1. Rod,

    I just discovered your Atomic Show podcasts a few weeks ago. Your work in spreading the nuclear gospel is great – onward and upward.

    Thank you,


  2. Entertaining recap guys and gals. At the blogger event I was a little surprised but impressed that the NRC’s PR team showed up. Hopefully one of them will listen to this whole podcast and hear what you have to say about the NRC’s performance. That was a good discussion.

  3. Rod,

    I would like to clarify a comment Dan made in the course of our conversation. Cool Hand Nuke, one of the generous supporters of our Nuclear Blogger gathering, is an independent company. Jeff Madison, the founder of Cool Hand Nuke, at one time worked at a nuclear utility. While Cool Hand Nuke is doing business with several nuclear utilities, his innovative company is independent.


  4. Rod- Hello, Great podcast! I especially enjoyed Margaret Harding’s candid views adding to the discussion. One has to wonder why we’re continuing to build windmills to nowhere while the nuclear renaissance is picking up the pace internationally.

    Every 18 months we go through a refueling outage at my company’s nuclear power plant, during which I’ve had the opportunity to qualify and work as Junior Radiological Protection (RP) technician- two cycles so far. These outages represent a confluence of deeply knowledgeable contractors and staff- a unique, great learning opportunity. I’ve grown to appreciate much about BWR plant design and operations from the great folks that help generate electricity safely and reliably full time. While passing on directly supporting the latest refueling, I’ve encourage my team and approved sending a first timer approaching retirement from my group- FME/Fire watch.. Hopefully next cycle will pan out for me personally, outage RP work is something I’d do even in retirement.

    I can’t help but point out how your blog and show, along with a few others (e.g. John Wheeler’s This Week in Nuclear) are bolstering nuclear energy advocacy efforts, helping many come up to speed and stay current with nuclear. I especially appreciate your wide range of coverage and guests – including Ted Rockwell, and others from the early years at INL, etc that helped get the industry off the ground starting in the 50s. Yes, I’ve listened to all your shows- some several times and have shared some with long time nukes that have also gotten a kick out of your coverage (e.g. LNT debate, smaller reactors, light water breeder, even LFTR) .

    I hope you enjoyed the time off- looking forward to more.

    Yes- fission rocks!

    Best regards,

    Orlando Stevenson

  5. Thank you, Mr. Stevenson!

    I’m nothing, if not candid… I was flattered when Rod asked me to participate in his podcast. I hope he continues his fine work to get the word out about nuclear power.

    Off to do some “fission”.


  6. re: carbon capture and sequestration remarks

    There was some discussion of carbon capture and sequestration on this podcast. Storing CO2 was said by you that “it simply doesn’t work”. You stated CO2 is “a material that has a history of when it burps out it kills people”. Later, another commentator on the show said “why does anyone have any confidence we can put carbon under the ground for any length of time?”. Then you said “carbon dioxide is a gas, and gases tend to ooze out of things, that’s what they do”. Then another person chimed in “and it’s certainly killed animals and people, what’s that lake in Africa…”,

    So that’s two references to Lake Nyos in Cameroon emphasizing that CO2 kills, and two references to some supposedly known fact that it is difficult to contain gases and that is what CO2 is, accompanied by the laughter of self proclaimed “technical” people who claim to know things others don’t about issues like this.

    “It simply doesn’t work” has yet to be accepted by people who believe that the problem of climate change will be much more difficult to solve unless this technology proves to be cheap enough to use. Senior people studying what will be possible to mitigate climate change are very pro nuclear.

    The panel discussion seemed like some antinuke panel proclaiming that because under some set of circumstances nuclear materials can kill people, therefore…. nuclear power won’t work.

    The Lake Nyos incident in Cameroon killed 1,700 people and 3,500 cattle (- NYTimes) as a result of a sudden release of CO2 that had originally been dissolved in the lake water as CO2 worked its way upward from magma 50 miles below the lake. No one intentionally put the CO2 there as a result of some carbon sequestration project.

    Al Gore is a known opponent of carbon capture and sequestration, as he spearheaded the “there is no clean coal” campaign that tried to leave uneducated people believing that the technology does not exist. Yet even Gore stated in his 2009 book “Our Choice” page 144

    “Experts agree that the tragedy at Cameroon’s Lake Nyos in 1986 is not relevant to the risks associated with carbon capture and sequestration”.

    No one put that CO2 under that lake, no one expected it to stay there, no one even knew it was there until the cloud came out. Again, according to Gore, the matter was easily dealt with once it was known: “All three lakes [ever subject to CO2 release] have been equipped with relatively inexpensive monitoring systems designed to alert people before the next dangerous buildup”.

    Why do we have any confidence the CO2 will stay underground?

    Duh, people such as ahem, scientists, uh, study what happens when they liquefy CO2, pipe it some distance, and put it underground. This is not rocket science. Have you heard of natural gas? How did that stay underground until humans drilled into the rock formations millions of years later to extract it?

