1. I feel obliged to leave a response Rod. As a non-nuke but avid follower of energy technologies I find your work ethic and attitude a real refreshment from the stale, tired and often inaccurate information disseminated by those with a vested interest in burning fossil fuels.

    I found your Twitter account whilst browsing some site or other and have been inspired by that to do research into the different types of nucleus technologies. As a layman I was amazed at the range of reactor designs and particularly by small scale Thorium LFTRs. I have discussed these with many friends and family members all of whom have looked at the subject in more detail.

    So really this comment is a thank you for your trouble in keeping us informed and hopefully to let you know your communications do work and the word is spreading.

    1. I don’t always agree with Mr. Adams’ and I’m not entirely sold on nuclear power just yet, but I would never doubt his sincerity, integrity or honesty.

      Keep at it, promoting and fighting for what you believe in is an end unto itself, regardless of level of success.

  2. Honestly @Rod, your day job is what I would consider to be the vanguard of nuclear’s competing business case to natural gas. Even if gas prices stay low for the next decade (and we can debate whether they will or not), SMRs represent an adaptive strategy to this condition which really hammers on the current weaknesses in the business case (i.e., high up-front capital risk). In my opinion, this is perhaps one of the most important initiatives going on in the industry right now – don’t be discouraged!

    And as far as the naysayers go – I’ll happily live next to a nuclear plant if they voluntarily submit to brownouts and live the modern portion of their lives at the whim of the vagaries of the wind and sun. Somehow, I don’t think they’d take us up on the deal.

    1. Add to your challenge, living right next to a Industrial Sized Wind Farm! From the many law suites that farmers and ranchers have been starting against the Wind Industry, it does not sound like a very pleasant place.

  3. Rod,

    The inciteful comment is nothing new. I heard it repeatedly during my term as spokesperson in the mid-1980s. Now, here’s the funny part..at public meetings where the “make them live next to the nuke” whines were voiced, I and several other “officials” pointed out that we did in-fact live inside the 10 mile EPZ. The most severe facial expressions of disappointment ensued…not to mention the giggles from the audience. I lived seven miles from the Perry plant and more than half of the operators lived within 5 miles. But, these facts did not stop the allegations from continuing. New “allegater” + new audience = same old song. Yeah, it’s frustrating and often infuriating, but it goes with the territory.


  4. Rod,
    I had a similar funk about three weeks ago while I was going through my qualifying examinations and debating my decision to leave the Navy, leave commercial nuclear power and go back to school. Funny thing was I took a nap after I had my oral examination, woke up and was ok. I have yet to figure out how a nap can end a two week funk, but I’m not going to look the gift horse in the mouth…

    Part of my reaction is to what I am learning, not through my studies but through my own research. It is so foreign that I constantly question if I am correct in my assessment. It frankly scares me because the concepts are so radical compared to the last 15-years of training I had. The fear of letting go of past thinking can be consuming for me.

    I am glad that you are back on line. Never underestimate what one determined individual can accomplish. Some of our common heroes were just one voice, and they motivated thousands in the direction of their vision. You are one voice, and you are not alone.

    Next time, can you let one of us know so we can slap you aside the face, I mean listen, so it’s not over a week hiatus.

  5. Rod, I can tell you are a very patriotic individual, so this may offer little encouragement … there are some good things happening in nuclear in the US, but there are perhaps better things happening OUS. US nuclear expertise is still respected, or the Chinese would not be basing most of their reactor buildout on the AP1000. I hope B&W is considering alternatives to simply waiting for the NRC and a contract in the US. I hope that happens fast and the national labs seem to be willing to help (Savannah), but looking to build in some smaller developing nations might be a good idea.

  6. Natural gas is more valuable as a petrochemical feedstock rather than oxidizing it to spin a turbine. Until you have political leadership (and an informed citizenry) that recognizes that fact, we get what we have today. This is unfortunate, since we could be simultaneously expand carbon-free nuclear, retire coal (for oxidation as well), and put our chemical industries on a stronger competitive footing. Start making dimethyl ether from nuclear sources, and one begins down a path of synthetic transportation fuels production.

  7. “During my day job, I was dealing with traditional nukes who could happily waste valuable time in conference rooms full of expensive employees discussing whether or not ‘accept’ and ‘acceptance’ were just different forms of the same word. We have a lot of really cool stuff happening, but people with those big plant mentality work habits can really gum up the works.”

    Do the people with whom you work at B&W Modular Nuclear Reactors know what you really think about them? Should a link to your web page be e-mailed to those who were discussing the definiton of the verb “accept” versus the noun “acceptance.” What would they say to you tomorrow morning?

    As an English Lit major – a point that you have bragged about time and again – how can you say that definitions of words are not important to the meaning being conveyed in a specification, design, or test document for a new nuclear power plant? Words mean everything. This isn’t the dictatorship of relativism where you get to pick and choose meaning of words based on your personal preferences or whims. The US NRC takes this stuff very seriously. Do you?

    By the way, that big plant mentality supplies 20% of the electricity in these United States. Either get used to working with people who don’t share your political views and your disdain for exactitude in procedures, specifications and design descriptions, or get out.

  8. Rod, I guess we all need a vacation sometimes. Perhaps a longer vacation! And, may I suggest the same to Ioannes, sheesh, get a grip.

  9. “I know that one person is powerless to change the world, but today, one person can communicate with hundreds who can each communicate with hundreds more. If nothing else, practically trained nukes understand how to obtain useful work from a critical mass of material that can undergo a controlled chain reaction. We need to learn to apply that knowledge of the behaviour of physical material to human interactions with more skill and perseverance.”

    There is no question that nuclear needs more and better communicators – fortunately in you we have a very good one. But I do understand that it can be frustrating to work hard at something like this and realise what appears to be so little return. It is little comfort I know, but this has always been the case with those in the vanguard of any major movement to change the world. This will be a slow process but there will come a time when a critical mass of people will see the advantages of nuclear, and progress will start to advance more swiftly.

    We all made the same poor assumption at the beginning of this journey: we came to see the benefits of nuclear energy through pure reason, and believed that all we had to do was present the facts and logic and commonsense would do the rest. We have all had to face the realization that this is a political, not a technical debate, and we are ill prepared for that type of fight.

    There is no high road. We are never going to buttonhole a group of politicians and convince them to support nuclear – in most cases they cannot even if they wanted to. The reality is that they are not free to do what they want and they are under the influence of forces they cannot ignore. It’s not just that interests like fossil-fuel can spend money to influence policy; they also have the power to hit well below the belt, threatening jobs and the economic well-being of whole countries whose politicians try to cross them. The only force that comes close to being equal to their power comes from the ballot-box, and it is there that the fight has to take place.

    This may not be as hard as it appears to be. The energy debate is far from settled in the public mind. Ever increasing energy prices are beginning to bite hard and are particularly onerous in the current financial situation that the West finds itself in. It doesn’t take a degree in economics to see that any recovery will be very slow at best if the cost of energy continues to go up. I believe this is one of the big factors that we can leverage in this battle, and one that has been sorely neglected.

    The public can be fooled once by those with a plausible idea, and will back it, but when it doesn’t pan out; they will drop it in an instant and pillory those that brought it forward. For example, in Ontario much was made of a comprehensive green program to produce energy from wind and solar, which itself was part of a laudable plan to close the remaining coal burring power plants in the Province. The plan was also supposed to boost employment, but according to a recent report from the government’s auditor general, each new ‘green job’ created cost the Province between $100,000 and $300,000 CAD and also resulted in the loss of four other jobs as a consequence of higher energy costs. (Maclean’s Magazine Jan 16, 2012) this has caused so much anger that one opposition party is making new nuclear an election platform.

    Nor is Ontario alone. In British Columbia a much tooted program that resulted in the creation of the Pacific Carbon Trust, a crown corporation formed to manage carbon credits is feeling the backlash from the public because of what is happening. It seems that schools, hospitals and other public institutions like prisons are paying for the sin of heating their buildings. Last year school districts for example were forced to buy $4.4 million in offsets which were then transferred to companies like Encana and Intawest to reward them for reducing their emissions – in essence transferring money from students to profitable corporations. (ibid)

    These are just the ones that I am aware of, but there are several more I am sure, and these need to be leveraged by the pronuclear side. Meanwhile nuclear advocates are still engaged in stale debates about waste, proliferation and the utterly sterile question of what 4th generation technology should go forward. We need to drop these and focus on presenting the public with a simple argument based on the economics and environmental benefits of nuclear power. We need to ignore the red herrings that the antinuclear movement drags through the discussion the same way coal continues to, beyond stating the available solutions in simple terms. And finally we need to create a grassroots movement to support nuclear of sufficient size, that it gets the attention of politicians.

