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  1. Rod, No doubt a tritium release was at the base of a Report from Chicken Little that “the sky is falling.”

  2. Typo: “exist signs” should be “exit signs”.

    NB:  A curie is 37 billion Bq, so 1 picocurie per liter is 0.037 radioactive disintegrations per second per liter—a little over 2 per minute.

  3. I actually wouldn’t be shocked it David Lochbaum took a fairly moderate approach if asked to comment. He’s been fair to events like this in the past. Then again, I’m not going to put any money on that happening.

  4. My advice to anyone who applies for a reactor operating license in the future is to stubbornly refuse to promise perfection. Good enough is good enough.

    @Rod Adams

    Are you sure this hasn’t already become the norm among regulators and operators, especially with plant re-licensing (and in era of rising future costs, competitive pressures, and shrinking margins).

    Radioactive leaks found at 75% of US nuke sites.

    “… regulators and industry have weakened safety standards for decades to keep the nation’s commercial nuclear reactors operating within the rules. While NRC officials and plant operators argue that safety margins can be eased without peril, critics say these accommodations are inching the reactors closer to an accident.” The approach appears to not be working as leaks from aging plants and deteriorating infrastructure are rising, and there are cases where there have been impacts to local drinking water supplies, releases of additional contaminants (cesium and strontium), and adverse impacts to local home values (to say little of public perception or future impacts to expensive decommissioning and remediation costs).

    If the choice is between digging more monitoring wells and permitting unplanned releases of radioactive water from power plants or fixing the problem, I’m curious why you don’t think fixing the problem is a better solution?

    1. The breathless AP article you quote – in my opinion – took advantage of the unfolding Fukushima drama to spread some unnecessary fear about the aging reactor population, but there doesn’t seem to be much substance to it.

      My first complaint – a minor one – is the implication that reactors *can’t possibly* be safe beyond the initial licensing period. (oh my god! the NRC granted an operating extension!! can you believe it??) As if the licensing period represents a specific prediction of the moment when the plant will no longer be safe to use.

      But to the main point…can we agree that it’s at least *possible* that what the NRC is saying here is actually true? Given what we know about the way regulators treat radioactivity, it seems like not much of a leap of imagination to say that when commercial nuclear power regulations were being written, there wasn’t a ton of experience to go on, so they actually *did* include a large degree of conservatism in operating tolerances and safety thresholds. As we gained experience, it became clear that the safety violations that were occurring weren’t materially adding to risk of failure, so they got redefined.

      That doesn’t seem unreasonable to me unless the author continues his narrative to its logical next step, which would be to go beyond examples of regulatory changes, hinting at the ‘cozy’ relationship between industry and regulators (as if nuclear regulators are ANY less captive than ANY OTHER industry), and presenting actual evidence that relaxing safety standards is risky in some specific way.

      Instead, what we get is examples like this that go nowhere:

      Last year, the NRC weakened the safety margin for acceptable radiation damage to reactor vessels — for a second time.

      The standard is based on a measurement known as a reactor vessel’s “reference temperature,’’ which predicts when it will become dangerously brittle and vulnerable to failure. Over the years, many plants have violated or come close to violating the standard.

      As a result, the minimum standard was relaxed first by raising the reference temperature 50 percent, and then 78 percent above the original — even though a broken vessel could spill its radioactive contents into the environment.

      Sounds very sinister…or maybe not.

      Again what’s missing – the elephant in the room – is evidence that the NRC was somehow wrong to make this change. Show me the investigation that confirms that some reactor vessels are actually growing brittle in the face of the temperature change, or the engineering team who has seen high temperature component failures occur in similar settings in other industries. Instead, we are left with the impression that this is nuclear’s version of the classic ‘remove one rivet at a time from the wing’ safety phenomenon that we’ve all learned to fear in aviation.

      The answer to why ‘fixing the problem’ isn’t a better solution, is because – if the ‘problem’ isn’t actually dangerous, then dedicating resources to ‘fix’ it, only gives credence to a phantom menace, contributes to the fairy tale that the ONLY WAY for nuclear power to be safe is to spare no expense so that not a single pCi of *anything* appears outside the fence-line, to say nothing of unnecessary time and expense. What would be better for home values in the long run is to have people understand actual risks and probabilities rather than to attempt to make them 100% safe from pretend risks.


