to wean the United States from fossil fuels. Choices should be made to select that energy from the North American continent. Then the money stays here. I think the hordes of people coming to our shores and crossing dangerous borders are primarily coming to work and support their families as they’ve done for many generations. I like to believe most respect the beliefs of others and will hesitate before their beheading others.
Both nuclear power and LNG are choices of domestic sources of energy. (Rod did mention that there are some LNG imports.) Nuclear energy is a form of energy with advantages of long term predictable costs and nearly zero emissions.
Both nuclear power and LNG are choices of domestic sources of energy.
While pipeline delivered natural gas is mainly a domestic source of energy — as long as you count Canada as “domestic” — Liquified Natural Gas is a product that is mainly useful in international shipping trade over long distances. There are a few people thinking about using it as truck fuel, but even in that case the more common choice is simply compressed natural gas (CNG) vice liquified natural gas (LNG).
I like natural gas from domestic wells. I think it should be used for its highest and best uses instead of being burned as quickly as possible in electric power plants where there are more cost effective choices like nuclear or cleaner coal. I don’t like the LNG trade, mainly because it is dominated by the same petroleum companies that I started learning to dislike in 1973 while waiting in line for gas with my Dad at 0500 before swim practice.
I do NOT necessarily advocate voting Republican. I do however advocate always voting against the Democrats due to their inherent anti-nuclearism (e.g., Cuomo, Reid, Boxer, Markey, Waxman, etc), and more importantly, due to their stand against morality. I am not Republican. I am a Catholic Christian and I vote with my conscience. Nuclear is an important issue to me. But it isn’t the only issue. I cannot say more because the liberal progressives who dominate here have preempted and perverted the language in true George Orwellian fashion such that license becomes freedom and responsibility becomes immoral.
Well…..eino, I hope you realize my “vote republican” was pure sarcasm.
Your pious stereotyping of all democrats is duly noted. I find it interesting that it is the political leaders that claim to be God fearing members of the religious right that took us to war on false pretenses, condone extrajudicial executions, excuse and rationalize torture, and are champions of waging undeclared war in a myriad of countries in South America, Africa, and the middle east.
There are other concerns that greatly influence fuel choices. For example, virtually all of the coal burned in the US comes from within our borders and is the product of the labor of hard working Americans. Even though we have ramped up our domestic production of natural gas and are considering exporting it, we are still importing LNG, especially during the winter and especially into the terminal located in Senator Markey’s former congressional district.
For the winter of 2014-2015, LNG imports were up 24% over the previous winter. http://www.eia.gov/naturalgas/weekly/
Thanks for the clarification. It’s good you are a thinking man.
Maybe it’s time I reread Animal Farm and 1984.
What of the other issues with NG? Once fringe theories associated with fracking are looking a bit more real, in some areas at least:
Coping with Earthquakes Induced by Fluid Injection
Large areas of the United States that used to experience few or no earthquakes have, in recent years, experienced a remarkable increase in earthquake activity that has caused considerable public concern as well as damage to structures. This rise in seismic activity, especially in the central United States, is not the result of natural processes.
Instead, the increased seismicity is due to fluid injection associated with new technologies that enable the extraction of oil and gas from previously unproductive reservoirs. ( http://www.usgs.gov/newsroom/article.asp?ID=4132&from=rss_home#.VRJozI5yyuQ )
Oklahoma is having real issues as we speak. Check out the USGS EQ page.
In case you were wondering re-injection accounts for about 21 percent of wastewater disposal. Interestingly despite the hype over some low level radioactive properties some water is used in the deicing of roads. The water also has a variety of chemicals, salts, hydrocarbons and heavy metals in it that should probably be more worrisome when it comes to contamination issues, depending on the area it is produced. No one seems to follow this “waste” issue all that closely.
( http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/11/18/us-usa-shale-water-kemp-idUSKCN0J223P20141118 )
Here is the story that was the source for the recent Newsweek article on the matter :
Okla. agency linked quakes to oil in 2010, but kept mum amid industry pressure ( http://www.eenews.net/stories/1060014342 )
The Platts article concerning South Korea that Rod referenced is a shining example of how bad things are with respect to anti-nuclear slant/propoganda, be it media bias or fossil industry influence on said media.
The article attributes LNG’s problems in Korea to the “low cost” of coal (i.e., objective merit of that energy source), and to “pro-nuclear” govt. policies (i.e., govt. intervention, as opposed to objective merit, in the case of nuclear). Whereas the low cost of coal is mentioned, there is no mention of its horrendous impacts on public health, climate and the environment in general.
And what, pray tell, are these govt. “interventions” on behalf of nuclear? Continued reading shows that those “interventions” are merely the govt. allowing reactors (including “old” ones) to continue to operate!!! Allowing coal plants to continue to operate is not mentioned as an “intervention”, or a “pro-coal policy”. That despite the fact that the health and environmental impacts of coal plant operation are horrendous, whereas continued operation of nuclear plants has a negligible impact.
Sorry. The fact that coal plants are allowed to continue to operate (in Korea and elsewhere), without having to contain their pollution, or even paying a price for freely dumping it into the environment, constitutes an enormous govt. intervention on coal’s behalf. Nuclear has never gotten anything but negative intervention from govts. Not accounting for the economic and geopolitical costs of using LNG would also constitute a govt. intervention.
