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    1. Well yes we have camapaigns about the risks of drownings, especially about small children falling in the water unattended.

      We also have lawas about safety fencing around pools here to avoid children entering a pool unattended.

      We also have lifeguards and lots of warnings about ‘swim between the flags’. We have reality TV programs about lifeguards pulling people out of the surf and in some cases resuscitating them, and even them dying.

      We also have a huge culture of having backyard pools, of visitng swimming facilites, and even of going into the surf. In fact the beach seen in the reality TV show is a world renowned tourist destination.

      So the safety culture and the promotion of it is not stopping the population from swimming.

      And no commercial imperitive would make the safety campaign better, nor drive more swimming by dropping the safety campaigns.

      Almost all the swimming faciities are in fact owned by some level of government.

      The safety messages have made swimming and other surf activities more popular not less.

      So I don’t see how all this supports the new version of the argument that people are stupid for opposing nuclear.

      Yes the industry are helping drive fear, especially in Fukushima. The obvious lies do not encourage people to believe it’s all safe when clearly it isn’t all safe. The plant that they were told could never go wrong just suffered multiple meltdowns and explosions for one thing.

      The health professionals working for the nuclear industry told people to smile to avoid getting cancer. And the people are not 2 years old and know that’s complete nonsense.

      So no the answer is the truth.

      You could have said well the likely dose you will receive is X therefore there will be 1 death per x thousand people and that would have been more reassuring. People could make an educated decision on their acceptance of the risk.

      When people got ‘it’s all fine’ and people get x-rays so don’t worry, and even more stupidly ‘radiation is everywhere’, which is true but actually meaningless to making a decision to risk their lives. (you may not understand why it’s meaningless, but it is for them)

      People spot lies now. And the industry is so busy lying they have forgotten what is and isn’t a lie. Too busy believing the delusion to see it from outside the cult.

      Step back and understand that those you label radiophobic are actually trying to get clarity. You are not providing it.

      This let’s pretend it’s all money so then we can ignore the risk by appealing to greed thing is just more nonsense.

      1. Richard W. – It’s a little early in the morning to be drinking, isn’t it?

        Perhaps when you sober up you might put a little thought into your comment and tell us what these “lies” are that you are incoherently rambling about. Thanks.

        1. Theres Brian, in all his hypocritical braying glory, doing EXACTLY what he consistently accuses me of doing.

          1. poa – Then you please answer this person’s incoherent ramblings. Otherwise, please shut up.

          2. Gee, Brian, that was an “answer” you offered him?

            You’re such a blustering buffoon, Brian. Do you ever really examine your own part in things?

        2. Indeed, “the answer is the truth”.

          The truth in this case is the actual hazard (of cancer) from low-level radiation such as medical scans, is so low that it’s indistinguishable from zero. Cancer occurs so commonly (30% to 50% of us will die from cancer), and so randomly, anyway that no reliable study of radiation exposures at such levels has been able to show any significant increase.

          The hazards of crossing the street, of breathing urban air, or of driving a motor vehicle, are far more significant.

          There is, to be sure, something called the “linear no-threshold” assumption (LNT for short). This hypothesizes that, since 4000 millisieverts (an extremely high dose) has a 50% chance of killing you, then 8 millisieverts (10 X-rays or 1 CT scan) has a 0.1% chance of killing you. This is not a prediction, this is an unproven “precautionary” assumption which has never been measured to actually occur at such levels in practice. It is comparable to an assumption that, if 20 aspirins have a 50% chance of killing you, then 1 aspirin has a 2.5% chance of doing you in, which also has not been found to be true in practice.

          For various unfortunate historical reasons, detailed elsewhere on Rod’s site, LNT assumptions are almost always assumed to be gospel predictions of actual hazard, by nuclear plant operator associations and medical professionals. They behave as if it is true. The “Image Gently” campaign discourages CT scans except in urgent need. Dentists put lead aprons on their patients for an X-ray, as you describe. The nuclear plant association INPO encourages highly-expensive enhancements to plant procedures in pursuit of ever-lower dose limits for staff, doses which are already well below those experienced by citizens from their natural surroundings an several areas of the world and who experience no measurable cancer increase.

          So, yes, the nuclear industry are, sort-of, lying to us, by behaving as if the dangers of radiation are a lot higher than they actually are.

      2. I second Brian’s demand that you identify the alleged “lies”. Until then, Richard, I suspect that you are either deluded by the lies that hold back the replacement of fossil fuel by nuclear, or are working for them or the upstart “solar renewable energy” lobby.
        The second worst danger threatening humanity requires total global unemployment in the fossil carbon energy sector. A mere slight reduction of 50% only cuts the acceleration of global warming in half.
        As yet, only full government sponsored nuclear has been a success. The world’s major national navies know this. So does China.
        If people in the USA and Europe continue to believe that energy from nuclear fission is uniquely dangerous, these democracies are doomed to third world status.

        1. Albert….hows this….??

          Why not simply politely ask Richard to list the “lies” that he insinuates the industry is engaged in? Do you and Brian really think accusing him of being drunk, and making demands of him is going to bear fruit? It cracks me up the way Brian spits on anyone that dares to challenge his ego driven alleged “expertise” about all things large and small. He’s not interested in any response Richard may offer to his attack. Standard fare for Brian is to demand the banishment of people that throw his “debating techniques” back at him. I doubt Richard will respond, because Brian has already turned it into a pissing match. Now thats real smart, eh?

          1. Oh please. It’s a totally crazy comment. I would have ignored it, but it was addressed as a reply to my only comment here (at the time), so I felt that I should say something.

            But what else was I to make of a totally incoherent barrage of babbling in a near stream-of-conscious format — full of p-ss and vinegar and vague accusations of “lies” and claims about “the truth” (about what remains unclear)? So I called it like I saw it. It reminded me of the last time a friend of mine tried to explain something after one too many drinks. I merely asked for some clarity.

            That would have been it, except that you — sensing a kindred spirit, I suspect, and never one to forgo the slightest opportunity to launch a personal attack — have decided to make this a big deal. Sadly, however, all that you have contributed to the comments here is childish whining, name calling, and consecution of your personal vendetta against me.

            Well, if that’s all that you are willing to contribute, then once again I ask you to please shut up.

            Let Richard W. speak for himself, if he ever decides to post another comment here, and I strongly suspect that he won’t. People like him usually prefer the “drive-by” style of discourse.

      3. Dr Yamashita never worked for the nuclear industry. His parent were survivors of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, designed as hibakusha which was not a positive word in Japan. He has been working several years at Chornobyl and could verify first hand the life of population there.

        If you read the full version of he said, it makes clear that what he meant really is that laughter would cure people of their radiation *phobia*, that the level of radiation for the public was too low to harm them, so that the one thing they had to be worried about was the scare of radiations not the radiations themselves.

        Yamashita was not the communicator that was needed in this crisis, his very typical of Japanese doctors dumbed down discourse, where he would not explain the reasoning behind what he was saying, and talk to people like they were little kids, had no chance to not be very misinterpreted.

        1. I think Yamashita did a good job. I think Yamashita was crucified primarily because he said that the situation was safe. if he had said the situation was not safe, he would still have had his position.

          But sooner or later Yamashita will be vindicated and his early, frank and accurate appraisal will help illuminate the size and absurdity of the Fukushima hysteria. It will underline the fact that the Japanese were told right from the start all they needed to know. The half decade of fear, distrust, dispair and the huge expense, all has been utterly misguided and avoidable. If the Japanese had listened to Yamashita instead of crucifying him and throwing his recommendations to the wind.

      4. @ richardw

        “People spot lies now.”

