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Author Topic: Nuclear Power  (Read 19596 times)
G M
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« Reply #50 on: March 13, 2011, 09:15:55 PM »

Given the vast difference in gov't funding, it sure looks like the AWEA gets much more bang for it's lobbying buck, does it not? What's the overall size of the green industry vs. that of the oil/gas industry?
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G M
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« Reply #51 on: March 13, 2011, 09:46:44 PM »

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080821164605.htm

Earthquakes May Endanger New York More Than Thought; Nuclear Power Plant Seen As Particular Risk

ScienceDaily (Aug. 21, 2008) — A study by a group of prominent seismologists suggests that a pattern of subtle but active faults makes the risk of earthquakes to the New York City area substantially greater than formerly believed. Among other things, they say that the controversial Indian Point nuclear power plants, 24 miles north of the city, sit astride the previously unidentified intersection of two active seismic zones.

The paper appears in the current issue of the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America at http://www.bssaonline.org/cgi/reprint/98/4/1696.
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bigdog
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« Reply #52 on: March 14, 2011, 05:00:23 AM »

Given the vast difference in gov't funding, it sure looks like the AWEA gets much more bang for it's lobbying buck, does it not? What's the overall size of the green industry vs. that of the oil/gas industry?

I would think that an industry that is smart with its money would appeal to you.  Also, I'm not sure the rest of subsidy information in the video is correct.  If he was wrong about the lobbying activities, I am not sure why I would trust him with the other half of that information.


http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/04/business/04bptax.html

http://www.good.is/post/what-if-solar-were-subsidized-like-oil/
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G M
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« Reply #53 on: March 14, 2011, 07:26:29 AM »


"I would think that an industry that is smart with its money would appeal to you."

Unfortunately, it's smart at getting our tax money, which is quite different than succeeding in the marketplace.







http://www.instituteforenergyresearch.org/2008/07/30/energy-subsidies-study/

American taxpayers footed a $16.6 billion bill for energy subsidies, tax breaks, loan guarantees, and the like in 2007 alone, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). That’s more than double the Federal subsidy level from eight years earlier.

In fact, on an energy fuel basis, Congress has increased subsidies for renewable fuels considerably, from 17 percent of total subsidies and support in 1999 to 29 percent in 2007.  Conversely, natural gas and petroleum-related subsidies declined from 25 percent to 13 percent during the same period, and coal and nuclear subsidy shares remained roughly constant.

A large portion of the increase in subsidies for renewable fuels is due to ethanol and biofuels production, which represented two-thirds of the renewable subsidies in FY 2007.

For subsidies related to electricity production, EIA data shows that solar energy was subsidized at $24.34 per megawatt hour and wind at $23.37 per megawatt hour for electricity generated in 2007.  By contrast, coal received 44 cents, natural gas and petroleum received 25 cents, hydroelectric power 67 cents, and nuclear power $1.59 per megawatt hour.

Renewable lobbies complain that they don’t get their fair share of the subsidy pie, despite the data that suggests otherwise.  The industry justifies its requests for larger levels of taxpayer support by arguing that subsidies per unit of energy produced are always higher at the early stage of development, before large scale production can occur. But here’s the problem: wind power has been subsidized for more than a decade.  The production tax credit (PTC) for wind, for example, was first introduced as part of the Energy Policy Act of 1992.

The PTC for wind is currently slated to expire on December 31, 2008, if Congress does not extend it before then.  However, even with these subsidies, wind represented less than 1 percent of total net electricity generation in the United States in 2007. By contrast, nuclear and natural gas, both representing about 20 percent of net electricity generation in 2007, and coal, representing almost 50 percent, are subsidized less than wind by factors ranging from 15 for nuclear to 93 for natural gas.

The bottom line: traditional fuels continue to be more efficient and cost-effective than renewable fuels, which is why EIA forecasts show them representing 91 percent of energy consumption in 2030.
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DougMacG
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« Reply #54 on: March 14, 2011, 09:53:29 AM »

Previously, "...nuclear needs to take into account the external diseconomies both actual and possible attendant to the technology.  Ask Japan, Russia, and Pennsylvania."

I am curious how Chernobyl Ukraine (a Soviet disaster built with no containment structure), Three Mile Island (no deaths or known health effect?) and Japan (where the tsunami devastation is perhaps headed to the tens of thousands and the nuclear radiation released during cooldown is roughly dental x-ray levels quickly dispersed?) all get cast together.  Always open to evidence to the contrary.
------------------------------------------------

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704893604576198421680697248.html

Japan Does Not Face Another Chernobyl

By WILLIAM TUCKER

Even while thousands of people are reported dead or missing, whole neighborhoods lie in ruins, and gas and oil fires rage out of control, press coverage of the Japanese earthquake has quickly settled on the troubles at two nuclear reactors as the center of the catastrophe.

Rep. Ed Markey (D., Mass.), a longtime opponent of nuclear power, has warned of "another Chernobyl" and predicted "the same thing could happen here." In response, he has called for an immediate suspension of licensing procedures for the Westinghouse AP1000, a "Generation III" reactor that has been laboring through design review at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for seven years.

Before we respond with such panic, though, it would be useful to review exactly what is happening in Japan and what we have to fear from it.

The core of a nuclear reactor operates at about 550 degrees Fahrenheit, well below the temperature of a coal furnace and only slightly hotter than a kitchen oven. If anything unusual occurs, the control rods immediately drop, shutting off the nuclear reaction. You can't have a "runaway reactor," nor can a reactor explode like a nuclear bomb. A commercial reactor is to a bomb what Vaseline is to napalm. Although both are made from petroleum jelly, only one of them has potentially explosive material.

Once the reactor has shut down, there remains "decay heat" from traces of other radioactive isotopes. This can take more than a week to cool down, and the rods must be continually bathed in cooling waters to keep them from overheating.

On all Generation II reactors—the ones currently in operation—the cooling water is circulated by electric pumps. The new Generation III reactors such as the AP1000 have a simplified "passive" cooling system where the water circulates by natural convection with no pumping required.

If the pumps are knocked out in a Generation II reactor—as they were at Fukushima Daiichi by the tsunami—the water in the cooling system can overheat and evaporate. The resulting steam increases internal pressure that must be vented. There was a small release of radioactive steam at Three Mile Island in 1979, and there have also been a few releases at Fukushima Daiichi. These produce radiation at about the level of one dental X-ray in the immediate vicinity and quickly dissipate.

If the coolant continues to evaporate, the water level can fall below the level of the fuel rods, exposing them. This will cause a meltdown, meaning the fuel rods melt to the bottom of the steel pressure vessel.

Early speculation was that in a case like this the fuel might continue melting right through the steel and perhaps even through the concrete containment structure—the so-called China syndrome, where the fuel would melt all the way to China. But Three Mile Island proved this doesn't happen. The melted fuel rods simply aren't hot enough to melt steel or concrete.

The decay heat must still be absorbed, however, and as a last-ditch effort the emergency core cooling system can be activated to flood the entire containment structure with water. This will do considerable damage to the reactor but will prevent any further steam releases. The Japanese have now reportedly done this using seawater in at least two of the troubled reactors. These reactors will never be restarted.

None of this amounts to "another Chernobyl." The Chernobyl reactor had two crucial design flaws. First, it used graphite (carbon) instead of water to "moderate" the neutrons, which makes possible the nuclear reaction. The graphite caught fire in April 1986 and burned for four days. Water does not catch fire.

Second, Chernobyl had no containment structure. When the graphite caught fire, it spouted a plume of radioactive smoke that spread across the globe. A containment structure would have both smothered the fire and contained the radioactivity.

If a meltdown does occur in Japan, it will be a disaster for the Tokyo Electric Power Company but not for the general public. Whatever steam releases occur will have a negligible impact. Researchers have spent 30 years trying to find health effects from the steam releases at Three Mile Island and have come up with nothing. With all the death, devastation and disease now threatening tens of thousands in Japan, it is trivializing and almost obscene to spend so much time worrying about damage to a nuclear reactor.

What the Japanese earthquake has proved is that even the oldest containment structures can withstand the impact of one of the largest earthquakes in recorded history. The problem has been with the electrical pumps required to operate the cooling system. It would be tragic if the result of the Japanese accident were to prevent development of Generation III reactors, which eliminate this design flaw.
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ccp
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« Reply #55 on: March 14, 2011, 11:12:46 AM »

The WSJ article contradicts itself:

"Before we respond with such panic, though, it would be useful to review exactly what is happening in Japan and what we have to fear from it."

Yes,

Well it is too soon to know what is going on and what will happen.

But,

Japanese authorites are less than forthcoming.
One cannot deny that no matter how many times we are told these things are safe another event occurs and we find the truth is not that they are perfectfully safe as sold. 

But this is also a  premature conclusion:

"What the Japanese earthquake has proved is that even the oldest containment structures can withstand the impact of one of the largest earthquakes in recorded history. The problem has been with the electrical pumps required to operate the cooling system. It would be tragic if the result of the Japanese accident were to prevent development of Generation III reactors, which eliminate this design flaw."

Lets also not blow it off as already its proven to be no big deal and start off with design 3 - just yet.