And this is from a “reputable” Platts article. My God we have a long way to go. At times, the situation seems hopeless. The influence of the fossil industry on the media that Rod refers to seems quite clear to me.
“. My God we have a long way to go. At times, the situation seems hopeless. The influence of the fossil industry on the media that Rod refers to seems quite clear to me.”
Well, the nuclear industry/community’s royally paying the price for being too damn complacent and negligent about aggressive PR damage control since TMI, even post-Fukushima today. With all the eco/safety/ advantages in its pocket, nuclear’s total lack of mass media self-promotion and public education in the U.S. is a wet dream come true to greens and fossil folks. I don’t see ANY pro-Indian Point ads here yet lowly Puppy Rescue’s all over the airwaves — they have deeper Ad coffers than nuclear?? It’s incredible nuclear is behind the eight ball like this, and it’s just overdue for the chickens to come home to roost. I really want to feel bad about the situation but I just can’t, not when sheer stupidity and laziness are involved.
I live about 10 miles upriver from Indian Point, and I do hear advertisements on the radio on a pretty regular basis talking about the safety and economic benefits of Indian Point. However, I do agree that in general terms, the PR record of nuclear energy in abysmal
That must be local radio assuaging the immediate neighborhood about IP because if you tune in NYC cable TV and radio you barely hear squat about the plant and what there is is always darkly. Beats me why nuke plants figure that just local ads do the PR job! Maybe that lulls them into a false sense of doing good!
You (and Platts) are leaving just a few things out (here). “According to the government’s policy coordination ministry, 277 out of 22,000 documents of tests on components at 20 reactors were found to be forged. Of 218,000 documents examined for a further eight units, including five under construction, a total of 2010 were found to be falsified.” So intervention appears to have been needed (in this instance, to review and update safety records and replace equipment in order to meet basic safety criteria and standards, and restore confidence in an industry plagued by indictments at the highest levels and scandal). “… KHNP CEO Cho Seok issued a public apology and announced a three-pronged reformation of corporate culture in efforts to regain public support. “Our domestic nuclear project is facing the utmost crisis,” he said, saying that public trust had “hit the ground” because of the Fukushima accident of 2011 and the corruption issues in the Korean nuclear industry.”
Thank you for sharing the specific numbers. Though mistakes and forgeries are never excusable, I somehow cannot get too worked up about piles of documents that demonstrate a 1% forgery rate after intensive excavation work.
Nuclear workers are quite skilled and honest, but they are, after all, human beings.
Of course, part of my response is leavened by my up-close and personal knowledge of the fact that nuclear plants are durable and have backups to their backups. They are never on a knife’s edge of hurting anyone, no matter how badly they have been portrayed by people who either don’t like them or don’t know anything about them.
Yeah, much ado about nothing (or relatively little), IMHO. Paperwork issues on the one hand (nuclear) compared to the annual deaths of ~1000 Koreans, plus global warming, on the other (from Korea’s coal plants). Again, it is the coal plants that should be denied the right to operate, and their continued operation is much more of a govt. intervention/gift. Any yet nobody (e.g., Platts, etc…) even talks about those horrendous impacts.
A classic example of yet another nuclear witch hunt, where minor issues are repeatedly characterized as a major issue/risk. Basically fabricating problems and brainwashing the public. People’s perception of relative risk/impact (i.e., the scale of problems) is mostly based on how much it’s reported on by the media, and they report a whole lot on trivial nuclear issues, and don’t talk much at all about the vastly larger issues/harm related to the fossil industry. Hell, even if they did have a meltdown, the impact wouldn’t approach that inflicted *annually* by their coal plants, in terms of public health impact.
Nuclear program in “utmost crisis”? Yeah, if you (Mr. Sheok) say so. QA record issues are a “crisis” whereas thousands of annual deaths and global warming are not a “crisis” (and are barely even discussed)? As for the public reaction (and “lack of trust”), that’s just a product of decades of brainwashing (by the media) along with an astonishing degree of public prejudice against all things nuclear.
Yes, a “crisis” can be created/fabricated. It’s a “crisis” if you say it is, and convince the public it is. We had a similar thing happen here at WIPP, where a complete non-event was transformed into a major issue (i.e., a major scare with significant repercussions).
“A classic example of yet another nuclear witch hunt, where minor issues are repeatedly characterized as a major issue/risk.”
The people in the nuclear industry work very hard to make it a safe industry. The health and safety of the public is paramount.
Does the public know how safe nuclear power actually is? When I was a kid, safety was never used to sell cars. I remember a lot of cars without seat belts. My car is old. I walked into a car dealership and the salesman was peddling safety. He told me that safety sells.
How many people out there actually have an idea as to how much safer and cleaner nuke plants are than coal plants? The protesters are selling non-nuclear in most part by telling people that these plants are not safe. If the Vermont public had known as to how safe nuke plants actually are, would Vermont Yankee have been shut down?