        Then they must be intimately familiar with the anti-nukes because when they lie, they speak their native language. Anti-nukes, as evidenced by crackpots like Helen Caldicott, or the serial liars like Mangano and Sherman, or even my local tin-foil hat crowd who, when they’re not fertilizing the editorials with their boot filling bovine odour, are busy listing documents or studies that don’t state what they claim.

        “Too busy believing the delusion to see it from outside the cult.”

        Wow, richardw, have you got your wires crossed.

    2. What I started focusing on was the whole, new emphasis on “being safe.” I was jolted into this quest when a former boss looked around the meeting table, lowered his bushy eyebrows and frowned, “Everybody – have a safe Christmas!”

      Whatever happened to “Merry Christmas” I wondered. And what was this unnamed ominous threat anyway?

      I still have no answer. Maybe it is world news, filled with horror and death, mainly overseas. The photos are more graphic now.

      Nuclear power is just one victim of the search for total safety. Living the life we’ve been granted fully and happily may be the largest loss.

  1. Re: “Now, instead of messages aiming at educating the public about the hazards of radon in their basement, the public gets advertising from EDF with the simple message that it is generating reliable, low-carbon electricity with nuclear power.”

    Grimston overintellectualizes a problem with a ridiculously simple solution. It’s more a case of BAD and mistargeted “education” than not aggressively enlightening the public about nuclear energy. I can tell you right off the bat that if you did a “man on the street” questionnaire at Times Square about whether you’d be for shutting down Indian Point which delivers reliable low-carbon electricity, 95% will reply that they agree with “Oh so learned caring” Cuomo and the media to shut it down because it’s too “dangerous” — period. Doesn’t help when my grandkids’ public schools teachers mention that even Maine’s building good cute friendly solar farms instead of DANGEROUS nuclear plants. Yes, NYC teachers come right out and say such. Nuke’s a poisonous villain — see what it’s done to Japan since “the war”? Doesn’t help squat when there’s ZERO media push-back by IP’s owners here and you see zillions of Oil & Gas and seemingly neutral “Vote4Energy” Ads. Hey, like a broken Elvis record the solution isn’t Saturn-V science; Hey — NEI and NEI and atomic unions and nuclear industry; Hire a top flight Madison Avenue Ad agency to buff nuclear’s image the same way they “educated” the public to forget thousands of workers (forget civilians!) killed during gas and oil operations and what they’re doing to the earth even when not having accidents.

    James Greenidge
    Queens NY

    1. Educators should Google “Foods high in Potassium” and then the radiation levels of these foods. The trendy Avocado is as bad as the Banana. Their dose from typical annual consumption is higher than dose levels received from TMI accident.

      1. @Rich

        I resent the characterization of avocados as “trendy.” They’ve been a favorite of mine since my early days in college. I was the slow adopter in my family. Dad planted our avocado trees before I started elementary school, but it took me a while to realize how tasty they were.

        1. There was no resentment nor dislike of the avocado implied. I too have enjoyed avocados throughout my life, since the early 50’s (and I was raised in the north). Have introduced them to many people through my life. The reason I used the term “trendy” is that now they are used to the point of overuse, in just about everything,almost as much as ketchup. Thus, many more people are eating many more of them. I, personally, relish the taste and flavor of the avocado. Similarly, I do not use cream/sugar in coffee or steak sauce on stake. so I can taste the coffee, not hide the flavor of the coffee/steak. If the flavor needs hidden, it is not worth eating.

          1. Oh my. Now we’re on avocados, but we can’t discuss how governmental/media warnings about NPP terrorist attacks serves the double purpose of advancing the interests of the MIC, as well as nurturing the public’s fear of radiation?

            (Yeah, yeah, I know…its your blog, Rod. But really.)

            1. @poa

              The topic you describe above is legitimate. I’m not interested in discussing 911 (except as it was used as another excuse to ratchet costly requirements on nuclear plant and restrict access to visitor information centers) or Bin Laden.

    2. Am I the only person who gets upset when fuels are described as “energy”?
      Coal, oil, & gas aren’t energy. We burn them to get energy, they’re media for the transportation of energy if you will, but they aren’t energy. What I get when I flip the light switch, now that’s energy.

      If the fuels industry were referred to as what it is, maybe people would find it easier to see that we have options as to where energy comes from. As it is, since everybody knows we need energy, the common man assumes we need what they are selling.

  2. I’ve watched Grimston about 5 times now and I strongly agree with his position. What’s at the heart of this is the need to appeal to self interest. You’ll never hear any opposition to nuclear medicine blasting an aberrant thyroid or breast cancer into oblivion yet its some of the most powerful radiation around and it could well be located right next door to your house. Its all about self interest.
    Grimston is advocating that we appeal to the benefits – low carbon emissions and massive fuel cost savings by switching from gasoline powered cars to electric. Here in Australia we need the strategic advantage of weaning ourselves off imported fossil fuels and on to home grown nuclear electricity as France did with coal in the 70’s and 80’s.
    Look at the new EDF advertisement – its excellent and appeals to self interest.
    The climate change link with self interest is harder. This may be because we have run the issue as such a downer and so its time to run with the Breakthrough Institute line which is optimistic and purposeful.
    I like Grimston because he slays dragons. He’s worth watching a few times to appreciate the balance of his position.
    At the CNA conference they also had the excellent Greg Lyle running a different line to Grimston but I see virtue in both positions.

    1. As well as focusing on the many benefits of nuclear, should we also be emphasizing the huge health damage done by fossil fuel products (lung cancer, heart attack, sudden heart attack due to especially heavy pollution, emphysema and others?

      An Italian scientist I met in Cuba recommended writing and talking about harms of fossil fuel that people can relate to because they have people in their families who are likely victims of fossil fuel pollution.

      The credible data on fossil fuel harm to health is mountainous, Should we bring this out strongly to cause the average citizen to begin the search for a replacement for fossil fuel to protect his family?

      1. William, Thank you for your thoughts – I agree and James Hansen has done great work in this regard

      2. “As well as focusing on the many benefits of nuclear, should we also be emphasizing the huge health damage done by fossil fuel products (lung cancer, heart attack, sudden heart attack due to especially heavy pollution, emphysema and others?”

        I don’t think we should. Negative or attack messages tend to be counter-productive. Listing the possible deaths from burning fuel (fresh firewood as well as fossil fuels) will only produce counter-messages such as “Four million people got cancer from Chernobyl”.

        Nuclear power is clean, compact and efficient but capital-intensive. I think the public can be convinced that the capital investment is worth while for a secure supply of grid power. But this should be done by repeating the positives rather than by hurling negatives at the alternatives.

    1. @Rich

      Like many energy system opinion pieces, the Guardian article is confused about the overwhelming importance of production compared to capacity.

      New coal plants aren’t as big of a problem as some make them out to be if they end up being rather lightly used. They also aren’t so bad for the long term if the furnaces are replaced with high temperature pebble bed modules as will be demonstrated by the end of 2017 in China.

      1. I have read elsewhere that both India & China are building the newer Advanced ultra Critical PB coal plants & assume that’s what these will be. Problem is they have the same co2 emissions as NG but EPA has killed coal in the USA.

        1. The only thing wrong with the EPA — and the Sierra Club — killing coal, is that they did it by encouraging methane, the stuff you get after you’ve removed a lot of poisons from what “naturally” came out of the gas wells, and the ethane, propane, and butane that would be drops of hurtling liquid at interstate pipeline pressures.

      2. Forgive me if this post is not in the best spot.

        Rod I saw recently an article that says the population that is the most exposed to radiation is smokers by a factor of 2 over the next highest, astronauts. Polonium 210 and Lead something. Apparently leaches out of the fertilizer.

        Just the cunning tone of the postulation seems suspicious to me. I dont need convincing smoking is bad for health and also that nuclear power is rated as being much more risky then it really is to a degree that is out of proportion to all reality.