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G M
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« Reply #56 on: March 14, 2011, 11:55:40 AM »

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/02/16/going-bananas-over-radiation/

Going bananas over radiation
Posted on February 16, 2011 by Anthony Watts

While doing some reasearch on Thorium, I came across this interesting little fact that I wasn’t familiar with, so I thought I’d pass it along. Many people fear radiation, sometimes the fear is irrational, based on the erroneous concept that we live in a “radiation free lifestyle”. I’ll never forget one time when I showed my geiger counter to a neighbor who was shocked when it started clicking. She was horrified to learn that cosmic rays were in fact zipping right through her body right that very second. I didn’t have the heart to tell her about neutrinos.

But, along the same lines, this little factoid might drive some people “bananas” when they read it. But, it illustrates a fact of life: radiation is everywhere.

From Wikipedia:

A banana equivalent dose is a concept occasionally used by nuclear power proponents[1][2] to place in scale the dangers of radiation by comparing exposures to the radiation generated by a common banana.

Many foods are naturally radioactive, and bananas are particularly so, due to the radioactive potassium-40 they contain. The banana equivalent dose is the radiation exposure received by eating a single banana. Radiation leaks from nuclear plants are often measured in extraordinarily small units (the picocurie, a millionth of a millionth of a curie, is typical). By comparing the exposure from these events to a banana equivalent dose, a more intuitive assessment of the actual risk can sometimes be obtained.

The average radiologic profile of bananas is 3520 picocuries per kg, or roughly 520 picocuries per 150g banana.[3] The equivalent dose for 365 bananas (one per day for a year) is 3.6 millirems (36 μSv).

Bananas are radioactive enough to regularly cause false alarms on radiation sensors used to detect possible illegal smuggling of nuclear material at US ports.[4]

Another way to consider the concept is by comparing the risk from radiation-induced cancer to that from cancer from other sources. For instance, a radiation exposure of 10 mrems (10,000,000,000 picorems) increases your risk of death by about one in one million—the same risk as eating 40 tablespoons of peanut butter, or of smoking 1.4 cigarettes.[5]

After the Three Mile Island nuclear accident, the NRC detected radioactive iodine in local milk at levels of 20 picocuries/liter,[6] a dose much less than one would receive from ingesting a single banana. Thus a 12 fl oz glass of the slightly radioactive milk would have about 1/75th BED (banana equivalent dose).

Nearly all foods are slightly radioactive. All food sources combined expose a person to around 40 millirems per year on average, or more than 10% of the total dose from all natural and man-made sources.[7]

Some other foods that have above-average levels are potatoes, kidney beans, nuts, and sunflower seeds.[8] Among the most naturally radioactive food known are brazil nuts, with activity levels that can exceed 12,000 picocuries per kg.[9][10]

It has been suggested[11] that since the body homeostatically regulates the amount of potassium it contains, bananas do not cause a higher dose. However, the body takes time to remove excess potassium, time during which a dose is accumulating. In fact, the biological half-life of potassium is longer than it is for tritium,[12][13] a radioactive material sometimes leaked or intentionally vented in small quantities by nuclear plants. Also, bananas cause radiation exposure even when not ingested; for instance, standing next to a crate of bananas causes a measurable dose. Finally, the banana equivalent dose concept is about the prevalence of radiation sources in our food and environment, not about bananas specifically. Some foods (brazil nuts for example) are radioactive because of radium or other isotopes that the body does not keep under homeostatic regulation.[14]

   1. ^ http://www.ehs.unr.edu/ehs/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=EgZI00myQRM%3D&tabid=62&mid=615
   2. ^ Weston, Luke. (2007-07-25) banana dose « Physical Insights. Enochthered.wordpress.com. Retrieved on 2010-10-19.
   3. ^ CRC Handbook on Radiation Measurement and Protection, Vol 1 p. 620 Table A.3.7.12, CRC Press, 1978
   4. ^ Issue Brief: Radiological and Nuclear Detection Devices. Nti.org. Retrieved on 2010-10-19.
   5. ^ Radiation and Risk. Physics.isu.edu. Retrieved on 2010-10-19.
   6. ^ A Brief Review of the Accident at Three Mile Island
   7. ^ Radiation. Risks and Realities, US Environmental Protection Agency
   8. ^ [1][dead link]
   9. ^ Brazil Nuts. Orau.org. Retrieved on 2010-10-19.
  10. ^ Natural Radioactivity. Physics.isu.edu. Retrieved on 2010-10-19.
  11. ^ Bananas are radioactive—But they aren’t a good way to explain radiation exposure. Boing Boing. Retrieved on 2010-10-19.
  12. ^ Rahola, T; Suomela, M (1975). “On biological half-life of potassium in man”. Annals of clinical research 7 (2): 62–5. PMID 1181976.
  13. ^ Environmental Health-Risk Assessment for Tritium Releases at the NTLF at LBNL: Chapter 2. Lbl.gov. Retrieved on 2010-10-19.
  14. ^ Brazil Nuts. Orau.org. Retrieved on 2010-10-19.

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ccp
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« Reply #57 on: March 14, 2011, 12:34:16 PM »

Is Anthony Watts calling the US military a bunch of panicking banana heads?:

***US moves ships out of path of Japan radiation
 
The Navy says it has moved several US ships away from a troubled Japanese nuclear plant after detecting low-level radiation on 17 helicopter crew members positioned there for relief efforts.
 
Navy Cmdr Jeff Davis, a spokesman for the US 7th Fleet, said on Monday that the Navy is committed to continuing the operation to help the Japanese after last week's earthquake and tsunami. But he says officials had to figure out how to continue safely after airborne radiation was detected on Sunday by the carrier USS Ronald Reagan and on a helicopter crew returning to the ship from search and rescue operations.
 
By moving the ships in the carrier group out of the downwind path of the power plant, Davis says the Navy can continue with less risk to Americans participating.
 
- With inputs from AP***
 
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G M
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« Reply #58 on: March 14, 2011, 05:03:33 PM »

Probably reasonable until the extent of the radiation leaks are verified.
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DougMacG
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« Reply #59 on: March 14, 2011, 05:49:19 PM »

Must say, this catastrophe generated a long deserved conversation here and elsewhere.  

CCP, GM,  I agree, it is way too early to know the end result.  My first instinct was right.  Bury my head from news if we can't help, and wait until we know what happened.  But that's not the coverage.  It is meltdowns, explosions, evacuations and low level radiation announced every hour and on every site with absolutely no explanation of what on earth that means.  A dental X-ray? That is hardly a measure as it is something that has changed ten-fold over the years. 1/10th of a CT scan? 0.1 r.e.m? A banana? An MIT scientist describes it as: "drinking a glass of beer that comes from certain areas with high levels of natural background radiation."  http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/jamesdelingpole/100079763/nuclear-power-some-perspective/

The problem with waiting to comment is that in 30 years since Three Mile Island, the conclusion of the studies is lost to our total inability to hold a focus.

I passed by a nuclear plant in Monticello MN today.  28 degrees and sunny with the Richter stuck where it has been every day since the plant was licensed 40 years ago, at 0.00.  The forecast tomorrow: Richter 0.00.  Not exactly pretty, but the plant powers 500,000 homes with a single reactor.  I agree with shutting it down - after 500,000 nuclear opponent households agree to disconnect their homes.  No one else will be affected.  Power for 500,000 homes is dangerous no matter how you produce and distribute it.

I stand by my preface to that article as a prediction not a foregone conclusion, that the devastation was maybe thousand-fold more from seawater and natural disaster than from nuclear, while the coverage is equal perhaps heavier on the nuclear side.  The end is not known, but so far more people died in Ted Kennedy's car - one too many.

That article (Tucker, WSJ) does not have all the facts but he gave the best description of what is happening that I have seen.  

After the tragedy and damage passes, what we have had from a scientific and engineering perspective is an amazing test that money could not buy.  9.1 is several hundred times more force than is projected to be the maximum possible at our San Andreas facilities.  

The CNN Money link http://money.cnn.com/2011/03/13/news/economy/nuclear_power_plants/index.htm?hpt=T1 at one point answers a question that Crafty posed in 2006 to start this thread: "tests have shown that the country's nuclear plants could withstand an impact from an airliner".  What was learned from the tenacity of the truthers doubting that an airliner even hit the Pentagon is that an airliner disintegrates rather quickly and easily on a solid impact.  

Once again, someone, anyone, please outline a better energy mix that works today with nuclear removed.  How many 'trainloads' of coal to Japan? from where? China? will it take to replace nuclear's projected 50% contribution to electric power?
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G M
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« Reply #60 on: March 14, 2011, 06:12:39 PM »

I think the Ipad 3 will come with a hand-crank.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #61 on: March 14, 2011, 09:36:42 PM »

A larger underlying theme here is one of distrust of the "experts" and the business and political interests involved.  The simple truth is that, although Chernobyl and TMI can be distinguised from Japan, in all three cases "the experts", business interests, and politicians swore "not to worry".  

Here in CA with the Diablo Canyon reactor being built on an earth quake vault, the experts, business interests, and politicians swore "not to worry".  Sorry but that strikes me as madness-- and so now I am leery of the reassurances of the experts, business interests, and the politicians.


========================

Japan Faces Prospect of Nuclear Catastrophe as Employees Leave Plant

Japan faced the likelihood of a catastrophic nuclear accident
Tuesday morning, as an explosion at the most crippled of
three reactors at the Fukushima Daichi Nuclear Power Station
damaged its crucial steel containment structure, emergency
workers were withdrawn from the plant, and much larger
emissions of radioactive materials appeared imminent,
according to official statements and industry executives
informed about the developments.

