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View Diary: Unalloyed Fear:  Technetium, an Element of "Dangerous Nuclear Waste" (Pt.2) (57 comments)

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    •  And the Honeybees Are Dying. (4+ / 0-)

      Robins above the Arctic Circle.

      Deep ocean fish rising to upper levels.

      Dungeness crabs dead in the shallows of Oregon by the thousands...millions?

      Columbia River salmon extinct in my lifetime.

      I'm ready for 2008! Where's a candidate?? :D

      by InquisitiveRaven on Thu Feb 15, 2007 at 08:41:59 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  European honybee populations were decimated (3+ / 0-)

        in the US (literally, populations were reduced by 90%) initially about twenty years ago by infestations of two different parasitic mites.  I have no idea whether or not this was climate-change related at the time.

        By Alan Wang

        Feb. 12 - KGO - The mysterious death of commercial honeybee colonies is baffling scientists and now farmers who count on bees to pollinate their crops are crossing their fingers as the trees prepare to bloom.

        . . .

        scientist (sic) aren't sure what's wiping out the bees. It could be a fungus, pesticides, or possibly mites.

        Tom Parisian, Honeybee Genetics: "They sometimes carry with them diseases, especially viral diseases, that affect the bees and debilitate them."

        Eric Mussen, UC Davis Entomologist: "Each day we eat about one third of our food pollinated by honey bees."

        UC Davis entomologist Eric Mussen specializes in bees. He thinks the answer lies in last summer's lack of wild flowers, nationwide.

        . . .

        It's estimated that 40 percent of commercial colonies are lost.

        Article here.

        ' . . . lack of wildflowers . . .' caused perhaps by Global Warming induced climate changes screwing up the timing of temp and precip for plants and pollinators alike?

        I keep saying that we'll starve long before the first CAT6 hurricane makes landfall or the oceans inundate major coastal cities.

        Private life is all about managing pain. In business and government, this means externalizing and deferring costs whenever possible.

        by sxwarren on Thu Feb 15, 2007 at 10:19:02 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Wildflower Loss Is Not Caused By Global Warming (1+ / 0-)
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          wondering if

          The loss of wildflowers is caused by people eating beef and driving priuses, or SUVs, or Hummers, or buying land where they can "afford" it away from past development.

          It's caused by business and the paving of this country.  Land amounting to the area of Vermont is paved in the U.S. each year.

          The Willamette Valley, the most fertile land in the 1840s whiche fueled the bicoastal development of the nation, was composed of oak savannah... less than 1% remains, and this is a relatively small area.  

          Almost none of the grassland of America remains, some is in northeastern Oregon, and you'll find tiny remnants here and there down to Oklahoma, but they're almost all covered in weeds, disected by roads, which then dump toxins on the fields.  Perhaps worst of all is big cattle, although the Wallowas in Oregon have been ranch-country for a century and have the higher end of raptor and native grassland habitation left.

          (-7.88, -6.10) "Susan Collins is worse than garlic breath and stinky old socks together" me, out of context

          by Nulwee on Thu Feb 15, 2007 at 10:12:35 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  further north (1+ / 0-)
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            Washington has lost much of it's river bottom farm and dairy land to housing developments, strip malls, and tilt-up business parks.  

            The same is starting to happen in California's Inland Valley, which produces (or produced) a quarter of the food in the USA.

            And Western Washington is losing its forests to housing developments as well.

          •  While the loss of open land is a (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            contributing factor over the long term (several decades), extreme "out-of-bounds" spring temperature and precipitation variations over the last few years, definite symptoms of climate changes attributable to Global Warming, have caused an equally signifcant drop in the number and duration of wildflower blossoms in a very short time frame - which is what Eric Mussen is referring to.

            As a gardener in (not-rapidly-developing) rural Maine specializing in perennials and naturalistic designs incorporating native wildflowers, I can testify that recent unusually cold and wet springs following warm, droughty winters have very seriously affected even the toughest wildflowers, both those that depend primarily on seed distribution for propagation and those that spread by root and rhizome.  Bloom timing has been way off as well and out of sync with "normal" pollinator lifecycles, meaning that the populations of those wildflowers that depend primarily on seed distribution for propagation have been degraded even further in successive years.