This is silly … I’m not aware of any industry (besides illicit ones) where a pervasive level of bribery, use of substandard parts, breaking the law, and forging documents is not taken seriously and is excused on the basis of basic human error (as suggested above). So that would be all of them. If you can’t imagine why nuclear has a public relations problem, you might want to start with some of the foolish (and very unprofessional) statements you are finding above.
South Korea’s nuclear industry is vast and growing. http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Country-Profiles/Countries-O-S/South-Korea/
What gives you the right to characterize an issue as “pervasive” that, by your own numbers, affected 1% of a large collection of documents and 100 people, probably less than .1% of the total industry employment?
It IS taken seriously all over, but it still happens in aircraft parts, medicines, electronic chips and a host of other areas where low-value items can be passed off as high-value items and the difference pocketed.
Hardly. The problem was rooted out and the industry bounced back.
Corruptible humans got corrupted. They got caught and the problems were corrected. Nobody got hurt… unlike cases where effective drugs are replaced by worthless substitutes and nobody finds out until too late, or fraudulently-certified aircraft parts fail in flight and cause a crash.
These problems are not pervasive, but they occur nonetheless. They won’t become pervasive because others have strong incentives to detect and stop corruption. The public is as safe as it can be, given humanity as it is. We can’t do better without improving the character of humanity, and the anti-eugenicists don’t like that idea.
This is hardly trivial (except among nuclear enthusiasts and social media commentators who defend unmitigated and egregious corruption in an industry they love without batting an eyelash). 100 people were indicted in the scandal, including a vice president at Korea Electric Power Corp and former chief executive at Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Co (“who face bribery charges“). If you don’t speak out against “a culture of secrecy that led to corrupt practices among officials involved in safety certification,” where is the bar for you (it doesn’t appear to even exist)! If you think you are advancing the case for nuclear with such comments, you are doing nothing of the sort (the opposite, I have a great confidence saying).
More dismissiveness, by every indication. If you can’t get worked up about Fukushima, it’s a pretty good bet you aren’t going to get worked up about bribery, corporate malfeasance, corruption, and thousands of bogus safety certificates. If you want a good example of why a strong independent regulator is needed, comments such as those above are a pretty good case and point and example.
What is your “best practices” example industry? Humans are fallible. Some are crooked, some are stupid, some leave themselves behind through choices they make, and all of us have bad days now and again.
If your expectation is perfection you’ll always be disappointed.
Also, you keep getting confused about what I am defending here on Atomic Insights. I do not defend “an industry,” I defend a technology. More specifically, I defend the right of human beings all over the world to think about, develop and deploy ways to beneficially use the incredible store of energy inside the nuclei of actinide elements.
I am a fission fan as long as that fission is used in a controlled power reactor and not a weapon whose only purpose is destruction.
When 100 people are indicted, Rod, the issue is pervasive and systemic. I’m not sure why you are incapable of recognizing this! Being human is no excuse for breaking the law. Your dismissiveness is unfortunate and adds little perspective to this issue.
If people are guilty of serious crimes, they should be punished. I don’t necessarily have anything against they way the people involved (in Korea) are being treated/punished, as long as people in other industries receive the same treatment (for things of equal significance).
But, respond by closing nuclear plants and replacing their output with coal (as Korea and Japan did)? Never!! That’s not only wrongheaded but outright immoral, given the enormous impacts on public health and the environment. Why should the public (health) and the environment be punished for those people’s wrongdoing? Punish those involved, and make any necessary changes as quickly as possilbe, but the plants must remain open!
Why is it that when anything ever goes wrong, fossil fuels are always the fall back? Fossil fuels’ serious problems? “Yeah, we’ll get around to doing something about that someday…” More of an aspirational goal, like a New Year’s resolution. With nuclear, on the other hand, if anything at all is wrong, the response is immediate and uncompromising. Shut it all down until everything is completely fixed/resolved. My proposal? Shut all coal plants down immediately and not allow them to reopen until they can be operated w/o emitting any pollution (not even a chance of emitting pollution, you know, the way nuclear is treated).
The criterion for shutting a nuke down, over any kind of problem, should be that the risks of continued operation are so great that the nuke is actually riskier and/or more harmful than a coal plant.
I’d like to see you answer the question, “What is your “best practices” example industry?” You’ve got a lot of statistics and references, there must be one good example in your bag of tricks.
When I was stationed at the US Naval Academy a couple decades ago, about 100 midshipmen were put on report for cheating on a EE examination. Do you think that indicated a pervasive and systemic integrity issue with the entire US Navy?
Reply is posted above …
About 100 people have been indicted. That was about a year and a half ago. How many have actually been found guilty of the charges?
@Rod Adams and Brian Mays
Obviousness seems to be a lacking for some of you!
This is an extensive scandal, the ramifications of which were covered in ANS (and elsewhere in english language media). The fact that you seem to know little about this is quite surprising to me (especially with respect to Wolsong No. 1 reactor mentioned in Platts article). I agree they did not discuss the full details of case, but extensive government intervention, public debate, contrition from officials, reform of corporate culture, etc., were involved in this case. None of this is as casually summarized by Jim Hopf in original comment, or subsequently with the suggestion that “all of us have bad days now and again.” Continuing to suggest as much just shows your ignorance, and little else.
