1. Rod,
    Same thing is occurring with the Seabrook plant (docket NRC-2010-0291). Intervenors do not like like that fact that a license extension is being requested more than 10 years out (current CRFs allow 20 year window). The same NEPA argument is being made.

  2. “It’s a low probability event,” said Blanch of a rupture of one of the pipes. “But the consequences are unimaginable.”‘
    This guy just have a really bad imagination which doesn’t seem to be informed by knowledge. As Rod is trying to point out, Nuclear plants are ‘hardened’ – they are very much “overbuilt”, in order to with stand being attacked by things like terrorists doing a kamikaze with an airplane, 9/11 style. Basically, the entire reactor is housed in a very thick reinforced concrete building.
    Secondly, while I don’t know the exact formula for modelling the force of an explosion of a gas line, we all know that the force of an explosion decreases incredibly rapidly with distance. I believe that the formula would be proportional to 1/(r^2) – that is, more or less, if the pipeline is a hundred feet away from the nuclear plant, whatever the force of the explosion is at 1 foot away from the explosion, the force 100 feet awy would be about 1/10000 of that force, no?
    Basically, explosions are a big problem for whoever is right on top of them, and within about 50 – 100 feet, but after about 100 feet, there’s just no risk (other than perhaps shrapnel thrown by the explosion, but the shrapnel isn’t going to penetrate far into the concrete containment, would it)?
    You know what? This sounds like an episode of MythBusters! Build a mock containment building, and do everything anyone can think of to try to damage it. I wonder if Discovery Channel can afford to build a containment building? They’re only like a $ Billion to build, right? Hey! That’s what should be done with that reactor site in Illinois which was shut down!

  3. UCS has negative credibility in my book. Meaning whenever they say something, it’s more than likely the complete opposite is true. They’re complete morons as this example proves yet again.

  4. Natural gas is increasingly used synonymous with “renewable”. A gas that comes out of the ground in some places, that carries the name “natural”… it must be just as infinite a resource as water – that is the illusion that Greenpeace et al want us to believe in. Yet natural gas is less “natural” and more “gas” like in “gasoline”: it’s a fossil fuel, is found along with oil, is produced by Big Oil companies, is produced in large quantities by those instable Arab countries. It can be used as transportation or heating fuel, its not infinite, and its prices are just as volatile and increasing as the oil price. From the resource viewpoint, coal is still a better option for electricity than gas.

  5. I’m not sure where the Union of Concerned Scientists gets it’s scientists. In 30+ years of working in R

  6. Jeff – Yes, it is quite reminiscent of an episode of MythBusters.
    Scott – Agreed, the Union of Corrupt pseudo-Scientists is pretty much always on the wrong side when it comes to real, hard science. That’s because the UCS is — and always has been, since 1969 — a left-wing political organization pretending to be a scientific organization. They do no research. They hire no real scientists. Their only output is policy-oriented propaganda and punditry.
    SteveK9 – That’s because the UCS is not composed of scientists. The “scientists” that they claim to hire do no scientific research. Have you read the bios of their staff? Typically, these are folks who decided in graduate school that working on policy and politics was much easier than doing real scientific research, so after they received their degrees, they moved directly into working for political think-tanks or policy organizations, without having done any post-doctoral scientific work. (David Lochbaum is the exception; he’s a failed engineer who managed to find himself a cushy job recycling the same anti-nuclear garbage over and over until retirement.)
    The UCS finds these guys useful, because they have a couple of letters behind their name, which gives the organization the veneer of scientific respectability. They’re trying to impress the general public, not the mainstream scientific community.

    1. Well, I decided to start a thread on the MythBusters’ “Submit a Myth” forums (hey, who knows, maybe the producers will actually decide to cover the idea). It got some interesting feedback, including a couple people replying with some common ‘myths’ about nuclear power, and other posters responding with corrections for those Myths. Even if no show gets made from the idea, maybe a few people will read the thread and have a few ‘myths’ dispelled.
      If any of you are interested in checking it out, and perhaps responding to some of the anti-nuke myths being posted, you can find it here:

  7. Paul Blanch comes to Vermont Yankee hearings with his IPAD and shows everyone how “close” the pipeline is to Indian Point. One young man from VY asked him: “When did that gas line go in? Before IP, right?” Blanch said he thought so. So the VY guy said: “So it’s in the design basis. What’s the big deal? ” Of course, Blanch did not give up and kept babbling about how dangerous it was.
    This was a conversation between a couple of people (me included), not testimony.

