Proud nuclear-enthusiast bubble dweller
A friend just passed me a link to an article on Clean Technica by Zachary Shahan titled Why Are So Many Redditors Obsessed With Uncompetitive Nuclear Energy?.
Shahan bemoans the fact that nuclear supporters on Reddit seem to outnumber solar and wind supporter and believes that contrasts with the real world as demonstrated by the rapid growth of solar and wind. He states that he does not believe that we are paid by the nuclear industry to populate internet forums, but his explanation for the online population of pronuclear advocates is almost just as insulting.
Rather, I think people who have worked in the nuclear industry and people who have been mesmerized by the idea of insane amounts of cheap energy from supernatural nuclear (you know, the “too cheap to meter” stuff) have simply been too enclosed in a nuclear-enthusiast bubble for too long and simply don’t have a good sense for where the energy world is today.
Shahan throws out the old antinuclear talking points that nuclear is too expensive, entails too many financial risks to attract investors, poses large — unspecified — environmental risks, and is only chosen in places where there are “corrupt or very confused governments”. Here are his concluding paragraphs.
But the nuclear enthusiasts don’t seem get this no matter how many ways you explain it to them. I’ve been in numerous comment threads trying to illuminate them, but you can debunk the pro-nuclear/anti-renewable myths repeatedly and they just keep coming back, even by the same commenters.
So, the question remains, why is such a small portion of the population so obsessed with nuclear energy despite the fact that it’s no longer competitive? And why are they so opposed to the rapid growth of solar power? I’m not sure, but I can tell you that it certainly gets old.
It should not surprise any of the regular readers on Atomic Insights that I took that question as a personal challenge and composed the following comment in response.
Zachary Shahan – As a former nuclear submarine engineer officer, founder of a now defunct company named Adams Atomic Engines, Inc., former member of a small modular reactor design team and current independent publisher of Atomic Insights, one of the oldest pronuclear blogs on the web, I suppose I qualify as slightly obsessed with the technology. (As a submariner, I quite literally lived inside a nuclear-enthusiast bubble for a major portion of the 1980s.)
I admit that some of your points are valid; nuclear energy is — currently — quite expensive, quite unpopular with investors, and not poised for near-term growth in any place outside of China, India and the UAE.
However, I have a different point of view on why that is true and whether or not it will remain true. Your own post exposed part of my thesis when you mentioned in the same paragraph that Shell (one of the supermajor oil companies) says that solar will dominate the energy industry AND also claim that massive campaigns against solar and wind are being funded by the fossil fuel and utility industries.
The reality is that nuclear energy has been a competitive threat to coal, oil and gas hegemony since its inception. In fact, the world’s established energy industry was warned about the prospects for being replaced by atomic energy as early as the World Power Conference of 1930 in a keynote address. By 1990, US nuclear power plants were producing more electricity than the entire US grid produced in 1960.
The roots of the antinuclear movement correspond almost directly to the growth nuclear electricity generation. It started to move off of zero on a graph of energy sources in 1970; the Friends of the Earth was funded by a donation from the CEO of Atlantic Richfield Co (ARCO, an oil company) in late 1969.
Sure, the World Bank won’t finance nuclear projects. Doing so might unleash enough new energy supply into the market to cause a price collapse. That would have dire consequences for trillions of dollars of bank loans backed by physical capital assets that are tied directly to fossil fuel extraction, transportation, refining, storage, and delivery.
Solar and wind projects are featured in ads from Chevron, Shell, and BP because they are not competitive threats. Fossil fuel lobbyists have lent their support for the subsidy programs that have enabled the rapid capacity growth seen in the past decade BECAUSE that capacity does not produce enough energy to change the market dynamics that result in continuing growth in demand for fossil fuel.
Publisher, Atomic insights
I probably should have pointed out that I have been accumulating evidence to support my observations about the way that the hydrocarbon establishment is threatened by atomic energy for almost two decades. Many of the scraps of the evidence mosaic can be found by searching this site for the phrase “smoking gun” or by going to the archives page and reading through the stories in the “Smoking Gun” or “Fossil fuel competition” topics.
“The reality is that nuclear energy has been a competitive threat to coal, oil and gas hegemony since its inception.”
The reality is that most of the remaining pro-nuclear nations (France, Japan, UK) are disillusioned with nuclear systems because the recent obsession with electricity is bankrupting them. They can’t sweep the dishes under the rug (eg. waste, decommissioning) forever based on money losing electricity generation.
True wealth opportunity lies in heat and transport which makes up the bulk of energy demand in the first place.
“Solar and wind projects are featured in ads from Chevron, Shell, and BP because they are not competitive threats.”
No, they are featured in ads because raising the price of oil to $200/barrel is bad for business. Renewables are just a price increase of oil masquerading as technological progress and social justice in society. In reality, the price of oil is much higher thanks to renewables.
Shahan is just a banker shill. He hates nuclear because the central bank financial pyramid system requires growth or else it collapses. Nuclear cannot provide growth in western countries because of all the overhead from existing reactors nearing the end of their lifetime.
@starvinglion, “the recent obsession with electricity” has been going on for the last 100+ years. You can hardly call that “recent”. Most forms of useable energy comes in the form of heat, even electricity is a form of heat.
And what would be your source for knowledge about the overhead economics for nuclear power plants?
No it isn’t. There is a clear distinction between heat and work; electricity is the latter.
Well, I’ve got an electrical burn scar that says otherwise 😉
You can convert electricity into burn scarring with 100% efficiency, but not the other way around. 😉
Electricity generation has been a larger and larger share of the primary energy pie ever since it was invented. It’s 40-50% of our total energy today, up from 25-30% in the 70s and about 20% in the fifties.
By the 2030s electricity will likely be 50-60% of our total energy use. It will only continue to grow with electrification of transportation, robotics, automated factories, and more and more electronics, etc, etc.
Rod I like your use of the word bubble. It implies a closed mind or naive view of the world
but obviously you have a very different intent.
Why is it so hard for these solar and wind supporters to grasp the difference between
a “diffuse” and “dense” energy source
“intermittent” and “base load” power
If they ever wonder why there is a core of die-hard supporters they only need
to understand those 4 concepts.
Perhaps a quick economics lesson on energy
as demonstrated by you on your blog or by
Steve Aplin numerous times on
” “diffuse” and “dense” energy source”
The dense nuclear energy source ends up as electricity just like the diffuse source. Neither energy source can fix the problem (HUGE demand for heat and transport). And its not obvious how nuclear can ever be sustainable when absolutely NOBODY wants to own the cleanup problem of abandoned irradiated sites that would grow exponentially.
There is no ‘Beyond Oil’ because nothing can replace it. Kick the can while selling green cheese and baloney is the solution
Nuclear can produce reliable heat, either directly or through electricity. It can provide ocean transportation directly and rail transportation through wires. I will admit that personal automobiles and over the road trucking is a little more difficult, especially given the chemical limitations of batteries.
However, electric vehicles or fuel cell vehicles both benefit from nuclear. EVs benefit because nuclear is a non emitting energy source and allow the vehicles to function as they were intended. Fuel cell vehicles could run on hydrogen created from nuclear. People like Elon Musk should be persuaded to support nuclear for that reason. Musk is a special case because he has also invested in solar city and starcity.
When the advantages of high temperature reactors become more widely understood by investors industrial process heat will be the biggest incentive for new nuclear designs to be built.
A couple of years ago, the US Navy studied the possibility of using a nuclear-powered factory ship to make jet fuel out of seawater. It turns out that there is 140 times as much CO2 in a liter of seawater than in a liter of air. Electrolyze the water to get H2, use the water-shift process to create CO from CO2, then use H2 and CO to create hydrocarbons via the Fischer-Tropsch process.
Their conclusion was the the entire thing was feasible with a final price of around $6 per gallon. But half of the capital cost was in the ship, so if you beached the reactor you could get the cost down to about $3 per gallon — assuming you could find a venue that would accept a Navy-type reactor.
It depends on the reactor design. New designs will eventually replace conventional designs and that cleanup problem is no longer a serious issue.
Please, explain this problem of ‘abandoned irradiated sites’. Surely you couldn’t be talking about decommissioned LWRs, because those leave little more than a grassy field, some contaminated metal parts that can be recycled, and a small quantity of used fuel that could be recycled or permanently disposed of if it actually posed any real risk. Decomissioning a modern LWR can be done for well under $1bn, which is easily accumulated through operation and poses no bigger challenge than paying pensions to retired employees. I can only assume that you’re discussing the hugely expensive projects to clean up the sites of former production reactors, such as Hanford and Sellafield. These have about as much in common with a modern power reactor as an ammunition factory does to a car. Countries like the UK and France recognise that legacy facilities and future decommissioning are separate problems, and treat them as such.
As for ‘beyond oil’, current nuclear technology alone might not go all the way, but it can take us pretty far. Domestic heating? Affordable, reliable electricity allows that, as seen in France. Nuclear cogeneration is also a demonstrated technology, being further developed in China. Electrification of rail is also easy using existing nuclear technology, and a complete shift to nuclear propulsion for large ships would be feasible without any major technological breakthroughs. So we could easily go ‘beyond gas’, ‘beyond coal’ and ‘beyond bunker fuel’ as a start. Those aims hardly count as kicking the can down the road.
In my opinion, ideally, the site would be recycled too, into a new industrial electricity-producing facility. Why waste a site that has already been developed and already has the infrastructure (grid) connected to it?
Yeah, sure, it’s certainly possible to take the site to greenfield status — as has been demonstrated many times — but what a waste.
I’d recently been thinking about being a “Proud nuclear-enthusiast bubble dweller” but in a rather different way. I’d wondered what officialdom would say about the idea of a nuclear powered, geodesic dome community in some remote Canadian location, heated, lit, and powered by an SMR. Would they allow it? The dome would contain any radio active material escaping to the outside in the very unlikely event of a core breach, and any air born contaminants could be filtered out.
A similar idea could I believe be used at Fukushima now, if it were allowed. Pull out the spent fuel rods, build a dome over the reactors 1 to 4, and then explosively demolish them, level the pile, put a couple of feet of soil over it all, and grow vegies in there. There are no more particles coming off the cores if they have turned to slag, the decay heat would keep the soil warm for quite a while, and 2 feet of soil is enough to reduce any gamma radiation still in there to, in my opinion, safe levels at the soil surface. Instead they will drag the recovery and decommissioning out for as long as they can, like with Chernobyl, with it’s totally unnecessary new billion Euro sarcophagus. Jobs for the boys is all it is.
“Jobs for the boys is all it is.”
Every single industry run by phds and big gov meddlers has/is failed/failing.
These “geniuses” can’t stop chasing the fission pipedream (high temperature, high energy density nuclear devices) any more than the various fusion fiascos. Mere engineering problems for decades and decades.
I propose community level inventors developing low temperature, low energy density micro-nukes. Not todays SMR’s either. They are way too complicated and costly. Get it out of big gov swindlers control.
Imagine a little metal capsule the size of a quart paint can filled with high
level “waste” from a nuclear reactor. It would be glowing red hot in open air
from decay heat and would do so for the next quarter century before its power
output roughly halved.
Now imagine that little cylinder buried in an underground concrete and
stainless steel hermetic structure in your back yard with conduits to bring
the heat out.
You have your comfort heating.
You have your hot water.
With a free piston stirling generator, you have your electricity.
Another free piston stirling engine, this time powering a refrigeration cycle
provides your AC and refrigeration.
The excess electricity charges the batteries in your electric car.
You’d buy this capsule once in your lifetime, maybe twice if you live long
Think how little power Washington would have over our lives if it didn’t have
energy to tamper with and mess up. Think how much more wealthy each of us
would be if we didn’t have to buy energy on a continual basis.
Big Nuclear is no better than Big Oil
Yeah … sure … I suppose it would work, but it’s a hell of an expensive way to get one’s energy.
“Now imagine that little cylinder buried in an underground concrete and
stainless steel hermetic structure in your back yard with conduits to bring
the heat out.”
I don’t see why it needs to be cement and stainless steel when dirt works just fine, which is why a Canadian farmer offered to take all the spent fuel rods, run some hot water pipes, and bury it all under 3 feet of soil. 10 inches of soil was the recommended depth for on top of nuclear fallout shelters when they were all the rage. A safety factor is one thing, but with Fukushima I think they are taking overkill to new, very profitable for some, levels.
I propose community level inventors developing low temperature, low energy density micro-nukes. Not todays SMR’s either. They are way too complicated and costly. Get it out of big gov swindlers control.
Though I personally like high temperature reactors, you might be interested in the conceptual design of the Adams Engine. http://www.atomicengines.com/engines.html
Sounds like a nutshell description of the Canadian arcology referred to near the end of “Oath of Fealty”. Not so science-fictional at the dawn of 2014, is it?
That part of the story could someday be quite nonfictional, but probably not involving a LWR SMR I suspect.
One part of the story that didnt come to pass is the decaying, crime ridden version of LA Pournelle describes in the story; crime and gangs are under control and the city isn’t doing that shabby.
Still a good yarn, though, if you can ignore the right wing agenda and bias.
“Oath of Fealty”. Thanks E.P, I’ve read a lot of SF, but missed that one, will look out for it.
