That is all.
Since the Fukushima meltdown - as a result of which, not a single person is set to be measurably harmed by radiation - we know that nuclear power is safe. New discoveries by US scientists have now shown it's sustainable as well. That's because US government scientists have just announced research in which they've massively …
Until the huge ball of FIRE and cloud of DEADLY RADIATION. Then it gets hotter.
Clearly wind power is the way, then we can BLOW the clouds of deadly radiation out to sea, solar panels to REFLECT the deadly heat from the fire and ethanol to BURN THE HERETICS who doubt these methods, clearly bringing death to us all.
Nuclear power is bad because it sounds like nuclear bombs, or something like that.
Radiation is dangerous and super hazardous, except in hospitals, smoke alarms and small amounts in bananas.
We shouldn't research nuclear power because it's old and 1950s-ish. Wind turbines are so much sexier and now. It's like wind turbines ate a Zeitgeist or something.
We don't need cheap, abundant energy anyway, who cares about getting the developing world out of Poverty?
Radiation even in hospitals IS dangerous. It's also dangerous in power generation - but in both cases it's handled very carefully so the benefits massively outweigh the risks.
Claiming 'nuclear is safe' is wrong. Nuclear is only safe when you are absolutely committed to remembering how dangerous it is at all times.
Until now, there's no solid case that radiation hormesis (little bit of ionizing radiation is good for you, sorta like radioactive homeopathy) actually exists.
More likely, and more consistent with what we actually know, is that there may be a threshold below which ionizing radiation does little or no harm because living organisms may be able to "repair" the damage caused.
"Claiming 'nuclear is safe' is wrong. Nuclear is only safe when you are absolutely committed to remembering how dangerous it is at all times."
So is driving a car, and it's amazing how many idiots they let loose on roads around the world....
And opposed to idiots driving cars, nuclear energy and it's inherent risks *can* be contained, the waste products *can* mostly be recycled and re-used, and adherence to safety and proper practice regulations *can* be enforced.
If well implemented nuclear energy is a hell of a lot safer than crossing the road in your average suburb, but that doesn't comply with the Green Agenda.
Bring on the downvotes..
Are you willing to go back to ALL the tech that horse-back riding means? No internet, no tv, no radio, no telephones of any sort, no drugs of any sort (including antibiotics), no synthetic materials (nylon, polyester, safety glass, super glue, plastics of any and all sorts, paper finishes, cosmetics), the grand majority of soaps, detergents and conditioners, no heating or air conditioning, no refrigerated food storage, no insulation materials, no concrete, no pesticides or fungicides, no dental filling materials, etc.
What of the above are you willing to give up?
With a horse riding level of technology how are you going to make the things you don't want to give up?
@jonathanb "If two horses bump into each other, not much happens; so a lot safer than cars."
In fact, of course, the risk of accidental death and injury in the pre-industrial age was much greater than it is today, especially when applied to the much lower populations of the time. Horses may not cause a lot of damage when they bump into each other, but lorries don't suddenly get scared and bolt when carrying a load of logs.
> it's inherent risks *can* be contained
Nuclear is *inherently* dangerous - its a chain reaction which requires a great deal of tech to keep in check. Unless you built it way underground, away from any water sources, to the extent that if all your man-made stuff failed, it would still not affect people, animals or vegetation, *then* you have contained the inherent risk. I don't think anyone is proposing anything like that.
Fukushima was certainly a triumph of engineering over the natural elements which caused problems. That's nice for us, but what if the tsumami was a little larger? The engineering isn't inherently safe, its probably safe.
Risk is a calculation, something like damage x likelihood=risk. There is an assumption that everyone is happy with that definition of risk. I'm not convinced that they are. The issue is that while the likelihood is small, the damage is massive, to the point of being global.
Crossing the road is far more "dangerous" but that too follows the technical definition of risk. The frequency is higher but the damage is far lower *and* the individual can control the risk by looking both ways, using a proper crossing etc. The stats are skewed by those who are drunk, careless or wrapped in the iFog of death. Perhaps those with who have a "green agenda" are simply more careful on the roads to the point where the standard risk assessments don't apply.
Perhaps those opposed to nuclear power think its better to probably kill a few people than improbably kill millions and contaminate bits of the earth for generations. A non-nuclear power station is inherently safe (for a given definition of safe) because a total failure has a known and localised effect.
As far as the article goes, if the fuel costs are a tiny % of production, a new source isn't going to have much impact. It might be bad news for Australia but not much more. There are a couple of issues I can see: quality tends to drop as quantity increases, so lots more nuke stations may not be quite as safe as we might hope. Most of our industry is outsourced to China - I'm not sure we want the Chinese to embark on a massive nuke plant building scheme - it isn't politically correct, but I suspect we would far rather the Chinese kill their own people with pollution than risk killing us. The cost of building and running a nuke plant is huge - the fuel might be cheap and plentiful, but the overall cost is huge.
Unless you are looking for political independence from the middle east, or you want to kick-start your industrial sector by subsidising energy costs with taxpayer money, there probably won't be much scope for using this plentiful fuel. I doubt its going to happen. Governments typically get a lot of tax from oil sales so subsidising energy which might replace oil would be a major cost to them.
Personally, if you're going to spend billions, why not do more research and development of geothermal?
Idiots driving cars CAN be contained if we have the WILL power to have the WHEEL power to atomically space-fold their asses when they drive recklessly. Then, recover their sarccoughagas capsulized vehicle and turn their spent asses into fuel pellets...
Just an idea.... Hehehehe
So you take all the gloves, clothing, tools, shielding, end-of-life components, decomissioned reactors, pipework, instruments and the containers you stored them in and you pile them in a room along with the gloves, clothing, tools etc. you used to move them and this creates electricity? Without creating more waste?
Serious explanation please, what do you do with the waste?
Are you aware of the various fuel lifecycles? It is possible to fuel certain types of reactor with output from others, but it does carry proliferation risks and a certain amount of reprocessing. I've yet to hear a convincing case for a more efficient means of energy production. But if you know of one, please let me know...
The waste is:
1) Transuranic actinides (Plutonium etc) created from neutron activation of fuel e.g. U238 + n -> Pu239. This is either fissile and so fuel directly, or if you leave it in the reactor long enough it will absorb enough neutrons to become fissile. So, some combination of reprocessing, or a system like liquid cores which allow materials to remain in the core for a long time.
2) Fission waste (Cesium 137, Strontium 90, Technetium 99) -- when it's fresh, this is the famous High Level Waste. You get something under one ton per year from a large power reactor. Reprocess out of the fuel matrix, put it somewhere dry and cool (without losing it) and wait. This stuff is so very active, that it's pretty much faded away in about 300 years (10 Cs137 half-lives -- 1000-fold reduction). Tc99 is VERY long lived, so it's not particularly active, but it could be destroyed by neutron activation if it's a concern. 500 years seems a long time, but it's not the absurd tens of thousands of years that you get if you don't re-process and leave the waste mixed in with actinides.
3) Operations (hats and gloves) and decommisioning waste created by contamination with fission waste or neutron activation of the structure also tends to be short lived and dilute. Wait. Let the decommisioning sinking fund grow, the activity decay, and your robots get better. But mainly design reactor buildings and housings to be re-used and replaced in regular maintenance.
Seriously, waste is a legitimate issue, but in the face of the prize -- zero carbon, reliable, sustainable energy -- it's one that we can deal with by management. The impact, in size and risk, on the surface of the earth and its inhabitants is tiny, invisible, compared with the gigatonnes of waste dropped into the atmosphere, uncontrolled, by gas and coal.
Thanks UMACF24 for a proper answer.
"Reprocessing", didn't we try that? Didn,t go well I think.
"Remain in the cores for a long time." I realise all these solutions are going to involve long time frames but it can't stay in there forever so are we then back to reprocessing?
"One ton per year per reactor" adds up to a heck of a lot of tons worldwide, of the really ugly stuff. I don't lie awake at night in fear of terrorists or rogue states but I don't see the wisdom in the human species to keep all that power contained.
Yes 300 - 500 years seems almost do-able set against time frames in excess of our history as a species but again the reprocessing, (and all the waste created by that)
"Operations." Understood it's low grade but there's an awful lot of it and again the solution seems to be "wait."
"In face of the prize" There's the rub. I love nuclear power, I'll eat the risk of accidents, releases to some extent but we can't pretend we know what we're doing until we have working, rational solutions to the question of the ever-expanding kilo tons of physically and politically toxic waste products.
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Read- Recycle uranium. It costs money but is much safer in the long run. If 99% of the most toxic longest lasting waste can be recycled then you have a much smaller waste storage problem. The remaining waste decays in 10,000 years. This is something no one has any problem designing storage for. It is the 100,000 plus years storage profile that is impossible to contain.
Recycling is a nice idea if only it worked. Sellafield was a disaster in every possible way - reprocessing waste turned out to be much more expensive than expected (far more expensive than mining new uranium), incredably dirty and polluting (they lost hundreds of kilos of plutonium, some of it within the buildings, some of it was dumped into the sea - yes really) and never was commercially viable. So after being funded and built with taxpayer money, it is now being closed down, dismantled and cleaned up (as far as that is feasible), again at a huge cost to the taxpayer.
So recycling spent fuel has been tried and failed dismally. And there are still people who claim nuclear power is cheap AND safe?
You have a few choices with the waste:
- recycle it into more fuel. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breeder_reactor) The original nuclear fuel cycle int he US was going to include breeder reactors that would take the "spent" fuel and enrish it.
- Intern it in a deep place where it will be safe for several 10k years, or a subduction zone where it gets plunged into the mantle where it will resurface in a million years or more.
- Launch into space and store it on the moon (Space 1999 anyone?), or drop it into the sun where it will remain for another 4 billion years or so. Yes, launching radioactive waste is risky. However, containment design and materials have come a long way in the last few decades, making it feasible and fairly safe to lob the stuff into space.
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Thanks JGT for actually answering rather than just downvoting blindly.
Recycling. As I understand it this is strictly for the high grade, spent fuel rods etc. Can it do anything about the countless tonnes of medium/low grade stuff? This stock seems to just expand every time you handle , measure or move it.
Burying it I can understand but the time frame, the geology, the politics.... Seems like a slightly polished version of dumping it in the oceans.
The subduction zone seems tricky as this is not a rapid process, is deep under water and involves very high pressues. How do you contain and monitor the stuff for so long?