            There is no question that overdevelopment, rampant paving, herbicide use and over-grazing have reduced the area in which wildflowers may grow freely (although it must be noted that many of the most floriferous wildflowers are extremely aggressive "first colonizers" of cleared land and will grow and bloom quite happily in even the smallest cracks in thick asphalt), it is simply incorrect to claim that  recent wildflower loss is NOT caused by Global Warming.

            The further point I make is that these same extreme (moreso to us gardeners) climate variations that have degraded wildflower growth and bloom have had the same effect on plant crops.  At the very least, this has caused commercial growers (both corporate and small, local, family-owned) to increase their inputs - artificial fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, irrigation, etc. - in an attempt to maintain profitable harvest quantities.   Should the temp-precip patterns of the past few winters/springs repeat for even a few more years, even increasing artificial inputs won't be enough to stave off significantly higher food prices and shortages.  

            Private life is all about managing pain. In business and government, this means externalizing and deferring costs whenever possible.

            by sxwarren on Fri Feb 16, 2007 at 06:14:39 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Global warming is killing off wildflowers too (1+ / 0-)
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            Granted, development, herbicides, etc. are enemies of wildflowers.

            But the heating of the soil and the desertification of natural meadows in the West is promoting the replacement of wildflowers with sagebrush.  

            John Harte is an ecologist at the University of California at Berkeley. For the past 16 years he has used electric heat lamps to warm experimental plots of land at RMBL. The artificial temperature increase matches the small rise of a few degrees that global warming climate models project will occur over the next century.

            Harte's study results show snows melting earlier and the soil drying. Drier soils store less carbon. Less carbon in the soil means more carbon in the atmosphere, which will accelerate the pace of warming, he said.

            Drier soils are also more suited to sagebrush, the hearty shrub that carpets much of the arid West. In Harte's heated study plots, sagebrush is crowding out wildflowers.

            The ecologist said the transition from wildflowers to sagebrush only speeds the trend: Sagebrush is darker than most wildflowers and absorbs heat instead of reflecting it.

            "Well, I'd like to hold off judgment on a thing like that, sir, until all the facts are in." --General Jack Turgidson

            by Plan9 on Fri Feb 16, 2007 at 10:45:11 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Yes (4+ / 0-)

        And yet there is a childish, irrational resistance to expanding use of one of the critical tools necessary to stave off climate change.

        I occasionally do hear scientifically informed arguments against nuclear power (which are important to listen to and to take account of). For the most part, though, it's nervous bunk.

        One question I have asked a few times is "Can you name the three types of radiation which nuclear processes produce?"

        The answer in the overwhelming majority of cases is, "Um, er, we did study this -- I guess, isn't it, maybe, microwaves, is that one? Can you give me a hint? Oh, okay, er, well... no. But you tell me this, Mr. Smarty Pants, isn't it DANGEROUS FOR MILLIONS IF NOT BILLIONS OF YEARS!?!?!?!?!?!"

        Sigh. An overwhelmingly scientifically ignorant populace is not a recipe for hope.

        We need nuclear. And solar and wind and geothermal, and efficiency improvements, and a great big dose of conservation. And radical population limitation: China-style global NPG starting right the fuck now. And we are going to need nuclear power.

        What are the odds that all of that will happen? Zip.

        What we're going to get are a huge number of filthy coal plants (enormous new-build coal plants are going up everywhere, including in supposedly green nations like Germany), and a crazily prolific species of plains-apes-made-good continuing to breed itself and everything else into an untimely extinction.

        •  Not quite (2+ / 0-)
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          Plan9, NNadir

          Sigh.  An overwhelmingly scientifically ignorant populace is not a recipe for hope.

          unless you are a Greenpeace fundraiser.  There's a lot of money in ignorance.

          •  Yes indeed. (1+ / 0-)
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            These days one cannot seriously discuss an issue without a discussion from where the money for making an argument comes.

            It is actually the case, to the unending surprise of many people - most of whom in fact buy their own opinions - that a person can think for free.