The amount of attention politicians and media give to a topic says little or nothing about its actual importance. That’s especially true when it involves nuclear energy and extremely large sums of money. The scandalization of the South Korean QA/substandard parts affair — which admittedly required an appropriate response including prosecution of the guilty parties — resulted in billions of dollars worth of additional sales for the global hydrocarbon industry.
EL – Sorry. I thought it was a simple question.
I’m not paid to follow the mundane details of the happenings in the nuclear industry worldwide, nor am I paid to apologize for it, nor am I paid to attack or demonize it on various internet forums, so I figured that I would ask you for more information, since you’re the one throwing around figures.
You seem to be particularly fond of the “about 100 indictments” figure, but an indictment means only that charges have been brought. Nothing has been proved. Do you mean to tell me that you don’t think that the number of actual convictions is relevant to this story?
So how many of the accused were actually doing something wrong? Do you know? Do you even care?
Nobody here made such a claim. Is there a reason why YOU are jumping to that conclusion?
You aren’t following the conversation. I agree that South Korea took the scandal seriously and took decisive and justified steps to address the issue at multiple levels (including safety checks on reactors, replacing sub-standard parts, raiding the homes of corrupt officials and investigations that are ongoing with “deeply compromised” domestic and recently foreign parts suppliers, new laws to tighten regulations, reforming hiring and employee compensation to “root out” collusive ties, and more). In particular, the long delayed license extension of the Wolsong No. 1 reactor was significantly involved with these issues (although it was completely left out of the Platts article). This confused people such as Jim Hopf and others (who were not aware of the circumstances surrounding the Wolsong No. 1 reactor and it’s long delayed license extension).
The question curiously raised now is why nobody else (besides yourself) takes these actions seriously, and shrugs off the issue with the very unserious and imprudent suggestion that “all of us have bad days now and again.” I’ll restate it again, “If you can’t imagine why nuclear has a public relations problem, you might want to start with some of the foolish (and very unprofessional) statements you are finding above.” If such comments are intended to portray nuclear in a favorable light (with respect to professionalism and good character), they are doing a poor job of it. And having this pointed out seems to elicit no other response than to dig a deeper hole (or alternatively attack the messenger).
You have grossly misunderstood the intent of my comments. Just as my colleagues and I took seriously the fact that 100 midshipmen cheated on a EE exam, the responsible Koreans took seriously the fact that there was evidence that some people were not following the rules and doing their inspections and documents properly. They took what I believe was some warranted and some unwarranted actions. Focusing on the specifics is appropriate, making sweeping accusations and shutting down operating plants for months was not.
I resent the fact that you have now twice quoted only part of my nuanced observation about human impacts on virtually anything they touch. Here is the full statement, which is far more than just the last clause.
“Humans are fallible. Some are crooked, some are stupid, some leave themselves behind through choices they make, and all of us have bad days now and again.”
It’s clear now you think some of the actions of the South Koreans were excessive and unwarranted (which I understood from your original comment). Just to be clear, what else were you intending to imply by the comment “humans are fallible” in the context of breaking the law,
120,00010,000 falsified test certificates, defective cabling triggering two reactor shutdowns, doctoring test data, issuing safety certificates for failed tests, a “culture of collusion” and bribery (even at senior levels), and a great deal more (“what government officials and industry experts call an ‘entrenched chain of corruption'”). Because I really can’t tell where you stand on the issue (by your comments above). I guess you think people overreacted?
The Naval Academy is actually a somewhat relevant ethical comparison (although no laws were broken). If educators and superiors discovering the incident had dismissed their actions on the grounds that humans are fallible and we all have bad days now and again, then it may have signaled a broader integrity issue at the school. It appears this was not done, they were put on report, and someone stood up for something (and took dutiful and responsible action). I guess when it is only 1% of safety certificates, it’s hard to get “too worked up” (as you put it) over such a thing.
For the record, I never claimed or suggested such a thing. It is reasonable to expect people to follow the law when it comes to nuclear power (I don’t think this is a foreign concept or a radical one … although on this site it appears to get the wrath of the gods thrown at you).
That’s the first time you mentioned 120,000 falsified test certificates.
I was surprised to see my error here too, that’s not the correct number … I meant to write 10,000 (120,000 was additional certificates to be screened).
Is “I was surprised to see my error” supposed to translate as “I made a mistake,” or “I apologize for posting an incorrect number?”
As is often the case, I am grateful that you included a link. You’ve demonstrated that you can find references, but sometimes your comprehension skills are a bit lower than your search skills. Here is more context for your 10,000 number, which you have substituted for your initial 120,000 number.
The specific issue is that power cables that supply equipment in nuclear plants must prove they can withstand harsh environmental conditions. The testing programs are challenging to design because they have to prove, in a reasonably short period of time, that equipment can withstand high humidity, high temperatures, and the effects of aging during a 60-80 year design lifetime. Apparently the supplied cables did not pass all 12 tests their QA program required, but the contracted lab provided certificates saying they had passed.
For more context about the scandalization of this event and specifics about the kinds of tests that were being conducted, the below linked article in Bellona, a reasonably useful source that has a strong slant against nuclear, is worth reading.