        Is this propostion true? Is it meaningful. Does the radiation exposure from smoking explain even partially lung cancer? What about organicly grown tobbacco. My yougoslav neighbor grows their own tobbacco which tastes much nicer than the commercially grown stuff. I thought the scince was pretty well understood that the cancer risk was completely atributable to a particula isomer of tar.

        Is this idea a cunning bit of FUD to conflate smoking and nukes ? this would be my guess.

        I have no where near enough expertise to go beyond a wild guess on this topic. Be curious as to your views.

        Regards Mark

        1. @Mark Bolton

          Any radiation dose from smoking tobacco would vary substantially depending on the location where the tobacco is grown and what kind of fertilizer is used.

          That said, I was trained from my earliest days as a radiation worker that heavy smokers can impose doses on their lungs of several rem/year. (1 rem = 10 mSv) I now think the radioactive material component of cigarette smoke is NOT the reason it’s carcinogenic.

          As I look back on that training and continue studying history, I tend to believe you might be right. During the 1950-70s, the tobacco industry was waging a strong defensive action to increase uncertainty about the hazards of its product and to increase the perception that many other materials can cause cancer. As we have discussed many times on Atomic Insights, that period coincided with the effort to increase fears about the delayed effects of radiation, including genetic damage and cancer initiation.

          Spreading the knowledge that tobacco can contain traces of radioactive material and that heavy smoking can result in large doses to the lungs might have been useful to both marketing campaigns.

          For example, if the tobacco companies could have determined that it was the radioactive material and not any other component of the complex mixture of “stuff” in cigarette smoke they could have, perhaps, taken action to make sure that they sourced tobacco from places with low concentrations of NORM and given themselves another few decades of ever increasing sales figures.

          1. Thank you Rod for your kind, prompt and informative reply.

            So in essence the proposition that smokers get an extra load of radionuclotide material ingested is correct. However coorelation is not causality and there is motive enough for the proponents in the discussion to blameshift. Thank you for helping me on this question.

            In para 2 you got to the nub of my question. I recently heard a series of lectures. (Great Courses if I am not mistaken) that really zeroed in on the chemistry behind the correlation of smoking and cancer. They really seemed to have nailed the mechanism of the cyclic hydrocarbon that caused the genetic mutation in the cells that then went on to become malignant. It was almost like a very specific mechanism – think thalidomide.

            Now I hear radioisotopes are just being sprinkled into the mix of smoking / premature / death / nukes as some predudicated non sequituer. Smells like FUD. I never considered that this might be a historic blow back from tobacco companies trying to exculpate themselves way back when. That is very probable.Thank you for enlightening me. i.e. “Look Unicorn.”

            The bigger picture is that the Atom will power the planet but in our own nations the vandals have put paid to low cost non carbon energy. They were taught to destroy technology but not why it needed doing. It will all become clear when the REVOLUTION comes, which it never did. They are building nulclear power capability in Asia and educating thier children in STEM. They know more about Western Culture and it’s strengths than we do and embrace it as a second arrow in thier quiver.

            Kind Regards


            1. @Mark Bolton

              This EPA page provides information on radiation and tobacco. It helps to know that the EPA is a major proponent of the “no safe dose” assertion. It has run campaigns aimed at scaring people about radon in their homes.


              Like other parts of the “nanny state” it also does everything within its assigned authority to scare people away from smoking cigarettes.

  3. Rod…I gotta disagree with you on this one. (Whatta suprise, eh?)

    The ignorance concerning radiation is widespread within the population, and that ignorance leans towards fear of radiation rather than knowledgable and reasoned understanding. From being kids and getting x-rayed while the technician places lead shields on your privates and exits the room to seek the “safety” of a windowed cubicle, to the hyped and often mentioned specter of the terrible results of a nuclear war, we are taught from a young age that radiation is to be feared. And thats before the fudistas jump in with their fear provoking prattle. Add the media attention paid to TMI, Gernobyl, Fukushima, etc., and you have a public perception that is exactly polar to your assertion. Your optimism is infectious, but that infection isn’t spread by massive osmosis. You can’t erase reality with wishful thinking, Rod.

    1. @poa

      What makes you think that the x-rays and “oft mentioned specter of the terrible results of nuclear war” AREN’T part of the FUD campaign?

      1. Well….Rod, I’m pretty sure that a nuclear war wouldn’t go very far in improving the health of our populace. But hey, what do I know?

        And the x-rays? Perhaps the fudistas do contribute to an alarmist perception about the alleged “dangers” behind getting x-rayed.

        But that ain’t a fudista covering my nuts with lead when I’m little kid and they’re x-raying my lower back, its a technician. Operating under the managment of a doctor. And thats pretty heady stuff when you’re a kid. It leaves a pretty strong impression.

        And I’m not arguing about HOW a negative impression is implanted, I’m taking issue with your assertion that that negative impression isn’t widespread amongst the majority, because it is the impression held by the majority .

      2. Ladies and gentlemen,

        I am old enough to have heard eyewitness testimony from a German neighbors who endured the “oft mentioned specter of the terrible results of conventional war” later on I worked with those escaping April 8 75 Indo China conflict having thier throats slit and women raped and thrown over board by Thai pirates.

        There was a good reason for both superpowers to be disingenuous towards the citizenry in both camps. Nuclear war would mean MAD so lets grow the Military Industrial complex to benefit our beneficiaries (one hand stokes the other). We must show the epsilon minuses some blood and bread and circus to remind them it is all kinda real. Dead Vietnamese will do as sepulchral pornography.

        “If this is what a Claymore will do to them imagine what a nuke weapon will do to you !! Now behave and stop feeding the dog under the table.”

        It is an interesting exercise however to consider this military technology in context. All technological development in tactical weapons have been regarded as deal breakers throughout history.

        I dont ever like discussing atomic weapons. I firmly believe, like Rod does, the Atom is our Saviour.

        To conflate atomic energy with atomic war is to conflate swords and plowshares. Same material – different intended outcome.

        But given all of this! A Nuke War is survivable. Hamburg Dresden. I wont elaborate on the reducto ad absurdum because those that know History and where I would take this already understand, and those dont will never deign to sully thier snowflake purity with such unpleasant thoughts..

        Ask your Physics teacher . IF you have one.

        THX Rod

        1. The point isn’t whether or not a nuclear war is survivable. The point is whether or not the public believes it is survivable. I grew up during the whole cold war/nuclear holocaust threat. Daily, at one time or the other, our teacher would scream DROP!! and we turn our asses to the windows, and scurry under our desks, not knowing if it was a drill or not. At dinner time, our parents would discuss in somber low voices what we should do if the missiles flew. The TWA pilot down the road, the father of one of ny buddies, put in a bomb shelter, snd spread the word through us kids that he had a machine gun, and would shoot anyone that tried to geg in his bonb shelter. And during this whole business of scaring the crap out of an entire generation, there was always the premise that if you survived the blast, the radiation would still get you. It was presented as an insidious invisible poison, that the smallest crack or crevice in your hideout would allow in to subject you to a slow and painful death. Such fears do not die easily. Perhaps they’ll lessen with the demise of the baby boomers. But you guys have an uphill slog, I assure you, to separate the fear of weaponry radiation from the fear of NPP accident radiation. To most, its the same thing, having the same result.

          1. If a person cant disassociate nuclear weapons from nuclear power, then they are a moron. Simply put.

            I bet these same people can disassociate nuclear medicine from nuclear weapons.

          2. Bonds…the moron is the person that can’t see what the cold war did to influence how mass amounts of people percieve radiation. I suspect you are too young to understand. Either that, or you’re so stuck on your own perceptions that it doesn’t allow you to consider perceptions other than your own.

            1. @poa

              An email list to which I subscribe included the following quote that seems relevant in response to your comment.

