The Atomic Show #149 – Pro-Nuclear Bloggers Reaction to SOTU
During the 2010 State of the Union Address, President Obama took the handcuffs off of the nuclear industry revival when he said:
But to create more of these clean energy jobs, we need more production, more efficiency, more incentives. And that means building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country.
On January 31, 2010, I gathered a large group of active bloggers and nuclear industry professionals to find out what they thought of the statement and its impact on the deployment of new nuclear power plants. My guests were:
- Kelly Taylor, a 24 year nuclear industry professional and frequent Atomic Show guest.
- Meredith Angwin, a physical chemist and small businessperson who has recently started publishing a blog titled Yes, Vermont Yankee.
- Charles Barton, who blogs at Nuclear Green and Energy from Thorium.
- David Bradish, a statistician and blogger at NEI Nuclear Notes.
- Dan Yurman, who blogs at Idaho Samidat, writes for Fuel Cycle Week and is the blogger with the highest readership at The Energy Collective.
- Robert Margolis, a 24 year nuclear engineer who has supported reactors on 3 continents and is currently working in Florida.
In addition to the State of the Union statement, we discussed the increase in the loan guarantee program, and the formation of the blue ribbon commission about used nuclear fuel policy.
We also spent quite a bit of time talking about Vermont Yankee and the incredibly tiny quantity of tritium that has people demanding a full investigation and possibly a plant shutdown because someone found 0.000000029 curies/liter of tritium, an amount that would have a mass of just 0.0000000000029 grams distributed in 1000 grams of water.
This is the largest panel yet invited to an Atomic Show, but I think that the guests did a fine job of taking turns and sharing information. It was a lot of fun to produce.
Your comments are always welcome.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 1:18:04 — 35.8MB)
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Thanks for putting this together. I need to clarify that my mom was the first woman reactor operator at what is currently known as the Idaho National Lab (formerly operated by EG&G). I don’t know yet if she was the first woman RO in the entire nuclear industry though.
Great show, can’t wait for #150!
Rod seems to invite nice (as well as knowledgeable) guests. I am not sure that just any group of guests of this number could successfully avoid stepping on each other in discussions but, in the main, this one did. There was lots of fine analysis (mostly pretty upbeat) as the result of the President’s SOTU message that included rhetoric that suggests a movement off of nuclear agnosticism to some level of support. Everyone hopes that rhetoric turns into policy and actual funded projects. The early indications are that this is the case.
I enjoyed and agreed with the comments of participants with the very tiny concentration of tritium discovered in test wells at the site of Vermont Yankee.
One small comment: I would think that untill the source of the tritium leak is clearly identified it is conceivable that the very low levels of tritium detected in the two test wells may not reflect the highest levels of the ground water contamination. The underground plume from the leak could propagate in any dirrection and the test wells might be picking up only the periphery of the contamination. It is conceivable that much higher levels of contamination could exit underground at a location separated by some distance underground from the test wells. We will not really be sure what the extent of contamination is until the source is identified and the volume of the tritium release is quantified.
While I recognize that your reaction is one that would be common among nuclear professionals, I cannot accept the notion that we should spend unlimited amounts of time and money chasing non problems. As I mentioned in podcast – the amount of tritium discovered is incredibly tiny and should not be considered to be prima facie evidence that there must be a leak somewhere. If the accepted response to discovering such a tiny amount of not terribly hazardous material is to start digging up pipes and taking massive samples and spending gobs of money in the investigation, that makes the industry incredibly vulnerable to non violent attacks.
Groups like Greenpeace and Earth First have a long history of taking action to interrupt peaceful, safe commerce and transportation. Do you think they would be reluctant to use such a powerful weapon as being able to impose a large financial burden from the mere act of spreading fractions of milligrams of a fairly common material?
When it comes to reacting to issues, it is important to keep things in perspective and to remember that cost has to be an object. Heck, our competitors in the coal industry are so concerned about cost that they do not even cover their cargo on the trains used to move it, so they leave a trail of dust and potentially hazardous grime all along the rail path taken from the mine to the power plant.
I am not advocating carelessness, just pointing out the need to measure the response and make it appropriate. The general public is NOT reassured by overreaction – they think that if we act worried, there must be a reason!
At about 52 min: “In my medicine cabinet, I have aspirin tablets which weigh 385 grams[sic]”.
That’s a heck of a headache you’ve got! 🙂
Oops – Of course the real size of my aspirin tablets is 385 milligrams.
I enjoyed listening to the show.
I used it as background for a couple of comments I posted here:
As far as I can tell, there was no response from the blogger, but it lead to an interesting and somewhat lucid discussion about power issues.
Comments are closed.
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