            What is really amusing about Greenpeace - and not much is amusing - is how depressingly middle class it is.   They actually think that everyone and anyone can afford a huge bank of solar cells and batteries.   I guess you can't get into Greenpeace if you've been to Cameroon.

    •  Well, the last diary was more pointed. (1+ / 0-)
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      And I come to dKos for pointed, informed diaries.

      This one has a long and as far as I can tell completely unnecessary warm-up about a subject you don't care for (literature) in order to segue to a statement you wish to introduce which still is tangential to the point of your diary.

      Mine is but a small yellow flash, but is says:  simplify, get straight to the point, say what you mean, mean what you say, get out of the way.

      Keep writing.  I, for one, knew I'd just recently read something about technetium.

      Bush & Cheney bullied, argued, and lied in order to commit Aggressive War. Aggressive War is a War Crime. Why are we ruled by War Criminals?

      by Yellow Canary on Thu Feb 15, 2007 at 08:47:31 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I Keep Reading NNadir Because I Keep Hoping (0+ / 0-)

        to read something about disposing of 'Dangerous Nuclear Waste' safely.

        I'd have fewer objections to building nukes if somebody could convince me that a safe method for sequestering the wastes was available.

        So far... tapdance.


        "There is a time for compromise, and it is called 'Later'!"

        by LeftyLimblog on Fri Feb 16, 2007 at 05:35:27 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  How about a coal waste "tap dance?" (1+ / 0-)
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          Remembering Jello

          You cannot produce either a solution for disposing of dangerous fossil fuel waste, or a case of a person injured by the storage of so called "nuclear waste."

          The fact that you consider so called "nuclear waste," as the only waste problem in the area of energy that is worthy of shutting the industry is far more of a tap dance than anything I could conceive.

          Any idea how many people died from the dumping (not the storage, mind you) of dangerous coal waste?   Will you start considering the issue allowing coal plants to be built only after the first dangerous coal waste facility is built?

          Talk about a "tap dance..."

          You are not "considering" nuclear power at all, I suspect.  You are demanding instead that nuclear power be the only form of energy that is perfect.

          Guess what?

          Nuclear energy is not perfect, nor will it ever be so.   It is simply far better than everything else, by orders of magnitude.

          If you have produced a well explored solution to the problem of dangerous coal waste, I'd love you to link it.  If you have made a public appeal to oppose coal until the problem of dangerous coal waste as been solved, I would love to see that as well.

          The link button is at the bottom of this editor in the middle.

          •  More Tapdancing... (1+ / 0-)
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            Just get to the subject of how you would handle nuclear waste from the reactors you think we should build.

            I read your diaries carefully and I will honestly consider what you think might work to dispose of 'Dangerous Nuclear Waste' (your term).

            As far as I can tell nothing man does is perfect... but I can still recognize 'better' vs 'no change'.

            But if you proffer no solution, I will continue to consider nukes as no solution as well.

            Believe me, I'd like to shut down coal plants ASAP, but until we see a reasonable replacement, we all know that burning coal will continue.


            "There is a time for compromise, and it is called 'Later'!"

            by LeftyLimblog on Fri Feb 16, 2007 at 09:58:46 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I actually don't care what you "consider." (1+ / 0-)
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              If you don't have a "solution" to climate change - and you don't, climate change being a problem of dangerous fossil fuel waste - I have no responsibility to convince you of anything.

              I would submit that if you insist that there is no solution to the problem of so called "dangerous nuclear waste," you ought to submit a case where the storage of spent nuclear fuel has failed fatally.   I remind you that all of the nuclear materials from the operation of commercial power plants in this country from 50 years of operations remain confined.   Is it your contention that the last 50 years of fossil fuel wastes are contained?  Is it your contention that the next 50 years of fossil fuel waste can be contained?   If so, you really should write about it.

              Until you can produce a plan to confine dangerous fossil fuel wastes - which actually kill people every damn day - I will continue to call for a ban on fossil fuels.

              My contention about dangerous fossil fuel waste is clear:  Every single death associated with air pollution represents a failure to deal with dangerous fossil fuel waste, likewise with climate change deaths.