    This last one has to be done by recruiting the young. Universities, colleges and high schools are the only places that this can be done in, and in this regard we have failed miserably. This is the only group that is going to be receptive to the message, because they are the ones that are going to have to live with the consequences. They are also the only group that is ether not already invested in the status quo, or have been psychologically scarred by the manufactured terrors of Chernobyl, Three-mile island the Cold War. And they are ready for this idea, as the Occupy movement clearly illustrates. They are looking at the future and they are rightfully concerned that they are facing a declining standard of living in a world of shrinking opportunity. They are acutely aware that economic and climate issues are going to dominate their lives, and I believe that they are the best hope for a real nuclear revival.

    However, this must come from within the group, as they are not likely to follow the older individuals that currently form the core of the pronuclear movement. Thus the first task is to recruit a cadre of young pronukes and this is where YGN has to get off their butts and starts to get proactive. I am not impressed with their efforts in this area to date, and this is where nuclear bloggers like Rod and others who have some cred have to make an effort to light a fire under them. They have to be made to understand that this is their hour and the need to get their hands dirty and widen their outreach is paramount.

    As I see it, this is a huge opportunity and taking advantage of it is the best hope of giving nuclear a future.

    1. DV82XL,

      Thank you for your thoughts on this. There are some tools out there for us to arm ourselves with in addition to pure reason. There are two books that changed my approach to presentation that I base everything off of now: Reynolds, “Presentation Zen” and Tuft “The Visual Display of Quantitative Information”. When pure reason is presented with and appealing to appropriate emotions it is amazingly effective.

      Just because there is a large portion of population that has abandoned reason does not make it an ineffective tool in persuasion.

      Here is a link to my public drop box account for a presentation that I put together on the low dose effects of radiation. It was accompanied with a 10 page paper for technical background. Unfortunately the presentation was not recorded so there is a great deal of information missing.


      Communication with related but evocative images can be immensely effective. People respond to feelings first and then ideas. I do my analysis, come up with my ideas all based on cold hard reason. I then distill it down to the fundamental idea that I want to communicate. I use the pictures to compliment what I am saying. The only thing that can stand alone in a presentation is myself. Everything else is an aid to make my presentations more effective.

      I choose evocative pictures and attach a desired emotional response to the idea that I am attempting to convey. The communication becomes more complete. If the acoustics allow I will go towards the crowd, not encroaching on their space and not hiding behind a podium. So I make myself physically vulnerable to them. I am relaxed, with deliberate motions and have usually rehearsed my slides so I can rapidly click through 10 or so without looking at the board timed to the cadence of my click.

      In this presentation, people were covering their mouths, nodding, disagreeing with me about my take on socialism and its unhealthy influence on science, to agreeing with me about if the dinosaur of LNT theory is scientifically dead, then why use it as a regulatory basis. (Bob, don’t take my word for it I was quoting Antone Brooks, take your sacred cow to him, he’s the one who said it is scientifically dead, as the fetid nature of the theory is not enough for you as evidence of decomposition.)

      If we adopt such multifaceted communication, we will have much more than the NGO’s who oppose nuclear power. We have logic, and we have their tool of emotion. They eschewed logic when they decided to cherry pick information and ignore scientific practice to advance a “social good”.

      The artwork of Pop Atomic and of other nuclear artists is communication in the realm of emotion with logic. This is a tremendous shift that we are seeing in our thinking.

      I still have a hard time with the methods of the Occupy movement, it took what I think are valid beefs, and turned them into a collectivist agenda. This is a very important lesson to learn. Don’t let the message get lost in the messenger, let the message stand on its merits. Muller did the same thing as the Occupy movement by doing an end run on the NCRP blocking his baseless claims by demanding evidence that he could not provide. Muller and Stern got appointed to the BEAR I committee and showed the NCRP that science doesn’t matter when establishing regulation, only social need.

      Putting “social need” above rational need will only get us into trouble and we need to steer clear of that very slippery slope as it only leads to suffering.

      1. “Putting “social need” above rational need will only get us into trouble and we need to steer clear of that very slippery slope as it only leads to suffering.”

        Oh dear.

        Politics is a messy process, particularly in nominally representative democracies, primarily because there are often valid but conflicting agendas, and these differences cannot be resolved by reason alone. Realpolitik is a blood sport without rules, and it cannot be played without spilling it, hopefully only figuratively.

        Arguments about the advantages and benefits of nuclear energy no matter how true or well delivered are not going to convert those who are stakeholders in fossil-fuels, be they investors, employees or users that will find themselves out of pocket or worse if these fuels stop being used. Reciting the evils of coal will not move a man who feeds his family digging it out of the ground, because he knows that the chances of finding a job doing anything else are slim.

        Significant change in any domain is never good for everyone and not just the major players. We have to accept this if we are to ever do anything to advance nuclear energy, and face the fact that the fight cannot be fair if we want to have any chance of winning. Frankly we are in the position we are in right now because few nuclear advocates want to get their hands dirty with the type politics that should have been done decades ago.

        As an old protester from the Sixties, I can’t say I have much use for the Occupy movement ether, primarily because it lacked focus; however it serves as a barometer of the general level of angst among the young, and it is those worries, rather than the movement itself that gives us an opportunity to build a grassroots following.

        1. I am young enough to have only been an observer to the 60s protests (I was 8 during the most active summer in the movement). I have also only observed the Occupy protests, but with a bit of a closer lens.

          The efforts both show that people who have been left out of decision making can gather and force themselves into the discussion. So far, they have also both shown that the powers that be can co-opt the passion and engage in disinformation that blunts the effectiveness of the protests.

          Vietnam and civil rights were real and important issues where most of the public was at serious odds with the powerful. The public managed to change some things, but the powerful did not relinquish their power very much.

          The financial crisis and the response to that crisis has resulted in a continuing and massive transfer of wealth from productive people to people whose main skill is manipulation of spreadsheets, opinions and laws. I believe it is wrong to disrespect what motivated so many and it is wrong to allow the portray of Fox News to influence your opinions on what the movement was really about.

          If you want a more realistic summary of why Occupy got so strong so fast, please go back and review my post titled 99% of mankind should love nuclear energy

        2. DV82XL,
          There was I time I thought coal was evil. I do not think so anymore. Nor do I think natural gas and oil are inherently bad. A different approach might win over the fossil fuels to become nuclear supporters.

          There are very few things that I think are inherently evil, theft is one of them. Market failures from intentional inaction or through overregulation constitute theft in my mind. Provided the costs are fully accounted for there is nothing evil about any of the fossil fuels.

          Coal in the US is on the rocks, see WSJ opinion pages from today’s issue. I think an appropriate strategy is to actually work with the coal industry. Nuclear heat can make coal much cleaner and much more valuable in today’s market. It fulfills a need of providing liquid fuels that we need to address a constrained oil supply. See “Combine domestic coal with nuclear energy to make oil”

          We need to be inclusive and recognize and acknowledge what each technology brings to the table. Nothing is evil about physical goods, only the motives behind their misuse.

          As I understand it, the goal of energy producers is to provide the largest quantities of energy at the lowest cost to the market. It is in their interests to do so if they seek maximum profits in a competitive environment. That is a social good provided the costs are fully accounted for in the sale price. This will lead to a Pareto optimal outcome. Pareto efficiency is a simple condition, but is what I use to define a desirable “social good”. It is simply where no one can be made better off without making someone worse off. This is getting into a little bit of economic philosophy, but I think is germane to this discussion.

          There is one more constraint that is needed and where my biggest beef with socialists is and where the TEA Party and Occupy Movement actually share the same ground, before they got mired in collectivism. That is the Walras equilibrium. This is where each actor in the economy given there initial endowment of goods finds the Pareto optimal outcome. The only way for collectivism to work (either crony capitalism, beef of Occupy, or socialism, beef of TEA Party) is to redistribute the initial endowment of goods to fulfill a “social need” of “equality”. This will shift the systems equilibrium to a new Walras equilibrium point where given their initial goods a group is made better off at the expense of another. This is theft and only results in a lower overall utility of the system. I look at the reduction of utility as suffering.

          I agree with some of the Occupy and TEA Party’s goals however, they lost sight of the objective of what it was that they were trying to do and got mired in advancing collectivism, which I abhor.

          This is why “[p]utting “social need” above rational need will only get us into trouble and we need to steer clear of that very slippery slope as it only leads to suffering.”

          I apologize for getting so technical with regards to this. It is I think an important distinction to make. My generation and the millennials are in a very tough spot. I feel becoming more angry and motivated to action than before, which is a consistent theme that you point out with my demographic. I think we have a keen, but underdeveloped, sense of what is “fair” and that can be used to to form a strong grassroots campaign. All I am arguing for here is the definition of “fair” this is very difficult to do and has resulted in many generations of fighting, including open hostilities.