Prime Minsiter Naoto Kan of Japan was preparing to make a
televised address to the nation at 11 a.m. Tokyo time.

The sharp deterioration came after government officials said
the containment structure of the No. 2 reactor, the most
seriously damaged of three reactors at the Daichi plant, had
suffered damage during an explosion shorly after 6 a.m. on
Tuesday.

Read More:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/15/world/asia/15nuclear.html?emc=na
« Last Edit: March 15, 2011, 12:59:23 AM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #62 on: March 15, 2011, 01:23:56 AM »

Adding to the gist of my comments in the previous post:

Japan: Radiation Rising and Heading South
March 15, 2011 | 0551 GMT
The nuclear reactor emergency in Japan has deteriorated significantly. Two more explosions occurred at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on March 15. The first occurred at 6:10am local time at reactor No. 2, which had seen nuclear fuel rods exposed for several hours after dropping water levels due to mishaps in the emergency cooling efforts. Within three hours the amount of radiation at the plant rose to 163 times the previously recorded level, according to Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency. Elsewhere radiation levels were said to have reached 400 times the “annual legal limit” at reactor No. 3. Authorities differed on whether the reactor pressure vessel at reactor No. 2 was damaged after the explosion, but said the reactor’s pressure-suppression system may have been damaged possibly allowing a radiation leak. Subsequently, a fire erupted at reactor No. 4 of the Fukushima Daini plant (where cooling systems had also failed) and was subsequently extinguished, but a hydrogen explosion occurred at No. 4 reactor as well, according to Kyodo. Kyodo also reported the government has ordered a no-fly zone 20 kilometers around the reactor, and Prime Minister Naoto Kan has expanded to 30 kilometers the range within which citizens should remain indoors and warned that further leaks are possible.

Reports from Japanese media currently tell of rising radiation levels in the areas south and southwest of the troubled plant due to a change in wind direction toward the southwest. Ibaraki prefecture, immediately south of Fukushima, was reported to have higher than normal levels. Chiba prefecture, to the east of Tokyo and connected to the metropolitan area, saw levels reportedly two to four times above the “normal” level. Utsunomiya, Tochigi prefecture, north of Tokyo, reported radiation at 33 times the normal level measured there. Kanagawa prefecture, south of Tokyo, reported radiation at up to 9 times the normal level. Finally, a higher than normal amount was reported in Tokyo. The government says radiation levels have reached levels hazardous to human health. Wind direction is not easily predictable, constantly shifting, and reports say it could shift west and then back eastward to sea within the next day. Wind direction, temperature, and topography all play a crucial factor in the spread of radioactive materials as well as their diffusion. It is impossible to know how reliable these preliminary readings are but they suggest a dramatic worsening as well as a wider spread than at any time since the emergency began.

The Japanese government has announced a 30 kilometer no-fly zone and is expanding evacuation zones and urging the public within a wider area to remain indoors. The situation at the nuclear facility is uncertain, but clearly deteriorating. Currently, the radiation levels do not appear immediately life-threatening outside the 20km evacuation zone. But if there is a steady northerly wind, the potential for larger-scale evacuations of more populated areas may become a reality. This would present major challenges to the Japanese government. Further, the potential for panic-induced individual evacuations could trigger even greater problems for the government to manage.

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ccp
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« Reply #63 on: March 15, 2011, 10:11:18 AM »

"Here in CA with the Diablo Canyon reactor being built on an earth quake vault, the experts, business interests, and politicians swore "not to worry".  Sorry but that strikes me as madness-- and so now I am leery of the reassurances of the experts, business interests, and the politicians."

Even one in NY we are hearing is built on a fault line.  I don't know what this means.  In general I am for nuclear energy but....


***Nuclear reactor nightmare: Could it happen in the U.S.?
Experts say many reactors in U.S. share same basic design as stricken reactors in Japan
As workers in Japan struggle to limit the release of dangerous radiation from the nation's earthquake-stricken nuclear reactors, some in the U.S. are wondering: Could the same thing happen here?

Some experts say yes.

"We have 23 nuclear reactors that are the same design as the Fukushima plants that have failed," Dr. Ira Helfand, past president of Physicians for Social Responsibility and a long-time critic of nuclear power, told CBS News.

A database maintained by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission shows that 23 of 104 nuclear plants in the U.S. are boiling water reactors that use GE's Mark 1's radioactivity-containment system, the same system used by the reactors at the troubled reactors at the Fukushima Dia-ichi plant in Japan, MSNBC reported. The reactors are in Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Vermont.

Calls to GE were referred to the Nuclear Energy Institute, an industry group. In an email to CBS News, it confirmed that some plants use the same basic system as the Japanese plants, but added that "specific elements of the safety systems will vary."


According to Dr. Helfand, some of the U.S. plants with containment systems similar to the ones in the Japanese reactors are built on fault lines, including one near New York City.

"The Indian Point reactor just north of New York City is built on a fault capable of generating a magnitude 7 earthquake, but it was only built to withstand a magnitude 3 quake," he said. "If the Indian Point reactor experienced a major meltdown, the entire New York metropolitan area, with 20 million people, would be at risk."
The Diablo Canyon nuclear plant on the central California coast, which is within about 60 miles of the San Andreas Fault, and even close to other faults, was built to withstand a 7.5 earthquake, according to owner Pacific Gas and Electric. The company maintains that the faults in the region are not expected to produce any larger quakes.

Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Gregory Jaczko was asked at a press briefing by CBS News White House correspondent Chip Reid whether reactors in the U.S. could withstand a quake similar to the 9.0 event in Japan. He offered a vague response:  "At this point what I can say is we have a strong safety program in place to deal with seismic events that are likely to -- to happen at any nuclear facility in this country."

What steps, if any, should be undertaken by people living near a power plant in the U.S.?

"I would want the nuclear facility to be honest with me and tell me if this is the same kind of reactor design as the ones in Japan," Dr. Jerome M. Hauer, former director of emergency management for New York City, told CBS News. "And what are they doing to ensure that the flaws that this earthquake exposed are being dealt with. If anything happens to the plant, how are you going to deal with them?"

In its email to CBS News, the Nuclear Energy Institute said it was premature to draw conclusions from Japan's nuclear crisis about the U.S. nuclear energy program.

"Japan is facing what literally can be considered a 'worst case' disaster and, so far, even the most seriously damaged of its 54 reactors has not released radiation at levels that would harm the public," the email said. "That is a testament to their rugged design and construction, and the effectiveness of their employees and the industry's emergency preparedness planning."

© 2011 CBS Interactive Inc.
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DougMacG
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« Reply #64 on: March 15, 2011, 12:00:16 PM »

Thank you for the replies.  I should remove foot from mouth until this settles, but attempts to discuss this previously never got this far.

I share the distrust of experts, but only for their own limitations, not bad motives.  No one is an expert at forecasting a 9.1.  That is 10,000 time stronger than anything in history in my part of the country and 100 times stronger than the one that dropped the Bay Bridge in 1989.  Not just energy systems and cooling pumps failing, the coastline and storm sewers failed too.  This is Pompei or Atlantis scale.

Meanwhile Germany closes 7 plants.  Because an earthquake is forecast? No, because an election is coming.

My point is the math of the energy grid equation:  a + b + c = d  (coal + nuclear + solar and wind = the total).
The contribution of solar and wind is near zero, already heavily subsidized and slow to grow.  Coal is undesirable and very hard to increase.  The total is VERY closely tied to our standard of living and way of life.  The equals sign is non-negotiable, we can't print it and run a deficit.  You can't remove b without some combination of changing the other variables in equal amounts, and the contribution of nuclear is enormous.

So we say build no new ones, just use the old ones?  But it is the old ones that will pose the most danger.  Tomorrows plants that are likely to be the safest ever.



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G M
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« Reply #65 on: March 15, 2011, 01:29:41 PM »

The media loves to hype bad news, in addition, every so-called expert with an anti-nuclear agenda has crawled out to give the MSM "Worse than Chernobyl" headlines.

IMHO, the earthquake/tsunami fatalities are the big story, and the nuclear the small one, but the MSM has the roles reversed.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #66 on: March 15, 2011, 01:42:02 PM »

Another variable to consider here is that American nuclear power would be run by Americans, not Japanese.  On the whole, I'd rather have the Japanese running things when you absolutely positively don't want to have an inadvertent clusterfcuk. embarassed
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G M
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« Reply #67 on: March 15, 2011, 01:45:34 PM »

Well, yes.
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G M
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« Reply #68 on: March 15, 2011, 01:48:53 PM »

I'd eat fugu in Japan, I wouldn't in China.
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prentice crawford
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« Reply #69 on: March 15, 2011, 01:53:21 PM »

Woof,
 One thing to consider that much of the media is missing here is that the plants affected in Japan are 40 years old, the technology and building methods that would be used for future plants is much better than back then. Another thing to consider is that these new plants need to come on line sooner so that our older plants can be decommissioned.
                                                                                                 P.C.
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ccp
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« Reply #70 on: March 15, 2011, 01:55:48 PM »

" On the whole, I'd rather have the Japanese running things when you absolutely positively don't want to have an inadvertent clusterfcuk"

Well, WE do have Obama... wink
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G M
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« Reply #71 on: March 15, 2011, 01:58:57 PM »

" On the whole, I'd rather have the Japanese running things when you absolutely positively don't want to have an inadvertent clusterfcuk"

Well, WE do have Obama... wink

He'll get right on it, after golf, hoops, the bullying summit, Brazil vacation and finishing his March Madness final four picks.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #72 on: March 15, 2011, 02:58:07 PM »


I am somewhat disappointed in this Stratfor analysis because it betrays an important ignorance of the nuclear plant in question.  Obtaining accurate information is the most difficult task these days.

