Prevention is Easier and Less Painful Than Cure – Keep Vermont Yankee Operable
One of the well known techniques for minimizing the impact of an important report whose news some people don’t want to hear is to hold it for release until late Friday evening. That way, conventional journalists will not pay much attention until Monday morning and there will be some amount of decay in interest level by the time people hear about the news dump.
If you really want to submerge bad news and notice that Christmas is on a Thursday, it’s even better to time the report release for Christmas Eve. That way, there will be a long, festive weekend in which few people pay attention.
Someone who shall remain nameless apparently decided to take advantage of the calendar; a report titled Economic Impacts of Vermont Yankee Closure prepared for the Franklin Regional Council of Governments was released late in the afternoon of December 24. Fortunately, some of the old conventions of the news cycle are being overturned by such intrepid organizations as VT Digger, which noticed the release and published an immediate article titled UMASS-DARTMOUTH REPORT DETAILS IMPACT OF VERMONT YANKEE CLOSING.
A number of other stories are appearing — including one on New England Public Radio titled Three States Shoulder Economic Burden Of VT Yankee’s Closure — indicating that some responsible government bodies are finally getting a clue about the onerous impact to a three state region of closing a low-cost, well-run, environmentally-benign facility that produces a vital product that is showing no signs of going out of style.
This event should never have been seen as a single state issue. It should have been obvious from the time that Vermont Yankee was built that a power plant on a state line between two states and within a couple of dozen miles of a third state is deeply involved in interstate commerce. It should not be forced to prove that it is “needed” by the public of any one state.
For many reasons, including lack of focused attention by some of the people who will be most affected, the Vermont Yankee saga is in the bottom of the ninth, the home team is behind by a run or two, there are two outs, and there is already one strike on the batter at the plate. Worse yet, the batter appears to be under orders to keep the bat on his shoulder no matter what pitch is thrown.
I’ve never enjoyed being an “I told you so,” especially in situations where there are still opportunities to prevent a painful learning experience from actually happening.
On Monday, December 29, 2014, the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant will shut down because its current fuel load has been nearly completely used up. Because no new fuel has been ordered, the plant will remain shut down for at least six months. That estimate is a pure guess; the lead time required to manufacture, deliver and install a new fuel load might be longer than that.
However, despite all assumptions to the contrary, the plant is not yet dead. The batter at the plate has a good eye and an excellent batting average as long as he is allowed to engage with the pitcher. There’s also a decent roster of pinch-hitters who can be inserted if the batter has mentally checked out and refuses to wake up.
The point of no return will not arrive until that fateful day when all of the fuel has been removed from the reactor vessel, the company has prepared and submitted two specific documents — one to certify that all fuel has been permanently removed and one to certify permanent cessation of operation — to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has accepted those documents, and has modified the plant license to a “possession only” status.
The process of completing the required steps can be pushed rather rapidly when stubborn decision makers want to make sure their choices are not later reversed — as was done in the case of San Onofre units 2 and 3 — but it can also be delayed for decades by people who want to keep options open — as was done in the case of TVA’s Browns Ferry Unit 1.
For a cost that is arguably lower than the cost of any alternative power, Vermont Yankee could be refueled and operated for another 17-18 years with the possibility of being refurbished and relicensed for another 20 years after that. It can keep contributing to the local economy and find additional ways to maximize its valuable location.
The highest and best use for a site that is already generating electricity is to keep doing so; adding more clean generating capacity that is not dependent on natural gas would be my first choice if I was involved in the decision making process.
It’s also possible to find other ways to add value. Electrical power plants like Vermont Yankee use steam systems that inevitably create a large amount of “waste” heat that could be put to use in either district heating or industrial process heat. Since heat is hard to transport, that works only if there are appropriate users nearby.
Unlike many nuclear plants, Vermont Yankee is conveniently located within a few hundred feet of a number of lumber yards. Those existing businesses probably pay more than they would like for heat to dry their product while their neighbor pays to dispose of the “waste heat” its turbine rejects. There is no evidence that the possible synergies have been investigated.