South Korea nuke plant operator honcho steps down over forged reactor cabling scandal
Pay close attention to some of the organizations quoted and some of their recommended response actions to get a feel for how the issue, illuminated by an anonymous phone call, was used. Link the timing to South Korea’s winning of a contract to supply 4 large reactors to the UAE and its announced plans to seek a US NRC design certification.
Draw your own conclusions about the reasons why a story that was initially reported with a single paragraph from the AP newswire about forged environmental test certificates was amplified into a major media scandal.
PS – One story about the fallout from this scandal mentioned how entrepreneurs in South Korea were taking advantage of the power shortage to market clever ideas like scarves that could be filled with cooling water to keep the wearer more comfortable in the hot summer weather with insufficient air conditioning. That same story failed to mention the tens of millions of dollars per day in extra LNG that South Korea was purchasing at the same time that extra demand from Japan was also driving up the Asian LNG market prices.
Of course it is. I posted the incorrect number (inadvertently I may add). It is not helpful to have incorrect numbers posted. If I would have caught it earlier I would have corrected it.
If the correct number had been 12,000 instead of your originally posted 120,000, I would put it down to a simple typo. However, its pretty obvious that what you actually did was to find an article, skim through it, and post one of its numbers without carefully reading or understanding the context of the number.
Would you like me to correct your initial comment?
Yes … please correct it. It was not a typo, I merely used the wrong figure. I woke up this morning thinking I should double check the 10,000 figure (since it differed from a previous figure), and found your note. I indicated I made an error, and linked to the source for the figure (which I also provided upthread).
Any other revisions you think are needed … I believe it is still correct to summarize your views that you believe South Koreans response was unwarranted, excessive, and something to not get too worked up about.
Clarification. You are not quoting a knowledgable source. You are quoting an AP wire service report that includes some translation/perception issues.
On numerous occasions, the AP has demonstrated a slant against nuclear as they did in a series of stories several years ago claiming major problems with maintenance issues at US plants.
While there are NO large reactor related civilian casualty accidents occurring in the US (or arguably the free world) in recent memory, it appears there has been yet another large NG safety related incident. ( http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2015/03/26/explosion-collapse-reported-at-east-village-building/ )
What’s this “reasoning” that nuclear power or an invention is bad and cursed just because some human corruption gets tied with it? The Chinese were treated terribly building our railroads and let’s don’t even get started into blacks on plantations. Does that mean I’m taking the high moral road by not riding trains or wearing cotton? Even post-war Jews bought and drove Volkswagens, so let’s put this “nuke’s bad because of corruption taint” thing in the sandbox where it it belongs.
The question was, ” “What is your “best practices” example industry?”
You answered by pointing back at the link we are in. Certainly circular. I was hoping that you’d come up with another industry that has a better safety record and / or one with less scandal. You are good with facts, figures and statistics. The only other industry I see discussed herein is the LNG / oil industry. This is a poor example and I must confess that this means you do not have an answer.
Thanks for the attempt. I will not query further.
Compared to what is currently going on in academia (particularly the biomedical field), the Korean nuclear industry is a relative pillar of ethical fortitude. And these are the more scientific disciplines of academia.
The humanities were exposed as stinking tub of vacuous nonsense almost two decades ago.
Your sweeping condemnation of “the humanities” is as absurd as EL’s condemnation of the nuclear industry. I’m sure that is your stretch attempt, but the phrase “the humanities” includes all art, theater, literature, history as well as the “social sciences.”
Are you really so numerical as to believe those valuable, enjoyable, and creative human activities are a “tub of vacuous nonsense?”
Rod – I apologize and offer this explanation. I was not referring to the Humanities in general, but only when the scholars step outside their bounds and get too big for their breeches.
Classics, Literature, Art, History, etc., are essential parts of a well-rounded education (although, personally, I would do away with most of Philosophy, unless taught for historical context). But when scholars from the humanities attempt to challenge scientific knowledge and principles, the results are often hilarious as Alan Sokal so aptly demonstrated.
And the jokes just keep on coming. If I’m a snob, then I’m sorry, but I’m just a guy who calls it like he sees it. Perhaps the people in the Humanities should work on getting their intellectual rigor up to snuff instead of being ivory-tower snobs themselves.
In spite of his perpetual anonymity, we all know that EL does not come from a scientific background, nor does he come from a culture with rigorous Quality Assurance standards. What gives him the right to judge what was going on in Korea?
Getting back to the original question, EL was asked what are the “best practices” that he can point to? Well, certainly, they don’t come from his field … or from most places in academia these days. That was the point that I was trying to make.
“……. but I’m just a guy who calls it like he sees it”
And then runs for cover when he’s called on his BS.
Anonymous POA – If you think that I feel threatened by the opinions of professional carpenters like you, then please think again.
I’ll ask you for your opinion the next time I want to replace my back stairs. Until then, your opinion doesn’t count for much. Ignoring stupidity is not the same thing as “running for cover.” Please don’t conflate the two.
Actually Brian, your responses to my comments and opinions has amounted to nothing more than insult and derision. You have never offered substantive rebuttal. So who is “stupid”? Accusing someone if anti-semitism is despicable when offered as a rebuttal to criticism of Israel. Once again I ask you to provide the basis for your accusation. Or offer an apology.
