1. The deployment of Ocean Nuclear power plants and the Navy’s synfuel from seawater technology, and the latest uranium from seawater extraction technology should be prioritized, IMO.

    There’s no way the US should sit back and watch Russia and China dominate Ocean Nuclear technology!

    1. Agreed. Also, floating NPPs could be employed in cleaning up the plastic that has been corralled in the North Pacific Gyre and the North Atlantic Gyre — it would serve as a very tangible demonstration of the good to the environment that NE can deliver.

  2. Lisa has been friendly to small nuclear reactors since Marvin Yoder proposed one at Galena a couple decades ago. Yoder is still around and still interested.

    Several of the larger Bush villages have expressed interest over the years. The problem with Bush is that the villages are too small for a 10MWe device. There has been some discussion about plunking down a reactor in a larger village like Barrow, Nome, Unalakleet, and distributing electricity to smaller villages.

    Other discussions have proposed using the reactor heat to heat buildings, fish hatcheries and greenhouses. The biomass to liquid guys like the ability to produce hydrogen as feedstock for a small biomass to liquid operation ( a few thousands of barrels / day or smaller) producing synthetic diesel for local use. Properly size the molecule and the same liquid can also be used as kerosene, JP-8 & AvGas,

    What do we need to tell her office to get this off the dime? Cheers –

    1. Other discussions have proposed using the reactor heat to heat buildings, fish hatcheries and greenhouses.

      Buildings, certainly.  Fish hatcheries?  I’d suggest sewage-treatment plants.  Do you even have enough light in January to bother with greenhouses?

      The biomass to liquid guys like the ability to produce hydrogen as feedstock for a small biomass to liquid operation ( a few thousands of barrels / day or smaller) producing synthetic diesel for local use.

      Let’s look at the situation here.  A C-182 carries barely more than a barrel of avgas.  What do people typically use in snowmobiles, a tank a week?  You might be talking DOZENS of barrels a day, counted on the fingers of one hand.

      Anything that could scale down that well would be truly formidable.  What works for that purpose?  Dimethyl ether makes good diesel fuel.  DME is a straightforward catalytic product of methanol, which is itself an easy catalytic product of syngas.  Frank Shu seems to have shown how to make good, clean syngas from wood or other suitable lignocellulose.  All it takes is a sufficiently hot bath (pun intended).

      Properly size the molecule and the same liquid can also be used as kerosene, JP-8 & AvGas

      Properly design the systems and the same liquid can function as heating fuel, diesel fuel and gas-turbine fuel.  If the weather gets cold enough you might need to add ethane to your DME to pressurize it, but that works too.

      What do we need to tell her office to get this off the dime?

      I suppose it’s asking too much for her to put a chemical engineer on her staff.

      1. “I suppose it’s asking too much for her to put a chemical engineer on her staff”

        Why do they need that? Why heck, Perry got a C, a D, and an F in basic chemistry courses, and look where it got him!

      2. @ E-P
        Re: I’d suggest sewage-treatment plants.
        Has there ever been any consideration given to using fission products (esp. Cs-137) to irradiate sewage? If it can sterilize food, then it should be able to sterilize . . . erm . . . “bio-processed food.”

          1. Thanks. Looks like a lot of studies have been done on that.
            Would such a system be helpful for a small Alaskan community?
            Plenty of cesium 137 in SNF — (relatively) easy to get with the simple application of high temperatures (and its removal would cut the heat produced by the rods by about half).
            Also, is “ixquick” a search engine?

          2. Would such a system be helpful for a small Alaskan community?

            (chuckle)  You are asking the wrong guy about that (not a civil engineer), but one thing that’s obvious is that the minimum size for a Cs-137 fluid-sterilizing system is going to be mighty small.  You need to route flow through the gamma field with a residence time sufficient to kill off what you are trying to kill off, and aside from heat management that seems to be about it.  Concrete shields gammas and civil engineers know concrete better than anyone.

            Oddly enough, I know someone who quit his local job to go consulting on sewage treatment, and spent some time in Alaska.

      3. @Engineer-Poet

        Great suggestion.

        And you could use fracked natural gas to methanol for transportation to break the OPEC cartel.

        1. @Stephen Duval

          Why methanol and not gas to liquid (GTL) processing that results in gasoline, diesel fuel or kerosene (aviation fuel)?

          Wouldn’t methanol be limited to those vehicles that are already built to be multifuel capable? Wouldn’t it require upgrades with new tanks and pumps and hundreds of thousands of filling stations?