An operating entity more successfully explains the plant’s valuable clean electricity product and contribution to maintaining a stable electricity grid while reducing price volatility should be able to make a reasonable profit in return for investing the resources required to keep the plant running.
I’m confused by Entergy’s stubborn insistence that its decision to close the plant is driven purely by economics. Under current market rules, Vermont Yankee might not be the kind of consistent money maker that monopoly utility analysts prefer, but it is a low marginal cost producer of a vital commodity whose price occasionally spikes.
Unlike Dominion’s Kewaunee, which was located in a market with excess capacity and plenty of existing alternative power supplied, Vermont Yankee is in a capacity-constrained market. Adding more power generators will not solve the problem if the generators run on the same natural gas/distillate fuel combination that is already in short supply.
No amount of dreaming or alternative energy optimism is going to produce useful solar energy on cold, snowy, dark New England days. There are no flat plains nearby on which to install massive quantities of wind turbines. There are businesses salivating over new transmission lines or gas pipelines, but the people who live in the proposed pathways are not so excited.
Plenty of business leaders that have figured out how to maintain productive assets during lean-earning periods so that they are available for the profitable periods of high market demand. It’s time for the nuclear industry to look outside of itself for some best practices in strategic accounting and capacity planning.
It might also be time to call a time out in the Vermont Yankee shutdown saga and figure out who paid that excellent batter to keep the wood firmly on his shoulders instead of using his skills to keep the ball in play and extend the game.
Is there any particular reason that comments are disabled on the next post in line?
Rod, thanks for the support but it is inevitable. We will open the breakers at about noon on Monday and be in cold shutdown about 8 hrs later. There is no possibility that we will not notify the NRC that we are permanently ceasing operation and we should be defueled by mid-January. All the planning is done.
My Dept has spent the last year working on the plant changes and as much as I would like to see something different it will happen. We will be the 1st Mk I to decommission and frankly, in my opinion, the best of all. Monday will complete 633 days of continuous operation a record for Vermont Yankee and as uneventful an operating cycle as I remember. We don’t call the Better Water Reactors (BWR) for nothing!
May God bless Jim Rogers and all his co-workers, and may God hold the voters of Vermont, the anti-nuclear activists, and the cowardly politicians responsible. 🙁
“…….and may God hold the voters of Vermont, the anti-nuclear activists, and the cowardly politicians responsible.”
Many things that are planned are not completed. I’d hate for you and your group to feel like you had wasted a year, but if that is all that’s lost from a reversal at this point, so be it.
The explanations your employer has provided don’t make sense to this former financial/cost analyst. The only logical explanation I can think of involves some illegal coordinated market actions. That can’t be true, so it must be illogical, face-saving stubbornness.
Funny thing about your comment that many things that are planned are not completed. At VY are existence was based on implementing that which we planned. For our first 30 years if we didn’t spend our $$$ wisely we wouldn’t exist. So it wouldn’t be VY if we didn’t implement the permanent shutdown. That being said, of course, we would all like to jettison this and continue operating but there is absolutely no chance of that occurring.
There are many reasons why the plant is shutting down and not all of them are related to gas prices. Planning for the shutdown began in early 2013, at least, although emloyees were not told, of course. The costs of the litigation never stopped increasing and we would always have to go back to the board for more money to continue.
The loss of John Herron as CNO certainly affected the outcome since he was undoubtedly a supporter of VY having started at VY as an operator. The costs for tritium mitigation, about $20M, cannot be discounted which also put the state in a good PR position.
Add the above and than consider the completed sale of Vermont to Canada, both major utilities and the transmission carrier, VELCO. Too much money to be given to cronies to let VY survive.
As you’ve pointed out many times the goal in all of this is to drive non-gas generators out of business, increase the cost of gas and than get customers and states to pickup the cost of additional pipeline construction. We’re seeing that now in NH and VT not to mention the Northern Pass project which will also shift employment to Canada and be used to subsidize Canadian electric rates.