The fuel rods encase the uranium.  They are the primary containment.  The fact that the rods were exposed does not increase the threat of lethal radiation unless there are breaks in the rods.  However, the rods themselves are encased in a containment chamber, the second level of containment.  In three of the four reactors at Fukushima Daiichi there are no feared breaks in those containment chambers.  This morning, it was feared that there may have been a break in a pipe leading to this containment chamber at Reactor 4.  However, subsequent inspection finds this chamber also to be fine.  

The cooling chamber reportedly damaged in one reactor is not the same thing as the containment chamber.  This chamber is a ring that circulates water within the containment chamber.

There have been discrepancies as to whether the amounts of radiation measured are in micorseiverts or milliseiverts.  But take the larger of the two measures and relate these measurements to Fred’s chart that he provided.  There has been a reading of 40 milliseiverts for a short time between Reactors #3 and #4.  That is the highest reported reading so far.

There is also a third level of containment at these plants, the meltdown floors that remain intact in all 4 reactors.  If there were a complete core meltdown, the residue would accumulate on these floors inside the containment chambers.  After it cooled, then there would have to be a thorough removal of the residue.  However, there is little likelihood of any significant amounts of radiation escaping these units.

Also, the danger of the radiation level depends upon the element(s) causing the radiation.  Each different element has a different half life.  Some of these half-lives are as short as 5 days.  Others are longer.  There are no reliable reports as yet identifying the particular elements that comprise the radiation levels measured at different locations.

I am not a nuclear engineer.  I have not stayed recently at a Holiday Inn Express.  However, I have taken the time to read extensively about the construction of these plants that use nuclear energy to boil water that in turn produces the steam that powers the machines that generate the electricity.  So far, no one has been killed from radiation.  The explosions are the product of the cooling efforts.  The flaw in the emergency procedures involved the back up diesel generators that turned out to be incompatible with the older electrical outlets at these plants (think of trying to insert newer three pronged electrical plugs into older two prong electric outlets).

I am looking for the facts – not opinions as to what might happen.  So far, there is a lot of fear and few facts.

=========
and a response:

From what I have been able to gather in the past few days, of primary concern is the embrittlement of the hot reactor vessels due to contact with seawater during the cooling efforts.
 
A couple of links that may help with understanding.
 
This from MIT.
http://mitnse.com/
 
And this from industry folks. Caveat:Fox/Henhouse...
http://nuclearstreet.com/nuclear_power_industry_news/b/nuclear_power_news/default.aspx
 
« Last Edit: March 15, 2011, 03:40:46 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
G M
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« Reply #73 on: March 16, 2011, 09:06:00 AM »

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/moslive/article-1350811/In-China-true-cost-Britains-clean-green-wind-power-experiment-Pollution-disastrous-scale.html

In China, the true cost of Britain's clean, green wind power experiment: Pollution on a disastrous scale

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/moslive/article-1350811/In-China-true-cost-Britains-clean-green-wind-power-experiment-Pollution-disastrous-scale.html



The lake of toxic waste at Baotou, China, which as been dumped by the rare earth processing plants in the background


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DougMacG
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« Reply #74 on: March 16, 2011, 11:43:37 AM »

Gm, Wow! angry
We leave our own resources in the ground and our best technologies on hold, buy what we prohibit ourselves to build, leave the filthiest mining to the places with the worst standards, where they don't even allow testing.  Ship the apparatus across the ocean and to the installations with fossil fuels, leave the rare earth mess behind, we set it all up here and with a ribbon cutting - and brag about zero emissions.  Then we pay 5 fold for the energy, force out the rest of dirty manufacturing - back to wherever standards are the worst and out of our control.  Next we push for world government and global taxes to tackle what we just caused.  Mandate plastic in place of steel in our cars,mercury into lighting, and Lithium into everything.  We drive SUVs to schools clearcut for asphalt parking, plant a tree and then do a bunch of high fives for our contributions to earth day.

The actual China photo today is eerily similar to a fictional one from British rock 35 years ago on the exact same subject:
Crisis! What Crisis?
 
« Last Edit: March 16, 2011, 11:46:49 AM by DougMacG » Logged
ccp
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« Reply #75 on: March 16, 2011, 11:59:14 AM »

Doug I am sure this picture is more or less recyled.  It looks familiar.

One could just as easily substitute Bamster making March madness picks with a bunch of hoopsters while Japan, the Middle East, our financial insitutions, the budget mess, and everything else is burning down.

I remember someone telling us a supposedly true story about Reggie Jackson getting on an elevator in the WWTC with an old lady in the 1980's.  He had a dog with him and at some point on the way down shouted sit!  The lady not the dog sat down in the elevator.  And Jackson reportedly looked at her incredulous and kind of embarassed and told her he was talking to the dog.  Well I told that story to someone who told it to an old timer.  The old timer said that is an old story that gets recycled every generation or so.  He heard the same story with Jackie Robinson in the 50's.

Well low and behold a few weeks later I am reading the sports section in my local paper and one of the sports writers told this hilarious story about Reggie Jackson!  It was the same one I had just heard and soon found out was a crock of crap.   I am sure he felt like he had egg on his face when he found it is was all BS.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #76 on: March 16, 2011, 12:25:21 PM »

GM:

Great stuff, but why is it in this thread?

Doug:

Great summary!
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G M
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« Reply #77 on: March 16, 2011, 12:42:59 PM »

Crafty,

Earlier in the thread, we were discussing nuclear power and "green" alternatives. Just as we must weigh the costs and problems related to nukes, we must look at the cost as problems related to other means of energy production.
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bigdog
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« Reply #78 on: March 16, 2011, 02:54:00 PM »

Guro and GM (in particular), I read a local newspaper account in which the local nuke plant manager says that the plant was built to withstand a 9.0 RS earthquake.  That surprises me given that those in California were not built to withstand such a shock.  I think that, like Guro, I am a bit sceptical. 
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G M
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« Reply #79 on: March 16, 2011, 03:26:25 PM »

I would be very, very surprised to find that a nuke plant built decades ago in the midwest was designed to withstand a 9.0 earthquake.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #80 on: March 16, 2011, 05:45:33 PM »

And I am NOT surprised to read that a nuke plant built on an earthquake fault on the CA coast is built only to a 7.5 earthquake standard  angry angry cry

"Lord, what fools these experts be!" (apologies to Willie Shakespeare)
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bigdog
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« Reply #81 on: March 17, 2011, 06:19:06 AM »

http://www.fox40.com/news/headlines/ktla-local-radiation-monitors,0,4670867.story?track=rss&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Ktxl-Fox40NewsAtTen+%28KTXL+-+FOX40+News+at+Ten%29
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #82 on: March 17, 2011, 10:40:07 PM »



http://www.enviroreporter.com/2011/03/enviroreporter-coms-radiation-station/
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DougMacG
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« Reply #83 on: March 18, 2011, 09:11:22 AM »

Washington Post Editorial today:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/too-soon-to-write-off-nuclear-power/2011/03/16/ABZ64Eh_story.html

Too soon to write off nuclear power

FIRST CAME an earthquake so powerful that it shifted Japan’s largest island, Honshu, eight feet eastward. Thirty minutes later a tsunami washed away thousands of lives. Now, a third disaster threatens as technicians desperately try to keep the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station from releasing radioactive material.

During all of this, the Japanese people have reacted with fortitude. In a rare television appearance, the emperor asked Japanese to “hand in hand, treat each other with compassion and overcome these difficult times.” That seems to be exactly what they are attempting; and the skeleton staff at Fukushima Daiichi is taking on more than its share, only briefly evacuating the site after detecting a radiation spike on Tuesday, then returning to continue cooling the reactors.

Though the reactors are shut down, they are still producing immense quantities of heat. It doesn’t appear that catastrophic levels of radiation have leaked from the plant’s thick containment barriers, but U.S. officials still have few details. The next few days will be critical.

On this side of the Pacific, the crisis has reinvigorated a debate on nuclear safety. Opponents of atomic power say this crisis proves that the risks can never be eliminated. That’s true. There will always be challenges that designers don’t fully anticipate.

Yet Energy Secretary Steven Chu insisted Wednesday that he and President Obama want to retain nuclear energy as an option, and they have good reason to do so. Generating electricity carries risks, no matter how you do it. Burning fossil fuels pumps harmful gases and particulates into the air every day, causing respiratory illness and cancer in thousands. People die in explosions of coal mines, oil drilling rigs and natural gas pipelines. Unlike nuclear energy, burning fossil fuels contributes to the gravest environmental threat of our time — climate change, which is likely to affect not thousands or millions of people, but billions.