Launching it into the back of the sun has long been my personal favourite and was my top choice for a Millenium Project worthy of an advanced species. (Sadly we built a big tent instead, but then we are only an advancing species.)
That's lawyers, surely?
"Ask a housewife how much two and two is, and without hesitation, she'll tell you it's four.
"Ask an accountant and he'll say 'I'm fairly certain, but let me run through those figures once more.'
"Ask a doctor and he'll think about malpractice, and say 'I'm fairly sure that at the very least it's three.'
"Ask a lawyer and he'll lock the doors and draw the curtains, and whisper 'How much do you want it to be?' "
"We shouldn't research nuclear power because it's old and 1950s-ish. Wind turbines are so much sexier and now. It's like wind turbines ate a Zeitgeist or something."
Wind turbines are only a technology we threw into the dustbin of history 150 years ago as soon as a 1% efficient steam engine could be got working.
"...we threw into the dustbin of history 150 years ago as soon as a 1% efficient steam engine could be got working..." But the reason we discarded water and wind was that it tied factories near the sources. The owners and managers did not want to travel from the factories to the cities and their wives wanted the social scene in town. Since the advent of the electrical grid that is no longer relevant.
I am pro nuclear but facts are facts. And there are likely to continue to be places on Earth where wind and water are ideal to power stuff. High aloft wind power looks very promising. Enormous energy up there, especially in the jet-stream. Solar? Well, it is as good a solution as any where there is no grid. Small plutonium "batteries" are perfectly viable power off the grid for decades but in this day and age people can't be trusted with the stuff. If they could, we could have totally safe nuclear cars in a snap. Pellets can be coated in thick strong noncorrosive metal no radiation would ever leave it, just heat conducted powering a Stirling engine. Propeller aircraft could fly indefinitely.
I don't think we should continue with the old tech nuclear when Thorium and depleted uranium look so promising. There are doubtless other possibilities as well. Crazed leaders of numerous small countries can't be trusted with current uranium reactors and most larger countries can't be either.
If we can't trust individuals to have nuclear cars when the pubic is policed how can we trust governments who have considerably more resources and are not policed, to use nuclear power in an ethical way?
And let's say the US and perhaps some other first world countries go nuclear and it works just fine giving us an economical advantage over other countries...those other countries are not going to back down from pursuing the same technology to compete, to be seen as respectable, and other reasons. It would be impossible to stop them and look repressive and hypocritical.
In an nutshell, you've just expressed the typical pro-nuke argument, and you think you are ever so superior to those ever-so-foolish anti-nuke people.
You say that we don't want "cheap, abundant, energy". This is absurd, because nuclear power isn't really isn't all that cheap. There are all sorts of costs that they want to wish away, such as decommissioning, the environmental damage from mining and processing radioactive ores, and the huge, government subsidized costs when a nuclear plant goes bad.
We were told we were foolish to believe that nuclear accidents couldn't happen with all the safeguards and backup systems... but now that it has several times now, the utterly amazing argument is being made that an occasional massive blowup like Fukashima / Chernobyl / Three-Mile Island ... is not really all that bad.
Mr Lewis is hardly is any expert about the hazards of the massive amounts of radiation released at Fukashima to justify his opinion of just how minimal the effects are going to be over the next few years, and for the thousands of years the long-lived radionucleotides spread so far and wide will be polluting the environment. Most scientists expect that there will be a many hundreds of extra deaths from the resulting pollution, but spread over such a large area that it will be difficult to trace them. So it's extremely disengenuous to claim that there are no deaths associated with Fukashima.
Nuclear power isn't even all that green even if you wish away all of the radioactive danger ... the whole process of building massive structures to process fuel, house reactors, and so on emits vast amounts of greenhouse gases.
Wind power, even without subsidies are becoming cheap enough to compete with fossil fuels. The cost of solar and other green power is continuing to decline as new technologies, and economies of mass production result in lower costs and increased efficiencies.
People like myself are think we are better off using the vast, free energy provided by the sun. We could even make the argument that pro-nuke activists don't want abundant, inexpensive energy, and want to keep insisting that we pour even more money down this expensive and inherently dangerous technological dead end.
"he environmental damage from mining "
What , you mean coal mining and drilling for oil is squeaky clean is it?
"long-lived radionucleotides spread so far and wide will be polluting the environment."
You ever sat on some granite in cornwall? Take a geiger counter next time and frighten that hippy mind of yours.
"he whole process of building massive structures to process fuel, house reactors, and so on emits vast amounts of greenhouse gases."
Compared to a coal fired power station pumping out hundreds of millions tons of C02 in its lifetime? Don't be an utter cock. And last time I looked wind turbines weren't made out of hemp and beeswax - they're built of concrete and steel. Where do you think that comes from?
"People like myself are think we are better off using the vast, free energy provided by the sun."
Yeah , good luck with that anywhere outside the sahara where there is plenty of sunshine and unlimited land to build solar collectors on. Ever been north of the artic circle in winter? Hint - there is no sun.
Here we go. Chernobyl again. I mean we could have said something sensible and measured like "I'm not sure I trust cost cutting soviets to design, build and man a nuclear power station properly", but sadly, we just sink to the level of debate that makes George Bush Junior look smart.
The CEGB reviewed the RBMK reactor when it came out, they concluded it was dangerous. It's in the national archives.
Incidentally the soviets weren't stupid, they just compromised safety for a reactor that could be refuelled on-line and run on unrefined uranium ore.
Yes, and what we have noticed is that this liability is somehow passed on to the general public. After all, we're all in the same boat now, no? And then they pull the rope on their golden parachute, get paid a lot of money. There's nothing to be done about that, it's in their contracts.
And when they land, they become capitalists and it's all me me me again. Untill it blow up in their faces.
And this will continue untill the politicians finally work up to courage and throw some of these people in jail.
Then throw away the golden key.
$2Bn? You might want to revise that figure upward, maybe by a factor of 10.
The problem with nuclear is that, when a major accident happens, things can get extremely costly. In fact, no nuclear facility is insured against major accidents - the payout would bankrupt the insurer.
Consider Fukushima: there are three melted down reactors and a damaged spent fuel pool. It's going to take at least a decade, more likely 3 decades, to make everything safe. It's going to be a very demanding and expensive job, and in the meantime, the whole complex has to be guarded and monitored. If you think TEPCO, or its insurer, is going to pick up the tab you're a little naive methinks. The government, and thus the taxpayer, will be forced to.
Upward of 100 you mean: current estimates of the Fukushima cleanup are $235 billion! And we may not have seen the worst yet, there are reports that the fuel pools are unsafe and too unstable to withstand the next earthquake which most likely will happen during the cleanup as it will go on for decades...
This whole sad story proves yet again how nuclear power can become a huge disaster by just a few minor decisions to save a few bucks. Spending a few million on waterproofing the backup generators or increasing the height of the tsnunami defenses would have resulted in $200 million minor damage instead of a $200 billion disaster. I wonder how many other nuclear power companies take similar shortcuts to increase their profits?
I have to agree. The Press amplification factor is huge.
Fukushima and Chernobyl were the only really bad disasters. Even by harsh measurements, they didn't rate that high on the Disaster Richter Scale. Compared to Krakatoa or the Sumatran quake, or the Japanese quake itself, these were minor. Windscale was low-end minor, and Three-Mile was so trivial it was a legend in the mind of the Press.
Moreover, in both major cases, the cause was lax management and poor oversight. That tends to get corrected real fast.
Actually the take-away for non-nukers is that lax management and poor oversight are endemic in the industry, and rarely get corrected at all, never mind fast.
It's a political and economic problem, not a technological one. Technically safe-ish nukes are almost possible. But you don't hand nuke technology to pointy-haired bosses and freebooting profiteers like TEPCO and expect them to run it safely - because they can't and won't.
If anyone believes otherwise, email me and I'll sell you a nice shiny bridge someone gave me recently.
At a fair price, too.
Add to that that most nuclear waste sites need some form of -probably costly- maintenance. We KNOW that at some moment in the future some CEO/Minister or whatever will have the bright idea of suppressing this superfluous expending, or simply will lack the resources for performing said maintenance.
How many more disasters before you work out that nuclear power is not safe and never will be as long as we allow humans to design, build and control them? If it were safe we wouldn't be able to quote a long list of nuclear accidents. Not many people have been killed, but that is not the only measure of safety. Large areas of land have been polluted and the cleanup costs have been enormous. If nuclear power were as safe as claimed there would be not a single accident.
"How many more disasters before you work out that ANY non-trivial industry is not inherently safe and never will be as long as we allow humans to design, build and control them?"
There, fixed that for you.
Number of people killed by renewable electricity generation at Vajont, in 1963: over 2000.
Entire towns and villages were literally wiped off the map. Entire families killed. In some villages, nothing at all remained to even suggest a village had stood there.
And that's just ONE example of how other, non-nuclear, industries can fucking things up on a truly monumental scale.
Now, let's look at coal-fired power stations. How about this trivial little incident? What about the Piper Alpha disaster? Or the Deepwater Horizon? How much do you think has been spent so far on the oil spillages that cost billions of dollars, and many, many years, to clean up?
Here's a hint: they're still cleaning up after the Exxon Valdez, which occurred [i]over 22 years ago.[/i] Yes, it'll take 30 years to clean up after Fukushima, but one of the reasons for it is that there was also a major, far more harmful, earthquake and tsunami in the same area too. Unlike the Fukushima structures, most of the surrounding residential homes were destroyed. Which, incidentally, is one of the reasons why many are in no particular hurry to return as they have nothing to return [i]to.[/i]
What about the Aberfan mining waste landslide in Wales that wiped out almost an entire school full of children?
What about the Bhopal disaster (over 12000 dead)?
And you weirdoes still think nuclear power is still "inherently worse" than coal, hydroelectric or oil and gas? We know how to handle nuclear waste: subduction zones would do it for peanuts. Breeder reactors will let us recycle the fuel multiple times, making it much more cost-effective too.
But none of that stuff can happen until the vocally ignorant stop spreading so much idiotic FUD.
As for the decommissioning of nuclear power stations: how much do you think it costs to sort out a contaminated brownfield site that was once an oil refinery or chemical plant?
Energy generation is an industry. All forms of energy production have their whole-life costs. When all those offshore wind farms become life-expired, do you think dismantling them and towing their carcasses back to the mainland for recycling—and an awful lot of landfill—will be free?