One thing I meant to add. Although it is very sad and disruptive Entergy has treated employees as fairly as could reasonably be expected. Most employees have either decided to retire or have been offered employment within Entergy, if wanted. Understanding the need to retain employees through the last operating cycle retention bonuses were implemented which are not insubstantial. I know that there are outliers and as a long time employee, 17 years (45 in Nuclear) I am very concerned for them and hope that everything works out for them and their famiies. I went through this at Maine Yankee without any compensation and it was difficult.
We have always thought that VY was like a family which was the major reason we were successful. The Entergy purchase only bolstered the existing strengths with needed capital expenditure. This resulted in a very admirable operating history.
But certainly Entergy has been more than accommodating to its employees. At least in my Dept (Engineering) everyone who wanted employment within the system has been placed.
@ Jim Rogers
I’m out here still hanging on by my finger nails at San Onofre…I know exactly how you feel. I miss all my friends and co-workers who have gone down the road, some of whom are still unemployed as it is tough getting hired when you’re in your late 50’s.
Wiser heads don’t always prevail.
I thought it was a crime that San Onofre was shutdown and I know its hard. But 50s isn’t really old in this business. One thing nuclear can’t do is replace the knowledge that you achieve over time. Its amazing how many of the same mistakes are made that I saw for the first time in the late 70s. There really isn’t much new under the sun when it comes to systems and operations. Just following the process and being conservative. Wish you the best.
After absorbing the work forces of 5 plant shutdowns in 3 years, how many more experienced people do existing plants need?
Besides, there are a lot of employees at a plant like VY that are not nukes and might prefer continuing to live in their stable home town.
Closing a nuclear power plant before its time is not like other factory closure decisions. The product is still under supplied and in high demand.
Not sure how many they need, but evidently they don’t need me. Over 100 resumes sent out and not a single offer. So much for 32+ years experience and multiple graduate degrees. The “official” reason is “nothing that matches your qualifications”, but the real reason is age. Can’t afford to retire yet with kids in school (one in medical, the other law), but when your in the sixty-something range, employers just don’t you.
Of course you are correct and I hope I didn’t appear to downplay the impact of the shutdown. Having been a victim of two forced shutdowns in the last 20 years I think I understand the issues and know the tremendous disruption that comes with the loss of livelihood. I had to scramble after Maine Yankee and endured 7 years of family separation during that time.
I’m in my 60s now but still can’t imagine what it would be like not being able to contribute to generation. I don’t see a higher calling.
That is the real human side of the tragedy. We are literally throwing away the lifeblood of our technological expertise in this field. But the politicians and the activists don’t give a crap, because to them those are just the nuke workers who “chose the wrong profession” and deserve what they get. But in fact they are the builders, the volunteers, the contributors, the makers not takers, the breadwinners, those who support their families and pay their taxes and are loyal to their friends and neighbors, who play by the rules and bring stability to society and make a difference. To those who bring harm on such estimable and noble people, I can only wish God to damn them forever.
620 MWe * 90% Cf * 8760 h/yr * 500 tonnes CO2/GWh NG = 2.45 million tonnes additional CO2 that will be emitted each year after Jims’ team opens the final switch.
Current CO2 is 400 ppm and headed north. To avoid tipping points we need get back to 350 ppm soonest. One ppm CO2 is about 2.13 Gt atmospheric carbon. 50 ppm is 106 Gt — a 1 followed by eleven zeroes. That’s a lot of toothpaste to put back in the tube.
So why are “environmentalists” squeezing it the hardest? :boogle:
It’s hard to escape the conclusion that the “environmentalists” in this little act are actually environmental criminals, isn’t it?
Pretty clearly for most organizational environmentalists the emphasis is on “organizational”, and environmentalism is merely a meme by which the organizational goals are advanced.
This is not true for individuals not interested in self promotion within a large organization.
620MW x 8760hrs x 90%CF = 4,888 GWh/year average.
This shows total wind production YTD for 2014, up to october, I multiplied each by 1.2 to get an annual representation.