          In order to give the grassroots campaign the drive it needs and to tap into the generational angst (not to exclude the older generations sense of responsibility for their progeny), appealing to “fair” is not only important it is necessary to achieve success. The question is what sense of “fair” do you appeal to. This will shape the intent and flavor of the movement. Fair must work for the customers, the suppliers, the vendors, the utilities, the coal companies, the gas companies, and most importantly to the individuals who constitute those groups. We should seek the most catholic definition of “fair” this will be in everyone’s best interest.

          I suggest that we use the idea of “fair” being the Pareto optimal one based off of the initial endowments of goods. This is equality in opportunity and will lead to the greatest utility for everyone making everyone better off and no one worse off.

          I hear your call for action and am onboard and ready to participate. I want to make sure that the result of my actions are not going to advocate theft.

        3. Well this topic has been my Waterloo on two forums so far, I hope it won’t be the case here, but once more into the breach…

          Any time there is a move to make major changes there will be winners and losers and that is just the way it is. The task itself is always very hard and very messy and the only way that one stands a chance of succeeding is to have a simple objective, and to stay focused on it. Guaranteed any effort to make this omelet without breaking eggs will fail, and is exactly what I see with ideas that suggest that nuclear power can be revived and grow to become a major energy source without causing a huge disruption in other sectors.

          Nuclear powered coal-to-liquids looks like win-win, but once the billions have been spent on infrastructure are you going to protect this investment by inhibiting the development of BEVs? I know the example is a bit trite, but it illustrates the problem of trying to do too many things at the same time, trying to ameliorate the impact of the change you want to make. It is not a pretty side of free market economies, but the fact is that competitive actions are going to be disruptive, and we just have to live with it.

          Within the context described above any attempt to be ‘fair’ is going to fail miserably.
          Change, historically, has come from the bottom up because there is where new ideas are seen as helping people out of their situation; those that are invested in the status quo have no motive to cause things to change, except for a handful of those that are more forward thinking, it’s a waste of time trying to sell change to them. Right in the here and now we see a large group of young people that at the very least are acutely aware that they have been disenfranchised economically and are facing a very uncertain future. This group is ready to be turned into nuclear energy supporters because the technology can be sold to them as a way out, as a solution to the problems they can see coming at them down the road.

          Saul Alinsky, perhaps the leading strategist of the social change movements in the Sixties, wrote that organizing is the process of highlighting whatever one believed to be wrong and convincing people they can actually do something about it. The two are linked. If people feel they don’t have the power to change a situation, they stop thinking about it. This is the case here. A simple message pointing out the promise of nuclear energy, and the actions of those that would see it suppressed is what will bring the sort of support we need from the only group that we have a chance of converting en mass.

          The other thing we have to keep in mind is that we are living in a culture that in many ways is deeply ignorant. As a result they are fearful and thus very easy to sway. The ongoing, and totally manufactured issue of vaccination safety has led to old diseases, once fully suppressed, making a comeback. A significant potion of the voting public in North America still believes that the universe was created ex nullo alio praeexistente about 4000 years ago, and hopes that it will end in their lifetime. Like the antinuclear activists from my generation, these groups and others like them cannot be converted and the very best that we can do is to isolate them.

          Nor are we going to get any traction with those that are stakeholders in the current fossil fuel industry. People that are invested one way or the other will not be converted in the numbers that are needed to effect change. The only capital that those in a movement like ours has is time – it simply cannot be wasted tilting at windmills. Trying to spread both the message and those delivering it too thinly, and trying to work barren ground is a recipe for failure. Focusing on those groups that are receptive, and have something real to gain is the only rational course.

        4. DV82XL,
          I’ve been thinking a lot of path dependance and how the trajectory of events does and does not depend on what is. My advocation stems form CTL and GTL being an adaptable infrastructure that effective liquifies carbon. Liquified carbon is very useful in transportation fuel. The feedstock can be adapted in time with what is available including biomass, and if we are so inclined to start sucking carbon from the air that too. Although this is a bit too detailed of a response for the comment that you had. sorry about that, as an engineer I love the weeds.

          There are other technologies and other synergies out there that can be identified.

          I read Vacliv Smil’s “Energy Transitions” his biggest point about the speed at which transitions can be made is related to infrastructure. It is the replacing of infrastructure that makes them so slow. My thoughts on this are to integrate solutions that minimize the requirements for building new infrastructure. It is much more than just the plants and power lines it is a whole ecology.

          To shift an ecology without causing a regime change (collapse) as much of the existing infrastructure needs to be reused. This makes sense because it is the path that maximizes the free energy of the system (borrowing from thermodynamics). As none of us own this existing infrastructure it becomes an education of those who do that in changing the energy mix of the country we are not trying to destroy their business or wealth. A simple point to make, but with deep meaning. This is based on the idea of the Walras equilibrium.

          I don’t want to pick winners or losers. My thoughts and feelings may change on CTL and GTL as more information comes available, but based off of what I know that seems to most effective thrust and can gain some allies that have some money and infrastructure to make the change and who are at risk of losing the money and infrastructure, if they fail to act effectively.

          Other technology will come along. I am glad that it will as it will only make us better off.

          I think you are right in that a movement needs creation. I am debating the underpinnings, so that we don’t’ go off in any one particular direction, including what is in my head. I am seeking plurality to help focus our thoughts. Think of it as work hardening a metal. To make a sword one must heat with the flame of reason and pound with the hammer of debate to make the instrument strong enough to do its task.

        5. Cal, we are talking past each other, or at least at two different ends of the issue. I hate to be so blunt, but you are engaging in the sort of navel-gazing, and micro planning that is the reason the pronuclear movement can’t get off the ground. This is the same sort of effort wasting that is going on with arguing technical issues with antinuclear activists, and bickering over LFTR vs. IFR. Social movements are about simple messages delivered in broad terms, repeated until they become accepted as the way things must be. What do we want? New nuclear power. When do we want it? Now! That’s it, that’s all.

          We are not in a position to fine-tune things, and it is a bit arrogant to think that we can. There are existing players in the field that are ready and able to take on the task of building the plants, the thing that they need the most is policy that will stop hobbling them to the benefit of other parts of the energy sector. It’s a pure political play, wherein enough public support has to be generated to overcome the money amplified lobbying of fossil-fuels.

          It is just that simple

        6. DV82XL – Good comment. I’ll humbly add my two cents.

          This is the same sort of effort wasting that is going on with arguing technical issues with antinuclear activists, …

          Getting too involved in technical details is a mistake, but that shouldn’t stop anyone from calling out blatant lies. However, the message is best coached in the simplest terms — that is, “That is a lie” — perhaps with one or two simple talking points that reveal why it is a lie.

          … and bickering over LFTR vs. IFR.

          Amen. The problem with many nuclear advocates is that they tend to be “fanboys.” So just like a couple of teenage nerds arguing over which video game or manga comic is the best, they waste their time arguing over which is the best reactor design. It’s enough to make one want to vomit.

          I’m close to the point of being openly hostile to LFTR-advocates, because they are reaching — no, make that have reached — the point of being counterproductive to the cause of advocating nuclear technology.

          Social movements are about simple messages delivered in broad terms, repeated until they become accepted as the way things must be.

          Yes. The hard part is building up enough inertia to get the movement started.

          One huge pitfall is alienating potential allies by pulling in all sorts of extraneous issues (particularly social issues) that don’t have anything (directly) to do with building new nuclear plants. If the message is going to work, it must be simple and focused.

      2. Carl, I’ve been reading your presentation with much interest.
        I also agree with DV82XL that the single most important thing is to focus on the clearest message.

        One very important part of this message is that millions of people live in naturally elevated radiation areas of earth. But finding only one such area is not enough, there will still be some people saying “we don’t know if it really was measured, further measurement has been made in Ramsar and actually few houses/areas have a high radiation level, few enough people live in the area that statistics are not significant, maybe that was genetic adaptation to a higher radiation level”.

        So it’s very good to collect as many of those as possible, and to have many, many different cases, not stop at, “hey I’ve found one, good enough”.

        So I took a lot of interest in slide 45 of your study which list some elevated radiation areas I had never heard about until now, and I would like to identify the source for it.
        Is it all coming from Jaworowski’s paper ?
        I never heard about the southwest France part, usually we reference Brittany, but that’s not really what is called southwest in France, southwest would be more Basque Country,

        It’s essential to be very rigorous, and never trust any data that you have not been able to double-check. A single data point that is exposed an incorrect can be used to throw doubt on everything you’ve written.

        1. And if southwest France here means Brittany, I’ve *never* seen Brittany at 88mSv, yes the granite there contains some uranium, and radioactivity is elevated, but I’ve never heard so much.
          Would it be a 8.8 value that has been miswritten ?