Nuclear accidents pose a uniquely frightening danger: the prospect, in a worst case, of large swaths of territory being poisoned and uninhabitable for decades or longer. Mr. Chu and Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory B. Jaczko are right to have the government closely examine what happens in Japan and adjust U.S. policy as necessary. But the Fukushima plant is old. New plants would use more sophisticated technology, such as small-scale high-temperature gas reactors that use fuel in forms that shrink the risk of meltdown further still. A proposed nuclear plant in Georgia would not require backup power in order to activate emergency cooling systems.

Events in Japan will affect the “nuclear renaissance” to some extent, no matter what Mr. Chu or anyone else says, and all the more if the damage is not contained. Our thoughts, as ever, are with the Japanese people struggling to cope; beyond that, it is too soon to form broad and absolute judgments on relative risks.
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ccp
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« Reply #84 on: March 18, 2011, 10:51:31 AM »

Nobody is "writing off nuclear power".

But we shouldn't be building them in earthquake zones perhaps.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #85 on: March 18, 2011, 11:29:10 AM »

WWWOOOFFF!!!
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DougMacG
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« Reply #86 on: March 18, 2011, 01:51:05 PM »

CCP: "we shouldn't be building them in earthquake zones"

Agreed! 

Those people can have coal, or hook up their exercise machines to run the lights and charge the iphones.

If we want power generation further from the population and further from the earthquake zone, plan on using more power to do that.  "Energy losses are directly proportional to the square of the current." - James Prescott Joule
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ccp
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« Reply #87 on: March 18, 2011, 02:23:47 PM »

"hook up their exercise machines to run the lights and charge the iphones"

And environmentalist elistist basketball players should give up basketball and take up treadmills to power their batterries. cheesy
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G M
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« Reply #88 on: March 18, 2011, 09:07:41 PM »

http://dvice.com/archives/2011/03/how-to-make-a-n.php

The word "meltdown" defines our worst fears about nuclear reactors, and with good reason: without complex and redundant cooling systems, reactors can run out of control, generating so much heat that they melt their own fuel, releasing massive amounts of radioactivity in the process. But a new generation of reactors promises to be much safer, even to the point where a meltdown is a physical impossibility.

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DougMacG
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« Reply #89 on: March 21, 2011, 06:26:11 PM »

Zero radioactive deaths so far, though still too early to conclude anything about the nuclear accident in Japan.  The news cycle has changed quickly to Libya and other flashpoints.  Earthquake and tsunami fatalities in Japan could be 22,000.  Unimaginable from where I sit.  Not the worst of all-time natural disasters, but this tragedy will be on the list: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_natural_disasters_by_death_toll

As the number dead and missing went into the tens of thousands, the media story moved quickly to nuclear disaster, where the measurable damage so far actually sounds more like a bad traffic accident:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/03/18/fukushima_friday/page3.html

"...there has been one confirmed death, but not at the Daiichi plant at all: a worker who was in a crane cab at the separate Fukushima Daini plant (where all reactors are now confirmed to be safely in cold shutdown) was killed when the quake hit. Two more workers, this time at the Daiichi plant, are still listed as missing since the quake and tsunami hit. Six more required medical help following the quake, one suffering two broken legs.

A further 15 non-radiological injuries have resulted from hydrogen explosions at the site, though some of these were minor in nature and the individuals concerned returned to duty shortly after.

As to radiation-related issues, there has been one case of measurable significance. Earlier in the week when workers were still limited to a total dose of 100 millisievert, one individual breached this limit during venting operations and consequently was evacuated to hospital. As noted above, personnel are now permitted to sustain doses of 250 millisievert.

In summary it appears that health consequences from reactor damage will be extremely minimal even for workers at the site. It will now be a surprise if anyone who has not been inside the plant gates this week is affected by the situation at at all – apart from all the people worldwide who have been taking iodide pills or eating salt unnecessarily."
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G M
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« Reply #90 on: March 21, 2011, 07:41:45 PM »

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/03/the-other-global-toxic-cloud-chinas-pollution/72722/

The Other Global Toxic Cloud: China's Pollution

Mar 18 2011, 5:12 PM ET By Edward Tenner

As San Franciscans load up on potassium iodide pills against drifting fallout from the Japanese nuclear reactor catastrophe -- unnecessarily, health authorities insist -- the April issue of Discover calls attention to a more serious menace: mercury and other pollutants from Chinese manufacturing and power generation:

    Prevailing winds across the Pacific are pushing thousands of tons of other contaminants--including mercury, sulfates, ozone, black carbon, and desert dust--over the ocean each year. Some of this atmospheric junk settles into the cold waters of the North Pacific, but much of it eventually merges 
with the global air pollution pool that circumnavigates the planet.

    These contaminants are implicated in a long list of health problems, including neurodegenerative disease, cancer, emphysema, and perhaps even pandemics like avian flu. And when wind and weather conditions are right, they reach North America within days. Dust, ozone, and carbon can accumulate in valleys and basins, and mercury can be pulled to earth through atmospheric sinks that deposit it across large swaths of land.

Citing the University of Washington atmospheric scientist Dan Jaffe and the Woodrow Wilson Center program director Jennifer Turner, the author, David Kirby, points to two worrying trends. First, while China is taking positive environmental steps, the momentum of its growth threatens to swamp them:

    350 million people, equivalent to the entire U.S. population, will be moving to its cities over the next 10 years. China now emits more mercury than the United States, India, and Europe combined. "What's different about China is the scale and speed of pollution and environmental degradation," Turner says. "It's like nothing the world has ever seen."

Second, America contributes to and receives a global pool of mercury and other pollutants:

    The EPA has estimated that just one-quarter of U.S. mercury emissions from coal-burning power plants are deposited within the contiguous U.S. The remainder enters the global cycle. Conversely, current estimates are that less than half of all mercury deposition within the United States comes from American sources.

We naturally focus on catastrophic risks like nuclear meltdowns. But we should also be aware that chronic ones, not the fault of a single nation but the consequences of the global economy, may in the long run be even more serious.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #91 on: March 25, 2011, 06:08:06 AM »

SHIDAO, China — While engineers at Japan’s stricken nuclear power plant struggle to keep its uranium fuel rods from melting down, engineers in China are building a radically different type of reactor that some experts say offers a safer nuclear alternative.

The technology will be used in two reactors here on a peninsula jutting into the Yellow Sea, where the Chinese government is expected to let construction proceed even as the world debates the wisdom of nuclear power.
Rather than using conventional fuel rod assemblies of the sort leaking radiation in Japan, each packed with nearly 400 pounds of uranium, the Chinese reactors will use hundreds of thousands of billiard-ball-size fuel elements, each cloaked in its own protective layer of graphite.

The coating moderates the pace of nuclear reactions and is meant to ensure that if the plant had to be shut down in an emergency, the reaction would slowly stop on its own and not lead to a meltdown.

The reactors will also be cooled by nonexplosive helium gas instead of depending on a steady source of water — a critical problem with the damaged reactors at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi power plant. And unlike those reactors, the Chinese reactors are designed to gradually dissipate heat on their own, even if coolant is lost.

If the new plants here prove viable, China plans to build dozens more of them in coming years.

The technology under construction here, known as a pebble-bed reactor, is not new. Germany, South Africa and the United States have all experimented with it, before abandoning it over technical problems or a lack of financing.

But as in many other areas of alternative energy, including solar panels and wind turbines, China is now taking the lead in actually building the next-generation technology. The government has paid for all of the research and development costs for the two pebble-bed reactors being built here, and will cover 30 percent of the construction costs.

Despite Japan’s crisis, China still plans to build as many as 50 nuclear reactors over the next five years — more than the rest of the world combined. Most of this next wave will be of more conventional designs.

But if the pebble-bed approach works as advertised, and proves cost effective, China hopes it can eventually adopt the technology on a broad scale to make nuclear power safer and more feasible as it deals with the world’s fastest growing economy and the material expectations of its 1.3 billion people.

Western environmentalists are divided on the safety of pebble-bed nuclear technology.

Thomas B. Cochran, the senior scientist on nuclear power for the Natural Resources Defense Council, an American group, said that such reactors would probably be less dangerous than current nuclear plants, and might be better for the environment than coal-fired plants.

“Over all, in terms of design,” he said, “it would appear to be safer, with the following caveat: the safety of any nuclear plant is not just a function of the design but also of the safety culture of the plant.”

The executives overseeing construction of the new Chinese reactors say that engineers are already being trained to oversee the extensively computerized controls for the plant, using a simulator at a test reactor that has been operating for a decade near Beijing, apparently without mishap.

But Greenpeace, the international environmentalist group, opposes pebble-bed nuclear reactors, questioning whether any nuclear technology can be truly safe. Wrapping the uranium fuel in graphite greatly increases the volume of radioactive waste eventually requiring disposal, said Heinz Smital, a Greenpeace nuclear technology specialist in Germany.

But he said the waste is far less radioactive per ton than spent uranium fuel rods — one of the big sources of trouble at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

China is building a repository for high-level nuclear waste, like conventional fuel rods, in the country’s arid west. But the far less radioactive spheres, or pebbles, like those from the Shidao reactors will not require such specialized storage; China plans to store the used pebbles initially at the power plants, and later at lower-level radioactive waste disposal sites near the reactors.