    2. “… regulators and industry have weakened safety standards…..”

      ALARA (acronym for “as low as is reasonably achievable”) means making every reasonable effort to maintain exposures to radiation as far below the dose limits in this part as is practical consistent with the purpose for which the licensed activity is undertaken, taking into account the state of technology, the economics of improvements in relation to state of technology, the economics of improvements in relation to benefits to the public health and safety, and other societal and socioeconomic considerations, and in relation to utilization of nuclear energy and licensed materials in the public interest.” (from US Title 10 CFR 20.1003 – Definitions)

      Then Please explain how you would comply with the above rule (written at least 40 years ago) when written, now (today) and ten years from now. Include what you think it would cost then, now and 10 years from now. Don’t forget to look through the hundreds of pages of Title 10 Code of Federal Regulations that are affected by this rule.

      Is that to hard? Then just explain to me how much your car would cost if your state/country had safety rules that imposed requirements similar to that rule.

      Note also this definition “Distinguishable from background means that the detectable concentration of a radionuclide is statistically different from the background concentration of that radionuclide in the vicinity of the site or, in the case of structures, in similar materials using adequate measurement technology, survey, and statistical techniques.” – that basically means if the NRC even THINKS you have detected a “Statistically different” (greater) than background you have violated the rule. And every year they have better equipment/programs and if you don’t buy the better equipment/program – YOU LOSE!

      If the airline services had a similar requirement – you would be traveling by ship. If the railroads had similar rules you would be walking.

  5. If Americans today returned to a society that was anything like the one in which your BC era Roman lived, our Constitution and Declaration of Independence would be expensive toiler paper.

    1. Benjamin, I must agree with your point. Life in Cincinnatus’ Rome was appalling, although perhaps not as bad for those on the bottom as later on. After all, the Empire built its monuments by driving on its slaves until they were used up instead of nonsense like paying them. My liking for history is one of the reasons why I really love living in a high energy use society.

  6. Great research and great article. I’ve made vague arguments before about how there’s probably more tritium in a single exit sign (ubiquitous in American grade schools) than has been released by all US nuclear plants. This article provides a more specific and substantive example; a case where such a source was lost (and perhaps has been broken). It also illustrates the key point, i.e., the tremendous difference in reaction, and how it was handled. Makes it pretty clear how it’s all about politics and double standards.

    I also like Rod’s aside paragraph about perfectionist attitudes in the industry. This is yet another example of the mindset that anything less than perfection is unacceptable anywhere within a nuclear enterprise, regardless of whether it actually represents any real threat to public health. The mindset (deeply based on nuclear exceptionalism) is that the consequences of a failure at a nuclear plant, which could possible lead to a release, are so unacceptable that no signs of error or imperfection are tolerable anywhere within the enterprise.

    These tritium leaks are one example. Although all reasonable people agree that there is no public health risk here, it is taken as a sign of imperfection in the nuclear plant’s physical condition or in plant operations (e.g., leaky pipes and/or the failure to detect or correct said leaky pipes, or the operational mistake that caused spillage).

    Another example that I’ve discussed is how a fatal industrial accident on the non-nuclear side of the ANO plant led to the plant being thrown into nuclear QA/NRC jail (which will be very expensive to get out of), even though the accident was completely non-nuclear in nature, and didn’t involve any kind of nuclear safety risk. It’s taken as a sign of lack of “safety culture”, i.e., not having an infinitely tight ship in general, which of course is necessary for anything nuclear…….

    This is why I’m skeptical that new, advanced, even “meltdown proof” reactors will change much, in terms of costs. Not unless these attitudes change. The only hope is that we can try to argue that these reactor’s inherent safety and lack of potential source term justifies such a fundamental change in attitudes and practices.

    The cost of nuclear power is not primarily driven by the materials, characteristics, design or technology of the reactor. It is primarily driven by what we affectionately call the “paperwork” (i.e., rigorous and highly prescriptive regulations and requirements, requirements for extremely rigorous analyses of issues whose importance doesn’t warrant it, uniquely strict NQA-1 component fabrication requirements, and extremely onerous procedural requirements that result in excessive staffing levels).