              Let me make something clear and explicit, in case in the "careful" reading of my diaries you have somehow missed the point about which you skirt and, in fact, dance, albeit awkwardly:  Nuclear power's risks cannot rationally be divorced from the alternative, which is continued fatal reliance on unacceptably dangerous fossil fuels.   It is poor thinking, very poor thinking, deadly thinking in fact, to view spent nuclear fuel in isolation from, say, coal wastes.

              If you cannot understand that simple reality, I cannot help you to understand anything at all, an any attempt on my part would surely prove useless and pointless.

              In fact, nuclear materials are all recoverable, as I have discussed many times.   Maybe because of my prolix style you missed that, but it is there nonetheless with careful reading.

              •  I Buy Electrical Power (1+ / 0-)
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                I don't build power plants of any type. Therefore it will never be my job to sequester any waste products of any type. I will be paying for confinement of waste products as part of my power bill.

                Again, it is not my job to propose methods of handling 'Dangerous Nuclear Waste' (your term).

                And it is also not my job to decipher your 'prolix' writing style. If you want to write on DailyKos you are making it YOUR JOB to explain things clearly.

                Stop assuming I am your enemy, and answer the question, posed yet again.

                How do you suggest 'Dangerous Nuclear Waste' (your term) be managed, confined, sequestered, disposed of, or rendered non-dangerous?

                That's all many of us want to know. You might find that people will welcome a realistic believable solution. I would.  


                "There is a time for compromise, and it is called 'Later'!"

                by LeftyLimblog on Fri Feb 16, 2007 at 11:39:12 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I don't build power plants of any type. (0+ / 0-)

                  I simply suggest what types be built.  

                  Of course, it would appear that I am better informed than you are about the issue, since you insist that only one form of energy needs to be perfect.

                  Stop assuming that you are asking rational questions, or that I owe you some kind of answer simply because you "buy your electricity."  The purchase of a product implies some responsibility for its manufacture.

                  When I am referring to "dangerous nuclear waste," I am being sarcastic.   I do not concede that spent nuclear fuel is "dangerous," since neither you nor anyone else can show a single incident of it actually injuring someone on a scale that is cause for concern comparable to climate change or air pollution.

                  Therefore I propose the immediate solution to all energy waste problems is to insist that it can be contained on the grounds of the plants where it is generated.  

                  If a form of energy cannot meet this requirement, I suggest it be banned.

                  The fact is that the only form of exajoule scale energy that meets this requirement.

                  Obviously you are substituting belief for observation and supposition for reality.  I submit, even as I see that you are ill prepared to acknowledge it, that the onus is upon you to show that the current status of spent nuclear fuel is "dangerous."

                  You cannot, in fact, do anything more than insist that I ignore fossil fuel waste and pretend for the dubious benefit of satisfying your poor perceptual skills, that the nuclear situation be viewed in isolation from its alternatives.

                  You will repeat yourself no doubt, and until you bore me to the point of insufferability, so will I.

                  •  Good Grief! (1+ / 0-)
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                    I hope you are not on anybody's PR team as a technical consultant.

                    Your dream of building nuclear power stations is damaged every time you come up with some smart assed non-response to reasonable questions.

                    Like Bush, you destroy yourself.


                    "There is a time for compromise, and it is called 'Later'!"

                    by LeftyLimblog on Fri Feb 16, 2007 at 03:21:52 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  No. I no problem with materials as dense as (0+ / 0-)

                      uranium, but I do have problems with arguments that are dense.

                      I am not a PR consultant, but I am a rationalist.   It is often the case that rationality and PR conflict, making the rationalist particularly unsuitable for PR work.

                      PR work is for charmers, including snake charmers.  I am hardly charming.

                      That said, I don't think pointing up the irrationality of your approach damages my position at all.   On the contrary, I believe it enhances my position.   You may believe that you speak for "everyone," and I must proceed in a way that gives you no offense to succeed at my aims.  However, there is no evidence to support this claim of your importance.  I regard it as somewhat inflated. Happily for the outcome of humanity, you speak for "Lefty," and "Lefty" alone. I am reasonably well convinced that you hardly speak for a nebulous group defined as "everyone."  