The radiation levels on the surface in areas within a thousand meters of the Fukushima reactor buildings has been measured +25 Sv/hr which is a lethal dose in about 15 minutes. There is no explanation why radiation levels around the vent stack (for example) between reactor units #1 and #2 is so high … or why radiation levels are increasing.
No workers have been inside reactor unit #3 because the radiation levels are lethal; this leaves the spent fuel in that building inaccessible for the time being. (+100 years)
Workers have been within reactor units #1 and #2 for short periods but the spent fuel pool in reactor unit #1 has not been seen since the earthquake as the roof of the building collapsed on it. Again, radiation levels within these two buildings is lethal: a worker receives a lifetime of exposure simply climbing the stairs to the service decks.
You will say, “this is not so,” and offer an excuse, yet the throw-away workers have not been forced against their will to venture into these buildings and certainly the precious managers have dared not enter … nor even nuclear scientists as was the case after Chernobyl.
It is because of radiation levels that much of the Fukushima facility is like it was the day after the tsunami, why there is a shortage of labor in a country with 160 million people.
The fuel rods from relatively undamaged reactor unit #4 are being shifted to the common fuel pool 100 meters from the ruined reactors. 100 meters! What does this accomplish? How is 100 meters a safe distance? When the core ‘mess’ resolves itself in its own way at the blind hand of nature the common pool will be as inaccessible as unit #3 is now. Then what? Will you and other pro-nuclear advocates volunteer to enter the reactor complex to remove the spent fuel a second time?
The reason the Japanese do not remove the fuel from the site altogether is because they cannot afford to do so: to build the necessary temporary repository elsewhere in the country within a reasonable span of time nor can they contrive secure transport. As it is, ‘hot’ (irradiated) spent fuel has only rarely ever been transported greater than the shortest distance in the entire history of nuclear energy: it is a uncharted and unknowable enterprise filled with every sort of peril. If the 3d largest economy of the world cannot make its own way because of the hazards and costs, who can?
How will spent fuel be removed from severely damaged reactor unit #3? The structure of that building is far more compromised than #4 and far more vulnerable to another earthquake than unit #4. If (when) there is a prompt-criticality in the MOX fuel in unit #3 will any of you dare to fly to Japan for a holiday? How about the west coast of the US?
I don’t think so.
@Steve from Virginia
I’m not sure where you are getting your information, but it is almost all quite far from reality.
If you are honestly curious and concerned, please spend some time reading the excellent and reliable Fukushima updates that Les Corrice has been publishing on a twice per week basis since 3/11/11.
I’ve just returned from a holiday on the West Coast.
Steve from Virginia is copying his talking points from some anti-nuclear hysteria site:
He uses “If (when)” in reference to a physical impossibility. MOX fuel for LWRs cannot go prompt critical, period; it requires thermalized neutrons to go critical at all. With the core so far out of its design configuration, it probably can’t contain enough water to go critical even if operators tried to get it to do so.
So much FUD crammed into one small space.
As it is, ‘hot’ (irradiated) spent fuel has only rarely ever been transported greater than the shortest distance in the entire history of nuclear energy: it is a uncharted and unknowable enterprise filled with every sort of peril.
What exactly does this statement mean? ….transported greater then the shortest distance in the entire history of nuclear energy …??? That is a nonsensical statement devoid of actual technical or literal meaning.
The only reason spent fuel has not been transported any distance in the US is due to politics not technology. Areva is moving spent fuel routinely tino La Hauge without incident. The spent fuel at Fukushima will be moved safely and without incident since moving spent fuel into storage has become a routine event at many nuclear utilities.
In other words no need to get worked up thinking the end of the world is upon us because the spent fuel is being moved into storage. Time to stop reading the Caldicott/Alvarez anti-nuclear screeds and instead read up about the real work going on at Fukushima.
Even more than that, large amounts of spent fuel have been transported from Japan to the UK and France to be reprocessed, with the products shipped back. How does he think they got MOX fuel in the first place?
Steve can think? I see no evidence of that. All that he has demonstrated is that he can regurgitate lies and other crap that he has gleaned from the usual anti-nuclear web sites.
Even then, he has done a poor job of it. He has managed to include a couple of real howlers.
Got any credible, neutral, fact based sources to back up your stinking, steaming pile of Alvarez/Caldicott agitprop? Didn’t think so, dude.
Try again with sourced, credible, verifiable, neutral facts instead of worthless propaganda. Or concede your post is pure propaganda through your silence.
Wow what a prime example of “state numbers and facts out of context then make it sound scary”.
Please provide evidence that the unit 1 SFP hasn’t been seen. I’ve seen pictures of it on physicsforums.com, who for quite a while after the accident had 1-2 translators getting us all the major info, along with links to a great deal of TEPCO official stuff.
25SV/hr, where? Because that measurement is a point contact source at the base of the standby gas treatment stack, and if you didn’t expect high radiation conditions at the base of the stack, you clearly don’t know anything about how radioactive steam works. But again, an ON CONTACT measurement is not indicative of the entire building, plant, or site. Again this is scaremongering.
Unit 2, They’ve sent probes and things into the drywell. To do that you need to bore in. That takes more than just a few minutes at a time.
as for unit 4 and its fuel, the reason its being moved is because 1: they want to tear down unit 4, and 2: the building had structrual damage, and while they have added multiple reinforcements, in terms of structural and seismic capability it is the weakest of the 4. All experts I know of agree that unit 4 needs its fuel moved to a stable location. 100 meters doesn’t matter. Again, out of context numbers and fear mongering.
Prompt criticality? Please explain how that can happen when BWR fuel is not enriched enough for this to occur, when the spent fuel racks in Fukushima’s SFPs contain boron plating, and when every fuel cell is required to maintain a k_eff of <0.95. 0.95 is pretty deep subcritical,
Seriously just stop talking for the next 6 months and do research. People like you are a huge plague in the world, spreading fear and sensationalizing either to try and make some sort of point or move some agenda. But you clearly don't understand what's actually going on and I get the impression you are simply rehashing anti-nuclear intentionally twisted out of context arguments.
“I will admit that personal automobiles and over the road trucking is a little more difficult, especially given the chemical limitations of batteries”
Batteries are still like windmills and solar. Lb for lb they do not hold as much energy as most liquid or gaseous fuels.
A good hot reactor can be used for pyrolysis. A reactor could be a cheap source of heat. Wikepedia explains that synthetic fuels can be created from this process. Wood and other vegetation can be used as the feedstock so the fuel is renewable. I believe I’ve read that you can even use sewage. I’m sure fuel produced this way would not be as cheap as that pumped out of the ground, but it needn’t be imported. The avoidance of oil wars may be worth a few cents at the pump.
I don’t know just what “most” is, but batteries must certainly be good enough for most needs. Current batteries. Nissan Leaf gets about 80 mi/charge. Chevy Volt only 38. But their owners still average over 100 mpg. Different strokes. Next there be fuel cells. Hydrogen is the key. The article you are looking for is Hydrogen Production by Direct Contact Pyrolysis of Natural Gas, brought to you by the same bubble-dwellers as EBR-II.
As you mention pyrolysis of biomass can produce motor fuel, but biomass is limited. In different ways they all are, which is why batteries, light rail, and trolley buses must take up much of the commuter load, saving liquid synfuels, hydrogen, and what remains of fossils for over-the-road use.
@Rick Maltese. Thanks for the Canadian Energy Issues link. I’ve but glanced at it, but like Steve’s style. I’ve written a brief Introduction to Electric Power myself, but the problem I face is that most eyes glaze over past about three zeroes. Steve Alpin’s “Table 1, Item 1” approach is pedagogically exemplary; I’ll try to link his stuff in subsequent drafts. And 72 tonnes CO2e/GWh is remarkable on so little hydro. (Gotta save that stuff to balance wind…)
Good work Ed on your introduction. A lot of information. Will have to link from my Energy Reality Project website.
The economic argument against nuclear doesn’t have enough substance to last. And the other anti-nuke arguments are already as good as spent. The emperor has no clothes. Solar and wind are for the 1%. Nuclear is for everybody else.
“The emperor has no clothes”
And its called the Federal government which cannot be depended on to complete an energy project which takes more than a few years to complete.
Government always see’s more research opportunity in nuclear systems.
All I see are maintenance nightmares with gov funded nuclear systems.
Micronukes of the kind I envision will most likely be in the form of planned communities built around the things. Everyone who buys into the community will be there because they WANT to be there. The prospect of almost free energy will be powerfully appealing.
Given a sufficiently intrinsically safe design and favorable regulatory conditions, there will be no need for a micronuke to be manned. Buried underground and is fueled for life
Liquid metals have been very well characterized, ranging from the research labs to
full scale production such as at SuperPhoenix. My design will be optimized for reliability and longevity rather than high performance.
All old tech too. A low enriched core would easily fit inside a 100 gallon drum. A hermetically sealed drum. The reactor operates on natural circulation of the liquid metal so no pumps are necessary. (Natural circulation means that normal convection
currents in a heated liquid cause enough flow to transport the heat.) No in-core
instruments are needed for obvious reason so the only thing in the drum is the core
and the heat exchanger that conducts the heat out of the drum. I’m going to design
the core to be self regulating with one control rod for shutdown.
The drum operates at atmospheric pressure so it doesn’t need to be a pressure vessel.
I’m going to set this drum inside a tightly conforming secondary containment. Then
I’m going to set that tank inside a tertiary containment just for good measure. These
tanks are hermetically sealed but of course they contain bolted or welded man ways for
I’m going to set this assembly inside one compartment of a two compartment steel
lined concrete box that serves as the 4th containment and the biological shield. The
divider wall in the box will be heavy concrete* designed for radiation shielding. The
other side is the instrumentation vault.
So what instruments will we need? We’ll need an ex-core neutron monitor to determine
reactor power. One would do but since we want to seal this thing up for life, let’s
include a dozen. We’ll want pressure indication so I’m going to include a pressure diaphragm at the top of the reactor pot and measure its deflection with another fiber-optic laser range finder. We’ll want core inlet and outlet temperature indication, of course. I’ll include gas sampling plumbing to sample the gas between each sets of
containments to detect developing leaks.
I’ll feed all this instrumentation into a multiply redundant integrated reactor
management system that runs on multiple, redundant processors and executes software
written using provably correct methods.
This whole affair may consume no more than 1200 sq ft of floor space which will be
the inside dimension of the concrete cube. I’m going to bury this cube at sufficient
depth to shield it from missile or other impact damage and reduce the surface
“Imagine a little metal capsule the size of a quart paint can filled with high
level “waste” from a nuclear reactor. It would be glowing red hot in open air
from decay heat and would do so for the next quarter century before its power
output roughly halved”
“Now imagine that little cylinder buried in an underground concrete and
stainless steel hermetic structure in your back yard with conduits to bring
the heat out.”
This is the first time I have seen such a concept. This a feasable concept? Has anyone done it?
The concept is quite similar to radioisotope thermal generators, especially the ones that the Russians manufactured using strontium-90, one of the primary long lived components of nuclear fission byproduct material, as the heat source.
Actually, this is an old concept and the most pro-nuclear thing I have seen from Starvinglion. It is one of the reasons that “nuclear waste” is a misnomer. The heat from those small disks is very valuable, and could supply most of the energy needs for a home. But the fear of using such a source is carefully nurtured so that pacemakers which ran on Plutonium were considered hazardous waste and the bodies of those who had them actually dug up so the pacemaker could be removed. Those pacemakers would last the lifetime of the person. Now we have to use replaceable batteries that only last a few years and the person needs another operation to change the batteries.
Finally, I have seen numbers that say with a high temperature heat source it is possible to produce any of the liquid fuels for about 50 dollars / barrel. This means it is possible to produce transportation fuels for the same retail costs we are currently seeing using nuclear heat. These would be carbon neutral fuels. This would be a direct threat to the global energy industry as currently configured.
I really don’t think it feasible. First, the stuff is hot, but not red hot. Then that “underground concrete and stainless hermetic structure” would need be Yucca Mountain style secure. High level waste actually does present some hazard. Even if it were practical, I can’t imagine public policy allowing this sort of thing on an individual basis. Larger industrial or business structures co-sited with a secure repository, maybe. But for most purposes, just pipe low-level waste heat from the reactors’ cooling systems (still pricey if you need a long pipe run), or use its electricity to run heat pumps, or — gasp — just bite the bullet and install passive solar.
It doesn’t stop producing heat at any particular temperature (below billions of degrees). If you don’t let it lose heat as fast as it generates it, it’ll keep getting hotter. Red hot, white hot.
Why? If all you have is Sr-90, there isn’t all that much it can do or anyone can do with it. It emits beta particles and gets hot. What are you going to do, brand people with it? Cs-137 has a gamma-emitting decay product, so it’s a bit more worthy of respect. It’s still gone in 500 years. What needs YM’s million-year isolation spec? Stuff like Pu-239, which doesn’t have useful decay heat output.
It was a 9°F winter night here a short time ago. How would passive solar have done anything for me?
