back to article Corner cutting of nuclear proportions as duo admit to falsifying safety tests 29 times

Two men this week confessed to deliberately bypassing testing protocols that are essential to keeping nuclear power plants safe. This happened not once, not twice, but 29 times. Miguel Marcial Amaro, 56, from Delaware, and Martin Ramos, 52, from Pennsylvania, both pleaded guilty to a single count of making and using a …

  1. cookieMonster Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Errrr

    “….defendants accountable for deliberately attempting to bypass testing protocol…..”

    Theres no attempting about it, from the story they’ve done it, multiple times.

    Icon, cause.. well you know

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: Errrr

      But it's the attempt that's criminal, not just the success.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Errrr

        So is conspiring to do it - which will rope in anyone who knew what was going on but said nothing

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Errrr

      I suppose they want to deter others from attempting in case they should also succeed.

    3. katrinab Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: Errrr

      A successful attempt is still an attempt…

  2. SVD_NL Bronze badge
    Mushroom

    How bad can it be?

    "...the structural integrity of heavy-lifting components, such as cranes and rigging, that handled critical components of a nuclear reactor, including nuclear fuel."

    What could go wrong? surely there have never been accidents because nuclear fuel got dropped accidentally?

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: How bad can it be?

      "surely there have never been accidents because nuclear fuel got dropped accidentally?"

      [and now I get to say it - "and don't call me Shirley" - heh]

      Just do not accidentally form a supercritical mass when it lands... although without a casing it would go "ploothhh" instead of "boom" and maybe the containment vessel would keep it out of the surrounding environment, but that's similar to what SL-1 had happen (accidental supercriticality) and it's not good.

      (yeah you would hope things were already designed to prevent such catastrophes, but when you compound procedural sloppiness and design issues you sometimes get catastrophes, RIGHT Three Mile Island?)

      1. I could be a dog really Bronze badge

        Re: How bad can it be?

        One of the outcomes from SL-1 was a change in design policy such that it should be impossible to go prompt critical (or possibly critical, I don't recall now) by withdrawing only one rod. Hence, the same accident as SL-1 wouldn't be possible unless you deliberately pulled out more than one rod. Interesting how many of our safety rules/policies/laws come about after a "perhaps we ought to do something to stop that happening again" event.

  3. Martin an gof Silver badge

    How did they find out?

    Did something fail which shouldn't have?

    Just as importantly, why did it take so long for this to come to light?

    M.

    1. Chewi

      Re: How did they find out?

      Also why did they do it? Were they just lazy?

      1. Sir Sham Cad

        Re: How did they find out?

        I would imagine getting paid for work they didn't have to do, meaning they could do other paid work as well and make double-bubble?

        1. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Pirate

          Re: How did they find out?

          either that or under-bidding every other contractor/company/whatever bidding for the work

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: How did they find out?

        "Also why did they do it? Were they just lazy?"

        Sounds like they were independent contractors, not part of a bigger organisation so were offering cheaper services to win contracts and saving money on actually paying the calibration fees. Maybe the nuclear operators are also partly to blame for going with the cheapest contractors without doing due diligence on them.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How did they find out?

      Someone probably audited the paperwork. Or, one of them bragged about pencil whipping calibrations to someone who reported it.

      Honestly, for verification test equipment like this, calibration probably doesn't add anything but make auditors feel good. For equipment like this, often it just works or it doesn't (or it gives obviously bad values).

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: How did they find out?

        it would depend on what is being calibrated. Let's say you have a specific secondary vibration limit (like a resonant harmonic) that cannot be exceeded. Measuring that secondary vibration would require a calibrated instrument. Or it could just be a total accelerometer signal level when vibration is induced. Anyway, THAT kind of thing.

        (this based on my U.S, Navy nuclear power experience)

        Once (nearly a decade ago) I took a 9 axis IMU and made it into a vibration sensor with an Arduino. It measured harmonics on a piece of material that was 'thumped' while weight was being applied as stress. The weight had the vibration sensor attached to it. This was a concept thought up by a materials guy who (as I recall) was working on his doctorate at the time.

      2. Martin an gof Silver badge

        Re: How did they find out?

        Honestly, for verification test equipment like this, calibration probably doesn't add anything

        Once upon a time I was a Part P registered electrician and so I had to have and maintain my own test equipment for things like loop impedance, insulation resistance, RCD workings. Every year it went off to be calibrated and came back with a printed report which essentially said "within stated tolerances, no adjustment necessary". I think there was a very small tweak on one instrument once.

        When I stopped with the electrician-ing I kept the instruments and they mostly lived in the coat cupboard in the hall, but also spent some time in the attic and a garage.