  3. * Support for continued investments in SMRs and advanced reactors

    * Agreed that small and micro reactors might be especially useful in Alaska and at military installations. They might be the early adopters

    This article was quite positive. Many of the people Trump is placing in high positions may be “doers” and not just “talkers.” Perhaps one of these advanced reactors will actually get built. The expertise certainly exists in Eastern Washington to design / build one of them. I believe a lot of people would find it exciting to contribute to this work.

  4. I’m sure that an increase from 15 mrem to 100 mrem would substantially reduce site cleanup costs. That said, I have to wonder about the methods they use to determine those (most exposed individual) doses from contamination levels in dirt, etc.. I’m sure it’s all based on unrealistically conservative, hypothetical analyses that yield results wildly at odds with the actual truth (i.e., the actual doses that any real person will ever get).

    You know, the same analysis methods/philosophies that gave us estimates of thousands of immediate deaths (from acute exposure!!!) as well as tens of thousands of eventual cancer deaths from a nuclear plant meltdown. The reality being few if any cancer deaths and all exposures being orders of magnitude too small for acute exposure effects.

    Also, I wonder about their estimates of collective exposure (man-Rem), with respect to site cleanup standards. Were any even done? Or do they just do a maximum exposed individual dose estimate (based on extremely hypothetical assumptions, to say the least). If you truly believe in LNT, then consequences (i.e., number of deaths) scales with man-Rem, and maximum individual exposure is actually irrelevant.

    I was wondering if these public dose limits were in any way based on the government’s general safety standard of ~$10 million (to be spent) per life saved. Or did they just pull them out of their ass? It’s clear that in order to apply a $10 million per life saved test, you would need to determine the number of lives saved, which in turn requires a collective dose estimate (assuming LNT).

    A final observation. My understanding is that mankind’s overall collective exposure from all nuclear power operations (including Fukushima as well as any routine releases, etc.) is only on the order of one millionth what mankind gets from all other sources, e.g., natural background, radon, air travel and medical exposures. If that’s the case, and if one really believes in LNT, then we should be spending roughly a million times as much on reducing those other sources of exposure, than we do on meltdown prevention and cleaning up nuclear power sites. A radiation shield over Denver, anyone?

    But as you all know, we are spending next to nothing on reducing those other sources of exposure. There is a complete double standard, whereas LNT directly suggests that all man-Rem are equally harmful, and should be treated equally in terms of reduction efforts. Of course I’m not suggesting spending massive amounts of money on reducing other types of low-level exposure. I suggesting that spending large amounts of money to reduce or prevent nuclear-industry-related low-level exposure (esp. those within the range of natural background) is indefensible whether LNT is true or not, given that we don’t make any effort to reduce vastly larger sources of collective exposure.

    1. A radiation shield over Denver, anyone?

      You’d need one under Denver, too; a lot of that exposure is from “groundshine” and radon from uranium daughters.

      But as you all know, we are spending next to nothing on reducing those other sources of exposure. There is a complete double standard, whereas LNT directly suggests that all man-Rem are equally harmful, and should be treated equally in terms of reduction efforts.

      Quite right.  This may be why the EPA is pushing its expensive and useless radon measurement and reduction program; it’s cheap in the EPA budget and at least maintains the pose.

      1. @E-P:
        I live in Denver and I resemble that remark. Actually, most of Denver is on sedimentary rock though yea, the Rockies have their share of granite. But the sediments and rock allow plenty enough airway to vent radon around buildings.

        Doesn’t mean there isn’t a small detection industry for those curious. Now that you mention it, there are moves afoot to make radon part of building inspection.

        Earlier, I lived near Fishkill, NY, at the base of the Hudson Highlands. Many homes there are built directly on granite, and are required to have active radon ventilation. This amounts to requiring a dry gravel layer beneath the house, and a small air circulator that vents it to the outside. The idea is to prevent radon buildup indoors.

        Its simpler than it sounds: the circulator was compact and less than $1000 at the time, and of course was included in all new construction. The gravel bed was probably good architect practice as well. Heavy rain was not completely unknown.

        1. @Ed Leaver

          The real money — and opportunity for palm-greasing — in radon abatement is in retrofits of existing buildings, not in the design and construction of new buildings.

          1. @ Rod

            Wha???? Just jack up the structure and drive a new foundation underneath! What could be simpler?