=========

Whatever fears the rest of the world may have about China’s nuclear ambitions, the environmental cost-benefit analysis contains at least one potential positive: More nukes would let China reduce the heavy reliance on coal and other fossil fuels that now make it the world’s biggest emitter of global-warming gases.

“China epitomizes the stark choices that we face globally in moving away from current forms of coal-based electricity,” said Jonathan Sinton, the top China specialist at the International Energy Agency in Paris. “Nuclear is an essential alternative” to coal, he said. “It’s the only one that can provide the same quality of electricity at a similar scale in the medium and long term.”
Chinese leaders have been largely unwilling to engage in the global debate on climate change. But they have made a priority of reducing urban air pollution — which kills thousands of people every year and is largely caused by burning coal — and of improving mine safety. Coal mining accidents killed more than 2,400 people in China last year alone.

China’s biggest electric company, the state-owned Huaneng Group, now aims to prove that the technology can work on a commercial scale by building the two pebble-bed reactors — each capable of meeting the residential power needs of an American city of 75,000 to 100,000 people. The reactors are expected to go into operation in about four years.

The plants’ foundations have already been laid, their steel reinforcing bars pointing skyward, on a desolate landscape dominated by thatch-roofed huts and last season’s cornfields. Chinese safety regulations require that all nuclear plants be located at least 30 miles from the nearest city, in this case Rongcheng, which has a population of one million.

It was only three days after a tsunami swamped Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi plant that China’s legislature approved its five-year plan calling for dozens of new nuclear reactors. As the severity of that crisis became evident, Beijing said it would “temporarily suspend“ the approval of new nuclear reactors, but would allow construction to proceed at more than two dozen other nuclear projects already under way.

By coincidence, China’s cabinet and its national energy bureau had both given final approval for the pebble-bed reactors here in Shidao in the two weeks before the earthquake, said Xu Yuanhui, the father of China’s pebble-bed nuclear program.

China’s nuclear safety agency has met since the Japanese earthquake and reviewed the Shidao’s project plans and site preparation, and has indicated it will be the next project to receive safety clearance.

“The conclusion is clear that it is all ready to start to pour concrete,” said Dr. Xu, a former Tsinghua University professor who is now the vice general manager of Chinergy, the contractor building the reactors here.

Germany led the initial research into pebble-bed nuclear reactors and built its own research version in the 1960s. That reactor closed after an accident, caused by a jammed fuel pebble that released traces of radiation — coincidentally nine days after the Chernobyl accident in 1986, at a time of greatly increased worry about nuclear safety. Dr. Xu said that China, learning from the German mishap, had designed its reactors to keep the pebbles from jamming.

South Africa tried hard until last summer to build a pebble-bed reactor but ran into serious cost overruns.

In the United States, the federal government and companies have spent heavily on pebble-bed research. But there has been little appetite for actually building new nuclear reactors — of any sort — since the Three Mile Island accident in 1979.

“The Chinese had a determination to build, to show the technology to work, and a commitment to get it done,” said Andrew Kadak, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology nuclear engineer specializing in pebble-bed reactors. “In the U.S. we didn’t have, and still don’t have, the commitment.”
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #92 on: March 29, 2011, 10:54:21 AM »

Reliability of this source is unknown:

The Doomsday Scenario
By MIKE WHITNEY

Conditions at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant are deteriorating and the doomsday scenario is beginning to unfold. On Sunday, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) officials reported that the levels of radiation leaking into seawater at the Unit 2 reactor were 100,000 times above normal, and the airborne radiation measured 4-times higher than government limits. As a result, emergency workers were evacuated from the plant and rushed to safe location. The prospect of a full-core meltdown or an environmental catastrophe of incalculable magnitude now looms larger than ever. The crisis is getting worse.

If spent fuel rods catch fire from lack of coolant, the intense heat will lift radiation plumes high into the atmosphere that will drift around the world. That's the nightmare scenario, clouds of radioactive material showering the planet with lethal toxins for months on end. And, according to the Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics of Vienna, that deadly process has already begun. The group told New Scientist that:

"Japan's damaged nuclear plant in Fukushima has been emitting radioactive iodine and caesium at levels approaching those seen in the aftermath of the Chernobyl accident in 1986. Austrian researchers have used a worldwide network of radiation detectors – designed to spot clandestine nuclear bomb tests – to show that iodine-131 is being released at daily levels 73 per cent of those seen after the 1986 disaster. The daily amount of caesium-137 released from Fukushima Daiichi is around 60 per cent of the amount released from Chernobyl. ("New Scientist", March 24 ---thanks to Michael Collins "They said it wasn't like Chernobyl and they were wrong")

So, volatile radioactive elements are already being lofted into the jet stream and spread across continents. What's different here is that the quantities are much larger than they were at Chernobyl, thus, the dangers are far greater. According to the same group of scientists "the Fukushima plant has around 1760 tonnes of fresh and used nuclear fuel on site" (while) "the Chernobyl reactor had only 180 tonnes." The troubles at one nuclear facility now pose a direct threat to humans and other species everywhere. Is this what Obama meant when he called nuclear power, "Safe and green?"

This from CNN:

"Authorities in Japan raised the prospect Friday of a likely breach in the all-important containment vessel of the No. 3 reactor at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, a potentially ominous development in the race to prevent a large-scale release of radiation."

And this from the New York Times:

"A senior nuclear executive who insisted on anonymity but has broad contacts in Japan said that there was a long vertical crack running down the side of the reactor vessel itself. The crack runs down below the water level in the reactor and has been leaking fluids and gases, he said....

"There is a definite, definite crack in the vessel — it's up and down and it's large," he said. "The problem with cracks is they do not get smaller." (Thanks to Washington's Blog)

So, there's a breach in the containment vessel and radioactive material is being released into the sea killing fish and marine life and turning the coastal waters into a nuclear wasteland. This is from the Kyodo News:

"Adding to the woes is the increasing level of contamination in the sea near the plant....Radioactive iodine-131 at a concentration 1,850.5 times the legal limit was detected in a seawater sample taken Saturday around 330 meters south of the plant, near a drainage outlet of the four troubled reactors, compared with 1,250.8 times the limit found Friday, the agency said.

Nishiyama told a press conference in the morning that he cannot deny the possibility that radioactive materials are continuing to be released into the sea. He said later that the water found at the basement of the turbine buildings is unlikely to have flowed into the sea, causing contamination." ("Woes deepen over radioactive water at nuke plant", Kyodo News)

Predictably, the media has switched into full "BP Oil Spill-mode", making every effort to minimize the disaster and to soothe the public with half-truths and disinformation. The goal is to conceal the scale of the catastrophe and protect the nuclear industry. It's another case of profits over people. Still, the truth is available for those who are willing to sift through the lies. Radiation has turned up in the Tokyo water supply, imports of milk, vegetable and fruit from four prefectures in the vicinity of Fukushima have been banned, and the evacuation zone around the plant has widened to an 18 mile radius.

Also, monitors have detected tiny radioactive particles which have spread from the reactor site across the Pacific to North America, the Atlantic and Europe...According to Reuters: "It's only a matter of days before it disperses in the entire northern hemisphere," said Andrea Stahl, a senior scientist at the Norwegian Institute for Air Research."

Here's more from Brian Moench, MD:

"Administration spokespeople continuously claim "no threat" from the radiation reaching the US from Japan, just as they did with oil hemorrhaging into the Gulf. Perhaps we should all whistle "Don't worry, be happy" in unison. A thorough review of the science, however, begs a second opinion.

That the radiation is being released 5,000 miles away isn't as comforting as it seems.... Every day, the jet stream carries pollution from Asian smoke stacks and dust from the Gobi Desert to our West Coast, contributing 10 to 60 percent of the total pollution breathed by Californians, depending on the time of year. Mercury is probably the second most toxic substance known after plutonium. Half the mercury in the atmosphere over the entire US originates in China. It, too, is 5,000 miles away. A week after a nuclear weapons test in China, iodine 131 could be detected in the thyroid glands of deer in Colorado, although it could not be detected in the air or in nearby vegetation." (Washington's Blog)

The smoldering Fukushima hulk is a perpetual death machine poisoning everything around it--sea, sky and soil. Here's a clip from the Collin's article:

"...The soil contamination is really high. Soil found 40 kilometers away.... the levels on the soil were very high—in fact, a thousand times iodine, 4,000 times the cesium standard. And we just got a report from the Kyoto Research Reactor Institute, Dr. Tetsuji Imanaka, that said that—he had to look a little bit more into the sampling of the Japanese government, but depending on how the sampling was done, this level of contamination in the soil could be twice the amount that was compulsory evacuation for Chernobyl. Aileen Mioko Smith, March 24 (thanks to Michael Collins "They said it wasn't like Chernobyl and they were wrong")

Twice as high as Chernobyl already, and the disaster is likely to persist for months to come. Things are getting worse, much worse.

The Japanese government has been downplaying the crisis to make it look like they have matters under control, but it's all a sham. They control nothing. The rescue mission has been a flop from the get-go and now things are at a boiling point. The emergency effort has been overtaken by events and now it's a matter of "wait and see". We're approaching zero hour.