                      I have been advancing my arguments for a long time, and I am always on the offense and therefore, unsurprisingly, I am often offensive.   I am reasonably satisified, based on feedback, that this approach works.  

                      Often people wish to make the conversation about me.   However, I like to point out that my personality has no physical effect on, as an example, the complex ion behavior of the pertechnate ion in fish.   If I am nasty, the pertechnate ion will still behave the same way in a fish as it would if I was the most pleasant person in the world.   The ultimate question is therefore not about me, but about the risk of the pertechnate ion compared to, for instance, the mercury II ion found in fish that results from coal burning.

                      To further penetrate the extreme density of your positions as I see them - and let's be sure that such opinions are hardly new to me - let me cut through your disingenuous representations about what I must "prove" to be worthy of writing on DailyKos:

                      1.  You insist that "to be convinced," I must concede your point that I explain on your level the future status of nuclear materials for all time, while I agree to ignore the status of fossil fuel waste for all time.   I reject this arbitrary criterion.   No energy issue can be viewed in isolation from its alternatives.   Every form of energy can be shown to have difficulties and risks.   They can only be rendered sensible by comparison.   For instance, if I can show that someone has been killed in an ethanol explosion, this is not sufficient to prove a case for banning ethanol, since people are also killed by gasoline explosions.
                      1.  You claim that you have carefully read my diaries, but clearly you have not, since my position on the approach to spent nuclear fuel can be summed in two words:   "Use it."   Of course, spent nuclear fuel contains a great many constituents, and I am moving deliberately through all of them, suggesting that even if particular constituents are not useful immediately, they may well prove so in the long term.   Since nuclear fuel is dense (although not as dense as the Greenpeace membership)  and compact (far more compact than my diaries), it is easy to contain it for sufficient time to investigate these potentials fully.  Only then should disposal be considered.   Such containment has been practiced for many decades.   I, for one, am particularly grateful that nothing like Yucca Mountain was built in the 1970's.   That would have been an awful waste.
                      1.  You insist on overly succinct 30 second answers.  Regrettably, since the issues are somewhat more complex and subtle than can be addressed by marketeers in soundbites, an exhaustive examination will require time.   My meandering style is debatable in its merits, but it is my style.   It is what it is.
                      1.  Now you claim that "public relations" should determine energy choices.   I submit that this approach has failed miserably over the last 50 years, since wonderful marketing and much positive press about renewable energy, many decades of it, has failed to prevent to accumulation of dangerous fossil fuel waste - specifically carbon dioxide - in the atmosphere.   Thus an approach to energy that is based on "making nice," is potentially fatal.  It is not about "making nice."  It is, in fact, about impending catastrophe which, I assure you, will not be "nice."

                      The crisis before us will not be addressed by simplistic approaches such as those you seem to demand.

                      •  Agree and Disagree (1+ / 0-)
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                        Agree: You are offensive.

                        Disagree: Such offensiveness works. Rarely true.

                        The old saying, "You catch more flies with sugar than vinegar" is still true.

                        You assume far too much about me, as in all my motives, etc.

                        And while I only represent myself, there are lots more like me who remain unconvinced by your tapdancing.


                        "There is a time for compromise, and it is called 'Later'!"

                        by LeftyLimblog on Sat Feb 17, 2007 at 06:34:42 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

        •  Nuclear waste is being safely stored right now (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Spent fuel is being safely stored at nuclear plants in spent fuel pools and in thick-walled concrete silos.  To call this fuel, which has been once through a reactor, waste is a misnomer, since 98% of its energy remains and eventually will actually be reprocessed and put back in reactors.

          If you live within 50 miles of a nuclear plant, you may be exposed to an estimated .0009 millirem of radiation per year.  If you live within 50 miles of a coal-fired plant, your risk of radiation exposure balloons to 1-4 millirem/year.  That's a very low dose, but if you are scared of radiation from nuclear power, your fears would be more usefully directed toward coal combustion and coal waste.  Coal burning concentrates U-235, radium, and other radioactive materials in the fly ash.