        2. And that $1,000 was for a 4 inch fan, like on the back of most desktop PC’s, and about 20 feet of 4 inch PVC. Plumber could have added the PVC as part of his plumbing of the home for less than $25 and another $25 for the fan. Great profit. Like Rod said the real profit though is in refit. Call any of the various foundation services in the phonebook or search in your area and ask about it. Use a pay phone though, or you will be on the list of sales calls for years.

        3. Let’s try to do the math on this one (crudely). I’ve heard that large numbers of people get ~300 mrem/year from radon in their homes. So, an expenditure of $1000 to yield, say, a 200 mrem/year reduction, for a family. Let’s assume 3 people in the home and a time span of 33 years (feel free to adjust those numbers). An avoidance of 20 man-Rem for $1000? So, $50 per man-Rem. That’s lower than nuclear industry standards by more than an order of magnitude, right?

          Also, according to LNT, it’s one death per ~2500 man-Rem, right? So, $1000 to reduce fatal cancer risk by 0.8%. That works out to $125,000 per life saved. Almost a factor of 100 under the govt. standard of $10 million per life saved.

          And my personal view is that the excessive regulations and fab QA requirements, all aimed at reducing meltdown frequency, would work out to dollars per man-Rem avoided values far higher than the amount spent on ALARA (avoiding occupational, operational exposures), and dollars per life saved values that are orders of magnitude larger than (even) the $10 million govt. standard.

          1. @Jim Hopf;

            What is your source for the $10 million per life saved, and is that a one time industry wide payment or a recurring cost? I would like to provide a citation for some work I’m doing.

          2. Benjamin,

            Here’s one source. Apparently it varies by agencies. I heard somewhere that it was up to ~10 million. The EPA value quoted in the article being almost 10.


            As long as I’m writing, here’s another way to look at the radon issue. According to EPA, radon is causing ~20,000 American deaths per year. Applying the $10 million/life standard, that equates to a “cost” of $200 billion per year. Thus, we should be spending up to $200 billion *per year* to reduce or eliminate radon exposure. As we all know, actual spending is many orders of magnitude lower than that.

          3. Here’s another reference article.


            One interesting quote from the article:

            “Government agencies are required to conduct a cost-benefit analysis for every regulation expected to cost $100 million or more in a year….”

            It appears that NRC is a clear exception to this. I’ve never heard of them being required to perform any cost-benefit analysis until recently, in the context of Fukushima upgrades. And they (apparently) only have to do cost/benefit analysis for new and/or backfit regulations.

            I’ve been calling for a bottoms up review and cost-benefit analysis of all (new and existing) NRC regulations and QA requirements for some time. My personal view is that the overall cost of the entire body of nuclear regulations and QA requirements, vs. the overall benefit, runs well into the billions of dollars per life saved; probably tens of billions. Also, if it’s really true that even worst case meltdown events like Fukushima caused no deaths, one has to ask how any finite value could be calculated.

            Over its history, non-Soviet nuclear power has spent on the order of $1 trillion on what is essentially meltdown prevention (over $2 billion per reactor times ~400 reactors, in additional construction cost plus additional operations costs). Even LNT suggests a total eventual death toll on the order of 100 for Fukushima, it being the only significant release in non-Soviet nuclear’s entire history. That works out to on the order of $10 billion per life saved.

            OK, I know, using Fukushima’s 100 deaths for the lives saved may not be valid. How many meltdowns would we have had if we had not spent that $1 trillion? Even if you assume that 10 such meltdowns have been avoided (i.e., that we would have had 11 Fukushima events instead of one), it would work out to on the order of $1 billion per life saved, i.e., 100 times the govt. agencies’ ~$10 million figure. And yes, I believe that 11 meltdowns is a conservative (high) estimate for what would have happened if we didn’t have NQA-1 fab QA requirements, and all that NRC regulation. My personal view is that it all had relatively little benefit.

