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38 Comments

  1. Very good and rational non-PC article! Only wish the MSM and news sites could’ve carried it!

    James Greenidge
    Queens NY

  2. We have to remember 2 things that will help us explain collectively why we fail to fight ignorance on nuclear.

    1) Nuclear is the only form of energy that meets Einstein’s E=MC2

    2) Dr Albert A Bartlett – the greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function‏

    Now we know. Who’s in for an uphill battle ?

    1. Daniel wrote:
      Nuclear is the only form of energy that meets Einstein’s E=MC²

      No, all forms of energy meet this. In both chemical and nuclear reactions, we have stuff with mass starting out, and stuff with mass when we are done. There is a decrease in mass due to the release of energy. However, with chemical reactions, the energy released is so small that the decrease in mass cannot be measured. With nuclear, the energy released is so large that we can measure the decrease in mass.

      1. This nuclear energy connection to Einstein’s E=MC2 is from William Tucker’s book ‘Terrestrial Energy’.

  3. I started working in commercial nuclear in 1980 at an older PWR. At the time two essentialy worthless systems were being installed as a result of the TMI event.
    The first was the installation of an Automatic Auxillary feed system, I found this odd since it was having such a system disabled which initiated the accident. Because there was no auto aux feed system one if the first actions of the operators after verifying that the reactor was shutdown was to manually feed the steam generators. After installation of the system the operators went to great pains to keep the system from automatically initiating because it would cause sever overcooling.
    The second systen was a Post Accident Sampling System. While this system caused no particular problems these systems were eventually determined to be essentially worthless and are being abandoned.
    Approximatly twenty years ago an operator under instruction,but not closely monitored, was performinf a reactor startup. He was givin an Estimated Critical Position by reactor engineering. Due to inadequate training and monitoring during the startup he proceeded to pull the control rods to the ECP without periodically stopping, per procedure, to verify conditions. The reactor eventually tripped on hifh startup rate. Had a 1/m plot been required during startup this event would probably been avoided. All plants were later mandated to have ECPs provided for reactor startups, which while prudent did not actually address the issue of an operator assuminf that he could pull to the critical position without stopping.
    I think these are examples of the NRC issuing regulations without actually addressing the problem and possibly making things worse.

    1. BWRs also got a worthless modification as a result of TMI.
      Auto Depressurization System Logic was required to be modified to include a timer which actuates ADS upon a sustained low RPV Level without a High Drywell Pressure Signal present.

      What’s useless about it?
      Every Emergency Operating Procedure which has low reactor water level – if correctly executed – INHIBITS / DEFEATS the ADS Logic. There is no satisfactory scenario in a BWR which allows an automatic actuation of ADS Logic.

      It’s an example of NUREG 0737 requiring a modification which will never be used.

      I suppose that was a bean count.

  4. I do not want to die of radiation poisoning Dumas (a town in Texas). There is a certain irony in really smart people saying dumb things. The expected radiological consequences of an unmitigated accident with less than 10% fuel damage is severe radiation poisoning.

    The restrictions on killing workers and neighbors applies to all forms of producing power. If you want to work in the business those are the rules. These rules are not unique to the nuclear industry,

    1. @Kit – expected by whom? What is the mechanism that would cause the radiation release and how would it get to the individuals who are supposedly exposed?

      1. @ Rod

        Expected by me but more importantly the people who do the calculations. I suggest you spend some time reading Chapter 15 of some FSARs if you want to work in the nuclear industry. The short version is that a large break LOCA releases a large amount of the relatively small concentration of fission products to the containment in just a few seconds.

        Fuel rods are normally at high internal pressure which is balanced by the external pressure of reactor coolant. As the pressure decreases to containment pressurize, high power rods under goes plastic deformation. A certain number of rods fail releasing the fission products in the gap between the fuel pellet and cladding.

        A whole bunch of things happen to reflood the core and long term cooing but some of the horses are out of the barn. A certain amount of I-131 and noble fission product gas will escape the containment. One main concern is control room habitability. Redundant and single failure proof control room ventilation isolates and recircs and cool air through HEPA filters.

        When I worked in the control room I like the concept of limiting by exposure after the accident to only 25 Rem.