        2. @jmdesp

          The source of the chart on slide 45 was from something Jerry Cuttler published:

          Cuttler, J. M. (2004). Time for a Different Approach for Protection Against Ionizing Radiation. Canadian Nuclear Association Forum on IRCP-2005 Reccomendations, Ottawa CN.

          Dr. Cuttler got it from Ted Rockwell:
          ROCKWELL T. Creating the New World: Stories & Images from the Dawn of the Atomic
          Age, 1st Books Library, Bloomington, Indiana (2003) ISBN: 1-4107-0333-9, Fig 7.1, pp.150

          I checked Dr. Rockwell’s book and he listed the paper you referecend. I could not find it online from the conference, but found a version here:

          I am not sure that relying on background alone is adequate. We have large and growing numbers of occupational exposure to relatively large quantities of radiation. We also have a good bit of information on various studies (the Beagle studies of Raabe) and the specific genetic studies of Neumaier:

          Neumaier, T., J. Swenson, et al. (2011). “Evidence for formation of DNA repair centers and dose-response nonlinearity in human cells.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Scieinces of the United States.

          The issue is making sure that we ask the right questions. The question is not if radiation does damage, we know that with a great level of certainty. I think that is the point that guys like Bob Applebaum want to belabor and argue that suggesting that there is a tolerance to low dose rates that we are somehow negating the first statement. You should check back on some of the posts from late last year. He and those who support the LNT theory look only at the upper region of radiation exposures. It is like basing hearing protection regulation only by doing studies of gunshots, jet engines, and shuttle launches. We have a clear and easily defined threshold for the impacts of acoustic energy. We also have the same response with radiation, if and only if we admit the mass of low dose data from our accumulated experience.

          In researching this paper and presentation I found a common fallacy and one that was reinforced by Dr. Antone Brooks:
          Brooks, A. (2012). From the Field to the Laboratory and Back: The “What ifs”, “Wows” and “Who Cares” of Radiaiton Biology. 36th Annual Lauriston S. Taylor Speaker Series. http://www.ncrponline.org/Annual_Mtgs/2012_Ann_Mtg/Brooks.pdf, National Council of Radiaiton Protection & Measurement.

          That is that even though the theory of LNT is dead that it can still be useful for regulation.

          This is pure poppycock. Regulation in order to be effective has to be based on science. Basing it on things that we know to be untrue is perpetuating a lie and placing an undue burden on society (either over or under regulation). This is why I drew a parallel with using OSHA’s hearing conservation program as an example of effective regulation based on science not on fiction. Ionizing radiation carry’s a similar risk and consequence profile as acoustic radiation. One is regulated effectively the other is not.

          We need to regulate ionizing radiation like we do hearing conservation. If there is anything specific to attack to advance DV82XL’s vision of more nuclear this is the most fundamental, single point to attack. The fact the LNT theory is based on a lie perpetuated by Hermann Muller and Curt Stern lends more credibility to the attack of ineffective regulation as being a lie and a false choice.

          I do not like general and broad goals. Although well intentioned can be subject to manipulation and control. I prefer specific and targeted goals. LNT is the lynch pin. Attack it and you dismantle all the trumped up reasons against nuclear power.

          As for proposing suites of technology. If I am going to tell somebody that they need to do something different I had better damn well propose what it is that I expect to be done differently. An example of this is President Obama’s campaign of “Hope” I could not at the time or since find any specific statement about what he intended. His actions show what he intended and he mislead a large group of people, like my wife, and changed things that they did not want.

          Frothy emotional appeals are only good in motivating chattel. I view this type of persuasion as unethical. Be specific. Be open. Be honest. Most importantly, be willing to be wrong.

        3. You cannot choose your battlefield,
          God does that for you;
          But you can plant a standard
          Where a standard never flew.
          – -from The Colors by Nathalia Crane

          Cal – I understand, I really do, mostly because I struggled with this myself at one time. Unfortunately as the quote above points out, we don’t get to choose the terms in most fights. President Obama may have disappointed some people – the fact remains that he still won. The fight for nuclear energy is a pure political play; it cannot be turned into a technical one just because you don’t want to soil your hands with the process.

          Specifically, an outright attack on LNT is bound to fail because it is just not possible to frame an argument against it such that it will change the minds of a large enough number of people to make a significant difference. We will not have the field to ourselves and opponents, regardless of their real motivations, can leverage the fear of cancer, and the apparent wisdom of the precautionary principle to deflect any attempt to undermine LNT. Not only that, they can count on the bulk of the radiation safety industry, and its highly credentialed practitioners to fall in on their side. The public simply will not be swayed away.

          Current radiation standards while overdone are not all that difficult or expensive to follow. In and of themselves they are not the central reason why nuclear energy is so expensive, and if they serve to mollify public fear, they need not be downgraded at this time. Other type of regulatory overkill and inappropriate financial rules are far more damaging to new nuclear builds. Rather than attack LNT, we need to emphasize the lack of heath issues associated with nuclear because there we can bring data that can be easily and broadly understood to bear.

          Finally, ethics has precious little place in this fight. Opponents of nuclear do not consider themselves bound by such rules. Like the scientists and engineers that were the subject of Andrea Jennetta’s wrath illustrated, being correct is not the same as being right, and being right is not the same as being persuasive.

          1. @DV82XL – Sometimes, it is worthwhile to TRY to establish the terms and to set the agenda. I agree that the people with larger megaphones have a distinct advantage, but there is also an advantage given by having the truth as a weapon.

            While I agree that complying with routine limits on radiation exposure is relatively simple, all bets go out the window when it comes to LNT enabled regulations for clean up standards, long term radioactive waste storage and habitability for large areas that have been exposed to a relatively small amount of Cs-137 released after a nuclear reactor accident.

            Instead of the costs at Fukushima being limited to the loss of the plant, there is now an area with a radius of about 12 miles that is considered a total loss, with damages being measured in the hundreds of billions. The radiation exposure being avoided can only be considered to have any negative health effects if the LNT assumption remains in effect.

            The DOE established standard for long term used fuel storage is that no person will be exposed to more than 15 mrem per year at anytime in the next million years. Again – that is a completely unjustifiable standard if there were no LNT.

            Finally, take a look at the costs associated with cleanup at former nuclear weapons material processing sites. Tens to hundreds of billions of cost has been expended to move from levels that were already at least an order of magnitude below the reasonable threshold dose rate of 10 REM per year to try to achieve levels as close to zero as possible.

        4. @ Rod -Please don’t get me wrong – I think LNT is a crock, and needs to be flushed away. I just don’t think it will be an easy sell against the sort of opposition that can be lined up against it. Tilting at windmills is not going to advance the cause of nuclear energy.

          We cannot win this fight with pure logic and reason. As abhorrent as it may be to many, we must take a more basic, and yes emotional tact, looking at those topics that may find resonance with the public. Slackening of radiation protection standards is not one of the.

          As well we cannot fix everything at once. Yes cleanup standards are too high, so what? We are pushing for more NEW builds. This seems almost hypocritical I know, but you don’t see solar and wind advocates wringing their hands over the cost of dismantlement and disposal of their energy choice.

          In other words it is two different fights, and I believe we need to stay focused on the first. Anyway, grow the industry, and it can lobby the authorities to have waste standards rationalized. Try and attack them now and we will only make a target of ourselves.

          Look. coal and gas do not waste much effort fighting off opponents in public with technical arguments. Watching hockey last night, I saw a short ad for gas (several times in fact) that had a young woman state: (I paraphrase) ‘We need natural gas to fuel growth in the economy, it’s just that simple. (emphasis added) Was she answering criticisms of fracking for tight gas? No. Was she addressing concerns over potential rate hikes? No Was she even pretending that NG is environmentally benign? Not even that. She cut to the one point that was going to reach the most people in an economy that is still bruised, and where the public is afraid of loosing their standard of living. You want to counter that with arguments over the cost of remediating old nuclear weapons sites?

          This is what we are up against, and we cannot make headway if we cling to the notion that we can set the terms of the debate.

          Its just that simple.

          Rob Gauthier

        5. Be careful when you fight the monsters, lest you become one.

          I don’t normally quote Nietsche, however I think this is an appropriate point to raise. Nietsche did miss the more underlying issue in his quotation. Taken literally, this quote can be as a mandate to not fight or not enter a fray due to the fear of becoming what one fights. This idea misses the more fundamental issue. It is not whether to fight or not to fight that is important so much as how we fight. It is the action that defines the character of the individual.

          Be careful how you fight the monsters, lest you become one. Represents a more accurate and fundamental choice faced in conflict. I have had to reconcile this including with the execution of tactical and strategic use of nuclear weapons. I cannot just follow orders, that would make me no better than a soldier in Dachau in the second World War. It does require a measure of trust in the accountability of the civilians in charge of my government being accountable to their citizens (including myself) for their actions. Once I came to understand this point of my constitution, I had no more hesitancy or even reluctance to use nuclear weapons. I would execute my orders because I knew that they were issued with such accountability.