Ah. No Pu. So now you’re talking about partitioned high level waste. Why didn’t you say so? Bit of a different story. And a bit more expensive. But if you’re getting it as by-product of closed FNR fuel cycle, I suppose its for a good cause. The YM-style security I had in mind was isolating the Cs-137 and Sr-90 from “the environment.” They get loose, Sr tends to displace Ca in the body. Some folks really don’t want the two (radioisotopes and environment) combined. But if it can be done safely, I certainly have no objection.
Insulated house and passive solar collection can do wonders. You’ll still need standby energy source for the three cloudy days between those 10 F nights. But passive solar is cheap, particularly if part of initial design. Well worthwhile.
Removing the ~480 tons of Pu from the existing 60 ktons of SNF in the USA would cost about $48 billion at the $100k/kg price I’ve seen claimed. Presumably this includes separation of the other fractions as well. But we already have over $35 billion in funds allocated to disposal of SNF, so almost 3/4 of that is pre-paid (assuming no economies of scale). The remnant U is at about 1% enrichment, prime CANDU fuel. With the Pu devoted to starting either fast-spectrum reactors or things like DMSRs, and the medium-lived FPs repurposed as heat sources or sterilizing agents, you’re left with bits of stuff like Tc-99. You can either wrap Tc-99 in glass and bury it, or transmute it to ruthenium. With its minuscule heat load, YM would be able to hold truly vast quantities of it.
Bulk Sr-90 is not something that can be easily spread widely in the environment. If SrF2 has similar properties to CaF2, it’s not very soluble in water. It’s easily detected with cheap gear. Packaging it in properly-welded stainless capsules with engraved labelling of the contents would keep almost all of it from causing trouble, and the benefits would outweigh the remaining costs. After 60 years or so, you can wrap it in glass and pile it in a desert somewhere. Before your pyramid of glass blocks got to 1/10 the age of Cheops, the stuff would be gone.
We shouldn’t waste technetium. Its a valuable industrial catalyst, and, perhaps more interestingly, increases the corrosion resistance of many alloys used in the nuclear industry.
Passive solar can reduce heating bills if done right. It is pretty site specific. How much it can reduce them depends on where you are …like here in Seattle, where we live for most of the year in a dark moss-covered refrigerator ; )
Yeah, it’s basically what is powering the Curiosity Mars Rover..
The raised structure in the rear is a Plutonium-238 RTG. It creates electricity from the heat of the plutonium’s radioactive decay.
Not a lot of Pu-238, percentagewise, in a Kg of spent LWR fuel – a trace. The Pu isotopic concentration breaks down to, roughly, 60% Pu-239, 30% Pu-240, 5% Pu-241, 5% other transuranics. Exact amounts depend on original enrichments, burnup, etc.
But altogether in the 70,000 tons of SNF in the USA there is a significant amount of Pu-238. Or “was”, since after 30+ years in the pool, almost half of it is gone.
I live in Tehachapi, CA. Although I am not involved in it, I have watched the windfarms here and outside of Mojave grow exponentially in the last twelve years. They are now major employers, and scarcely a year goes by when there is not yet one more company formed and installing turbines on vast tracts of land.
Why is there such criticism from you pro-nuke folks? Is it a bad thing that we are now tapping wind and solar? Shouldn’t we be utilizing ALL sources of energy to wean ourselves off coal? And if nuclear energy was realistically competitive, wouldn’t investors be investing with the samr amount of money and enthusiasm that they seem to be throwing at wind and solar?
It’s not terribly hard to attract investors with 30% of project cost investment tax credits, 5 year accelerated depreciation schedules, and renewable portfolio standards (mandates) along with state level government handouts.
If wind and solar could compete with subsidy levels similar to nuclear, I would be less resistant to their development.
Nuclear could do without subsidies if it was not saddled with costs like $274 per bureaucrat hour — with an unlimited clock and an unlimited number of bureaucrats — for obtaining permission to build machines like the ones that we have been operating safely for more than 50 years.
You are aware that that your wind farms have to be backed up at 100% nameplate with inefficient fast spooling fossil generators run inefficiently. Less gas less GHG’s replaceing the wind scam with efficient fossil generation or of course nukes.
WInd energy is off course 100% subsidized to the tum of 45 to 50 cents a kwh when transmission, fossil backup and surplus dumping charges are added in.
The cost of nuclear is 7.6 cents a kwh for private utilities and 4 cents for a much more efficient public one. Gas is 8.2 cents a kwh with gas selling at half its cost of production.
I always get a kick out of the Greenie Warming Denier that denies the real science peer reviewed and published in reputable journal that tells us that we very likely have only a short time to head off a warming extinction event and instead embraces Big Oil’s junk science that we can afford to wait almost to next century to do anything significant.
Google “Scientists Consider Extinction : Are We Falling Off the Climate Precipice?”
Every year the easily doable 15 year conversion from fossil to nuclear (France did it in the 1980’s) with 40% returns on the necessary investment, is deferred, 6 million folks die from fossil air pollution. The nuclear Denier looks downright evil apparently thinking their deaths a reasonable sacrifice in the quest for an at best 50 years in the future world powered by warm sunbeams and cool breezes.
The first thing you need to grasp is that it is physically impossible to store electricity at the levels required for a city. There is nothing on the horizon that would make that possible in our lifetimes. So the energy is stored chemically – as fossil fuel, or stored in the atom as Nuclear fuel. We can release both of these on demand when needed.
The reason that there is huge investment in Wind and Solar is that the Utilities are REQUIRED by law to purchase their electricity. And that there are direct subsidies called Feed In Terriffs and Production Tax Credits that pay Wind for producing – even when that electricity is not needed. If you take these direct subsidies away Wind and Solar businesses collapse. Currently there are Billions of dollars of direct subsidies from the Federal Government and Billions of Dollars of indirect Subsidies from utility rate payers.
What this means is that when demand for electricity goes down – say at night. The price normally goes down as well. But with wind on the grid – they get paid if they produce even when that electricity is not needed. So they can actually pay the grid to take their electricity and still make money.
Most people who support Nuclear Power have had to get a deep education in the way that Electric markets work. But the bottom line is that without expensive and continuous direct subsidies Wind and Solar cannot pay their own way. The amount of energy they can produce is very small potatoes compared to the actual demand.
But hasn’t that been the case with all fledging industries or sciences?
Nuclear reactors have been aound for over a half century, and here we have you guys still trying to make your case, between major events, (scares?), like TMI, Chernobyl, Fukushima, (and who knows how many unreported incidents, like the Rocketdyne small reactor melt down near Simi Valley in the late fifties.).
Yet wind and solar are relatively new to the scene as far as being employed on any real scale. Can’t it reasonbly be assumed that the technologies will evolve into more viable and cost efficient alternatives to fossil, OR nuclear. Without the horrendous costs of accidents such as BP’s disaster in the gulf, TEPCO’s “accident”, or PG&E’s malfeasance at San Onofre?
Humans have known that there was some energy in the wind and the sun since before we could record our history. We have been employing that energy in numerous applications for thousands of years. We produced windmills, sailing ships, and passively heated structures. The photoelectric effect was discovered in the 1800s.
In contrast, my still living mother was five years old when fission was first discovered in a laboratory experiment. She was 9 when Fermi created CP-1 and demonstrated a controlled chain reaction.
Yes, us “guys” are still working hard to overcome the FUD that has been spread with substantial amounts of resources for the past 50 years. Our technology threatens the profitability of one of the world’s largest and richest enterprises because it could eliminate the perception that energy is scarce.
Our technology turns mass into energy. There is a lot of suitable mass available and it creates a massive amount of energy.
Kilowatt-scale wind turbines have been around for many centuries, grinding grain and pumping water. In the 1920’s and 30’s they provided electricity in the Great Plains where the electric grid did not reach; there’s a vintage Jacobs wind turbine just a few hundred yards from me right now (it hasn’t produced a single watt of useful power since I first saw it). The first grid-scale wind turbine, the 1.25 MW Smith-Putnam machine, was connected to the grid October 19, 1941. The first controlled atomic chain reaction, generating milliwatts of heat, would not be achieved until December 2 1942. Yet despite the long history of human exploitation of wind power, the first grid-scale nuclear station would go critical on 12/2/1957 and produced tens of megawatts. So far as I can determine, the next grid-connected wind turbines would not arrive until the 1970’s and produced mere tens of kilowatts.
Yes, they are scares. You can have a gas plant explosion kill umpteen workers, or a gas pipeline leak level a neighborhood in San Bernardino, and the media develop amnesia practically the next day. But should anything involve the word NUCLEAR… it’s a whole ‘nother story. Those will never be forgotten, even if the casualty count is zero.
Yes, any real scale. Ponder that. Wind and solar energy have been used almost as long as humanity has been around (concentrating solar was allegedly used as an anti-ship weapon by the ancient Greeks). Why are they so far behind? The problem is they are inherently hard to scale up.
When you have centuries of track record (and documented difficulties), you cannot make such an assumption. You’d be foolish to make it regardless.
I think you meant San Bruno (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/09/22/san-bruno-explosion-death_n_735377.html), not San Bernardino.
That’s what I get for not looking things up.
There are dozens of nuclear reactor designs and many more in the pipeline. Aircraft technology has been around for over a century, yet a Sopwith Camel is not the equivalent of an F-22 Raptor. If aircraft technology continues to scream along after a century, why wouldn’t nuclear? Look at the difference in these two aircraft:
@POA: It is not in itself a bad thing that we are tapping wind and solar. What is bad is we are doing so without regard to consequence. For example, in addition to the mandates and subsidies enumerated by Rod Adams, there are also Production Tax Credits that give wind and solar effective grid priority in unregulated markets. See Negative Electricity Prices
and the Production Tax Credit. Why wind producers can pay us to take their power – and why that is a bad thing.
The Really Bad Thing is wind PTCs very seriously disrupts investment in coal and nuclear, as was their original intent. But in so doing they lock us into a “Wind + Fracked Gas” economy that cannot, even in principle, reduce ghg emissions by the required amount, except (possibly, it hasn’t really been shown it can be done at all) at a cost far exceeding that of nuclear + gas alone. That’s my beef. Its not the wind so much as the proponents who flog wind for wind’s sake, and for the sake of eliminating nuclear. The goal must be to eliminate or drastically reduce ghg emissions, otherwise its all a fruitless waste of taxpayer money.
Get our priorities straight and there will be plenty demand for all clean energy sources. Continue getting our priorities wrong and we’ll continue to lose the climate battle. We are losing it, and wind and solar cannot win it on their own.
Let me turn that question around. Why is there such criticism from you pro-renewable folks? A lot of the criticism of wind and solar is a reaction to attacks on nuclear, don’t you think? When told that nuclear is too expensive, the best retort is to point out how expensive solar is. Not sure if that is an attack or a defense.
I will often comment on anti-nuclear articles at environmental websites but I usually refrain from criticizing wind and solar articles even though they are often fraught with misleading and erroneous data.
The problem is that nuclear can’t do it alone. Wind and solar are the only other low carbon sources available (dams and biomass are often worse than fossil fuels when it comes to environmental impact).
“Let me turn that question around. Why is there such criticism from you pro-renewable folks?”
It would be wonderful if this kind of shoe horning was not such a typical response towards those of us that simply want to understand the pros and cons of Nuclear AND renewables. I keep getting accused of being party to some sort of “movement”, when really just I’m trying to understand all sides of the issue, including the nuclear side.
You all need to realize that the message coming out of Fukushima, even from the actual TEPCO website, ain’t exactly instilling confidence in your industry or the science. And your seeming inability to address concerns without resorting to “answers” that are way above the heads of us not schooled in nuclear science just sows distrust. Add sarcasm and pretentiously patronizing intellectualism, and you just send those like myself towards the anti crowd.
There are a number of “issues” being exposed, (at least they seem like “issues” to us non-nuclear scientist types) currently on the TEPCO website. But I am loathe to bring them up here in an attempt to understand them, because the only way I can express my concerns and questions is in lay terms, and I have no confidence that your “answers” will be anything other than obsfucations offered in a lingo many of us DO NOT UNDERSTAND.
Maybe you can’t simplify it, and offer simple and direct understandable answers to our concerns. But I suggest you try, because it seems to me that you are finding yourselves in the position of preaching to the choir, and that sure as hell ain’t gonna help you reach anyone standing on the fence trying to decide which way to jump.
We are three years in on this Fukushima thing, and to a layperson like myself it seems its getting worse, not better. One thing I will say about living next door to a massive wind farm, I don’t have to worry about awakening to the sounds of a klaxon alert telling me to get the hell out of dodge. And to some, it just doen’t need to get anymore complicated than that to decide which way to jump off the fence.
In simple terms – I would not be concerned about living anywhere in Fukushima prefecture outside of the gates of the plant. I would be happy to eat food grown there and happy to consume fish caught in the off shore waters.
Yes, there is an industrial clean up in progress. However, no one in the public was exposed to a dangerous level of radioactive material. I do not have the time to address every breathless report that gets published. As I have explained many times, there are plenty of people in the world with the means, motive and opportunity for spreading fear, uncertainty and doubt. They buy bits by the billions and can pay plenty of creative writers; I am just one guy who happens to be hamstrung by time and a well trained sense of technical integrity.
“So do I and I have no problem finding sensationalized reporting of the cleanup on the internet.”
