1. The contrast between Albert Einstein and Ed Lyman or Arnie Gunderson or Ed Zeller or Helen Caldicott is rather stark.

    Rod, in your last paragraph before the PS, you should make “golden age of nuclear energy” link to your post from a week or 2 ago of nearly the same title. I added a 2-post response to that comment section yesterday.

    1. An interesting development in Germany (heard about thanks to Dan Yurman’s twitter feed).

      RWE has filed what looks to be the first of several court cases against the German government, over the tax it imposed on nuclear fuel. It’s near certain that it will be followed by Eon and EnBW, and there will be further cases over the nuclear moratorium.

      The political/strategic implications look interesting. Most of the commentary I’ve seen seems to think that RWE’s case is very strong – it’s based on the discriminatory nature of the tax and moratorium, as compared to other fuels. That’s contrary to both German and European law.

      It suggests in it’s turn that RWE (and the others?) have decided there’s no “middle ground” with the German government; they’d quietly accepted the tax when it was tied to the life extension of their reactors, but now have gone “gloves off”. There’s also likely to be a very adverse public reaction in the German speaking countries. There will be bad relationships with both Government and the public. Not a situation conducive to investment.

      Reading between the lines, that looks very much to me as though RWE will be de-emphasising investment in Germany in it’s overall generation portfolio.

      This could be good news for nuclear development in countries like the UK, the Czech Republic and Poland. Assuming they win, RWE will be notably cash rich (their balance sheet looked rather stretched before). They’ll be keen, I suspect, to be in a position to sell wholesale power into what’s likely to be a very lucrative German market, as supply gets tight.

      It could be coincidental, of course, but only a couple of days ago, the CEO of “Horizon” – the RWE-EON joint venture for nuclear new build in the UK – confirmed they’ll have finalised thier choice of reactor (AP1000 vs EPR) by the end of the year.

  2. Thank you for the link to Dan’s site with the AP rebuttal. This is exactly the sort of thing that we need spread around. I’ve attempted to post it on Slashdot (a fairly well-read news site for nerds) as they had a discussion yesterday with the AP’s post where very few commentors were pro-nuclear, which is a rarity for the site. If anyone has a slashdot account, http://slashdot.org/submission/1664198/AP-Report-on-Industry-Capture-of-NRC-inaccurate is my submission, and the more attention it gets through + clicks, the more likely it is to make it to the front page.

  3. Atomic Power simply has evolved. In fact, it has evolved to the point where the nuclear aspects of steam generation are simply a facet of a much larger picture. In my view the General Public never, at anytime, grasped any engineering details of nuclear power. In the future that will remain and the hazards associated with nuclear power, real or imagined, will be dropped by the media for lack of public interest.

    “The Steam Plant” will be the term used in the future.

    The engineers and operators know it is nuclear steam powering the modern world but to the rate payer it is the electrical outlet providing electricty……Just like FOOD comes from the Super Market…right?

    1. Mike, I think “steam plant” was more often used in reference to coal-fired plants. Since people aren’t really paying for the steam, but rather the electricity, this name doesn’t seem too appropriate.

      Generating station is a more appropriate term, as in San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (aka SONGS).

      For some Gen IV plants that will use nuclear energy to produce either products other than or in addition to electricity, a new name might be warranted.

      Maybe WXYZ Generating and Cancer Fighting Station for an initial United States LFTR implementation in about 2026 or so, to indicate that the facility will also produce medically-valuable isotopes?

  4. While I would agree that the pro-nuclear climate now is indeed more favorable than it was in the 70’s, the availability of information on internet can hardly be considered the “answer” to the anti-nuclear argument. Despite the vast amount of good material on nuclear technology available it seems that a worryingly large number of people cannot bring themselves to even look at the Wikipedia page. I cannot tell you the number of times someone has asked me what I study, then followed with something like “Nuclear engineering … so, what do you do with that?” Even in the wake of Fukushima, I have gotten this response – and more than a few times, people have been surprised when I answer that I am in the business of making electricity. This level of disinterest in the general public has been a constant source of frustration for me and my (student) peers, to the point where some will no longer mention what they study to avoid such conversations (I am not one of them).