              Harvard Professor of Philosophy, Hilary Putnam, said the following in 1972

              When I found out how the government had lied to me about the war in Vietnam, I realized that I had to reexamine everything I had ever learned.

              My effort here is to show those influenced by propaganda spreading fear of atomic bombs and their associated radiation that the government AND big business that had a lot to lose from competing with atomic bombs and radiation were lying to you about both.

              I am proud to have been a COLD Warrior on a ship that walked very softly and carried sticks so massive as to discourage anyone from picking a fight with us or the country we were protecting. I never had to fire a weapon at anything except a paper target. Deterrence can work and tends to enforce polite, respectful interactions among leaders.

              Nuclear weapon non-proliferation is an Establishment strategy that asserts that only selected powers should be able to deter war. I’m not convinced that is the most peaceful or lifesaving strategy available.

          3. Rod…I agree, particularly with the quote you provided, and your last paragraph. Not to get into it deeply, but an Iranian nuclear weapons capability might well go far in settling down the middle east and taking the bickering and finger pointing to a negotiations table. As far as the quote goes, I think it is particularly true today, because I think the level of governmental lying during the Viet Nam war pales when compared to the scale of the lies the have been used to turn the middle east into a bloody and ill concieved attempt at imperialism. It saddens me that the past lies, now obvious, are simply touted as “mistakes”, that the criminals that told us the lies held unaccountable, and still paraded before us as honorable “statesmen”. Really, they should be tried for treason and war crimes.

        2. Don’t think it was either the Government or any war that brainwashed the population with FUD about how dangerous Atomic Energy is. To claim that ignores the many films made by Hollywood and Japan, like Godzilla, and The China Syndrome. For more – http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/reaction/interact/hollywood.html

          They started early, at children. I still vividly remember a CBS “science education” show for children that was shown on Saturday mornings. One program they had provided an explanation [brainwashing/indoctrination] on how a nuclear reactor works. They took a full screen shot of the Bikini Atoll H-Bomb test, first showing the full explosion and then, through the magic of photography, shrunk it down to 10, 100, 1000, then 10,000 smaller pictures of the explosion. They then sucked the explosions into a tornado like swirl and placed them in the reactor vessel. The vessel started glowing red and then steam came from the steam generators which spun the turbine. They should have received an Oscar for “Greatest Fear Inducing Film for Children.” Each of my three boys had numerous questions as to how I could work so close to this bomb, not get hurt, not glow, etc. etc.

  4. Excellent talk. And thanks Rod for advancing it into a wider audience.

    I found myself agreeing with many of Mr. Grimston’s points. Nuclear power generation is about generating electricity. I believe many inside the nuclear reactor world have lost sight of that goal partly due to the regulatory AND the corporate messaging they are receiving on a regular basis.

    How is the public supposed to respond if nuclear professionals keep “preaching” safety, safety, safety but not the reliable output of the reactor? Industry conference after conference are devoted to increasing the safety of nuclear power against internal “threats” (i.e., the workers or equipment failure) and external “threats” (i.e., those people from the other side of the world who are out to destroy our way of life by running an airplane into a dome.) NEI is taking the correct first steps with their new campaign to focus on cost drivers that do not add value but there is a long way to go.

    The concern from life-long professional hand-wringers is the “what-if” scenario. What-if a terrorist strike hits a nuclear power plant. How are we going to respond? So let’s be proactive now and work to eliminate the problem no matter the cost to the customers.

    What if a melt-down occurs? How are we going to respond especially after TMI,
    Chernobyl, and now Fukushima? So let’s be proactive now and work to eliminate the problem.

    And so the answer has been to have conferences on nuclear safety from NEI to EPRI to ANS. Nuclear professionals are gathering together to spend time and money ensuring the safety of the public with the goal of preventing those events from happening, which just reinforces the perception with the public of the potential for danger. But hey, congratulate us for taking proactive action.

    There are historical drivers for those concerns and they are important to consider. However, these are the messages the average person on the street receives from people trained on how to design and run nuclear power plants. So what is the public supposed to conclude? And why do we still wonder about why the general public is not receptive to the “positive” message of nuclear safety, nuclear safety, nuclear safety?

    The industry has already managed the what-if several times over. TMI, Chernobyl, and Fukushima. The world still exists. Nuclear power plants still generate electricity. Yes, there are lessons to learn but the industry needs to stop the patting of one’s self on the back for being proactive, bowing to the professional hand-wringers or even the self-flagellation that occurs in the industry. Just address the issues and get back to boring job of selling nuclear generated electricity to customers.

    The advertising message should be the output of a nuclear reactor is benign electricity being transmitted to everyone’s homes 24/7/365. Is the NEI lobbying Congress to have money included in DOE’s education fund to educate about how nuclear generated electricity is carbon-free? Our kids are being subjected to DOE/NREL pushing wind and solar into our schools. A lobbying effort needs to happen to either stop the federally funded “education” program or have Congress include money to educate how nuclear generated electricity is also carbon-free.

    The industry needs to reopen the visitor centers that were closed after 9/11. Increase the access, stop hiding nuclear power behind three layers of concertina wire and concrete tank barriers. Who actually believes tank barriers are required at a nuclear power plant? If so then every industrial facility with toxic or explosive compounds should be regulated in the same fashion. The nuclear energy profession is its own worst enemy when it continually agrees to a ratcheting of security measures imposed by the NRC based on the theory that terrorists have unlimited resources and unlimited time to access the nuclear material. That is a logical fallacy and the industry needs to start pushing back.

    I always come back to how the AMA (American Medical Association) handles the issues of nuclear medicine. I have family members who are members of the medical profession. AMA and the various other medical associations such as those for nurses or therapists don’t go around training their people to believe that nuclear medicine is a good thing but we need to spend billions (yes billions with a b which is what nuclear power is doing) ensuring that nuclear medicine needs to be even more “safe”. They just go, do and then learn from events that occur.

    The NRC has fined medical organizations for improper handling of nuclear material. 10CFR35 covers medical uses of nuclear material. There is no public outcry clamoring to shut down a specific hospital, or banning for life from the medical industry the individual who made the mistake. No headlines in the regular newspapers, internet headlines, industrial magazine articles or even tweets about how the medical industry is harming the public by mishandling nuclear material as there are for every reportable event at a nuclear power plant. And when was the last time you saw concrete barriers around a hospital that has a nuclear medicine department?

    There are a number of other examples where the nuclear industry is losing the PR war due to its own passivity or a belief that “proactive” action will ensure a positive perception of nuclear power.

    Chernobyl – When is the area around Chernobyl going to be cleaned up and the exclusion zone lifted? If the industry does not push the Ukraine government to clean up the surrounding area, we will be subjected to more pictures of decaying buildings for years to come that are no danger to anyone. The pictures are just click-bait that provide visual “proof” to the public that nuclear reactors must be inherently dangerous and something to avoid.

    Fukushima –It is time for the exclusion zone to be eliminated and fence off the hot spots until there is time and resources to clean them. Every person in the nuclear power field who is actively supporting, or who believes at this point the exclusion zone is required is now part of the problem at Fukushima.

    Spent Fuel – There is a difference between “danger” and “risk”. I have heard too many nuclear professionals equate the two partly because that is what they have been trained to do to address the regulatory burden or based on their professional education. Unshielded spent fuel is a very dangerous situation but so is an unshielded medical source, overexposure to lead, mercury or any other toxic chemical. The danger and the risk to the public occurs only if they are exposed to unshielded spent fuel. Maintaining a layered shield around spent fuel ensures the public is not in danger and eliminates the risk of exposure.

