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Robert Alvarez has just published his latest analysis of the Spent Fuel Ponds from nuclear reactors in the United States and Japan and concluded that the risk of an accidental release of a catastrophic level of radioactivity from such ponds is greater in the United States than at the Japanese Fukusime Daiichi plant.  I first spotted the publication of the report in an article at the Huffington Post (first link), but for those of you with issues about HuffPo, you can link the full report at the second link.  Sorry but my link connector in the Diary editor is bonko so I have to put them crudely below.

As Japan's nuclear crisis continues, this report details the nature and extent of radioactive spent fuel stored at nuclear reactors across the United States and how it can be made less hazardous.  U.S. reactors have generated about 65,000 metric tons of spent fuel, of which 75 percent is stored in pools, according to Nuclear Energy Institute data.

Spent fuel rods give off about 1 million rems (10,00Sv)of radiation per hour at a distance of one foot — enough radiation to kill people in a matter of seconds. There are more than 30 million such rods in U.S. spent fuel pools.

No other nation has generated this much radioactivity from either nuclear power or nuclear weapons production. Nearly 40 percent of the radioactivity in U.S. spent fuel is cesium-137 (4.5 billion curies) — roughly 20 times more than released from all atmospheric nuclear weapons tests. U.S. spent pools hold about 15-30 times more cesium-137 than the Chernobyl accident released.

From the first Huffington Post summary of Alvarez's 90 page report:

Spent fuel at many U.S. plants in facilities that were never designed for long-term storage exceeds that stored at the four damaged units of the Japanese plant. For example, the spent fuel in a pool at Vermont Yankee plant exceeds the combined total in the pools at the four troubled reactors at the Fukushima site. There are more than 30 million spent fuel rods in these storage pools in the U.S., the "largest concentration of radioactivity on the planet," according to author Robert Alvarez. The institute recommends moving most of the spent fuel from pools to dry air-cooled steel casks, which is a safer storage method

And, from the Summary of the Alvarez report:

For instance, the pool at the Vermont Yankee reactor, a BWR Mark I, currently holds nearly three times the amount of spent fuel stored at Dai-Ichi's crippled Unit 4 reactor. The Vermont Yankee reactor also holds about seven percent more radioactivity than the combined total in the pools at the four troubled reactors at the Fukushima site.

Even though they contain some of the largest concentrations of radioactivity on the planet, U.S. spent nuclear fuel pools are mostly contained in ordinary industrial structures designed to merely protect them against the elements. Some are made from materials commonly used to house big-box stores and car dealerships.

The United States has 31 boiling water reactors (BWR) with pools elevated several stories above ground, similar to those at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi station. As in Japan, all spent fuel pools at nuclear power plants do not have steel-lined, concrete barriers that cover reactor vessels to prevent the escape of radioactivity. They are not required to have back-up generators to keep used fuel rods cool, if offsite power is lost. The 69 Pressurized
Water (PWR) reactors operating in the U.S. do not have elevated pools, and also lack proper containment and several have large cavities beneath them which could exacerbate leakage.

For nearly 30 years, Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) waste-storage requirements have remained contingent on the opening of a permanent waste repository that has yet to materialize. Now that the Obama administration has cancelled plans to build a permanent, deep disposal site at Yucca Mountain in Nevada, spent fuel at the nation’s 104 nuclear reactors will continue to accumulate and are likely remain onsite for decades to come.

According to Energy Department data:

• The spent fuel stored at 28 reactor sites have between 200-450 million curies

The April 26, 1986 nuclear catastrophe at Chernobyl in Ukraine illustrated the damage cesium-137 can wreak. Nearly 200,000 residents from 187 settlements were permanently evacuated because of contamination by cesium-137. The total area of this radiation-control zone is huge. At more than 6,000 square miles, it is equal to about two-thirds the area of the State of New Jersey. During the following decade, the population of this area declined by almost half because of migration to areas of lower contamination.

I co-authored a report in 2003 that explained how a spent fuel pool fire in the United States could render an area uninhabitable that would be as much as 60 times larger than that created by the Chernobyl accident.

If this were to happen at one of the Indian Point nuclear reactors located 25 miles from New York City, it could result in as many as 5,600 cancer deaths and $461 billion in damages.

Over the past 30 years, there have been at least 66 incidents at U.S. reactors in which there was a significant loss of spent fuel water. Ten have occurred since the September 11 terrorist attacks, after which the government pledged that it would reinforce nuclear safety measures. Over several decades, significant corrosion has occurred of the barriers that prevent a nuclear chain reaction in a spent fuel pool — some to the point
where they can no longer be credited with preventing a nuclear chain reaction. For example, in June 2010, the NRC fined Florida Power and Light $70,000 for failing to report that it had been exceeding its spent fuel pool  criticality safety margin for five years at the Turkey Point reactor near Miami. Because of NRC’s dependency on the industry self-reporting problems, it failed to find out that there was extensive deterioration of neutron absorbers in the Turkey Point pools and lengthy delays in having them replaced.

Worst Case Scenario For Fuel Rod Fire Detailed, in NRC Report.

In a seperate report I've presented previously William J. Broad and Hiroko Tabuchi, of The New York Times, reports that

A 1997 study by the Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island described a worst-case disaster from uncovered spent fuel in a reactor cooling pool. It estimated 100 quick deaths would occur within a range of 500 miles and 138,000 eventual deaths.

The study also found that land over 2,170 miles would be contaminated and damages would hit $546 billion.

David A Loch Baum, a nuclear engineer at the Union of Concerned Scientist, continues in the same article,

If any of the spent fuel rods in the pools do indeed catch fire, nuclear experts say, the high heat would loft the radiation in clouds that would spread the radioactivity.
"It's worse than a meltdown,"  said David A. Lochbaum, a nuclear engineer at the Union of Concerned Scientists who worked as an instructor on the kinds of General Electric reactors used in Japan. "The reactor is inside thick walls, and the spent fuel of Reactors 1 and 3 is out in the open."

Read more at:

And this is a link to the abstract of the warning Alvarez presented to the NRC, in 2003.

Reducing the Hazards from Stored Spent Power-Reactor Fuel in the United States

Robert Alvarez, Jan Beyea, Klaus Janberg, Jungmin Kang,
Ed Lyman, Allison Macfarlane, Gordon Thompson,
Frank N. von Hippel

Because of the unavailability of off-site storage for spent power-reactor fuel, the NRC has allowed high-density storage of spent fuel in pools originally designed to hold much smaller inventories. As a result, virtually all U.S. spent-fuel pools have been re-racked to hold spent-fuel assemblies at densities that approach those in reactor cores.