          How often do you read of a nuclear waste spill on a highway causing a whole town to evacuate?  How often do you read of spent fuel rods being found lying around in public places?  Contrast that with how often you read about an explosion in a chemical plant or a truck or train wreck that releases toxic chemical cargo, requiring evacuations?  Nobody has proposed preventing the production and use of ammonia, and yet it can kill people.  Nobody has suggested shutting down oil refineries, which have lethal explosions.

          And nuclear waste from bomb production is being safely stored for the long term in an impermeable repository half a mile underground in NM.  It has been open since 1999 and when it is sealed up it will be inaccessible into the remote future.  Eventually it will all decay to the level of natural background radiation.

          If you are concerned about the impact of the waste of our civilization on people thousands of years from now, you might start worrying about conventional garbage dumps.  They are full of manmade organic chemicals that never break down, toxic heavy metals--mercury from CFLs, and other toxins from the computer and electronics industry.

          "Well, I'd like to hold off judgment on a thing like that, sir, until all the facts are in." --General Jack Turgidson

          by Plan9 on Fri Feb 16, 2007 at 11:00:44 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Stop Gap (1+ / 0-)
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            Fuel Rod containment in pools is a stop-gap measure that nobody considers a 'solution'.

            Reprocessing plants have a poor reputation so far as I here, but let's say you can do that cleanly.

            So then do you propose to preprocess the fuel and 'burn' it again in another reactor? OK, let's say you can do that cleanly and safely.

            What about the other kinds of radioactive waste such as nuclear reactor's containment vessel itself? How about the piping, and coolant?

            I am willing to discuss things rationally, but I am never going to allow myself to be bullied by somebody spouting big words and with the pretentious attitude that 'I have knowlege no one else can understand, so just shut up already'. There is just about NOBODY on a blog for God's sake that is going to let that attitude go unchallenged.


            "There is a time for compromise, and it is called 'Later'!"

            by LeftyLimblog on Fri Feb 16, 2007 at 11:52:40 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  The nuclear endgame (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Plan9, bryfry

              Secondary radioactive materials (containment, cladding, etc.):  All are short lived nuclides, so they go away in about 10 or so years in terms of hazardous materials.  Most of it is Low Level waste anyway, which in my personal opinion is a ridiculous designation since most of that low level waste is not even radioactive.

              Fission Products:  Same deal, just slightly longer.  600 years does it for just about all of them.  About 20 years if you treat Sr-90 and Cs-137 separately.

              Transuranics:  Fast reactors will come again eventually, certainly before 10,000+ years.  When that happens transuranics will cease to exist, instead converted to fission products.

              Long-lived nuclides (Uranium, Thorium, others):  Assuming that they aren't all consumed by the world for fuel and converted to either transuranics or fission products, the low activity of these substances is outweighed by other hazard factors, like chemical toxicity.  So tell everyone not to eat it , like how people don't eat lead now, and everything is fine.

              •  Controlled nuclear chain reactions (1+ / 0-)
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                have been around for almost 65 years.  The first was the pile (i.e., pile of graphite blocks) in the old squash courts at the University of Chicago in 1942 under the direction of Enrico Fermi.

                As an example of how insignificant secondary radioactive materials are for long-term safety issues (they truly are small potatoes), you too can own a piece of the first pile -- the first nuclear reactor.  Pieces of graphite from the blocks used for the first controlled chain reaction are for sale today and have been for years.  I have friends who have a piece of this "radioactive waste" sitting on their desks.

                •  Interesting... Link Please? (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:


                  "There is a time for compromise, and it is called 'Later'!"

                  by LeftyLimblog on Fri Feb 16, 2007 at 03:15:22 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Sure (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    An example is here.  Apparently, it's difficult to find on the internet (I didn't check Ebay).  I've only seen it advertised in journals for nuclear types, who would be interesting in purchasing a historical trinket like this.

                •  Yes, I own a tiny piece of CP-I (0+ / 0-)

                  It's less radioactive than salt substitute.