Yeah, theres tons of it, but it hardly from what I would call “the mainstream press”. The majority of people aren’t googling Fukushima, and gaining access to all these “the sky is falling” sites that share the fukushima story with North Dakota flying elephant stories. Fox, MSNBC, CNN….I have seen NOTHING about Fukushima from them for quite some time now. I have found some Reuters stories, recent, about the Yakusa’s infiltration into the clean up efforts, but the Reuter’s article seemed pretty straight forward. It is the obscure “conspiracy sites” that have sensationalized the Reuter’s story.
On another thread, I linked to a Reuter’s story about Fukushima, and asked Rod, or anyone, to point out to me how the story was “sensationalized”, and received no response. In order for this fossil fuel/media “conspiracy” I keep seeing mentioned here to work it would have to make use of mainstream media avenues, and I’m just not seeing it. Even these latest assertions about the Yakusa’s influence on the clean up efforts do not seem to attracting mass media attention. I just don’t see this propaganda campaign that you are alleging.
…in response to this sentence:
“Let me turn that question around. Why is there such criticism from
It certainly wasn’t my intent to accuse you of being a party to some sort of movement. It never crossed my mind that you were accusing me of being a party to some sort of movement when you used those words.
I was just borrowing your sentence “Why is there such criticism from you pro-nuke folks?” to suggest that a lot of the critique seen of renewables is a defense in response to critique of nuclear. An example would be me showing someone how expensive it is to put solar on a house to someone who just said that nuclear is too expensive. Like I said before, would that be a critique of renewables, or a response to a critique of nuclear? You will often see the pot calling the kettle black in these debates.
I always try to put things into some kind of perspective by comparison. There used to be a sign about a mile from my home that said:
DO NOT ENTER THE WATER
DO NOT LAND OR LAUNCH BOATS
THE LAKE SEDIMENT CONTAINS HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCES
There are several super fund sites, some about the same size as the Fukushima reactor site, a few miles from my home. From the EPA:
The EPA lists over 400 known carcinogens in our environment. The fears over the carcinogens related to Fukushima are overblown.
It has taken decades to clean up these super fund sites, and none of them are nuclear related.
Of course they will eventually get it cleaned up. The lay press needs to sensationalize things to attract readership from their competition to stay solvent. It’s a necessary evil for them. Like the super fund sites I mentioned, it’s just a matter of time and money. The press will soon forget about Fukushima, especially after it is finished cleaning up. They very quickly forgot about the 28,000 killed by the quake.
…that sure as hell ain’t gonna help you reach anyone standing on the fence trying to decide which way to jump.
That’s an all important point you just made. Renewables can’t do it all if you are to believe the National Renewable Energy Lab. There is going to be a mix. Once we max out the amount that renewables can do, there is only one weapon left to minimize the amount of coal, natural gas, and oil in that mix. Certainly, if the NREL is wrong, then we should start by eliminating coal with renewables. If successful, move on to oil. If successful, move on to natural gas. If successful, move on to nuclear. Eliminating nuclear ahead of fossil fuels makes no sense.
I grew up in the Midwest. I can’t tell you how many times we took shelter when the klaxons sounded a tornado warning or alert. 40,000 Americans will die on the roads this year. The odds of anyone having to evacuate because of a nuclear power plant failure is very, very, very low. We now know from the three nuclear incidents in the last half century that the simple act of moving people out of the way of a potential radiation plume prevents anyone from being killed.
I remember when I first started looking into the nuclear debate. What an eye opener.
“The lay press needs to sensationalize things to attract readership from their competition to stay solvent. It’s a necessary evil for them. Like the super fund sites I mentioned, it’s just a matter of time and money”
See, now, this is one of those things I don’t understand about this site. Being extremely interested, and living right in the crosshairs, (according to those claiming that the western United States is endangered by this event), I scour the mainstream media for news. Yet, in contrast to what I read here, I find very little coverage of the Fukushima clean-up efforts, and what little I do find is far from “sensationalized”. I just don’t see this media/big oil/coal “conspiracy” that I see described here. I have no doubt that it exists on some level, because of the huge power and wealth that big oil and coal have with which to bribe our pathetic “Fifth Estate”, I just don’t see it as a campaign that is jaundicing the public against nuclear on the scale described here. I think the people’s fear of radiation is firmly established by the cold war fearmongering that we were subjected to, and events such as Fukushima need no sensationalizing in order to be seen as extremely threatening to health and environment. People are just plain scared shitless of radiation, period. Particularly when it is seemingly emanating from an uncontrolled event.
I think, more than a media/big oil conspiracy, there is a failure for the pro-nuclear industry and its science community to get an effective counter-message out to the energy consumer. Within your own community the lingo and the science may be enough, but out here in Realsville you need to make an argument that Margaret and Harry can grasp and ponder over thier breakfast table.
And if you scroll up and note the responses that “Steve from Virgina” got, you need to consider that he might very well believe what he is contributing. So your job is to convince him otherwise, not to belittle and insult the man because of the information he has been subjected to and consequently assumed as fact. Trust me, many of us react in the same manner as we are being treated, and at that point we become unteachable, because the debate becomes emotional from both sides, rather than intellectual, no matter how much “science” is introduced to buttress opinion.
If you folks concentrated as much on countering the media bias, instead of blaming the media bias, I’d bet you’d make better progress. But ya gotta do it in a manner thats going to reach Margaret and Harry, and the science illiterate naysayers, instead of some grad student or nuclear buff whose head is already full of the science and has already made up his mind.
I think the people’s fear of radiation is firmly established by the cold war fearmongering that we were subjected to, and events such as Fukushima need no sensationalizing in order to be seen as extremely threatening to health and environment.
There has been a long running campaign to spread fear about radiation and some of that certainly stems from efforts by people who wanted to make sure that everyone recognized that the atomic bomb was a fearsome weapon. (Of course, it is pretty darned scary just from its demonstrated explosive power, but people needed to be taught that it was a lot more scary than the conventional bombs and firebombs that did just as much damage — with a lot more planes and ordnance.)
However, it is hard for those of us who favor nuclear energy to ignore the fact that the media focused a whole lot of attention on Fukushima in the weeks and months immediately after the earthquake and tsunami hit and killed so many people. That very scary wave essentially disappeared from coverage within a day or so as the mainstream media talked in worried tones about the slowly developing problems at the nuclear plant.
Since I watched the coverage with my pronuclear lenses on, it was also hard not for me to notice how many times during the news coverage we were treated to commercials touting the 100 years worth of clean natural gas that America has right under our feet.
I think you make some good points regarding communication between engineers and the rest of the world. How’s this for Marge & Harry:
Radiation can be dangerous in large amounts. The more radioactive something is, the more dangerous it may be. But at the same time, the more radioactive it is, the faster it goes away (all on its own!). That is exactly what “radioactive” means — a radioactive substance is changing by emitting radiation.
The most radioactive stuff released from Fukushima was already gone within a month or two of the meltdowns.
The stuff that is leftover (still radioactive today) is mostly still inside the plant area. The stuff that got washed away has been diluted by so much air and water in and over the Pacific Ocean, that it will not hurt you if you live in the US. Even if you live in Japan, it won’t hurt you now.
Were you aware that 8 people died directly from a dam failure that resulted from the Tohoku Offshore earthquake?
When those of us who are pro-nuclear and public about it speak about media bias this is one point I like to bring up. I don’t use it as more people died due to the dam failure then Fukushima nuclear meltdown issues talking point. I use it as an example of lessons learned about earthen dams during an incredibly powerful earthquake that are playing out here in the US but not being noticed type of talking point.
However those lessons are “boring” to the mass media. Not enough people died to satisfy the cynical nature of editors to make it into a story line.
NUCLEAR PLANT MELTS DOWN. IMMINENT DANGER TO ENTIRE PACIFIC RIM ….
HOT PARTICLES SPEWING OUT OF REACTOR STATES NUCLEAR EXPERT….
CHILDREN WILL DIE OF THYROID CANCER STATES DOCTOR….
(not actual headlines but might as well have been)
Those are the type of headlines that editors will run with to sell advertising. Very little engineering or scientific evidence will be presented but a lot of ad sales will be negotiated because eyeballs were tuned to the TV and papers to see doom and gloom. Good news just doesn’t sell.
Eight people who died from an earthen dam failure didn’t make a blip on the news radar scale.
Now the most common comeback regards the evacuations, site cleanup and cancer issues. Yes those are concerns but as Russ Finely points out in his post, there are EPA superfund sites here in the US that have equivalent toxicity as Fukushima. Cleanup could occur but politics are getting in the way of science and engineering solutions.
So why all the noise? Why is the media focused on nuclear meltdowns? That is the question that many of us have struggled with and will continue to ask of various reporters and media types at every opportunity.
I have traded comments with an energy reporter during the event about why the world-will-end type of commentary. That reporter’s comeback was that they felt they were lied to during TMI. Okaaay. But what does that have to do with the current situation at Fukushima? Why would a reporter who cut their teeth during TMI and should have an understanding of the science of nuclear energy and nuclear accidents still have an ax to grind about how the TMI crisis was handled in 1979?
Regarding the SONGS steam generators. A nationally known reporter stated in an seminar on nuclear communications on the issue of SONGS: We (reporters) are more interested in reporting on death & destruction than business screw-ups”
Nuclear meltdowns represents the big win from a reporter’s standpoint regarding death and destruction if it happens. Death and destruction from Fukushima didn’t reach the proportions many anti’s such as Gundersen, Caldicott and Alvarez stated, but there are still reporters out there keeping the pot stirred up juuust in case.
Some reporting on this today.
Graft, bid rigging, rising costs, delays, hiring by criminal syndicates, and more related to government funded clean-up efforts. It was institutional failures, collusion, and mismanagement that resulted in Fukushima. The clean-up efforts appear to be mired in some of the same.
Much of the risk associated with fraudulent contracting activity could be avoided with more sensible radiation limits.
Many areas would not longer be vulnerable to unsavory elements seeking to take advantage of lucrative opportunities because they would be occupied and maintained by their rightful owners.
So ALARA for nuclear workers, but the general public residing in an accident zone and “you’re all on your own.” That makes no sense. Particularly at dose levels far exceeding those of power plant workers (and with none of the healthy worker screening biases in effect).
I am no advocate of ALARA. I’ve republished or linked to numerous peer reviewed papers indicating that the dose response ASSUMPTION of a linear, no-threshold (LNT) behavior is scientifically unsupportable. (Look in the health effects or LNT topic areas on the Archive page.)
I’ve also pointed to several papers detailing how that assumption was impressed into the radiation protection bodies by effective, focused action from geneticists that wanted to do everything in their power to halt atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons. Part of their campaign was to make people believe that their health and the health of their children was being directly harmed by the tiny — but readily measured — doses they were receiving as a result of radioactive material fallout from those tests.
Some of the people that have been allowed to return to less contaminated areas have been provided with dosimetry to determine their actual doses. The data are starting to be available that their measured doses are far lower than the doses that were calculated by flying over the area with survey meters and then computing what the dose to a person would be.
Having done radiation survey work (I was once the chemistry and radiological controls assistant as well as the Engineer Officer on a submarine with responsibility for both conducting and reviewing survey maps) I understand the problem.
Gundersen is right about one aspect of radioactive material dispersal – it is not uniform. Radioactive elements tend to clump into tiny particles. Those particles are very radioactive, but the dose falls off rather quickly due to spherical spreading. The part about hot particles that Gundersen gets wrong is that they are easily detected with simple devices.
As shown in a scene in Pandora’s Promise, detailed ground surveys reveal hot spots. The unmentioned corollary to “hot spots” is “cold areas” where the dose is far below the average that can be measured from far away – as is the case for an arial survey.
When people are actually on the ground, they will not, on average, spend a lot of time next to hot spots, especially if they have any portable radiation monitoring equipment around.
Bottom line – not only are the dose limits that the Japanese are using very conservative (20 mSv/yr is only 40% of the 50 mSv/yr that many decades worth of monitored worker data reveals is safe), but their assumptions used in computing the expected doses are also wrong. Nearly 100% of the area outside of the gates is safe for human habitation. Find the hot spots and surround them with warning barriers.
Interesting, though, that the BP spill in the gulf got far more mainstream news coverage than the Fukushima situation has garnered.
Interesting, too, that BP is running these horsecrap ads telling us what a stellar job they have done cleaning up thier mess, but we don’t see any such ads from the nuclear industry seeking to cast themselves as responsible janitors cleaning up thier own mess. Perhaps its too early, while this Fukushima thing is ongoing, for such an advertizing campaign. But I see virtually nothing from the industry that resembles effective or organized PR.
You quoted me but then you switch back and forth between me and the “site.” The commenters here are not part of a collective hive mind ; ). I very rarely post here. I have no idea who you are addressing at any given moment, which makes it kinda tough to discuss things with you.
I trust that you are not talking about this nuclear fallout map:
So do I and I have no problem finding sensationalized reporting of the cleanup on the internet. Are you expecting to see daily updates in all the major newspapers? It isn’t that big of a deal.
“Very little” is a very relative term. I never claimed that there were “large numbers” of articles being published, just that they tend to be sensationalized.
Sensationalized: To cast and present in a manner intended to arouse strong interest, especially through inclusion of exaggerated details.