    Unless these things change, I am highly skeptical that advanced reactor designs will be significantly cheaper. They may in fact be more expensive, due to lack of scale along with high fixed (vs. per MW) costs that are due to the things I describe above. 2-unit sites are significantly less expensive for that very reason.

    1. “…about perfectionist attitudes in the industry.”
      I agree with everything you say, except I wouldn’t paint this attitude with a broad brush applying to the whole “nuclear industry.” It’s the current NRC and INPO. If you want to fix the problem, the cause has to be acknowledged. Both organization’s actions show no sign of backing off over their entire history. INPO even states it in their “Constantly Striving For Excellence” motto; which will cost an infinite amount of money on O&M budgets. The NRC structure, as we know it, can’t be fixed. It must be abandoned and replaced with an organization that understands acceptable risk. The NRC has had two “collisions at sea”, 32 years apart, and their response to both was much the same.

    2. This is yet another example of the mindset that anything less than perfection is unacceptable anywhere within a nuclear enterprise, regardless of whether it actually represents any real threat to public health.

      @Jim Hopf

      Are you saying we no longer need to conduct pressure and flow tests on safety related underground pipes subject to leaks and deterioration in aging plants? I’m not sure what you mean when you say “reasonable people agree that there is no public health risk here” and that “failure to detect” leaky pipes is not a problem and doesn’t deserve attention from regulators or public (and that “imperfection,” or weakening requirements for detection of such leaks, may be an appealing way to lower costs at power plants).

      If reasonable people are responding this way, you certainly wouldn’t know it looking at NRC and industry response to issue (here and here), and the prevalence of emerging issues around aging plants in the US (and high costs of keeping them operating). Why nuclear advocates wouldn’t be advocating for more nuclear plants (and modernizing units with a more robust, flexible, maintenance friendly, and advanced build program) is a bit of a mystery to me. Apparently to others as well (here). If the industry is imperiled by high costs and high expectations (as described by some of the commentators here and in Diablo thread), is hospice or palliative care really the most (and best) that can be offered under the circumstance?

      1. I’m saying that the *tritium leaks* are not an issue. Whether leaking pipes are an issue in general is another matter, and depends upon the specific situation, although my guess is that minor leakage in pipes is a pretty common occurrence in large industrial facilities.

        I would say that tritium is a wonderful tracer, and could possibly be used to detect leaking pipes. The only way this could be an issue, for the operator, or one that could justify NRC response, would be if further investigation shows that there is a deterioration of the pipes, or other plant equipment, that represents a serious situation (with respect to meltdown risk, etc..). But this is clearly not an *environmental* concern.

        New nuclear plants would be wonderful, but as we all know it looks like there will be relatively few of them, and the closure of an older plant will not *cause* a new one to be constructed. Instead, the net effect will be its replacement with fossil fuels. I, and most here, believe that (as well as all the scientific analyses and operational data show), even older nuclear plants, despite all their hyped “problems” are orders of magnitude better than fossil fuels, with respect to public health risks and environmental impacts. Therefore, closing any of those plants would be indefensible, until almost all fossil generation is gone. In other words, any and all new renewable (or nuclear) generation should be used to replace fossil generation, not nuclear plants (even the older ones).

        If high costs are driving nuclear plants to closure, resulting (primarily) in their replacement with fossil fuels, then the requirements driving those high costs should be reduced or eliminated, until the point where the overall risks and impacts of the nuclear plants are roughly equal to those of the fossil generation that would replace it. And we’re a far cry from that. Orders of magnitude. Requirements could be reduced greatly before we were anywhere near that point.

        Another alternative, to bringing nuclear standards down to fossil standards, would be to raise fossil standards closer to nuclear standards. In truth, to approach equivalency, one would have to disallow any emissions of any pollution at all, including CO2, from fossil plants (i.e, require the full sequestration of all wastes/pollutants). But hell, I’d settle for a tax on those emissions, i.e., giving nuclear plants SOME financial credit/advantage for being non-polluting and non-CO2 emitting. If we did that, all our nuclear plants could continue to afford being held to this standard of perfection, and still remain operating.