    I suppose my point is, regardless of what is out there in cyberspace, how do we motivate people to look for it, to be engaged in what is a fundamentally intellectual argument? As I see it, this is the real hurdle before us, and in more issues than nuclear power.

    1. The present educational level of the US is not encouraging ,about intellectual arguments. But I have to say, that the experts are disappointing as well. Granted that LWRs have an excellent safety record, but isn’t it also “intellectually” true that they can never be “failsafe” in any meaningful sense? And if not, they will ALWAYS be scary; it a “control” thing, I guess. So: what is the intellectual excuse for not supporting the development of Thorium LFTR plants? It’s a lot like the argument a hundred years ago about whether the power grid should be DC (Edison’s choice) or AC (Tesla’s ) It seems obvous now: what took them so long?

    2. The present educational level of the US is not encouraging ,about intellectual arguments. But I have to say, that the experts are disappointing as well. Granted that LWRs have an excellent safety record, but isn’t it also “intellectually” true that they can never be “failsafe” in any meaningful sense? And if not, they will ALWAYS be scary; it a “control” thing, I guess. So: what is the intellectual excuse for not supporting the development of Thorium LFTR plants? It’s a lot like the argument a hundred years ago about whether the power grid should be DC (Edison’s choice) or AC (Tesla’s ) It seems obvious now: what took them so long?

  5. That collective nuclear blog reponse to AP (a’la Huffington) is well and good, but the slander’s done and the public poisoned a little more just because of AP’s massive coverage and outlets. The only real way to refute them is to face them toe-to-toe in their own medium else most the unwashed public will be clueless about the truth. The nuclear blogs are great, but we have to be in AP’s face on the TV screen to drive home their ways, but they’re smug in the fact pro-nukers have no opposite numbers to them in the mainstream media.

    James Greenidge

  6. “Some of us know that major decision makers and journalists read or listen to our words on a regular basis.”

    Anonymous cowards have suspected this is the case for some time, but we can’t confirm whether this is really the truth, or is merely the figment of our imagination, and if so, whom exactly is reading or listening in.

    If somebody knows something, perhaps they would share it with us anonymous cowards by email, as we would be forever in their debt.

  7. One of the things that I have discovered is that there is a great deal of assertions made, mostly by the antinuclear side, (and echoed by the pronuclear side) that have no foundation in fact. At best they are assumptions, at worst wistful thinking. Looked at closely, and using published results from surveying, it is clear that public opinion on nuclear issues is considerably more nuanced than almost everyone, on both sides of the debate, is willing to give the public credit for.

    Furthermore, polling done at the behest of those holding antinuclear positions, often is full of heavily biased questions, guaranteeing negative results. The European Green Parties are particularly guilty of this sort of manipulation.

    What is lacking is any real picture of just what the public is feeling and more importantly, just how much they really know on the subject. While it is all well and good that there is now a plurality of opinions available from experts, it is questionable as to just how much is getting down where it will do some good.

    But the important thing is that as supporters we should not assume that the public is thinking what the demagoguery of the antinuclear side says it is. Most, it would seem, of the general public would like some answers that they can trust, because if they don’t have them they are forced into taking a precautionary stance, and that is what is killing us.

    The world’s governments, by accepting the LNT hypothesis as a standard for making regulation, and by engaging in high farce, like Australia’s decision to check new cars imported from Japan, only reinforce the doubt in peoples minds.

    Outreach, outreach, outreach is the most important thing we need to do right now, or frankly we are doing little more than rubbing each other’s backs*

    * I would have used a somewhat more graphic image, if I thought Rod would let it stand, but I’m sure you can all guess what it was.

