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View Diary: Breaking! -- Earth's Biggest Battery Eats Carbon Dioxide for Profit! (77 comments)

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  •  Two major issues (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tacet

    1) long-term storage of waste
    2) the operational safety of the power plants

    Which you don't address at all. Instead, some cavalier-sounding bs about acceptable rem doses right outta the 1950s.

    The one source you cited is from the WSJ??? Really???

    It's a beautiful sunny day here. Have a good one.

    "No man is rich enough to buy back his past." ~ Oscar Wilde

    by ozsea1 on Sat Aug 25, 2012 at 09:32:22 AM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  Not out of the '50s, out of today's EPA: (0+ / 0-)

      http://www.epa.gov/...

      There's a link to more information at the bottom of that page.

      As far as the operational safety of the plants, if we're going to disagree on acceptable rem doses we obviously can't agree on what the consequences were of a record earthquake and tsunami hitting the plant at Fukushima. Based on allowable dosage, the consequences were negligible.  If plants deteriorated like that on their own, randomly, that would be a concern. But they don't.  It takes a disaster which, independent of the nuclear plant, killed 15,000 people to cripple a plant to the point of releasing 1/3 of the dose incurred by living in Denver.  I consider that highly reassuring.

      Newer designs use passive cooling systems powered by the latent heat of the material they are cooling so as not to require back-up or off-site electricity in the event of a catastrophe such as that at Fukushima.

      Long-term storage of waste: A nuclear plant uses approx. 25 metric tonnes of fuel a year.  A coal plant uses approx 4,000,000 metric tonnes of fuel a year.  Spent nuclear fuel is sealed in concrete and stainless-steel casks.  Coal waste is blasted into the atmosphere.  (And incidentally contains a significant quantity of radioactive material.  See the dropdown option in the EPA calculator for living near a coal plant).

      Furthermore, the only reason the United States does not recycle spent fuel rods (which contain 95% of the potential energy they had when "fresh") is because that process can be diverted to manufacture bombs, and thus we don't like other countries doing it. To avoid being seen as hypocrites, Carter issued a moratorium on US reprocessing.  Never mind that we already have nuclear weapons, so I'm not sure why we would be diverting recycled fuel to a secret weapons program...

      Again, until we come up with a waste-free electricity generating scheme that can power modern society, I'll take nuclear.

      But what I really don't understand is why there is such a visceral negative reaction to nuclear by so many on the left.  I genuinely would like to understand that, since we generally pride ourselves on being the science-based political wing in this country :-) What would convince you on the relative risks of nuclear? Or, alternatively, what evidence can you give me to convince me that the dangers are actually far higher than published?

      •  Not buying (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        LeftyAce

        They're having a little ongoing problem your spent fuel storage concrete and stainless-steel casks at Hanford, which you chose to ignore. Long-term storage over the many-multiple generations that is the typical halflife of nuclear power industry waste isn't happening. The track record to date doesn't suggest that this inconvenient truth will be resolved soon.

        As far as the operational safety of the plants, if we're going to disagree on acceptable rem doses from "accidents", then by all means, let's discuss Fukushima, Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, Fermi; the list goes on and on.

        I am no fan of FF, either. I advocate shifting the massive subsidies for the nuclear power and fossil fuel industries to alt power tech and generation, fast.

        "No man is rich enough to buy back his past." ~ Oscar Wilde

        by ozsea1 on Sat Aug 25, 2012 at 10:20:18 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Hanford was weapons, (0+ / 0-)

          specifically plutonium production.  Power-generating reactors run on Uranium.

          Furthermore, weapons-grade Uranium entails enrichment to 85% or higher of fissile U235.

          Light water reactors (aka the vast majority of commercial reactors) run on 3-5% U235.  The difficulties at Hanford are not an apples-to-apples comparison to nuclear power.

          Hanford is also large quantities of waste in liquid form, and if you read that article you'll notice that their big challenge is the fact  that liquids can leak, (and in this case are also highly corrosive to what they're stored in) so they're fighting to get it into solid form.  

          Spent fuel rods are already solid.

          I continue to contend that since nobody was killed by Fukushima, and the increased cancer risk is so small as to be lost in statistical noise, it's a very comforting worst-case-scenario.

          Chernobyl was a fatally flawed design, and using it to attack any modern (or any non-Soviet, really) reactor is like pointing to the Hindenberg as a safety argument against 747's.  They didn't have a containment vessel! And the first 2 feet of their control rods were just filler that actually accelerated the reaction by displacing water before the graphite took its place.

          TMI exposed about 1 million people to 1/3rd of a chest X-ray. It's actually a great example of what happens when a well-designed reactor has a similar failure to what happened to Chernobyl (steam explosion).  Only in this case there was a containment vessel.

          If you want a good overview by someone who set out to do an expose on how bad nuclear is, went through essentially your series of arguments, and came out the other side arguing for nuclear power, I highly recommend  Power to Save the World by Gwyneth Cravens.

          •  Hanford is also used for power generation (0+ / 0-)

            The Columbia Generating Station:

            The Columbia Generating Station, is a nuclear power station located on the United States Department of Energy Hanford Site,
            Nice try, though.
            Chernobyl was a fatally flawed design, and using it to attack any modern (or any non-Soviet, really) reactor is like pointing to the Hindenberg as a safety argument against 747's.
            Comparing a zeppelin to a 747? Really??? You want me to take your failed metaphors and industry talking points seriously? Hollow laugh !

            Nuclear power generation, in its current state of the art, is a failure. The industry can do better, but it will not.

            I highly recommend that you read this.