        1. Another alternative, to bringing nuclear standards down to fossil standards, would be to raise fossil standards closer to nuclear standards.

          @Jim Hopf

          Sounds like a terrific approach to me, and one informed by sound environmental advocacy and values. Could we please do better lobbying people on the site to be consistent with such an approach. This is one of the biggest biases I see on the site, contributors who think holding nuclear accountable to strong safety and environmental standards is somehow equivalent to giving fossil fuels a free pass (and that you can’t be an environmentalist and advocate for best practices in all industries, nuclear included). If putting a price on carbon is an good option for dealing with waste and pollution from fossil fuel plants (I agree with you on this), the equivalent position would be to finally address and resolve long standing and intractable waste management issues in the nuclear industry (a position that I consistently advocated for on the site, and see as an important pre-cursor to a meaningful and transformative expansion of the industry). Right now, with intractability in waste storage issues and weak carbon policies in the US (recent Supreme Court decision is no help), we have a situation of equivalency between fossil fuels and nuclear. So no, I don’t agree with you that nuclear is held to a higher standard on this basis. Until the fuel cycle is closed, we don’t have a radically different standard concerning waste and industrial pollution from fossil fuels and nuclear (they appear to be equivalent standards on this basis). Wishful thinking about silver bullet solutions is a far cry from an achievable plan (for fossil fuels or nuclear). We are still seeing a lot of intractability and inaction, and a significant environmental and pollution legacy (and a costly one) left for future generations. But glad to see we agree on a common principle (this much is something to highlight).

          1. @EL and Jim Hopf

            Feel free to maintain your absurdly costly and unsustainable attitudes about protecting public health and safety FROM some of the most powerful tools mankind has ever developed – fossil fuel combustion and nuclear fission.

            However, please do not feel free to propagandize that view here.

            The public has clearly shown that it eagerly accepts the risk/reward balance associated with our current fossil fuel safety regulations and enforcement. With proper public communications and political efforts, nuclear energy regulatory treatment should approach the same balance.

          2. The public has clearly shown that it eagerly accepts the risk/reward balance associated with our current fossil fuel safety regulations and enforcement.

            @Rod Adams

            Strange and incorrect. You don’t think the public has asked for and organized around improved standards and tougher regulations on oil and gas industry. Nobody is working on recovery efforts in the Gulf, lower emissions standards from power plants, pipeline safety, tar sands production, fuel economy in cars, etc. Where have you been all these years? Any number of polls (likely all of them) suggest otherwise.


            … just the first two that came up in my search.

            If propaganda is being espoused here, it is that the public is somehow in agreement that current or lower regulations and lower standards for safety and pollution (as you are advocating for nuclear) are somehow “eagerly” being accepted and welcomed (as you suggest).

            1. @EL

              I don’t believe in polls for determining how people feel. I prefer to watch how they act and how they spend their money.

              They might agree with tighter standards in the abstract, but they don’t think they should pay any more for the products they want to purchase.

              In other words, they don’t place much of a value on tighter standards. They only agree with them if they think someone else will be footing the bill or if they have been lied to by someone who tells them that the ratcheting effort comes for free.

          3. EL,

            You’re equating nuclear waste with the pollution and CO2 emissions of the fossil industry, and believe that the nuclear industry is not being held to “high standards” with respect to nuclear waste? Mindboggling. I don’t even know where to begin….

            According to EPA, the wastes/pollution from US fossil fueled power generation cause ~10,000 annual deaths and ~$100 billion in annual economic damages. Fossil power generation is also a leading contributor to US global warming emissions. Coal ash is not even classified as a hazardous material.

            In stark contrast, US nuclear waste (as well as US nuclear power plants in general) have never had any measurable impact on public health. Nuclear wastes, which are generated in tiny volumes and have a stable, leak-resistant physical/chemical form, have always been safely stored and isolated from the environment. They have not caused any harm at all.

            Not held to high standards?? The technical standards that have been applied to nuclear waste are impeccable and unprecedented; far stricter than those which have ever been applied to any other waste stream. It is the only waste stream for which one is required to show (by rigorous and conservative analysis) that it will remain isolated, and not cause any significant harm, for as long as it remains hazardous.