                  "Well, I'd like to hold off judgment on a thing like that, sir, until all the facts are in." --General Jack Turgidson

                  by Plan9 on Tue Feb 20, 2007 at 12:08:54 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •  One can also see the original sampe of plutonium (0+ / 0-)

                  at the Smithsonian Institution's "Museum of American History."

                  I believe that museum is closed for renovations, but it has Seaborg's sample of plutonium, his Nobel Prize medal, and a full scale life sized mock up of the reactor, complete with a manaquin of Enrico Fermi.

                  The plutonium in question is Pu-238.

            •  It's true (1+ / 0-)
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              Spent fuel pools are meant to be a temporary storage solution for irradiated fuel pellets.  Nobody is claiming that they are a permanent solution.  Dry cask storage is a safe solution that can be maintained indefinitely, however.

              The performance of reprocessing plants is a mixed bag.  Everyone likes to point to the abortive attempts at reprocessing in the US and to Sellafield in the UK, but reprocessing is going on now quite successfully at La Hague in France.  It rarely gets mentioned, however, because there is little to complain about.

              •  So Do a Diary And Tell Us MORE, Please. n/t (1+ / 0-)
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                "There is a time for compromise, and it is called 'Later'!"

                by LeftyLimblog on Fri Feb 16, 2007 at 03:06:51 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  Sellafield is not quite as bad as everyone wants (2+ / 0-)
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                kurt, bryfry

                to think.

                I defy anyone to produce evidence that Sellafield has been as dangerous to the entire continent of Europe as air pollution has been to the population of New York City.

                Sellafield has been a financial disaster, but it has not injured quite as many people as a typical coal plant.  

                Mostly one hears complaints about this plant that have as their source Greenpeace type urban mythology.   This concern about Sellafield is largely a product of selective attention, in my view, since Greenpeace has no rational plan to phase out any fossil fuel.   (In fact, Greenpeace ends up mostly being an apologist for natural gas, an unacceptably dangerous fuel.)

                It is regrettable that Sellafield has been such a source of mysticism all of which is spectacular for the quality of misinformation.

                Sellafield released significant amounts of technetium over the last half century, but now has the technology to recover more than 95% of it, from what I read.  This is actually a reduction of a material that has been relatively harmless.

                The rationale for recovering technetium is not that it is particularly deadly, but that it is an extremely precious metal with outstanding properties of extreme interest and utility.   It is more available than its cogener rhenium, and has many similar properties to rhenium.

                In fact, many patients going in for scanning tests consume far more technetium deliberately than one can get by eating ton quantities of Norwegian fish.

                I will discuss this in a future diary entry.

                Note in the link to the Norwegian gas plant that the Norwegians are actually proud of the claim that idea that the new gas plant will "reduce NOx emissions by '80%'."   Of course this claim is really an abuse of language, since the plant is new.   Thus if it releases one gram of NOx, it will represent an increase from "zero."

                It is not my choice, but if I were British, I would really, really, really want that plant to stay open, even if it is a poor economic performer in the short term.   When the price of uranium rises, as surely it will, the plant will be a huge asset that has accumulated significant experience.

                If I ever get to Cumbria, I would love to visit the museum at Sellafield, which seems to be quite wonderful.

                La Hague is a great facility, and Sellafield hardly meets its standards, but saying that is hardly the same as saying "Sellafield is unacceptly dangerous."

            •  Help me out here (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              I am sorry if I offended you.  That was certainly not my intention.  Rather, it was to address your sincere concern.

              Which words were hard to understand or look up?

              I would not want to communicate these matters poorly, because I think it is an urgent matter that we address the terrible problem of greenhouse gases, and nuclear power is the only large scale way to do that.

              If there are misunderstandings about nuclear waste, it is important to discuss them in a clear way.

              Our children's future depends on that.

              It is true that nobody ever thought spent fuel pools would be the final resting place of spent fuel.  They were designed and put into use when the US still reprocessed fuel.  Carter put an end to that because he wanted to set an example for the world in regard to a byproduct of reprocessing--plutonium.  But nobody else stopped reprocessing, and in Europe they went on to develop a way to mix the plutonium with depleted uranium to make reactor fuel that would ruin the plutonium for bomb making.  