            Good night.

            "No man is rich enough to buy back his past." ~ Oscar Wilde

            by ozsea1 on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 12:26:05 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  If you cannot or will not (0+ / 0-)

              understand the difference between plutonium production for weapons and uranium enrichment for power plants, I'm not sure what to say.

              Read that Guardian article.  Notice the word "Plutonium" sprinkled everywhere? It's nasty stuff, particularly when present in the concentrations necessary for a bomb.  Notice the lack of any justification for the jump from plutonium contamination to Fukushima? What, they're both "nuclear"? So is Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Imaging.  Do you avoid hospitals with MRI machines because of the word nuclear as well? (Incidentally it's people like you with a fear of the word nuclear who are why the medical devices are called MRI whereas anybody in a technical field using  the same equipment refers to it by the physical process, NMR- nuclear magnetic resonance).

              But getting back to my initial comment about fact-free hysteria (hmm .  Probably wouldn't have hurt to put it more diplomatically :-P), if you won't take the EPA's word  on exposure (I suppose anything else is "industry propaganda"?), I don't see how that makes you any different than climate change deniers.

              •  "Dude", I work in a hospital ! (0+ / 0-)
                So is Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Imaging.  Do you avoid hospitals with MRI machines because of the word nuclear as well? (Incidentally it's people like you with a fear of the word nuclear who are why the medical devices are called MRI whereas anybody in a technical field using  the same equipment refers to it by the physical process, NMR- nuclear magnetic resonance).
                Wow, hyperbole and project much?
                understand the difference between plutonium production for weapons and uranium enrichment for power plants, I'm not sure what to say.
                Yes, I more than understand the difference. As do the Downwinders:
                Hanford
                While many downwinders were exposed to weapons testing, millions more have been affected by radioactive fallout due to U.S. sites engaged in the production of nuclear weapons and/or nuclear power. For example, Hanford is a former nuclear weapons production site located in south central Washington state, where the Washington state Department of Health collaborated with the citizen-led Hanford Health Information Network (HHIN) to publicize significant data about the health effects of Hanford’s operations. Established in 1943, Hanford released radioactive materials into the air, water and soil, releases which largely resulted form the routine site’s operation, though some were also due to accidents and intentional releases. Those who lived downwind from Hanford or who used the Columbia River downstream from Hanford were all exposed to elevated doses of radiation, which are presumed to have caused increased incidents of health problems and birth defects that generated widespread public concern over the public and environmental health implications of the site.[8]

                By February 1986, mounting citizen pressure forced the U.S. Department of Energy to release to the public 19,000 pages of previously unavailable historical documents about Hanford’s operations. These reports revealed there had been huge releases of radioactive materials into the environment that contaminated the Columbia River and more than 75,000 square miles (190,000 km2) of land. In particular, it made clear downwinders exposure to plutonium, which was produced in nuclear reactors along the Columbia River. The reactors used large amounts of water from the river for cooling, which caused materials in the river water to become radioactive as they passed through the reactor. The water and the radioactive materials it contained were released into the river after passing through the reactors, thus contaminating the both groundwater systems and aquatic animals downstream as far West as the Washington and Oregon coasts.[8]

                A class-action lawsuit brought by two thousand Hanford downwinders against the federal government has been in the court system for many years.[9] The first six plaintiffs went to trial in 2005, in a bellwether trial to test the legal issues applying to the remaining plaintiffs in the suit.[10]

                Plutonium was also separated and purified for use in nuclear weapons, which resulted in the release of radioactive material into the air. Air polluted by material from the Hanford site traveled throughout Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and even into Canada. Further contamination filtered into the food chain via contaminated fields where milk cows grazed; hazardous fallout was ingested by communities who consumed the radioactive food and drank the milk. Another source of contaminated food came from Columbia River fish; their impact was disproportionately felt by Native American communities who depended on the river for their customary diets. The estimate of those exposed to radioactive contamination due to living downwind of Hanford or ingesting food or water that flowed downstream is as high as 2 million.

                I am not anti-nuke, not by a damn long shot. Fusion, ZPG, sure, let's develop the tech and see what it can do to help save the planet.

                But the current industry business model and practice is a planet-threatening failure. Arguably, so is coal, natgas, or any FF used to make steam and generate power.

                We both know this.

                "No man is rich enough to buy back his past." ~ Oscar Wilde

                by ozsea1 on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 10:02:05 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Then why do you continue to use (0+ / 0-)

                  plutonium contamination down wind or down river of weapons production facilities as an argument against fission power plants?

                  Given that we currently do not know how to build a fusion plant that can replace coal, the quickest way to reduce our disastrous impact on the planet  is to replace coal with existing nuclear solutions. Even if your only metric is radiation release, nuclear beats coal. (Again, see that EPA calculator.  It comes from the fact that there are trace amounts of uranium in coal, and plants burn about 20,000 tons of coal a day with zero regulation on the radiation released).

                  Now, if you want to get me up on another soap-box, get me started on the fact that the US gov't currently spends under $300M on fusion research. That's the cost of two F-22 fighter jets.  Our priorities are certainly a mess :-/

            •  And regarding "failed metaphors" (0+ / 0-)

              Can you walk me through what happened at Chernobyl? at TMI? Hint: it was a steam explosion in both cases.  Chernobyl's blew the lid off of the reactor and the roof off of  the building, resulting in the core being exposed to the open air and catching on fire and a 30km-radius exclusion zone which is in effect to this day.  
              TMI's was absorbed by a steel and concrete containment vessel, resulting in no core breach, no fire, and notably, no 30km radius exclusion zone.

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