    When a former NRC chairperson has made it her career to actively push deep storage of spent fuel and the industry’s response ranges from active support to not-my-problem-that-is-DOE’s problem, the message the public receives is mixed. Therefore, the general public then defaults to the conclusion that an ISFSI must be inherently dangerous to them right here, right now otherwise why would the nuclear industry agree to deep storage as the long-term, “permanent” solution. And then the next step in the thought process from some is that the industry is lying to them about local spent fuel storage sites otherwise why would the industry agree to deep storage. With that mixed message out there why are we surprised the general public has difficulties believing existing spent fuel storage is inherently safe?

    My final rant is in regards to nuclear professionals who they themselves believe that nuclear power is such an exceptional power generation source that the graded quality control system used to design every piece, part or component in a nuclear power plant should be eliminated. Instead their philosophy is that EVERY part used in a nuclear power plant should be considered important to safety. Again, another example of the nuclear profession shooting itself in the foot and losing the PR war since the general public is left to wonder why a small subset of nuclear professionals believe the graded system is not safe enough despite decades of run time on the numerous nuclear reactors around the globe.

    It is time for nuclear professionals to ensure their actions and decisions actively support the continuation of nuclear power for future generations, not just ensure that current power generation facilities are “safe”. The nuclear power generation industry needs to push itself towards achieving “boring” from a public perception standpoint.

    1. “Fukushima –It is time for the exclusion zone to be eliminated and fence off the hot spots until there is time and resources to clean them”

      Golly, theres “hot zones”????

      Gee, after hanging around here for a while I was under the impression you could dance barefoot and naked under the stars anywhere around that plant, and the worst you’d get is a stubbed toe

      1. @poa,

        I should have said IF there are any hotspots. I looking over some recent published data from the Fukushima prefecture and the readings are low. Not zero but very low.

        But to ensure no surprises, it would be preferred to do full monitoring to ensure any localized hot spots that might exist are isolated from accidental exposures.

        Also “hot” would need to be defined per accepted standards, not the zero-based standards that some people are trying to use based on LNT.

      2. “anywhere around that plant”

        Anywhere outside of the owner controlled area……which is exactly where the “public” are.

  5. I watched Malcolm Grimston and I was somewhat irritated by him. It’s a clever way to bait one’s audience telling them “not to be so silly“. Malcolm seems to have lost the context along the way: “what’s so special about nuclear power?” A: It sure isn’t the effort the industry goes to to tell us how safe it is.

    Airlines never had to deal with green activists trying to close them down. So yes: Airlines don’t forever bang on about how safe they are. They don’t need to.

    Have anyone noticed the absurd, pointless, effort seed companies put into winning the debate on how safe GMO foods are? Why should they even need to mention that? Every sane person knows GMOs are just as safe as non-GMO foods. Crazily paranoid these GMO company execs. Anyone might think someone had been sending them death threats! Malcolm needs to get a gig taking the piss out of them too!

    Aside: If the NRC decree there’s no safe dose of radiation, then the industry must agree. Otherwise they’ll be accused of being irresponsible.

    1. Q: How do you know a GMO seed company executive is lying? A: His lips are moving.

      At least that’s the perception many people have of the people working on GMO crops. Some of that is certainly due to the message and messenger. After all, we’re constantly reminded that “evil” corporations are just in it for the bottom line, and we’re all just a bunch of rubes and hayseeds who can’t be trusted to make an informed decision.

      1. TV shows regularly paint GMO selling companies as evil without a thought, nor with any justification. A public that does not think about its opinions nor does any research will unconsciously absorb that attitude.

        I quite enjoy the Marvel comic films and TV shows, but recently in “Agents of Shield” one character stated that a company had been pushing GMO crops for years and therefore destroying agriculture. No discussion, no explanation, just inherent assumption that we all know one leads to the other.

        Quite spoiled my enjoyment of that episode.

        1. The problem is that the “loonies” have center stage, and they take advantage of it. “Prepper” bloggers, anti-vaxers, and even religions are always looking for the next apocalypse, and they choose GMOs and the chemical industry this time around. I’m certain that labeling food “organic” translates to sales, so there’s a vested interest in promoting the idea that chemicals are bad.

          Ridiculous of course. If anything, not using chemicals will lead to famine on a mass scale. But that’s a 3rd or 2nd world problem, not here. We want to get the “best” products, produced by “artisan” farmers in “small batches,” and some of us are very happy to pay a premium for it. Those products have to be marketed, just like any other, but like the product itself, one does not mass market to a niche audience. The marketing is much more subtle, one-on-one in many cases. A lot of these companies are run like Amway, using friends and family as salespeople. Many sell in farmers’ markets and to church groups. They know what they’re doing and some of the folksy, small time bloggers are raking in cash from them.

  6. Couldn’t agree more (with Grimston). I’ve been saying the same things for awhile. As time goes on, I’m becoming more and more convinced that the current state of affairs is more the fault of the industry itself, than it is the fault of the public or the anti-nukes. The industry is its own worst enemy.

    The more we talk about safety, the less safe the public will think it is. The more efforts we make to address what are actually small risks and potential impacts, the more serious the public will think those issues are. (“My primary focus is to continue to not beat my wife. What? Why do you think of me as a wife-beater??”) The way they gauge how “serious” something (a problem) is is by how much it’s talked about and how much effort they see being made to “address” it. No, Virginia, they’re not going to determine how serious something is by pouring over the statistics and scientific literature. Nobody has the time for that.

    In nuclear debates, where I’ve tried to argue that nuclear’s risks, and radiation impacts, are overblown, I’ve had nuclear opponents blurt out their real thoughts, and say something like “yeah right, they’re taking such extreme measures for no reason”. If we act as though nuclear (and radiation) are extremely dangerous, the public will take us at our word.

    As to why the industry does/did this, one answer might be that it was a (tragic) attempt at appeasement, of the small, very anti-nuclear segment of the public. (This touches on Mark’s comment above.) It’s tragic because the effort has backfired.

    For starters, our efforts to make nuclear infinitely safe (in a bid to actually satisfy the hard-line anti-nukes??) has resulted in ruinously high costs. Did they stop saying nuclear was unsafe? Of course not! Now they keep saying nuclear is unsafe, but also get to say that it is expensive as well (more expensive than fossil, and getting to be even more expensive than renewables). Some people are focused on safety/environment, whereas others are focused on cost (it’s usually a debate between the two priorities). But who’d be for an energy source that is both dangerous AND expensive??

    Secondly, all those efforts have lead to the public actually thinking that nuclear is MORE dangerous, because they assume that the level of effort (to reduce risks) is proportional to the actual potential hazard. If the hazards weren’t that high, the industry would not be making such an effort. Another, simpler example is the setting of extremely low public dose limits, “in order to assuage public fears”. (As an example, Japan actually *lowered* allowable limits for radiation in food following the accident.) If you lower allowable radioactivity levels (by say, a factor of 10), you’ve now basically told the public that radiation is 10 times as dangerous. Reports of foodstocks blowing the limits will be that much more frequent, leading to *increased* public fears, and increasing their notion of how much impact the accident had. And of course, as a final example, declaring large areas of land “uninhabitable” (even though they are less unhealthy places to live than many of the world’s largest cities), sends a clear message that nuclear’s potential impacts are unique.

    Anyway, another potential reason why the industry acts as it does is that many entities within the industry stand to make money by “addressing” these (actually small) issues or potential radiation exposures. As Rod has often said, one man’s cost is another man’s wage (or profit). I’ve heard nuclear companies talk about how they can come up with a “solution” to an (overblown) problem, and how it will be a good “opportunity” for the company. (One particularly tragic example is selling the Japanese expensive equipment to separate out and store tritium, as opposed to just dumping it into the goddam Pacific.) Other examples are scientists angling to get research grants to solve these “problems”.