If you knew as much about the subject as I do, you might think differently.
Would you mind pulling up a dozen or so links to examples for me that you don’t think are sensationalized so I can point out to you what I mean?
I just used my browser to search this thread for the word “conspiracy.” I found it twice. Both usages in your comment. There is no conspiracy.
Assuming that you are still talking to me instead of the hive mind ; ), I do doubt that criminal or civil conspiracy exists because that is illegal and an exec would risk going to jail for it:
A Heating Oil Institute passing out pro-solar power flyers at an anti-nuclear rally is neither illegal or a conspiracy.
That’s because there isn’t one. There is a decades long history of anti-nuclear activity, and dozens of anti-nuclear groups, originally spawned by the desire to stop nuclear weapons testing and proliferation. These were the days before the internet and global warming. Nuclear energy got conflated with nuclear weapons, the groups went too far, and now that we have the internet, an effort is being made to reverse the over-exuberant efforts to stop nuclear, whatever its form.
The press sensationalizes to draw readership. It’s an economic decision.
There are reasons for that. I certainly don’t fall into that category, and neither do most of the other commenters here because we are well-informed. Once you realize the boogeyman isn’t real, you aren’t afraid of it anymore.
There are many dozens of post apocalyptic books and movies in addition to sensationalized, misinformed writing. Instead of mutant armies, Chernobyl created Europe’s largest wildlife preserve. Who would have guessed?
No doubt. A better job could be done but countering decades of fear created by misinformation isn’t a cake walk. As I said before, there is no conspiracy, only a combination of editors who don’t know better, or don’t care, or who simply want to garner readership, whatever that takes. It’s an old, tried-and-true journalistic method. The real damage was done by the old-school anti-nuclear ideologues who’s notoriety became connected at the hip to anti-nuclear activities. That’s just human nature at work.
I agree with much of what you said, but believe that you are overlooking the natural desire of any commodity supplier to take actions that will increase their sales. Enhancing negative information about a rival or giving a microphone to someone that is bashing your competition is standard fare in the hard knuckles business world. It is not illegal or even immoral under certain codes of behavior.
The “media” does not get rewarded directly for growing its audience. It makes money by selling ads to corporations that want to reach the audience. Ad rates are not determined strictly by raw audience numbers; they are determined by complex metrics and negotiations based on information about the audience, including size, demographic make up, professional interest, trade, disposable income, etc.
Media companies are not only partners with their advertisers. Sometimes, they are an integral part of the corporate strategy because they are owned by the same entities as the people that own the corporation.
In other words, I don’t believe for a minute that the antinuclear movement was simply a matter of bored antinuclear weapons activists looking for their next campaign. It has way too many shared interests with people who want to lock-in their hydrocarbon sales for as long as possible.
We’ve all done the same and have had extensive debates on the topic. There is a lot of uncertainty at low doses, and in vivo studies of an immune system response in isolated cells doesn’t go very far in revising well established radio protection standards based on human population studies.
I presume you are talking about common regulatory allowable dose of 50 mSv in a single year, or 20 mSv/year (averaged over 5 years).
So you don’t have this data. If so, I’d like to see it, particularly for areas within initial 20 km exclusion zone. You are also being disingenuous to MEXT. They use a variety of radiation survey methods (and compare results from these methods): soil sample, ground level (1 m above ground), monitoring stations, etc. It sounds like you don’t know this, or Pandora’s Promise is misleading you on these facts. I’m surprised you haven’t looked up the information yourself, but appear to be taking Pandora’s Promise at their word. A bad practice in this case, since Pandora’s Promise is doing a poor job informing folks of radiation levels and dose projections outside the gates of power plants at Fukushima.
Current status of evacuated or restricted areas falls into 3 categories by annual dose level: less than 20 mSv (“evacuation orders ready to be lifted”), 20 to 50 mSv (“residents are not permitted to live”), greater than 50 mSv (“residents will have difficulties in returning for a long time”).
I think it’s time to end the myth that “Nearly 100% of the area outside of the gates is safe for human habitation.” There is simply no supporting evidence for it. Certainly not if established regulatory dose levels for power plant workers (which are higher than recommended dose levels for the general public) are to be used as a effective or defensible guideline.
The data are starting to be available …
So you don’t have this data. If so, I’d like to see it, particularly for areas within initial 20 km exclusion zone.
I found one of the stories mentioning this data. I am certain there is far more, but I do not speak Japanese and have no time to learn.
Please reread my comment for an explanation about why this result is so believable to someone who has conducted radiation surveys.
Its gettin’ hard to figure out how to reply to specific comments….
But in reply to Russ’s 11:47 comment….
Well, Russ, perhaps the word “conspiracy” has not been used by Rod or other’s except myself here. But make no mistake, the direct accusation of collusion between the fossil fuel industry and the media has been waged here on a number of occassions, as I’m sure Rod will admit freely. in fact….here it is in his own words…
“If you believe that commercial media does not pay attention to the interests of its advertisers, you are FAR more gullible about the drivers of corporate behavior that anyone on this forum who believes that Tepco is mostly telling the truth about the conditions on its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant site. I’m not saying that everyone in the media is following the same script; I am saying that there is substantial agreement about the general tone of the stories and that part of the reason is that the story line being told supports the interests of some very wealthy and powerful entities — including, perhaps, some government agencies”
I know, on a personal level, that if I bring up “Fukushima” to friends, acquaintances, co-workers, etc, it is the rare individual that has ANY knowledge or opinion about Fukushima, Few even recognize or remember the intitial event in 2011. This hardly implies a media effort to “sensationalize” the ongoing Fukushima situation.
Russ…..I doubt I can find “a dozen or so links” from MAINSTREAM MEDIA that address the CURRENT situation at Fukushima. But here is a recent Reuter’s article that I offer as an example. I am not knowledgable enough to form an opinion whether or not it is “sensationalized” or not. Thats where you and Rod come in, to explain in understandable language how this article is disingenuous through it “sensationalized” content. Or not.
And I apologize if its unclear at times wether I’m addressing you specifically, or the Atomic Insight community as a whole. There are a number of people participating here, and the comment format makes direct back and forth kinda tedious.
Regardless…I appreciate the effort you’re expending to respond to my ignorance. Your comments are to point, and lacking the pretension that comes so easily to those who are knowledgable in a field not understood by those they are addressing. I would like to think that when I’m wading through all the “fluff” that comes up when googling Fukushima, that I can come here for clarification and honest explanation. Rod, too, has seemingly accepted my apology, and is willing to engage civilly with me now that I have discarded my own accusatory tone. Least, I hope thats the case.
On my part, this is not an admission of trust, because I am informed enough to have followed this Fukushima thing, as well as PG&E’s actions in regards to San Onofre, and although not fully grasping the science, I do recognize corruption, dishonesty, malfeasance, and ineptitude when I see it. When one can easily find a worm in a single slice of the pie, its hard to have an appetite for the rest of it.
“Certainly not if established regulatory dose levels for power plant workers (which are higher than recommended dose levels for the general public) are to be used as a effective or defensible guideline”
In a nutshell, that is one of the reasons I am so distrustful of the “this ain’t no big deal” assertions coming from the industry, its regulators, and is advocates. Immediately following Fukushima, the bar was raised as to allowable limits of exposure. So, the logical reason for this would be that the prior “allowable limits” were being exceded. So, whats the deal, the “allowable limits” go up as the exposure excedes these limits? Than whats the point in designating limits, if they aren’t based on ACTUAL SCIENCE? What was harmful yesterday isn’t harmful today? Thats “science”? Or crowd control?
As an aside, I’d like to mention that I am not insensitive to the fact that long discussions about Fukushima often derail the actual topic of any given thread of discussion. The problem, when a lay person like myself has a question about data, occurrences at Fukushima, or media accounts of the Fukushima event, we have no idea where to insert that query. An extremely useful tool would be a standing thread about Fukushima, where one could come to seek clarification about the unfolding situation. People like myself could come, pose a question, and be optimistic that our query would be addressed in understandable terms without patronization or sarcastic pretension or demeaning insult. Its important to remember that because someone expresses a question about a possibly “sensationalized” account, it doesn’t mean they believe it, it simply means that they were exposed to it, and are trying to ascertain the veracity of the account. Not all of us are armed with the science, so anything, and everything, about this event is called into question. But its a shame to derail conversations or debates with Fukushima when really Fukushima may have little or nothing to do with the topic of the thread.
But where can those such as myself turn for answers? The “anti” sites??? The “pro” sites??? Or can we just find unbiased explanation and clarification from someone? Would that be YOU, Rod? Your community here? Think about it.
Let’s be careful not to talk past one another. I agree with everything you said in this comment.
…except I am not “overlooking the natural desire of any commodity supplier to take actions that will increase their sales.” I agree with you on that as well.
Nobody trusts a conspiracy theorist except like-minded conspiracy theorists. What you described in your comment is not a “conspiracy” and you are not a “conspiracy theorist” and you certainly don’t want critics to start labeling you as one. PissedoffAmerican used the word twice. Don’t let that seed be planted.
You can Google the legal definitions for conspiracy that will get corporate execs jailed, be they oil, coal, gas, wind, solar, or nuclear execs.
The nuclear industry could have launched a massive ad campaign in the middle of the BP crisis (maybe they did, I don’t know), or every time a natural gas refiner blows up, or a coal mine accident happens and on and on.
Corporations are corporations be they oil, coal, gas, wind, solar, or nuclear.
This isn’t a battle of good against evil. Everyone is out to make a profit.
I also agree that it will be effective to point out that fossil fuels do actively (and legally) target their competitors with advertising, nuclear being one of them. But coal is a competitor with natural gas, and vice versa. Oil companies compete with one another. Natural gas competes with oil for home heating. I switched from oil heat to gas long ago based on ads I saw. The fossil fuel industry is not one big happy family out to get nuclear. That would be a conspiracy, and people would go to jail.
You have one of the best websites on the internet. I visit here every few days. The fact that I rarely comment is simply because you have garnered such a civil, and knowledgeable audience. I rarely have anything to add.
Based on what … unsubstantiated guesswork? There are lots of folks looking at this stuff (from a variety of professional, environmental, national, industry, and public health frameworks and perspectives). If someone had this data, you don’t think they would be using it on a wider basis.
They really do have a problem with credible and adequate oversight and transparency in Japan, don’t they?
If you don’t have the exposure or dose models based on sampling and outdoor and indoor activity patterns, you should say so! Making things up, and in an entirely unsubstantiated way, isn’t bringing much confidence to your position. Especially if you’re going to dispute official statements and records that estimate dose levels in excess of 50 mSv/year, and categorize regions most impacted by radioactive plume and contamination as: “residents will have difficulties in returning for a long time.”
You and me have some things in common. We both live in California, and both of us are laypersons (My education consisted of a B.S. in business administration accounting from San Jose State) . After that we differ quite a bit.
We live in a world that relies on experts. This is fine. Specialization comes with many benefits, but what isn’t fine is turning off your brain just because you can’t be an expert on everything.
In technical terms the oceans are what people like to call really really big. Massive if you prefer. Really quite large even. In comparison the mass of a single nuclear power plant in Japan is tiny, and the waste that escaped from that plant is even smaller. It should be incredibly obvious to you that we have nothing to worry about all the way over here in California.
If you wanted to you could take a piss in the ocean then make some kind of scary computer simulation to show how your piss slowly spreads out eventually contaminate all of the world water’s, but who the heck would care. Not most people that is for sure. They know that the oceans are already filled with piss and it’s not hurting anyone.
Did you know that the oceans have always had radioactive materials in them? Some estimate the the oceans contain 4.5 billion tons of Uranium, and that’s only one of the radioactive materials that exist in seawater. The tiny bit of material that fukushima released into the ocean is one little piss in a sea filled with piss.
Radioactive materials aren’t magic. Just like other materials they exist in forms like solid liquid, and gas. Just like other material their behaviour can be understood and controlled. Imagine that you had a box and and put a shoe in it, and you decided that you won’t let anyone look in the box. Some people decided that the box is scary because they can’t look in it. They conjecture that maybe the shoe has turned into a dragon. You explain to them that no shoes can’t turn into dragons, and you explain to them the properties of shoes. Instead of feeling relieved the people become more angry and fearful. They demand you prove that the shoe hasn’t turned into a dragon, and accuse you of making unsupported claims because they can’t look in the box and see that the shoe is not a dragon. Can you understand how you might become frustrated in such a situation? Maybe even angry and confrontational?
This isn’t really any different than fukushima. People know a great deal about the behaviour of the materials involved. They know that shoes can’t become dragons, but if people refuse to listen to reason what are they supposed to do?
At least consider this history. Nuclear reactions took place naturally in the past. This took place over the course of around a million years unregulated by any human control, and the world didn’t end.
Lets talk a little bit about conspiracies. Back when I was a fan of renewable energy I noticed that people always dismiss criticisms of renewables as being part of some kind of conspiracy to keep them down. I don’t really like that kind of thinking so I spent some of my time and energy to learn more about the technologies. Now that I have a fairly good understand of most of the relevant technologies I realize that there are some very real problems with things like wind and solar. So here is where I’m at.