In order to prevent the spent fuel from going critical, the fuel assemblies are partitioned off from each other in metal boxes whose walls contain neutron-absorbing boron. It has been known for more than two decades that, in case of a loss of water in the pool, convective air cooling would be relatively ineffective in such a “dense-packed” pool. Spent fuel recently discharged from a reactor could heat up relatively rapidly to temperatures at which the zircaloy fuel cladding could catch fire and the fuel’s volatile fission products,

And, later in that NRC report:

On average, spent fuel ponds hold five-to-ten times more long-lived radioactivity than a reactor core. Particularly worrisome is the large amount of cesium-137 in fuel ponds, which contain anywhere from 20 to 50 million curies of this dangerous radioactive isotope. With a half-life of 30 years, cesium-137 gives off highly penetrating radiation and is absorbed in the food chain as if it were potassium.
In comparison, the 1986 Chernobyl accident released about 40 percent of the reactor core's 6 million curies. A 1997 report for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) by Brookhaven National Laboratory also found that a severe pool fire could render about 188 square miles uninhabitable, cause as many as 28,000 cancer fatalities, and cost $59 billion in damage. A single spent fuel pond holds more cesium-137 than was deposited by all atmospheric nuclear weapons tests in the Northern Hemisphere combined. Earthquakes and acts of malice are considered to be the primary events that can cause a major loss of pool water.

In 2003, my colleagues and I published a study that indicated if a spent fuel pool were drained in the United States, a major release of cesium-137 from a pool fire could render an area uninhabitable greater than created by the Chernobyl accident. We recommended that spent fuel older than five years, about 75 percent of what's in U.S. spent fuel pools, be placed in dry hardened casks -- something Germany did 25 years ago. The NRC challenged our recommendation, which prompted Congress to request a review of this controversy by the National Academy of Sciences. In 2004, the Academy reported that a "partially or completely drained a spent fuel pool could lead to a propagating zirconium cladding fire and release large quantities of radioactive materials to the environment."
Given what's happening at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex, it's time for a serious review of what our nuclear safety authorities consider to be improbable, especially when it comes to reactors operating in earthquake zones.

Even if you only read the summary of this new 90 page report by Alvarez, it will scare the stew, right out of you.

I encourage everyone to support Representative Ed Markey's intiative to get full top to bottom hearings on the the US Spent Fuel issues, as well as lessons learned from the ongoing Fukushima accident.

Originally posted to HoundDog on Sun May 29, 2011 at 07:03 AM PDT.

Also republished by Nuclear Free DK and Japan Nuclear Incident Liveblogs.


Do you agree with Ed Markey's proposal that we suspend all licensing , and re-licensing of nuclear power plants until a full Congressional Review of lesson learned from Fukushima, and these spent fuel rod safety issues?

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Comment Preferences

  •  Shame on our government (20+ / 0-)

    This part of the report really strikes home, re safe spent fuel rod storage:

    Achieving this goal cannot occur by individual
    reactors owners without a federal policy that allows for
    the costs of expanding dry, hardened spent fuel sto
    to be taken from the electricity rates paid for by
    consumers of nuclear generated electricity. The 1982
    Nuclear Waste Policy Act (NWPA) established a user
    fee to pay 0.1 cent per kilowatt hour for the search and
    establishment of a high-level radioactive waste reposito-
    ry, but does not allow these funds to be used to enhance
    the safety of onsite spent fuel storage.

    As of fiscal year 2010, only $7.3 billion has been
    spent out of a total of $25.4 billion collected by 2010,
    leaving $18.1 billion unspent.29 This large unexpended
    balance could more than pay for the storage of spent
    reactor fuel older than five years at all reactors. Safely
    securing the spent fuel that’s currently in crowded pools
    should be a public safety priority of the highest degree
    in the U.S. The cost of fixing America’s nuclear vulner-
    abilities may be high, but the price of doing too little is

    The NIMBY's are putting us all at risk.  Yucca Mountain should have been open already.

    Alëwi nulinao hnàkay.

    by SpamNunn on Sun May 29, 2011 at 07:16:40 AM PDT

    •  How did you read this so fast SpamNunn? (6+ / 0-)

      I not sooner published this and as soon as I opened the comments here you are with this great post.

      Thanks for posting.

      It's so beautiful out today here in the Boston area.  I may go out and play in my garden today.

      The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

      by HoundDog on Sun May 29, 2011 at 07:21:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Spent fuel should not be disposed (4+ / 0-)

        The probability that people will want to reprocess it some day is too high.

        look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening. "It's the planet, stupid."

        by FishOutofWater on Sun May 29, 2011 at 08:49:44 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Evelyn Wood. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ManOnTheBench, bnasley, SoCalHobbit

        Alëwi nulinao hnàkay.

        by SpamNunn on Sun May 29, 2011 at 09:25:45 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Opposition to Yucca not based on NIMBY alone (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        HoundDog, amry, RWood, evergreen2

        MIT Press published:

        Uncertainty Underground: Yucca Mountain and the Nation's High-Level Nuclear Waste
        edited by Allison MacFarlane and Rodney Ewing

        The authors present arguments that Yucca Mountain has not been and may never be shown to be an appropriate repository for high-level radioactive waste.

        Despite approval by Congress and the Bush administration and over seven billion dollars already spent, the Yucca Mountain, Nevada, site for disposal of highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel is not yet in operation. The reasons for the delay lie not only in citizen and activist opposition to the project but also in the numerous scientific and technical issues that remain unresolved. Although many scientists favor geologic disposal of high-level nuclear waste, there are substantial unknowns in projecting the performance of a site over the tens to hundreds of thousands of years that may be required by Environmental Protection Agency standards. Uncertainty Underground is the first effort to review the uncertainties in the analysis of the long-term performance of the proposed repository at Yucca Mountain. The book does not pass judgment on the suitability of the site but provides reliable science-based information to support open debate and inquiry into its safety. Experts from the geosciences, industry, and government review different aspects of the repository system, focusing on the uncertainties inherent in each. After an overview of the historical and regulatory context, the contributors investigate external factors (including climate change and volcanic activity) that could affect repository performance and then turn to topics concerning the repository itself. These include hydrologic issues, the geological conditions with which the nuclear waste in the repository would interact, and the predicted behavior of the different kinds of waste and waste package materials. Uncertainty Underground succeeds in making these important technical issues understandable to a wide audience, including policymakers and the general public.

        Paperback: 416 pages
        Publisher: The MIT Press (April 21, 2006)
        ISBN-13: 978-0262633321

        •  well said skywriter. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          this is part of why I said I've gone back and forth on the Yucca Mountain issue.

          I oversimplied the presentation intentionally, due to the fact that my diary was already three time to long.

          The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

          by HoundDog on Sun May 29, 2011 at 07:34:02 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Well, to be fair... (10+ / 0-)
      The NIMBY's are putting us all at risk.  Yucca Mountain should have been open already.

      What state do you live in?

      Regarding the diary content:  I'm not opposed to nuclear power, per se, but until they figure out how to deal with the waste byproducts I'm not in favor of building new plants.  There are other alternatives, which are quickly becoming cheaper and more viable.

