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View Diary: Hanford's Radwaste Tanks Leaking & Explosive, Waste Treament Plant Unsafe: Whistleblowers Vindicated (159 comments)

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  •  The differences (28+ / 0-)

    in the composition of the waste are crucial.

    Waste from nuclear power isn't safe, but it's nowhere near the level of stuff they are dealing with at Hanford.

    Seriously, let's use a little intellectual honesty here, if you don't know the details, don't pretend that you do, or that the details don't matter.

    •  "Waste from nuclear power isn't safe" (7+ / 0-)

      That's the sum total of my point. How much more unsafe one type is than another is a matter that I will leave to those that know. Is that intellectually honest enough for you?

      "We refuse to fight in a war started by men who refused to fight in a war." -freewayblogger

      by Bisbonian on Fri Apr 05, 2013 at 11:07:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's an odd point (20+ / 0-)

        since waste from producing solar panels isn't safe either.

        Mining ore for wind power isn't safe. Generating power isn't safe, period.

        The question is can those risks be managed and mitigated enough to justify their use. This is a complicated issue that requires honest and informed discussion, not knee-jerk reactions.

        The reoccurring theme that pops up in stories like these is the bypassing of safety and security measures to make more profit. So surely one solution is to push for better oversight, more accountability, and perhaps a complete nationalization of the generation and handling of energy that is too 'unsafe' to leave in the hands of corporations.

        •  Important point (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          alain2112, Ozy, raincrow, Dauphin, Nulwee

          Which is the least-worst method of generating power?

          We aren't ready for all solar and wind, and those aren't without their concerns.  Small, modern, distributed nukes may very well cause fewer deaths than continuing to use fossil fuels.

          •  Sure, if you ignore the fact that it's the most (10+ / 0-)

            expensive power to build and operate.  We are much readier for wind and solar than nukes.

            •  We may be ready (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Nulwee, Praxical

              but our grid is not, which is why nuclear power supplies more energy than wind and solar.

              Nuclear is not more expensive than fossil fuels once you factor in the externalities of pollution and global warming. Solar is more expensive if you don't.

              Wind is pretty cheap.

              But, once again, here we are on Daily Kos trying to evaluate our energy source based on capitalist thinking, what is cheapest? Boggles the mind.

              •  Nuclear power has benefited from 70 years (11+ / 0-)

                of immense government spending.  

                Since resources are not infinite, in makes sense to evaluate choices based on cost even if we lived in a theoretical communist utopia.  We just wouldn't use currency as the means to measure cost.

                Nuclear is dirty, dangerous, and far from green. It's more expensive than both wind and solar, unless you buy the bullshit only the nuclear industry pedals and pretend that huge decommissioning and insurance costs don't really exist.

                Renewable energy beats it hands down.  It is a dead technolgy being propped up by fan boys and contractors used to suckling at the government teat.

                income gains to the top 1% from 2009 to 2011 were 121% of all income increases. How did that happen? Incomes to the bottom 99% fell by 0.4%

                by JesseCW on Fri Apr 05, 2013 at 01:32:41 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Decommisioning costs are considered (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  FG

                  when people do cost assessments. If you think that they aren't, then you are mistaken.

                  Compared to the costs of climate change, the resources spent on nuclear are negligible.

                  It's comparable to wind on a per kwh basis. Solar is more expensive.

                  I installed solar on my house with ~50% tax incentives for state+federal, and still it wouldn't pay for itself if I didn't also get government subsidized renewable energy credits. Yeah, I'm sucking off the government teat to reduce my fossil fuel consumption. Yet apparently it's only bad when nuclear does it?

                  •  It doesn't "pay for itself" because other (6+ / 0-)

                    sources of electricity have 70 to 120 years of backed in subsidy.

                    income gains to the top 1% from 2009 to 2011 were 121% of all income increases. How did that happen? Incomes to the bottom 99% fell by 0.4%

                    by JesseCW on Fri Apr 05, 2013 at 02:38:29 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Yes, it doesn't pay for itself (0+ / 0-)

                      because electricity is cheap.

                      But I'm not sure what your argument is. That nobody should have subsidies, and electricity should be 5 times the price, or that only energy sources you like should be subsidized.

                      I'm merely pointing out that all energy is subsidized at some level, some more explicitly than others. Fossil fuels are subsidized heavily, not only in production, but also 'protection' from our wars, health impacts, and of course the costs from climate change.

                      Against these costs, trying to call out the subsidies for any other energy source, whether nuclear or solar, is nitpicking.