Or, just continue to be the ignorant braying JA you’ve consistently shown yourself to be.
POA – Do I sense another anti-Israel rant coming on?
Well, judging from past experience, it doesn’t take much. Merely suggesting that it would be a bad idea for Iran to have a nuclear weapon is enough … so here goes. Personally, I think that it would be insane to allow the current Iranian regime to have a nuclear weapon.
“Personally, I think that it would be insane to allow the current Iranian regime to have a nuclear weapon”
Thats an opinion, Brian. Why would I argue that opinion? Of course, you know I disagree, but so what? You have not offered, in such a statement, any rebuttable assertions about an actual Iranian weapons program.
But, of course you know that.
What I could do, Brian, if I was to offer the kind of rebuttal that you seem to favor, is respond as follows……
You don’t think Iran should have nukes, so therefore you must be a filthy bigot, an islamaphobe. After all, isn’t your comment critical of Iran?? Yep. You obviously hate Arabs. I can tell by your comment. In fact, your islamaphobia is well known here. Don’t ask me to provide any quotes from you, though. Its enough that I make the accusation. I say its so, therefore it must be.
How’s that, Brian? Am I speaking your language now? I mean hey, we might ascwell debste by universal rules, eh? So, I give, we’ll play by your rules.
Iran is not an Arab country. It’s Persian.
Stay classy, “POA.” I might like to yank your chain from time to time, but all of the personal attacks are coming directly from you.
And, by the way, Rod is correct. The Iranians are Persians, not Arabs. Since you asked about languages, I should point out that the two Middle Eastern cultures do not even speak the same language. The Arabs speak Arabic; the Persians (i.e., the Iranians) speak Farsi (or “Parsi”).
“Iran is not an Arab country. It’s Persian”
You miss my sarcasm, Rod. The point was to argue with the same degree of ignorance that Brian consistently exhibits in his exchanges with me.
Ah … so now it’s Rod’s fault too. Always someone else to blame.
It appears that you have a wit so exceptional that nobody can understand it. We mere mortals just mistake it for stupidity. Silly us.
(Hint: That’s what sarcasm looks like.)
It escapes me how this kind of back and forth qualifies your assertion that I’m anti-semitic. Could it be that this kind of banter is the only way you can divert attention from your failure to qualify the assertion, or to apologize for making such a baseless and ignorant attempt to rebut my criticism of Israel? I have noted Rod’s criticisms aimed at Israel as well. As I have noted that he shares some of my opinions about Iran’s right to develop nuclear energy. Is he anti-semitic as well? So, am I to assume that your lack of explanation or apology indicates that you consider Rod, (and anyone else here that has criticized Israel), to be “anti-semitic”?
Yes, Brian, we just had another useless pissing match that served to divert attention away from the ignorant and timeworn manner by which you rebut criticism of Israel. YOU made it about ME, Brian, when countered the criticism of Israel with an accusation of bigotry. Now, you show yourself as less than a man by your failure to qualify or apologize for the assertion. And thats about YOU, Brian. Man up, or shut up.
“Are you really so numerical as to believe those valuable, enjoyable, and creative human activities are a “tub of vacuous nonsense”
Apparently so. Note the manner in which he has used my proffession as a topic of insult.
And his attack on anonymity is equally as shallow. You once responded to my query about EL’s proffession with your opinion that there was good reason for EL to maintain his anonymity. What, thats not a good enough explanation for Mays? He still needs to use cowardly insinuation against EL, as he does on this thread? And as for myself, I have revealed far more about myself here, including my name, proffession, and town of residence, than most here have. Yet in typical Mays fashion, he insultingly offers up “anonymous poa” in his typical empty horsecrap effort to speak with any integrity.
Don’t know enough about nuclear science to form an opinion about Brian’s credibility or knowledge about the topic. But as far as any other topic I’ve seen raised here, he just mostly attacks the messenger when someone disagrees with him. Then, when tasked to qualify his attacks and ad hominem, he simply scurries for a rock to slither under.
I am a conspiracy theorist according to Mays….yet when asked to define whatever “conspiracy” he is asserting that I have offered, he clams up. He asserts that I am anti-semitic, I assume because I dare strongly criticize Israel, then refuses to qualify his accusation of bigotry with an actual example of my alleged “anti-semitism”. And his constant insinuation that EL is a paid troll is is yey one more filthy accusation that I am quite sure he cannot back up with any actual verifiable evidence. It gets old.
In short, the man is an intellectual coward. I will back up anything I say here in this blog with sourcing and example. If he disagrees with a “fact” I offer as argument, all he need do is challenge that “fact”, and I will provide the basis by which I reached my conclusion that it is indeed a “fact.
This sweeping generalization about the humanities is just his typical braying. Heee haw as debate. He’s an expert at it.
Naturally, it’s all about you. You stay classy, “POA.”