      "Faced with what is right, to leave it undone shows a lack of courage." - Confucius

      by IndieGuy on Sun May 29, 2011 at 07:23:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I agree with you second statement IndieGuy (11+ / 0-)

        I go back and forth on the Yucca Mountain site.  I apprecite the residents of Nevada not wanting their state to become the largest nuclear waste site in the country.

        But, on the other hand, the alternative of turning all 104 nuclear plant sites into permenent waste dumps, with all the attendent national security risks, is not attractive either.

        Plus, we also have enormous quantity of nuclear weapons waste, that is much more toxic due to very high concentration of Plutonium.  My understanding is that this needs to be isolated from the biosphere for 250,000 years.  
        The rule of thumb is 10 to 13 times the half-life.  One common highly toxic isotope of Plutonium has a half-life of 24,000 years.

        It's outrageous that we keep generated more waste when we do not know what were are going to do with it.

        And, I've heard somewhere that the Yucca Mountain site would already be filled up with our weapons grade waste alone.  I can not provide a source for this, but if someone else can I would appreciate it.

        The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

        by HoundDog on Sun May 29, 2011 at 07:35:35 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Waving the magic wand isn't an option (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          SpamNunn, HoundDog

          I agree with your second paragraph... 104 waste dumps in states is 104 possible security leaks, not to mention that some of these are located in places that are more seismically active or difficult to keep secure. We can argue all we want about whether things should have been done differently based on the knowledge people had available to them back when the system was planned, but we have to deal with what we have now. The temporary storage sites at the plants were not designed to deal with the amount that is there, and it's begging for a catastrophe.

          Nobody wants a nuclear waste dump as a neighbor, and as far as I can tell, Yucca Mountain has fewer risks than most other places. For instance, I'd be willing to bet that the tsunami risk there is negligible.  

    •  No. It's not Yucca Mt. vs at reactor storage (14+ / 0-)

      You create a false choice.

      The government could take control of spent fuel to be stored in dry casks at regional government controlled sites. Spent fuel does not have to be put into Yucca Mt. for disposal. The federal government has a number of secure regional sites that handle nuclear materials.

      look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening. "It's the planet, stupid."

      by FishOutofWater on Sun May 29, 2011 at 08:39:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I lived in Idaho during (6+ / 0-)

        the time when Idahoans were discovering their power to get one form of nuclear waste moved from their territory. Now I live in Utah, where another proposed regional storage site has been made a nonstarter due to public pressure. It's not on U.S. Government land, true, but it is controlled by another sovereign entity.

        Just because the government controls various tracts of land here or there does not mean that it can move anything it wants onto those lands. The people control access to those lands, ultimately.

        Moderation in most things. Except Reactors. IFR forever!

        by billmosby on Sun May 29, 2011 at 09:04:33 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  We could also render it harmless... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SpamNunn, Norm in Chicago

        by using it as fuel in more modern, safe reactor designs.  A lot of current mess can be blamed on an ossified regulatory process that hasn't allowed a new reactor in several decades.

        Treasure each day like it will be your last, but treat the earth like you will live forever. -me

        by protothad on Sun May 29, 2011 at 09:48:37 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Getting it off site (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        evergreen2, RWood, Wee Mama

        and out of the "pools" into secure storage and reprocessing has been an industry-wide goal from the beginning.  Every step of reprocessing makes it safer . . . dramatically reducing the volume and dispersal hazzard of the "high level" components. The whole operation should be underground (something like Cheyenne Mountain comes to mind, and it's already there, ready do use) . . .  worst case just shut the doors and plug the tunnels.  Opposition to safe storage and reprocessing does not come from within the industry or from supporters of nuclear power.

        Hardening on-site storage has been high on everyone's list too.  Open pools, especially those "flying" above grade, are insane.  The additional cost of "vessel+containment" (an unpressurized version of the reactor itself) with multiple redundent cooling loops is small relative to total plant costs, while the safety increase is literally by orders of magnitude.  While a few bean counters might grumble you won't find any significant opposition to that within the industry either.

        An integrated dry cask storage and transport system would get spent fuel from the reactors to storage and reprocessing facilities with negligible risk . . . far far safer than our present system of tank car transport of hazardous chemicals.  Again, opposition does not come from within the industry.

        Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

        by Deward Hastings on Sun May 29, 2011 at 10:05:31 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Here we go again (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      What about my Daughter's future?

      by koNko on Sun May 29, 2011 at 09:13:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  We should be 'burning' spent fuel (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Norm in Chicago

      A big problem with current water cooled solid fuel reactors is that they use only a tiny fraction of their uranium fuel, leaving behind the spent fuel 'waste'.  Rather than just warehousing this stuff, we should reprocess it and use it as fuel in molten salt reactors that can consume almost all of it, leaving almost no waste while also generating power.  Molten Salt Reactors have no risk of melting down and no risk of high pressure steam or hydrogen explosions breaching the containment vessel (molten salts work at atmospheric pressure).  They can be passively cooled, so a loss of power results in an orderly reactor shutdown.  A real program to build and test a new generation of MSRs would probably cost less then our current regime of nuclear waste management.

      Treasure each day like it will be your last, but treat the earth like you will live forever. -me

      by protothad on Sun May 29, 2011 at 09:37:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Agree...Integral fast Reactors can (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        protothad, Norm in Chicago

        consume Plutonium and thwart nuclear terrorism by “denaturing” and burning excess nuclear weapons materials of nuclear weapons states. This could be done several times faster than in the current generation of reactors and the used fuel burned in the IFR. Every scrap from the nuclear weapons programs can be fuel. Enriching uranium will be unnecessary in a mature IFR economy. Construction of a uranium enrichment facility or a PUREX type of facility would be prima-facie evidence of a nuclear weapons program.

        Efficient use of fuel requires reprocessing for re-use and return to the reactor, repeating the cycle over and over again. Over ninety percent is burned. An entirely new process, (pyroprocessing) was developed for this. Its product is primarily plutonium, in a mixture of several other elements. The mixture is well suited to fuel the fast reactor, but not weapons.

        "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing" - Edmund Burke

        by rclendan on Sun May 29, 2011 at 10:09:55 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Except no one will allow that now (0+ / 0-)

          Look at the poll.  90% of the people here favor burning coal and gas and want the nukes shut down now.  You think any of those anti-science nuts will allow a new reactor design to be built?  They don't understand and they don't care. They think they can get it all from solar and wind and won't stop until they're proven wrong with daily rolling blackouts.

        •  rclendan, I must disagree, (0+ / 0-)

          Go read the article. The amount of waste is increased every time the fuel is reprocessed.

          Reprocessing increases the volume of "greater-than-class-C" low-level waste by a factor of 160. DOE is responsible for disposing of this waste, which contains long-lived radioactive isotopes and cannot be placed in a regular low-level waste site, but as yet has no policy on how to do so.