                      And let us not forget that with solar, for example, we are not even including the environmental costs associated with outsourcing production to China with their lax regulations. How much should we charge for that?

                    •  Did you mention the millions needed for nuke (5+ / 0-)

                      insurance? It's so expensive it has to be paid or subsidized by governments. Insurance is costly because the results of accidents can be dire, a meltdown for example.

                      Higher incidents of leukemia in children living near nukes in Germany. Would any of its proponents build their homes in the shadow of a plant?  They emit radiation every day and the effects are cumulative.

                  •  Only out to 50 years (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    JesseCW

                    the next hundred centuries, the costs are on the suckers that fell for the plutonium cartels's disinformation.

              •  Oh please (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Brooke In Seattle, Sandino, Patango

                It's not particularly capitalist to note that wind only costs $1500/kw investment, and nuclear is up around $5000-6000.  Which means you can build four times as much wind as nuclear.

                •  The OZY poster (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Sandino

                  is saying people are " NIT PICKING " by pointing out the subsidization of nuke , oil and coal the last 50 years?

                  They have used these subsidies to help destroy any investment in green energy for the last 40 years , but it is nit picking to bring it up? What other criminal behaviour do you want to dismiss and nit picking Ozy?  

            •  Are you familiar with capacity? (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              FG, Morgan Sandlin

              Even if solar and wind sustain explosive growth, it will take probably beyond your lifetime before they could be a majority of U.S. energy.

              And that's assuming rosy, consistent economic growth for decades (which we all should know by now isn't going to happen) and heavy government subsidies. China is currently flooding the solar market, but that's expected to end soon. And when it does, solar's about to get a whole lot more expensive again.

              Governments care only as much as their citizens force them to care. Nothing changes unless we change -- George Monbiot.

              by Nulwee on Fri Apr 05, 2013 at 02:29:41 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Sure is a good thing we don't have to mine or (6+ / 0-)

          refine uranium, isn't it?

          income gains to the top 1% from 2009 to 2011 were 121% of all income increases. How did that happen? Incomes to the bottom 99% fell by 0.4%

          by JesseCW on Fri Apr 05, 2013 at 12:27:25 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Neither waste from solar panel (17+ / 0-)

          production nor mining hazards in general are the Mother Of All Dirty Bombs itching to go off, producing hydrogen gas in flimsy, leaking underground tanks holding the chemically dissociated high-enriched ultra-nasty sludge left over from H-bomb production all these years.

          Geez, you'd think even the most die-hard of nuclear apologists would know enough to steer clear of this gawd-awful mess...

          •  So handle it differently (0+ / 0-)

            Instead of burying the waste, burn it.

            This is what I don't seem to understand from your perspective.

            This waste exists, right now. We need to handle it properly. What would you suggest we do? You can say 'don't make more', but that doesn't address what we actually do with the waste we have.

            What is your solution for dealing with the waste from bomb making and nuclear power? Ignore it? Resign ourselves to being poisoned by it? What is your suggestion, your solution to this problem? We can't 'steer clear' because this mess already exists. Are you helping solve it?

            But then, once we actually solve it, we have a solution in hand to apply to new waste. Is this what scares you? That we might actually figure out how to use nuclear power and handle the waste safely?

            •  burn it!?? (8+ / 0-)

              perhaps you are unaware that combining oxygen with a radioactive isotope does not alter its radioactivity. That would of course, broadly distribute this pollution worldwide.

            •  Oh, give us a break. (9+ / 0-)

              It's been more than 60 years and you've got zip. In another 60 years you'll have exactly as much zip as you've got today. No one ever actually planned to deal in any responsible way with the filth the nuclear Death Eaters have created.

              The Hanford mess doesn't look like one they can continue to play around with, but play is what they're doing. The single-wall tanks are leaking and threatening to explode any day now, there's no time to fiddle around with known to be bad ideas. Yet they're playing anyway. They cannot even pump the sludge FOR separation - it'll spark explosions both in the tanks and in their fancy new facility (if it's ever more than rebar in a footer frame). Big Bang. For which neither Bechtel nor the U.S. DoE will be responsible when the dead zone claims most of the state of Washington.

              The FIRST thing to be done when you find yourself in a deep hole is to stop digging.

              •  Still waiting (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Johnny Nucleo, FG, Morgan Sandlin

                for your solution. Apparently it sounds a whole lot like 'give up' we're not smart enough.

                Glad you're not running our research program in the US.

              •  As far as 'zip' goes (0+ / 0-)

                according to James Hanson, nuclear has saved millions of lives.