        When I was wiring up our house rebuild, I found a local electrician who was willing to keep an eye on me and spend a couple of days testing and documenting the system. I dug out my old kit, which at this point hadn't been calibrated for perhaps twelve or thirteen years and used it as I went along, more as a sanity checker than anything else, reasoning that even if it couldn't be assumed to give me an accurate reading for something, it would at least give me a close enough figure to spot glaring errors like swapped or missing connections, damaged cables and the like. It didn't spot anything obvious other than one RCBO (combined RCD/MCB) which didn't pass the trip-time test.

        When the real electrician came to make his measurements I was pleased to learn that his, on his newer, calibrated equipment, were pretty much the same as mine, certainly well within typical tolerances.

        My testing kit wasn't exactly state-of-the-art when I bought it, and although at heart it was from Fluke, it was their cheaper, Robin brand. Good going.

        M.

        1. I could be a dog really Bronze badge

          Re: How did they find out?

          In reality, most modern kit doesn't need calibrating.

          But, without a calibration regime, there is no way to KNOW that it's still in spec.

          Where possible/practical, it's now common practice to have daily checks of the equipment. For example, suppose you send your meter in for cal, and it's found to be out of spec. That means, for "some indeterminate time" it's readings would be wrong. But you don't know if that indeterminate time was "since yesterday", or "since 5 mins after it's last cal" - so potentially a year's (depending on cal interval) worth of bad results.

          I only do "hobby and mates" amount of sparky work these days, but I just had my MFT and a couple of other items calibrated as the price at the wholesalers for their "calibration day"* was "attractive" - as you say, the report basically just said "in spec, no adjustments". But I also have a Calcard - so can check the MFT every day I use it, on the basis that a fault in the MFT, and a simultaneous fault in a passive card of resistors that exactly cancels the MFT fault across multiple values would be "so unlikely as to be not worth considering". In between, it has been a few years since it was last calibrated and I've just relied on checking with the Calcard. One of the other meters was a Megger BM10 - never calibrated since my father got it when it was being disposed of from work, several decades ago, and it was still in spec.

          * Where they get a calibration house to come in and do a load at once at the wholesaler's premises. Saves carriage each way, plus for those actively working, they can drop the MFT off in the morning, and pick it up in the afternoon which means they don't lose out on several days of work while it's away.

  4. Peter Prof Fox

    Strain not stress

    Stress is the pressure the sample is under. Strain, which is what was meant, is the deformation. For example if a rope holds up a weight, the weight is stressing the rope. When the rope stretches then that's the strain. From the strain you can tell if the thing is tough or toffee.

  5. aerogems Silver badge
    Joke

    Perfect punishment

    Use them as cooling rods in one of the reactors they falsified docs for.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't worry folks...

    "Nuclear is the safest source of energy. Because of all the controls. Precisely!"

    Or so, we are told over and over again.

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: Don't worry folks...

      You imagine the same sort of behaviour does not happen in other industries capable of major environmental impact?

      Would any of those be audited and prosecuted as this case?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Don't worry folks...

        How smart does one have to be in order to grok the concept of risk?

        Risk is a combination of probability and severity of the consequences in case of mishap.

        Is getting the correct tire pressure in your bicycle as important as in an A380 landing gear?

        1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

          Re: Don't worry folks...

          Indeed it is, but have you actually done that? Here is a start, add up the deaths, etc, from nuclear and non-nuclear accidents listed here and give us your analysis:

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_industrial_disasters

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Don't worry folks...

            AGAIN. The count of victims from nuclear accidents IS NOT FINISHED.

            People are still dying TODAY from these disasters and more direct deaths will come for sure during the next CENTURIES.

            Stopping the counting of nuclear victims now is like stopping the counting of dam disasters 10mn after these dams break.

            So, you can come with all the Wikipedia articles you want. The counting is not over yet.

            1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

              Re: Don't worry folks...

              And your tally so far is?

              And the scientific projection (citation required) is?

              And how does the radioactivity from those accidents compare to the radioactivity pumped out by coal fired stations all the time? https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/coal-ash-is-more-radioactive-than-nuclear-waste/

              Not to mention those still impacted by chemical disasters, such as Bhopal in 1984?

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Don't worry folks...

                Great! We're progressing.

                Your resorting to whataboutism shows you can't counter the timescale argument.

                What are you asking for? Projections for next centuries? LOL.

                Do you have any scientific background? Do you know how hard it is to make predictions for the next decades.