          I have no idea what kept the Soviets at bay during the Cold War, perhaps it was this knowledge or understanding of the American approach to nuclear weapons. I don’t think they could understand this in their socio political framework. Their military chain of command was much like the Germans in WWII based on just following orders. It can be no other way in a socialist society. They knew that if they provoked us into war on that scale we would not stop until we had eliminated their government from the face of the planet or we were destroyed as a society.

          I use this example for two reasons. First it is emotionally charged. Second is that it is the most accurate statement I can make with the knowledge that I have. Please do not take my adoption or advocacy of ethical restraints as a measure of weakness or sanction for my enemies. It is to show what and how far thought, reason and ethical action can be used to to focus emotion into a weapon more powerful than any nuclear device ever created.

          By adopting the tactics and methods of those who eschew reason and abandon an ethical framework of argument we become them. We are on the slippery slope of abandoning what we know as right action (action based on reason) for the action based on emotion (usually fear). There is also a reason why most anti nukers tend to be collectivists. This is what happens when you abandon reason or manipulate the scientific process for “social needs”.

          Our message is simple. Nuclear power saves lives and will allow virtually unlimited economic growth. This is not too cheap to meter (which was originally used for electrostatic confinement fusion never with fission).

          The fight you are calling for is a fight that is vital for our future and as rational beings we must take up the banner and charge forward. We must also willingly and fully constrain ourselves to the ethical framework of debate and action. The consequences of not doing so are deleterious. This does not mean that we cannot use emotion. It means that we can use and focus emotion in such a fashion that it is unstoppable. This is what we need.

        6. Then be prepared to lose. The opponent of nuclear energy is money, mostly from fossil-fuel who have bottomless pockets. If you think that you can beat them with reason and logic and pleasant debate, I wish you well.

          The problem is that there are over one hundred pronuclear sites on the web from bloggers to companies to education resources and to date they have accomplished nothing. Yes they attract a few thinking people, but they are not going to create a wave of popular support; nor is your high road. Until you understand that you are not trying to convert your peers, you will only convert your peers, and that just isn’t enough. Pronukes have been at this strategy for decades now, and all that has happened is that we have slowly lost ground. If that isn’t losing, I don’t know what is.

          I have tried to make this point to the pronuclear community for years now, and it seems no one wants to listen to the truth, and frankly I too am getting to the point where I am beginning to wonder why I bother.

          1. @DV82XL – I believe it is possible to craft a fact based, rational argument that can be distilled into an attractive message that would appeal to the masses.

            I know that many pronuclear advocates are a little uncomfortable with the direction that I take, but I think we can tap into a deep well of resentment against the multinational oil&gas companies that have been so dominant in economics and politics during the past half century – if not longer.

            The case for nuclear is that it is far superior to gas on several measures. If you think $2.00 per MMBTU natural gas is cheap, what do call $0.60 per MMBTU nuclear fuel? If you think 400 gms/kw-hr of CO2 is “clean”, what do you think of 10 gms/kw-hr for a complete fuel cycle? If you think fracking fluid that is 99.5% H2O is reasonably clean, what do you think of tritium concentrations on the order of an aspirin tablet in 100,000 gallons?

            However, that does not mean that I dislike gas, coal or oil. They are all fine fuels that provide a great deal of wealth to mankind by allowing machines to do things that humans cannot do. The beef I have with the multinational oil&gas cartels is that they have sought to tie down nuclear energy because they see it as a competitive threat to their existing positions of wealth and power.

            They are sort of right, but that does not mean that we will stop using oil, coal and gas. We will just use less and pay less per unit for what we do use. That will shake their established positions, but it will make the world a better, more livable place for nearly everyone else.

            People who are religiously tied to an antinuclear position can be moved if they personally realize that their position has been formed based on being lied to by people they thought they could trust.

        7. Then be prepared to lose. The opponent of nuclear energy is money, mostly from fossil-fuel who have bottomless pockets. If you think that you can beat them with reason and logic and pleasant debate, I wish you well.

          I am not suggesting going toe-to-toe with the fossil fuel industries. They are not the ones that I wish to fight. The issue is not that fossil fuels are “bad” it is that they can be made better with the addition of nuclear heat. I am not suggesting phasing out coal, oil and natural gas from our economy. I happen to like our economy very much.

          What I am suggesting is a business case where the existing energy industry can incorporate nuclear heat without undue restriction not because of social mandate, but because it will enable access to new markets using existing assets. I am not trying to phase out. I am not seeking the abandonment of capital or the destruction of wealth. I am seeking new ways to use existing capital to create new wealth. I am not fighting money, I am showing money how it can grow.

          This is a form of judo. This move is not to hurt the fossil fuel industry but aid placing it on new footing while the resources last longer in a manner that eliminates market failures.

          If nuclear heat can only be used in base load power it will be competition for the fossil fuel industry and they will mercilessly attack nuclear energy to ensure their market share. However, if nuclear heat can be used outside of base load and outside of electricity generation it can be used to enable new markets for conventional fossil fuels.

          One of the reasons I am so upset with Ed Markey et al. with their obstructionist tactics for LNG exports is that they are stealing from everyone else. Natural gas if freely exported would aid our allies and create a domestic reason to use nuclear power so we can sell more gas over seas.

          This is why specifics are so important, and why credibility is important and the code of ethics in action and debate. If we abandon those the creators and holders of capital will rightly see us as one of “them” and be treated as such.

          Other than calling hacks out like Caldicott the issue is teaching the fossil fuel industry how nuclear power can increase their market share and make their product better with limited and targeted capital investment. Then we will be seen as an ally, however to earn trust we must be trust worthy. Honesty has been and will always be the best policy.

          I am not looking at fighting the energy producers. I want to sincerely help them and bring them more business even under increased environmental regulations.

          I am not a fan boy. I spent my own money to patent my temperature amplifier for one reason. The technology did not exist to be able to make the argument and case that I laid out. I did it for intellectual credibility. The green left will have you believe that energy storage will save renewables. Well, where is the comercializable and scalable technology to do that? They are snake oil salesmen. I could not do that, so I had to invent and create. This means that I could also be completely wrong, but there is something there that is solid and can be critiqued and like all plans once made will be heavily modified. But, there is something there to start with something to weigh on merits and faults.

          I am not selling a technology. I am selling the idea of how to enable a massive expansion in the consumption of primary energy while resolving the pressing environmental needs of our age, with little to no change in infrastructure. The idea of how to grow the economy without messing up the environment, and that this cannot be done without fossil fuels and nuclear power.

          I am not trying to convert my peers. I am not trying to convert the general public who think cranks like Lovins, Caldicott, Markey, Reid, and Gunderson have good arguments and should be seriously considered. I cannot fight that mob. However, I can educate utilities and the coal industry about what nuclear power can do for them. I also have to educate the nuclear camp on exactly what it is that their technology is capable of. I am working on educating the legislature of my pro growth state about how nuclear power can solve the trash problem, the jobs problem, raise revenue and create employment. I cannot do this alone.

          1. @Cal

            You and I are in close agreement, but with some nuances.

            My study of international relations and economic geography has convinced me that the most important multinational petroleum enterprises are hoarders and cartels that use political and economic power to enrich themselves at the expense of everyone else. They are not selling the best products or providing the best service, they are functioning like drug lords who capture customers through addiction and then extract as high a price as possible.

            The coal industry is a far more interesting potential ally as is the domestic portion of the oil and gas industry. Those energy suppliers could be significantly more competitive against imported fuels with the assistance of inexpensive and emission free nuclear heat that your amplifier concept could provide.

            It is not irrational for the multinational petroleum industry to fight against nuclear energy, after all, there is little chance that allowing nuclear energy to flourish would increase their market share or allow them to expand their relative dominance over policy. It is hard to increase a market share that is close to 100% and difficult to gain more power than they already have.

        8. Frankly I think you are both delusional, but beyond this last comment I will drop the subject for now. Politics isn’t about truth, it’s about perceptions, and right now nuclear is perceived in a poor light. Rehabilitating it is going to require far more than well crafted arguments, it’s going to require a sales pitch and I hope I don’t need to explain the difference.

          The public is lied to constantly, on all fronts – they quite expect it now. To get any message through such that it generates the sort of moral outrage that will cause a major shift in public opinion requires more than countervailing facts, and more than just pointing out that the other side is dealing in lies. You need look no farther than the spectacle of electioneering as it pertains to choosing governments in the West to see that reasoned debate on the facts is of small matter. Or examine the anti-vaccination movement, and see how without a shred of truth and an emotional appeal to caution where none is warranted, thousands of parents have been convinced to put their children at risk from life-threatening disease. I wish we were living in a culture where the Age of Reason did not die, but we do not.

