NSSA Response to BBC Article “The Ship That Totally Failed to Change the World”
N/S Savannah Association, Inc. 8/8/2014
For immediate release
On July 25, 2014, BBC News Magazine published a feature piece on NS SAVANNAH entitled “The Ship That Totally Failed to Change the World.” The N/S SAVANNAH Association, Inc. was contacted during the production of the article, and interviews were conducted with Stan Wheatley and Will Davis. While the bulk of the article is accurate, and NSSA welcomes and appreciates the media attention, certain points contained in the article are not necessarily accurate.
The question of the primary coolant discharge overboard during the early years of the ship’s operation was asked, and a detailed answer provided. None of the answer, emailed to BBC’s Justin Parkinson, was included in the article, which when printed simply stated that overboard discharges (of radioactive water) were reduced when greater tank capacity on board was installed, which is not accurate. In order to ensure that the complete story as to the overboard discharges during the first few years of operation is told, the explanation as e-mailed is reproduced here:
From the FSAR (Final Safety Analysis Report) for the ship, STS-004-002, section 7.1.2 we obtain the following:
At the end of the BBC article, it is stated that future acceptance of nuclear ships “might require more than a publicity trip or two,” with the direct implication that this is all that NS SAVANNAH achieved during her tours around the world. In point of fact, operation of SAVANNAH led to visits to over 30 domestic and 40 foreign ports, during the demonstration period the first few years of the ship’s operation, and following that during the five years of commercial operation. During this entire time period, the availability of the power plant (the amount of time it was actually available, versus the amount of time it was scheduled to be) was 99%. NS SAVANNAH had a history, and performance record, that any future nuclear merchant ship would do well to duplicate.
Communications Director, N.S. Savannah Association
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Visiting the N.S. Savannah
The U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) controls access to the N.S. Savannah and the ship is not currently open to the general public. However, MARAD’s Savannah Technical Support (STS) group can grant access to the ship and provide escorted tours for groups and individuals. All visits and tour requests should be directed to the MARAD STS group. Please visit the MARAD website Frequently Asked Questions page for more information on arranging your tour. Click here for driving directions to the N.S. Savannah.
You can take a virtual tour of the ship right now at the Historic Naval Ships Association website’s Tour of N.S. Savannah.
End Press Release
That article nicely summarizes all of the concerns about nuclear-powered cargo ships and shows that the opinions on the future prospects are just pure speculation, on the part of the article that is. A nuclear-powered ship costs more, yes, but so does an LNG-fueled ship, between 20-30% more. The bottom line for LNG, though, is that the numbers exist for determining economic feasibility, but that the question of refueling infrastructure is currently unanswerable. This is why the debate is ongoing whether blended fuel oils, scrubbers, or LNG will be the most economical solution for meeting the global 0.1% sulfur requirements from the IMO.
I forget who said this to me, but I am under the impression that the single greatest obstacle for the Savannah entering ports wasn’t safety, but guaranteeing insurance coverage for an accident. Let’s hypothetically say that a modern nuclear-powered container ship powered by an Adams Engine is economical enough to cover that potential cost, every dime. There is a lot of money to be made in shipping and shipbuilding, as well as in having control over a new technology. There are plenty of ways for people with lots of money to sway public opinion, like BP’s advertising campaign after the Gulf Oil Spill.
One reason I am fond of the Savannah is that it is the only ship I know of that represented more than just shipping or nuclear power. It was part of a greater message (Atoms for Peace) that humanity’s technological march forward didn’t have to destroy us, but could save us. That message still applies today for a new nuclear shipping program.
Thanks for this information on the NS Savannah as it is informative. What I see is not a failure of a “proof of concept” machine for ship propulsion, but rather some learning about design choices. When I compare this information to other successful “proof of concept” early reactor plants, I see a difference between Westinghouse designs and B&W designs. The early W design (Shippingport, S1W) went with some zero leakage components (CRDMs, SRVs) thus the system Make-up Pumps did not normally have to run to push water “in” and prevent out leakage. The NS Savannah Make-up pumps always had to run, and obviously the early design leaked too much. But that is a different problem than pushing the ship with nuke power. The USN has obviously proved that can be done successfully, and with designs other than just Westinghouse.
Good article, Will!! Send it back to the BBC!!! Or maybe save the stamp money.
Re: “At the end of the BBC article, it is stated that future acceptance of nuclear ships “might require more than a publicity trip or two,”
(Gee, why don’t the media EVER doubt windmills and solar farms? Quick — grab that article!!)