I want people to reduce their use of fossil fuels because I’m worried about climate change, and because the capex (capital expenditure) requirements are increasing at an alarming rate.
I don’t think renewable energy can do the job because of the problems with power density and intermittency.
Basically Nuclear energy is the only hope I have for any kind of bright future for humankind. Call me obsessed if you want, but I’m not going to give up my hope for the future. Instead I’m going to start writing blog posts explaining my reasoning. Here are the first two.
The Hidden Costs of Wind and Solar: Part I Power Density
The Hidden Costs of Wind and Solar: Part II intermittency
No, but radiophobia is very much a superstition, and superstition is grounded in magical thinking. Radiophobia is every bit as much about superstition as, say, wiccaphobia, despite the thin veneer of “science” that the poor sufferers of this condition try to use to justify their irrational behavior, beliefs, and decisions.
In response to this comment.
I took a quick look at the link you provided.
The first sentence says: “Highly radioactive water seeping into the ocean from Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant is creating an “emergency””
Emergency …the article was written five months ago and sports a picture that is almost two years old of a tangled mass of structure damaged by a hydrogen explosion above the containment dome that has since been cleaned up. The water leak if bad enough could cause a temporary closure of local fishing in the area. The article is about leaking water, not hydrogen explosions. Why not a shot of the neat rows of white water tanks?
So, the question remains, why is such a small portion of the population so obsessed with nuclear energy despite the fact that it’s no longer competitive?
A few facts might clear up the issue.
– 71 nuclear power reactors are under construction
– 171 are on order or planned
– The IAEA forecasts worldwide growth of nuclear capacity between 17 and 94 percent over the next 16 years.
– By 2050, nuclear capacity will triple in the IAEA’s most optimistic scenario
– R&D of future (Gen IV) nuclear technologies is active worldwide; $5 billion was invested over the past decade and hundreds of research reports were published.
A small portion of the renewables community believes that nuclear energy is dead, but most of the world hasn’t gotten the memo.
I’d agree it isn’t dead, but there will likely be years to decades in the wilderness in many countries and regions because of the accident.
Because of this, unfortunately, I suspect that if you want to build GenIV in your lifetime, you’re going to need to learn Russian, Mandarin, or (possibly) Hindi.
What would be cool would be if nuclear entrepreneurs could rent some small deserted island off the African coast from a politically friendly regime and use it to develop nuclear energy outside of the jurisdiction of any real regulator save the IAEA.
First, Wind and Solar are only profitable because of subsidies. The use of Wind and solar is already raising the cost of electricity. Some of that cost we see in our bill and the rest is hidden in our local, county, state and federal taxes. Why should a car dealer pay for his million dollars worth of “property,” the cars he is selling you and the wind turbine owner not? And the extra taxes are hidden all the way to WashDC.
Second, until the mind set is changed on the use of Wind and Solar they will remain unprofitable. Batteries are too costly. Do the math. The method of use is the first thing that has to be changed. Windmills are great for pumping water which can be stored and used when needed. They are not great for powering a home that need the wind to blow to heat or air condition the home – Murphy’s law wins in these applications. And living in Nebraska I even wonder about using wind for pumping water. The first thing a farmer does when he can afford it is to replace the windmill that he uses to pump water for live stock with an electric pump when he gets electricity at an affordable distance. He has lost too much live stock to not do so. For 25 years I have traveled around Nebraska, the state that has a windmill on it’s license plate, and 99.99% of the ones I see are nothing more than rusted out towers with no vanes! That should tell you something.
Perhaps solar should be used to run or assist with the running, of air conditioners, and as I have seen in other places used to supply heat for a building and hot water. This would require a different type of home architecture but would prove to be almost self sufficient for home heating in most of the northern states. My experience with the way electricity is priced for the grid, the randomness of the generation and the high maintenance costs has proven to me that renewable just will not be as good as the environmentalists claim. It gives every impression it will work when you look at the installations that individual home owners have completed. Once it gets beyond the instillation of a Solar Wind generator for your home where that home owner has the big bad electric company providing free backup for the measly cost of the monthly service charge (about one Starbuck coffee a week), the model creates more problems than it solves.
Thanks to all. Food for thought.
For nuclear energy does not have to mean against other forms. China is building maximum thermal and nuclear plants, just like the US some decades back. Now shale gas is the new power source, but only in the US so far.
I think that nuclear steam should be used for underground gasification of low quality coal. Not only will leave the ash behind, but the gas could be used for power generation and production of vehicle fuel too, if and where required. There should be co-ordination rather than conflict.
Let us hope that fossil fuel vendors also realise that.
Oh well they are threatening to close down the thread. Get a weird feeling over there in the arguments, which is strange. I know I can be somewhat annoying at times, but its not just that. The arguments were substandard and the cost thing has too many perspectives to pass off so easily. (as it always is).
Britain guarantees biomass/wood pellet burners in coal conversions a $ 173 per megawatt hour. Hinkley will get $151.
Energy: Forest fuels ( http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/0ad6bb22-5ea8-11e3-8621-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2ok27geJL )
One converted plant ( the Drax power station ) will burn more wood than the entire output of Britain’s timber industry.
Biofuels: MPs to consider subsidies for power stations ( http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-21672840 )
Thanks for those links …
LOL …the resident troll at CleanTechnica just shut the comments down:
“Notice: This thread has become very long and Disqus has a history of losing comments sent in by email once the thread gets long. I’ve had to chase a couple down and repost them. Any more problems and I’ll close this thread. The topic will show up again, I’m sure.”
“Translation: I’m losing the debate and need to cobble together an excuse to cut and run …Note: Screenshot taken of this comment for future article.”
A few seconds later we get this:
“Thread has become troll bait.”
Comment count = 339.
If you think about it they are kind of locked into their positions by their funding and support. Contrary to belief there is no real paid worldwide nuclear blogging/reporting system beyond the PR of individual projects.
I think that’s why rod attacked FFs in his post. To establish common ground.
I can see the wisdom in that, but im not sure its the correct approach. Im not sure renewables are helpful in the long run battle against emissions. I feel weird criticizing them, like I could be turning people away from addressing climate change and acidification, but I cant leave something I feel is that important to the chance that it MIGHT help.
We KNOW nuclear power works and the direct technology as well as the understanding of the effects of radiation are going to be necessary in the future.
I just cannot say that directly about renewables.
“The first thing you need to grasp is that it is physically impossible to store electricity at the levels required for a city. There is nothing on the horizon that would make that possible in our lifetimes.”
Pumped hydro and underground compressed air will both work.
Both are expensive and may have limited available sites. In fact, I wonder if some of these new nuke plants people are trying to get built would be cheaper than either of these energy storage options and could even be more efficient overall.
Here is a good site for information on Pumped Hydro Storage.
Keep in mind that the “capacity” numbers on most pages and linked paged (the footnotes) are not MWh but are expressed as MW and this is the “total deliverable capacity” – from the toped off fill point to the low level point. then look at the size of these sites. May want to Google map them to get a better perspective.
Here is another. http://www.industcards.com/ps-usa.htm
Most were built to avoid the atrociously high charges that occur when there are energy shortages (common now in Calif) and to even out loads on Nuclear/coal plants so that they run at the point of maximum operating efficiency. Yes it is worth building these facilities just to keep the large plants operating at maximum efficiency. Throwing away 5 -10 percent of efficiency on a 1,000 MWh plant is throwing away 50-100 Mwh. Sort of like having a leak in your gas tank the drips out 10 percent of the gas you put in it times a million. This lost efficiency is what people talk about when trying to explain why Solor/Wind does not mix with Coal/Nuclear or even Gas. You end up wasting as much energy as you “save” creating the same amount of CO2. I received accolades (but no bonus) for increasing the efficiency of TMI-I by just over 2% about 2 megawatts, This was done by using the new HP FFT (fast fourier transform) Analyzer to tune the Steam/Feedwater control system rather than the commonly used “seat-of-the-pants” method, i.e., Start with calculated numbers, tweak these values and perturb the plant until it works OK. Newer process control systems now have FFT computer analyzers built in each module.
Opps, caught a math error. “2% about 2 megawatts,” Should be “2% about 20 megawatts.” Actually closer to about 18-19.
Pumped hydro and underground compressed air are both forms of ENERGY storage, not electricity storage. In order to convert them into electricity, you need to put them through appropriate conversion devices that are pretty similar to the conversion devices used to convert heat energy from fuel into electricity.
It seems to me that mother nature has shown us several excellent ways to store energy in the form of hydrocarbons or actinides. They are both substances that can be held in inventory on site and converted at will into electricity given the appropriate kind of machinery. I’m not sure why there is such fascination with storing energy in water or compressed air; both require a lot more storage volume than fuel tanks.
Good reading for those that think Pumped Storage is the way to go.
Look at the capacity. Look at the size. Notice that those meager 600 Mw are gone in two days. From a utility point of view I only see it as useful for smoothing out the minute-by-minute and hour-by-hour fluctuations. And the lake is useless for recreational activities. Just think of the enhancements, and their costs, that would be needed if to allow people in boats on the lake?
If EOS Energy gets their zinc-air batteries going, they’ll have the minutes-to-hours market taken care of. However, renewables need days worth of storage just to buffer the changes associated with frontal cycles. You can’t run an economy that way. (And, I suspect, that is the goal of some of the advocates: they do NOT want economies to run, they want a collapse.)
The irony of course is that the bubble is on the other side, in the anti nuclear camp.
The reality is that many people like nuclear power because they understand its benefits: high energy density, high reliability, completely clean (environmentally completely isolated) industrial scale, virtually inexhaustible energy. Such benefits are either resource inherent or historically proven.
Non fossil energy sources other than nuclear lack multiple of the above benefits, which is why they are dead in the water. To make a succesful energy transition requires an energy source that ticks all the boxes.
Sadly, most people do not yet understand nuclear power’s benefits, or even how it works at all. The result is a politically created bubble inhibiting nuclear power’s growth in most places in the world. It is a very effective bubble, but it is a bubble, as it has no inherent merits or underlying argumentation (only politically created ones).
One advantage of gas, and I believe wind, over current nuclear is that they are better at load following.
Are newer reactor designs able to follow demand, as they would have to if nuclear rose to 80% or more of output ?
Yes they are, in France they throttle down (and even shutdown) plants as they have 80% nuclear. Newer designs have higher steam bypass capability. There are other options as well such as simply dumping any excess electricity (beyond the rate change capability of the steam cycle) in resistor banks. This allows occasional rapid load following if necessary.
More likely though the market will tap into this low value excess electricity and make something useful from it, some kind of industrial/feedstock demand perhaps with a low capital cost, possibly even hydrogen.
Fission reactors can load follow at least as well as combustion systems. The trick is to reduce the inertia of the overall system. Ships and submarines show that it can be done with nuclear fission power plants if that is one of the design goals.
At least two of the SMR designs have rapid load following capabilities. There is also some amount of load following available in systems like the CANDU 6 and the AP1000.
I totally agree with Rod on the load follow point. And will add that the original designed B&W 177FA plant could load follow at 10%/min between Low Load Limit (15%) and 100%, either up or down. Further we proved the capability during our Power Ascension Test Program. The problem is in the real world of mixed generation the economics say to chase the load drop with the most expensive fuel, which is not your nuke. Over the years this results in modification of the nuke fuel and reactivity control strategies to maximize fuel efficiency at 100% load. This however tightens up your operating limits and maneuverability, such that events like an RCP or Main Feed Pump trip can no longer be survived without a Reactor Trip. But the choice is made by economics, not design capability. The real downside of this philosophy is, in my opinion, a “riskier” plant, in that it doesn’t survive expected equipment failures or problems without a trip. I believe there is not any machine that is as risk free and stable as a nuke running and supplying its own vital services. This is the way Navy plants run so well. Of course to make money you have to connect to a grid, and then you become inherently less reliable, because you assume the added risk from outside sources. mjd.
I ran several of those tests at both TMI-I and II. They worked flawlessly and it was amazing to see it work. As I recall only one of the proof of design tests failed and it was due to an improper setting in the ICS, which was quickly fixed. Even better, back then, when you were certain of the cause of one of the RxTrips it was possible to even restart in the same shift – not a few days later like now. It utterly flabbergasted me that the NRC listened to the GE and other non B&W plant “ex-spurts” and required all of those un-safe automatic trips added to the RPS trips. Why would you want to trip the reactor on a loss of load or a turbine trip when it was designed and proven, several time that the plant could withstand that fault? If you lost load, how are you going to get it back? As I recall, TMI even had an Auto-transformer to provide the needed house loads for a loss of off site power. Now they have diesels that are supposed to carry the load. That is like requiring that you connect the low gas tank level light in your car to the ignition which immediately shuts off the vehicle. All of these action by the NRC did not add any real safety and I feel decreased safety and increased the wear and tear on the reactor and support equipment creating future safety problems.
I’ve recently seen a say day reactor start. It was a well known cause and we were in no tech spec statements. I work in a BWR, and after group 1 and 2 we single notched every rod and banked the peripherals because we were concerned of a high period or uncoupled criticality. Sure as shit we went critical on a corner rod with a 75 second period while we were heavily xenon peaked in the center and if we werent banking or using reduced notch worths we probably wouldnt have been able to follow it.