                What is sure is that the polluted areas are uninhabitable for millennia: Citation:

                "Experts have said it will be at least 3,000 years for the area to become safe, while others believe this is too optimistic. It is thought that the reactor site will not become habitable again for at least 20,000 years, according to a 2016 report."

                Put that in your bar charts and then we talk.

                Downvote to your heart's content. I don't care. But my humble suggestion is that you study nuclear engineering and the safety aspects.

                1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

                  Re: Don't worry folks...

                  Your resorting to whataboutism shows you can't counter the timescale argument.

                  What are you asking for? Projections for next centuries? LOL.

                  Do you have any scientific background? Do you know how hard it is to make predictions for the next decades.

                  Yes, I do have a science and engineering background but it is you who is raising the deaths over centuries question, so I am asking what that number is expected to be. So far you have not answered.

                  The reason it matters is that nuclear, like all other power sources, have a ratio of power generated to environmental & health damage. None are immune and I presume it was you who recently down-voted the chart showing the statistics for that. Sure you don't like nuclear, but then have you an alternative that overall is safer and meets base demand?

                  But my humble suggestion is that you study nuclear engineering and the safety aspects.

                  And you have? Posting as AC and not providing any evidence of facts to back up the argument is not a good start. The contamination around Chernobyl that you cite is certainly bad, but mankind has polluted and damaged a lot of the planet, and killed many people in the process. I have stats to back up the claim that nuclear is one of the lowest risks per TWh when properly managed (and Chernobyl is the poster child for how not to manage, but is included in those stats) but so far you have made a lot of hand-waving about effects without figures.

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: Don't worry folks...

                    More useless whataboutism.

                    I have no idea how many times I have to repeat the timescale argument for you to stop exhibiting your 2023 number of deaths per TWh as the divine incontrovertible proof of the righteousness of your pro-nuclear beliefs.

                    Let me try again. Suppose we are time-travelling in the future in 3000 or 20000 years from now (the duration Chernobyl is supposed to stay dangerous). The number of deaths of the Banqiao dam failure will not have increased. But that of the Chernobyl disaster will have. How important will that increase be? Nobody knows. I's in the future. Therefore, it's open. And you know it. And I know it. And you and I know that your question is both rhetorical and disingenuous. The whole point is: YOUR ARGUMENT IS INVALID.

                    And yes I have an electricity engineering degree and have studied nuclear in depth to get that degree. Yes, I can explain several of the incredibly complex security features of today's nuclear reactors. Yes, I can explain each factor of the 6 factor formula. And you can't. Whether I'm signing as AC and don't include my NHS registration number is irrelevant.

                    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

                      Re: Don't worry folks...

                      And you and I know that your question is both rhetorical and disingenuous. The whole point is: YOUR ARGUMENT IS INVALID.

                      You claim to have extensive nuclear knowledge and yet you have failed to quantify any of the risks. As such it is simply hand waving and saying "I'm scared".

                      Nobody builds a reactor for the fun of it, it serves to generate power and for that there is a clear benefit, and some danger. So how do these compare to other sources of power? To other manufacturing industries? To means of transport?

                      1. Anonymous Coward
                        Anonymous Coward

                        Selfishness and hubris.

                        I'm not scared (that projection is childish, at best) and you're not a gifted fearless superhero.

                        There's simply much better use for the one trillion dollars Fukushima disaster will cost.

                        I also can't see why future generations will have to cope with our wastes for millennia, just for a few long gone PWh.

                2. bombastic bob Silver badge
                  Boffin

                  Re: Don't worry folks...

                  Are you talking about Charnobyl? That particular cold war accident was pretty bad, and yet the effect on surrounding populations (to the best of my knowledge) does not appear to be significant.

                  Animals currently live there. The forest is taking over the site. It's "habitable" although I would not want to live there. Most of the problematic radiation appears to be from Cs-137 but that's a group I metal and would form a salt (or a hydroxide deposit) and eventually wash away with rain. 30 year half life suggests that 150-200 years of "uninhabitability" is about the worst you can expect.

                  Most of the 2009 survey results were in the area of 1uSv/hr (0.1 mrem/hr). I regularly got 80-100mrem/year just being at sea level, without being around an operating reactor, when I was in the Navy (while underway under water we got LESS radiation from the reactor than people get from the sun). At 2.4mrem/day (or about 1 rem/year) you are actually BELOW the legal limit for being a radiation worker in the USA. So after 5 or 6 half lives (2^-5 to 2^-6) you can project the radiation rate will be 1.5% to 3% of that. Habitable.