          Furthermore, the money that can be brought to fight any attempt to undermine their position by fossil-fuel interest’s means that any message that is not directed to those that already hate and distrust these entities will be drowned out. And any hope that fossil-fuels will adopt any scheme to advance nuclear is naïve; do you really think that they haven’t already seen such proposals? The idea that nuclear generated process heat would be a low carbon answer to winning bitumen from the Tar Sands, was dropped so fast it was astonishing, that is until you see that the Tar Sands are seen as a major market for Northern gas.

          As I mentioned above, I will leave the issue alone now, it is clear that few in the pronuclear community understand the dynamics of creating an effective social campaign to effect change. I will also have to reflect myself on how much more time I want to spend trying to convince pronukes that they must change tactics. I don’t think that enough of you understand the broader point that Andrea Jennetta was making in the op-ed Rod linked to last week, and until that message sinks in, there is little to be gained by belabouring this subject.

          Anyone that wants to discuss this in private can contact me at dv82xl@gmail.com

          Rob Gauthier.

          1. @DV82XL

            I understand your comment with regard to proposing nuclear heat in the tar sands area. That particular fossil fuel target was a non starter for several reasons.

            1. Tar sands production is dominated by the same multinational petroleum companies that I rail against for their market domination and their use of drug lord sales tactics (addiction first, price increases later)

            2. The current source of heat for the tar sands is natural gas – a byproduct of oil production that is flared as a waste from areas that are remote from pipelines if not used for purposes like heating soil. I never thought that the gas guys would willingly give up there tar sands market.

            Instead, Cal’s invention and discussion is aimed at a business that has been just as demonized by the multinational oil&gas cartels as nuclear energy – the COAL business. That business has a strong motivation for fighting back and for using a relatively inexpensive heat source to upgrade its still very useful product so that it can compete head to head in markets that are currently dominated by petroleum products that capture a premium price – often 5 times as much per unit of heat as unprocessed coal can capture.

            Divide and conquer is a strategy that can work, especially if you can align with a still powerful industry that was once known as King Coal.

        9. @DV82XL : I think an attack on the *obviously* untrue part of LNT is possible.

          It has been quite visible in recent month about Fukushima, the radiation fear talks have mostly moved from external irradiation to the fear of internal irradiation. People are still scared almost the same, but it’s a demonstration that the argumentation about why the external irradiation wasn’t actually at a dangerous level has had some effect.

          And the case of mobile phone radiation shows how not standing your ground, accepting irrational measure because they are not too costly, absolutely doesn’t mean getting to close the subject at a limited cost, but instead opening the gate to go into further insanity and extremely costly consequences.

        10. Thank you for the Jaworowski document which is a very interesting read. However I apparently don’t see all of the quoted areas in it.
          I’ll check further when I have time

  10. Dont beat yourselves down so much on the communication thing. There is more misinformation out there than I have ever seen with reference to a technical topic. Be honest and yourself, over engineering a PR campaign wont help probably.

    Get out there and contribute your expertise honestly and stay out there even when its difficult. You are needed now.

  11. Well Rod, think of it this way. If people start the ad hominem accusations and inferring motives, that means they admit that you know a lot about nuclear energy and they not so much at all. Moreover, they are implying that they have no good argument to set against so much sense that Rod Adams talks, so they use the alternative fall-back tactic of ad hominem attacks. Consider that a compliment.

  12. The Failure of INPO in the Commercial Nuclear Power Industry

    Being a pro-nuke and a nuclear worker for the past 30+ years at both commercial nuclear reactor sites and the US Department of Energy sites, I have an increasing concern about the path that nuclear power training is taking in qualifying workers to perform their jobs. This concern centers on commercial nuclear plants and their affiliation and support of the nuclear energy training watchdog INPO (Institute of Nuclear Power Operations, centered in Atlanta, GA.). The fact that the nuclear industry regulator, the USNRC, does not audit or perform periodic reviews of nuclear power plant Engineering, Maintenance, Electrical, I&C, Chemistry, Health Physics and non-licensed operator training programs unless there is an indication that that particular licensed operator program is failing, is a crime.

    INPO, since the early 1980’s, has been the guiding light for the nuclear power plants in this country to follow to ensure that their training programs were of the highest quality of any industry. In the early years INPO would spend several weeks, every 4 years, at a particular facility reviewing, observing, evaluating, and inputting problems to the utility. This allotted time was difficult as it was based on the extent and amount of data that had to be reviewed or observed. But the utilties respected them. Today they have become another arm of the utilities. Not wanting to put plants in a bad light with the USNRC or the public.

    I recently left a commercial nuclear power plant, as an in-staff employee, where most of the training staff management (1st, 2nd level supervision, and 3rd level managers) did not know or understand the Systematic Approach to Training (SAT) process that was the basis for their own training programs. Most could not perform a Job/Task Analysis or a Needs Analysis, create a task for a task list, generate a Task-to-Training Matrix, create a lesson plan, tie a qualification examination question back to a task, or correctly write a Job Performance Measure or write adequate On-the-Job Training and Task Performance Evaluations (TPE) for the On-the-Job Training, could not tie an OJT training document back to a Task-to-Training Matrix. In addition, the utility training personnel and management could not control the use of OJT by plant personnel to insure that the training material included the required knowledge necessary for the individuals to perform the TPE to qualify to perform the tasks.

    Training materials were not updated, in some cases, for the last 10 years. Lesson plans had no material in them (no material) except for objectives. In many cases the objectives were not indicative of the knowledge that drove the training material. The training material was not indicative of any defined knowledge, task analysis that had been completed prior to 2011 did not indicate knowledge to be included in training material because personnel did not know how to complete a formal task analysis.

    OJT processes performed by the line organizations were based on procedure use. Procedures were vague and incomplete therefore knowledge could never be derived from them. Procedures should never be used to obtain knowledge, can be used to gain skills.

    It is time that the USNRC again started looking at the non-licensed accreditted programs at nuclear power plants if we are again starting to license new plants. It is obvious that the two companies SCANA/SCE&G and Southern Companies/Georgia Power are not prepared adequately training wise to provide radiological safety for their workers (Health Physics), ensure that the maintenance, electrical, and I&C workers are trained to adequately maintain, replace, and repair safety related equipment/components, and monitor and maintain chemical related requirements for safe operation of the new plants. Relying on INPO to provide the training knowledge and the guidance on training programs at the nuclear facilities has become a joke. Infiltrated with politics and influences. INPO being a utility funded organization has become a farce, looking at only what the specific utilities want them to look at and see. Example, recently at the SCE&G facility, V.C. Summer, an INPO reaccreditation team visited. Unbeknownst to the utility, the INPO team leader was notified several months in advance of the INPO team visit to the plant of the existing problem areas within training. When the INPO team visited the plant, not a single one of the problem areas was reviewed or addressed. In addition during the INPO pre-visit to the plant a finding was issued by INPO team on the plant’s use of TPE. The plant trained the plant people on only the specifics of what not to do when the INPO team arrived and exactly what was expected of the TPE evaluators during the team visit. This was such a farce.

    Are we sure that personnel at our new nuclear plants are truly being trained correctly and to the level of expectation by the public related to the safety of plants. It is time to pull the curtain on the farce of non-licensed technical and maintenance training programs in our nuclear industry, especially since we are now building new plants? One of the major failures at Three Mile Island, according to the USNRC, was the failure to adequately trained the organizations other than licensed operator personnel at the plant. Are we going to open this door again?

  13. You’re doing a good job promoting nuclear Rod, and helping develop small innovative reactors, but I think pushing Coal to Liquid is a backward step. Oil is running out faster than coal ; if CTL keeps those exhaust pipes pumping CO2, there’s not much chance of leaving our grandchildren the same planet we grew up on. There might be some prospect of sequestrating emissions from power plants, though replacement by nuclear ones makes much more sense, but not from vehicles.
    It’s just like switching to natural gas for electricity- short term expediency, long term disaster

    1. John,

      It is more of a strategic infrastructure change, that allows continued use of existing infrastructure as long as possible. The gasifier does not care what is fed into it. It can be anything with carbon, solid or liquid. That is a very broad statement that can even include biomass. The liquefaction process only needs hydrogen and carbon monoxide, so garbage becomes a viable feedstock.

      It gives the greatest amount of flexibility for adapting to future needs and constraints without locking into any one file source (other than nuclear) and can thus be an indefinite (as long as our society exists) supply of transportation fuel. It is even agnostic on reactor technology provided it can supply hot enough thermal energy.