    Millions of tonnes of CO2 are liquefied, piped, and stored underground or under the sea floor every year and this has been going on for a number of years. The problem, of course, is the need is to store billions of tonnes. Experts simply do not see that this is an impossible pipe dream, or that it is something more dangerous than piping natural gas around. It will come down to cost. The literature is extensive. Start with “Sustainable Fossil Fuels” by Mark Jaccard, or the IPCC Special Report on Carbon Capture and Sequestration.

    People who have no interest in seeing carbon capture and sequestration development, such as environmentalists who see all funds not going into solar and other renewables in a zero sum way, and nuclear supporters such as yourselves, who mindlessly repeat the story of the killer CO2 cloud coming out of the lake, assuring everyone, as you did, that CO2 is a “material that has a history of when it burps out it kills people” are part of the problem we face in coming to grips with what to do about energy and climate.

    Most “relevant experts” I take seriously believe we will need every low carbon technology we can get, deployed as quickly as possible, to achieve the decarbonization of the rapidly expanding global energy supply, because of the sheer size of present day demand, as well as the frighteningly large rapidly expanding demand.

    Stephen Chu was quoted in Science magazine 25 September 2009 that he and the DOE intend to pursue CCS with “fierce urgency” simply because of the sheer scale of the use of coal in the world, and the necessity to eliminate the emissions from coal use that are now freely entering the atmosphere. Chu is pro nuclear, as you know.

    I would be able to understand your somewhat scornful dismissal of this type of effort, if there was a clear path for nuclear energy to take over all energy presently supplied by coal as well as all future expansion anyone was contemplating for coal, at a lower cost than what people like Chu believe CCS can be brought in for.

    I am hoping there is a credible path for nuclear to take over the major portion of energy supply, but I wonder, often, how will the antinuke crowd be persuaded, and can we take a chance that the anti nukes will be defeated. I believe that we must pursue, with “fierce urgency” any and every possible other option. I personally have come to see nuclear as a better way than coal with CCS, but what I care about is that CO2 emissions be prevented from entering the atmosphere.

    I think your critique would be more effective if you eliminated the parts of it that are not founded in science, i.e. the Lake Nyos incident, the “fact” that gases are unlikely to be able to be contained underground, that are simply fear mongering of the type you must have had far more than enough of when you face the anti nuke crowd.

    I’d like to hear more about how nuclear can be ramped up fast enough to take over as all coal is phased out.

    1. David:

      All of the reasonable scale CO2 storage projects that I am aware of capture CO2 that is stripped out of natural gas when it is extracted. That is a different process than would be used to capture significant portions of CO2 from a combustion products stream.

      As you note, the scale of the operation is also completely different in that a few million tons per year are captured – very little from combustion processes – yet tens of billions are produced every year.

      Natural gas in certain types of formations has mostly remained underground, but even many of those had substantial leakage/weeping that allowed people to recognize that they existed. There really were places where it was possible to ignite an eternal flame fed by one of these natural gas reservoir leaks. One of the reasons that natural gas is not able to be profitably extracted from just any location around the world is that the geologic conditions required to retain a deposit require some kind of sealing formation. We drill into those formations to release the gas into a well. Once the well has stopped producing profitably, they get sealed, but the seals may not stay around forever.

      One reason that I dismissively point this out is that it seems pretty obvious to me that sealing in a gas and then proving that the seal will never leak in the distant future is a fundamentally more challenging technical problem than sealing in solid material that is stable up to several thousand degrees C, especially when the amount that needs to be sealed up is measured in thousands of tons vice billions of tons every year.

      If people who are opposed to nuclear energy can effectively insert uncertainty about future container performance and be believed by scientists who recognize that they are valid concerns, how is it possible that we should blithely accept the notion that a substantial portion of the CO2 stored without any container at all will remain where it was put?

      With regard to whether or not nuclear can scale up, just remember that we built all 104 plants in operation today in roughly 20 years AND had to fight a well organized effort aimed at stopping that process. At the same time, we also built about the same number of reactors propulsion plants for naval uses. Part of the reason that the well-organized effort succeeded was that we actually knew little about the long term performance of the plants and did not recognize just how valuable they would be or how long they would last.

      The opposition also successfully portrayed itself as altruistic questioners of big business, when I believe they really were front people for an even larger, competitive fossil fuel business that wanted to retain its dominance of the energy markets. A major portion of the nuclear industry went along because they were part of companies that had larger fossil interests than nuclear interests. We also did not have the same level of concern about pollution and greenhouse gases that we do today.

      In other words, nuclear is massively scalable.

Comments are closed.

Recent Comments from our Readers

  1. Avatar
  2. Avatar
  3. Avatar
  4. Avatar
  5. Avatar

Similar Posts