                  Lots of info here including 2009 radiation measurements

                  http://www.chernobylgallery.com/chernobyl-disaster/radiation-levels/

                  Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine got most of the radiation. A lot went to Sweden but apparently did not cause any well known health effects

                  The best examples we have on serious fallout and habitability are Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Both cities are basically normal with no indications of radioactive contamination nearly 80 years later.

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: Don't worry folks...

                    hahaha... the same guy accusing me of "anti-Nuke hysteria" is claiming that Chernobyl was pretty much harmless.... because "Animals currently live there"... Mwarf. Good one.

                    You're really dropping the mask here - yet another nuke-bro.

                    Also comparing chronic exposition and bursts of acute exposition shows how familiar you are with radioactive toxicology.

                3. Alan Brown Silver badge

                  Re: Don't worry folks...

                  "Experts have said it will be at least 3,000 years for the area to become safe"

                  At 450 years, whatever's left will be LESS radioactive than the original fuel - and you could sleep on a mattress of that with no ill efects

                  The cesium and strontium at Chernobyl will be pretty much non-existent at the 120 year mark. The higher energy radioactives have already decayed to inertness.

                  Chernobyl was so terrible that the OTHER 3 reactors on the site continued to operate without issue until decommissioned less than a decade ago. Reactor number two will start to be dismantled in about 20 years

                  Three Mile Island's reactor core was dismantled and removed from the site between 1986-93. The building is being demolished now

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Folks on the Internet always know better...

                    I see. Why don't you go and tell these experts they are wrong?

            2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: Don't worry folks...

              "The counting is not over yet."

              Why do think that only applies to the nuclear industry? If you want stop counting, then you stop counting across ALL of industry. You end up with the same result. A snapshot in time. Take a number of snapshots over a longer time, and you might start to see a trend. That's how it's supposed to work since you can't predict the future with any meaningful level of long term accuracy. Do you know how many people will die in the future based on past pollution from mining or use of asbestos in buildings? If you want to comparisons of deaths due to specific industries, you have tot STOP COUNTING at a moment in time and compare the known and current numbers.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                WRONG

                in 3000 or 20000 years from now (the duration Chernobyl is supposed to stay dangerous). The number of deaths of the Banqiao dam failure will not have increased. But that of the Chernobyl disaster will have. So the conclusion "Nuclear energy is among the safest" is not supported by the data. Because the DEFINITIVE data OF ONE OF THE CONTENDERS is UNKNOWN, by a significant amount (only 45 years have passed out of the sampling duration of 3000 or 20000).

                I thought everybody could understand that.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Don't worry folks...

                I have no idea how hard it is for some people to understand the difference of risk posed to future generations by today's asbestos and today's say CS-137.

                You can stop counting at any time, but the conclusions are useless if you stop too early.

                I do understand that your pronuclear bias is a good reason to stop the counting early but then the conclusions are worthless. Sorry.

                1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

                  Re: Don't worry folks...

                  Cs-137 has a half-life of about 30 years, so in a couple of centuries it will pose no risk, but asbestos still will.

                  Did you mean that?

                  1. bombastic bob Silver badge
                    Thumb Up

                    Re: Don't worry folks...

                    Seeing as I once worked with RADIOACTIVE ASBESTOS (in a full anti-contamination suit with forced air) I can most certainly agree with you.

                  2. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: Don't worry folks...

                    Yes but its specific radioactivity is 3.2 × 10¹² Bq/g and it is one of the most common byproduct of degradation of other heavier radioactive isotopes.

                    It's also much more chemically reactive than many of the transition metal fission products.

                    Around 30 kg were released during Chernobyl disaster. Which is huge by any standard.

                    Which site is uninhabitable because of Asbestos? Which source of energy results into release of non natural asbestos in nature? Enlighten us a bit, please.

                    1. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      Re: Don't worry folks...

                      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wittenoom,_Western_Australia

            3. bombastic bob Silver badge
              Megaphone

              Re: Don't worry folks...

              Does experience working with nuclear reactors and health physics qualify me? It's a bit out of date but certainly better than WIkipedia.

              MUCH of what you are saying smacks of anti-Nuke hysteria. Those who dislike carbon fuels SHOULD embrace nuclear power but they usually do NOT. This is because (In My Bombastic Opinion) it is NOT about the environment or people's lives; it is INSTEAD about power, control, and the usual separation of the have's from the have-not's in a totalitarian system where upward mobility is heavily restricted for the average individual.

              Flying on an airplane at 30,000 feet and getting an annual dental exam probably irradiates you MORE than any environmental effect from nuclear power plants, because the containment vessels have been carefully designed. I did a research paper on them once, back in 1979. The design included hurricane force winds flinging logs directly at them, and NOT having the inner wall crack from the impact.