          Misleading claims by AREVA

          The interest in reprocessing is partly based on false claims by the reprocessing industry that the technology simplifies the nuclear waste disposal problem by reducing the hazard and volume of waste.
          For instance, the French company AREVA, which reprocesses French spent nuclear fuel, claims that reprocessing "reduces the volume of waste by a factor of at least four."[i] This statement is contradicted by recent data from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), which show that reprocessing greatly increases the total volume of radioactive waste, compared to direct disposal of spent fuel.[ii]

          The figure and table show the volume of different waste streams generated by three different reactor fuel cycles. In the "once-through" cycle, which reflects the current U.S. strategy, the spent fuel is stored and ultimately disposed of in a geologic repository. In the second fuel cycle, all spent fuel would be reprocessed and the plutonium extracted from reprocessing would be used as new fuel in advanced "fast burner" reactors, which are yet to be developed. The third scenario is similar to the second, except that the recovered plutonium would be used in both fast reactors and current-generation "thermal" reactors. A geologic repository would still be required in scenarios 2 and 3, since reprocessing generates high-level radioactive waste.

          "People who see a contradiction between science and the bible don't really understand either." PvtJarHead

          by Tinfoil Hat on Sun May 29, 2011 at 01:19:17 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Anyone know (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Russgirl, Wee Mama

      What happens if a dry cask is tipped over and rolled around a bit ?

      I always wonder what would happen if a tornado came through the plant I have worked at.

  •  Spent fuel....maybe we can shoot it to the sun. (4+ / 0-)
    •  Almost As Easy as Shooting It to Proxima Centuri n (3+ / 0-)

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sun May 29, 2011 at 07:26:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It was seriously proposed by our scientist flipped (15+ / 0-)

      out, over the possibility that a Challenger type accident could vaporize highly radioactive waste so high in our atmosphered that it the fallout would blanket the entire globe.

      The vast quantities of wastes would require thousands, if not tens of thousands of trips into space.  

      The failure rate on our launch rockets is somewhere around 1 out of 100 I think.  

      So, more briefly, NOT!

      The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

      by HoundDog on Sun May 29, 2011 at 07:38:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Why? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      skillet, protothad, Deward Hastings

      After all, nuclear waste, as dangerous as it is, can be reprocessed into fuel. You say waste, I say available future resources.

      Iuris praecepta sunt haec: Honeste vivere, alterum non laedere, suum cuique tribuere. - Ulpian, Digestae 1, 3

      by Dauphin on Sun May 29, 2011 at 08:56:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Just a little frustrated with our 'leaders' (5+ / 0-)

        total failure on addressing this issue. Where do they think the spent fuel is going to go?...Its been piling up at the sites for decades. It's not going anywhere.

      •  "The Economics of Reprocessing vs. Direct Disposal (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Russgirl, ashowboat, Tinfoil Hat, RWood

        ...of Spent Nuclear Fuel."   Unfortunately, with regard to both corporations and governments, it seems that the costs of doing things that would make people safer most often outweigh the benefits of addressing safety concerns--and that's especially true in these days of economic downturns and defaults:  

        "For decades, there has been an intense debate over the best approach to managing spent fuel from nuclear power reactors, whether it is better to dispose of it directly in geologic repositories, or reprocess it to recover and recycle the plutonium and uranium, disposing only of the wastes from reprocessing and recycling. The relative costs of reprocessing vs. not reprocessing are one important element of these debates...

        the data and analyses presented in this report demonstrate that the margin between the cost of reprocessing and recycling and that of direct disposal is wide, and is likely to persist for many decades to come. In particular:

        At a reprocessing price of $1000 per kilogram of heavy metal...will be more expensive than direct disposal of spent fuel until the uranium price reaches over $360 per kilogram of uranium (kgU).a price that is not likely to be seen for many decades, if then...

        Costs for the far more complex chemical separations processes and more difficult fuel fabrication processes needed for more complete separation and transmutation of nuclear wastes would be substantially higher than those estimated here for traditional reprocessing. Therefore the extra electricity cost, were these approaches to be pursued, would be even higher...

        The report states that the economics is only one factor in the fuel reprocessing debate, and admits that it isn't necessarily the most important one; however, when it comes to economic factors--that seems to be the primary factor in all issues considered currently, both by governments and by corporations.  Even if paying more now for something that will be overwhelmingly beneficial for a majority of people in the future--the powers that be won't make short term decisions that cost more just to gain long term benefits.  Anything that reduces the next quarter's profits or increases the nation's debt ceiling just doesn't have much of a chance of being instituted.

        •  This assumes a solid fuel model (0+ / 0-)

          As I understand it, much of the current cost of reprocessing stems from the the final product being yet another solid fuel pellet.  In a molten salt reactor, you are dissolving the fissile material into a molten salt solution.  This not only makes simplifies the fuel creation, it allows a reactor design that is a couple of orders of magnitude more efficient, consuming most of the fuel and leaving almost no waste.

          The technical challenge in a Molten Salt Reactor is the ongoing chemical reprocessing of the fuel that must be done, but that is a necessity whether or not you consume spent fuel in the reactor.  Basically, we can leverage the same tech that makes MSRs more efficient, to make the reprocessing of spent solid fuel easier and cheaper.

          Treasure each day like it will be your last, but treat the earth like you will live forever. -me

          by protothad on Sun May 29, 2011 at 09:59:54 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  The biggest benefit of reprocessing (0+ / 0-)

          isn't fuel recovery, it's safety . . . recovered fuel is a side benefit.  And it's not just storage safety that increases with reprocessing . . . every kilo of Uranium and Plutonium recovered is a kilo less produced at some hazardous (and hazardous waste producing) Uranium mine . . .

          Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

          by Deward Hastings on Sun May 29, 2011 at 10:13:24 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  France has been doing reprocessing all along. (7+ / 0-)

        They spent $3/4 Billion a year handling the still remaining waste (with extra added Plutonium!), expecting to go over $1 Billion by 2020. And that doesn't include the lower-level wastes which they dump into the English Channel and their neighbors say they dump in the Mediterranean. Plus, some gets shipped to Somalia and Russia. (When I say "they spent" of course I'm talking about the taxpayer, btw.)

        Then they say they've no problem with wastes, the cost of nuclear is so much lower.

        The tired old Reprocessing Pony has fallen down and it can't get up. Let's just shoot it, eh?

        Until we break the corporate virtual monopoly on what we hear and see, we keep losing, don't matter what we do.

        by Jim P on Sun May 29, 2011 at 09:27:03 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Except that the price of electricity (0+ / 0-)

          in France is 1/2 that in Germany.

          Iuris praecepta sunt haec: Honeste vivere, alterum non laedere, suum cuique tribuere. - Ulpian, Digestae 1, 3

          by Dauphin on Sun May 29, 2011 at 09:36:49 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Except you externalize (8+ / 0-)

            the costs from the plants to the general population, and the tax money to build, maintain, store, manipulate, and dump the radioactive wastes. Not to mention possible unseen and untallied health costs not only in France but in Somalia, to fisheries in the Mediterranean, etc etc.