    1. The Riverkeeper organization, arch foe of Indian Point, wants to replace a reactor there with a 1000 MW gas plant. We know that gas plants explode and kill people–happened in Feb. in CT. On the other hand, Riverkeeper is opposed to natural gas extraction from the Marcellus Shale. Wish these guys would get their stories straight!

      1. The stories are never straight. They claim: Vermont Yankee is a trivial unimportant part of the grid AND its existence is what is blocking renewables. Sure. Both at once. VY is important enough to be killing renewables, and unimportant in terms of providing power to Vermont. They really don’t care about getting their story straight.

      2. “The Riverkeeper organization, arch foe of Indian Point, wants to replace a reactor there with a 1000 MW gas plant. … On the other hand, Riverkeeper is opposed to natural gas extraction from the Marcellus Shale. Wish these guys would get their stories straight!”
        But they do have their stories straight. They want to replace Indian Point with a 1000 MW gas plant that cannot get fuel. In that way, they hope to dismantle modern society.
        Who is running Riverkeeper? Well, it’s a bunch of rich jerks who romantically long for the good old days when there were large swaths of undeveloped land that were directly or indirectly under the control of the wealthy such as them. Unfortunately, that pesky industrial revolution produced a situation in which the serfs could do what they want, drive what they want, and develop what they want, including spoiling all of their undeveloped land. This was the result of an access to energy by the general population that is unprecedented in human history.
        Thus, they fundamentally long to return to a basic agrarian society that is controlled by an elite minority, i.e., them. The first step to achieving this utopian ideal is to limit energy to the point that only the wealthy can afford it. The rest of society will have access to energy, but only through their largess. And according to them, that’s the way it should be.

        1. @Brian – that is one way to look at it. It is probably the conventional way to interpret the statements and actions of the groups involved, but I maintain my belief in the sinister nature of the very rich. I think that many of them know quite well that a vast population of addicted customers who have few choices, but still want to operate their cars, boats, and big screens will pay ever higher prices for fuel if they can be convinced that it is scarce. The part of the story that they simply cannot afford to let out of the bag is that Einstein’s equation tells us that energy – and therefore POWER – is essentially unlimited. All you need to do to make as much energy as people can possibly use as rapidly as they want to use it available to the masses is to be willing to convert a tiny quantity of mass into energy.
          You might be right that some of the rich want to return to a never actually achieved pastoral past, but there are at least some who realize that allowing access to vast quantities of POWER will inevitably reduce the value of the sources of POWER that they can control. The world will be a vastly richer place, but the disparity that they love so much – because they are currently the winners – will gradually disappear. The folks that are currently wealthy will be a bit less wealthy, but they will feel far poorer because they will no longer be controlling as large a portion of the world’s ever increasing wealth that is based more on human creativity than on artificial scarcity.
          Unlike the way that we presently allow the control of access to coal, oil and gas, you cannot put control of uranium and thorium based resources into the hands of a few oligarchs. Instead, controlling that source of power requires a large quantity of well trained, independently responsible people who raise independently minded children, and who support public infrastructure like schools, theaters, recreation facilities and youth sports leagues. As you note, it becomes increasingly difficult to control such a population – instead, you have to prosper by coming up with great products that inspire that population. Perhaps there is a reason why a significant portion of America’s growing wealth is coming from a field where there is no artificial scarcity – where control of access to silicon was never thought to be the way to prosper.

          1. Well, I think that there’s a couple of things that we definitely agree on:
            (1) The people in charge of these environmental groups are quite wealthy.
            (2) They don’t have the best interests of general public at heart.
            I’d like to add that all their talk about conservation is bull. If these groups were truly interested in preserving “natural” environments, then the NRDC would not be trumpeting the largest-ever solar project in California, which was “fast tracked” by the Department of the Interior (i.e., spared a detailed environmental review that is mandatory for all other new power plants) and will occupy about 7,000 acres of previously undeveloped public land.
            Sure, the NRDC rationalizes that the new 7,000-acre project will be “located adjacent to developed lands, including industrial and agricultural lands.” However, the last time I checked, spillage of urban or industrial sites from developed to undeveloped regions is something called sprawl, which the NRDC pretends to work to protect against.
            So I guess sprawl is bad unless it involves your favorite form of boutique energy, which will “power more than 300,000 homes” at “peak output” (which means it will power far fewer most of the time, and none at all for about half of the time).
            Anyone care to guess what position the NRDC would take on a proposed 7,000-acre nuclear power project?
            By the way, the builder of this huge plant is a German firm. So much for the “green economy” powering American jobs.