              1. bombastic bob Silver badge
                Unhappy

                Re: Don't worry folks...

                I guess I should add that Chernobyl was a disaster BECAUSE the Soviet design had no containment vessel. It was a sloppy design and that's why it caught on fire and contaminated the area around it.

                .

                But, that's COMMUNISM for ya...

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Don't worry folks...

                  How relevant is that? You only know about design errors after disasters.

                  Next thing you will tell me is that Fukushima was a slightly better design but that security procedures were not followed.

                  Well: I got news for you: there's always a reason. But disaster still happen.

                  Also, please let us know when solar panel disasters cost ONE TRILLION DOLLARS.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Don't worry folks...

                I'm really sorry, but if each time you are faced with a rational critic of civil nuclear, you have to resort to brandishing the "anti-Nuke hysteria" sign, you're will be quite busy these days.

                There is absolutely no reason whatsoever why "Those who dislike carbon fuels SHOULD embrace nuclear power".

                Civil nuclear is too complex, too costly, too risky, and too dirty. It takes too long to build. It is impossible to insure, and it is too centralized. Even worse, it is incompatible with global warming as pointed out by the IPCC because it needs large quantities of water for cooling and can't work during droughts.

                That's the hard facts, and that's the reason investment in new nuclear energy is residual.

                And before you serve me the usual talking points.

                - Less than 4% of Chinese electricity comes from nuclear. Less than Germany last year.

                - No, the average construction time is not 5 years IN 2023. It's more like 10 to 20 years

                - No, SMRs are not going to take the market by storm. Most of them are still on the drawing board or not selling.

                - No, Palo Verde is not a good example of nuclear power station working under hot climates as it sucks up and vaporizes millions of gallons of water per day.

                If we need to channel resources to fight climate change, the fastest and cheapest way is to bet on renewables. The nuclear industry, and its supporters, would love to benefit from the ongoing financial effort but there is no reason whatsoever to oblige.

            4. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: Don't worry folks...

              "People are still dying TODAY from these disasters and more direct deaths will come for sure during the next CENTURIES"

              No, they're not and No, they won't be.

              The great thing about radioactive materials is that hot stuff becomes non-radioactive quickly whilst low level radioactoves aren't particularly dangerous in the first place and they all broadcast their presence in ways detectable from a distance

              Chemical toxins are silent and extremely long lived. Look up Minamata Bay sometime

              Life evolved in a radioactive environment much stronger than the ones we live in and the tritium in Fukushima's stored water is LESS than what's emitted from ONE working nuclear reactor per year (there are 143 of them - and their grand total is less than 10% of what is put into the earth's oceans each year by cosmic ray interactions in the upper atmosphere)

              The level of frightened and uninformed knee-jerk reactions at the mention of "nooo-clee-arrr" from people who should know better is saddening. Coal plants emit at _least_ 5 Chernobyls worth of radioactive particles each year but nobody worries about that very much...

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Don't worry folks...

                Citing Ukraine war: Russian troops leave Chernobyl, Ukraine says from BBC:

                "It also confirmed reports that Russian troops had dug trenches in the most contaminated part of the Chernobyl exclusion zone, receiving "significant doses" of radiation. There are unconfirmed reports that some are being treated in Belarus."

                And Russian forces suffer radiation sickness after digging trenches and fishing in Chernobyl

                "Russian soldiers stationed in the forest have since been struck down with radiation sickness, diplomats have confirmed. Symptoms can start within an hour of exposure and can last for several months, often resulting in death."

                1. Alan Brown Silver badge

                  Re: Don't worry folks...

                  One of the russian soldiers was documented taking a cobalt-60 radiation source (used for calibration) opening the case and handling the thing with his bare hands.

                  They stashed weapons and explosives IN THE REACTOR ROOMS and paid zero attention to safe procedures

                  It's quite possible that when they dug trenches in the dead forest that they dug up strontium and cesium just below the soil surface but it's more likely that affected soldiers were stealing material from the site or the equipment graveyard (all the machines and vehicles used to fight the fire were parked up and abandoned in a compound not far from the power station - including MIL8 helicoptors, etc - these machines are still contaminated as they were in close proximity to the fire and took the brunt of contamiunation which was emitted)

                  Cobalt 60 incidents are well known, as missing xray sources (stolen by scrap metal thieves). The last such incident resulted in a little girl being buried in a lead-lined coffin and a large part of a Brazilian slum being evacuated

                  Cobalt 60 is not a significant product of power reactors. Russia also has a LARGE problem with several hundred abandoned soviet era nuclear-thermal power sources abandoned above the arctic circle and being cracked open by metal thieves - They're only dangerous to people within about 30 feet

              2. Alan Brown Silver badge

                Re: Don't worry folks...