If you're going to apply such high standards to the nuclear energy industry, you'd better have a bloody good reason for not applying equally high standards to every other form of electricity generation.
If you only care about body-count, then nuclear scores pretty well. However Chernobyl and Fukushima have left large areas of land uninhabitable for the next 1000 years or so. How many people are starving to death every year who wouldn't be starving to death if that part of Ukraine and Belarus could be used as productive farmland to produce more food?
Chernobyl has left large areas of land uninhabitable for the next 1000 years or so. Fukushima hasn't, most of the estimates are "only" for 20 years or so. It isn't harmless, but it isn't "the next Chernobyl" either.
It is relevant that both Chernobyl and Fukushima were byproducts of bad management, and in Chernobyl's case it was reckless abuse of an unsafe reactor type (RBMK). On Fukushima, it was TEPCO's neglect to tsunami-proof their backup systems....
Indeed. And more importantly what are the costs? Chernobyl is expected to cost $235 billion. Fukushima will cost $250 billion by the latest estimate. In the UK we are paying $72 billion to clean up our own nuclear mess.
You can't argue nuclear power is either safe or cheap with these astronomical costs to society.
And guess what, it is always the tax payers which end up paying for it, never the power companies! These kinds of huge sums could easily be used to transform a whole country to use renewable energy.
I'm all for nuclear power if it could be done safely and cheaply, without any subsidies or extra taxes. But is it actually possible?
"If you only care about body-count, then nuclear scores pretty well. However Chernobyl and Fukushima have left large areas of land uninhabitable for the next 1000 years or so."
Background radiation levels in Pripyat area about 1 microsievert/hour - or about 9 millisieverts/year.
The average radaition level across Cornwall is about 8 millisieverts/year, with hotspots up to about 6 times that.
Should we be evacuating Cornwall?
"However Chernobyl and Fukushima have left large areas of land uninhabitable for the next 1000 years or so", you realise that the powers that be in Japan are waiting for the radiation to fall to a "safe" level before the land can be reoccupied? The irony being that the vast majority of the so called exclusion area is already significantly less radioactive than the normal background level of radiation in Cornwall!
Coal,oil,smoke inhallations kills thousands. Sned SUlphur dioxide & mercury into the atmospeher and hase reached the Eskimos tissue organs.
Countless millions are carrying the scars of inhallations (including miners) of these pathogens.
Doesnt thsi make Nuclear safer in mul;tiples?
Why is no one mentioning Thorium Reactors ? They're even better.
Chernobyl demonstartes that nuclea rpower is safe not that it is dangerous. I am using the normal definition of safe: 'freedom from unacceptable risk'.
Chenrobyl was a ridiculous design reactor which was recklessly managed and which as a consequence suffered the worst failure imaginable. The reactor core exploded and caught fire, there was a meltdown.
The point is not that even old western designs are much safer, or that modern designs are safer still or that a good safty culture would have prevente dthe acciddent but all are true. The point is that Chernobyl is pretty much the worst that coudl happen and the consequences were not very severe. Roughly sixty workers died. There have been 9 additional deaths of non-workers due to increased levels of thyroid cancer and that is pretty much it apart from psychological problems caused by fear of consequences.
In the grand scheme of thinsg one accident of this severity is better than most industries certainly better than renewable energy. The worst renewable energy accident I am aware of killed more than 30,000 people and caused massive destruction of property.
Three mile island and Fukishima are examples of the double standards applied to nuclear, nobody died or was ever likely to die in either case. The fact that these are brought up shows how extremely safe nuclear is. In what other industry would people constantly mention accidents in which no one was hurt?
Actually the worst renewable energy accident is believed to have killed over 171,000 people!
No typo - one hundred and seventy one thousand.
1975 Banqiao Dam burst - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banqiao_Dam
Now remind me... now many have died from nuclear?
"not a single person is set to be measurably harmed by radiation"
Er - in the reality-based world, if that's true at all (and time will tell) it'll be because the population around Fukushima was evacuated outside a nuclear exclusion zone.
Travel restrictions are still in place today.
So really nuclear is safe as long as you don't mind making huge areas uninhabitable when it goes horribly wrong.
Apart from that it's fine, I suppose.
I'm amazed by the number of pro-nuke people on this forum...
Some time ago I thought that nuke power was the least bad we had (compare to coal and oil). then I was traveling in Asia, and Fukushima, happened. And is still happening if I may say.
I guess that some smart people could find a law that link the pro/anti-nuke opinion to the distance people live from Fukushima.
There's a couple of hundred kilos of plutonium just offshore from Sellafield, which had gone down the disposal pipe there when they were doing weapons work. Most of it seems fairly safe in the mudbanks, though about a third of it seems to have drifted off somewhere.
I found this a bit unbelievable when I first heard about it, but it does seem to be true. Greenpeace try to dig it up from time to time.
Radioactive waste is a real mix of materials. Uranium is probably also not that high on the list of really nasty contaminants that you can get from a reactor; there's stuff far more toxic and easily absorbed into living things.
So, I guess that the answer is "yes, so long as you don't mind leaving the caesium, strontium, iodine et all behind".
The biggest roadblock to widespread adoption of nuclear power is its bad press. We all know that when a PR nightmare takes place, the first step to rehabilitating the person / place / thing / company is to change its name (even if you change nothing else). Whether the people are so dim that they never make the association between the old and the new - or if it's just the press that is incapable of making the link is immaterial, it's a technique that works well and has been tested on many occasion.
However, if you want to go one step further, you can tell people that the NEW bears absolutely no relation to the OLD - and in the case of using radioactivity to power our world, that can even be true (well, as close as anything to do with atomic / nuclear P.R. is ever true).
So enter Thorium reactors. No nasty Plutonium, or icky Uranium. No bombs or past history of mistakes, leaks, failures or radiation scares. The reactors are inherently safer (though I'm sure some enterprising idiot will find a way to screw them up) and pretty much fail-safe.They can be scaled up or down, depending on local requirements for generating capacity and convenience. And they can't be used to make fission weapons - which is probably why they haven't been popularised, even though the technology has been around for yonks.
No, thorium doesn't rock. It's just a way of changing the subject by the pro nukes.
Thorium is an element, when bombarded by neutrons, is converted into fissile fuel. Something has to provide the neutrons, such as a small conventional nuclear reactor or a particle accelerator.
Thorium requires fuel reprocessing to be practical. The fissile materials produced by the neutron bombardment need to be separated out from other elements that absorb too many neutrons making the reaction inefficient, just like with regular uranium fuel. They are then used in a reactor.
The thorium nuts are gaga about Liquid (molten salt) Fluoride Thorium Reactors (LFTR), which have only been built on a pilot scale so far. It would take considerable research and very expensive materials to build reactors that can hold up to extremely hot, corrosive, radioactive salt without failures on a commercial scale.
So again, thorium is yet another way of producing nuclear fuel. It hardly matters that it is more abundant and thus less expensive because the cost of the fuel is not the reason why nuclear power is so expensive. The costs come from the huge infrastructure needed to both contain the radiation and produce power from the generated heat, the decommisioning costs, and the largely unfunded but very significant risks. There are no companies in Europe or the US reprocessing any fuel because it is so inherently dangerous to deal with hugely reactive chemicals needed to reprocess such even more dangerously reactive dirty fuel. The processes requireed are so expensive and dangerous nobody wants to do it. Its cheaper to use new fuel.
It's very difficult to design machinery that hold up to the extreme stresses on materials that have to handle heavy radiation and extremely reactive chemicals, such as fluorine, and concentrated acids, bases, oxidizing / reducing agents used to chemically separate the good stuff from the radioactive waste. It is also really hard to design and operate the equipment to avoid the inconvienient and dangerous problems of having various hot nucleotides to find a place to collect in a corner or a pipe somewhere and get really hot (both radioactively and quite warm too) and then start some very inconvenient and sometimes catastrophic reactions. This is how small amounts of nasty things like plutonium or other radionucleotides end up contaminating things when these messes are cleaned up.
So, as I said, it doesn't matter that thorium is more abundant. The cost of the fuel is not why nuclear power is so expensive.
Thorium doesn't produce the same set of waste nucleotides as Uranium fission, but it still produces nuclear waste that has to be dealt with in the same way. So this still sounds like a technology with more problems than advantages.
".....There are no companies in Europe or the US reprocessing any fuel...." Que? IIRC, there are three sites in France, two in the UK (Sellafield and Thorp), and Hanford in the US. Isn't there also a big project to build a reprocessing plant at Savannah River? And I'm pretty sure the Russians, Chinese and Indians have their own reprocessing units.
I got so excited by the possibilities of thorium and LFTRs that I nearly changed career, but nuclear research is almost non-existent in the western world at the moment and that kind of stopped me.
China however, they are going for it:
It's important to keep in mind that LFTRs are not a mature technology yet and will require R&D to make work.
There's also a notion that LFTRs don't produce weapons grade material. Sadly, this is not true, I know this from talking with a Nuclear Research Professor at a seminar I went to. The claim is that the hard gamma emitters in the interim stage U233 screw too much with electronics, this is not true.
I still dream of energy getting far cheaper and the way that will change the world for the better.
Professor Hans Rossling who has a few talks on TED makes a compelling and powerful case that the poor need so much more energy to develop.
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Caesium enriched fish & chips eh? Tasty. Let's see now.
25,800 Bq / kg of fish - lets be greedy and have a half-kilo (11oz) portion, gives 12,900Bq.
1 Bq of Caesium = 0.013 microsievert (uSv) (source: http://www.ourfood-news.com/node/115)
12,900 * 0.013 = 167.7 uSv
The mighty xkcd chart (here: http://xkcd.com/radiation/ ) lists a flight from LA to New York at 40 uSV and a head CT scan as 2,000 uSv (2 mSv)
So, for a free bag of battered fish and chips (I _do_ live in Scotland, after all) with health effects of 2 return air trips across the USA, I might well take you up on your offer, if Lewis doesn't beat me to it.
If that's the effect of putting 6 nuclear reactors in an earthquake, then throwing a tsunami over it and blowing the roof off, then I think that's just incredibly safe.
Ignorance is the real problem. People see something like 25,800 Bq and they go "OOOOooooooo big numbers" without really understanding what that number represents. Then they point to it and go "Big numbers bad, no power for you" and slink back into their super overpriced homes to watch mindless drivel on the tele like good little citizens. I'll take a nuclear plant in my neighborhood and a 75% reduction in power costs thank you.