        Rod and some of his blogger buddies seem to think we are scardy cats. So Rod please tell me what you think the limit should be? The commies thought 10,000 Rem was okay.

    2. “The expected radiological consequences of an unmitigated accident with less than 10% fuel damage is severe radiation poisoning.”

      Kit – so as to further my education, would you be so kind as to provide the source from which you got this figure from?

  5. The problem with nuclear power is not engineering or finance. The engineers have solved the problems, and the financiers will assemble the money.

    The problem is the public. The public won’t let the engineers or financiers work their magic and give the public what the public wants. Not because the public doesn’t want clean, cheap, reliable power, but because the public is irrational. To quote Men In Black: “A person can be smart, but the people are dumb panicky animals, and you know it.”

    To borrow from another subject: People don’t choose religions for rational reasons, and hence you can’t use rationality to change their mind. Somehow, we have to find an _ir_rational way to change the public’s mind. That’s going to be a lot harder than achieving a nuclear chain reaction.

    1. Nice movie reference but the biggest fans of nuclear power are people who live in small towns near nuke plants. A typical public hearing for a new plant will have huge public support. For the most part the people who speak against new plants are professional intervenors from DC. Round up the usual suspects if you like movie references.

  6. David for every poorly thought out solution by the NRC I will show you the a group of people who had no business operating a nuclear plant.

    Today we call it the no clown rule.

    I got to my first commercial startup in 1980 this plant was a beauty with great control room human factors and a site specific simulator. The well trained staff was what I expected based on my navy experience. The next plant was even better.

    My third, forth, fifth, & sixth sites were operated by management who had no business in the nuclear business. These people could not keep the power plant on line and were arrogant about thinking the were good and the NRC was picking on them when they would not be allowed to operate.

    When I got to Rancho Seco, the plant had been shut down for six months. My safety system had 128 open work requests. I called a friend at the good plant (top 10%) to benchmark maintenance. He told me they had three work request that could not be worked until they shut down. For the entire plant!

    All the problems that got us on the watch list were discoverable during preoperative testing. We put an lot of money and effort in bring Rancho Seco and told the public we had changed. We had changed and I can cite many examples. However, we still had clowns. Two serious events just before a referendum on the plant were caused by clowns.

    Just for the record, I think steam driven (Terry Turbine) pumps like EFW on PWRs and RCIC on BWRs are great equipment for AOO like LOOP.

    The purpose of nuclear power is to make affordable and reliable power and we do a very good job at it. Clowns are the reason that some nuke plants were expensive not the NRC.

  7. Rod and Cal – thanks for this post. I think this one quote needs to be blazoned everywhere:

    Taking risk means that there is a chance of failure. Conversely, not taking risk means denying the opportunity of success .

    Cal – I’ve seen much higher numbers of annual deaths (high Lost Life Expectancy, LLE) in the US reported for the consequences of burning coal (a lot of asthma, and cancer from polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons). And the world figures for LLE from burning coal and wood are an order of magnitude higher again. As a non-US citizen, I think you’d help us understand your meaning better if you’d qualify your numbers as (say) “in the USA”.

    I’ve just started listening to your conversation with Rod on the Atomic Show #174 – Cal Abel – Atomic Inventor and PhD Candidate podcast. I had seen the idea of the “salt vault” for storing nuclear heat and thought it an excellent idea. (I also agree very strongly that we should be thinking of reactors as industrial heat sources, rather than just boilers for making moderate temperature steam.) I hadn’t realized there would also be regulatory implications that could make it easier to site and construct nuclear reactors. Jim Holm has a excellent ideas over at coal2nuclear. He’s expanded his ideas considerably since I’ve last checked, too.

    Everybody should go listen to the podcast. How’s the thesis going?

    1. Thank you, for listening to the podcast. The thesis is going, it keeps on taking unexpected detours of thought… which are all very interesting.

      The numbers were from the National Research Council 2009 report on cost externalities. I misread the number that they used for the mean value of a life saved. The actual number is 32,000 premature deaths each year from coal (in the US). This is based on $64 Billion in total damages and 2 million for each life.

      There is also a series of comments on the link you provided where I answered some questions which provides more detail on the idea.