    I’ve come around to thinking that one of the problems is that many people in the industry thought that nuclear’s rise was inevitable. Fossil fuels would run out and renewables would never be a real, practical alternative. Thus, they thought that the “host” could accommodate almost any burden. That is, they could all layer on all these requirements (in the name of safety) and they could all make money by addressing those “concerns”. But nuclear would still happen….. Well, it turns out that neither of the two above assumptions (about fossil and renewables) turned out to be true, and nuclear will actually have to (economically) compete if it is to have a future. But the industry will find it hard to backtrack on the “commitments” they made (i.e., “Actually, I lied about how serious those problems/risks were, and we actually don’t need to take all those measures…..) Talk about a lack of public trust….

    1. Jim,

      You hit on points that I have been struggling with as well regarding the attitudes of many within the nuclear industry.

      Whether we like it or not, politics has changed the operating environment. China is/will soon be the world leader in nuclear power. We are losing or have lost our competitive edge in nuclear power. Many environmentalists will be happy to hear that but it ins’t a good thing. It means that that we will be buying nuclear reactors from the Chinese instead of the French when neither should have happened.

      The regulatory burden combined with political actions taken to support wind/solar have killed the competitive edge we had in nuclear power. Additionally, it also appears to be creating a situation where many think the current situation can not be changed. That somehow the current situation has always been and will always be this way.

      I used to be on-board with the message that a reactor certified by the NRC was the gold standard. I understand the power of that certification and the hard work many rank and file NRC people put into those certifications. However, now that China is becoming the test bed for new reactor designs because of our regulatory and political environment, I am rethinking my enthusiasm regarding that statement.

  7. The trouble with private industry is that its first objective is to make a profit. It needs to do so in the face of government restrictions, and public understanding or ignorance. I have no doubt whatsoever that the big energy corporations, including E.ON in Germany and the new EDF that used to be Électricité de France and was compelled by the EU to cease being wholly a government agency, know that nuclear is the only real threat to fossil carbon interests.

    So statements like “safety is our first priority” are utterly implausible to all but the most gullible of folk.
    There are plenty of people who take such a dim view of RE, “renewable energy” as a cure for disastrous man-made climate change, since it is manifestly not free, as to disbelieve the science that goes back to the 60 million year sequestration of carbon dioxide by photosynthesis, drowning, an tectonic burial. I refer to the Carboniferous period.

    1. “The trouble with private industry is that its first objective is to make a profit.”

      Be careful Albert, you may incur the wrath of the more RW of the commentors here, who will react with cries of “Socialist!!!” if you dare insinuate the castle of capitalism might have a few crumbling bricks.

  8. We’re in a culture of safety. Car companies stress the safety of almost all vehicles in their marketing, even over performance and sex appeal. Sports cars don’t even get much of a marketing budget these days (I wasn’t even aware there was a new Corvette until I saw on one the road, and I’m in the prime target demographic for one).

    Our employers have safety posters all over our offices. In my company vehicle, there are stickers on the dashboard and safety reminders by the door handles.

    In wintertime, the grocery stores have blaze orange signs next to the door to remind you that there might be water on the floor. That sign is there in case you might have forgotten that sometimes there’s snow and slush on the sidewalk and it gets tracked in (of course perhaps they can’t afford to hire someone to keep the entrance clean so it’s just cheaper and easier to put out a sign).

    Products are almost never packaged without some sort of tamper-proofing. Some of that is there to reduce shoplifting, but I’m sure market research that tells companies that consumers feel safer knowing it’s there.

    Even our president plays the safety card, saying that his number one job is to protect the citizens from evil terrorists.

    The media over-reports even trivial safety violations, especially when there’s big scary industrial scale production involved. Danger lurks around every corner, so be vigilant and alert at all times. If you see something, say something!

    I think the safety message is aimed at my generation, generation X. We’re suffering from fear fatigue. We’ve been told to be afraid of so much in our lives that some of us just want to curl up in a warm blanket and shut out the world. As children our clergy and educators told us we’d be lucky to see the year 2000 because of the nuclear missiles aimed at our city. Some people got terminally ill after contracting a sexually transmitted disease. Then, just when things start looking up, someone flies planes into buildings. If someone tells us that we’re safe, that’s the message many of us want.

    Luckily I was raised on a steady media diet of Watergate, Sex Pistols and Hawkeye Pearce, so I take a jaundiced view of just about anything anyone in a position of authority has to say.

    1. @Eric_G

      Car companies stress the safety of almost all vehicles in their marketing, even over performance and sex appeal. Sports cars don’t even get much of a marketing budget these days (I wasn’t even aware there was a new Corvette until I saw on one the road, and I’m in the prime target demographic for one).

      I have to assume that you rarely watch live sports on television or that you ignore all of the commercials. I’ll grant that GM doesn’t spend much on ads for the Corvette, but if you watch a few of their truck ads, you will realize they aren’t touting safety as the number 1 priority.

      Our employers have safety posters all over our offices. In my company vehicle, there are stickers on the dashboard and safety reminders by the door handles.

      Do you work in the nuclear industry or with a supplier to the nuclear industry? Even if not, internal safety reminders to employees are not the same as putting a safety message at the top of an advertisement. Especially with the US system of employer involvement in health insurance for employees, there are many excellent reasons to emphasize safety and safe work habits to a workforce. As a manager, I was very conscious of safety. I even served as the ship’s safety officer as a collateral duty when I was Engineer Officer.

      My article has been misunderstood by some. I am not trying to say that safety isn’t important. It is not, however, a leading differentiator between products or companies from a marketing perspective. The public expects — and has a right to expect — that companies don’t sell unsafe products.

      One more thing – I cringe whenever the President, who taught constitutional law before becoming a politician, makes the statement that the President’s number 1 job is to protect the safety of the American public, especially that of individual citizens. Here is the oath our president takes during his inauguration.

      I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

      The Constitution wasn’t written to make Americans safe. It was written to help form a more perfect union and to make us a prosperous, independent country with citizens who were endowed with certain inalienable rights, including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

      1. Good point about truck advertising. I generally don’t watch sports unless getting paid to do it. I work for Comcast, a very large cable company, as a headend technician. Headend techs are usually are on site for important events such as the Super Bowl (in major distribution centers there are techs on site 24/7/265, but out in the sticks where I work that’s not the case). Usually that’s about the only sports I see. OT: Now that Comcast has more Internet customers than television customers, when will we start referring to ourselves as an ISP first? At any rate, in a former position I was a manager for the local advertising department. At time (1990s), the agency ads for cars and local dealers were all price and paint. Safety was never mentioned. The local Volvo dealer never ran Volvo ads, because the safety crowd was going to by Volvo, and that was good enough.

        I reread your post, this time ignoring the comments (which got me a little off track). I think you and I are on the same page. I agree that telling someone an object is safe when the overwhelming “action” message is that it isn’t will usually cause the public to have a negative reaction to anyone in a position of authority saying otherwise. I also think that countering some of the failures with “we already thought of that, so we built in X to prevent it” is too easily countered by the people against technology, no matter what it might be.

        Take cell phone radiation and cancer. Anyone who knows anything about RF knows that the non-ionizing radiation of radio waves is nothing like the ionizing radiation of actinide decay, nor is transmitter in a cell phone powerful enough to cause RF burns. Yet because there is a very vocal minority of people who are fundamentally against cell phones, we continue to hear that they are inherently unsafe. Governments expend time and money on studies that prove there’s no link, but because that’s not good enough the people against cell phone technology find any data point that supports their opinion and use it to introduce doubt in the research. Interestingly enough, the same thing happens with the so-called climate deniers, but in that case they’re labeled as crackpots…

        As a ham radio operator, I’ve engaged some of these people. One of my favorite activities when camping is to throw a wire in a tree, set up a radio on a picnic table and see how many contacts I can make from the campsite. I’ve had people in near-hysterics approach me asking me to suspend activity because of the “danger” to their children. Not from the possibility of them tripping over a counterpoise or antenna radial, but because of exposure to RF from my radio. After explaining the power output, frequency used, the inverse square law, and the difference between ionizing and non-ionizing radiation, they’ll leave in a huff. I’m convinced that they really aren’t interested in cancer or radiation or anything, just that they’re against technology. They can’t see the long chain of technological advancement that lets them sit at a picnic table in a national park on a weekend (or even that they can have a weekend).