So why the cover up? Why is the media trying to soft-peddle the real effects of a nuclear cataclysm? Does the Japanese government really believe they can make things better by tweaking their public relations strategy? They should focus on saving lives and abandon "perception management" altogether. This is from the Union of Concerned Scientists website:

"Our assessment is that the Japanese government is squandering the opportunity to initiate an orderly evacuation from larger areas around the site–especially of sensitive populations, like children and pregnant women. It is potentially wasting valuable time by not undertaking a larger scale evacuation at this time."

The Japanese government is trying to protect the powerful nuclear lobby. The same is true of Obama, who continues to promote nuclear energy even while radiation belches from battered Fukushima. He's not thinking about the public; he's thinking about the deep pocket constituents who fill his campaign coffers.

Japanese workers are putting their lives on the line to regain control of the broken facility, but with little success. The probability of another fire, another monstrous explosion, or a full-core meltdown increases by the day. The Fukushima fiasco is gaining pace putting tens of thousands of people at risk of thyroid cancer, childhood leukemia and other life-threatening ailments.

On Saturday, Japan's prime minister, Naoto Kan, said the situation at the Fukushima nuclear plant was ''serious''. That might be the understatement of the century.

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He can be reached at: fergiewhitney@msn.com.


--
If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter. -- George Washington
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #93 on: April 06, 2011, 02:01:12 PM »

By RICHARD K. LESTER
The accident at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station is still far from resolved. A major public health disaster seems to have been avoided, and the long-term impact on health and safety will be dwarfed by the devastating loss of life caused directly by the huge Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. But the nuclear crisis has badly scared people around the world.

Predictably, longtime antinuclear activists are calling for an end to any further nuclear development. Equally predictably, spokesmen for the industry say the Japanese earthquake was a once-in-a-millennium event and point to the greater safety of newer reactors.

In the U.S., the most urgent need in the wake of the accident is to assess the safety of existing nuclear power plants. Plans to extend the operating life of some 40-year-old reactors for another two decades should be reviewed, and costly upgrades may be required. We must also revisit the longstanding issue of how and where to store spent nuclear fuel. The sensible solution would be to store it in dry concrete casks at one or two central locations. Instead, decades of political dithering have produced only gridlock, so spent fuel remains in ­increasingly densely-packed storage pools at dozens of sites around the country.

Still, the overall impact of the accident will be fairly small here. The so-called nuclear renaissance wasn't really going anywhere in the U.S. even before the Japanese earthquake. For most utilities, new nuclear plants are simply too big and expensive to contemplate. Only a few such plants would have been built over the next decade. Now some of those may be scrapped.

But that's hardly the end of the story. This year is the 100th anniversary of the discovery of the atomic nucleus, and a little over 70 years since nuclear fission was first demonstrated. In historical terms, that puts the field of nuclear engineering today roughly where electrical engineering was in 1900. Consider what followed: the creation of the electric power grid, television and telecommunications, the revolutions in microelectronics and computation, and much more. None of it was anticipated by the electrical engineers of 1900.

Likewise, no one today can foresee the future of nuclear energy technology at the end of the 21st century. All that can be said with confidence now is that the nuclear power plants of the year 2100 will have about as much resemblance to today's workhorse light-water reactors as a modern automobile has to a 1911 Model T.

In the aftermath of Fukushima, some new technologies already in the pipeline look more promising. New fuel "cladding" materials are being developed that don't react with high-temperature steam to produce hydrogen—the cause of the shocking explosions in Japan. Other new plant designs rely on natural heat conduction and convection rather than electric-powered pumps and valves and human intervention to cool the fuel in reactors that have shut down.

Today's most advanced designs go even further toward the goal of "walkaway safety," that is, reactors that can shut themselves down and cool themselves off without electric power or any human intervention at all. Longer-term possibilities include lifetime fueling, which would allow a single charge of fuel to power a reactor for its entire life—making it, in effect, a nuclear battery. Integrated power plant/waste disposal systems are another promising concept. Here, used fuel never leaves the site and is disposed of directly in stable, dry bedrock several kilometers below the earth's surface (more than 10 times as deep as the controversial Yucca Mountain nuclear waste facility in Nevada.)

Huge gains in computing power already enable far more precise simulations of nuclear-reactor behavior than ever before. Computational advances will also make it possible to design radiation-resistant materials literally atom by atom and, perhaps, specially tailored nanostructures that could store long-lived nuclear waste safely for tens of thousands of years. All of this can be foreseen today, and much greater advances surely lie over the horizon.

The innovators here will not be today's industry leaders or officials at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, but rather the young men and women who for the last decade have been entering university nuclear engineering programs in growing numbers. They see great engineering challenges in designing new nuclear power systems that are safe and economical, and they see an opportunity to help ameliorate the grave threat of climate change. They know that nuclear energy is the only low-carbon energy source that is already generating large amounts of electricity and can meet the world's fast-growing appetite for power.

After the accidents at Three Mile Island in 1979 and Chernobyl in 1986, many of the brightest nuclear scientists and engineers left the field. The management of existing nuclear reactors improved, but technological innovation was slow and incremental.

We shouldn't allow that experience to be repeated. This is not the time for the nuclear industry to circle the wagons: The need for intellectual vitality, flexibility and creativity has never been greater. An already safe technology must be made demonstrably safer—and less expensive, more secure against the threats of nuclear proliferation and terrorism, and more compatible with the capabilities of electric power systems and the utilities that run them. The advantages of nuclear power in displacing fossil fuels are simply too great to ignore.

Mr. Lester is the head of the department of nuclear science and engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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Body-by-Guinness
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« Reply #94 on: April 06, 2011, 09:56:48 PM »

http://reason.com/blog/2011/04/06/environmentalist-george-monbio
Reason Magazine

Environmentalist George Monbiot Says Greens Have Been Lying About Nuclear Power

Ronald Bailey | April 6, 2011

Better late than never, I guess. Guardian columnist and fierce environmentalist George Monbiot has called out anti-nuclear activist Helen Caldicott and her confreres for misleading the world about the alleged dangers of nuclear power. The column speaks for itself:

Over the last fortnight I've made a deeply troubling discovery. The anti-nuclear movement to which I once belonged has misled the world about the impacts of radiation on human health. The claims we have made are ungrounded in science, unsupportable when challenged, and wildly wrong. We have done other people, and ourselves, a terrible disservice.

I began to see the extent of the problem after a debate last week with Helen Caldicott. Dr Caldicott is the world's foremost anti-nuclear campaigner. She has received 21 honorary degrees and scores of awards, and was nominated for a Nobel peace prize. Like other greens, I was in awe of her. In the debate she made some striking statements about the dangers of radiation. So I did what anyone faced with questionable scientific claims should do: I asked for the sources. Caldicott's response has profoundly shaken me.

First she sent me nine documents: newspaper articles, press releases and an advertisement. None were scientific publications; none contained sources for the claims she had made. But one of the press releases referred to a report by the US National Academy of Sciences, which she urged me to read. I have now done so – all 423 pages. It supports none of the statements I questioned; in fact it strongly contradicts her claims about the health effects of radiation.

I pressed her further and she gave me a series of answers that made my heart sink – in most cases they referred to publications which had little or no scientific standing, which did not support her claims or which contradicted them. (I have posted our correspondence, and my sources, on my website.) I have just read her book Nuclear Power Is Not the Answer. The scarcity of references to scientific papers and the abundance of unsourced claims it contains amaze me.

For the last 25 years anti-nuclear campaigners have been racking up the figures for deaths and diseases caused by the Chernobyl disaster, and parading deformed babies like a medieval circus. They now claim 985,000 people have been killed by Chernobyl, and that it will continue to slaughter people for generations to come. These claims are false.

The UN Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (Unscear) is the equivalent of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Like the IPCC, it calls on the world's leading scientists to assess thousands of papers and produce an overview. Here is what it says about the impacts of Chernobyl.

Of the workers who tried to contain the emergency at Chernobyl, 134 suffered acute radiation syndrome; 28 died soon afterwards. Nineteen others died later, but generally not from diseases associated with radiation. The remaining 87 have suffered other complications, including four cases of solid cancer and two of leukaemia.

In the rest of the population there have been 6,848 cases of thyroid cancer among young children – arising "almost entirely" from the Soviet Union's failure to prevent people from drinking milk contaminated with iodine 131. Otherwise "there has been no persuasive evidence of any other health effect in the general population that can be attributed to radiation exposure". People living in the countries affected today "need not live in fear of serious health consequences from the Chernobyl accident".

Caldicott told me that Unscear's work on Chernobyl is "a total cover-up". Though I have pressed her to explain, she has yet to produce a shred of evidence for this contention.

Monbiot concludes:

We have a duty to base our judgments on the best available information. This is not only because we owe it to other people to represent the issues fairly, but also because we owe it to ourselves not to squander our lives on fairytales. A great wrong has been done by this movement. We must put it right.

Welcome at long last to the reality-based community, George.

Caveat: I do not favor either nuclear socialism or solar socialism. Let's completely eliminate subsidies to all energy production technologies. Nevertheless, Monbiot's whole column is well worth reading.

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DougMacG
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« Reply #95 on: April 11, 2011, 02:39:38 PM »

More and more data is coming in from Japan, most of it is bad news except that in this real world, worst case scenario, the deaths outside of the plant I think are still at zero and the health risks outside the plant seem to be smaller than publicized, we will see.