    1. Good Post!. The public has been lied to so often; who could blame them for being “gunshy”. I’m a retired civil engineer , and have always liked to imagine that I was “well-informed”, but I only heard a couple of months ago that there was an alternative form of nuclear fission plant beyond the LWR (!). I’m a fan of Kirk Sorensen, but I’m afraid all you nuclear afficionados get carried away with facts such as LWRs Safety Record. I’m not disputing that; I’m just saying that the public has heard various Japanese and US industry officials talking about how safe their reactors are, at a time when they were obviously, damagingly, out of control. If there is a fission plant that can avoid this, it would be preferable ,in spades. And don’t think the public will forget it, either.

    1. I’ll believe in the utility of LENR when I can buy a working unit at Sears to run my home – don’t bother me until then.

  8. Why dont we use another way to produce power generation without placing a uranium atom.we can use like thorium ,advance nuclear power ad by using heavy water…etc.

  9. DV82XL,
    Right on! The Rossi & Focardi show has great entertainment potential but don’t expect much more. Guys who act like Barnum & Bailey may be what they appear to be.


    If the alleged nuclear reaction involved the emission of alpha particles (cf Pu238) there would be no need for significant amounts of shielding but H + Ni62 to Cu63 or H + Ni64 to Cu65 implies betas and intense gamma radiation.

  10. I know the second is a re-post but the first is absolutely amazing work. I felt you guys should see it. The first is not my work. My work only supports it.

  11. Luke – I am being a little indulgent by allowing your links to be posted.

    However, the second video should raise serious questions by people who watch carefully to see how tiny the explosion as one zooms out on a map to show the island nation. With just a tiny bit of zoom, the plants themselves become invisible, as you move out farther, the dispersal diffuses the plume. The fact that radiation can be measured from small quantities of releases after such a large amount of diffusion shows just how sensitive our instruments are.

    It would be interesting to have had some overhead shots of Japan to show how visible plumes of smoke from the fires at oil refineries show up at a much longer range. Who is measuring or reporting on the toxics from that aspect of the earthquake?


    1. Rod,

      I’ve just come across something truly surprising.

      I’d been engaged in a similar discussion elsewhere, which had led onto the subject of the Chernobyl exclusion zone, with someone claiming it was uninhabitable for 24,000 years.

      “The main contaminant from Chernobyl was caesium isotopes – primarily 137, with a 30 year half life. It decays to non-radioactive and non-toxic barium.

      That means, rather than contamination being around for 24,000 years (which I think is confusion with the half-life of pu 239), the contamination will have already have halved, and will be reduced by a factor of 10 ever century.

      Converting contamination into dose rate isn’t straightforward, but a fair equivalence if ground contaminated at 163kBq/Kg would give an annual dose of about 150mSv. That’s equivalent for most soils to about 8MBq/M2.

      ” Based on a rough estimate, a person standing on soil with 163,000 Bq/kg of cesium-137 would receive about 150 millisieverts per year of radiation, says [Shih-Yew Chen of Argonne National Laboratory]. This is well above the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standard of 50 millisieverts per year for an evacuation. (Per day, it’s 0.41 millisieverts, which is equivalent to four chest x-rays.) But Chen adds, “one point [of data] doesn’t mean that much.”

      The hot spot is similar to levels found in some areas affected by the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear reactor accident in the former Soviet Union. Assuming the radiation is no more than 2 centimeters deep, Chen calculates that 163,000 Bq/kg is roughly equivalent to 8 million Bq/m2. The highest cesium-137 levels in some villages near Chernobyl were 5 million Bq/m2.”

      quoted from here:


      The threshold for declaring the original exclusion zone at Chernobyl was 37KBq/M2. Almost one half-life has passed since then, so areas that saw deposition at that rate will now be at about 20KBq/M2.

      That suggests a dose rate from the soil of about (150*20000/8000000) = 0.375 mSv/yr.