            1. @Brian – you will get no argument from me when you say that talk about conservation is bull when it comes to the wealthy “Environmental” groups. Your example of large scale solar is an excellent one. I have been “fascinated” by the interest in solar thermal power stations in desert locations. The last time I took thermodynamics, I learned that ALL Rankine cycle steam plants were governed by the same laws. They ALL require a large heat sink and the ALL are limited in their efficiency by the absolute maximums identified by Carnot. That maximum efficiency is based on a relationship between the absolute temperatures of the heat source and the heat sink. Solar thermal power systems achieve a very modest top end temperature and if you actually do operate them on stored heat, that temperature drops quite rapidly, lowering the thermal efficiency of the system as it drops.
              The heat SINK available in desert locations is also an issue – where do large scale solar thermal plants that are positioned in hot, sun drenched locations because of the solar resources find enough water? How does the temperature of the available water in a desert contribute to the thermal efficiency issue mentioned in the previous paragraph?
              You can also get me going about the “conservation” of beautiful mountain ridges by wind farm promoters. For the record, I love the mountains in a way that people who live in the checkerboard flat South Florida can understand. I spent the first 17 years of my life in a place where the only hills are overpasses. In that same place, trees taller than 20 feet are visible for miles – until the next hurricane comes through and knocks them down. We used to escape the heat with visits to northeast GA and western NC almost every summer. For me, tree covered mountains were (are) paradise. They are a LOUSY place to site industrial wind turbines. By way of disclosure, here is the view that convinced me to buy our next home.
              One more thing about “Environmental” groups and conservation. I also dislike their promotion of “energy efficiency” as a solution to our energy challenges. As is often the case, I suspect that the groups are really establishment energy fuels marketers in sheep’s clothing when they do this. I am pretty darned sure that professional energy marketers are keenly aware of the insights that Jevons identified in a book titled The Coal Question in 1865. Heck, I suspect that topic is a specific lesson at the Colorado School of Mines, Harvard, and at Rice University, some of the training grounds for the establishment energy industry.
              For those too lazy to click a link, Jevons is the guy who is credited with noticing that improvements in energy efficiency in machinery often lead to an overall INCREASE in sales of energy fuels. That paradox occurs, almost without exception, because when people can use energy more efficiently, they can afford to use MORE of it to make their lives better.

              1. Speaking of energy efficiency and conservation, I had always been a little skeptical about the whole “smart grid” concept until I happened to attend a presentation given by a senior VP from Dominion. He was quite enthusiastic about the idea and raved about its potential benefits, using no uncertain language. After some reflection and after giving some serious thought to what he had said, I changed my mind.
                Now I am seriously skeptical about the whole “smart grid” concept.
                This is not something that benefits the consumer.

  8. If USC is so concerned about the location of the natural gas pipeline, they should be lobbying the appropriate federal agency to get the pipeline moved. This would be a whole lot cheaper than shutting down a perfectable good nuclear power plant, with much lower environmental consequences.

  9. I posted the first comment on the article:
    What an odd thing to be afraid of!
    I agree that the recent San Bruno natural gas explosion and the “Kleen” Energy natural gas explosion in Connecticut earlier this year highlight the inherent dangers associated with natural gas. But it seems that Mr. Blanch is not concerned about natural gas, just about Indian Point.
    Is this concern justified? No western nuclear power plant has ever caused the death of any member of the public. Compare that with the following statistic; Natural gas explosions have killed more Americans just this year than were killed by Chernobyl. Just in one country, just in one year.
    I see that the Union of Concerned “Scientists” has weighed in as well. Why aren’t they worried about portions of the natural gas pipelines that are not near Indian Point? Because the UC”S” is a professional anti-nuclear organization that does not care about the dangers associated with any other form of power generation:
    Make no mistake, if Indian Point is forced to shut down, it will mostly be replaced by natural gas, requiring more pipelines and putting more people at risk. These trumped up fears will reduce overall safety.

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