            In summary, nuclear wastes are required to not cause any harm at all, not now (safe storage) and not at any time in the future (proof of repository containment). No other waste stream even comes close, fossil fuel wastes and pollution being on the other end of the spectrum.

            And yet, NRC recently concluded that Yucca mountain would meet even those impeccable, unprecedented requirements. Nuclear waste management and disposal is held to the most impeccable technical standards of any waste stream, and solutions exist that meet those impeccable requirements. The nuclear waste “problem” is purely political. Always have been. But, no problem. While the political issue/stalemate is sorted out, nuclear waste will cause no harm in the interim. It will remain safely (and completely) stored.

            In overall summary, nuclear – no/negligible impact, fossil fuels – tremendous impact. How can you say that they are being held to similar standards??

          4. Rod,

            I have to say that I’m a little surprised by your response, with respect to fossil fuels. I thought that you were concerned about global warming, and agreed that this is a good argument for nuclear power. Have you changed your mind?

            While I made the point that fossil generation would have to fully contain all their pollutants to truly be held to the same standards as nuclear, I was not advocating such a policy. I do agree with financial disincentives to reflect the negative environmental costs of their pollution, including CO2.

            I don’t see how limiting or placing a tax or fee on CO2 emissions, and letting the market decide the least expensive way to comply, would be “absurdly costly an unsustainable”. It would certainly be a far less expensive approach than all the policies we’ve seen so far, i.e., large subsidies and outright mandates for renewable energy only.

            Most analyses show that the costs of reigning in CO2 emissions would be quite modest, on the order of ~1% of GNP. Taking US power generation as an example, a penalty of less than 1 cent/kW-hr on CO2 emitting generation would be more than enough to halt all US nuclear plant closures in their tracks, and would be enough to cause a large-scale shift from coal to gas, which would result in a very large decrease in CO2 emissions, not to mention air pollution and associated health effects.

            If the public agrees with the current fossil regulatory “balance”, which allows fossil generation (esp. coal) to cause ~10,000 annual deaths and emit a large fraction of our CO2, w/o having to pay a dime for the privilege (of using the atmosphere as an open sewer), then I’m afraid I cannot agree with (or even respect) their position.

            I, of course, agree that the thing we need most of all is public education and fair policy, but I have to admit that not that sanguine about significant changes coming anytime soon. How many existing nukes are we going to allow to close while we are working on this long-term problem? These existing plants need, and deserve, a tangible financial advantage over fossil plants, to reflect their non-polluting, non-CO2 emitting nature. New nukes deserve that advantage too. The external costs of fossil generation are real and significant, and they should be reflected in their price.

            1. @Jim Hopf

              Perhaps I exaggerated a bit. I have no qualms about charging fossil fuel burners for using our common atmosphere as a place to store their waste products.

              I don’t, by the way, have much faith in the calculations of premature deaths due to air pollution from burning fossil fuel in power plants. I’ve come to realize through study and discussions with some very competent individuals that the basis for many of those computations is a linear, no threshold dose response model. That model is just as inaccurate in the case of fossil fuel combustion products as it is for radiation and other chemical pollutants. The human immune system is a marvelously capable protective device that is the result of millions of years worth of evolution.

              (Yes, there are people with compromised systems, but that is a different topic. I hesitate to articulate the scientific response.)

              I don’t believe “education” is the needed action. I believe a sustained marketing and sales effort would be more useful.

          5. I don’t believe in polls for determining how people feel. I prefer to watch how they act and how they spend their money.

            @Rod Adams

            Check your numbers. The car is on the decline, especially among generations younger than your own. Vehicle miles traveled, licenses, ownership … it’s all down (even with economic recovery and low gas prices in population adjusted figures). Much of it due to new urbanism, telecommuting, better public transportation options, economic factors, environmental values, and more.


            There was a day, perhaps, when public attitudes about energy development didn’t matter much (and corporate titans such as the robber barons got their way). Thankfully, running roughshod over public interests isn’t so easy these days. We have independent and accountable regulators, and public interests (especially pertaining to pollution, public safety, and legacy costs) aren’t so easy to ignore. Your sales pitch for nuclear would be significantly improved if you had a better handle on such basic and well documented public attitudes (presumably in some evidence based shape or form that you have yet to reveal to us).