  8. In the Eighties when the airline industry stated to feel the impacts of deregulation. Although deregulation per se was a relaxation of the rules regarding fares, routes and new entries into the market, the need to become more competitive was felt at every level at existing carriers. One of the areas that were forced to review its costs and procedures was maintenance.

    Long a sacred cow in the industry, it was recognized that because the equipment had improved, much of what was being done was gold plating and that much of it was unnecessary. Life and cycle limits on many components had been set too low, some inspection procedures that had never turned up anything were still being done, and several other processes were still being preformed despite the fact that new, less expensive options were available. As fairs were pushed lower and revenues began to decline, these areas were subject to scrutiny and change was imposed.

    These changes were resented (and resisted) by many of the senior staff in maintenance, who bitched and moaned that what they saw as falling standards were putting the exemplary record of safety that they had spent their careers building was being put at risk, and there was much gnashing of teeth and rending of clothes over these changes. The unions too got very defensive as they knew that many jobs had changed over time and were now manned by over qualified (and thus over paid) personnel and these would be at risk if commonsense prevailed.

    The upshot was that those airlines that got their act together are still flying, and those that didn’t are not. While failure to control maintenance costs were not the only reason that some went bankrupt, it was a contributing factor in some.

    And you know what? Safety in air travel isn’t much different than it was before deregulation, and if it is, the public doesn’t seem too concerned. However fares are less, and more people are flying, and in the end that’s what it is all about.

    Kit P and Bob Applebaum and their ilk are just echoes of those that I described above, and in the end they will have the same impact: they will be ignored or they will kill their industry. If the latter occurs, no one will care how careful they were in the past.

  9. “@Kit – you really are old school. It sounds to me like you have the UCS view of “leak before break” analysis. ”

    Rod could have gone to Chapter 15 and maybe looked up some of the references listed at the end of the section for a particular accident. If he had done that he would have said now I get it, people who work at nuke plants could be killed by large doses of radiation without engineered safety features.

    Rod’s response is why I think he is an idiot. Yes, I am old school and proud of it. I am not in the IPOD business, I am in the power industry. The vindication of ‘old school’ is those methodologies that proceeded me have been adopted by other sectors of industry but tragically have huge loses of life.

    Just for the record Rod’s navy training is ‘old school’ too. Remember do it right the first time. Shortly before my time, there were several preventable navy tragedies on nuke ships. While the hazards that sailors on nuke ships face are the same as always, preventable tragedies were not something that either Rod or I experienced in the navy.

    When it cam to safety my old salt father was old school. However, being in an aviation squadron in Hawaii in 1938 would have made him part of a group of pioneers. Having radar on sub hunters changed the war in the North Atlantic. Nuke subs changed the cold war. My father told me about the first time they tried to track a nuke sub. So while so aspects of my dad thinking might be old school compared to my new school, we were different generations.

    Let me point out that since Rod left our common ‘new school’, Rod is ‘no school’.

    As I point out many times, great advance have been made in fuel design, I do not have current numbers but I suspect the number of leaking fuel rods can be counted on one hand. This reduces the normal releases. However, being able to produce twice as much electricity with the same amount of uranium meas that there will be twice as much fission products to be released in a LOCA.

    My ‘old school’ is making electricity without hurting people. Something to be proud of. We just demonstrated that in Japan.

    1. “My ‘old school’ is making electricity without hurting people. Something to be proud of. We just demonstrated that in Japan.”

      Thus vindicating the basis that even for beyond design basis events no further improvements need to be made to ensure public and operator safety for existing reactor facilities. Additionally it is also limiting the possible impact that nuclear power can have in displacing known pollution hazards in industry and electrical generation. So what about those 32,000 lives lost each year from coal making electricity, do they not have value? Or, does a life lost form radiation carry some intrinsic value above that of someone killed by air pollution? Last time I checked dead is dead, it matters not the cause.

      “If he had done that he would have said now I get it, people who work at nuke plants could be killed by large doses of radiation without engineered safety features.”