                Where do you put this in your 'death eater' world view? You're beginning to sound a bit, well, close minded in your discussion here. Unwilling to even consider that nuclear may, on balance, be better for us than even coal and oil, since that is what you're going to doom us to using if you shut down nuclear today.

                There is one energy industry that is causing whole sale destruction on are planet as we speak, and that is fossil fuels. Nuclear power has already mitigated some of that damage. You want us to embrace more. That is the real 'death eater' of this discussion.

                I want to get us off of fossil fuels ASAP, which means an all of the above (sans fossil) portfolio including solar (despite its high cost and high mortality rate for rooftop installation, wind (despite it's rather low utilization factor), and hydro (despite its damage to the environment), and yes, nuclear, with its high power density baseload capability.

                Eliminating any one of the above from the portfolio slows down the elimination of fossil fuels, damages our planet, and kills people.

                •  The only safe way to get rid of nuclear waste (0+ / 0-)

                  is to shoot it into space towards the sun. You want to give me a ballpark figure of the costs of that kind of waste elimination??

                  Some people make u want to change species! --ulookarmless, quoted w/his permission: RIP good man.

                  by orlbucfan on Fri Apr 05, 2013 at 07:24:45 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  You're joking, right? (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    FishOutofWater

                    The risks of sending that much high level waste up through our atmosphere, risking an explosion and wide distribution of fallout dwarf the risks associated with, say, geological sequestration or transmutation.

                    Also, it takes a buttload of energy to shed the angular momentum associated with Earth orbit, thus allowing the rocket to actually make it down the gravity well into the sun. It's nothing like dropping a rock down a shaft.

                •  That is a meaningless piece of propaganda (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Joieau

                  Cute of Hansen to leave climate science and embark on a project in the field of speculative historical epidemiology.  Unfortunately the paper, while full of statistics is completely irrelevant to policy, ignores the inconvenient reality of the very-long-term waste, as most nuktopians must, and cribs patently absurd estimates for the release of radioisotopes and their effect on health from the industry that has apparntly captured him..

                  •  And you base your critique on (0+ / 0-)

                    what, exactly? If you want to dispute his numbers, then you're gonna have to better than: nu-uh!

                    If you think his science is that bad, do you start to question his claims regarding climate change as well? After all, that's also based on statistics and estimates.

                    •  His climate change claims (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Joieau, Patango

                      are based on his field of study, where he is a respected expert.
                      It is clever of you to observe that they both use statistics however.  I have described the way in which his headline is deceitful.  
                      I know the temptation is strong to paint those who oppose continued support for the plutonium industry as AGW deniers or idealistic tree huggers, but it is the nuktopians who are idealistic in their denial of health impacts from NPPs or their catastrophic failures, in their denial of the fact of regulatory capture and the system of perverse incentives that pervade the industry and make every safety decision a balance against the profit margins of private operators who are shielded from liability.  Decade-long multi-billion porkbarrels that create yet another too-big-to-fail central power plant are not a solution, since they add CO2 for years before they start offsetting by generation, and even then, the numbers for CO2 mitigation are based on high-quality uranium ore, which is rapidly vanishing. Lower quality ores require more processing and tilt the balance further against nukes.

                      •  Plutonium industry? (0+ / 0-)

                        I guess that gives an insight into your objectivity right there.

                        Nice talking to you.

                        •  Another effective rebuttal (2+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          Joieau, Patango

                          how convincing.  

                          •  You didn't actually (0+ / 0-)

                            say anything factual to rebut. Apparently, because Hansen is working outside his scientific field, his analysis is questioned, yet your baseless claims and innuendo are supposed to be taken seriously? Is this where I demand your expert credentials?

                            The anti-nuke rhetoric has as much basis in reality, and blood on its hands, as the anti-gun control crowd. I believe in climate change, and the anti-nuclear contingent has been and continues to be part of the biggest problem that threatens our civilization.

                            Yes, millions of lives have been saved by nuclear power in the last several decades, with the necessary corollary that millions more would have been saved if we hadn't given into anti-nuclear hysteria and substituted coal and oil power plants.

                          •  So you accept my claims that (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Joieau, Patango

                            1) Hansen is publishing outside his field, meaning he is using his reputation to claim unearned authority.

                            2) Hansen ignores health effects of long-term nuclear waste and systematic leakage of radioactive materials, and underestimates health impacts of nuclear accidents.

                            3) The NRC is a captured entity and the nuclear industry, with help from the national security establishment routinely compromise public safety for the sake of operator profits.