You know “EL”, I don’t sling the word hypocrite around much, but I’ll be darn if you don’t fit the shoe. You don’t like the concept of nukes nor want nukes no matter how clean and clear they’re built or run, period. It’s what hammer to use to pile the nine-inch nails in that’s your real itch. You’re not proving how Oh so morally keen and caring and concerned you are about nuclear’s effect on public safety and health; you’re proving how blindly or bigotedly hypocritical you are single-mindedly chasing down a burglar in a town brimming with murderers and rapists. You shrug off nuclear’s amazing long safety public health/low environmental impact in and out of rare accidents against other industries whose health impacts has put away the equivalent population of whole nations for generations, all because of a phantom fear(hope?) of that one terrible Doomsday mistake that nuclear’s just gotta do to vindicate your nightmares, never mind only handfuls of people died from nuke power plants accidents worldwide since their conception and that three mismanaged Fuku reactors in a row got whacked by the worst nature can do outside an asteriod hit yet still zit casualties, but no tears or anger from you about the lives fried by gas and oil facilities that go rocked by the same quake. I’m waiting to see you bitch a storm on some gas and oil blogs about their real life historic crimes to humanity with victims of accidents and routine pollution, “EL”. Otherwise you’re just on some Don Quixote witch hunt crusade for God knows what gripe or grievance you have against the atom.
I’m filing this in shoot the messenger category. You assume incorrectly I don’t have comparable concerns about oil and gas industry and environmental impacts. When things don’t work well at nuclear plants (in this instance because of a failure of oversight and insufficient regulatory standards) adverse impacts are not limited to human health risks, and have been quite substantial for the people of South Korea (as evidenced by the comments here). My response is not to ignore and minimize such regulatory shortcomings, law breaking, and lack of professional standards (and recommend operating plants despite such regulatory shortcomings, substandard parts, defective components, even defending lower standards as is frequently common from folks like you), but fixing the problem and addressing long standing regulatory and supplier issues that create more certainty and better standards in the country (and contributed significantly to long and uncertain delays at Wolsong No.1). This helps the industry (doesn’t hurt it), and it is a mystery to my why you would suggest otherwise?
You assume incorrectly I don’t have comparable concerns about oil and gas industry and environmental impacts.
I’m not interested enough to take the time to comb through Atomic Insights articles that have described deadly accidents affecting the oil, natural gas and coal industries to see if you’ve taken any time from your busy schedule to make critical comments.
My memory will have to suffice. I can’t recall anything that remotely approached the criticism that you repeatedly push here about nuclear. By the way, cutting and pasting — maybe not literally — from your own comments to repeat the same charges several times in the same comment thread is not a terribly useful form of debate.
I have serious concerns about oil and gas development (many of which I have mentioned on site). I regularly write on reducing coal consumption (primarily to reduce environmental impacts). I am strongly opposed to 2005 energy act exemptions at federal level for injection wells (state regulations are not as strong or effective). My own state has very poor setback standards for natural gas wells and compressor stations. These can be improved. Additional regulations, I believe, would not be an excess burden to industry (and might have actually prevented some of the glut we are seeing in the market today, and minimized some of the pushback). I fully support recent efforts of Obama administration on this basis. I particularly think well casing standards need to be improved. Wastewater treatment standards (I have discussed on site). Mocondo well blow-out, adverse impacts of oil development on indigenous communities (where many significant court cases are pending), climate change (especially in Arctic), and tar sands development (I actually have friends who work in the oil patch up there, and resource development issues are a pressing concern for many of the communities I work with in Canada). Regulation and oversight (compensation with communities, squashing water quality tests in Lake Athabasca) are all serious issues on this front. If I don’t discuss these issues on a regular basis on the site, perhaps you might want to change the topic a bit so it isn’t so targeted on nuclear, but environmental issues, corporate governance and ethics, or anything else that you would like to discuss more comprehensively. I actually feel like I am passionate about all of these issues, and am rather consistent in my approach to them (that high professional standards, industry best practices, strong and independent regulations, etc., are key responsibilities and mandates of the public interests, and industry would be wise to understand, promote, define, advance, and adhere to them. And that advocates who don’t understand this, and create the appearance of doing something different, probably aren’t moving the goalposts much, and aren’t speaking to a broader audience beyond the confines of narrow special interests (or in a way that will have a significant impact on public policy).
I’m not sure all of this has to do with South Korea bribery and corruption scandals, but you appear to think it does. South Korea has taken important and far reechoing steps to address the issue. This context was a significant missing element in the story quoted above from Platts. I applaud those efforts. I’m not sure why folks on the site do not do the same.
Atomic Insights is a blog about energy, specifically about supplying affordable, reliable, abundant power with minimal impact on the environment and human health.
My impression of an overreaction is when issues without an immediate safety concern result in lengthy nuclear plant shutdowns. Replacement power sources inevitably have a greater negative environmental impact than nuclear even when operated as carefully as possible.
It certainly sounds like a safety related issue to me?
“Safety analysis was conducted on the control cables installed in Shin-kori No. 1 and No. 2 reactors and Shin-wolsong No. 1 and No. 2 reactors, and the evaluation result showed that the performance of control cable cannot be secured when nuclear accidents occur.”
– NSSC decided to stop the operation of Shin-kori No. 2 reactor and Shin-wolsong No. 1 reactor which are currently under operation, and the control cables will be replaced.”