3,811 GWh New York
1,050 GWh Maine
402 GWh New Hampshire
300 GWh Vermont
208 GWh Massachusetts
13 GWh New Jersey
0 GWh Rhode Island
5,784 GWh total.
Vermont Yankee, an old, small, outdated nuclear power plant *by itself* produces almost as much electricity as EVERY SINGLE WINDMILL in New England, New York, and New Jersey Combined.
Every single solar panel in NE, NY, and NJ combined YTD has produced 1,067 GWh (can’t multiply that by 1.2 since solar panels arent going to produced squat here in the NE in Nov/Dec)
That’s roughly the output of one small 150 MW gas plant.
Zach – your 1.2% conversion rate is low. The ISO tends to rate nuclear plants at 90% and above, depending on experience. With wind, they use a figure of 20% for the first year, and then adjust depending on the actual experience. Some of the wind farms in NY rate about 30%, according to the NY ISO.
You misunderstood what Zach was doing with the 1.2 factor. He was adjusting data that only covered a 10 month period (through October) to make it annual, 12 month data under the assumption that November and December production would be roughly the same as it was in the previous 10 months.
It was not used as a percentage or as a conversion rate.
Outstanding article, Rod. I’ve thought something was fishy about the decision to scrap Vermont Yankee, now I’m convinced.
I really think Entergy closed down VY because in their situation it was nothing but aggravation from Vermont and the antinuclear groups. But they would not want to admit that. Do so would mean that the “aggravation strategy” is working and after VY shuts down, what will the next facility be that will be “aggravated away”? Better to say it is uneconomical and hope some people believe it and try to avoid the protests, lawsuits, and other aggravation. San Onofre was probably “aggravated away” too but because they did not want to play the “Songs and dance” with having major components replaced too.
The oil and gas companies usually offer both carrot and stick. We see the stick as the costs associated with “aggravation”. Where’s the carrot? What forms did it take?
“Where’s the carrot? What forms did it take?”
The only form the carrot could have taken would have been financial. Did Vermont give a tax incentive for shutting the plant down? Was there an investment offered that gave Entergy a better return on its money? Someone in the know probably knows the true money trail.
There were no carrots and no sweet heart deals similar to what was done at Maine Yankee. As BobinPgh said it had a lot to do with the never ending process and lack of predictability. There was never a time where we could say with any certainty what the ongoing cost would be and for 650 Mwe the distraction was not worth it to management. Certainly consistently low prices, overall, for MWs did contribute. The result was very predictable once the lawsuit was won at the appeals level. The point was proven and other put on notice (IPEC).
Similar to Kewaunee and San Onofre we are done. It is some small consolation that we finished with a sterling operational record, 632 days, 23 hours and 51 minutes of continuous safe operation. Really hardly a hiccup in this cycle. We go out one of the best BWRs of all time and we should be proud.
You and your fellow workers deserve kudos and can hold your heads high.
I cannot say the same about the management who flubbed their fiduciary responsibility to positively influence their regulatory environment and their public image. I’m reasonably sure they are decent people, but they were totally out of their element in trying to operate in a viciously competitive environment where not all of the opposition was what it seemed.
The alternative explanation is that the key decision-makers were wily, skillful monopolists who recognized that they could not engage in overt restraint-of-trade without the cover of being “forced” into a permanent closure decision. It is — perhaps — not an unintended consequence that Vermont Yankee’s closure will inevitably help to ensure a long term supply deficit in the region — especially since Energy Capital Partners apparently recognized the “signal” included in the announced decision to close the plant and cooperated by almost immediately announcing their decision to close Brayton Point.
I suspect that your belief in your profession as a calling — a belief with which I strongly agree — has made it difficult for you to see how other people who see electricity as “just a business” might act to maximize profit by restricting supply rather than maximizing productive service to an expanding base of appreciative customers.
Rod, its an interesting take you have on Vermont Yankee’s “Second Coming” but you don’t reveal a source for conjecture.