          4. @Jim, in response to comment @ 4:16
            The NRC is using the same technique they used on the startup of the reactors back in the 70’s. The plants needed permission to load fuel from the NRC which was granted after a review of all equipment qualification tests verifying equipment capabilities. Typically, they would throw in a “new,” “inexpensive” requirement to satisfy some NRC engineers analysis of some perceived shortcoming or perceived deficiency. On TMI, with all fuel on site, many months behind scheduled startup, the high interest rate construction loan, the owners had no choice but to make these minor (several hundred thousand 1974 dollars) plus high interest loans to pay for them, or go to court. Even though it was a guaranteed win they were losing ½ a million a day in lost revenue and borrowing more money to pay the construction loan. Thus they did as the NRC said.
            Most State PUC’s do not allow the rate payers to pay even one dime of new plant costs until it is declared “Operational” and is delivering power to the rate payers. This has happened at every plant I worked at. This then became part of the next licensing plants design and then a new shortcoming was found. All of the intervenors were great at finding trivial problems that met the criteria of making the “Ratchet Wrench” increase the cost of plants with insignificant increase in safety (could be measured in negative powers of ten.)
            The only revision for todays operating plants are to give the plant an inspection after some minor incident, e.g., fire in a lube system for some auxiliary non – important to safety system that gives them a red finding. They magically find several other yellow or white findings and then the plant is on the watch list. Now the plant must come up with a corrective actions plan, and then all the previous NRC recommended, but not mandatory modifications and improvements become mandatory, – if you want to start up again. Basically, the NRC will not approve the plan until they are included in the plan even though they are not mandatory. E.g. Fort Calhoun station, and, essentially, every other plant that has been on the watch list. Again, the plant is shut down and the company is losing money. They could go to court, and win, but they would not be able to start up till they won the case and then got the changed plan approved. And IMHO the NRC would just make life miserable finding even more trivial things to fix to include in the plan.
            Compare that to what happens to a failure of a system/component on a large airplane that has already caused an accident and the loss of life of people, and is common on thousands of similar airliners. If you need to fly a lot, I would not look into how bad it is.

          5. @Jim at 4:16 ” My personal view is that it all had relatively little benefit…”

            Not only that, but your example meltdown (Fukushima) was not caused by a LOCA, or steam line break, or tube rupture, or any of the analyzed and designed for accidents. It was caused by a siting error that led to an extended loss of electrical power. So the redundant safety injection, the 10-second start EDGs, the 4-channel reactor protection system, all that had nothing to do with the event that actually caused a real meltdown. All the regulatory ratcheting did nothing for that plant. Cost, cost cost, without any benefit in the real world.

            1. @gmax137

              Actually, the site chosen for Fukushima Daiichi wasn’t the issue. The decision to reduce the power consumption associated with pumping seawater by lowering the natural bluff at the site by 60 feet or so played a role.

              So did the decision to focus on earthquake risk while ignoring flooding risk when deciding where to site diesel generators and switchboards.

              Just adding a couple of shared diesels for each of units 1-2 and 3-4 and putting them on the nearby hills could have saved the day.

              There were many paths that would have avoided the triple meltdown.

          6. “It was caused by a siting error that led to an extended loss of electrical power”

            It suprised me seeing that assertion here. Its an assertion I made when I first arrived at AI, and I was soundly taken to task for it. It is no suprise that you got immediate push back from Rod. Fact is, if you insinuate that dangerous Fukushima siting caused the disaster, than it follows that the same argument would apply to San Onofre, and even possibly Diablo, would it not?? Time and time again, here, I have seen the site placement of all three of these NPPs strongly defended.

          7. So, Rod, are you saying that the Fukushima Daiichi plants comply with GDC2:

            “Criterion 2—Design bases for protection against natural phenomena. Structures, systems, and components important to safety shall be designed to withstand the effects of natural phenomena such as earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, tsunami, and seiches without loss of capability to perform their safety functions. The design bases for these structures, systems, and components shall reflect: (1) Appropriate consideration of the most severe of the natural phenomena that have been historically reported for the site and surrounding area, with sufficient margin for the limited accuracy, quantity, and period of time in which the historical data have been accumulated, (2) appropriate combinations of the effects of normal and accident conditions with the effects of the natural phenomena and (3) the importance of the safety functions to be performed.”

            I’d say on the face of it, “no.”

            And to POA, no, I don’t think that means SONGS and Diablo are necessarily also not in compliance. Because the design basis (maximum tsunami height) is a different number for each site, and the design of the buildings protecting the diesel generators and the switchgear might also be different.

          8. gmax,

            In fairness, station blackout (loss of offsite power, needed for active cooling), as well as environmental factors such as tsunami ARE looked at. I’ve heard that, for some US plants at least, the station blackout scenario is the largest contributor to overall meltdown risk, according to the PRAs.

            As for the tsunami, plant site analyses DO have to evaluate that. The problem was the conclusion of the evaluation, i.e., their judgment as to how high a tsunami they needed to address. It’s all a matter of how low a probability is acceptable.

            Was their decision “just plain stupid”? In a rational world, it wouldn’t be. The rational person’s response to the general question of how large an external disaster should you be able to withstand is “the natural disaster required to break the plant should be so severe that a nuclear plant meltdown would be the least of their concerns”.