                            4) The economics of privatized construction and operation with public liability creates perverse incentives which systematically compromise safety, making NPPs TBTFs.

                            5) New nuclear construction is not a good solution because it takes so long, front loads a decade of CO2 production against a long payoff in mitigation.

                            6) Depletion of high quality ore increases the carbon footprint of mining and processing, as well as the kwh cost.

                            I typed this slowly, so you can follow.  So far you have responded by taking affront to my description of an industry that produces plutonium and electricity, and by accusing critics of the current nuclear regime of being responsible for global warming with hyperbole so inflammatory that it makes you look absurd.

                          •  LOL!!! Wow, that's precious. (4+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Sandino, Linda Wood, Patango, melo
                            Apparently, because Hansen is working outside his scientific field, his analysis is questioned, yet your baseless claims and innuendo are supposed to be taken seriously?
                            If you expect Hansen's lay-analysis to be taken seriously, why would you demand any alternative lay-analysis be dismissed?
                            Is this where I demand your expert credentials?
                            Why bother? Hansen doesn't need any. I have some "expert credentials," but you don't need to see them.
                            The anti-nuke rhetoric has as much basis in reality, and blood on its hands, as the anti-gun control crowd. I believe in climate change, and the anti-nuclear contingent has been and continues to be part of the biggest problem that threatens our civilization.
                            ??? My goodness, Ozy. This kind of ridiculous hyperbole is not going to accomplish what you hope it will. Nukes have proven themselves too dangerous - and too filthy for far too damned long - to justify. That is what many people both expert and not believe about it, and whining about climate change won't change that.

                            There is not enough money in the entire world to invest in enough new nuclear capacity to make even the slightest dent in global warming. You know that, so does everybody else. Thus is the weakest of weak arguments in favor of new nukes nobody wants, needs or can afford in the midst of an engineered global depression. Ain't ever gonna happen.

                            Meanwhile, new solar and wind installations continue to come on line as King Coal's antique clunkers are steadily put to pasture. There are kinetic hydro resources being developed and deployed in cooperative situations, to tap flowing rivers and coastland tides, some of the literally hundreds of earthen dam reservoirs built by the Corps back in the 1930s to help address the droughts in Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas and Kansas during Dust Bowl days.

                            I believe in global warming too. Why, USDA changed my growing zone to the next warmer zone just last spring. Obviously the government knows it's happening, just like the farmers do. I don't know how responsible humans are for the situation, but I've known humans are responsible for callously fouling this planet with our filth all my life. I don't care what brand of alarmism the environmental movement uses to impress upon the public the need to clean up our act, so long as it works.

                            The nuclear PR industry's attempted takeover of the environmental movement's anti-GW thrust in order to promote its own filthy self as The Only Answer To Global Warming is absolutely disgusting. You should be ashamed, and so should Hansen.

                •  Hanson is not (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Sandino, Patango

                  a nuclear scientist, a nuclear engineer or a nuclear technician. He is not a statistician, a medical doctor of any variety, an electrician, or even lineman for the REC. He might have toured a nuclear plant's visitor's center once, but that does NOT qualify him to be an expert on atom-splitting for the purpose of boiling water to provide 'trons for toasting bagels, leaving a quarter million years' worth of seriously deadly waste to our descendants farther down the line from us and our bagels than we are from the first homo sapien sapien who walked the planet. If there are any descendants that far down the line, that is. That hasn't looked very likely since the dawn of the Atomic Age and is looking less and less likely every day that goes by.

                  It's just a propaganda script handed him by his new industry master's PR consortium to parrot in his newer, much more lucrative position as climate change doomsayer and Atomic salesman.

                  You talk like you're in the loop. How much is Hanson being paid by industry lobby and PR consortiums?

                  •  Interesting , thanks for putting Ozy in his place (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Sandino, Joieau

                    It is frustrating to witness the mountain of dishonest retoric one has to wade thru to get too any kind of common sense for american infrastructure,  the cluster fuck happening in the op also confirms it  

            •  Recycle some of it in LFTRs (0+ / 0-)

              If we could get DoE to put a fraction of what is spent on nuclear energy into bringing the technology up to date.

              "People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; never throw out anyone. " Audrey Hepburn "A Beautiful Woman"

              by Ginny in CO on Fri Apr 05, 2013 at 02:09:39 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Re burning, please do not forget the usual path (0+ / 0-)

              of the Jet Stream, the high wind river which runs across the US, usuall southeast from somewhere near Washington state, across the central rockies and into the lower midwest,  or northeast until it turns and then turns south and becomes the Arctic Express in the midwest. The location of this mess is such that if it ever blows, the US heartland gets it in the chops, all the stuff that the areas near Fukushima are getting now, PLUS the destruction of water supplies and the entire ocean off the mouth of the Columbia river.  Little Seattle is separated by a number of mountain ranges from this but Portland is not, and eastern and southern WA are not. and . . . . .  