            1. @EL

              Your link is three years old; the data used to support the paper is probably closer to five years old.

              Here is a more recent indication that I’m not alone in my love for comfortable automobiles and road trips.


              By the way, I substantially reduced my commute 5 years ago and gave it up altogether more than 2 years ago. I don’t love driving in the kind of heavy traffic that I experienced while working in DC, but I love traveling on the open roads here in moderately rural Virginia.

            1. @EL

              You apparently read your own link through filtered lenses that blanked out such lines as

              “If we factor in population growth, the 12-month MA of the civilian population-adjusted data (age 16-and-over) is a smaller change, up 0.27% month-over-month and up 2.8% year-over-year.”

              “As we can readily see, the Great Recession had a substantial impact on our driving habits.”

              “That said, the 2014 decline in gasoline prices has been accompanied by a rise in miles traveled. It will be interesting to see how this correlation plays out in the months ahead.”

              Here is the kicker that simply does not match the view I see as the father of two millennials who both have lots of friends spread all over the country.

              “Meanwhile, a new generation – the Millennials – sees a new American Dream that is less dependent on driving.”

              I’m interested in my daughters lives and those of their friends, so I keep up with them. Modern technology lets me know about their homes, their cars, their RVs and their babies. Fortunately, because of the professions that each of my girls chose (one a Naval officer, the other a registered nurse) they are both surrounded by people who have had steady employment since graduating (one in 2005 the other in 2007).

              The Millennials I know share the same American dream of comfortable living and independent travel that I shared with my father and mother. Like my wife and I, they have even moderately expanded on that dream with larger cars, slightly larger homes, and larger garages. They are also having their share of children who are active and involved in activities already. That will only increase as they enter into school ages.

              Millennials who have lived for the last 9-10 years without firm employment prospects are highly likely to alter their behavior and their dreams as the economy continues to improve.

              You do want that improvement, right?

          6. Your link is three years old; …

            Does anyone actually read Scientific American anymore? It has become the “People” magazine for those who like to think that they know something about science, but who actually don’t.

          7. Does anyone actually read Scientific American anymore?

            @Brian Mays.

            Was that supposed to be a refutation of the facts (DOT, UMTRI), because it wasn’t. What do you think Scientific American (or any other paper or magazine that covered the study) got incorrect?

          8. EL – Oh … I suppose that you thought that you were making a point.

            Like “Scientific American,” nobody pays attention to you here anymore.

          9. EL – Oh … I suppose that you thought that you were making a point.

            @Brian Mays

            I do. Public attitudes matter to energy policy, and misrepresenting them doesn’t help to advance the interest of nuclear (or any other energy resource). I don’t think anybody expects you to acknowledge this as a point. In this, you are predictable as always.

          10. The Millennials I know share the same American dream of comfortable living and independent travel that I shared with my father and mother.

            @Rod Adams.

            Believing in better environmental standards and best practices for fossil fuels (or any other energy resource) doesn’t preclude a comfortable living or sharing in the American dream. In fact, it seems relatively consistent with it (as far as I can tell), especially so for an environmentally conscious millennial. Knowing two millennial who own a car isn’t a valid statistical sample. And I’m not sure when the simple fact of driving implied being “eagerly” accepting of “the risk/reward balance associated with our current fossil fuel safety regulations and enforcement.”

            I think you would do best to acknowledge what every public poll tells us on this topic, and just move on.

            1. @EL

              Once again, you have failed to read my post and you have made an absurd attempt to discredit my observations.

              Look again to see the basis for my comment; it certainly is not just my two daughters.

            2. @EL

              You are starting to grate on me. Please start providing some value to the conversation instead of just being disagreeable. We get it. You think you know more than all of us about how the public feels about energy consumption, prosperity, reliable electricity, national security, and ways to improve living conditions for the disadvantaged.

              However, you have never helped us to understand why we should take your word instead of relying on our own education, training and deepening experience.

              As near as I can tell, you have accomplished little in your education and career since you first started commenting here. (That’s based on the fact that you introduced yourself to me long ago and I have a pretty decent ability to find out information about publications and performance of people in academia or the professions.)