      There is nothing inherently wrong or evil about any particular source of energy or even raw materials for that mater, provided one simple condition is met of there being no market failures. This is why I think coal will be with us for a long long time. The gasification process removes everything that is considered a pollutant except for the carbon (using EPA’s definitions), and without having done the calculations would likely even meet the EPA standard for CO2 emissions under the new regulations.

      So yes, this is a short term switch however it sets up for long term success.

      1. ‘It is more of a strategic infrastructure change, that allows continued use of existing infrastructure as long as possible. ‘

        Anyone concerned about climate change, and that should mean everyone, would be trying to get rid of the existing infrastructure as soon as possible, at least as far as it burns stuff. Americans are currently putting about twenty times their own body weight of CO2 into the air every year, on average, and the climate system doesn’t care whether it’s coming from a dirty old coal plant or your brand new car, or whether the EPA says it’s OK, it just keeps on doing the physics. I don’t know how, or whether, this problem can be fixed, but I suspect the market won’t have much to do with it, and nor will biofuels.
        As a New Zealander, I appreciate what the USA did in the Pacific during World War 2, but note that it wasn’t till bombs were landing on American soil that your country got involved. When enough Americans realize that the bit of dirt they’re living on is liable to become desert or sea floor, the politics will get a lot easier, but by then the physical reality will be a lot worse.

        1. John, my guess is that Cal will be back to provide some further clarification about the nuclear-powered coal-to-liquids.

          In the meantime, I will add a few points. When Cal says “allows continued use of existing resources” that refers primarily to coal-fired power plants which are being shut down and portions of their supporting infrastructure. If the plants are simply shut down, that is hundreds of billions of dollars of infrastructure whose value would drop to almost nothing if not re-used.

          Economic factors cannot be wished away.

          Liquid transportation fuels are going to be used for as long as they are economically viable. No transportation fuels = economies grind to a halt due to inability to trade. At some future point, either mostly electric or some non-carbon-based ground transportation paradigm may become a reality, but for any hope of being able to afford the infrastructure investments necessary for that to occur, carbon-based liquid fuels will continue playing a massive role during the transition period. Liquid fuels will even be needed to build out the needed infrastructure to support any non-carbon-fuel-based transportation system.

          From the GHG perspective, a nuclear-powered coal-to-liquids facility would present an improvement over the combination of a coal-fired power plant + the liquid fuels coming from out of the ground. While nuclear-powered coal-to-liquids would not be the be-all end-all ultimately optimal configuration to meet energy needs, it may very well play an integral role as a transitional coupling of technologies.

        2. John,
          I am very concerned about GHG emissions and global warming. It was why I started thinking down these lines. I watched, “An Inconvenient Truth” and was convinced of the problem (after some research on my own) and thought that the massive shift that Al Gore was advocating was ignoring some fundamental issues.

          Being one that if I am going to say somebody is doing something wrong, then I have a responsibility to propose a better option. This took a few years to figure out.

          To say “get rid of the existing infrastructure as soon as possible,” was the first thought I had. What I found was that it ignores the capital that is invested in those materials and structures. We have a lot of capital invested in our energy infrastructure ($2.7 trillion in 2007 $) here in the US. This is wealth held by every publicly traded energy company, from utilities, to mines, to wells, to rail cars and everything in between. I did not appreciate this number as what is a trillion dollars these days? These are physical assets that required energy to manufacture, to ship, and to build, it required capital to do all of those things. They represent an investment in energy and capital. If we are to mandate to our companies to write down $2.7 trillion and then have to spend money to replace the infrastructure to suit a societal need, then we are begging for an economic collapse as we are witnessing in Europe (with Germany) and Japan.

          If we are sincere about the change then we have to make a case to those who hold that capital that we are not after the destruction of their companies. (that capital represents the majority of the book value of most energy companies.) If we do not make such an approach and seek to make a change by getting rid of existing infrastructure, their capital, then they have every right of self preservation to fight us tooth and nail. If they did not fight against their own destruction then they have no business being in business in the first place.

          To make a change any change that is meaningful and does not involve the socialization of energy production, then the only alternative is to make the change by preserving existing wealth and making targeted economic change. To work within the existing structure of the world as it is, not as we think or want it to be.

          I modeled this approach of reusing infrastructure and was able to reduce US CO2 emissions to 20% of 2005 levels by 2050 with nuclear CTL and GTL as the keystone of enabling the change. As Joel pointed out we cannot ignore the importance of transportation fuel in our economy, it has to be addressed. Coal when liquified with nuclear heat ends up storing nuclear heat in the hydrocarbon bonds improving the energy content of the fuel and reducing overall carbon emissions. This also serves as the touch stone of just about every single industrial technology because they all revolve around manipulating hydrocarbon bonds in one way or another. This is why I say this is a strategic shift. It increases the industrial density proportionate to the increase in energy density of fission over chemical bonds.

          “Anyone concerned about climate change, and that should mean everyone, would be trying to” reuse as much “of the existing infrastructure as soon as possible.”

          Reduce, reuse, recycle right? well if we reduce our energy in our lives we reduce our standard of living, so that is not an option for me and a lot of other people. That leaves reuse and then recycle. What I am arguing for is not a new concept.

          Vacliv Smil does a pretty good job in “Energy Transitions” explaining the reason why shifts take so long. If we need to respond quickly then we need to understand why the system changes so slowly and how a change can be affected quickly and efficiently.

        3. One last thing. I also reserve the right to be completely wrong about global warming and the risks it poses. As it stands I am 60% convinced, and still have unanswered questions. If we did read the tea leaves wrong then the course of action taken should not weaken our position. If it does then we as a society fail.

        4. Very interesting comments here (as usual), great, thanks all. Agree with you Cal.

          Nuclear power is the ideal ‘bridge’ power source because it doesn’t run out and doesn’t rely on subsidies. Nuclear power can be employed by states to ween their economies off fossil fuels more easily than natural energy sources. The concept of a CTL and GTL will get the fossil fuel companies onboard, as well as help put a ceiling on liquid fuels prices for consumers. If we transition from fossil fuels to nuclear fuels, then we will have thousands of years to decide what to do next, rather than half a century or less.

          Best regards, Joris

  14. One thing that would help dispel FUD is making the Atomic Show a regular weekly inter-blog feature whose roundtable fields e-mailed questions or those most common on anti-nuclear blogs.

    James Greenidge
    Queens NY

  15. When technology changes there will always be winners and losers- railways killed most of the canals, roads slaughtered the railways, jets killed ocean liners and bus companies. If society, through its government, determines that an industry is harming the general good, the corporations running that industry don’t have a right to life, or a vote. The oil companies of the world, including the national companies like Aramco and Petrobras, own fuel reserves valued more than just about any non government entity, and infrastructure to get and sell it, which, if not used, will be an enormous loss of capital, but I don’t believe they should be compensated for that loss any more than slave owners deserved to be paid for their emancipated slaves. They’ve done alright, and it’s time to move on.
    If oil supplies are failing to match demand, prices will rise, and ideally suppress demand and encourage alternatives. But if the alternative chosen is coal to liquid, that pressure is reduced. The result for the atmosphere will be better than if gas was used for tar sands, or non nuclear- facilitated CTL, but it will be just the same as the opening of a huge new oil field. Battery vehicles certainly can’t completely replace ICE ones, but they should be able to do some. The car fleet is replaced every ten or fifteen years anyway, and the electricity distribution is already in place. If nuclear completely replaced coal for electricity production, demand for rail freight in the US, and in China, would halve, freeing up capacity to replace road freight. I understand most of the coal power plants in the US are getting on in age, and the idea of repowering them with nuclear would save some of the grid connections, at least.
    A bit south of where I live is the Mataura valley, where my uncles used to farm. The whole width of the valley, bar three holdouts, has been bought by a corporation called Solid Energy, which proposes to dig up the six billion tons of lignite there, down to about three hundred feet, and burn it any way they can – export, diesel conversion, whatever. Would using nuclear heat to process this rubbish fuel help? Not much. And by the way, Solid Energy is owned by our government, which has also committed to reducing emissions…somehow…someday…
    Been meaning to read Vaclav Smil for a while. Thanks for your response

    1. “If nuclear completely replaced coal for electricity production, demand for rail freight in the US, and in China, would halve, freeing up capacity to replace road freight.”

      John, considering the much, much cheaper cost per mile for rail freight, I am pretty sure the reason that so much road freight exists is due more to those applications being poorly suited for rail transportation much more than it is due to lack of rail capacity.

  16. Our host has been rather absent again of late – one hopes he isn’t still fighting a blue funk over the way things are in nuclear

    1. @DV82XL – I’m lurking and learning. Sometimes one has to take a step back in a long running conversation and let others have the floor.