This BBC piece (like all media nuclear pieces, sorry to say) was intended as poisoned goods from the get-go. Then, it comes as no great surprise that the overtly anti-nuclear media coyly and slyly leaves the stain of “oversight” or “mistake” of a truth uncorrected to set and fester in the public eye and mind to further their anti-nuclear agenda. Will there be any BBC correction here due this article? Should we hold our breath so long? We see this again and again in any media nuclear piece, leaving not an air of optimum but an aftertaste of doubt and caution meant to seed distrust and wariness. I don’t need to be an Nostradamus to know how the BBC would take this fine article as a follow-up to fix their mentions. The ONLY cure for this kind of biased reporting is as Benjamin Haas mentioned — Massive mass advertisement just like BP Gulf SO successfully did to bleach their PR stain — and NO, just like appalled Lovelock, I don’t believe the sky-high cock and bull that the collective nuclear community can’t “afford” Ads to save itself and the world. Not as long those even as lowly as PUPPY RESCUE can do so coast to coast.
Hey Rod, were you aware that there has been no global warming for the last 17 years.
Here is the proof, please inform your minions.
Ah, my dear Mr. Stock. As long as you’re trolling here, I’d like you to answer a few questions:
1. You claim to be a nuke professional. What qualifies you to pose as an authority on climate, such that you link to your own blog rather than primary sources?
2. What are your specific qualifications in nuclear energy, particularly?
1) my presentation on global temperatures uses real data on world temperature. I do the math, graphing, and statistics. Simple stuff really? What issue are you taking with that? Are you just taking a pot shot at a “blog”?
2) BSME Northwestern, MSME Michigan, 30 years of experience in the energy industry, 4000 hours of training in nuclear and radiation physics.
Plus I still retain common sense, intuition, and a sense of humour amidst the irony of it all.
How about you? All I get from you are false arguments and pot shots.
4000 hours (that’s 2 full-time years) of training in nuclear and radiation physics; not a degree program, or you would have said so. Very interesting.
1. What was the specific nature of this training?
2. What purpose did you have in seeking this training?
3. Who provided this training?
4. Who paid for it?
Hey and for lack of attention to detail (what are you some aspy type whose delusions of adequacy cloud your ability to focus) the name is
lower case s, and no Mr. in front of it. Putting a Mr in front of it is a false argument that you use to try to create credibility for yourself by acting “proper”, you wouldn’t be a Brit would you?
Mr. Galt (yes, I have read Atlas Shrugged), that was a rhetorical question. The inestimable and otherwise useless Mr. Stock is being trolled to get him to reveal his essential worthlessness. He does that well, don’t you think?
“On climate, we may know the accuracy of predictions after enough time passes, if we can agree on what is being measured and predicted.” Yes, but isn’t that the rub? The IPCC and CAGW proponents are claiming we have no time to waste in waiting for reliable, duplicable measurements that withstand scrutiny by unbiased experts in their field. We must act now! they bellow. In fact, some claim we are beyond the tipping point. Talk about hysteria.
Is CAGW unique in that, unless you have an advanced degree in climate science, meteorology or atmospheric physics and have peer-reviewed, published articles or served as a contributor to the IPCC reports, you have no valid opinion on this topic? Trouble is, even those who do have these credentials and expertise (Lindzen, Spencer, Pielke, numerous others) are lambasted and belittled for presenting an opposing opinion.
I’ve said before on this blog that atomic power is the greatest discovery in lifting humanity out of energy poverty. It stands as a Colossus over anything else and doesn’t need the scare tactics of CAGW to prove its worth or superiority. That the nuclear power industry hasn’t taken aggressive action to defend its past and advance its future is lamentable.
As long as we snipe at others for differing opinions on a topic that remains in flux (CAGW) rather than joining forces on things on which we agree (atomic power) we will remain on the fringe of the energy debate rather than leading it.
What Mr. Stock means is that the temperature peak driven by the El Nino of 1997 was not exceeded for some years. What he doesn’t say is that the trend line is steadily upward since 1960. There’s also the little detail that the ground-level temperature measurements have large gaps in poorly-covered areas like the arctic, and heat being absorbed by the oceans is accompanied by the thermal expansion of water and consequent sea-level rise.
In other words, he’s wrong… as he is about most everything.
The pause/hiatus comes directly from the IPCC in AR5.
In AR4 (2007) the IPCC stated
“For the next two decades, a warming of about 0.2°C per decade is projected for a range of SRES emission scenarios. (AR4 SPM)”
This works out to 2C per century.
In AR5(2013) the IPCC reduced the rate of warming by 75% from .2C per decade to .05C per decade
“[T]he rate of warming over the past 15 years (1998–2012) [is] 0.05 [–0.05 to +0.15] °C per decade)which is smaller than the rate calculated since 1951 (1951–2012) [of] 0.12 [0.08 to 0.14] °C per decade.”
This works out to .5C per century; not very alarming.