      Rod is not advocating removing ESF. Quite the contrary, The blowing up of the reactor buildings and the rupturing of containments at Fukushima placed the operators in significant danger. The rupturing of the continents allowed the spread of fission products into areas where the operators needed to have access. What Rod noted was that if we vent the containment then the containment can’t rupture and all of those fission products because we are now getting 60+ GWd/MTHM, will stay safely contained inside the containment, allowing a safer environment for the operators. Additionally if you are somewhat competent in how you vent the containment, you can use the release of energy (steam) to help mitigate and facilitate control of the casualty and allow the removal of heat from the lump of stuff we once called fuel. This can all be done by integrating systems so that even in the worst beyond design basis event fission product release is limited and the core is eventually cooled with minimal operator action.

      This is what you are reacting against. Sit down and read through my posts on the venting of containments. No joke read through what I wrote. It is fundamental engineering. If you hold that any release of radiation is bad, b/c of ideological notions of LNT and ALARA, then you will not think of venting a containment as a stupid option.

      If you exercise a modicum of intellect and accept the release of some noble gas fission products to virtually guarantee core cooling and an intact containment, without the aid of electricity. Then you would understand that by accepting a risk that rapidly dissipates in the atmosphere you enhance the ability to recover from the casualty. In this case electricity is not needed to prevent catastrophe it just serves to limit the damage and facilitate clean up.

      Your ideas are perhaps as old school as you can get, the constraint of ideas to suit previously held notions irrespective of observed phenomena. Ancient Greece was perhaps the first challenger to this but were unable to keep the barbarians away. Then Rome, now the western world. The barbarians use the same tool to defeat reason, ideology. It allows the justification of any action as being “moral”.

      You are not challenging your assumptions. You are accepting them as fact. If you want me to keep on pointing out you logical inconstancies on this post I will. Understand, my purpose is not to enlighten you. You are too set in your own ways for that. It is simply to expose what you value, the abandonment of reason to achieve power. Power in this case is belligerent action on a blog in support of an opinion that you are recalcitrant to change.

      1. Cal Abel wrote:
        Last time I checked dead is dead, it matters not the cause.

        Oh no, Cal, don’t you know that burning coal causes only mild death, while man-made radiation causes severe death? 😉

      2. Cal I give you an A in debating and F in critical thinking. If you are under 40 that is a complement. Donb is just a lemming!

        First off we are building 1500-1600 MWe power plants not 400 MWe. The amortized costs over sixty years for additional features may be an economic windfall. If an SBO diesel prevents core damage, it saves the cost of cleanup.

        Cal’s first lapse in critical thinking is ‘fighting the last war’. We have done what if someone sets the plant on fire with a candle, what if operators turn off the safety system, what if unsafe testing is performed, what if opeators use a mob bucket to mix highly enriched uranium, what if terrorist crash into the site, what if an earthquake is worse than expected, and what if a tsunami is worse than expected. All of these unexpected things have happened during my career in nuclear power.

        So Cal please tell me what the next unexpected event is. Twenty years ago I was less reluctant to say something is incredible. The joke we make is that something is not credible until it happens twice in the same year.

        Cal’s second lapse in critical thinking is ‘Rod cheated on his homework why can’t I excuse’

        When you are performing a hazard analysis you do not do comparisons with other facilities. There is an absolute criteria to meet. For example, there was a 10,000 gallon tank containing a common hazardous (I am not going to tell terrorist what it is) that could affect my children at school. The hazard analysis provided a numerical analysis showing that workers and the public were protected by meeting the absolute criteria. After 911, several concrete barriers appeared because an intentional act of terrorism had not be been considered.

        When nukes whine that they are being picked on by regulators, they should know that the whole power industry is being picked on.

        Cal’s third lapse in critical thinking is believing gossip. Rod did not cheat on his homework. If fact Rod wrote a beautiful essay which his instructors had become accustomed too. His instructors were surprised that a failing student suddenly turned in A+ work. Did Rod participate in the cheating or was his paper stolen without his knowledge? Dig deeper and check your facts.

        “So what about those 32,000 lives lost each year from coal making electricity ”

        This is just gossip and no matter how many times it is repeated is still just gossip. The same ilk that make stuff about nuke plants makes stuff up about coal plants. It only takes a little critical thinking to debunk suck gossip. Follow the references back and you will find the data was collected 20-30 years ago (not that it was reliable anyhow) and included all pollution including the major source in cities, transportation. Those condition do not exist now. What air pollution are you taking about?