              If you start burning stuff, you either have to massively filter out the smoke and then figure out what to do with the waste from that or watch that waste drift to places even Republicans don't want it. And recall as well that the area including Hanford is in Doc Hastings' district and I do not see him wailing about getting the cleanup done in his lifetime either.

          •  Please recognize (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Bozmo2

            That the nature of waste from bomb making is a very different and more dangerous chemical mix that from fission power reactors.  

            Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

            by Mindful Nature on Fri Apr 05, 2013 at 04:32:58 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I do recognize the difference. (6+ / 0-)

              Which is why I described what's in those leaking, soon to be explosive tanks at Hanford as...

              the Mother Of All Dirty Bombs itching to go off, producing hydrogen gas in flimsy, leaking underground tanks holding the chemically dissociated high-enriched ultra-nasty sludge left over from H-bomb production
              This "burn it" garbage is about panning the sludge for leftover U235 and P239 (and a couple other fissile unnaturals), to be mixed with the usual heavy metal filler (U238) and turned into fuel pellets and loaded into rods braced together into assemblies for use in commercial reactors. Fuel. It may be more or less enriched (percentage of fissile material), but the reaction and the waste products are the same either way, and the higher enriched assemblies will be hotter for their entire use-waste cycle.

              They will not be salvaging the non-fissile elements or the daughters, or the granddaughters, etc. They just want the intact fissile ones. That process will do absolutely nothing to 'burn', bury, stabilize, hide, tuck into bed, or in any other way render ANY daughter or decay chain fragment more stable, less radioactive, or shorten its half-life by a single nanosecond. It all still remains, every bit as deadly as it ever was. They can render it into a solid form (vitrification) so it can be more safely stored - if it doesn't flash the workers to death on the spot or blow up the building - while the salvaged fuel goes right on producing more high level spent fuel waste that will have to be safely stored and managed just like all high level spent fuel waste from our nuclear adventures. The same old few hundred tons' worth that every reactor produces every year it's in operation.

              The ONLY thing this accomplishes is to diminish the mining and enrichment end by the amount of fissile material they can salvage from the dangerous Hanford slurry. The cost of the salvaging doesn't look to be any cheaper than mining.

              •  I am curious (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Sandino

                What the hell can we do with this crap.  Vitrification seems a best option, no?

                Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

                by Mindful Nature on Fri Apr 05, 2013 at 08:10:04 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I've some hope for vitrification, (4+ / 0-)

                  not at all confident it's a timely - or workable - solution to the issues at Hanford. They thought they'd "done something with it" when they pumped mixed the accumulated sludge into underground tanks. Now the tanks are leaking badly and in danger of explosion. Something definitely has to be done right away, and this project doesn't look very promising in that department.

                  That's why Bechtel is getting such flak - the DoE scientists themselves don't know that much about what's in those tanks or how to safely handle it, Bechtel keeps wasting time and money building junk those same scientists say won't even work. A barrel of slurry can go critical, they've been known to do so on occasion for no apparent reason, killing everybody within range quite quickly and painfully. Very nasty, very dangerous stuff. There's lots and lots and lots of barrels of slurry in those tanks that have been churning unholy mixtures for decades.

                  Seems to me the first thing they need to do is suspend Bechtel's contract for the duration until the Big Brains have come up with something actually workable and receive the power to call the construction shots, throw everything they've got right now into constructing and installing new tanks with proper ventilation and filtration (and reliable off-grid backup power), and get the crap transferred into them. Go ahead and sample while they're at it, learn more about what the mixtures are.

      •  Nuclear waste isn't safe, but you know what it is? (0+ / 0-)

        Nuclear fuel.

        Like a rabbit eating its own poop, nuclear waste can be processed and then used in different classes of power facilities, from thorium reactors to simple RTG thermal power sources.

        There's no good reason to be dumping used nuclear fuel.  It should be reprocessed into, well, more fuel.  And the more cycles the fuel goes through, the more you reduce the half-life of the waste products, generally.  

      •  Yep (0+ / 0-)

        In fact hospital waste isn't safe either.  We ought to shut all hospitals down

        Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescindibles.

        by Mindful Nature on Fri Apr 05, 2013 at 04:30:31 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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