The problem is not the amount of radiation your body receives. It's all those unstable isotopes that you are putting in your system (eating them) , many of which will find a place in your cells, organs and tissues. Some of those unstable atoms and/or their unstable/toxic by-products will end in places where they can do lots of harm simply by being there, i.e. the DNA in your cells. Comparing the amount of radioisotopes in a fish you are supposed to eat with the radiation dosage you would receive if you where close to that same fish is just stupid.
You are looking at big Bq numbers. It's the Sv number you need to look at.
That is why I did the conversion from Bq (Caesium) to Sv - Bq is the number of decays per second. Sv is the derived unit standardising the biological effects of ionizing radiation. You could shield behind a sheet of paper from something emitting 10,000,000 Bq of alpha particles, but not from something emitting 10,000,000 of beta particles or gamma rays - same Bq, different energies, different biological effects. Sv is the number to worry about.
Wikipedia (it's too late to go searching for more authoratative sources) gives an example that a single 140 MBq/kg of Cs-137 is lethal to dogs after 3 weeks. Assuming human/canine biology is equally sensitive to ionising radiation, then a 140,000,000 Bq / kg dose at my hefty 85kg is 11,900,000,000 Bq - some 922,480 times the does compared to the 12,900 Bq in the portion of battered fish in question.
That tells me that the biological effects of that radiological dose on my body are tiny. Really. Tiny tiny tiny.
It's also a gross misrepresentation. The caption says the picture shows fish on sale, which can only legitimately be sold if caught 50km off-shore. The headline and article refer to two members of a banned species caught within the prohibited zone by corporate researchers, not any fish on sale. Bloody journalists... ;-)
is stick a ruddy great windmill on the front of a nuke plant, there all green ( also paint the plant green too with a few happy pictures of children playing or something)
better yet minturise the nuke reactors and hide them in/under windfarms, no one will know if it looks all tree huggerish for all i care the wind farms could be powered by the nuke plant so they keep spinning all the time, so they can be smug and say they have some highly efficient design that works even when there is absolutely no wind at all, maybe powered by cow farts or something
And that is: don't give responsibility for nuclear to anyone with a profit motive! This is what we have governments for -- and even if we can't have proper, professional government, i.e. monarchy, a Nucleonics Corps under the aegis of a mob-rule government, will still do a better job of it than someone who sees it as an investment on which to maximize return. There's nothing wrong with making a profit, of course, but some things are too important for that, and this is absolutely one of them.
I disagree. I think you need a profit motive to make it as efficient as possible, and you need rigorous governmental oversight to bend the economics curve so the profit motive incorporates safety into the plan. If you go all one way or the other, you miss out on the unique benefits either organizational structure brings. I want cake and to eat it.
Optimizing for efficiency first, and then worry about safety, is exactly the sort of eventually disastrous mistake that's very likely to result from involving a profit motive in the planning process.
That's not the only possible cause, of course -- in fact, Chernobyl makes a great example of how you can ignore the profit motive entirely and still make the same mistake -- but the Soviet system, being as it was an object lesson in the various failure modes of progressive social engineering, inflicted all manner of perverse incentives anyway.
I don't disagree that the structure of a for-profit company brings with it some unique benefits. I just don't think the risk of compromising on safety makes those benefits worthwhile in the case of a nuclear power industry. And I don't mind if everything, from the turbine hall outward, belongs to a company whether publicly or privately owned -- but everything, from the containment building wall inward, must belong to someone who will not do anything that will make his plants anything other than as safe as any fission plant built with existing technology could ever possibly be.
I already addressed that point -- for the hard of reading, here's the relevant excerpt:
[...] Chernobyl makes a great example of how you can ignore the profit motive entirely and still make the same mistake -- but the Soviet system, being as it was an object lesson in the various failure modes of progressive social engineering, inflicted all manner of perverse incentives anyway.
And for the hard of thinking, a tl;dr version:
Nuclear is but one of very many things the Soviet regime, due to its innate handicaps, spent eighty years failing to get right.
Well, there are a few hitches with the new tech that will have the Greenpeckers drooling in anticipation. Firstly in that it requires big nets to be made of electro-spun chitin, derived from unwanted prawn shells (I kid you not! http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-19335708). I'm guessing the idea of dragging massive nets through the oceans will not be too good for the fish and hence give the Greenpeckers an excuse to act like infants. Then you have to take your chitin nets - sorry, "mats", mustn't call them nets - and wash them in very environmentally-unfriendly acid to extract the uranium. Ooops! There goes excuse number two for the Greenpecker frenzy! Then you have to use an equally "nasty" industrial process (i.e., an uranium enrichment and nuke rod manufacturing plant) to give you the finished product, and the Greenpeckers will be in protest Heaven at the thought of more processing plants to camp outside.
"I'm no fan of the luddite GreenPeacers either...." The sad truth is I actually used to know and respect some very knowledgeable and scientifically-minded members of Greenpeace (I even dated one), but they all left years ago when it started calling itself "The Movement" and was over-run with desperate anti-Capitalist leftovers from the falling of the Berlin Wall. It's funny you mention the "Greenpeckers" tag as that is not my own creation, I first heard used by one of those ex-Greenpeacers in describing The Movement as it has become.
We need to stop using fossil fuels and to break away from the strangle hold the oil producing countries of the Middle East have on us.
Nuclear power is a dangerous thing to have in you back yard but it needn't be there. We could set up huge power stations and use the energy produced to to create the equivalent of fossil fuels, which could then be transported safely around the planet. After all, fossil fuels are just hydrocarbons that have stored chemical energy, which originally came from photosynthesis.
The power stations needn't be near populated areas, they could be thousands of miles away, in the middle of a desert somewhere, such as the Middle E....oh, hang on....
Is this "AD" some new EU-mandated metric unit? Dekka-Amperes (presumably 10^30 Amps) perhaps? Long enough for 5000 Active Directory installations to lock up (a rather short period I would say)? Or perhaps it's the lifetimes of 5000 Denying Apologists (as in climate change Denying oil company Apologists)?
I think perhaps you meant "AD 5000" as in "Atheist Determined"
Fast breeder reactors the way to go. Generate more fissile material than they consume and can extract (in principle) all of the energy contained in Uranium (vs. the 1% extracted by current light water reactors). More expensive than LWRs, more technically challenging and potential Plutonium proliferation risk, but orders of magnitude less radioactive waste. Much of the research has already been done. Initiatives under way internationally, though not on huge scale. Solving any remaining problems likely to be far easier than solving fusion.
"Fast breeder reactors the way to go. Generate more fissile material than they consume and can extract (in principle) all of the energy contained in Uranium (vs. the 1% extracted by current light water reactors). More expensive than LWRs, more technically challenging and potential Plutonium proliferation risk, but orders of magnitude less radioactive waste. Much of the research has already been done. Initiatives under way internationally, though not on huge scale. Solving any remaining problems likely to be far easier than solving fusion."
Much more entertaining a post if you imagine it being said by mordin from mass effect.
Or better yet, write it into the script of Time Bandits:
"Robert, we must plan a new world together. This time we'll start it properly. Tell me about computers."
"A computer is an automatic, electronic apparatus for making calculations. . .or coherent operations that are expressed in numerical or logical terms."
"And fast breeder reactors?"
"Ah! Fast breeder reactors use a fast fission process for the generation of fission isotopes."
"Be quiet, Benson. Show me more, Benson. Show me, show me, subscriber trunk dialing. I must know everything."
The alternative thorium cycle nuclear power system has an even more abundant fuel source, and generates less waste, with a much shorter half-life. China is investing heavily in this, and the US ought to as well.
I suspect the heavily invested reactor companies are pushing an agenda to stay with Uranium, since they won't need to change much, and I suspect DoE goes along with that as being short-term pragmatic, and also they are heavily invested. Still, we need to look. It may make nuclear power more acceptable to the Greens.
Nuclear power is the only way to go. Wind power is out. It's way too expensive, and subject to the weather. Coal and oil are out, because they'll run out (long before AWG fries us, incidentally). Fusion is still science fiction. And sun power doesn't work for Britain.
Since the Fukushima meltdown - as a result of which, not a single person is set to be measurably harmed by radiation - we know that nuclear power is safe
Is that the same reactor where the people in charge told the people working inside the plant after the incident to hide their radiation detection devices because otherwise the detector would go off pretty darn quickly and the workers would have to stop working? So not a single person? Really?
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-18936831 <-- workers covering detectors with lead
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-19245818 < -- butterflies with severe mutations caused by the radiation, insects were generally considered to be more resistant to radiation
http://www.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/TenHoeveEES12.pdf < -- finally a scientific report stating the number of deaths from the incident will be between 15 and 1,350, including people who died during the evacuation as it was too strenuous for their bodies (old people, sick people etc.)
So that figure for "not a single person", did you pull it at random to suit your article?
All you need to do is read their abstract to see how many wild-assed guesses they're using to reach even the minimal estimate they're willing to put their names on. That paper does a great job of supporting Mr. Page's statement! -- if there had indeed been anyone measurably harmed as a result of the Fukushima radiation release, I should think these fellows wouldn't have to stretch as far as they do, to come up with an estimate which doesn't even approach the number of people killed in road accidents in the US over the course of a three-day holiday weekend!
quote you Mr Webb
http://www.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/TenHoeveEES12.pdf < -- finally a scientific report stating the number of deaths from the incident will be between 15 and 1,350, including people who died during the evacuation as it was too strenuous for their bodies (old people, sick people etc.)
lets look at that in slow motion ...
including people who died
---->>>> during the evacuation as it was
---->>>>> too strenuous for their bodies (old people, sick people etc.)
It was the needless evacuation that killed those people. Exmoor; Dartmoor and N Wales are more radioactive than the Fukushima area.
XKCD radiation chart is mentioned above - go look at it
Eh? Fission reactions don't blow up power plants, steam pressure does. But that's pretty academic. The thing to worry about is fire because it produces lots of radioactive smoke that spreads downwind nicely. Look at Windscale; no explosions there.
You'll get bigger explosions out of oil, gas and other refined fossil fuel storage facilities than you will out of a nuke plant.
Many plant workers have surpassed the maximum reasonable radiation levels. By far!!
Therefore, many will die.
Coal is way more dangerous (and radioactive), but nuclear power does have its problems.
As for best energy source, I agree with you: go nuclear, and go breeder/thorium/heavy metal.