        The overarching message that comes from the luddites renewable crowd is very seductive. Go back to a so-called simpler time, but be selective in what tech we keep. The problem is that we can’t do that. You can’t have high tech medicines when the research scientist has to spend 20 hours a week splitting wood. Your smartphone only works because there’s a very large, robust, and power hungry infrastructure supporting it. I can talk around the world with my ham radio using minimal power, but it isn’t easy (and much like renewable energy, it is highly dependent on the whims of Mother Nature).

        Anyway, I’ve gone off topic. My point is that the safety message is presented in a world of inherent distrust of technology and big business, often fueled by a media that is desperate for viewers and happy to twist the message to suit that end. Add to that the constant drumbeat of safety uber alles and it’s fairly easy to ignore the message.

        1. @Eric_G

          Yet because there is a very vocal minority of people who are fundamentally against cell phones, we continue to hear that they are inherently unsafe.

          I haven’t done any data gathering, so it’s possible I’m not fully correct, but my impression is that we hear less and less about the hazards of cell phone radiation than we did when AT&T and Verizon were only bit players in the upstart mobile phone phenomenon.

          Once the old landline monopoly phone companies developed growing mobile phone businesses, they stopped pushing fear as a means of defending their lucrative, cash cow business.

          1. The “electrosmog” nuts have scored some very definite victories, most notably in Italy, where the RF exposure limits are far lower than elsewhere. This has led, among other things, to an unsuccessful lawsuit against Vatican Radio (which is, after all, extraterritorial), & to the continued non-use of a US Navy comsat ground station. But it doesn’t seem to stop the Italians from using their mobile phones… queer, that!

  9. Hi all!

    When one anoints a sacred cow and gives it free range in the workplace, one must be sure to wear proper PPE to ensure good traction on slippery surfaces. Safety culture can become obnoxious and counterproductive.

    It is one thing to recognize in a general sense that things could always become safer or better. It is quite another for your safety culture to broadcast this to the public in a manner that takes it out of daily context, leads people to wonder, how much mortal terror might be hidden within this focus on safety?

    The answer is not a bit. But people don’t know that. Day to day and moment-to-moment operation of nuclear power plants tends to be proprietary and seldom discussed. It is hardly ever shown but for a few moments — and in popular documentary they are the terrifying moments. You know, the moments where everything is beeping and flashing in a reenactment and an experienced operator might say “That’s our panel all right, but those lights are all wrong.” This is a real problem.

    I could find dozens of hours on Youtube showing people operating bulldozers, wiring buildings, making pastry. I could also find lots of conceptual introductions to nuclear energy that are full of diagrams and illustrative animation, with a few aerial shots of plants operating. The magic is in there somewhere, that’s for sure. But it’s so sterile. You folks are simply not represented in popular culture, as real people. No one can see what you actually do.

    You have permitted yourselves to be sealed off, especially after 9/11. I was but one parent who is trying to steer his daughter into engineering and wanted to show her Crystal River in all its (admittedly shut down) glory. Simply not possible. Here is another person whose interest in seeing this amazing technology up close was rebuked. Is it even possible to calculate the cost of inaccessibility to the public? Could it be ultimately revealed as a fatal mistake for humankind more damaging than any Bin Laden?

    And if so, who will have the courage to stand up and suggest this in a convincing way?

    Meanwhile, the NRC website with its piano roll of notice/violations and technical minutiae has become a love-fest for the Gundersens of the world to browse and distill into fear-lectures.

    And in Atomic Insights and the roving Carnival there are topics that are timely, but they tend to be general and politically reactionary. You must ask yourself — how much of what concerns you today has been imposed from without? And *if* nuclear energy was not such a political struggle, what would you be discussing, today?

    Perhaps a remark made by a cub scout during a tour as he or she looked down at the spent fuel pool, some idea that would change the world.

    And some time in the future that same scout would be leading other scouts and pause there to say, “30 years ago I stood right here, and this pool was full of spent fuel. And I had an idea…”

    Unless nuclear power plants are accessible to children… until they are shown all the areas which you, nuclear adults, consider safe to walk, right into the control room, with only the most reasonable of safeguards… until you all devote your entire professional and personal effort into making this a not just reality, but a daily or weekly occurrence… you may as well consign the entire nuclear power concept to doom and failure. Stick a fork in it, it’s done.

    Think of that as a wake-up call at the eleventh hour.

    At times we must resist attempts to repeat these never-safe-enough mantras, especially when they are coached to us by others who have agendas of their own or merely seek confirmation of the negative. Failure to interrupt the discussion to question a tainted precept just feeds the monster. Here is a couple of small examples of what I feel has been missing from the general dialogue, from Kirk Sorenson, someone I feel really ‘gets’ the big picture.

    Here when he is questioned specifically about proliferation risk from theft of fissile from conventional nuclear plants, he (courageously!) states flatly, “I guess I would have to challenge whether it’s real or not.”

    Just like that. Even if a risk is ‘real’, it may not be actionable.

    A few minutes later Sorensen describes a phenomenon where experts permit themselves to be diverted into a cascade of successively low-probability events, until the discussion finally alights upon the one that most titillates the interviewer (and a public fascinated by spectacular disaster).

    If only said expert could be bold enough to steer the conversation.

    Consider this post-Fukushima voice in the wilderness from the University of Waterloo which begs us to refrain from harsh judgment of nuclear energy, assures us that “…there is no meltdown button that would cause the entire plant to spontaneously combust…” This idea of a “Meltdown Button” intrigued me. Why go so far as to invent a hypothetical one, even to assure us it does not exist? Perhaps it is to counter the popular James Bond scenario where the whole mountain collapses after the push of a single button, a daring escape. But then again the Meltdown Button was real enough to this aspiring writer.

    Until children once again tour our nuclear power plants, how could we ever convince their parents there is no such thing as a ‘Meltdown Button’?

    Admittedly a layman, it is my humble intention to use stern words like fine-grit sandpaper to help nuclear energy polish its public image to the shine it deserves. But before we start polishing there is some crud that needs to be knocked off first.

  10. Turns out that WINS-Newsradio here in NYC DID do a “man-on-the-street” survey during the last Indian Point “cracked bolts” alarm here several months ago (WCBS did similar over a year ago and on TMI and Chernobyl “anniversaries”) and WINS tallied up the expected results when you have Indian Point’s owners offering zit zero media counter-FUD messages. Pity IP plant workers! (You have to almost wonder whether IP’s owners have deep silent misgivings for having a bothersome nuke on their hands). It makes me somber that all the GREAT anti-FUD comments on this topic are caged and trapped online and isn’t getting OUT to the mass public where they’d do the most good — which is supposedly a big chunk of NEI and ANS’s mission beyond nuclear Tupperware parties, supposedly. Again, I just can’t tar and feather the antis if they’re just filling a void of crickets.

    James Greenidge
    Queens NY

  11. There’s a factor which, I think, Mr Grimston doesn’t mention, but deserves to be held in mind anyway.

    Radioactivity is astonishingly easy to detect, measure, & trace back to its source, even in fantastically small quantities. Many industries which release toxic or otherwise harmful substances into the environment get, effectively, a free pass, because it’s hard to verify the presence of their emissions or assign them to anybody as a responsibility.* With nuclear energy, every release can be identified & quantified — and so, “of course”, it should be. The regulators have an easy job, because there are very simple sets of easily-measured numbers they can look at ; and so the industry focusses on those numbers.