        “Last time I checked dead is dead, it matters not the cause.”

        I can see Cal has given this no thought at all. By avoiding dying of radiation sickness for 40 years, I have the opportunity to die from some chronic illness like heart disease. When and how you die does matter. My mother actually died from the complications of of radiation sickness induced treating cancer. Air pollution from coal plants was a lot worse back then but so was everything else. If the statistic of my mother’s death can be used to support your agenda, stand in line. The anti-smoking have the first claim since she was a chain smoker.

        Cal’s firth lapse in critical thinking is not understanding there are different hazards and each hazard must address each accident scenario. Hydrogen is a very significant industrial safety hazard which is much ore difficult to deal with since it is hard to detect and detonates with extreme violence. Not a hazard you can slowly walk away from. Without ventilation all bets are off to where it will migrate to but mostly up.

        An example would be a fatal accident at a coal plant in Ohio a few years ago. A truck driver was delivering hydrogen to an open air transfer station and a small leak collect in a roof overhang. The truck driver was killed and five plant workers were injured.

        I think a lesson learned (again) from Japan will be keep enough distance from both hydrogen and radiation so that workers are not harmed. If you read the INPO time, the assumptions about a safe working environment go out the window with natural disaster. Do not waste even one life on a lost cause.

        The final lapse in critical thinking is the ‘do not trust anyone over 30’ trap. Hippies in 60s (even made a movie) and people with non medical doctor degrees fall for this trap. Since Cal is not old, his assumption is that old people are not open to new ideas. There is another alternative. What is new to Cal is not new too me. Crap is crap. Yes, Cal I have read you ideas containment design. I think they are very stupid. I have tried to enlighten you.

        One of my goals is to have a new idea everyday. Most of them are stupid and getting others you share your ideas with to tell you they are stupid is not all that hard. If your idea turns out to be a good one then you have the problem of developing it and sell it. If you can not change others minds maybe the idea was in fact stupid.

        1. Kit,
          Thank you very much for the compliment. I enjoy our discussions a great deal.
          First off, a utility that builds 1200 MW(e) reactors has to back up much more than if they build 400 MW(e) plants. Forced outage rates from GAR are about 3% for thermal sources. I based the analysis on having a 99.954% availability of electrical generation which is the SADI availability for 2006 in the US. I based my numbers on the average annual baseload demand of the BPA of 4,800 MW(e) (actual number is 4448, I rounded for ease). This would require 4 monolithic at 1,200 MW(e) or 12 SMR at 400 MW(e). Using a binomial distribution I set up the problem to find the number of reactors that would have to go down in order to achieve the forced outage rate listed. It came out to 2 monolithic (0.508%) and 3 SMR (0.452%). In both situations a rolling reserve requirement of 2 reactors is required to achieve the national average for forced outage rates. So a utility that buys monolithic reactors has a rolling reserve requirement of 2,400 MW(e). A utility that buys the 400 MW(e) SMR’s has a rolling reserve requirement of 800 MW(e). The last time I checked gas turbines aren’t cheap. This is why we are going to SMR’s. SMR’s like mPower don’t have boron. How much money is spent on boron each year at each plant. I’m not talking chemicals, I’m talking O&M across the board. Small doesn’t have to deal with the BS of a large reactor. Additionally, non light water reactors have even simpler designs.

          I did not say to get rid of the EDG’s. Their presence reduces the likelihood of melting the fuel. Thus a LOOP is more of an inconvenience vice a cause of core damage. It is cheaper to keep the fuel intact than to have to clean it up. The LOOP is another issue that we have to overcome. If a reactor loses off site power it has to trip. Thus like in the north east blackout of 2003, many reactors that could have been kept up had to trip which complicated grid restoration. Large reactors with complicated systems and that which require boron are large and complicated beasts to run. BWR’s have a whole other set of issues with maintenance costs that keep going up as a result of ALARA.