Select avg(nuclear)/avg(wind) from day;
| avg(nuclear)/avg(wind) |
| 6.03873279596952 |
So nuclear power on average is 6 times higher than wind.
select avg(nuclear)/avg(demand) from day;
| avg(nuclear)/avg(demand) |
| 0.201886008883179 |
and is exactly 20% of our average demand, over a year and a half of 5 minute samples
That grid watch link is some really nice data mining of the BM reports website. I've used BM reports for years now but that really clearly shows some of the more impenetrable data very very clearly. It's a shame they haven't reformatted the current and predicted electricity margin data because that is quite telling at times.
Is it possible to process 1.3 billion cubic kilometers of seawater in 6500 years?
Thats 22.8 km^3 per hour, how much power needed to pump that through the extraction plants?
Also, where do you put the depleted seawater so as not to dilute the remaining water even more?
I wouldn't be surprised if even the natural ocean currents take longer than that to circulate most of the water.
If only we could stop trying to apply capitalism to everything we try to do then maybe we could do nuclear properly, with real security, over-engineering, breeder reactors, research, open international co-operation for the benefit of all, and probably lots of other stuff needed too. But that's all expensive and politically unpaletable, and it'll be a long time before we're in enough shit for that to change.
Yeah, I know I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. see first bit of comment.
Argh. More fundamental misunderstanding of capitalism.
Capitalism is descriptive. "I value X more than Y, so I am willing to pay more for X." Capitalism exists even in the deepest darkest socialist economies. (AKA Black Market).
If we as a society value keeping lights on more than having them off, we will find a way. We may not anticipate the exact way, but eventually someone will find a way, and allowing them to get filthy rich is actually a small cost in comparison to the benefit. Punishing people for coming up with clever solutions is not effective in the long run, which is why socialism tends to be less successful than a society that encourages capitalism.
Good example IRL. I know somebody that knows where a mineral is. It is in the control of a socialist economy. If he tells them they have it, and where it is, they may give him $30,000/year as a worker bee. He says "Screw it. Why bother? If the mineral yield is expensive/poorer than anticipated, they'll be after my hide, and if it works, I get a paltry sum." I agree.
You are thinking in terms of the technology you "know", and not of the drive to develop a new technology when you throw out your "it'll never work because the numbers are too big" argument. The failure to develop profound new technologies is endemic to socialist economies, by the way, as they all devolve into bureaucracies, and there is no better way to smother growth than to have 10,000 GS-5's go after innovation because it challenges their place in the hierarchy of things...
Just as an example, assuming they set up the filter using a small portion of the Gulf Stream flow, your entire argument sequence falls apart. (I'm not saying that's the best plan -- wouldn't want to screw up the climate changes the Gulf Stream brings to northern Europe, for just one thing)
But that last sentence is exactly where capitalism goes rampant. In pursuit of the edge, especially in markets where potential advantages are few, people become willing to go outside the rules of civilized behavior to get that edge. It is rampant, even predatory, capitalism that is at least partly to blame for today's financial difficulties. Somewhere along the way, you need someone to call out, "Wait a minute!" and keep the system within the bounds of civilized behavior.
As for innovations, I recall a number of technological innovations and successful firms coming from Scandinavia: countries well-reputed for their strong socialist systems. How is that possible? Is it because they're not as socialist as people believe or that socialist countries can produce some good stuff with the right motivation (even the Soviets in their day came up with things--especially military things--that garnered a reputation even in the west).
"Somewhere along the way, you need someone to call out, "Wait a minute!" and keep the system within the bounds of civilized behavior."
This is what governments are for. They bridge the gap between what is most economic and what we as a society want. That is why we don't resolve liability issues with weregild.
However, to say that you should have all of one or the other is like building an airplane that is all wing, or all engine. Either way, it won't fly.
I'm not saying that socialist economies cannot come up with any innovation -- just that they tend to kill it off more than a country that acknowledges capitalism and leverages it. We *are* after all, flying into space on Russian rockets.
"Even the Soviets in their day came up with things--especially military things--that garnered a reputation even in the west"
I would hope so. Unfortunately, produced by slave labor. And only for one market: the state.
I don't know why people are complaining about capitalism, then pointing to Soviet or National Socialist Reality with > 80 million dead people and burned down economies as something to emulate. Jesus.
"It is rampant, even predatory, capitalism that is at least partly to blame for today's financial difficulties."
Actually not. It's mainly due to unsound money and economic intervention of the stupid sort.
and people don't die of lung disease due to the particulates that come of of diesil fumes,
and the vehicles full of petrol , kerosene never burst into flames and burn their occupants.
crossing the road is safe, no one ever dies crossing the road.
and aeroplanes never drop out of the sky, killing all their occupants..
but nuclear power , well that has killed MILLIONS .
okay , I might just be a little bit sarcastic above .
Now seriously from what I can tell the general populace is really crap about measuring risk.
Otherwise why would you have people who will not get into an aeroplane, yet will still happily cross the road ?
Last time I looked, a lot of people die getting run over , or in car crashes. Way more than ever die in plane crashes.
What is my point. well nuclear power has some downsides, but it also if it is done properly it has a lot of upsides, and anything with controllable risks that gets our dependence off very finite oil and gas supplies and doesn't leave us in energy poverty like wind power will is quite probably a good idea.
Also , all the people who live near granite rock , well you better move coz you're getting lungfuls of radon gas EVERY day.
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A Stanford study has found that, contrary to the findings of a U.N. study group, more than 1000 people can expect to die prematurely due to exposure to radiation from Fukishima. Since some of the workers at the plant did not even HAVE dosimeters, the threats to their health cannot be determined. Let's not celebrate just yet.
The limit on building nuclear power plants is the application process and accompanying paperwork.
The mass of paperwork needed to build a plant is larger than the mass of the final plant, the mass of paper clips and staples in the paper work is larger than the mass of fuel it will use during it's life.
If we can reduce the cost of the steel used in the paperclips and staples we can make nuclear power profitable again !
The limit on building power plants in the U.S. for the last ten years is the inability to find insurance companies who will provide coverage at what builders consider "reasonable rates". The insurance companies have facts and figures from nuclear plants and liability suits from around the world. They tend to be conservative, shouldn't we be conservative, also?
Mr. Lewis says that "Since the Fukushima meltdown - as a result of which, not a single person is set to be measurably harmed by radiation."
Among those "not harmed" are the 160,000-plus residents of Fukushima now warehoused elsewhere. Many of them, like Hiroshima and Nagasaki survivors, are unable to find work because of the stigma of Fukushima.
Among those "not harmed" are the Japanese people, who pay for the cleanup of Fukushima Daiichi, at a guesstimated at some scores of billions of dollars. They must pay for the cleanup of between 1,000 and 4,000 square miles of land and forest, radioactively contaminated to a depth of 1 foot. This cost has not even been guessed at, because no one knows what to do with the contaminated soil, vegetation, and buildings. In May, the Japanese had to write a $13 billion check to Tepco, to keep the company from bankruptcy.
Among those "not harmed" are the many hundreds of thousands who have inhaled alpha particles--some percentage of whom will develop cancer in the years to come. Also note the mutant Fukushima butterflies, who were "not harmed" by radioactivity.
You, Mr. Lewis, sppear to be thoughtless, arrogant, and completely lacking in regard for the plight of others. I pity you, but I also don't think you have any credibility left with regard to the events in Fukushima. I think The Register would be best served by confining your remarks to fanciful speculations on military matters.
I think you will find that is prejudice not radiation.
"Among those "not harmed" are the many hundreds of thousands who have inhaled alpha particles--some percentage of whom will develop cancer in the years to come."
Given that latest figures show 1 in 3 people (http://info.cancerresearchuk.org/cancerstats/incidence/risk/statistics-on-the-risk-of-developing-cancer) are likely to contract cancer in their life regardless, I'd like to know how you expect to separate those who got lung cancer from smoking etc from those who inhaled those extremely short life alpha particles.
You havent posted any links to back up your numbers on the contaminated ground, so I cannot refute them I assume you just made them up. If it's short life byproducts then there is no need to clean it up, just wait 6 months.
Do I need to say why facepalm?
Among those "not harmed" are the 160,000-plus residents of Fukushima now warehoused elsewhere.
They were NOT harmed by radiation; but by the panic merchants and a-scieintists who do not understand risk/radiation (check XKCD for their radiation comparison chart)
Note that Japanese paranoia over radiation would mean they would evacuate Dartmoor; Exmoor and N Wales (and no doubt swathes of granite based sites elsewhere in the world).
This is typical of the damage done by luddites who mus-understand the precautionary principle and demonstrate innumeracy as well.
And note further that the STIGMA of Fukushima is NOT radioactive either; again the harm is done by an ignorant media/political class; encouraged by equally ignorant un educated echo chambers
Apple are already working on the iRod. Your own personal control rod which you insert and withdraw from the front pocket of your trousers. When worn together with the lead jumper your mum knitted for you last Christmas and maybe a carbon fiber bumbershoot that many of the MPs have started to carry around this year, well, you should be fine.
Then there's the occasional woman asking you, like Mae West, if that's a control rod in your pocket etc. etc.
Dispite some political pandering, nuclear power is moot. It is, it does, it will. We need it and there's no stopping it. We mostly use fossil fuels for now only because it's easier. And therein is the only real problem with nuclear power. You can't just turn the switch on or off like you can with other forms of energy. That and the safety costs make air pollution a more attractive investment. But you can hardly argue that fossil fuels or renewables are the answer to all our energy needs. Excluding the discovery of some new unexpected source of energy, nuclear power is here to stay... and grow.
To state unequivocally that " not a single person is set to be measurably harmed by radiation" from Fukushima denies reality and history. I'm sure you're aware of the babies born with their brains outside their heads in the wake of the Chernobyl accident and the lifetime loss of property isn't something that should be scoffed at. I wish we could get the worlds greatest scientific minds together to figure out how to clean up radiation before some futuristic quest to mine the stuff out of Antarctica.
I'm shocked really that you would open this article with such a spurious fact as to halt me in my tracks stop reading your over simplified nonsense. Put this in your "I can't believe I actually wrote that" file: not a single person is set to be measurably harmed by radiation.
and this very sad case is documented where ?