              I deeply respect hundreds of people that I have worked with or around during my professional career. I also have a great deal of respect for some of the professionals who either comment in their own name or provide enough information about their experience to provide justification for their opinionated commentary. Even people like poa have made the effort required to earn respect. You haven’t.

              Please take your unfounded nuclear negativity elsewhere.

          11. “… you are predictable as always.”

            As are you, “EL,” even though we don’t know your name. I assume that Bas has the month off.

          12. @Rod Adams

            I’ve never asked anybody to take me at my word. If my comments are unsupported or not well argued, please rebut them and provide better information. I also find it rather positive and hopeful that the general public (and millennials in particular) are so engaged in these issues and are eager to have their thinking challenged on these topics. Since none of this is going away, I think nuclear makes a stronger case acknowledging public attitudes on questions of environmental safety and regulation (as any energy resource does), and responding to such public pressures and values in order to make a more effective sales pitch (and especially reaching new audiences). The industry is already doing this, particularly with advanced designs, and they will likely (I have no doubt) reach new audiences and win new support (especially when adapting to shifting trends in the marketplace). Lowering standards for environmental and public safety, I don’t think, are going to be a game changer in the industry (and will not likely appeal to public values that are increasingly in the majority).

            I see that as a rather positive contribution, and I’m hopeful for the future. Although it’s going to take some time (and a fair bit of work, strategic thinking, coalition building, policy support on climate change, and engineering to get there).

            1. @EL

              I’ve never asked anybody to take me at my word.

              Bull. Your comment is full of opinions that can be identified with phrases like “I think,” “I also find,” “I think nuclear makes…,” “in order to make a more effective sales pitch,” and “I don’t think.”

              I don’t care what you think. You have no engineering expertise, little understanding of physics and chemistry, no background in product marketing, little to no experience in government regulatory bodies, no demonstrated knowledge of psychology, no background in public safety, no experience in cost analysis, no demonstrated record of responsible business leadership, and no discussed record of being trained as a first responder or crisis manager.

              The arguments I make about standards are based on sound science and a good understanding of cost effectiveness. Squandering resources to attempt to reduce risks that are already so low that they are either non existent or not measurable means those resources cannot be devoted to solving real problems. Your recommendations are not only tiresome, but they pose a risk to future generations if implemented.

              Please find a new hobby and quit needling us here. Your comments are not constructive, they are getting to be about as repetitive as Bas’s were.

  7. It has been several years since I read the NRC Current Events Notice and the Notice of Violations, but when I did the improper disposal of Exit signs was rather common, at least one a year on average. Most of the better architect firms no longer specify these signs, probably in fear of liability concerns. One only need to review the NRC NOV over the years and you will come to the conclusion that many (most?) in the demolition business have no idea that these signs require special handling. There are several posted for auction on eBay right now. Search “Exit Tritium” on eBay. Who is going to inform them of the NRC requirements? How many have been disposed of with no NRC involvement due to the fact that the builder never informed the owner who did not inform the demolition team? It could easily be more Tritium than Indian Point has released in its lifetime – all 3 plants.

    1. Perhaps the next president Could issue an “executive order” that a minimum of a single micro curie of Tritium be released at each nuclear plant… once. That’d probably be the only way to finally put this Tritium FUD to bed.

      He could then tackle Fukusima Radio-Cs in Fish swimming too close to SanFrancisco using the same method with a similar executive order: Just some harmless minimum that exceeds the feared maximum ever found…..

  8. On this topic, I dug for “natural tritium in water” and came up with this 1966 USGS report:


    Among other test results (found on p. 20) was the natural background measured in Vienna at 110 “tritium units” at an enrichment factor of 6.1.  I make this an un-enriched level of ~18, which at 3.2 pCi/l per TU comes to roughly 60 pCi/liter.

    This suggests a solution to the whole “tritium-laced groundwater” mess:

    1.  Pump out the groundwater.
    2.  Mix it into the cooling water outflow at a ratio of 1:1,000,000

    Nobody will notice the difference downstream, and the problem goes away.

  9. Rod,
    Your comment about farting in an elevator is spot on. It is a breach of etiquette, not a return of the black plague.

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