Skip to main content

View Diary: Hansen: Nuclear power has prevented 1.8 million deaths (95 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  coal kills people when it's working perfectly (13+ / 0-)

    Nuclear generally only kills people when it fails catastrophically.  I'd rather have nukes than coal, and I'd rather have solar and wind than nukes.

    Chernobyl is like Godwin's Law for nuclear engineers: everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong, so while it's a valid absolute worst case couldn't fuck it up more if you tried scenario, it's not considered representative of what could actually happen in your average reactor, so arguing that every nuclear reactor out there is a Chernobyl  waiting to happen is seen as fundamentally ignorant.

    No containment structure, high positive void coefficient, flammable graphite moderator, graphite-tipped control rods, ignorance of the reactor's many design flaws (classified as state secrets), conducting an experiment at the time (versus business as usual), using the junior night shift (who were not trained to conduct the experiment) instead of the senior day shift, deliberate ignoring and even outright disabling of every safety feature the reactor had, and so on.

    We could solve the spent fuel problem with reprocessing and fast-spectrum "burner" reactors.  You can't change the total amount of radioactivity in high-level waste, but you can change how long it lasts.

    •  So just shut them down at the end of their design (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Uncle Moji, adrianrf, Meteor Blades

      lifetimes.  Nuketopians concern for the planet would seem much more convincing if they didn't regularly provide cover for 'sharpening the pencils' and other practices that jettison safety and openness for the sake of operator profits and industry PR.  Somehow otherwise rational people who bemoan regulatory capture at financial or even environmental agencies are blind to the possibility that NRC, until recently tasked with both promotion and safety of civilian production of plutonium, is also willing to cut corners on safety.  They produce handwaving cigarette-science papers to prove radioactive materials don't escape plants, and if they do they're not bad for you, and if they were, they're still better than coal. Making up a number of lives saved by using nuclear power is a pure propaganda exercise, even if it did not totally neglect the long-term mortality due by the tons of plutonium and other waste we have put into the environment.

      At this point economics have left nuclear plants in the rearview mirror, though the costs and deaths will accumulate for another 100 centuries, long after the operators have taken their meager profits and died.

      •  They don't have design "lifetimes". (5+ / 0-)

        They have licensing terms. That's it. Any plant that uses steam or hydro gets shutdown when they are proven unsafe because of wear and tear...and this includes before the license runs out if it's dangerous.

        Most reactors being built now are designed from scratch to last at least 60 years, including the 4 under way in the US.

        The issue is that coal should be everyone's priority to shutdown then gas. I would gladly pay even more outrageous subsidies to wind and solar if they could close a coal plant or two in the US.

        The point about nuclear is that they don't even have to be 'perfect', they only have to be better than the alternative, which is climate change fueled by fossil fuel.

        Countries are building ALL sorts of non/low carbon generations including nuclear. Get used to it.

        Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

        by davidwalters on Thu Apr 04, 2013 at 02:23:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  davidf, you know that guessing as to when it's too (0+ / 0-)

          unsafe or costly to repair is a total crap shoot, especially when you get business people involved instead of scientists and engineers. Scientists and engineers in the njuclear business mostly, not always the paragons of truth but less skilled at lying hopefully than the business people..

            Diablo Canyon was built over unknown earthquake faults, they have no fricking clue what will happen, they say it's designed to withstand a 7.x...and that was before it's withstandingness was exposed to seawater corrosion for 25, no let's extend the life to 50, no 75 years more.

          Fact is these things are built by people and people are going to fuck them up sooner or later if mother nature doesn't do it first.

          The life extensions to many of these ancient designs is really scary the failures and problems are not doing anything to reassure a trusting population, and in the long term screwing safe nuclear power's future.  I guess I am o0bliquely referring to the plant that was just shut down from an accident.

          I keep hearing about research this and buried modular that, but still with these older plants.......

          I guess my point is that these licenses are granted and reviewed by mostly business people with some fully vetted scientists and engineers....except for the non-vetted  grannies and teachers and babies at the gates with their quaint little picket signs. And yay them!

          This machine kills Fascists.

          by KenBee on Fri Apr 05, 2013 at 12:47:36 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  No, the licenses are revnewed by qualified (0+ / 0-)

            engineers. The plants do not break or cause problem because of their age, the only one that came close to this was Davis-Besse and that plant was only 20 years old. 104 nukes in the US haven't caused a single death (save for work related accidents like the recent one in Arkansas).

            If you can prove the "sooner or later" or show an example, that would be swell, because right now the record is sterling and should remain that way if past practice is any indication.

            DCNPP...the fault is there. Unfortunate, maybe. Likely it is of no significance. DCNPP, like in many parts of the country, experiences 600 or so small temblers every year. There is no indication this fault has moved in 100,000 years. I'm not worried.

            Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

            by davidwalters on Fri Apr 05, 2013 at 07:45:11 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  had david besse not been caught by accident (0+ / 0-)

              that failure would have been spectacular,  and
              it really underlies the flaw in your argument.

              a relatively young reactor had a critical failure develop due to a minor plumbing leak in a secondary system.

              That problem developed early in life, and damn near blew the reactor to crap

    •  how many graphite reactors are out there? (0+ / 0-)

      count them up,  it will bother you.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site