    Now, to some extent I’m prepared to call this a good thing. Hypervigilance about radioactive releases means that failing equipment at a nuclear plant is almost certain to be tracked down & dealt with before it can become a major problem, and not in a casual or slipshod way, either. Mind, when I say “major problem”, I mean one which affects the operation of the plant, requiring power derating or shutdown. To this feature can be attributed, I think, at least in part, the very high availability factors now routine among nuclear generators (a far cry from Rancho Seco). But if we treat the radiation itself as the point, rather than the information it conveys to us about the interior of the plant, more & more of our effort will be expended in unproductive ways.

    All in all, I think we have to acknowledge that the “big picture” for nuclear energy is the thing we have to talk about, & that isn’t radiation, or safety, but abundance.

    *Extreme example : a friend of mine lives on a rail line which might be used to bring spent fuel to Yucca Mountain. She says she’d far rather have a nuclear flask train parked on the siding across the street from her house than what’s usually there, a tank car or two full of unodorized LPG for the insulation factory down the way. If, in some unimaginable way, the flask were to break open, she could easily detect the hazard, & simply walk away until the inverse-square law made her safe ; but if the LPG tanker leaked, she might not know it until the explosion hit, when it would be far too late.

  12. I too have had the impression for many years that nuclear engineers have contributed a bit to public fear of anything nuclear. Let’s just consider the following two examples:

    1) Nuclear Power Plant: The public, who know nothing about nuclear power, asks the simple question about the proposed new plant, “Is it safe?” The nuclear professional will say,”The core melt frequency probability of the new Gen III Inherently Safe reactors exhibit an order of magnitude reduction, from 1E-05 to 1E-06 per reactor year in operation. No active ECCS system intervention is required in the event of a total loss of coolant to prevent fuel meltdown, natural convection cooling should prevent any core damage, and any radiation release to the public arising from the most severe postulated accident will be below regulatory permissible levels.” Now, this sounds really good to a nuclear safety analyst, but the public hears, “No, its NOT safe!”

    2) New Bridge: The public, who know nothing about civil engineering and structures, asks the simple question, “Is it safe?” The civil engineer, who knows to what safety margin the structure is built (including provision for vibrational resonances), gives the answer,”Yes.” The public is then satisfied that they can safely cross the bridge.

    1. I disagree with this. You don’t have to look far (even in this comment thread) to find people quite upset, saying we (the nuclear industry) “lied when we promised nuclear power was perfectly safe.”

      It doesn’t matter to them that I have NEVER said anything is “perfectly safe.” In the minds of these outraged people, I’m a liar. Liar liar liar, can’t be trusted… It gets tedious. The only way out is to say, “well its pretty damn safe…”

      1. Actually, gmax137, that’s all I was saying. My point was that too much “techno-babble” can actually cause people to fear what they can’t understand…

    2. Kevin,
      Similar was said in the seventies.

      Now the public can check and finds that >0.5% of NPP’s reactors ended their life creating
      huge exclusion zones, increased cancer chances, etc.
      All to be paid by the public.

      1. The NPPs didn’t create “huge exclusion zones”. Fear-driven politics did. People and wildlife can move back in right now — heck, never even had to take the risk of moving to begin with. I’d love to see the Russian and Japanese governments open the areas around Fukushima and Chernobyl to free homesteading and see just how many really are scared silly of an ant’s tickle of of irradiation. If the airline industry can assert with a straight face that flying is safe and all accept it, why can’t NPPs make the same claim with far more substantiality? What is this public and media beef with nuclear that’s totally contemptuous of its exceptional industrial and safety and environmental impact and near zit public casualty record over 50 years worldwide yet eats up all the Nuke Doomsday Darth Vader nightmares? Funny. No one ever came up to me on a busy NYC corner with trucks and cars belching fumes in my face and asking me what my daily cancer risks are — and maybe they should so to get us off fossils and into NPP-energized electric vehicles!

        James Greenidge
        Queens NY

        1. James,
          … a busy NYC corner with trucks and cars belching fumes in my face and asking me what my daily cancer risks are…
          Funny. It’s an hot issue here.
          EU studies found that people living in busy city centers and along such highways, pay with ~2 years shorter life. So advanced cities in NL now implement restrictions for cars to enter city centers, following German cities.

          I want priority for cyclists. Also at traffic lights, so I don’t have to inhale the toxic of cars while waiting (seeing those lazy people passing) until the light becomes green. When the cyclist push a knob in Copenhagen, the traffic light becomes immediately red for cars and green for the cyclist. So there the cyclist is faster than a car in streets with lots of traffic lights.
          I want that everywhere, as it also stimulate drivers to cycle & walk or use public transport when moving through the city.

        2. If the airline industry can assert … that flying is safe and all accept it, why can’t NPPs make the same claim …?
          Usually they don’t assert that flying is safe, but that their transport is safer than cars.
          Not all accept it, despite the substantial benefits. So some people don’t fly.

          Such claim from nuclear is not accepted by the public as:
          – nuclear reactor statistics are >10 times(?) worse than that of airliners. Not sure how public will react if 0.5% of the airliners end their life falling out of the sky.

          – Damage due to an airliner or flight, is fully compensated.
          Also due to nuclear liability restriction laws, big chance that I will not be compensated if a nearby NPP disaster causes that many have to leave their house and the houses become worthless, etc…
          It implies that a new nearby NPP creates a personal damage of ~$5000,=. Being ~0.5% of the value of my house. Worth to take some action.
          (Insurance exclude all damage due to nuclear accidents, apparently those estimate that the risk is to high).

          Why should a citizen tolerate that loss, while the NPP doesn’t bring any benefit as there are cheaper and less CO2 emitting methods to generate electricity?

          1. @ Bas

            Care to compare total civilian deaths from commercial nuclear power (all of about 50 in almost 60 years and all at Chernobyl) to say, hydro electric dam failure deaths during the same period? Look at the pollution from solar panel manufacturing and wind turbine blade manufacturing; per MWHr of electricity produced, nuclear power is the cleanest source of energy production. Regardless of how noble it makes them feel, those who oppose nuclear power are no friend of the environment.

      2. Okay, then you tell me where the boundary is between my two examples?
        The first example (nuclear safety analyst) will never get beyond about a tenth of my example before the average John Q. Public’s eyes start glazing over. Hell, most American citizens never took high school algebra (or if they did, hated it, and considered people who did well in it (like me) to be labeled as geeks or nerds). So, if your audience doesn’t even understand algebra, how can you possibly explain a “reactivity coefficient” to them? (or the physics behind why power goes up with some designs when you introduce voids in the coolant (positive coefficient), and it goes down with other designs (negative coefficient)). I guess its a matter of “knowing your audience,” and customizing your response to the level of the audience. But, I was just giving short example of the problem with public perception, etc. On your second point, want to talk about how windmills have utterly DESTROYED the scenic beauty of places like the Columbia Gorge (almost 200 miles of interstate that follows the Columbia River between Oregon and Washington) with hundreds of stupid pinwheels that you are NEVER out of sight with? Now, that kind of environmental impact might be justified if it contributed half the electricity on the power grid, but it is still less than 3%. After federal subsidies end, the maintenance costs are too prohibitive, and they just let the wind farms go idle – but they’re still there! “All to be paid by the public!” By the way, 0.5% is a pretty small fraction.

        1. I get pissed off every time I drive from the Tri-Cities to Portland and see the beautiful scenery that was formed millions of years ago polluted with hundreds of ugly (usually not even moving) wind mills. I literally complain to my poor wife the entire trip…….there and back. Last Sept there were 4…..4!!!! out of the hundreds that were actually moving. Its truly sickening.

  13. Bonds 25
    May 11, 2016 at 9:23 AM
    Man, you really are clueless…..like scary clueless.

    It’s even far worst than that. Bas is legion.

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