Apart from which; I don't know how may times people have to be told Chenobyl was NOT Fukushima. Lets try and make a comparison that may get through..
oh -- you can not run your gas boiler/heater/fire because there is a FLAME inside; and look at what flames do to -- pick massive bush fire in country of choice
hand in ALL the knives in your house; yes even those blunt ones you have for eating with; don't you remember the GUILLOTINE - that used a KNIFE to chop of people's heads so all knives are incredibly D A N G E R O U S
Go and research RADIATION OSSAGES then compare the maximum allowed levels in JAPAN compared to other nations; go and find out what your exposure is if you live in N Wales ooohhh - it is HIGHER than the maximum allowed in Japan -- oops; so not very dangerous around Fukushima is it - really ?
"....go and find out what your exposure is if you live in N Wales....." Years ago I used to live in an old house in Cornwall which was largely constructed of granite and had a solid granite floor in the basement. The house was over two-hundred years old. We were told by the local council that we had to install a radon gas extractor in the basement as it was a "significant risk to our health". Apparently, someone in the council was putting about a figure of 2000 people a year being killed by cancers caused by radon gas! When I asked the family that had owned the house before us they couldn't find a single member of their family that had died in those two-hundred years of cancer. Just because there is statistically a "significant risk", it doesn't mean a certainty, not by a long shot.
Oh, let's think.
Say I want a water turbine to produce 3200MW, like the EPRs destined for Hinkley Point.
Average tidal current in the favourable sites around the UK is about 2m/s, and there's a fundamental physical limit (Betz's law) which limits the amount of extractable energy to about 65% of that in the incident stream of a fluid.
Energy available (E) = 1/2 mv^3, where m is given by rotor area (A) x density (D), so 1/2 * A * D *v3. Include Betz's law (B) to get
A = 2E / (B * D * v3)
density = 1,000 kg/m3.
So including Betz's law, the best possible turbine needs just under 400 m2 of area - or to be about 22 metres in diameter. That's one f*ck of a propellor. Even those on vessels like the "Ronald Reagan" are less than 1/3rd of that size.
You also can't p[ut them (obviously) in water that's too shallow (which is a pity, because that speeds up tidal flows). Or too close together, because you get flow disturbances in their wake. So, to allow for replacing Hinkley Point C, (and adjusting for capacity factors), you'd need something over 4,000 of the massive devices.
Mounted offshore in water at least (say) 40-50 metres deep.
There has been a lot of talk recently about how our reckless spending on consumer goods and houses has left a generation in debt. I wonder whether any of you nuclear energy enthusiasts have considered the actual dollar cost per Watt of power produced. The cleanup and decommissioning process is too important a task to be left to commercial organizations as the waste produced must be kept safe for thousands years, so the cost of this type of power must be borne by governments. Does anyone know exactly how much this costs? It seems that selfish short termism has won this argument, only it won't be a generation having their public services cut, nuclear power in its current form will be a fiscal cancer on governments for hundreds of years. Oh and some people might die too.
"Since the Fukushima meltdown - as a result of which, not a single person is set to be measurably harmed by radiation"
Isn't it a bit premature to make such a prognosis considering that the effects of exposure to cesium-137 (half-life 30 years) won't be apparent for a number of years.
"Record Levels of Radioactivity Found in Fukushima Fish (Tokyo)"
"Effects of Radiation from Fukushima Dai-ichion the U.S. Marine Environment"
"Fukushima three hit by radiation burns"
I like the The-Register! Its smart and witty take on the IT Industry is unique and refreshing! But this type of lob-sided reporting seriously damages its credibility.
Why does the The-Register keep giving a forum to this particular author? Who is this writer and what makes him qualified to speak about nuclear power? Is he a paid lobbyist for the nuclear industry? His research and arguments are pathetic! For starters his supplied link claiming "not a single person is set to be measurably harmed" is over a year old! We know a lot more now and its all bad :-
1. Spent fuel pool 4 is nothing short of a Japan-ending crisis!
2. Mutated Butterflies is science that can't be ignored!
3. Fukushima is declared a manmade disaster July 2012. Yes, nuclear can be safe. But human error and For-Profit companies cutting corners collude to make it unsafe!
so why would any one be so stupid as to store spent fuel rods in a pool that wasn't even at ground level ?
Answer : Because the GREENS had prevented the removal of the spent fuel rods to the re-processing plant miles out of the tsunami impacted area.
IF the fuel rods had been removed from site as originally planned; then there would be NO fuel pool on site.
So lets think about that for a moment shall we ? The most dangerous part of the whole tsunami caused wreck was not a failure of the Engineering; nor was it a failure of the design - it was caused directly by the intervention of luddites. Even then; there have been NO DEATHS caused even by the spent fuel rods stored on site because the stupid greens would not let them be taken safely away for processing.
Question : when are the main stream media going to stop playing green wash propaganda ? Probably long after even they realise Green peace get mega bucks from big oil (go on look at Greenpeace's declared revenue streams; you'll see $Millions from Shell BP et al).
Suplemental Question : When are normal people going to wake up to the truth behind the luddite Greenpeace movement; even the founder became disgusted with what they have become; anti west; anti business anti human.
Ojh Let me correct your title : I like El Reg, but this type of lob-sided reporting seriously damages my ability to pretend ignorant luddites have any idea of how science and engineering work
It was suggested on enenews.com that people like you should be the first to be forced to live beside nuclear plants and eat radioactive cuisine. But my guess is you'd have an excuse to get out of that as well! People like you only ever address areas that conveniently support your narrow arguments. Arrogance like yours created this fiasco.
What??? Nothing say to say about mutations in butterflies or dangerously radioactive fish?!!! People like you never address the wider impacts. You have no empathy for others. I was displaced after the Fukushima crises. It cost me emotionally and physically and financially. But flame away and blame the green movement for all of the nuke industry's failings!
Please yes - build a Nuke next door to my house - just far enough so I can walk to the gates in 5 minutes.
O f course it would have to be a modern WESTERN nuke not some clapped out Soviet design.
Oh I have empathy - I do not want my kids living in an energy starved world it would no doubt be pretty brutal and we know the life expectancy would be back to below 30 in pretty short time.
All this luddism; pretending that somehow or other cheap energy is not the ONLY reason we have so many people living such long (and possibly fulfilling) lives.
Have you any idea of what a fuel starved world looks like -- the dark ages; that's what; Cold; hunger; poverty; short brutalised lives.
Nukes are safe - and have a better safety record than any other form of energy generation. If you worry about CO2 then you should welcome Nukes with open arms; they really do generate the least amount of CO2 per KW/Hr generated.
So; you were displaced by a paranoid government and paranoid people; your exposure to radiation in the Fukushima area is LESS than the that which I was exposed to living in N Wales.
I don't suppose it would help; but for what it is worth you have my sympathy for the trauma caused by the Tsunami; and the over reaction of the Japanese authorities following the damage to the Fuskushima reactors. Luckily the engineers I work with in Japan were all outside the affected zones; though all of their factories did shut down for varying periods.
You all have my sympathy for the terrible impact from the Tsunami; which was/is surely magnitudes greater than that of the Fukushima plant.
Incidentally; if some one prevents something from being done safely; is it 'flaming' to point it out and shed some light on what the primary cause of an incident was - especially as by knowing this; it is possible to prevent it happening at the other nuclear plants in Japan ? And I didn't blame the green movement for all the nuclear industry's failing; just one very specific; documented; piece of luddite lunacy. Wouldn't it be wise to now insist that all spent fuel rods be removed from their temporary storage ponds and sent for re-processing; informing the green movement that their banning of the safe movement of spent rods is inherently far more dangerous than letting them go ? Or is it you who can not see the wider impacts of things.
As usual Peter, you're obsessed with Spent fuel pools and Greenpeace but still haven't said a damn thing about the wider effects including mutated butterflies or radioactive fish!
...Happy if they "build a Nuke next door to (your) house " but "do not want (your) kids living in an energy starved world".
How happy are you Peter if your kids have to eat contaminated food? .. That's ok is it? As long as there's plenty of energy, eh Peter?
There's no magic bullet that exists today. We have to accept this and get away from our deeply engrained obsession with GDP and accept a reduction in energy usage and GDP growth worldwide! That way the nuclear option can be dropped today!
It may be that Nuclear is a lesser evil than the alternatives, and carbon fossil fuels may kill more, but it's wrong to totally gloss over the hundreds of square miles of land that have been abandoned, and the 250 Billion dollar cost of cleaning up after this one accident.
Pure bunkum in the first sentence. Lewis, if you believe it is all safe in Japan, I am willing to organise your ticket there, so you can camp out (or live in one of the nearby abandoned villages) near to the broken nuclear power plant. Let's see how far your "nukes are safe" stand goes when it is your health involved.
Here is the alternative view from someone not spruking for the nuclear industry.
"The March 2011 nuclear disaster may cause as many as 2500 cases of cancer, mostly in Japan, Stanford University scientists said. They incorporated emission estimates into three-dimensional global atmospheric modelling to predict the effects of radiation exposure, which was detected as far away as the US and Europe.
''Cancer cases may have been at least 10 times greater if the radiation had not mostly fallen in the sea...There was a lot of luck involved,'' said Professor Jacobson. ''The only reason this wasn't a lot worse was because 81 per cent of all the emissions were deposited over the ocean.''
But what do scientists know, hey? If someone didn't take a photo of the plant's cooling tower falling on someone to crush them to death, then a link to a particular death isn't provable. So it didn't happen. But statistics say otherwise. And health statistics from a reputable scientist have a lot more cred than you Lewis- based on your history of ignoring facts, science, and expert analysis!
The rest of the Reg article could say anything at all, the first sentence from Lewis Page meant it was all tarred with the same BS brush. The Reg should stick to reviewing laptops and printers. Its forays into science are woefully, blatantly biased and inaccurate.
So you quote two articles above, one of which predicts 2500 cases of cancer, the other 1300 deaths. That's a little over a 50% mortality rate, which is a little harsh given remission rates for multiple types of cancer in Japan, but lets play along.
According to statistics compiled by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, 353,000 people died of cancer in Japan in 2010, accounting for one in every three deaths. [source http://www.jcancer.jp/english/cancerinjapan/]
So, assuming their projected figure of 1300 deaths from cancer occur in a single year (it would almost certainly be spread out over a number of years, if not decades, but we'll take this as a worst case scenario seeing as that's what you're apparently concentrating on), then at 2010 cancer death rates in Japan, that would represent an increase of just 0.3%. Taken in another context, the population of Fukushima prefecture in 2010 was just over 2 million [source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fukushima_Prefecture]. Based on that figure, approximately 0.125% of residents *may* develop cancer as a result of this event during their lifetime.