The IPCC refers to this slowdown as a hiatus in AR5.
“the hiatus is attributable, in roughly equal measure, to a decline in the rate of increase in effective radiative forcing (ERF) and a cooling contribution from internal variability (expert judgment, medium confidence). The decline in the rate of increase in ERF is primarily attributed to natural (solar and volcanic) forcing but there is low confidence in quantifying the role of forcing trend in causing the hiatus, because of uncertainty in the magnitude of the volcanic forcing trend and low confidence in the aerosol forcing trend.”
The quotes from AR4 and AR5 are taken from Judith Curry’s blog at http://judithcurry.com/2014/01/06/ipcc-ar5-weakens-the-case-for-agw/
The above explanations for the pause were unsatisfactory for the alarmists. If internal variability caused the pause from 1998 to 2012, then maybe internal variability (natural factors) caused the warming from 1975 to 1998. The alarmists quickly cycled thru several alternative explanations for the failure of the models to predict the pause, despite the continuing rise in CO2 emissions, before settling on “It’s hiding in the deep ocean”.
Fortunately for the alarmists, their is no data available on temperature in the deep ocean. However, for this hypothesis to be credible, the alarmist have to provide some explanation of how the heat gets into the deep ocean. Presumably it would have to move thru the top 3000 feet of the ocean where reliable temperature data has been available for about 10 years from the Argo buoys. There is also the complicating factor that hot water tends to rise, not fall.
It is also incumbent upon the alarmists to offer some explanation of why the heat didn’t “hide in the deep ocean” in the 1975-1998 time period, but did hide in the 1998-2012 time period. There was no significant change in CO2 emissions between these two periods so if another explanation is made for this change, perhaps this mechanism and not CO2 is really the determining factor of climate.
The alarmist no longer ascribe the temperature rise between 1915 and 1940, that is very similar to 1975-1998, to CO2. CO2 emission really took off after 1950 and were not significant prior to 1950. The alarmists offer no explanation for the 1915-1940 warming; perhaps the cause of the 1915-1940 warming also caused the 1975-1998 warming and the correlation between CO2 and temperature for 1975-1998 is just a coincidence.
If the heat continues to “hide” in the deep ocean for the rest of this century, then irrespective of CO2 emissions, the earth does not have fever and a .5C rise in temperature by 2100 does not provide any reason to transform the energy sector.
If the precautionary principle is invoked, there are 4 million African women and children who die every year from lung problems associated with cooking by burning dung and wood. This problem would be alleviated by access to electricity. Are the Greens going to continue lobbying the World Bank to deny African nations loans to build coal based electricity generation plants? Coal plants may be dirty, but they are much cleaner than burning dung and wood in the kitchen.
Finally on a humorous note, 97% of the climate models agree, the data is wrong.
See this plot of Temperature vs time for 44 climate models and the actual data from 2 different satellites.
And this for the text to accompany the chart.
I’m not an alarmist and not particularly concerned about temperature trends. I don’t that we have no real idea what will happen if we continue adding to the global concentration of CO2 with an increasing rate of CO2 emissions each year with no corresponding increase in the rate of natural CO2 removal. I’m also concerned about what happens over time as more and more atmospheric O2 is consumed by combining it with hydrocarbons and making it unavailable. Since we only have one atmosphere, however, it seems kind of short sighted to be conducting a large scale experiment to see what will happen.
I share your goal of bringing reliable energy to more and more people; that seems to be one of the most important ingredients in lifting them out of poverty. World Bank loans are an important tool, but they should be for appropriate technology. It would not make sense to me for the World Bank to support construction of large coal-burning plants in places where there is no indigenous coal available. Those places might be better served with loans to support simple, safe, low fuel cost nuclear plants.
However, the World Bank has only supported ONE nuclear project in its entire history and that one was in the 1950s for a developing country called Italy.
We have technology available that is both emission free and reliable. It does not require changing our energy consuming lifestyle and does not require a new electricity distribution system.
I’ll issue a similar challenge to people who are skeptical about climate change as I do to people who are so worried about CO2 that they campaign for immediate actions and join marches. If you are really serious about your stated concerns (for access to energy in the case of skeptics and to reduce CO2 in the case of campaigners) why don’t you more vocally support the use of abundant, emission free nuclear power? What are you doing to eliminate barriers that make it more costly and financially risky without improving safety?
Here is a related issue that makes me wonder about motives. Why do some nuclear advocates argue vehemently against those of us who remind everyone that nuclear energy is so emission free and reliable that it is a terrific fuel for submarines (because we are supposedly jumping on the climate change bandwagon) yet they say nothing about the natural gas industry’s use of its “low carbon” advantage over coal as a reason to choose it despite cost-per-unit heat disadvantages and its storage/transportation challenges?