          My question is why does the NRC regulate the fuel failure when it does not directly pose a threat to the population. The purpose of the NRC is to ensure the safety of the workers and the population. Done in three tiers design, materials, and operations. The NRC should not concern themselves with melting the fuel. Now for a utility melting the fuel is a very bad thing. First, it is expensive to clean up. Second it means a loss of a multibillion dollar asset. So not only do they have to pay but they loose revenue. This is why melting the fuel is not a sign of operational excellence. Here is where INPO comes in. INPO determines who has operational excellence. If someone demonstrates a poor training, maintenance program that does not effect reactor safety but jeopardizes the reliability of the generation source, then their role is to raise the flag. As most utilities are publicly traded a bad mark from INPO would mean a potentially less reliable generation source. Would you want to invest in a company that could not keep the fuel intact? If the company did not rectify their situation they would loose access to capital and eventually be bought out or have to close down the reactors. TMI proved the melting of fuel is not a public hazard. What is the risk to the public health by releasing noble gas fission products? I’d love to hear you explain that one.

          Yes Kit there are terrible things that happen in the world. Fortunately, you nor the majority of the American population have seen how bad it is out there. In case if you are curious, there really are barbarians at the gate. They really do want to see our country end and have little to no respect for human life. The next big thing I see happening is somebody getting froggy in Gulf with a nuclear warhead. The lack of a stable credit market (Thank you Congress, Freddie, Fannie, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Spain, France…) coupled with the threat or actual disruption in the global oil supply chain would bring the global economy to a screeching halt. That’s what keeps me up at night. The difference between success and failure of our country rests solely on our competence in governing ourselves. Our government is proving to be inept on the whole. So I am not confident in their ability to lead in this situation. They have done very little to get our country ready for the real dangers we face. Preparedness is what gets you through situations like this. It’s like peeing in an outhouse and having the shack come down around you and your left standing there pants down stuck looking around.

          As for our reactors. Probably something small in a primary system that causes a medium/small leak due to boron corrosion leading to fuel failure, Davis-Besse was a near miss.

          No, it is not gossip or Rod. I had those thoughts before coming to this blog from what I saw in the nuclear industry. It is why I left plant operations. I was glad to see someone else thinking along those lines.

          As for the lives lost due to other sources, that is not gossip, its statistics. If you care to fight that, go ahead. Here is my reference, have fun debunking it.
          http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12794

          Radiation sickness occurs when an individual is exposed with an acute dose of over 25 rem. It is caused by the termination of a cellular layer on the villi in the small intestine. If dose is sufficient the leading cause of death from radiation sickness is sepsis, which is treatable to some extent with intravenous antibiotics. You obviously do not care to reevaluate the assumptions that you make by accepting the LNT theory. The exposure levels that the public are at risk form is on the order of 20 rem PER YEAR. Which has no basis of causing harm based on observed data. Acute vs chronic.

          What were the levels of dose your mom was getting, what was the type of cancer, what stage was it identified. How much kemo did she have? Those are all factors in how well she would respond to the treatment and survive. The lucky ones are the ones who survive cancer. Because if the treatment doesn’t kill you the cancer will. I did not want to have to give you that lecture.

          You assume that it is your generation that I don’t trust. That is not the case its you and people like you of any age, who don’t like thinking, that I don’t trust. Additionally, your ad hominem attacks show that you have little regard or respect for other people. Another measure for me to know that you are looking out for yourself without regard to taking from others.

  10. Mr. Abel,

    That was a superb essay.

    It is only tangential to it, but as I’m on travel for where I work, I see the silliness of “TSA” first hand contemporaneously. My main argument is that the weapon is in the mind, not the hand. (Rod may argue, as he was a fencer at the USNA– or was that Lex?).

    I always see a way around some particular thing for which they’re screening. Surely, those like the 19 can’t do the same. For instance… No never mind.

    Yours,

    1. Speaking of TSA and having stupid ideas. Did anyone besides me notice that only three planes attacked buildings on 911? All my adult life, we have been taught to little sheep on airplanes and not defend ourselves. It did not take a long time for Americans to change that paradigm.

      I own no weapons per se. As a fencer, I could get not get out of a paper bad. However, you would be amazed what I can do with a tire iron or for that matter a fire extinguisher. When I travel by plane, I generally have a laptop. Unhook one end of the shoulder strap and you have a weapon that makes box cutters no so scary.

      1. No, there were 4 planes. The fourth plane the passengers figured out they weren’t sheep and fought back. They made a TV movie out of it, Flight 93.