            Everything would look great if it were truly unconnected to everything else. But it's not.

            Add all those things in and tell me what a great bargain it is

            And as their 30-40 year old plants get more downtime, spend more money on repair, and ... what if one of them blows?

            How will that all affect costs?

            Sorry, reprocessing delays the problem, it doesn't cure it.

            Until we break the corporate virtual monopoly on what we hear and see, we keep losing, don't matter what we do.

            by Jim P on Sun May 29, 2011 at 10:09:15 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Here's a copy of Markey's legislation (16+ / 0-)

    Nuclear Power Plant Safety Act of 2011’’

    As is the case with so much of the degrading infrastructure in this country, the potential for negligent disaster is especially high and dangerous with nuclear power plants.

    Thank you for sharing this report, HoundDog. You're right, the summary alone is sobering. I hope more than a few pay attention to it. I hope Markey's legislation gets attention and a vote as well. I know that Congress won't want to fund it, but it should be a top priority. It should be.

    As all the while the plane lumbers on into its postmodern manifest destiny -a bird with two right wings- LF

    by cosmic debris on Sun May 29, 2011 at 07:29:06 AM PDT

    •  Thanks cosmic debris. We should all thank (5+ / 0-)

      Ed Markey, and support him in every way possible.

      IMO, he is one of our very best Representatives in all categories, and in the area of nuclear power safety, he's in the top 1%.

      ONe of our best statespeople who stands head and shoulders about the average politician.

      He's intelligent, hard working, and passionately committed to the common cood.  

      I've happily voted for him many times.

      The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

      by HoundDog on Sun May 29, 2011 at 07:42:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Why Cheney had a rad suit @ all times (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ashowboat, cosmic debris, splashy

      People thought he was crazy to have it next to him everywhere he went...

      Not so much now - HE KNOWS WHERE THE PROBLEMS ARE - he helped create them.

      According to elites -- Knowledge of real - not manfactured risks
      ... is not for the "little people"!

      The things that will destroy us are:
      politics without principle;
      pleasure without conscience;
      wealth without work;
      knowledge without character;
      business without morality;
      science without humanity;
      and worship without sacrifice.
      ~ Mahatma Mohandas K. Gandhi
  •  I really suck at the google (5+ / 0-)

    but months ago I read an article about now NRC Commissioner Jaczko, who when he was a higher up but still underling, argued that spent fuel rods should be encased on site rather than put in pools on site.  He was ignored -- not sure why he hasn't pushed for that again.

    We are most likely not going to recycle these rods as France does, and we have no permanent storage facility -- except, each plant is now appearing to be 140 plus permanent storage facilities.

    As a concept -- divorced from human error, greed, shoddy workmanship, environmental impacts both natural disasters and releases, lack of serious regulation, etc. -- nuke plants are terrific.

    Unfortunately, we do not have one single energy source which does not include the possibility of negative enviro impacts (coal being worse, in my opinion, than nuke).  I'm including "green" energy.

    " My faith in the Constitution is whole; it is complete; it is total." Barbara Jordan, 1974

    by gchaucer2 on Sun May 29, 2011 at 07:45:59 AM PDT

    •  Yes, one very troubling aspect of moving this vast (12+ / 0-)

      amount of nuclear wastes from the plant sites, to Yucca Mountain, or even the interim regional storage site proposals is you have to transport them across public highways, and railways creating a risk of accidents and terrorism.

      It is such a vast number of trips, that statistically we accumulate risk, of even very low probability events.

      Also, if you consider that every cargo loader, truck driver and everyone else aware of schedules, routes, security measures themselves become a security risk, the number of intelligence background investigations, and monitering raises privacy, and other issues.

      E.F. Schumaker and Amory Lovins warned us these consequences over three decades ago, in Small is Beautiful and Soft Energy Paths.

      We did not listen, and here we are.

      The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

      by HoundDog on Sun May 29, 2011 at 07:51:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  A lot more risk likely from highway accidents (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dauphin, dougymi, evergreen2, HoundDog

        than radiation effects in shielded casks. Those things are massive.

        The U.S. has the capability to reprocess spent fuel but at today's uranium prices it's not economical. Regional long term storage is the best option, IMO.

        look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening. "It's the planet, stupid."

        by FishOutofWater on Sun May 29, 2011 at 08:44:06 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It always comes back to that, doesn't it (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          splashy, HoundDog

          It's cheaper to do it the wrong way.  Virtually every time something goes wrong this is the refrain.  And it only seems to be getting worse with time.

          I refuse to represent my political beliefs using numbers. It isn't accurate, nor is it helpful. But I'm around a -10 on both scales.

          by AoT on Sun May 29, 2011 at 11:12:10 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It's the delusion that the path of least (0+ / 0-)

            resistence or cheapest in the short-term, will be the best in the long-term.

            It the classic short-term, long-term tradeoff.

            Worse before better, or better-before worse from system thinking principles.

            The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

            by HoundDog on Sun May 29, 2011 at 07:10:35 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  false standard (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jim P, splashy, Joieau

      just because we're all going to die some day doesn't mean we should all practice walking high wires between skyscrapers.

      The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

      by Laurence Lewis on Sun May 29, 2011 at 08:38:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  this is a really good diary (7+ / 0-)

    great stuff

    George Bush is Living proof of the axiom "Never send a boy to do a man's job" E -2.25 S -4.10

    by nathguy on Sun May 29, 2011 at 08:00:57 AM PDT

    •  Thanks nathguy. I was worried that it was about (4+ / 0-)

      three times too long.  Huffpo just did one paragraph, of just the one article.

      Since I've followed all of Robert Alvarez, and everyone else who has written about the spend fuel pond problem since the Alvarez March 15 article, I have these four other unique and rich sources loaded up in an array of about 20 nuclear related archives in word documents.

      So, I wanted to give our readers who have a keener interest in a deeper dive the opportunity.

      Like you may have read the couple sentence summary of one article elsewhere but, if you want a deep dive into this topic, here are four other articles, each of which could stand on its own, then come here to Daily Kos.

      IMO, we also have the best discussions.  

      And, beleive it or not, contrary to what some say, my experience is that our readers are remarkable respectful, civil, and consructive even when we disagree.

      You may have noticed that even in these intitial comments
      we have commenting who represent a broad range of opinions from highly pro-nuke, pro-thorium reactors, all the way to fiercely anti-nuclear.

      Yet, when you present facts, honestly, and carefully, and take care to label who is saying what, and keep our own opinions clearly labeled, most folks are fine with intelligent people disagreeing, without being disagreeable.

      The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

      by HoundDog on Sun May 29, 2011 at 08:18:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Oh, nathguy, I was curious as to which if any (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      sentences, paragraphs, or idea stood out as most interesting from your viewpoint?

      The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

      by HoundDog on Sun May 29, 2011 at 08:19:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  i liked it all (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        evergreen2, HoundDog

        i covered the spent fuel issue but briefly in 2 of my diaries,
        you dug up the sources and reports....

        as long as Fukushima is in full crisis, it's got my attention,
        it's worth noting that we could easily have 10 Fukushimas
        in America.