                In case anyone brings up the Chernobyl veterans:

                Russians believ that radioactivity is contagious and veterans of the disaster are still treated like pariahs by the medical establishment. Their health issues are almost entirely down to "old age and extreme lack of maintenance"

                Tsutomu Yamaguchi is a good case study in long term results of repeat exposure to large scale radioactive events

              3. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Don't worry folks...

                >>> "Life evolved in a radioactive environment much stronger than the ones we live in"

                Ah right. "Archaea had much more DNA double strand breaks then. Why are you guys complaining about thyroid cancers. Just suck it up people!" LOL.

                What's saddening is the fringe of people who pride themselves as "scientifically educated" and side with industries unable or unwilling to take full responsibilities for the externalities they inflict on future generations.

              4. I could be a dog really Bronze badge

                Re: Don't worry folks...

                Yeah, it's hard to get through to someone who is ideologically opposed that you can have highly active stuff, and long lived stuff - but the highly active stuff is safe after a few years, while the long lived stuff cannot be highly active. As mentioned, there's only cobalt or caesium (I forget which) that has an inconvenient half live meaning it's fairly active for a fairly long time (a few centuries).

                But it's clear that AC (like many) isn't going to allow any facts - easily verifiable facts at that - to get in the way of ideology.

                Not to mention that because of this, the anti-nuclear lobby is actually responsible for a lot of the "waste" we have to deal with. For example, the plan with the old magnox plants was basically to let them cool, defuel them, then leave them for around 100 years for all the highly active stuff to decay. Then just cut a hole in the side, walk in, and carry stuff out - it really would be that low in activity by then. But the "oh no, we can't do that" brigade insist we do things in the most expensive and hazardous way possible - and then complain about the cost !

                Another statistic that AC will probably refuse to accept is "what's the largest contributor to radiation dose for most of the general public ?". In the Uk the answer is ...

                ... drumroll ...

                medical diagnostics, specifically things like CAT scans and the like. They make up 40% of the total annual dose (on average). In the US it's higher at around 50% - because they tend to do more diagnostic imaging.

                IIRC the next highest is natural background radiation - higher if you live in Cornwall or around Edinburgh which have lots of radioactive rock.

                I assume AC also belives that long term safe storage is impossible, however nature has proved it can be done "Most of the non-volatile fission products and actinides have only moved centimeters in the veins during the last 2 billion years".

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  More whataboutism and condescending BS

                  AC has been providing loads of facts and reasoning. All AC got in return wais accusation of "ideology" (from supposedly "rational" anonymous canine commentard).

                  Are you suggesting we don't care about nuclear disasters before we get rid of medical radiations? Oh, BTW, Let's not care about plane safety. Car crashes are more frequent.

                  We got 2 major accidents over the last 50 years. How many can we bear in the next 1000 years?

                  Dispute the facts with intelligent arguments or try ad hominem. Your call.

          2. Dagg Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: Don't worry folks...

            London Beer Flood

            Whoa, what a way to go...

    2. John Hawkins

      Re: Don't worry folks...

      Hydropower dam collapse has killed more people than nuclear accidents so anything you say about the risks of nuclear power might also be said of hydro.

      The Banqiao Dam failure of 1975 is probably responsible for most such deaths and like Chernobyl, it was poorly maintained Soviet Union technology. But anything that isn't maintained properly works until it doesn't so good the blokes got caught.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Don't worry folks...

        Bad comparison: Fukushima, Chernobyl and other "accidents" to come will carry on killing for centuries. So the counters are not frozen yet.

        We can compare oranges with oranges only when all victims are accounted for.

        Also let me know which dam failure did cost ONE TRILLION dollars like Fukushima.

        1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

          Re: Don't worry folks...

          https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/death-rates-from-energy-production-per-twh

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Don't worry folks...

            I'm not sure how many times I need to explain this but these datasets are just current today's snapshots.

            Nuclear disasters render whole areas uninhabitable. People who come back to live in Chernobyl TODAY get cancers and die.

            And Chernobyl was nearly 40 years ago. So, come back in a few centuries with your updated bar chat and then we discuss the data again.

            If you don't make it till that old age, rest assured our descendants will know the truth (and hate us for it).

            1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

              Re: Don't worry folks...

              How many times do I need to ask you what your projections are?

              How many will be impacted by the long-term effects of nuclear disasters, versus, say the long-term impact of fossil fuel on our environment and climate?

