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View Diary: The Nuclear Shill Apologizes. (157 comments)

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  •  No it's not... (3+ / 0-)
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    LIsoundview, Plan9, bryfry

    We have one good data point (TMI-2) and it doesn't support your conclusion. Legal liabilities never amounted to more than $70 million. I can't attach a year to the dollar value, but you can double or triple this figure if you like to account for discounting (inflation) and still get nowhere near $500 million.

    Actuaries will always find it impossilbe to perform the risk-neutral valuation of insurance for the nuclear power industry because there is very little data. The reason someone can insure against, say, car theft is that the relevant statistics are legion. This is not true for the nuclear industry; the database of nuclear accidents is pretty slim, which attests to the safety and performance of the nuclear power industry, never mind the insurance industry. The probability and consequences of a nuclear power plant accident are uncertain even to the engineers that study them. Actuaries simply are not interested in becoming nuclear power experts, which says nothing about the nuclear power industry or actuaries.

    •  Mythology about catastrophic reactor failure (1+ / 0-)
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      It is my understanding that the anti-nuclear ideology relying on visions of devastating reactor failure goes back about 30-40 years to the rough estimates statisticians made about what would happen if all the nuclear material in a reactor was somehow pulverized into micron-sized particles and then uniformly distributed by a rainstorm over a heavily populated area.  The assumption was also made that everyone in the area received a uniform dose of radiation.

      The statisticians knew that this was nothing like a real-world estimate.  It was a scenario of the worst worst-case order.

      Since then there have been two actual reactor accidents that impacted the surrounding population, both of them partial core meltdowns.  As has been said, no deaths or illnesses due to TMI-2 occurred in the population around Harrisburg, and almost all of the 60 deaths attributable to Chernobyl befell the plant workers and firefighters who were onsite. Chernobyl was a worst-case scenario.  And no Chernobyl could ever occur in the US.

      Meanwhile, as NNadir faithfully points out, in one day deaths from fossil fuel combustion outstrip all the deaths from nuclear power plants.  In the US we accept 2000 deaths per month from coal combustion alone.  But the UN is predicting as many as a billion deaths from catastrophic global warming, which is being accelerated by fossil fuel emissions.

      According to Erik Hall's "Radiation and Life" the chance per year of a person suffering a fatal car accident is 1 in 4000; a fatal lightning strike, 1 in 1,200,000; a nuclear reactor accident (given 100 operating plants), 1 in 300,000,000.

      The IPCC predicts average global temperatures to rise enough by 2050 to put 20-30% of all species at risk for extinction.

      by Plan9 on Mon Jun 11, 2007 at 09:40:24 AM PDT

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      •  BNL 1957 (6+ / 0-)
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        LIsoundview, Plan9, NNadir, Joffan, bryfry, t7

        You are referring to the 1957 Brookhaven study, which was really nothing more than some back of the envelope calculations done before the nuclear power industry was even built. The antinukes like to quote the conclusions from this study without ever specifying the assumptions that went into it. BNL assumed that half the core atomizes and blows away so that tens of thousands suck up exactly the minimum lethal dose. The result is tens of thousands dead, of course. But by this logic, a bathtub can lead to hundreds of deaths, as two cups to the lungs is a lethal dose.

        This study was supplanted by WASH-1400, which was supplanted by NUREG-1150, which was supplanted by countless plant-specific calculations. Of course, the ability to do nuclear safety calculations involving neutronics, computational fluid dynamics, etc., is much different than it was in 1957, making that study of historical interest only. Although the antinukes still quote (or misquote, really) from it as if it represents the state of the art, I look at this study in the same manner a doctor might look at surgical tools from the 18th century.

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