The proof is forthcoming. Meantime,
Why would I reveal a source if I have one? What is wrong with well-reasoned, logic that results in unusual, but possible predictions?
As you noted, the proof is forthcoming. However, anyone who predicts that its possible to constrain supply while having no effect on market prices in a competitive market would have difficulty passing ECON 101.
Paul, can you explain why the phenomenon Mr. Cooper described in his article promising that electric rates won’t rise as a result of VY closing didn’t occur when San Onofre shut down? Just a few weeks after the shut down was announced, the public was informed that their rates would rise, and rise they did. Also, old natural gas plants were fired up to help replace the generation thrown away when San Onofre shut down. Is this fine with you? Are you interested in reducing fossil fuel dependence or only anti-nuclear?
@ Paul Gunter,
The article you referenced, “Why Closing Vermont Yankee Won’t Raise New England’s Power Bills,” by Mark Cooper, doesn’t make much sense.
Cooper starts out attacking a claim that home heating bills will rise 40 percent, but then drops that without explanation and talks about electricity prices instead. He asserts that
“Having Vermont Yankee online did not help New England achieve lower winter electricity prices and closing it won’t make an appreciable difference.”
He cites two pieces of evidence to support this claim. The first is that New England electricity prices were 36 percent higher than the US average both last year and ten years ago. If that’s true, it is irrelevant because it doesn’t address the question of how New England electricity prices would change in the absence of VY’s supply.
The second, and more pertinent, argument Cooper makes is that New England electricity prices will not rise much after VY’s shutdown. He says that EIA forecasts that New England’s electricity price will rise by 3 percent in 2015, compared to a national average price increase of 2.5 percent; i. e., that New England’s electricity prices will not rise much faster than national prices. Cooper did not give a link to this information, so I looked up the latest EIA electricity price forecasts I could find, and I discovered that he has significantly misstated them.
EIA’s most recent “Short-Term Energy Outlook” for electricity prices, dated December 9, 2014, indicates that national average electricity prices will climb 1.7 percent in 2015, not the 2.5 percent Cooper claimed. The regional breakdown in table 7c forecasts that New England’s electricity price will rise from 15.44 cents per kwh in 2014 to 16.02 cents per kwh in 2015, a rise of 3.8 percent, not 3 percent as Cooper claims. EIA forecasts that Q1 winter residential electricty rates in New England will rise from 17.46 cents to 18.49 cents per kwh, a rise of 5.9 percent.
These may seem like small discrepancies, but the EIA forecasts imply that New England electricity prices will rise 2.2 times faster than the national average. And that may be an understatement. Given the many recent announcements of double-digit rate hikes in the region, Cooper’s assertion that New England’s power bills won’t rise much seems out of touch with reality. As Rod notes, it’s just not reasonable to expect that the loss of VY’s considerable generation, in a market where replacement sources of power are tightly constrained, will not have a significant impact on electricity prices.
Will and Rod
I’m curious as to whether you have taken into account the excess generating capacity in the New England market? According to ISO NE, their installed generating capacity is 32,000 MW, and their top peak need is just over 18,100 MW. The ISO doesn’t see the loss of VY as making much of a dent in the electricity picture for the region — and that doesn’t count the occasional influx of electricity from NY and Canada.
The ISO estimates that the equivalent of 4 power plants will go offline if winter is severe, with their gas diverted to heating. Yet that won’t come close to challenging their reserves. That’s the ISO projection, guys, not mine.
And Rod, as for your comment that there aren’t a lot of open plains to put wind farms on, you should take a drive up Mt. Greylock, Massachusetts’ highest peak, and look around. Windmills are sprouting like mushrooms on all the surrounding mountaintops. They seem to be as readily accepted in the Berkshires as they are along the Great Lakes. That is all increased, low cost competition to a well run, but higher cost nuclear plant.
Finally, Rod, you are correct that there has been a political aspect. Five years most of the electricity generated by VY and, in my neck of the woods, Indian Point, were covered by long term contracts with various utilities.