        No the measures that would prevent weaponization of an airplane are the cockpit doors and the air marshals everything else was done to make you feel safe and to tuck you warm in bed at night to keep the boogieman away.

        Baseless irrational fear drove aviation into the ground. 6% loss in ridership adjusted for fuel prices and fares. That and roughly 5,000 people died in the last decade because they are driving more instead of taking safer flights. Oh well. I guess they don’t matter.

      2. This essay by Abel ain’t about TSA and such, but by misplaced risk mitigation attempts.

        With that said, no planes attacked the WTC. Three were used as weapons by the human minds of most of 19 young men. A few of the others of the 19 failed to use their weapon due the militia of the USA (every man– mankind– Todd Beamer, and your contemporaries, if you have internet access, you are my heroes).

        You own no weapons “per se.” Oh, you do, indeed. Use your MIND to see that tire iron, laptop (or rock) in a sling, fist, split compact disk wrapped in duct tape to make a nice handle, box cutter (but I repeat myself.)

        Enjoy breakfast at airport ABQ like I did the other day. You could steal implements meant for my omelette, deep inside “security.” Some other things I can’t say.

        Dammit, the CAPABILITY and INTENT make the weapon.

  11. I am not sure where to start Cal. There seems to be a disconnect.

    Cal is soooo old school. We do not design reactors to trip on LOOP. It is a grid reliability thing required by FERC. If you looked at new designs you would not think we are such fuddy duddies.

    Just for the record large does not equal complicated. I do not think nuke plants are complicated but then I am not a college kid. If you want simple teach college and stay out of the power industry. Also O&M costs are trending down too unless you have new data.

    Cal is soooo clueless. The NRC regulates offsite dose at 25 Rem after an accident. TMI was not a LOCA. You have to look at the transient analysis for each type of accident and how the fission products can escape. For the most part, the RCS contained fission products. There are three barriers, cladding, the RCS, and the containment.

    “Radiation sickness occurs when an individual is exposed with an acute dose of over 25 rem.”

    No, 25 Rem will not hurt you and you will be unable to detect symptoms (my definition of hurt). It does not matter if it is five minutes or one year. At 75 Rem you may have minor symptoms. Even at L/D 50/50 you will very likely survive with medical treatment. Several of the people who survived with massive doses were burned too badly fighting the fire for bone barrow transplants.

    The reason I do not debate LNT is that were are very good at keeping the dose at 100,000 times below background so I am not interested changing the limit to background. There are a few old plants that are only 100 times below background because like living next door to a nuke plant.

    Your NAP reference is gossip. College professor level gossip but still gossip. New category of junk science, peer review gossip. It is okay to be skeptical of what they teach in collge. Tell you what, let Rod have you start a guest post with your best shot and I will debunk it for you. That way it will not get lost and all can learn. Did I mention I am an environmental engineer too. When you are good you are good!

    1. @Kit – are you certain about the following?

      “TMI was not a LOCA.”

      It was not a large break Loss of Coolant Accident, but I am pretty certain that the event was caused by a stuck open relief valve dumping a lot of coolant out of the system combined with operators who could not recognize that the coolant temperature and pressure indicated saturation, not rising levels in the pressurizer.

  12. Kit,
    I agree too.
    Each of TVA’s reactors will trip on a loss of offsite power. From talking with friends that have gone into other reactors that is the same. I know of at least 10% of the reactor fleet that will trip on a LOOP.

    The grid reliability thing is a FERC requirement. Forced outage rates are 3% for thermal power plants, unless if you have some drastic modification that changes that great. I used a simple number to show you that smaller reactors are more reliable in maintaining the grid for an equivalent forced outage rate.

    I said nothing about O&M going down. I said what fraction of O&M is due to boron and age related problems with boron. O&M is going down because of adoption of reliability centered maintenance practices (thank the airlines for that one) and because maintenance items are becoming more risk informed. Do less work it costs less.

    Perhaps I simplified TMI too much it was PORV that stuck open (anything that causes a break in primary system integrity constitutes a LOCA in my mind because it is a Loss of Coolant Accident)the operators were confused by the rash of alarms that they had and turned off the injection pumps and drew a bubble in the reactor vessel because they didn’t understand saturation or necessarily how their plant responded.