Crafty made a good point about distrusting the engineers.  That thought reminds me of driving across the interstate bridge that fell into the Mississippi River a few years ago, a couple of hours before it fell - and driving across it since.  There are other routes except those face the same risks. Driving across now brings that same feeling a new or infrequent flier gets sitting aboard a jetliner before takeoff.  Logically when you fly, you don't say it is risk-free, you tell yourself this is safer than driving.  As you  forget about the danger, you hope the mechanics haven't.  Nuclear power after the worst of the worst scenarios keeps proving itself cleaner and safer than all the alternatives.

A couple of articles in the news addressing some of the radiation coverage stories since the earthquake:

http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/miller11/English
Interesting discussion of the health risks by a Stanford fellow, addressing claims that very low level exposures actually make one more resistant to cancer, while high exposures most certainly cause cancer, he concludes: "stay tuned, learn from the experts, and don’t jump to conclusions.
----

Second article (my first citation to the LA Times?) is written by a global warming author.  He concludes that each closed nuclear plant adds 11 million tons of CO2 emissions to the atmosphere and closing all of them will add one degree Celsius man made global warming in one century to the two degrees he alleges we would have otherwise.  I am skeptical of his math, but coal plants powering cities like Tokyo or the economies of are extremely large scale (and unnecessary?) emitters.  There is no easier, safer, larger way to reduce emissions than to expand not contract our reliance on nuclear power. http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-lynas-nukes-20110410,0,3424093.story

Part of my global warming skepticism comes from my belief that we will innovate and discover our way out of excess emissions with or without excessive regulations in a blip of time in the context of the planet.  After this horrific catastrophe, I think we will know how to built a reactor to withstand an earthquake a hundred times more powerful than the one that dropped the Bay Bridge, we will hopefully know not to build them in bad earthquake zones and we will know better from experience how to do an emergency cool down and evacuation if that ever again becomes necessary.  That makes the cleanest, safest source far more safe than it was before.  OTOH, if our reaction to the tragedy is zero acceptance of radiation risk, then the production of energy will necessarily be for more deadly and the predictions of the alarmists (to the tune of a hundred billion tons of CO2 per century) contain slightly more truth.
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DougMacG
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« Reply #96 on: April 17, 2011, 03:58:21 PM »

"likelihood of widespread health effects remains low... in terms of becquerels (radioactivity) things are already a lot better than they were."

"does not seem, in public health terms, to have turned out too bad."
-----
The news cycle moved on and the facts aren't all in.  I'm trying to keep following this; there is a lot to be learned.  Here are a couple more excerpts from what seems to be a balanced and objective piece in The Economist April 12, 2011 (read it all):
-----
http://www.economist.com/blogs/babbage/2011/04/japans_nuclear_crisis
[The release at Fukushima]"does not seem, in public health terms, to have turned out too bad."

"Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency  estimates that the emission of radioactive iodine and caesium from the Fukushima plant totals, to date, something equivalent to 370 petabecquerels." (one becquerel represents one nuclear decay per second)

"...because of those countermeasures the likelihood of widespread health effects remains low. (It is also worth remembering that in terms of becquerels things are already a lot better than they were, as iodine-131 has a half-life of only eight days. This means that iodine emitted thirty two days ago has by now lost fifteen-sixteenths of its radioactivity.)

"The contaminants that fell on to the land did so mostly but not entirely in nearby places that had already been evacuated."

"the cumulative releases from Fukushima add up to a major release”

"None of this makes Fukushima trivial; it is a grave crisis."
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DougMacG
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« Reply #97 on: April 29, 2011, 09:58:34 AM »

Now that the nuclear news out of Japan is better, and covered nowhere, we may have to move the topic over to media issues.  I waited two days to post, Google News has this story picked up by no one.

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Japanese newspaper - largest circulation in the world) reports: 

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/T110426005027.htm

Radioactive material 'down to 1/100'

The Yomiuri Shimbun

The amount of radioactive material emitted from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant has decreased to about one-hundredth of the level recorded earlier this month, the Cabinet Office's Nuclear Safety Commission has said.

The commission also said Monday the concentration of iodine-131 in seawater sampled near the plant had dropped to below the government-set limit for the first time since surveys started on March 21. However, the panel said high amounts of radioactive material were still being emitted by the plant run by Tokyo Electric Power Co., at about 10 billion becquerels per hour.

"We shouldn't take the figures for granted. We must continue to carefully observe the situation," a commission spokesperson said.

The commission calculates the volume of radioactive material discharged based on radiation measurements taken at several places around the plant. Radioactive emissions on April 5 were estimated at 1 trillion becquerels per hour.

"Radiation dosages around the plant are on a downward trend. Emissions of radioactive material have diminished to about one-hundredth [of levels earlier this month]," the commission told reporters Monday.
(Apr. 27, 2011)
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #98 on: May 13, 2011, 08:40:58 AM »

Disaster Plan Problems Found at U.S. Nuclear Plants
By MATTHEW L. WALD
Published: May 12, 2011
ROCKVILLE, Md. — Despite repeated assurances that American nuclear plants are better equipped to deal with natural disasters than their counterparts in Japan, regulators said Thursday that recent inspections had found serious problems with some emergency equipment that would have made it unusable in an accident.

 
N.R.C. employees said the agency had insufficiently weighed two factors found in the crisis at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi plant.

In addition, the staff of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission acknowledged that the agency’s current regulations and disaster plans did not give enough consideration to two factors that had greatly contributed to the continuing Fukushima Daiichi crisis in Japan: simultaneous problems at more than one reactor and a natural disaster that disrupts roads, electricity and other infrastructure surrounding a plant.

The briefing was part of a review requested by the commissioners to evaluate the vulnerability of American reactors to severe natural disasters like the ones that hit the Japanese plant in March.

Marty Virgilio, the deputy executive director of the agency, told the five commissioners that inspectors checked a sample of equipment at all 104 reactors and found problems at less than a third of them. The problems included pumps that would not start or, if they did, did not put out the required amount of water; equipment that was supposed to be set aside for emergencies but was being used in other parts of the plants; emergency equipment that would be needed in case of flood stored in places that could be flooded; and insufficient diesel on hand to run backup systems.

Many of the emergency systems were put in place after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Officials said the problems that had been found were addressed immediately but not everything had been inspected. Mr. Virgilio said he expected to have a fuller picture soon.

He said an entire category of new procedures, called “severe accident mitigation guidelines,” had been adopted voluntarily by the nuclear industry and thus was not subject to commission rules.

R. William Borchardt, the commission’s chief staff official, said some of the preparations for severe accidents “don’t have the same kind of regulatory pedigree” as the equipment in the original plant design.

The two-hour briefing given to the five-member commission was an early assessment, 30 days into a 90-day review being conducted by an N.R.C. task force.

Charlie Miller, the staff member leading the effort, said the staff was considering “enhancements” to its disaster plans and procedures. But as laid out by the staff, some of the changes under consideration could be far-reaching.

For example, the N.R.C. now looks at how well a plant’s design can handle a problem at just one reactor, even if there is more than one reactor at the site.

“You have to take a step back and consider what would happen if you had multiple units affected by some ‘beyond design basis’ events,” Mr. Miller said.

Another problem, staff members acknowledged, is that they have never paid much attention to the issues posed by handling an emergency when there is widespread damage to surrounding roads, power systems and communications links. In the past, the commission has explicitly rejected the notion that it should consider such combined events when reviewing a plant’s safety preparations.

Simultaneous with the commission’s meeting, Representative Edward J. Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, released a report arguing that a variety of other shortcomings existed at nuclear plants, including the frequent failure of emergency diesel generators, which are essential to plant safety if the power grid goes down. He also criticized the commission for not requiring plants to have a backup power source for spent fuel pools while the reactor is shut for maintenance or refueling.

The Fukushima accident has cast new attention on spent fuel pools; the reason the United States government recommended that Americans stay 50 miles from the plant was damage to the spent fuel pool of Fukushima’s Unit 4, a reactor that was shut down before the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Mr. Markey pointed out that in the last eight years, the commission had received 69 reports of inoperable diesel generators at 33 plants, with six of those generators out for more than a month. The diesels provide power for water pumps that allow removal of “decay heat,” the heat that fuel generates even after a reactor shuts down. The Fukushima plants shut down successfully but decay heat wrecked their cores.

The N.R.C. said it was aware of the reports. But on Wednesday, attention was called to that problem by the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations, an industry group formed after the Three Mile Island accident in 1979 to provide peer-to-peer safety reviews. That group said one of the few safety measures that was getting worse was the reliability of diesel generators.

Mr. Markey also complained that the commission had allowed some plant operators to remove equipment that eliminates hydrogen produced by overheating fuel. In addition, there is no requirement for equipment to remove hydrogen in the rooms where spent fuel is stored; the building surrounding Fukushima Unit 4 was destroyed by the explosion of hydrogen that came from the spent fuel pool.

Commission officials said they were reviewing their previous decision to permit very heavy loading of the spent fuel pools. Thinning them out would reduce the amount of heat production that had to be dealt with in case of a severe accident, they said.
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DougMacG
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« Reply #99 on: May 14, 2011, 11:12:09 AM »

Yes, the horrific earthquake/tsunami experience in Japan gives us an amazing opportunity to check, learn, update and improve the safety of nuclear power.  Real information is just starting to come in.  Let's keep this debate / discussion alive beyond the crisis.  We still need electricity, one way or another.
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