Presumably, you don’t think the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission of South Korea is a disreputable source?
There is a difference between an immediate safety issue and the possibility that cables will have degraded performance in the event of an accident that changes their environmental conditions.
Of course I don’t think that the safety commission in South Korea is disreputable. I have at least as high an opinion of their credibility as I do of the US NRC. Both organizations are equally capable of overreacting, especially when in the limelight and under intense political pressure.
Though you may not understand my approach to things, I hope that some readers will understand and respect the fact that calm responses are generally more effective than panicked overreactions. Understanding and the ability to prioritize hazards enables much better decision making in stressful situations. My fitreps over the years indicated that I did a reasonable job in tough situations.
Under reactions are another distinct possibility. I have no doubt that the actions of the Safety Commission in South Korea were entirely warranted. And I appreciate your detailed and more informative reply (and making your position more clear). Forged documents of critical safety systems, failed safety tests, and determinations that equipment cannot be secured during an accident sound pretty straightforward to me. Components need to be replaced, and the reactor shut down to do so. We don’t need to prolong this issue any further, you have made your position quite clear. You apparently have no problem operating nuclear power plants with substandard critical safety systems (including forged documents and failed safety tests), and I do not. I understand your reasons for doing so is that some greater purpose is served (specifically, preventing the negative environmental impact from replacement power sources on an interim basis, as you have described). I have nothing else to say at this topic, you have finally brought me to a loss of words.
If the check engine light on your car goes on, do you immediately pull off of the side of the road, call a tow truck and have it taken to the dealer?
If a mechanic tells you that he noticed a surface nick on the hydraulic line to your car’s brakes, do you have the entire system replaced?
I don’t think you would know a safety related system from a non safety related system from a RTNSS system. You have no idea of the effort that goes into making design or operations choices, how to conduct a fault tree driven probabilistic risk assessment, how conflicted the classification decision process can be due to the differing perspectives of the people involved in the process, or how regulators often default to the most conservative possible decision for the specific issue without considering the overall system or safety implications.
You have no technical expertise and can only parrot what you read in documents, often taken from the commercial press. I’m happy that you have finally decided that you are at a loss for words on a topic where there are numerous details and implications that you cannot possibly comprehend because you’ve never had to make the complex decisions involved.
By the way, the determination in the South Korean situation was not that the “equipment cannot be secured” during an accident. It was that the forged test certificates created a situation where the plant operator could not prove that certain pieces of equipment would be able to function. Depending on the specific details of the situation, there are often less drastic ways to develop a means to prove operability than a long term shutdown with a complete replacement of the questionable (not necessarily defective) parts.
It appears that you are a professional activist, or some related occupation. From Illinois, no less (probably Chicago). I have a little familiarity with the groupthink of Chicago and its left-leaning people (including one who stole power as a point of pride). “Fixated” and “delusional” are two words that come to mind.
Given your familiarity with the damage caused by FF extraction, I find it amazing (but not surprising) that you pick at nuclear power. The biggest nuclear accident outside the Soviet Union had a death toll of exactly zero; essentially all related mortality and morbidity was due to bad policy decisions arising from the same radiophobia that you exhibit. All of this should be obvious to anyone who’s read AI for a while, yet you seem to have learned nothing. Oh, you allow that NuScale’s technology may be good enough to suit you… but, like all the nuclear technologies that Lovins claims to like, it’s not available.
Really? Illinois has one of the largest shares of nuclear in the US, it’s home to a great deal of the advanced technology and early reactor development in the US (at Argonne), and it now has a legislative proposal to significantly advance and secure the nuclear industry in deregulated electricity markets and the State (which I fully support). Put this together with a fully independent and gold standard in regulation and oversight (which is all upside in my view), new initiatives in waste management that hold the promise to break intractable obstacles and legal obligations (also pending in Congress and elsewhere), and you have a real and very significant game changer in the industry. It’s just too bad that nobody on the site has any interest in it (and advancing the industry in a credible direction in fully deregulated markets, but instead seem quite satisfied with the status quo and promoting a vision of deregulation that is most suited to non-competitive electricity markets in the South and government controlled and directed markets overseas)
You confuse much of the debate here. My beef is not with nuclear power (it’s here to stay like the shale gas industry), it’s with nuclear advocates who say really stupid and indefensible things to advance their interests (in what I take to be common sense unproductive directions). This comment thread is a good example in my view. I know you get a lot of mileage labeling anything that doesn’t conform to your group-think “anti-nuclear.” But grow up … most people don’t fit so easily into just two categories (including the “fixated” and “delusional” good people of one major and diverse metropolis, as you have falsely characterized them, who happen to get a good deal of their electricity from nuclear power and will continue to do so).
>> I have serious concerns about oil and gas development (many of which I have mentioned on site). I regularly write on reducing coal consumption <<
Er, where's the beef at? Or that all you have?
>> — huh? <> You apparently have no problem operating nuclear power plants with substandard critical safety systems <<
Not the core issue with you. You just don't like nukes and you run the standard anti-nuker's mantra of zero-risk perfection or don't run nukes at all. Since nothing's perfect no-nukers win. How cowardly! Try that one on the victim count of the oil and gas and coal people you never pile on.
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