              Fuel rods have accumulated in the pools but they do not pose a risk, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which monitors them closely.  The pools are an interim step, as everyone agrees.  Everyone also agrees that dry cask interim storage is the next stage for the fuel.  After the hottest radioactive stuff has decayed it is likely to be reprocessed and put through reactors again and again until the remaining waste is very, very small in volume.  

              The metal of the fuel and the reactor vessel, etc. soon become free of radiation and can be be melted down and reused--to make new reactor vessels, etc.

              "Well, I'd like to hold off judgment on a thing like that, sir, until all the facts are in." --General Jack Turgidson

              by Plan9 on Fri Feb 16, 2007 at 02:32:40 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  How Soon is 'Soon'? (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                This may actually be good news.

                I had heard that containment vessels were being buried.

                Plan9, I am capable of looking up words and all that stuff. And I do look things up.

                Not only that, but I have worked on nuclear subs and aimed nuclear weapons at Russian cities back 'in the day'.

                But this is a public politics blog not a nuclear engineering blog, so NNadir needs to learn to quit talking down to the rest of us. He is constantly alluding to new technology without explaining it, and then calling people names who ask questions.

                Soooo... its my Kos-given right to ask questions, and I do.


                "There is a time for compromise, and it is called 'Later'!"

                by LeftyLimblog on Fri Feb 16, 2007 at 03:13:41 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

    •  a tip, a recommend, and i've subscribed to you (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Plan9, HeyMikey, Nulwee

      Though, i still haven't bothered to figure out precisely what the "subscribe" link actually does.

      Thanks for the terrific read. Don't listen to Yellow Canary—i thoroughly enjoyed this. And what can canaries tell us, anyway? (ha!)

      Bergeron's epitaph for the planet, I remember, which he said should be carved in big letters in a wall of the Grand Canyon for the flying-saucer people to find, was this:


      Only he didn't say 'doggone.'
      –Kurt Vonnegut, Hocus Pocus

      Oh, and one of my favourite openers:

      "Here they come, marching into American sunlight."
      –Don Delillo, Mao II

      •  "Subscribe" puts authors in your ... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        HeyMikey, Nulwee

        ... diary watch list, which is accessed from your Hotlist, to which there is a link on the right of every page.

        You're welcome.

        Bush & Cheney bullied, argued, and lied in order to commit Aggressive War. Aggressive War is a War Crime. Why are we ruled by War Criminals?

        by Yellow Canary on Thu Feb 15, 2007 at 12:51:16 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Great work! Please keep doing this! n/t (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Private life is all about managing pain. In business and government, this means externalizing and deferring costs whenever possible.

      by sxwarren on Thu Feb 15, 2007 at 10:20:02 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Could Norwegian excreta be to blame? (0+ / 0-)

      Could Norwegians given technetium for medical scans be contributing to the North Sea  contamination?

      Along with the rest of Scandinavians, Balts, and Russians living along the sea coast?

      Sewage sludge could be the culprit just as well as Sellafield, just as well as, perhaps, Soviet nuclear subs that were scuttled in shallow waters.

      I demand an investigation of Norwegian sewage sludge--delegated, of course, to an impartial research team.  Let's get to the bottom of this.

      "Well, I'd like to hold off judgment on a thing like that, sir, until all the facts are in." --General Jack Turgidson

      by Plan9 on Thu Feb 15, 2007 at 01:03:05 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  This is silly even for you. (0+ / 0-)

        Your article says nothing to the point you raise. Oh, it's supposed to be funny. Not.

        Yeah, I just love jokes about Sellafield. Crack me up. If you want more news about the place, just click on my sig. Sellafield's at the top of the charts today.

        •  Regrettably, though you know zero about the (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          LIsoundview, Plan9

          subject of the risk of technetium compared to the risk of the thing you ignore which is tens of billions of tons of coal waste released each day.

          I will make a case that the existence of technetium has saved many thousands of lives, and you will not be able to prove the existence of one person killed by technetium.

          Further, you will continue to exhibit complete indifference and feigned ignorance of the millions who die each year from fossil fuel waste, about whom you care nothing.

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