        I think fundamentally, we should not license extend
        reactors, they were designed for a certain life, thats it.

        we should also not  allow on site storage,
        but rather when fuel is pulled from a reactor
        it should be stored on reactor only for the duration of a
        fueling operation, and it should be pulled into
        lead lined wet casks with natural heat pipes
        that are passive cooling, and they should be
        taken to secure storage where they are safe from
        catastrophes (Tornado, Hurricanes, earthquake, Storms, floods)
        and allowed to cool for a decade then placed in dry casks
        and stored somewhere safe for 100 years.  

        At that point you can decant the casks, and
        store the material below salt domes or in deep mines.

        hopefully drilling technology will be good enough you can
        drill into deep caverns 10 miles down, and pump the material down.

        George Bush is Living proof of the axiom "Never send a boy to do a man's job" E -2.25 S -4.10

        by nathguy on Sun May 29, 2011 at 08:28:47 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  In regards to extending licenses (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          do you know of any they haven't extended?

          I refuse to represent my political beliefs using numbers. It isn't accurate, nor is it helpful. But I'm around a -10 on both scales.

          by AoT on Sun May 29, 2011 at 11:15:03 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  heres a list (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Russgirl, HoundDog


            of decommisioned reactors,

            i would figure that's a decent correlation to non extension.

            now why in each case, i'm not certain.

            I know that in general the economics of nukes never worked out.  

            George Bush is Living proof of the axiom "Never send a boy to do a man's job" E -2.25 S -4.10

            by nathguy on Sun May 29, 2011 at 11:34:16 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  There was an article over on Climateprogress (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Russgirl, HoundDog

              talking about how plants get more expensive the more you build.  I can't seem to find it, but it showed how France has been spending more and more on plants despite the fact that they have the most experience with them.

              I refuse to represent my political beliefs using numbers. It isn't accurate, nor is it helpful. But I'm around a -10 on both scales.

              by AoT on Sun May 29, 2011 at 11:50:22 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  that's odd (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                is there a critical supply shortage in some component?

                Like Zirconium or a limited number of techs?

                if you need trained techs, and it takes X years to produce
                them and you have x/2 techs available the price
                will rise pschotically because the demand hits the
                fixed supply.

                sounds like there is some supply limit.

                George Bush is Living proof of the axiom "Never send a boy to do a man's job" E -2.25 S -4.10

                by nathguy on Sun May 29, 2011 at 04:38:12 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Could it be that the more experience (0+ / 0-)

                  we gain, the more we realize extra unforeseen, safety improvement, that must be added.

                  Like the Dry casking, that drives up the cost.

                  The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

                  by HoundDog on Mon May 30, 2011 at 12:51:22 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  which really argues (0+ / 0-)

                    that the early designs are incredibly poorly done.

                    Now it's interesting, that I saw a study from the 80's
                    that over 80% of Reactor scrams at that time were
                    caused by Grid conditions not internal plant problems.

                    So maybe they worked on methods to improve the grid stability.

                    I noticed Fukushima had 4 separate HV Lines headed out,

                    So it could be you went from 1 plant 1 grid line to 1 plant
                    to 4 grid lines

                    Then as you point out, they probably added  a lot of stuff
                    for safety and dispatch reliability.  If you need 3 pumps
                    to maintain core stability, you may need 5 so you can
                    maintainance  under power.

                    but if that's all true, the real issue is shouldn't we shut down
                    all the old plants as wildy unsafe?

                    George Bush is Living proof of the axiom "Never send a boy to do a man's job" E -2.25 S -4.10

                    by nathguy on Mon May 30, 2011 at 07:19:46 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

  •  And the risk to the US from climate change is... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Braindead, Norm in Chicago


    Our anti-nukes are struggling mightily to identify ONE person who died from radiation sickness.

    From what I read in awful spaces like this, no one died from the tsuami from anything else other than radiation sickness.


    The tsuami proves that raising sea levels is a good idea?


    Last week was the one hundredth anniversary of Rutherford's discovery of the atomic nucleus, and the anti-nuke, anti-science squad is still reacting with fear and ignorance and superstition.

    Nuclear energy need not be "perfect" to be better than everything else.   What Fukushima shows is that nuclear technology from the 1960's is safer in a tsuami and earthquake than most other stuff, including buildings and cars - where people actually died.

    Every single day the anti-nuclear science squad looks more and more ridiculous, distractable, and completely unaware.

    Humanity deserves what it is going to get, and ignorance is the reason.

    •  funny thing (10+ / 0-)

      you never seem to care about climate change for itself. you only ever bring it up as an excuse to promote your pet issue. you also never address that nuclear can't mitigate climate change. ridiculous is in the eye of the mirror.

      The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

      by Laurence Lewis on Sun May 29, 2011 at 08:40:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's no surprise... NNadir is a fanatical adherant (5+ / 0-)

        to pro-nuclear dogma, ie. "nuclear is the panacea to all our problems".

        It's an increasingly bizarre dogma, considering the massive advances in technology and the lowering of cost of renewables like solar and wind.

        "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

        by Lawrence on Sun May 29, 2011 at 09:36:54 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Bull. I know more about climate change than (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Norm in Chicago

        you will EVER know.

        I, um, know science, and you um, don't.   To see that we need only look at our respective diary lists.

        Many of my diaries here cover issues in climate change.   It's not my fault that most of them are over your easily distracted head.

        One of the things that is really, really, really, really annoying about anti-nukes is that they claim to give a shit about the climate, and still never bother to open a book or read a single technical report on the subject.

        Why don't you, um, tell us all about the properties of sulfur hexafluoride, or um, the CF4 added to the atmosphere by the semiconductor industry.

        Because um, you can't, among other things.  

        Jim Hansen - who is considered one of the world's experts on climate change - doesn't buy your superstitious dogmatic horseshit about nuclear energy and climate change.     Why not write to him and tell him he doesn't give a shit about the climate, because you claim you do?

        Most anti-nukes - superstitious scientifically illiterate freaks that they are - seem to feel that nuclear energy alone needs to guarantee dumb western consumers their life style free of climate change to be better than every thing else.

        Nuclear energy need not guarantee dumb consumers their lifestyle, climate change free to be the best strategy to slow (now inevitable) climate change.

        I covered this point here not long ago in a diary (which is obviously over your head) called Should Nuclear Energy Be a Panacea?

        How is your solar energy panacea coming along, by the way?   How come we never hear any comments like yours about nuclear energy addressed to the fact that fifty years of mindless rote cheering for the solar fantasy hasn't shut a single fucking fracking gas plant on this planet?

        Why is that?

        Meanwhile our anti-nukes burn dangerous fossil fuels dreaming about their solar powered electric cars, each of which would consume as much energy as a thousand Cambodians consume in their lifetimes.

        Stop pretending you give a shit.