            2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: Don't worry folks...

              "People who come back to live in Chernobyl TODAY get cancers and die."

              Slag heaps from mining still collapse TODAY and kill people, and in some cases they've been there for over a 100 YEARs. Landfill, near the coast from a 100 years ago is now eroding into the see causing pollution and likely deaths. One example from just up the coast from where I live. As as been pointed out to you so many time already, if you want to make claims, then you have to take a snapshot at some stage in ALL industry's, or simply not bother at all.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Don't worry folks...

                >>> Slag heaps from mining still collapse TODAY and kill people

                Try harder. Let me help you: what about people who inadvertently fall into a coalmine pit? You forgot that one. LOL.

                1. Alan Brown Silver badge

                  Re: Don't worry folks...

                  There are areas in the North of England where villages are in danger due to subsidence of the abandoned mines below them. One of my friends live in an affected house

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Don't worry folks...

          "We can compare oranges with oranges only when all victims are accounted for."

          Based on that, we can NEVER compare, and so just ignore all the risks forever? Sounds like a good plan. I take it you are involved in some power generation related industry that is worried about new nuclear taking away a share of your market? Or are you happy with the generations-long pollution caused by rare earths mining and processing in locations where no one gives a shit about pollution and associated deaths so you can have "clean" solar panels? eg mud wall "dams" holding back millions or billions of gallons of "settling pond" polluted water that seem to collapse with worrying frequency, killing people both immediately and in the long term? That doesn't count either because the "final numbers" aren't in yet?

          See? We can all play "whataboutism" without citations, just like you :-)

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Don't worry folks...

            >>> I take it you are involved in some power generation related industry that is worried about new nuclear taking away a share of your market?

            Yeah. The solar energy industry is sooooo scared of the threat posed by the non-existent SMR industry. LOL.

            1. bombastic bob Silver badge
              Devil

              Re: Don't worry folks...

              I prefer the EXISTENT "big reactor" industry. We should be producing at least half of electricity with nuclear power, and use carbon-based fuel plants, hydro plants, and so-called "renewables" to handle the variable demand. Often the constant demand is handled by coal plants, but I think that replacing them with nuclear is better in the long run.

              Not to say that coal is NOT the right choice in a lot of cases, just that its up/down sides have to be weighed against similar up/down sides for Nuclear.

              [actually coal plants could be adapted to burn plastic waste if you mix it with the coal, as so much plastic never actually gets recycled]

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Don't worry folks...

                So much nonsense. One does not know where to start.

                Future is for resilient smart grids. No room for large 3% efficiency "big reactors".

                >>> "We should be producing at least half of electricity with nuclear power" Says who? You? Sure! With your money? Why not? Good Luck!

                Forget coal. Read the news. We have a greenhouse effect issue at the moment, rapidly threatening to follow the Venusian runaway scenario.

                Don't think base load and duck curve. This has no meaning anymore with smart grids, PowerToGas and decentralized storage.

                Forget plastic: that carbon should stay where it is. Or follow microbial degradation cycles.

        3. bombastic bob Silver badge

          Re: Don't worry folks...

          Fukushima was an accident because of a natural disaster, a 9.0 earthquake and tsunami that flooded the emergency generators. Radiation release was limited. I would live near there now without any concerns. But the area needs a good cleanup first. Think of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which after cleanup, were ok to live in.

          Sorry, you cannot cherry pick information and then go into hysterical hyperbole to make your point. El Reg is frequented by very smart people.

          Here is a site reporting some more recent analysis (2021-ish) from Fukushima radiation monitoring and from what I can tell [I'm not good at reading Japanese with kanji, and lots of PDFs - I looked at a weighted average and tried my best] it appears to say that the current water radiation levels are below the limit allowed for drinking water.

          https://www.tepco.co.jp/en/hd/decommission/data/analysis/archive/2021/202101-e.html

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Don't worry folks...

            Hahaha citing tepco for Fukushima. Yeah. right.

            There's always a reason for disasters.

            Radiation in Fukushima was limited because the wind was blowing seawards at the time of the disaster. If this kind of mishap takes place, say in Kansas, we'll have a different story. Do you really think deciders take this kind of bets on good luck?

            >>> "El Reg is frequented by very smart people."

            Doesn't that include me? Yet another illogical argument.

            Besides, it's not about being smart. It's about doing your homework and adopting an bias-free critical attitude.

            Smart people in one domain don't know everything about every domain (although some of them seem to think that way). If you'd be really smart, you'd know that.

            1. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

              Re: Don't worry folks...