I know that CANDU units can survive a total loss of offsite power, and will provide all house loads along with an auto reactor runback to low power. Like others have said, with uprates and plant modifications, its hit or miss whether or not it will actually work, but after the 2003 blackout many units switched over to house only, and were ready to re-energize the grid after the fault cleared (within < 1 hr).
Wind is not load following. Wind power generates power when the wind is blowing and the wind do not care if there is any demand or not.
cyril r. wrote:
“More likely though the market will tap into this low value excess electricity and make something useful from it, some kind of industrial/feedstock demand perhaps with a low capital cost, possibly even hydrogen.”
Well – you know if the “market” was as smart as everybody thinks it is then it would have tapped into excess electricity for years. Night electricity can be worth a lot less than day electricity. Maybe some smart investor will still do it. Maybe they just haven’t been savvy enough to recognize this potential.
The “market” is as smart (and as dumb) as everybody thinks it is and energy-intensive industries have been tapping into night rates for years.
Maybe they just haven’t been savvy enough to recognize this potential.
And maybe the potential investors are smart enough to recognize that most of the processes that could make use of the low priced “night electricity” work best when run on a 24 x 7 basis and thus would not gain much from the special discounts available during low demand periods because they would also have to pay the high prices that persist in the middle of the day.
Interestingly much of the variation is actually seasonal. In Washington state, some industries operate seasonally due to hydro availability. I’m imagining this would work for nuclear as well – most grids have either a winter peak or a summer peak, so you can use the excess capacity to operate low capital, high energy installations. Things like electrolytic aluminium production (more than half the cost can be in the electricity so very sensitive to electricity pricing regimes).
In terms of daily use, some energy intensive industries schedule maintenance during higher priced daytime electricity. Similarly, nuclear plant operators often schedule maintenance and refuelling outages during low demand periods.
One might also imagine opportunities in aircon and home heating, such as making ice or chilled or hot water to store a few hours of demand, allowing more offpeak charging of these thermal stores.
“processes that could make use of the low priced “night electricity” work best when run on a 24 x 7 basis”
Businesses that would depend on excess electricity produced by wind or very sunny days would have a difficult time. How could you plan? Too random. You’d have to keep a lot of excess inventory of the product that you produced to ensure that you met orders. There’s built in inefficiency. I think if I invested my money I’d want it working on the 24 X 7 basis too.
One bad year can kill a farming operation. Depending on excess electricity from wind may be a higher risk.
The Guardian has a interactive for you to adjust energy/consumption to reduce emissions – BUT IT WONT LET YOU ADD MORE THAN 6 NPPs!!! (Of course you can add up to 39,000 large wind turbines, and 18 GW of tidal and hdro!)
( http://www.theguardian.com/environment/interactive/2010/apr/21/national-carbon-calculator )
It was actually put out in 2010 and never corrected.
“This has been a pretty enormous piece of work – it is, we’re fairly sure, the most complex online carbon calculator in existence. ” – I haven’t actually seen another one.
Do any of you have links?
The official ‘DECC 2050 pathways calculator’ (web tool and spreadsheet) is much more thorough. The first version was published in July 2010, so I suppose the Guardian might have been correct for about three months.
Versions also exist for South Korea, China and part of Belgium…
Thanks! playing with it. That is cool but I want to add more nuclear power stations! (also I dont think it takes winds site issues into account)
The web version goes up to 150GW, though I suppose if you had a look at the spreadsheet you could add even more. You can look at the assumptions and costs behind the numbers under costs-> sensitivity, and it’s possible to display squares on a map to see the area covered by wind, although I haven’t looked at their references for capacity factor. At reasonable levels it does seem to be quite accurate.
Oh ok – I figured that out. The map / land use feature is really cool. Thats a good idea to include.
Posted by me on the CleanTechnica:site:
“Shame on you people. Closing down real discussion. Dont think people wont remember what you did.”
God I hope none of you advocating nuclear power ever behave that way. Its totally despicable.
John, a little introspection might be in order. Just sayin’……
Really? Ive found in life others will usually accuse you first of the things they are most guilty.
POA, everyone answered your questions simply, directly and thorougly and you responded with no gratitude and more insults. Perhaps your handle should be Ungrateful American. You really need to stick around here for a while and learn who is being straightforward, the World Health Org or the anti-nukes. You will regret attacking these guys when all they are being is polite. Their links are legit.
Chuckling here. You obviously haven’t seen John and my previous exchanges.
It sounded like he has to me.
“Solar and wind projects are featured in ads from Chevron, Shell, and BP because they are not competitive threats.”
Actually I think this is an understatement. The solar and wind projects let them put an eco-friendly face on the NG power plants needed to back them up.
The fools in the nuclear industry are so feeble minded that they haven’t even figured out that the nuclear industry has a bigger storage problem than renewables At least with renewables there is some growth to be able to finance work on better batteries. The gov twits in Britain in the 60’s and 70’s fumbled around with a million comittees on “advanced” nuclear technology and in the end went belly up because, naturally, none of the phd paper reactors would scale up.
Batteries don’t scale.
Nuclear scales fine. France went from 20% nuclear to 75-80% in less than 15 years.
Actually, batteries scale just fine… to the level where you recharge them nightly to serve daily peak loads and supply the energy for surface transport.
Managing weekly-scale RE cycles with current demand curves? Get real.
Getting real means recognizing why Germany abandoned nuclear reactors in the first place: No growth in high temperature reactors due to constant maintenance related to materials failure.
There you go again, making up BS arguments in favor of your pre-determined conclusion. The real story is that German pols and media panicked the public with the prospect of Fukushima meltdowns (how they were supposed to get tsunamis in inland Europe, nobody could quite say) and re-reversed the course of action which had been reducing Germany’s carbon emissions and energy imports. But the Greens have always had a greater animus for nuclear energy than carbon emissions, and burning more coal was just part of the bargain.
As you can see in the figures from A Nation Sized Battery (see link) the batteries likely won’t scale even for peak needs. It won’t scale for a week long total energy storage, by orders of magnitude. So even 10% of that (less than a day, for peaking) is already dubious in terms of $ and natural resource extractions. And that’s just for the USA. Expand that to 7-9 billion people, and even batteries for just a few hours of peaking for the world would be dubious.
EOS Energy Storage claims to have a 1 MW/6 MWh battery system for $1000/kW. If US electric consumption is increased to 700 GW average/ 1 TW peak, we’d need roughly 300 GW from storage during the peak hours. That’s $300 billion at $1000/kW, quite affordable as such things go.
What isn’t affordable is storage for days or weeks.
France is broke. It can’t finance any more reactors.
France isn’t broke and even if they were, shutting down the nuclear industry would send their economy spirally downward just that much faster.
They elected a leader who declared it is his goal to eliminate nuclear power and move France’s power generation to systems based on weather patterns.
What is ironic is that Hollande is taxing nuclear to provide additional funding for the move to wind and solar.
“The gov twits in Britain in the 60′s and 70′s fumbled around with a million comittees on “advanced” nuclear technology and in the end went belly up because, naturally, none of the phd paper reactors would scale up.”
You have to try a lot of things before you get it right.
” As an inventor, Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. When a reporter asked, “How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?” Edison replied, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”
I hope those PhDs are still trying. I applaud them!
POA – You’re the last person who should be giving advice on how to win friends and influence people. For what it’s worth, here is some friendly advice for you.
Lesson number one: When you show up in a forum with “pissedoff” in your moniker, you should not expect a friendly reception.
Lesson number two: If your attitude matches this moniker, expect an even more hostile response.
Lesson number three: If, afterward, you whine and moan that people are not treating you with the respect that you think you deserve, you just look like a complete idiot.
Who cares what that jerk thinks? Sure, he might be stupid enough to believe what he wrote. So what? There is no way that anyone can convince him of anything if he doesn’t stick around to read the responses, and it’s clear that he did not.
Steve did the virtual equivalent of dropping a big turd in the middle of someone else’s living room and walking away. Why the hell does anyone owe him anything?
The monicker “PissedOffAmerican” is one I’ve carried for over twelve years now, and has nothing to do with my opinions about the nuclear energy issue. Really, it has to do with this scam known as the GWOT, and our government’s growing efforts to become every thing we purport ourselves not to be. I still use the monicker because it is recognizable to a great many online friends who share my interest in a wide range of issues.
And yes, I believe in maintaining my anonymity on the internet. Any interaction we have here need not go any further, and if I am desirous of any offline contact with anyone, surely I’m able to make it known. You don’t have a need to know “who” I am.
And because I admit to being “pissed” doesn’t mean I am “pissed” at you or anyone else here. You aren’t that important, Brian.
So, I’ll tell ya what.
I’ll agree to ignore you and Tucker, if you’ll return the favor. Problem solved, right?
@POA. Twice above you’ve mentioned PG&E and San Onofre, do you mean So Cal Edison? Or do you have a beef with Diablo? It’s hard to follow when you mix-n-match. Just sayin. 😉
Yes, you’re quite correct, I meant SCE. I am currently doing a remodel project that involves PG&E, so I guess I just have them on my mind.
“Nuclear scales fine. France went from 20% nuclear to 75-80% in less than 15 years.”
Something to think about when you hear the argument that it takes too long to build a plant. An organized project can be built quickly.
To clarify, when I cite SCE’s behaviour in regards to San Onofre, I am citing the record, that they were aware the design of the tubes may cause vibration, that they did not inform the NRC of thier concerns, and decided not to redesign despite the fact they were aware of possible if not probable problems with the design.
Least wise, thats the way I understand it. Feel free to correct me if I am mistaken.
I note that all the major media outlets, mainstream, have covered the Burlington derailment.
Interesting that CNN, MSNBC, HLN, Fox, etc have seemingly ignored the story Reuters broke about the insidious infiltration of organized crime into the Fukushima clean-up efforts, and the exploitation of the homeless and indigent by crime connected sub-contractors.
Also, not given much attention or coverage by the mainstream press….
*Formation of a volcanic island in Japanese waters.
*Strong and shallow quake activity near the Fukushima complex.
*Questions being raised within the scientific community about the effectiveness of the technology being used to “treat” the contaminated water.
*Recent steam clouds being emitted from Reactor #3.
All of these “issues” are extremely attractive in regards to thier utility as tools by which to “sensationalize” the Fukushima event. Instead, we see the opposite. These “stories”, unsensationalized, are in and of themselves, newsworthy. Yet rather than being exploited, or even covered honestly, we see little or NO coverage from what one can consider “mainstream” media. This is not media “sensationalism”. In fact, one could make an argument that this is bordering on a media blackout.
Even if one disagrees that these “stories” are newsworthy, surely thier utility as tools of purposeful media sensationalism are easily recognized. The irony, of course, is that these “stories” ARE sensationalized by fringe wack-job sites and nuclear energy naysayers, without any counter message from mainstream nuclear advocates or media sources. So, anyone interested in honest analysis finds a dearth of unbiased analysis, and can only draw conclusions from the biased “anti” and “sky is falling” side of the stories.
Thats not a very effective game plan for changing public perception.
I note that all the major media outlets, mainstream, have covered the Burlington derailment.
The prediction was not that commercial news would fail to cover he event, but that the coverage would rapidly disappear as attention was directed elsewhere (or, if you prefer, as other news happened).
Also, it is worth asking – how many of the news stories mention the train owner and also relate this event to the other recent crude train events?
Thanks for your response, Rod. In actuality, my post wasn’t so much about the Burlington coverage as it was about the lack of coverage of recent events at Fukushima.
I am well aware of the meager reportage about rail accidents, as my post on the Burlington thread underscores. Point of fact, I am currently trying to speak to the Transportation Editor of the Los Angeles Times about the lack of media coverage in regards to the unbelievably common derailments on the Tehachapi Loop. She has not, as yet, returned my phone calls. She may be out for the holidays, or, perhaps, as you insinuate, its a story she thinks is best untold.
Note that the Bakersfield Californian is the more widely circulated and read newspaper in my area. But thinking much as you do, I doubt highly that the Californian would be interested in hearing me out, because of the massive fossil fuel industry supported by the quantity of oil in the Bakersfield area, and the extremely, (and somewhat unique for California), conservative nature of its readership.
Rod, I’m an equal opportunityy critic. I have no more trust for the fossil fuel industry than I do for the nuclear energy industry. I have no doubt that media manipulation occurs on behalf of BOTH entities. The fossil fuel industry, just by the sheer wieght of its power and wealth, undoubtedly carries the advantage as far as leverage. But I am of the opinion that that leverage is applied in covering up its own disasters and abuses, which, as you often point out, are epic. I don’t think, when events such as Fukushima occur, that the fossil fuel industry needs to do much “sensationalizing”, for, in the public’s eyes at least, these kind of nuclear accidents ARE sensational, and speak for themselves.
In my opinion, BOTH entities are influencing media reportage, opportunistically, and one does not supercede the other in such endeavors. I see it much in the same light as I see partisan politics. It is a system that has become little more than a tool of division, designed to keep you and I distracted with our bickering back and forth ,while BOTH sides of the aisle give us the shaft.
POA, the Reuters report is actually not much news.