For the past 2 years, however, none of the Vermont utilities would contract with the plant, leaving VY to earn its keep on the spot markets– where the margins were thinner and, on occasions, non-existent. At those times VY — like Ginna in upstate NY and several plants in Illinois — had to file negative bids in the marketplace, meaning they paid to have their juice taken. That was economically not sustainable over time.
Indian Point, by the way, has just one contract, for 560 MW, with ConEd. The NY Power Authority, which built and owned IP 3 and sold it to Entergy, originally contracted for all 1,000 MW. That was reduced over time to 100 MW by 2013. The contract was not renewed. NYPA provides the electricity for the subways, airports, streetlights, and municipal buildings in NYC and neighboring Westchester County.
It is a well run plant. But marketplace math is daunting — another 4,000 MW of wind-generated electricity is due to come online within the next 2 years.
Are you aware of the increased costs that the NE ISO is incurring to maintain reliability even though it may appear that there is “excess capacity” in the system based on nameplate generation capacity?
For example, the forward capacity market auction that was conducted in Feb 2014 for the 2017-2018 period resulted in a tripling of capacity payments from roughly $1 billion per year for the auction conducted in Feb 2013 to $3 billion per year.
The politically appointed ISO board issued a press release that buried that information on page 2 and was deceptively titled “Finalized Auction Results Confirm Slight Power System Resource Shortfall in 2017–2018.”
Another example is the Stop-Gap Measure for Winter 2013/2014 Reliability that provided payments totaling something like $75 million to dual fuel capable gas plants to provide incentives for them to purchase diesel or jet fuel in advance of the winter to run in case there were gas supply challenges. It was a reasonably well planned effort – about 25% of New England’s power during the winter of 2013-2014 came from burning diesel fuel. Its fleet of merchant natural gas fired power plants operated at about 30% capacity factor due to gas supply challenges that pushed peak prices in excess of $70 per MMBTU when the steady state price was about $4 per MMBTU.
Here is a detailed outlook from the ISO. It is couched in language meant to reassure those who do not specialize in grid operations or who have little to no experience in maintaining stable supplies of electricity for demanding customers. (I’ve not operated a grid, but I used to run a power system for 150 of my closest colleagues.)
As a journalist, you might be able to read that report and not weep. It scares the s–t out of me and makes me very happy that I do not live in New England. Unfortunately, the Navy just moved my daughter and her family to Maine. I now have a “dog in the fight” because four of the people I love the most — including two beautiful and vulnerable grandchildren — are now at risk if the power system gets over stressed. It was nip and tuck even with VY and Brayton Point operating, and there have not been any completions of similarly reliable, non-gas fired generators or power lines since last winter.
PS – If I was a New Englander, I would not be too happy about windmills sprouting on scenic mountains and ridge lines. I live in a home with a gorgeous view of the Blue Ridge mountains and will participate in local efforts to keep those mountains from sprouting wind turbines.
“Keep Vermont Yankee Operable”
Why isn’t it? Entergy has 60 years to make it go away, maybe it doesn’t have to?
Would it not be possible to place the piping and vessels in nitrogen, maybe add synthetic lube to the moving parts, wrap the critical systems for 30 years, just in case VY could start again? What will happen by for example 2035? There will probably have been a few blackouts caused by lack of power, some severe winters leaving people short of power, the politicians who hate the place will be long gone and who knows, what if people in Vermont change their minds. At least keep the critical parts as long as they can. Even if they don’t restart the place will probably be raided for parts for other Entergy plants. You say it is in “beautiful condition” so it must not be all worn out. Entergy, if they have to wreck anything can start with outbuildings and the cooling units that caused so much trouble (then can replace later if need be). Besides, isn’t the reactor building with the thick concrete the hardest part to demolish?
You and I agree. In addition to the sensible layup conditions that you mention, the most important thing that Energy can do to maintain the option of someday restarting the plant is to keep its operating license current.