              A tsunami is unlikely to flood poorly placed backup generators meant to provide emergency power for a controlled plant shutdown in Kansas.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Don't worry folks...

                That's not the point. The point is that you can't bet on wind direction to spare inhabited areas in case of nuclear disaster.

                Not all nuclear disasters are caused by Tsunamis. Focusing on previous causes is the best way to fail to address the next one.

                If you really need to limit yourself to tsunamis, just take a look at Diablo Canyon, which is a mere 32 feet above sea level, only one mile away from the Shoreline fault, with a wind blowing Westwards more often than not.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One count?

    They were allowed to plead guilty (presumably with a plea deal) to one count of making and using a materially false document? Given that this was calibration of safety equipment used at multiple nuclear plants, how about 29 counts of making and using a materially false document, 29 counts of attempted depraved-heart murder (for willingly faking safety data), and 29 counts of fraud (for being paid to do work they claimed they did, but didn't)?

    Having worked in calibration in pharma, it's entirely possible for an instrument to provide "passing" data that should have failed, if the instrument is out of tolerance. To do this for nuclear power plant safety, jailtime is really the only option. And not 5 years minus 90% for good behavior.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Stop

      Re: One count?

      Avoiding a trial with a guaranteed prison sentence is often preferable to "piling on" criminal charges. Their careers are toast. They'll get their punishment.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: One count?

      The bigger issue is that these instruments and sensors are used on other large civil engineering projets

      Nuclear plants have such stupidly high safety factors that it's not really an issue. Bridiges and tall buildings are quite another matter

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No Nukes

    Are safe

    1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: No Nukes

      Are safe

      Let me introduce to your tiny mind the concept of "risk profiles".

      Risk is likelyhood x probability.

      So yes, if a nuclear plant go boom, it's bad news. Which is why there are so many mitigations built into the design and operating procedures. No likelyhood is ever going to be zero - for example, a 500m meteorite might hit the palnt but it's vanishingly unlikely.

      The overall risk for nuclear plants when properly operated and maintained is, again, vanishingly small. How many incidents have there been? A small handfull ofver the 70+ years that commercial nuclear power operation has been around.

      (Yes, yes, I know it's probably a troll because it doesn't even have the courage to post under it's real name)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        All my sympathy.

        Must be difficult to bear "CrazyOldCatMan" as a "real name". Thank God you're not "anonymous", though.

        Looks like "going boom" is more likely than getting hit by a meteorite... Quite a sizeable number of "incidents" took place already. Or is it that not all NPP are "properly operated". Maybe that should be taken into account as well Mr Cat (or is it Mr Crazy?). All in all, maybe not everyone is happy to live close to a "can-go-boom-any-time" NPP.

        1. Intractable Potsherd

          Re: All my sympathy.

          No, they can't "go boom at any time". I'd happily live near any of the nuclear power plants in the UK.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: All my sympathy.

            Some people next to Fukushima were bragging about the same nonsense too. They've learned the hard way about their foolishness.

            Thank God, you will be more lucky: UK are shutting down all their obsolete seaside PWRs to the tune of 2 or 3 per year and can't get the billions for Sizewell C, somehow.

            But surely, you can put your money where your mouth is, and contribute a few tens of thousands of pounds, every year, for the next 20 years and eventually get rewarded with some 200+$ MWh when it's complete. LOL.

            1. I could be a dog really Bronze badge

              Re: All my sympathy.

              Actually, the biggest health risks around Fukushima are non-nuclear.

              Lets not forget that (from memory) around 20,000 - that's twenty thousand - people died from the tsunami itself. Few have, or will, die from any radiological issue. There is some nuclear contamination, but that is fairly easily dealt with with the help of a geiger counter and a trowel (you find the tiny bits, pick them up with a small trowel, and pop them in a bucket). The contamination over large areas with chemicals, oils, human and animal carcasses, and a toxic chemical called sodium chloride, is a different matter. That non-nuclear contamination is a much higher risk.

              Oh yes, I forgot the societal issue. For obvious reasons the Japanese are rather concerned about the effects of radiation. So just the thought that there might be any contamination is enough to cause stress and anxiety. Not knowledge that there is contamination, just the belief that there might be. As a result, very large areas were evacuated that didn't need to be - and that's caused problems of it's own.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Off topic

                Why not also cite the Saga rebellion of 1874 which resulted into several hundreds of casualties.

                Nevertheless, TEPCO will appreciate your innovative low-cost trowel-based cleaning strategy, since the estimations of that disaster are around one trillion dollars.

                You should pack up your bucket+trowel cleaning kit and apply for service.

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