        You don't.   You're fluff - and always have been - like the rest of your set.

        Oh, and also, let me know when you hear of a radiation related death from the 9.0 earthquake and tsuanmi that you can have a fetish about to the exclusion of the 5,000 people who will die from air pollution today.

        Have a great holiday consumer weekend.

        •  i feel sorry for you (0+ / 0-)

          your presumptions about other people only reveal yourself.

          please show me how many diaries you have written about climate change that didn't mention nuclear power. thanks.

          The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

          by Laurence Lewis on Sun May 29, 2011 at 12:16:07 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Really? (0+ / 0-)

            You feel sorry for me?

            I am not about to change my scientifically supportable contention - shared by, for instance, Jim Hansen - that any conversation about addressing climate change without mentioning nuclear power is rote nonsense.

            Show me one fracking gas bag quote here that you have written here that shows even remote familiarity with the content of a scientific monograph or paper and then we might adjudge whether you are remotely qualified to offer any sort of opinion on the way to address climate change and to declare authoritatively what is and is not a valid way to address it.

            Unless you can do that - and please don't connect me to some dumbass consumerist website from the anti-nuke circle jerk of ignorance like the consumer cultists at Greenpeace - I feel comfortable in the certainty that you, being rote, and knowing no science whatsoever, and in fact hating a science you know nothing about - nuclear science, the science of Rutherford, Bohr, Heisenberg, Gamow, Meitner, Seaborg and many other giants - are simply speaking from a position of complete ignorance.

            This makes you sort of the intellectual peer of Pat Robertson when he discusses, say, molecular biology.

            Have a nice day, and do let me know when you've found enough cases of radiation sickness from your quaint obsession with Fukushima (and Chernobyl and TMI) to equal the next five hours worth of deaths from air pollution.

            •  didn't think so (0+ / 0-)

              you can attempt to assuage your intellectual insecurities all you want. you don't fool anyone. and you have demonstrated zero interest in climate change as anything but an excuse for your failed attempts at promoting nuclear power. this must be a hard time for you. your dream is over.

              The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

              by Laurence Lewis on Sun May 29, 2011 at 07:49:25 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Um, kiddie... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                Unless you have some alternative that is non-fossil fueled and non-nuclear and produces energy on at least a ten exajoule per year scale, your claim to interest in climate change is um, faith based.

                Again:   I'm a scientist.   I'm not some religious asshole chanting year after year decade after decade about some sun god solar fantasy, or some windbag/gasbag crap.

                Apparently you assume - like many Christian fundies do - that I should buy into your faith based premise:   That there is something other than nuclear energy that can produce energy on scale.

                Whether you are aware of it or not, the experiment has been conducted and the results are in.   Sorry, but the experiment reveals your premise for what it is:  Garbage.

                I have made it clear, asshole, in case you don't get it:   It is easily shown by direct appeal to numbers that despite 50 years of whining by ignoramuses about nuclear energy, and 50 years of mindless faith based cheering about "renewbles," nuclear energy remains the world's largest source of climate change gas free energy.  

                Thus any conversation about climate change absent nuclear energy is simply ignorant.

                I feel like I'm conversing with a fundie about Jesus, who keeps telling me that I must buy his (or her) assumption that Jesus is God.

                Um, I don't accept such assumptions.


                I've become something of a nihilist in the face of anti-nuke ignorance.   I now accept that ignorance, fear and superstition have won the day, and that humanity will now get what it deserves.

                I detailed (with something called um, references) the fact in this space that Spain, between government subsidies and loans from its now failing banks through 70 billion dollars down the solar rabbit hole and shut zero gas plants.   In fact their whole solar enterprise, can't produce as much energy as half a nuclear power plant.


                I'll bet.   I have never met a single anti-nuke anti-science cultist who has the moral depth of a turnip.

                Your experiment took money that could have educated and fed and healed people, that could have supported the arts, the sciences, and sent it chasing after a chimera.

                Whether you are fucking aware of it, people suffer for decisions like that, and they still have to buy gas.

                We're at 390 ppm and climbing rapidly.   Thanks for all the solar and wind cheering while you called for the destruction (out of ignorance) of the world's largest, by far, source of climate change gas free primary energy.

                Good job.

                You must be very proud.  

                Have a nice smug consumer junk day tomorrow.  

        •  NN, (0+ / 0-)
          Bull. I know more about climate change than
          you will EVER know.

          People might pay more attention to the substance of your posts and diaries if you didn't feel the need to resort  to infantile name-calling and empty assertions of intellectual superiority. You sully your message by saying things of this nature.

          "'club America salutes you' says the girl on the door/we accept all major lies, we love any kind of fraud"--The Cure, "Club America"

          by Wheever on Sun May 29, 2011 at 01:24:38 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Did not mean to endorse above comments (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lawrence, Russgirl, ManOnTheBench, splashy

      There are no safe NUKES, see Fukushima, there will be thousands of deaths from radiation sickness in Japan. See the death toll from radioactive sickness in the Ukraine. We will see devastating mutations from the sea off Fukushima. Who wrote this Sara Palin?

    •  Madame Curie. For starters. (9+ / 0-)

      Get the permits for the 8-15,000 new nukes needed worldwide (I think there are 16 applications in the US right now), tell us where you plan to put the nuclear waste (and NO out of sight is not out of cause-and-effect, and NO dumping in the ocean does not mean you've handled it, and NO reprocessing means you can step on the shit once or twice and then you're stuck with the remaining shit PLUS more Plutonium)

      Then after you have the permits for the extra 500-2,000 plants the US needs to replace fossil fuel plants, and you take the -- how many decades will it take to build that many (and where to put them? one every 40 miles or so along every coastline, lake, and river) -- $15 Trillion to $60 Trillion baring cost overruns to build them, you know what?

      It's way to late to do anything about global warming, or even the ordinary dangers of fossil.

      It's like saying "let's cure the malaria by giving ourselves Ebola and then one day we'll find the cure for Ebola." It's such a stupid approach to the problem it's hard to credit that caring about the environment matters at all to proponents.

      Meanwhile, Germany says "Die Nukes." Figures on 35% renewables by 2020, 80% by 2050; Spain says "Die Nukes" figures on renewables by 2030 or so; Switzerland says "Die Nukes," China says "Hmmm, let's think about this some more"....; the UN studies it and says 80% renewables by 2050 with the will....

      But oh noes! renewables require that you dig up dangerous things, completely unlike nuclear and fossil!

      And oh noes if people do decentralized solutions like geo-exchange, passive solar, conservation, the utility owners will make less money!! And there you have the real reason people keep pushing the Nukes while the world says more and more every day "Die Nukes."

      The Nuke dinosaur is brain-dead, it's advocates keep twitching.