      For comparison, the average dose from background sources in Cornwall is about 7.5mSv/yr. Most of that’s from radon, which – as a gas – tends to be inhaled. At places like Ramsar, in Iran, the annual background dose is about 260mSv/yr – ironically, it’s a health spa. There’s no statistical excess of cancers in people living there.

      On that basis, even the areas that saw 5MBq/M2 initial deposition would have Cornish level background radiation within less than 120 years of the accident – so 24,000 is out by a factor of 200.

      Of course, I don’t know what the natural background levels pre-Chernobyl were in the Ukraine, and there’ll obviously be unevenness in the deposition, but that doesn’t sound uninhabitable to me. And you’d have to factor in intake via food (although caesium doesn’t dwell or concentrate in the body). I suspect the maintenance of the exclusion zone is more to do with politics that health physics.”

      I thought I had to have got something wrong, then found Wikipedia quoting a background rate in Pripyat of 1microsievert/hour – only marginally higher than Cornwall!

      What’s really notable is the main exposure in Cornwall (the SW tip of the, UK – almost entirely consisting of granitic rocks) – is via Radon. Which is, of course, a beta emitter, just like caesium. However, since you inhale radon, it’s got an easier pathway into the body, and concentrates the dose in the lungs.

      Now for the most amusing part of all. Cornwall is one of the most popular tourist areas in Britain. In other words, people go, in their hundreds of thousands, to holiday in a place rather more radioactive than most of the Chernobyl exclusion zone.

      1. I wonder if the Chernobyl exclusion is based on projections of radiation dosage levels, rather than actual measurements. Perhaps we can now use UAVs (not available in the late ’80s, even if the Soviets would let us use them) to measure radioactivity in all parts of the Chernobyl region, so that the exclusion zone can be pared down to only those areas which really have dangerous levels of radioactivity.

      2. We GOT to get rid of these two fallacies:

        1. areas becoming “uninhabitable” by radioactive fallout

        2. nuclear plants requiring an evacuation “radius”

        1. is phony because radioactivity is not that dangerous and is natural. Medical solutions exist such as flavonoids that can reduce the little risk of cancer even further to near zero.

        2. is a waste of land by acting as if the radiation were exactly confined to the contents of a circle drawn on the map. As we have seen with Fukushima – an aerial measurement was done and a map created – most of the area in the radius is *uncontaminated* while some areas outside of it *are*. The fallout (which all came from the hydrogen explosions) contaminated a very confined zone. Only this zone ought to be fenced off, the rest of the “radius” opened again for the public.

    2. Hi Rod,

      My plight is anti-nuclear unless I come across something to change my mind so thats my focus.

      I wont bombard your site with links but if I have more evidence that this is actually a catastophe I hope you clear the link.

      You can watch the video first and make up your own mind whether it is of any interest.

      I’m not going to start posting every video I or anyone else on youtube makes but if it is something I have direct knowledge of like the playground video or the other video which supports the plume went over that area I hope your pro-nuclear people at least take a look.

      I like to put this evidence out to the “pro-nuclear” people because of course all the anti-nuclear people will watch those videos on youtube anyway but I like to put my research to the opposing side.

      As I said I don’t have much time to actually participate in the forum discussion at this point in time but you may have some interest in some evidence at most once a week/fortnight or even monthly.



      PS: If I produce hard evidence and you dont clear it well I’ll just go away. But I would hold that thought because that playground radiation is only touching the iceberg.

      1. @Luke – remember, we live in an age where it is possible to produce video/movies where young men can become invisible, where space travel to the distant stars seems routine, where asteroid showers can destroy entire cities, and where tidal waves can put New York City under numerous feet of water.

        I am not convinced by clever tricks with cameras and video editing. I am also not convinced that showing wind patterns proves that any substantial portions of a “plume”, lands anywhere. All thinking people should recognize from a very early age how gas disperses. Just think about those episodes when you were a giggling child whose father wanted to blame the dog for the short duration stink after passing gas.