If the company decides that it is expedient to notify the NRC that it will never again operate the plant and turns in that license in order to save about $4.5 million per year in fees compared to a “possession only” license, there is little or no hope that the plant would ever again be allowed to operate. If they preserve the plant and the QA paperwork that supports its as built and as operated condition, it would not take much investment at all to put the plant back in service.
One more action that would be worth doing would be to push for a rule change that allows the license clock to be put on hold while the plant is not operating and the pressure vessel is not experiencing any neutron bombardment.
That is the crux Rod. Excellent point. Like most followers, our sympathy goes out to the employees but if comments were meant to carry some kind of influence you hit the nail on the head with this one. Entergy needs to remain vigilant and not close any doors. There may be a new “perfect storm” for the return of Vermont Yankee.
Is there any way to tell Entergy to keep the license? Besides keeping reviving a possibility doing so would:
1. Piss off the antinuclear people in Vermont, knowing it could come back.
2. 4.5 million is probably chump change to them and besides, don’t consumers end up paying those expenses in their bills? Considering a fuel load is 60 million its not so bad.
3. SInce some VY workers found other work with Entergy it should not be too hard to get them back to run the place.
So how can we tell them?
Vermont Yankee was a merchant power generator; its owners have not had the ability to pass costs to consumers for at least a dozen years. It produced revenue by selling electricity at the prevailing market price.
With regard to suggesting that Entergy maintain its license, I’m doing the best I can with the communications venues I have established over the years.
One of Vermont Yankee’s sins was releasing some tritium.
While it is OK to wade through tritiated water as those workers at Fukushima did, it is not a good idea to drink it even though the treatment is large quantities of beer.
Back in the day when we had 20 curies of tritium on site it was a bit of a puzzle to figure out how it kept getting into the Director’s office. Once the exhaust chimney was extended, the problem went away. Although North Carolina has nuclear hysterics such as senator Eleanor Kinnaird (district 23) we don’t have as many such people in high office as Vermont does.
There is a big difference between tritiated water containing curies and tritiated water containing microcuries. The total amount of tritium released by Vermont Yankee during its highly publicized and extremely expensive episode of “leaking underground pipes” was about 0.35 curies distributed in about 140,000 liters of water from the off-gas system.
That system is a part of the piping system designed to remove non condensible gases from the main condenser; it is lightly contaminated with tritium since the steam in a boiling water reactor is directly heated by passing through a nuclear reactor.
This is to confirm that “gallop” is really the gallopingcamel. I ran against senator Kinnaird in 2002 and lost badly…………she got two votes for every vote I got. I was hoping that her irrational hatred of all things nuclear would work to my advantange but the voters loved her hysterics! The general public fears radioactivity no matter what the evidence says.
The voters seems to love scary fairy stories based on nuclear accidents and “Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming”. You can point out the irrationality of this nonsense until you are blue in the face but nobody will listen:
True enough, gallopingcamel. On the other hand, Roy Spencer doesn’t quite top my personal list of credible climate scientists. Your mileage may vary.
Are you implying that I am wrong about the general public’s fear of radioactivity?
I would not describe it as a race between two people……….more like a public debate, followed by voting.
Yes, I think you are wrong about the general public’s attitude towards radiation. I believe that the perception that the public is deathly afraid is wrong. I also believe that the public is more supportive of nuclear energy than most politicians understand, with the potential for the public support to be greatly increased with a focused advertising campaign by skilled, motivated marketers.
I would not characterize any campaign for public office as anything but a race between the two candidates that are running. It is certainly not accurate to characterize it as a single issue debate with the public vote counting as a referendum on that single issue.
That last reply was intended for our host Rod Adams.
I concur with your opinion of Roy Spencer but his mind is at least slightly open. What troubles me is that more respected scientists (e.g. Judith Curry and Richard Lindzen) still discuss “Climate Sensitivity” to doublings of CO2 in the atmosphere as if the Arrhenius (1896) hypothesis has some validity.
Your anecdotal evidence of a single race between two people, both with a certain amount of ideological baggage, proves nothing about the attitude of the general public towards radiation.