    What I sited was the design philosophy of how we make our plants. If you are in that business, I suggest you brush up on it. The principles are: Robust Design (the design assumes the operators see Elvis), Simple Procedures with the well trained operators who understand their plant (hope that the operators don’t see Elvis), Sound Mechanical Construction and Material Selection and Controls(so that when the operators do see Elvis they break less stuff). The three barrier to fission product release are contained in the first principle. It’s the Elvis principle in case you haven’t heard of it before.

    Ok Smarty what are the EPA regulations for offsite dose? Whose standards do you have to meet? What is the cost impact of the EPZ on the operations or siting availability of the plant? What are the additional line losses? YEs you can theoretically put a plant in the middle of a city, but the EPZ is probative. What are the Assumptions of the EPZ on exposure to the population? It’s not just the NRC that regulates. My comment to the NRC is melting the fuel is not necessarily a public safety hazard. You can blow up a 40 year old western reactor and manage not to kill anyone. We managed a theory to practice on this three times in a row all at the same time. Melting the fuel is a plant reliability issue and better suited for INPO. (That is my argument)

    You fail to understand the massive impact overregulation has on the general equilibrium. Don’t worry you are not alone in that lack of understanding. The impact is quadratic on the loss that is imposed on the economy, affecting both consumers and producers. ALARA is a guilt trip to impair nuclear power. Because we can is not a valid answer it is a cop out.

    I was off an order of magnitude in my dose response for acute exposure 250 rem is when you have blood cell changes and nausea.

    I cited my references you site yours. I gave you a peer reviewed paper, your task is to rebut the findings of the peer reviewed paper, or my claim stands. It’s that simple.

    1. “The impact is quadratic…” Conservative estimate, that, when future plants fail to exist.

      Actually, it’s… that limit thing we use when we are operating by an approaching zero and calculating the derivative. What’s it called? Starts with an H.

        1. No, not “hyperbolic” though I like that, and yes it starts with an H.

          What’s this thing you do when trying to solve an equation with limits?

          When humanity (or an organism) expands but is hampered by lack of energy/resources, you have soon-to-collide limits. (Ehrlich’s _Population Bomb_ was the book that I best remember tried to mathematicize this, though I never read it– just got the spin when I was overly impressionable and scare-able, but his theory was logarithmic/exponential, and wrong.)

          So you have the ratio, say, of two functions each with its own eventual limits. How do you find the end result of their ratio? One function grows or shrinks more than the other, and the conglomerate funtion reaches its own end. There’s an easy way to figure that out, by looking at each function’s derivative (rate of change). I can’t think what that’s called.

          You can plug and chug hard on one or both of the functions, but the ratio may be nonsensical.

          For my abstract thought about Abel’s “quadratic” is that lack of future power plants is a more powerful limit than humanity’s growth. So that lack is a limit approaching zero faster or not getting larger fast enough compared to demand, that will eventually lead to poverty overall for humanity. (Which, I suppose we already are or always have been there, as you and I have seen in other parts of the world, and in pre-industrial times.) Gotta somehow flip the quotient of that limiting equation by liberating heavy metal binding energy on a nuclear scale.

          The energy is there, in abundance, courtesy of whatever laws and such that led to the last regional supernova(e), so that the whole world can live at the standards of…

          North America: USA and Canada mainly
          Western Europe
          Taiwan
          Japan
          Hong Kong
          Singapore
          Australia
          South Korea
          South Africa

          1. @Reese – the reason that predictions like Ehrlich’s never come true is that they are attempts to put into equations a problem that cannot be solved mathematically.

            The problem is that, despite the fictional attempts to describe the “science” of psychohistory in Asimov’s Foundation trilogy, human beings have minds and free will that will serve to frustrate any attempts to model our behavior or our inventive problem solving capability. Though it can sometimes get a little scary, I am pretty confident that we have enough self preservation desire and prosperity desire to prevent exponential growth from getting out of hand.

            Though I can do math when necessary, I am also reasonably adept at understanding human beings and making use of their skills to solve problems. I have a humanitarian outlook on the world. We really can – and will – fix what is broken, but it will take a lot of effort and may look a little chaotic at times.

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