        That happens in a rather confined space, just think what diffusion does in a volumes measured in many cubic kilometers.

  12. Luke,

    There’s something lacking in your analysis – I don’t think you’ve any real understanding of the physical quantities under discussion.

    On the 5th April, the daily release from Fukushima was estimated at 154 terabequerels/day. At that time, that would be split about 100:1 between iodine and caesium (it’s about three half lives after the cessation of fission, and the early releases were about 1000:1 Iodine/Caesium, from memory). The iodine can be ignored in terms of long-term effects, because of it’s rapid decay – so let’s look at the caesium. That’s about 1.5 TBq/day

    So, how much is that?

    It’s a 50:50 mix, roughly of 134 and 137 – respective half lives 2 and 30 years. Let’s take an average of 15 years.

    On the “Gundersen” thread, I linked to a simple explanation of how to take a Bq radioactivity figure, and a half-life, and turn it into a physical mass. Using that formula, guess how big that daily discharge is?

    A tonne? A kilogramme?

    No – about 1/4 of a gramme. If you prefer imperial measures, about 1/120th of an ounce.

    You’ll see now why Rod makes the point about dispersion, when you consider the area over which your plume maps show that being spread.

    1. All I was proving is there is Radiation in a playground in Kashiwa 26km from central Tokyo 200km away. As per previous videos of mine air readings have gone up from a baseline of 0.10 microsieverts per hour before the 21st of March. Spiked at 0.72 on the 22nd of March. Shorter lived particles have decayed and we are left with a background radiation of 0.33 ~ 0.35 microsievert per hour. These readings are still being recorded officially now and are steady. So an industrial accident is the cause of this spike. The bags of soil have been sent to a lab for analysis. I expect to see cesium-137 as just one example. So kids are playing in a playground in a heavily populated area breathing this in. Lets hope there are not too many babies who like putting soil in there mouth. As I said I only work in IT but based on everything I have seen, read and studied this wont be good. I would prefer to be wrong by the way but that radiation is not going anywhere. It will still be all there when we are dead and buried.

      1. Sorry, but where are these figures being “recorded officially” now? A link would be useful, if you’re going to make claims like that.

        All you’ve shown is that one individual, has shown a device which he claims to be a radiation counter, with some numbers on it’s display. Even if we assume it is a counter, it’s counter of unknown provenance and calibration.

        And note, that video seems to have been made quite shortly after the accident – testing soil samples takes hours, or at worst a few days. The results seem a long time in coming.

  13. Posted by John Petersen from Seeking Alpha. A very good point is that nearly all the hydrocarbon replacement schemes (electric vehicles, solar, wind) require many more industrial metals than are available to scale. We need the very high energy density of fission (as Rod points out). He has many good articles using facts to show how investment pitfalls. I don’t recall him writing about nuclear, but he is good pointing out “the emperor isn’t wearing clothes” about many of the “hot” green energy trends.


  14. Given the heavy reliance of fission to keep the factories running in Japan, I have been somewhat surprised on the apparent backlash in Japan about re-starting the reactors that aren’t damaged. If correct, this article may explain some of that. I think anytime someone says something is “absolutely safe” they both set unrealistic expectations and stop pushing to make things better (after all, if it is “absolutely safe”, how can it be improved? I think attitudes (both public, regulators and plant operators) in this country are much more realistic. What do you think?

  15. I swear, if they had half the bloggers on this blog doing an education tour of Fukushima county (and Japan in general), those nuke plants would be restarted and running, with crazily exaggerated anti-nuclear bogeyman falsehoods and frets thoroughly trashed and extinguished down to the last schoolchild! Yoo Hoo, NRC and Nuclear Industry; Take a hint-hint! It’s in YOUR best interest too!

    James Greenidge

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