An awful lot of Co2 has been released into atmosphere. It’s pretty hard for me to believe it’s not having an major effect.
That NASA site says:
“Just in the last 650,000 years there have been seven cycles of glacial advance and retreat, with the abrupt end of the last ice age about 7,000 years ago marking the beginning of the modern climate era — and of human civilization. Most of these climate changes are attributed to very small variations in Earth’s orbit that change the amount of solar energy our planet receives. ”
They are saying that Milankovitch cycles are responsinble for the last seven glaciations. Thus for the last 650,000+ years temperature has driven [CO2] rather than the reverse. See the lively discussion here:
The sudden rise in CO2 concentration over the last 150 years is a completely different issue. The IPCC’s climate models such as CMIP are based on the idea that [CO2] drives temperature, a hypothesis quantified by Arrhenius in 1896. Arrhenius estimated that the average global temperature would increase by 4.5 K per doubling of CO2:
The Arrhenius theory is plausible but it runs into trouble when you compare its predictions with observations. For example the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is rising at a steadily increasing rate yet the average global temperature has not risen since 1998. If CO2 has an effect on temperature it is of minor significance.
“The Arrhenius theory is plausible but it runs into trouble when you compare its predictions with observations. For example the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is rising at a steadily increasing rate yet the average global temperature has not risen since 1998. If CO2 has an effect on temperature it is of minor significance.”
Lots of variables there, how exact does it have to track? What’s the tolerance factor on something so complex, maybe +/- 5%?
OK – Let’s say its normal for the temperature to rise. Some Northern latitudes may become good farmland so that may be a good thing. How about the ocean acidification thing? Is that a separate problem (perceived problem)? The ocean acidification issue (perceived issue) seems more serious to me than melting some ice. Is it worth limiting Carbon Dioxide to protect the oceans?
During the PETM (50 million years ago) the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere was 7,500 ppm or almost 20 times what it is today. Given the consequent dramatic decline in pH one would expect big changes in species distribution and survival rates:
The increase in [CO2] since 1850 is very small in comparison so you can stop worrying about ocean acidification for a few centuries at least.
There are great benefits from rising CO2 concentrations such as improved drought resistance of plants and increased crop yields.
I don’t see any benefit owing to northern latitudes becoming more temperate as temperatures appear to have stopped rising in spite of the relentless increase in [CO2]. Global Warming is on hold.
You are right to ignore the effect of melting ice caps. According to the IPCC we are losing ~300 Giga-tonnes of continental ice per year which sounds scary only if you don’t know that the ice inventory is ~30,000,000 Giga-tonnes. At the present rate of melting the ice caps will survive at least another 10,000 years.
My apologies to our host for getting so far Off Topic, so let me say that closing Vermont Yankee is a lousy idea. It will be replaced by fossil fuel power plants that will emit more CO2 into the atmosphere, exactly as is happening in Germany. I thought we were smarter than that!
You are right about your numbers. The scientists know this too. Here’s a quote:
“As we outlined in Section 2.2.2, as atmospheric CO 2 levels increase so does the concentration of CO 2 in the surface oceans. However it is unlikely that the past atmospheric concentrations would have led to a significantly lower pH in the oceans, as the rate at which atmospheric CO 2 changed in the past was much slower compared with the modern day.The fastest natural changes that we are sure about are those occurring at the ends of the recent ice ages, when CO 2 rose about 80 ppm in the space of 6 000 years (IPCC 2001). This rate is about one-hundredth that of the changes currently occurring.”
It’s from this report:
The scientists say that the ocean had time to buffer the Carbon Dioxide acidification in the past and it may be just coming on too quickly now. The faster rate of change in the Carbon Dioxide level may be harmful to some sea animals.
It does relate to Vermont Yankee because, if valid, it would be a good reason to keep it operating.
On the other hand, ocean acidification concerns could just be more of the Fear Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) used for certain agendas in the past.
I agree about Vermont Yankee. Thanks for responding.
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