            Well……….. We all know what happened in Japan. A biblical 9.0 earthquake and 45-ft. tsunami that killed almost 20,000 people, and a meltdown that killed ~zero. And yet, look at the reaction (of the public, politicians, media, etc…….).

            Words can’t describe how disgusted I am with the Japanese reaction to that event. The rational reaction would be *increased* support for nuclear, since the worst-case, boogey man scenario was shown to be orders of magnitude less harmful than always thought. Also, anger over being lied to about meltdown consequences (“what we were always told was literally the ultimate disaster caused, what, ~zero deaths??!!). But no, the reaction is just the opposite!! Shutting down nuclear and choosing to use COAL instead, “for the sake of public safety and health”!

            That one thing, the Japanese (and world) reaction to Fukushima, has done more than anything else to make me almost completely pessimistic about nuclear’s prospects. People’s prejudices are so deep that they are incapable of giving nuclear a fair shot, or us having a level playing field. New reactor designs will solve none of this.

          9. @ Jim Hopf

            For Fukushima Prefecture the casualty numbers were: 1600 dead from the tsunami, 0 dead and expected dead from radiation, and 1600 dead saving people from the radiation risk computed by LNT.

            LNT is not only denying the world the benefits of nuclear energy, it is also killing people. LNT was as deadly as the tsunami.

            If the junk science underlying LNT is exposed, the entire regulatory house of cards holding back nuclear energy collapses.

            Donald Trump, Rick Perry, and Noelle Metting to the rescue. 100 mSv/yr is the objective and then say goodbye to NRC regulation.

            An FAA regulation model is more appropriate. A company designs and builds a reactor at INL, the new NRC gets to play with it for 6 months trying to make it fail and it they cant succeed, the reactor is licensed and with an ordinary construction permit, a utility can install one. The new NRC periodically inspects the plant to ensure that it is being maintained according to specifications.

      2. EP,

        And it only sort of maintains a pose. My guess is that even those EPA radon programs (which are voluntary) involve per man-Rem costs that are orders of magnitude smaller than those that are foisted on the nuclear industry (for meltdown prevention and remediation standards).

        1. Yes they are “voluntary” and “Recommendations,” however:
          There is a section on radon testing including the EPA and U.S. Surgeon General’s recommendation that all homes be tested. EPA’s 1-800-SOS-Radon hotline is also mentioned.
          Further, – Mortgagees are required to provide the form to prospective homebuyers at first contact. The form is mandatory for all FHA-insured forward mortgages. This requirement potentially reaches millions of homebuyers.
          So, you do not have to do any testing unless you sell your house and they desire a FHA backed loan. Then, you need to provide the test results to the prospective buyer, who will then, either back out or require mitigation before purchasing the home.

  5. “Let’s assume 3 people in the home and a time span of 33 years (feel free to adjust those numbers). An avoidance of 20 man-Rem for $1000?”

    Thirty three years is a long time. How many hours will the three people spend in their basement with the Radon in that 33 years? Will their bodies not recover from the very low doses they will receive? I am one that still thinks the Radon thing is largely a scam. What is the dose from granite countertops?

  6. I am not sure if is against form etiquette to suggest content, but would it be possible to have Dr. Noelle Metting as a guest on the Atomic Show?

    It appears from Rod’s corresponding Forbes article, the respected Radiation Biologist, with a Harvard PhD who had been working 30 years for the government, was fired for “Defiance of Authority” for not sticking to a predetermined script during a Q&A session of a meeting. It reads like outright intimidation with the sole intent to censure.

    My eyes normally glaze over articles related to radiation protection standards and I missed the 1st mention of this story. Not because the value of its coverage is not recognized, but because I was under the impression the malfeasance was done 60 years ago and steps were being taken to right a wrong. I am little charged up that this calculated attack was being carefully conducted from 2009 till 2014, under a supposedly pro science, pro clean energy administration.

    It now appears after suffering in silence, Dr. Metting has decided to share her experience. I am not sure how open a shy, introverted, dedicated scientist would be to a 30-40 minute interview, but I think her story would be well received by the Atomic audience.

    1. @Tom d

      Just in case others don’t know what you are talking about, here is a link to that Forbes piece.


      I’d appreciate it if you and others begin the conversation there; the audience at Forbes is quite different from the one here. After about 5 days, I will be republishing a version of that article here.

      With regard to your suggestion to invite Dr. Metting to appear on the Atomic Show, it’s a good idea. Stay tuned.

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