  17. Companies have as much of a right to exist as do people. Companies are in fact collections of people organized to a specific purpose and end. This is something that is guaranteed in the US constitution. This in my book is a given.

    To the extent of harming the world this comes down to which view point you take. You can take an anthropocentric or non-anthropocentric stance of where you base your values. Non-anthropocentrism is inherently flawed as it determines values that are “outside of human control” and are subject to the interpretation of those individuals who are in some way qualified to understand those values. It will eventually lead humanity to an anemic future of suffering and domination by an elite caste, effectively retrogressing our society. This is not an option. That leaves anthropocentric values.

    The mechanism that these values are determined in a free market (this is an important distinction) is done through price signals or rather the marginal utility of a good. Things that represent a harm generally also come with some benefit. Fossil fuels raised our global standard of living to unforeseeable heights. This is a good and has lead to the creation of wealth, end of widespread (state sponsored) slavery, saved many whale populations, and the list goes on. This has not come without cost, acid rain, smog, fly ash spills, super fund sites, and the list goes on (AGW). I will not apologize for a single gram of carbon that I have consumed in my lifetime or will consume.

    Where the problem comes in is when there is a disconnect between the collective harm of some commodity that is not included in the price. This sends the wrong signal to the market and will result in overconsumption of some good relative to the value compared to the harm. The failure that you talk about is in this. It is a market failure and is fairly easily rectified by establishing a tax on the good commensurate with its unaccounted burden. Then there can be no moral hazard associated with it as it is properly valued by the society. This is typically not enough for many environmentalists.

    The unsatisfied environmentalists advance such things as RES, REC, forced intrusion of the government into markets, advocation of the sacrifice of individuals wealth to serve a social need (that they determine). We can watch this great experiment in environmental socialism play out in Germany. Unfortunately, their last endeavor into socialism, turned nationalistic and ended up in the Third Reich. I am dubious of their track record in this regard. The abandonment of individual property rights is a very short step away from abandoning the rights of individuals. It is very unhealthy.

    I am not sure if you understand what it is that you are asking for when you advocate the destruction of individuals’ capital to serve a social need. It is fundamentally an abandonment of individual property rights. It is demanding a sacrifice of wealth to satisfy a dubious end. I cannot and will not support such a course of action even to advance something that I hold as dear as nuclear energy. Individual liberty is perhaps the only thing worth killing another man over.

    Thus if we are to preserve individual liberty and not hose up our planet, we are left with a single course of action. Apply only enough constraints to the market as to internalize all costs and eliminate market failures (in nuclear’s case this is the excessive over regulation) while preserving and reinforcing individuals’ property rights. No more, no less. This is not as simple as it may seem, but is much less than others have advanced. Each country or group of countries (through treaties) can only accomplish this on their own or through agreement and has to be their decision. This is the only moral obligation. To do more would infringe on the individual and erode the fundamental structure of western democracy based on the ideas in the US constitution. Any reduction in individual liberty is amoral.

    I am not a fan of collective ownership. Collective ownership is paradoxically what leads to “The Tragedy of the Commons”. Individual property rights enforced under the rule of law, prevent such a tragedy. The collective ownership of the oceans’ fisheries is leading to over production and cheating on quotas. Thus the state owning a valley with such a concentration of mineral reserves is the real tragedy you are witnessing unfold in the Mataura Valley. The state has an incentive to set the rules in their favor to maximize their profits. Well who is the state? In this point of view it is not the voters it is those who are in control and who make the deals and receive the benefits from the transactions (if nothing else power). This is also the same group of people who are responsible for setting the rules and enforcing the rules. The rules are counter to the maximization of the resultant services to those in control. It makes the government more opaque.

    sed quis custodiet ipsos custoides? qui nunc lasciuae furta puellae hac mercede silent crimen commune tacetur.

  18. Rod – LVNCare’s remark did indeed border on illterate, but I think you can and should do better than this:

    “As a nuclear energy professional, I was offended by the implied accusation that my thoughts about energy are somehow tainted by my job.”

    *Everyone* filters reality according to their interests – and *everyone* says they don’t. It has nothing to do with integrity; bias is part of human nature. It’s embedded code, and there is no amount of training, intelligence, or education that make you perfectly impartial in word or thought.

    Let me emphasize, I’m not suggesting LVNCare per se deserves a response, but saying ‘how dare you??’ doesn’t really stop people from suspecting your viewpoint is shaped by certain factors, it just makes doubters roll their eyes. Would *you* accept your own words if they were spoken by a coal mining executive? a petroleum engineer? a wind entrepreneur? I doubt it. You’ve worked with nuclear power your whole career, *of course* that has an impact on your interpretation of things.

    You do better than most at helping people on their path to enlightenment by urging them to: 1)establish non-moving goal-posts 2) gather facts then 3) judge for themselves. Keep doing that. After all, the facts on nuclear power are its best advocate. You have no need to lay claim to some kind of ‘disinterested observer’ role.

  19. Cal – I would agree with you that the good of people must be the driver of policy, but this is a very tough area for the free market to work effectively. Firstly, the market can be just as irrational as the individuals who make it up, at least in the short term, as recent history shows. Secondly, because of delayed effects, the people responsible for changes in the climate could well be comfortably buried by the time the effects kick in. Some of the postulated effects include the Sahara moving north to include Italy and Spain, or Florida and all ocean ports disappearing under the sea; at the end of the Eemian glaciation, carbon dioxide levels were similar to those today, but sea levels were about three meters higher than now, and levels of both are still climbing. That would trump any loss of infrastructure.
    Finally, the commons in question is the planet’s atmosphere, which can hardly be put into private ownership, and whose services are taken for granted until things change. How fast they change we will find out

    1. John,
      The air above is a tricky one of ownership. In the past it was, Cuius est solum eius est usque ad coelum et ad infers. Then a couple of chaps invented airplanes and rights to use of airspace had to be developed. I think the concept of ownership still applies to air and mineral rights. In this vein one can see that wind power constitutes mineral rights to extract energy from the wind that an individual owns as it traverses their property. Thus each land owner owns a portion of the atmosphere.

      Then the concept and hazard created from pollution represents a hazard to individual owners of property. This is the nuisance clause that N. Carolina went after TVA under, which was subsequently thrown out of the US Supreme court, because Congress already enacted legislation under the interstate commerce clause in the form of the Clean Air Act and amendments.

      I am an engineer, not a constitutional lawyer just very interested in law and the philosophy of economics and government. I understand you are from New Zealand and have a different constitution, so I am using examples of US law to attempt to convey ideas.

      The concept of resilience and regime change is a very interesting one as it has wide applicability in many other fields outside of ecological studies. Boiling can be thought of a sub cooled liquids loss of physical stability. “Resilience Thinking” is a very thought provoking read and fairly quick too. So I hear where your concerns are coming from.

      The damages from the potential of climate change should be attributed to those who enabled those changes through their choice in consumption in proportion to their consumption. States can be thought of as individuals and would thus be liable for their past expenditure. This is simplistic and rapidly breaks down because of the welfare created going to a wider group and those costs not necessarily being fully contained. Then does it go to wealth, the frugal and prudent pay over the largess and frivolity of others. It is very complicated.

      To be honest, this is an area that I should devote some more thinking. Thanks for bringing it up. Because of the uncertainty in this area (the risks, consequences and attribution, a more wait and see approach is still a prudent course. A more compromise is also to adapt existing wealth to begin reducing emissions. The destruction of wealth to satisfy uncertain ends is not warranted in my opinion.

  20. Rod, my dear, get a grip.

    Don’t let yourself be bothered by the rantings of some illiterate who can’t even put a sentence together and won’t post his name.

    The people who post anonymous,idiotic, ungrammatical, illiterate comments full of hate on websites and blogs are the same kind of people who used to (and probably still do) call in on late-night call-in radio shows with remarks like “I think they should burn witches”.

    It just creeps a person out to think how many people out here there are just like this guy and how close to you they might live.

  21. Like the old buddhist says: What we do in live will end up being insignificant for most of us. But it is imperative that we do it.

  22. I sort of quoted Gandhi in my last post without realizing it first. Insignificant, but it was important that I did.

    Here is the quote from Gandhi:

    Almost everything you do will seem insignificant, but it is important that you do it

  23. What a whining crybaby. It goes with the territory. Indoctrinated beyond any norm, this nuclear proponent is self-righteous and wants a break. Well, f_ck off, I say. He’s a deluded ass.

    1. @Rokko – exactly who are you calling “indoctrinated beyond any norm”, “self-righteous” and a “deluded ass”?

      If you are talking about me, fine, I have thick skin. If you are referring to any of the guests in my house, please refrain from name calling. As the site owner and moderator, I accept all opinions about the topics at hand, but do not routinely allow commentary from anyone who attacks people without making any contributions to the discussion.

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