The tsunami itself and its associated damage was responsible for (at last count) 15,854 deaths. [source http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/japan/9132634/Japan-earthquake-and-tsunami-478-bodies-remain-unidentified-one-year-on.html]
So a natural disaster of epic proportions caused a meltdown of two reactors in an ill-maintained, generation-one reactor (read as 'outdated as all hell') that wouldn't have passed routine regulatory inspections in either the US or UK, which has no deaths directly attributable to it at this stage, *may* (the term used in the study you quoted) cause an uptick in cancer deaths of less than 1% at 2010 levels in Japan if all the proposed fatalities occur in a single year, therefore less than a 0.1% annual increase (not compounding) if any cancers emerge over the period of a decade, which is a more likely timespan.
I'm already paying out the nose for "environmental technology subsidies" every month to my local power co for wind and the like. I'd be far, far happier for the same amount to go instead to the construction and maintenance of a generation-3 nuclear reactor now, or further research into generation-4 reactor technologies. And yes, I'd be happy to live next door to it. Why? Because I understand that the risk of having something bad happen in a new plant with modern technology, trained and experienced staff, overseen by an anal-retentive regulatory body (probably one of few instances where this is a good thing), built in an area that's not prone to floods, seismic activity or other geological or natural disasters are miniscule.
And even if something were to happen to the plant on a comparable scale, I'll take the 1 in 800 odds that the event would result in cancer (figure based on the possible deaths quoted by the study you reference as measured against the approx population of the area).
In return for this, I get reliable power that is a near-zero carbon emitter fueled by an energy source that will be available for centuries, if not tens of centuries if the technology referenced in this article can be adopted. But the general population hears the word "nuclear" and instantly stops thinking rationally. The NIMBY brigade are no better. However, I'm willing to bet that people will change their tune pretty damn quick when our fossil fuel supplies dry up, the lights (and heat) go out, and it's zero degrees outside (that's Farenheit daytime temperatures). Unfortunately by then, it'll be too late.
Your last sentence however is brilliant, considering the content of your post. Have a petard.
"I'd be far, far happier for [environmental subsidies] to go instead to the construction and maintenance of a generation-3 nuclear reactor now, or further research into generation-4 reactor technologies. And yes, I'd be happy to live next door to it."
Great YIMBY reasoning (Yes - in my back yard).
Ocean volume (total, as required) is 1.3 BILLION cubic km [Wiki]. So each year we humans would have to filter 260,000 cubic km of sea water through these new-fangled filters. That's 712 cubic KM (!) of ocean PER DAY (!). 30 cubic km (!) per hour. Crazy.
That volume of ocean pumping in itself would require vast amounts of energy. So the whole defective concept enters a recursive death spiral.
"There's no chance of renewables generating the sort of energy the future human race will require to live above the poverty line, so something else will be required."
Never, ever, ever, regardless of an technology advances we may make. It is just plain impossible. Like heavier-than-air flight.
= Beautiful madness
On the other hand:
"Nobody's saying that the new HiCap tech can compete with ordinary mining on cost yet - but that's almost irrelevant"
Because future technological advances will surely resolve all our difficulties with nuclear safety, cost, fuel availability and waste disposal. Anything else is Inconceivable!
Look I don't really give a toss about the precise shape of our energy future but it almost certainly isn't going to be coal fired and we need to keep our options open. Nuclear advocacy has its place but can someone less one-eyed and irrational than Lewis Page do it. His rabid illogisms are getting embarrassing.
I think nuclear has potential but it is not cheap (total cost of ownership) and radioactive waste is a genuinely toxic problem that you can't just wish away. I once thought the subduction zone idea had potential myself, shame about reality:
...you'd reasonably expect it's tribalism not science.
This of course has nothing to do with the safety or otherwise of nuclear power, it just that coming on the top of the usual unbalanced output of this reporter I would expect that this story is more of the same crud.
Why screw around with nuclear, when there is plenty of coal, if, as Mr Page regularly tells us, CO2 is not a problem, the earth isn't warming, scientists are on the take, it's all just a hippy fantasy, etc, etc, etc? Nuclear power will always be difficult. (OTOH if AGW is real, nuclear power should get very serious investigation. But that means Mr Page has been pumping out BS.)
Personally, I think nuclear is off the real world agenda for a long time. There's a lead time of a couple of decades to get from a current best-and-safest design plan - eg, with breeder technologies, passive shutdown, geological disaster proofing, etc - to actual operational plants. This comes at a cost that private firms are unlikely to feel like investing, unless there are (1) massive development subsidies by taxpayers and (2) guaranteed approval at the end of the big spend, and (3) a taxpayer waiver of the like hundred billion dollar cleanup operation if something goes wrong. These prerequisites are going to be extremely tough to sell to voters. Should a dogey old reactor in somethingastan go pffft during the long development period all agreements are off again.
The descent of the AGW science and carbon pricing into tribal narratives gives a pretty good indication of how much hope the required the consensus for something like a serious nuclear revival has got. And even if this latest uranium-from-seawater tech actually pans out, it only crosses off one of the little problems.
It's a personal agenda being driven by the author, quite possibly due to funding from the nuclear fission "industry". I say "industry" because it actually wouldn't exist without government subsidies, it's never been commercially viable. Nuclear fission is currently more or less dead in the West as we now have more than enough fissile material for our nuclear weapons, the main reason nuclear fission reactors were developed in the first place.
You should stick with physicists experienced in nuclear fission or radiobiologists who've studied the effects of radiation on the human body for your information on this subject, because unlike Mr. Page, they know what they're talking about.
... because of the way OPEC distributes oil export quotas no-one knows when the oil will run out. Because of the way the oil futures market works a rumour of oil running out would cause as much of a global meltdown as oil actually running out. We are living in a row boat heading towards the Niagara Falls and people are arguing about what colour paddles we should use.
Here is something about Fukushima on the other hand which is coming from a scientific and engineering perspective rather than from a defensive Pavlovian reaction to anything even slightly critical of the nuclear fission "industry" :
According to the National Grid, at the moment Nuclear has an output of 8.2GW, wind has an output of 0.8GW.
That makes a ratio for nuclear at 10 times wind on a typical day. Too much notice is taken of wind maximum capacity rather than actual output. Wind power is like buying an expensive pint of beer and being served a few dregs in the bottom of the glass..
I was always under the impression from my limited physics education that radio material got less and less dangerous as time went on due to its half life.
Isn't the fuel more dangerous when its actually dug up but our problem is that we concentrate it all together?
Could we not shred it back down to tiny particles and spread it back through the mines where it originally came from?
Quite a few mentions of wind power, I spent two weeks in Norfolk which has turbines everywhere and for most of that time I would only ever see a quarter of the turbines in the wind farm actually working!
The government problem. LFTR's are *unproven* reactor tech.
The corporate problem. LFTR's *eliminate* the need for fuel elements. Nuclear reactors are like disposable razors. Companies make their money on the *heads*, not the razors. Reactor companies make their money on the fuel elements, which are incompatible between designs.
LFTR's were developed to meet a *need* (specifically the US nuclear powered bomber programme) not to make money for Westinghouse or GE.
You'll need to demonstrate a design and then change their *business* model to get corporate support.
They're finding solutions, such as shorter-term reactors that are cheaper, much more compact, require less maintenance or human supervision, easier on smaller communities, and provide repeat business since they're only meant to run for a decade or two before being changed out. It also helps with the proliferation problem because their fuel quantities are so small. Many are also designed to minimize radioactive waste by having recyclable fuel, leaving only minimal byproducts that will only require sequestration for a few centuries rather than millennia (something much more manageable in a government--you're basically talking time-capsule scales). A bunch of these little guys (which are normally supposed to be subterranean) spread out around a country will dampen a lot of proliferation concerns while Gen IV designs with passive or even inherent safety should address the NIMBY issue of possible meltdowns. IIRC, some of the designs can be converted over to use Thorium, so this can be considered in addition rather than instead.
There's no new arguments in this debate so I don't see why you all keep trotting out the same things. I hope you just copy and paste to save time.
However it would be a much more pleasant and streamlined experience if we could just remove all this drivel coming from cretins who are incapable of stringing two sentences together without butchering the English language. Those of us with brains might then find we were free to do more useful things.
A note to the cretins [and to some of the other vultures, you know who you are]: maybe you would like your comments/articles to be taken more seriously and not be referred to using derogatory terminology? I would advise that you should learn to write in English (like almost all foreigners can), and can I suggest such a crazy and far-fetched idea as reading your bullshit before clicking on that 'submit' button?
Lewis, thanks for demonstrating that not everyone in Britain is illiterate.
To me that is the interesting thing about this article. The article itself is just more of Lewis's sub-Clarkson eco trolling, a man deluding himself that he is the lone voice of reason in a world gone mad. What really mystifies me is the blind faith that readers of The Register have in the governments and companies who are going to be building, maintaining and decommissioning these reactors.
I accept the argument that wind power (the most often cited) is expensive and inefficient way of generating power. What hasn't been discussed is the actual cost of nuclear power. The reason for this is because it is not quantifiable, there is no way to predict how much it will cost per unit of electricity.
In my view both the public and politicians are being tobogganed into an acceptance of the inevitable need for nuclear energy by a fear of having to change our comfortable lifestyles, or that other parts of the world might also want a piece of the pie. Spend a few billion on some reactors, defer difficult decisions and stick the rest on the tab.
Out of interest, does anyone know how many existing technology reactors would be needed to generate current U.K. demand? Multiply that figure by 100 as a rough rule of thumb for an equitable distribution of energy around the world and you have our glorious clean nuclear future.
No, there was no tsunami in the Baltic Sea, but there are parallels with failing electricity supply.
During maintenance work, the sub station connecting Forsmark to the external grid wasn't earthed properly and a circuit breaker causing arching which lead to voltage fluctuation of +/-20% across the internal power grid.
The station automatically switched to "house power" but only two out four diesel generators started. This was because the UPSs (bloody large batteries) that the generators need to run had been disconnected by surge protectors. Two generators is the minimum the station needs. Phew.
In addition 12 different core safety systems were knocked out. For example, the control room had no reading on the position of the control rods and what the water level was in the reactor. Squeaky bum time. After 30 minutes they were able to confirm full shut down and safe water level.
In effect, they were one generator away from a meltdown. Also, some valves were in the open position when power failed, weakening the structural defence.