The reason why is this two points :
– This is not about the plant, but about the remediation effort to try to get the radioactivity back to 1 mSv/Year in the contaminated area around the plant
– What is described is just business as usual for the Japanese yakuza, nothing that they haven’t done for decades for example for construction works
The fact that it’s about the remediation effort means that this people will never be near a highly radioactive area, and that the job they do is very simple technically, just spread water, and remove the top soil to put it inside bags. While the government has decided they needed to try to get back to 1mSv, no real health hazard has ever been identified in the High Background Radiation Areas that are just as radioactive as those places are currently. And anyway the workers will stay just hours at those places, so not receive any more radiations that they would inside an airplane.
The description of how homeless and indigent workers are exploited by yakuza is shocking, but is nothing different of what yakuza usually do, it’s well known that the whole construction sector is infiltrated by yakuza in Japan, including shoddy connexions with politicians to overcharge and then build at the cheapest price possible.
So there’s a national crackdown on Yakuza and involvement in construction industry, but in decontamination and power plant work it’s “forget about it” and “don’t ask too many questions.” Did you miss the part about hazard pay for working in high radiation areas? From what you are describing, contractors working with illegal brokers have a long ways to go. And I’m not sure how a criminal activity being widespread makes it any less illegal or tolerable (particularly when there are high profile national efforts to eradicate it).
The oversight protecting workers in these cases just isn’t there (as the article describes). Fixing this, and providing adequate oversight, is not an unusual or extraordinary request.
And I’m not sure how a criminal activity being widespread makes it any less illegal or tolerable (particularly when there are high profile national efforts to eradicate it).
None of the people you are talking with in this thread are condoning or tolerating illegal activity. We are just wondering why you seem to be blaming nuclear technology, presumably with the idea that knowledge about the activities should discourage people from using nuclear energy as a tool to address many other pressing problems like providing reliable energy, mitigating climate change, and reducing consumption of the Earth’s finite store of hydrocarbons.
Then they should come out and condemn it, and make a defense for better and more accountable labor rules and adequate government and industry oversight.
I’m not sure why you take my defense of sensible regulation and oversight as somehow a problem for nuclear technology. A technology entangled and involved with criminal enterprises doesn’t sound particularly “reliable” to me in any sense of the term? Particularly when it results in substandard practices, which appears to have been the case with storage tanks at the power plants.
When was the last time you pointed out the hazards and substandard practices associated with hydrocarbon extraction, distribution and consumption? What are you doing to increase the safety and oversight of crude rail cars, aging natural gas pipelines, disposal of waste water from hydraulic fracturing and uncovered coal cars?
I’m okay with sensible regulation, but when I point out that it makes no sense to twist the screws down tighter on nuclear energy to avoid radiation doses way below those that have been proven to cause human health risks, you reject that notion out of hand.
Even if you completely accept the linear no threshold dose response model as gospel (I don’t), you seem to have missed the logical implication that a linear model means that a low dose results in a low risk. A dose that is roughly equivalent to variations in natural background exposure results in a risk that is bounded by being roughly equivalent to variations in all other activities.
In other words, it is far enough down in the noise of existing on earth that it does not deserve the extra-special, exceedingly expensive attention it is given.
That would have been yesterday. Casing standards in hydraulic fracturing are often inadequate and place underground water resources unnecessarily at risk. Produced water management standards are horrible in the industry, and municipal treatment facilities should not be processing the stuff. There is a litany of environmental concerns that I find very alarming, and relatively easy to control with better regulations and fewer industry giveaways and exemptions that don’t reflect best practices in the industry. I’ve always spoken about this stuff. I’m not sure why you think otherwise?
Regarding the rest of your comment, I’m not sure I see the relevance of poor regulatory oversight and illegal labor practices to debates about LNT (that you somehow see as related to this issue). Or to imaginary doses that aren’t found in Fukushima related to the accident, but are far above “variations in natural background exposure.” If substandard practices resulting from a failure of oversight leads to unnecessary and excessive public or environmental risks … no industry (or regulator) should tolerate it. Such does not appear to be the case for nuclear in these pages.
@EL : That’s three sentences about the subject which obviously is very minor for you compared to nuclear, since you are ready to excuse Obama for all what happened under his watch during the last 5 years while fracking exploded, trying to put a the full fault on a 8 years old law, at a time where there was not a single event available to demonstrate the industry was wrong when claiming there was no way fracking would contaminate water (ignoring the risks of casing failure), and that therefore no heavy-handed regulation was required.
Dismissing that easily that the recent events with fracking mean Obama has no excuse for not changing the inadequate regulation Bush left him with almost 6 years ago proves they are not that much of a concern for you.
I’m highly critical of Obama administration on these issues. He and the EPA are failing in their oversight. I’m not reluctant or quiet about this on the site. Please go looking for it. It is a mystery to me on what basis you think this is “not that ouch of a concern for” me? Just like for nuclear (in maintaining high capacity factors and operational reliability), I believe stronger regulations would be a benefit to the industry. It would bring fewer risks to the environment (it’s not just cementing and casing failures that can lead to groundwater contamination), but it would also slow the industry down and bring some stability to business and production practices (and stabilize prices for producers). States have not done the best job with this, and often lack the resources (deliberately do) and incentives to do a better job.
OK, point taken then, probably the cited comment in which you looked like trying to put all the fault on Bush instead of Obama was misleading.
I wonder however how fracking can contaminate groundwater, without cementing and casing failures.
The failure of environmentalists is the fact they made completely unrealistic claims of water crossing hundreds of meters of rocks that have entrapped the gas for millennia, they made it much easier to fully ignore their claim, and not realize that casing failures would be instead a direct and very logic path for contamination. Pointing the finger in the wrong direction is just like not pointing the finger at all, but many people will be very satisfied to be able to say they were the first to point the finger, not considering that their claim still was wrong.
Leaks, flooding, or otherwise insufficient storage or management of flowback water in lined storage or evaporation pits. It’s a long standing problem in the industry (especially with respect to environmental costs), and there are no uniform rules governing best practices in the industry.
But none of that activity is actually “fracking”, which the industry communicators narrowly define as the act of pressurizing the well bore after the drilling is completed.
Example apologist site – http://www.thegwpf.org/matt-ridley-shatter-myths-fracking/
(Please recognize the irony in my comment. IMHO the whole operation, including all of the truck trips, waste water management, drilling mud disposal, casing installation, diesel generator operation, etc. is part of fracking a well.)
@EL : For the record, I see no reason to forget about what’s happening and not ask too many questions about the exploited homeless and indigent workers, which I already described as shocking above. I strongly wish they receive in full the salary and compensations they deserve for their work in decontaminating the areas around the Fukushima plant. The crackdown on yakuza involvement in construction work had some success, and this provides them an unwanted opportunity to regain some financial power. But don’t believe the crackdown had ever been really successful, there’s a reason why yakuza where almost instantly ready to get involved in this business with the required contact and organization for that.
I will however note that as far as health hazard and cancer risks are concerned, this work is less dangerous than working as a garbage collector, doing concrete finishing, asphalt work, working as furnace operator. Actually it would not be hugely surprising if just the fact of removing them from the streets and giving them a bed and decent meals at regular intervals had actually enhanced their health prospects.
I will also note that if asked what the number one problem with yakuza in Japan is, I’m sorry but I will not reference this. I will instead reference the yakuza involvement in forced prostitution that no crackdown has ever been able to significantly reduce, prostitution is a huge industry in Japan, and in particular (in addition to how they rule illegal immigration of eastern asian girls to work in brothels) the way they force girls into debt by running shoddy mortgage shops with huge interest rate, and then ask them to prostitute themselves to pay back the debt. And don’t expect there will ever be a real crackdown on that, because the general wisdom in Japan is that if a girl is stupid enough to get involved in that, she quite deserves what happened after. Just similar to the way how when a girl working in a hostess club is murdered, the investigation is frequently botched as nobody *really* cares about solving the case and finding the murderer. I could talk too about their involvement in drugs which of course they also control, but drugs are not in Japan the kind of huge business they will be elsewhere.
PS : I’m much more concerned by what happens with the power plant work. Please consider that here it’s not indigent that were recruited, and that the reporter did not find yakuza involvment, “just” illegal subcontracting and missing compensations. Tepco here is claiming they are putting solving this issues as a high priority, and I’m hoping they are actually progressing on it to make sure the quality of the work is good. I’m aware of other reports of poor practices for this work, the range of issues reported here is actually less significant that in earlier reports from Reuter and the Associated Press. I understand that to mean that Tepco did have some success in improving the working conditions.
Along these lines, (again, I wish there was a Fukushima specific thread where one could comment or question about Fukushima without derailing the actual topic of the thread.) in doing a search designed to investigate these steam emissions from reactor three, I find very little analysis that amounts to anything more than conjecture. Depending on the source, these emissions are described as “highly radioactive”, “mysterious”, “deadly”, and a number of other desciptions.
Searching for concrete explanation, one finds absolutely NOTHING but conjecture. So, does this mean that no one knows what is happening to reactor building #3, and that there is no way to find out? And, if thats the case, isn’t opinion about the severity and ramifications of this entire event based on little more than conjecture? Is it so? Do we really have no idea about what actually happened, and is happening, inside the buildings and containment vessels?? Wheres the corium?
The corium is most likely solidified at the bottom of the pressure vessels in all three units. There is some indication and conjecture that some of the corium in Unit
13, which was the unit that experienced the most severe conditions, has leaked through the pressure vessel to pool and solidify in the first meter or so of concrete containment that is underneath the pressure vessel.
Despite all words to the contrary from sites that have no flipping idea how materials behave, there is no equivalent of a green glowing corium Blob out to find and absorb unsuspecting humans.
Here is a presentation from Tepco with latest evaluation of core conditions.
See second to last slide.
A very important presentation (but that talks almost only about unit 3, so that one doesn’t see with it that the unit where containment was most damaged, therefore the one that released by far the largest amount of radioactive material has been unit 2 actually).
It’s a bit depressing, but interesting nonetheless to see that Tepco had brought in fire trucks early enough that melting would have been avoided, if they just had been able to successfully inject the water inside the core and bypasses had not sent it to other parts of the system.
So where does one find an apprently unsensationalized explanation for these steam emissions?
Well, from Gundersen…..
[…] the Internet has been flooded with conjecture claiming that Fukushima Daiichi Unit 3 is ready to explode. Fairewinds Energy Education has been inundated with questions about the very visible steam emanating from Fukushima Daiichi Unit 3. […] Hot water vapor has been released daily by each of the four Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plants since the accident. We believe that is one of the reasons TEPCO placed covers over Daiichi 4 and 1. […] radioactive rubble (fission products) was left in each unit following the triple meltdowns. […] The heat from this ongoing decay of radioactive rubble is constantly releasing moisture (steam) and radioactive products into the environment. […] [Unit 3] is still producing slightly less than 1 megawatt (one million watts) of decay heat. […] and it is creating radioactive steam, but it is not a new phenomenon […] hot radioactive releases […] have occurring [sic] for the entire 33 months following the triple meltdown. The difference now is that the only time we visibly notice these ongoing releases is on the cold days […]
Rod, you’re missing an opportunity. When the internet goes all aflutter about events at Fukushima, do you want Fairewinds to be the site to turn to for explanation?
There is already a terrific source of information about current events at Fukushima on the Internet. If you have questions about what is happening there (which is not much beyond a pretty complex, long term clean up operation) go to Fukushima Updates – http://www.hiroshimasyndrome.com/fukushima-accident-updates.html
There is no reason for me to duplicate this effort since I have no exceptional expertise or information sources.
Unlike Gundersen, I don’t get any satisfaction from continuing to spread FUD about non events. The core at Fukushima Daiichi unit 3 was last operated almost 3 years ago. The only “steam” that the system can be producing is roughly equivalent to the vapor one can see above a 110 F hot tub, or even a moderately well heated swimming pool on a cold day.
There’s also one from Tepco here :
In essence : The RPV while being cooled down is still relatively hot, and some rain water seeps inside and comes in contact with the top of the RPV or the parts that are heated by it. As a consequence the air is hot and humid at that point. When the weather becomes colder, the humidity in that air condenses into water vapor, and rises from the edge of the shield plug. There’s nothing special happening in the reactor at that moment, and the vapor is not specifically radioactive.
The point that Shahan completely misses, and it is a sad, sad illumination of his lack of mental processes, is that Reddit has a high percentage of evidence oriented participants. One can find experts in almost any topic on Reddit to offer real answers about questions, and the experts have earned their on-line reputations with consistent, fact based, evidence supported, explanations and answers.
In other words, much of Reddit is dominated by ***SCIENCE*** oriented people.
Shahan’s real complaint appears to be that folks who are grounded in reality favor nuclear electricity generation and recognize what a waste of time and energy wind and solar are.
Comments are closed.
Recent Comments from our Readers
The Clinton Nuclear Plant also in Illinois was shutdown essentially for almost 2 years before it was taken over by…
Good Podcast – Very informative One thing that was not discussed is how to deal with a particular fear that…
Renewables people are masters in marketing. Unreliable intermittent generators whose output is all over the place, and usually badly correlated…
Looking at their lineup, Westinghouse seems bound and determined to keep Gen IV in its “place” which is apparently the…
So they are developing a scaled down version of the AP1000, which is a scaled up version of the AP600,…