I share your goal of bringing simple, safe, low cost nuclear plants to those who need energy. I do not think the World Bank should support a coal plant in a location where no coal is available. I agree with you that the World Bank should fund nuclear plant projects.
Nuclear is a superior technology to coal, IMO, without any doubt: it is sustainable for thousands of years versus hundreds of years for coal; nuclear is not polluting unlike coal that gives off more radioactivity than a nuclear power plant; the waste products are much easier to deal with (fast reactors produce 1 ton of fission product per GWe versus over 200,000 tons for coal); without abusive regulation by the NRC based upon LNT, nuclear would be cheaper than coal; nuclear is safer than coal in terms of both employee deaths and public deaths by a huge margin; and while proliferation is not an issue for coal, proliferation is a political issue for the most part unrelated to commercial nuclear power.
Coal plants do have one advantage over nuclear plants, they are less capital intensive. For capital starved undeveloped countries, lower capital intensity could be a deciding factor.
I agree that unlike unreliables, nuclear does not require us to change our lifestyle or the electricity distribution system. Nuclear plants can be built close to cities so that transmission lines that are vulnerable to terrorism, can be much shorter.
As for natural gas, IMO it is too valuable to be burnt for electricity or even for heat. About 500 GWe nuclear plants could satisfy the electrical needs of the US (completely eliminating coal, gas may still be required for peaking), another 750 GWe nuclear plants could support the heating requirements of the US, freeing up natural gas for its most important role in today’s economy, substitution for oil.
OPEC is a cartel that sets the price for the most important strategic product in the world today, oil. This cartel is controlled by a handful of nations (Saudi Arabia, Iran, Kuwait, Iraq), some of whom may nominally be our allies, but who in fact seldom have our best interests in mind. Clearly they are free to make whatever decisions they feel are most advantageous to their nations.
We are also free to take steps to limit the ability of OPEC to raise the price of oil. Natural gas is currently converted to methanol on an industrial scale at a price of about $3.00 per gallon of gasoline equivalent. It is an excellent automotive fuel (higher octane), existing automobiles could run on a blend of gasoline, ethanol, and methanol with the change of a couple of rubber seals and modifications to the software of the engine control unit.
The Greens allied with coal to drive nuclear out of the market. The Greens are now allied with Big Oil and Gas to drive coal out of the market. If I was a leader of OPEC and had $1 trillion of revenue per year, spending a billion or two per year to eliminate nuclear and coal as competitive products would be a tremendous bargain. I have no proof that OPEC funds Greenpeace or the Natural Resources Defense Council or any of the other groups that make up the multi billion dollar Big Green Machine. However, the agenda of these groups align remarkably with OPEC even to the extent of opposing the Keystone Pipeline. After coal is eliminated, fracking will be the next target, again removing a competitive product.
With fracking, the US has come into a huge supply of natural gas. The big energy question is do we help OPEC and use our natural gas to shut down our coal industry (with a little help from the EPA), or do we use nuclear to replace coal and use natural gas as a substitute for oil. We are well on the way to using natural gas to replace coal. If we double or triple our annual use of natural gas in order to eliminate coal, we might use up our natural gas reserves in 30 years. Then OPEC would not only be able to stop our cars, it could turn off our lights.
For those fixated on CO2, if economic battery technology ever became available, using nuclear to produce electricity and heat completely eliminates the CO2 issue (coal plants would be history by now if Big Green had not shut down the nuclear industry). As a backup plan, in case economic batteries are not in our future, nuclear can produce hydrogen from water at 850C (sulfur iodine) or possibly 650C (uranium carbonate), hydrogen can be combined with CO2 separated from the air to produce methanol, and methanol can be burnt in an internal combustion engine or used to produce electricity on board the car in a fuel cell. Under both alternatives, there are no net CO2 emissions. About 1200 GWe nuclear is required to produce hydrogen for the US when the appropriate reactor technology is available.
In total that makes a total of 2400 GWe reactors for the US or 24,000 small modular reactors at 100 MWe each. If they were built over 100 years, that would be 240 SMRs per year ignoring replacements. This would definitely be sufficient to support a modular manufacturing industry with the NRC approving reactor designs based upon a demonstration of walk away safety for a reactor design at Idaho National Laboratory and with the NRC having no role in the licensing of specific nuclear plants.
Also I assure you that my motives are pure :). I am a genuine nuclear booster, hormesis supporter, and global warming denier. FWIW, I believe that the same tactics are used to promote LNT and Global Warming. When the other side gives up denier, I will give up alarmist.
@E-P How do you explain the fact that none of the models predicted the “hiatus/pause” that even the IPCC recognizes has occurred? Did they not all show a steadily increasing global temperature? I am trying to understand your rationale on this.
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