Clearly, there were design flaws, looking at you ABB, but the question is how "safe" can you in practice can engineer these things. Personally I think systems this complex will always have flaws and unforseen scenarios. A bit like space rockets. So building hundreds, or even thousands, of these all over our little blue ball is on balance probably not a good idea.
"In addition 12 different core safety systems were knocked out. "
But the reactors did *not* meltdown.
And (it would appear) they were not able to keep it secret.
The Swedish nuclear regulator should come down *hard* on them but the takeaway from this is
12 safety systems fail, but enough left working to *prevent* serious accident.
I salute the operations team.
You are spot on about the operations team. The official report in fact gives them the main credit for nothing bad happening. They followed procedures calmly and accurately. They also managed to restart the two failed generators.
It wasn't secret at all. However, it was only in the post mortem they realised what a close call it was. Water level got down to 1.9m from the core. Should be more like 6 I believe.
My point is you don't need a natural disaster for a melt down, just an unlucky series of events. Murphy's law and all that.
"My point is you don't need a natural disaster for a melt down, just an unlucky series of events. Murphy's law and all that."
True. Hopefully newer designs will recognize the importance of designing systems that work right by *physics* rather than by active subsystems (generators and pumps).
And "secrecy" may have been a poor choice of word. Perhaps "transparency" over the event would be a better way to say it. This sense that the nuclear power industry tends to down play problems is one that simply does not exist (AFAIK) with *any* other form of power generation.
So what *could* have been a disaster proved to be their finest hour. Demonstrating the importance of skills and training in an emergency.
The problem with any discussion of nuclear power is the emotional association between nuclear power, radiation and safety. A big part of teh problem is teh strong nuclear/radiation related safety culture. There is actually no strong evidence that low levels of radiation are a health hazard at all. Studies of radiation workers show they are healthier than average and once corrected for other factors; profession, environment, diet, smoking etc the health effects are tiny in boith directions and almost certainly artefacts of the statistics. A strong argumnet to me is that there is no observed correlation between high natural radiation levels and lower life expectancy.
As radiation was a new hazard a very very cautious approach was taken the effects of high levels of exposure were scaled down linearly to low doses. This is almost certainly an over estimate but it is cautious. On top of this very cautious safety limits were set based on this assumption. No other area takes such a cautious approach. Paradoxically it has increased fears because the extremely low limits are breached when incidents occur and it makes a good story. The thing to remember is that at these dose levels no health effect has been observed.
The other thing that occurs is people take these extrapolated low probability health effects and multiply them by huge population numbers generating scary numbers for example 2500 dying in an earlier comment. This is crazy from several points of view. Most radiation exposure is natural, there are many many more important risk factors we never treat in the same way or consider at all. The radiation emitted by fossil fuesl for example coal fire power statiosn dwarfs that from nuclear power stations.
We should argue about nuclear power based on cost, availability and dependability, not safety as it is far safer than anything else, but it is bogged down by emotional baggage. Future historians will regard attitudes to nuclear as bizzare and incomprehensible. Wind power is almost the opposite, completely impractical, almost no environmental benefit, extremely expensive but with positive emotional associations
There's also the stigma of DA BOMB (of which there is plenty of historical footage to demonstrate the effects). The mere thought of a manmade technology capable of wiping out an entire city of millions can make nearly anyone's blood run cold. Nuclear reactors, using similar technology, fall under that stigma. There's always the thought deep in the back of someone's mind that a nuclear reactor can lead in some way to a nuclear bomb...which would in turn be detonated in their midst. And because of its scale, it's not something you can just wish away. It's like broken trust.
That said, to anyone who has said nuclear is an inherently unstable technology, what do you say to the likes of pebble bed and uranium hydride reactors and other Generation IV reactors built on the premise of negative coefficient of reactivity (meaning they slow down as they heat up rather than runaway).
ANY plant-based (indeed, any LIVING) resource can be over-harvested, resulting in depletion. Furthermore, for it to be sustainable for a large population, you would need an even larger amount of land with which to grow, and this land no longer grows food (because last I checked, hemp is not a food crop), which ALSO has large land demands per person.
Charles 9 said: "...you would need an even larger amount of land with which to grow, and this land no longer grows food (because last I checked, hemp is not a food crop)"
You are mistaken on several of your assumptions, Charles. First, hemp IS in fact a food crop, at least to a degree. The hemp plant can yield edible oil, as well as material that's at least suitable as animal fodder. Second, and more important, hemp grows well on sandy, arid land that will support almost no other type of crop. So it doesn't really have to compete with any of our staple food crops. Third, hemp is incredibly bountiful, able to produce tree-sized plants in a single growing season. So it doesn't need as much land as most other crops.
Not saying hemp it the answer, just that it's better than you seem to believe...
But you have to wonder how hemp grows so fast without drawing on some resources with which to build its bulk. Further analysis shows the while hemp replenishes much of what it takes from the soil, it still needs a rich soil to start with to provide the best results. IOW, planting hemp in poorer soil will result in less yield. It also prefers warmer environments.
As for the oil, while it can be useful as a food or fuel, it shares one potentially-bothersome trait with linseed oil: it oxidizes. This means the oil can turn rancid if not stored carefully. The fibers are stiffer than cotton fibers, which make them well suited for woven products like pants, but cotton will still be king on knit products like T-shirts which need to be more flexible. And the fibers wick (when used historically on ships, hemp ropes had to be tarred to prevent inside-out wet rot--they were phased out for non-wicking Manila rope), making them less suited for humid or water-exposed environments.
I've learned not to take someone's "cure-all" gospels at face value. It never hurts to subject it to a reality check and see if they have strings attached (they usually do).
This article makes quite an assumption that anti-nuclear-power people are only concerned about proliferation. I am "lucky" enough to have lived in two US states where the storage (or lack thereof) of nuclear waste became a political scandal and is still an embarrassment--there are millions (billions?) of pounds of radioactive waste that are being improperly stored as we speak and are contaminating soil and water. THIS, for me, is the #1 concern re: nuclear power and the article (and most commenters) fail to even mention it.
Sure, you can talk about breeder reactors until you're blue in the face, but where are they? Declaring that nuclear power is clean because of a reactor type that is barely used is disingenuous.
The big concern with breeder reactors is the possibility of proliferation since breeder reactors by their nature enrich nuclear fuel. It doesn't take a genius to realize that such reactors can be retooled to product weapons-grade fuel, which in the US is a treaty violation IIRC and elsewhere would be a destabilizing prospect at the very least. There is ongoing research into concentrating the breeder reactor's processing so as to reduce the likelihood of weapon-grade fuel being made at all (by using processes that produce richer but still not weapons-grade fuel). But the situation is still not fully trusted: can the processes be altered to produce weapon-grade fuel? Or could the technical knowledge allow an observer to deduce enough to do it themselves?
"...not a single person is set to be measurably harmed..."
This is obvious balderdash. For starters, the IAEA is effectively an industry group, and hardly to be trusted as an impartial authority when assessing total harm. Secondly, the contention that the area around Fukushima can ever be made completely safe is questionable at best.
But there's no need to even speculate about eventual cancer deaths... the spread of contamination has already resulted in many thousands of people being dispossessed. If someone forced Mr. Page out of his home at gunpoint and told him he couldn't return, at least for many months, and possibly not for the rest of his life, I wonder if he would feel that he was not being "measurably harmed"...?
It's quite likely that we will need nuclear power in the short term. But buying whole-heartedly into transparent industry propaganda is not part of the solution. As an engineer, I have no doubt whatsoever that the current superannuated generation of reactor designs is not safe enough to be economically viable. (No sane engineer would build a machine that inherently WANTS to blow up. It's why we don't have cars that accelerate without limit if the driver becomes unconscious.) If nuclear power is to work, we need to scrap the old crap now, before (even more of) it blows up in our faces, and invest in some of the promising technologies that can do the job far more safely. Not bury our heads in the radioactive sand and accept the status quo.
Yeah radiation is fine. Just ask the residents of Hiroshima. As long as you have a home Geiger-counter and stock of iodine. I suggest maybe you take a course if physics and learn about the effect of gamma, beta and alpha radiation before writing a rubbish story like this!
"Yeah radiation is fine. Just ask the residents of Hiroshima....." Straight out of the Pre-schoolers Guide to Debating Nuke Power! Tell you what, why don't we look at napalm and use that as an excuse to ban all attempts to use fire 'cos napalm burns? Or how about banning all food just because some sushi can make you very sick? And then there's the risk Ecstacy users have of over-hydrating (due to other moronic Ecstacy users telling them it was another good idea to avoid dehydrating), maybe you would like us to just ban all water? Complete fail.
"Since the Fukushima meltdown - as a result of which, not a single person is set to be measurably harmed by radiation - we know that nuclear power is safe. "
Some facts about Chernobyl:
237 people suffered from acute radiation sickness (ARS), of whom 31 died within the first three months
Four hundred times more radioactive material was released than had been by the atomic bombing of Hiroshima
Thyroid cancer among children was one of the main health impacts from the accident, with more than 4000 cases reported
After the disaster, four square kilometers of pine forest directly downwind of the reactor turned reddish-brown and died, earning the name of the "Red Forest" A significant economic impact at the time was the removal of 784,320 ha (1,938,100 acres) of agricultural land and 694,200 ha (1,715,000 acres) of forest from production.
An area extending 19 miles (31 km) in all directions from the plant is known as the "zone of alienation." Ukrainian officials estimate the area will not be safe for human life again for another 20,000 years.
Between 5% and 7% of government spending in Ukraine still related to Chernobyl, while in Belarus over $13 billion is thought to have been spent between 1991 and 2003. No one knows the true economic cost of this accident.
The Chernobyl Shelter Fund, set up in 1997, has received €810 million from international donors to cover the cost of a large concrete sarcophagus expected to be completed in 2013. We are still trying to contain an accident that happened over a quarter of a century ago.
Thing is, it ran on an old plant that wasn't built with a lot of passive safety in mind.. They were trying to look into passive safety when the accident occurred for various manmade and not-manmade reasons.
Given that new reactor designs have emerged since then, many of which are smaller, designed for proliferation resistance (partly through the simple idea of spreading out a lot of little reactors) and designed with passive (pebble bed) or even inherent safety in mind (TRIGA, uranium hydride), why don't we do like we did after the Apollo I tragedy, take stock, and keep going to try to better our lives?
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