      Until we break the corporate virtual monopoly on what we hear and see, we keep losing, don't matter what we do.

      by Jim P on Sun May 29, 2011 at 09:51:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  This post is an example.... (0+ / 0-)

      of how NOT to win people over to your position.  The green / environmental / alt-energy movement is diverse and contains plenty of people willing to explore next  generation nuclear.  Some just need to be shown that their concerns regarding nuclear waste and containment accidents etc can be addressed.  When you paint with a broad brush or start right out being  adversarial, you loose any opportunity to really make your case.

      Treasure each day like it will be your last, but treat the earth like you will live forever. -me

      by protothad on Sun May 29, 2011 at 10:07:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Facts are facts... deal with it. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        joanbrooker, splashy

        No proper waste storage - costs of Nukes are much higher if you count the ENTIRE PICTURE - start to finish -  

        vs. alternate energy (which we can get started faster and cheaper than Nuke Dinosaurs).

        We know that Nuke and Insurance companies won't pay costs to build and then de-commission.

        Taxpayers ARE waking up - we will no longer pay for dangerous poison at OUR EXPENSE/Corporation profit --- in money, lives and environment.
        We can argue all we wish - time for moving away from Nukes as FAST as possible is happening now.  
        •  I share most of your concerns actually (0+ / 0-)

          The thing is, all the problems we currently experience with nuclear energy are result of the out-dated reactor designs that grew out of our cold-war era weapons program.  I do not support expansion of nuclear using the current solid fuel, water cooled reactors exactly because they are vulnerable to the sorts of problems we have seen.  More than that, they create dangerous piles of spent fuel.

          But what if we could create a reactor that did not have those problems?  What if there was a reactor design that:

          1) could never melt down.
          2) does not not require power for cooling
          3) uses up all its fuel, leaving no waste
          3) does not use uranium as its primary fuel

          Would you be willing to at least consider something like that?

          Just curious.

          Treasure each day like it will be your last, but treat the earth like you will live forever. -me

          by protothad on Sun May 29, 2011 at 10:50:02 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Why not try something completely different? (0+ / 0-)

            Nukes are already DOA w/o massive taxpayer money.

            Nukes are already more expensive when all external issues are considered.

            GE get's it... they know nukes will be more expensive in less than five years.

            What is wrong with alternate ideas regarding energy - that do not include nukes?

            Try it - you might like it!

      •  Your "broad brush" always includes nukes... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:


        No more... Japan is still spewing and you want MORE?

        NO THANKS.

        •  I think you misunderstand (0+ / 0-)

          I most certainly don't want more nuclear plants like those in Japan.  The 'broad brush' I was referring to was the one used by nuclear enthusiasts to portray all green/alt-energy advocated as being reflexively anti-nuclear, when that is just not so.  I think its fair to say most us of have concerns about nuclear, but we are a fact based community.  I consider myself a proponent of sustainable green energy, and I am willing to examine any new technology and judge it on its merits, including newer nuclear designs.

          Just so you understand where I am coming from, I actually have PV solar panels on my home, and I'm on a waiting list for an electric car.  They don't come much greener than me actually.

          Treasure each day like it will be your last, but treat the earth like you will live forever. -me

          by protothad on Sun May 29, 2011 at 10:56:09 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Thanks for the clarification! (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Jealous of your solar plus new car coming soon!

            I'm just completing an extensive home remodel where we doubled the wall size and wall insulation (all walls - incl. interior - great sound proofing as a result);

            instant-on hot water;
            new windows;
            6 skylights + suntunnel = lower utility bills + lots of sun even when cloudy;
            new low energy applicances, etc.  

            Lowered utility bills by 1/2 as a direct result.

            Now on to utilizing more passive solar for this SW facing house!  With fast changing technology - hoping to add our own solar soon.

            Always something!

            •  I love your focus on efficiency (0+ / 0-)

              Truth be told, efficiency is the low hanging fruit that people often forget, and it often returns more immediate results than putting up panels.  We recently purchased an old commercial warehouse property that we are trying to renovate into an example of urban sustainable living, including PV and hydronic solar, point of use water heaters, underfloor heating, and greenhouse and rooftop garden.  Its been slow going but we are getting there.

              My recent interest in nuclear has been around something called a Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor, which appears to address all my concerns with current nuclear technology, in particular those dangerous piles of spent fuel.  An LFTR can actually consume old nuclear waste, burning most of it for energy and leaving behind only a tiny bit of waste that is far less dangerous.  It also allows us a safer method for creating the isotopes needed for medical scanning and cancer treatment technology.

              Treasure each day like it will be your last, but treat the earth like you will live forever. -me

              by protothad on Sun May 29, 2011 at 12:31:29 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  Your Insurance Doesn't Cover Contamination (7+ / 0-)

    All insurance policies changed after 9-11 when the insurance companies got worried about dirty bombs.

    If it rains Cs on your house, well you are just SOL.

    It's all so clear to me now. I'm the keeper of the cheese. And you're the lemon merchant. Get it? And he knows it.

    by bernardpliers on Sun May 29, 2011 at 08:27:52 AM PDT

  •  Dirty Laundry . (8+ / 0-)

    Nuclear disaster averted by dirty laundry
    A radioactive leak that could have caused Britain's worst nuclear disaster was only averted when a worker in an adjoining room spotted water as he sorted laundry, according to a newly-obtained official report.
    Any such leak should trigger an alarm but the one in situ not was working.

    Even if the alarm had been working, it is unlikely that anyone would have noticed it, as a different alarm had been going off for days without anyone turning it off.

    "Drop the name-calling." Meteor Blades 2/4/11

    by indycam on Sun May 29, 2011 at 08:33:24 AM PDT


    SHUT THEM ALL DOWN! This is a slow suicide pact with the environment and future generations.

    •  Something to keep in mind... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      skillet, Norm in Chicago

      We haven't built any new nuclear plants in several decades, so we are currently dealing with really old plants and out-dated designs.  Newer designs exist that have no risk of melt-down and don't create the massive amounts of spent fuel waste, but with current political winds and the state of industry, there doesn't seem to be much interest in building them.

      Treasure each day like it will be your last, but treat the earth like you will live forever. -me

      by protothad on Sun May 29, 2011 at 10:14:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thank goodness for that! (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jeanette0605, Joieau, splashy

        Newer alternate green energy can and is being built TODAY - cheaper and faster to build - than aging Nuke Plants (whose owners always have their hand out for more taxpayer monies due to cost over runs).

        Let's LEARN from past mistakes - not compound them any longer.  

        Scientists have guaranteed that we will have yet another "unauthorized release", another "unforseen nuke accident" in our future.

        Not worth the risk... ever.

        •  Can renewables provide ALL electrical power? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Into The Woods

          Show me research from anyone credible that says the entire US electric grid can be powered only by wind and solar.

          It's 30% to 50% tops, before the grid goes unstable and there are rolling blackouts.  You know that without nuclear we'll burn coal for decades.  If that's what you want, fine.

          •  Today, No, But w/Decades of Concentrated Research (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Are we closer to 100% renewable than we were to being able to get to the moon when that committment was made?

            When Kennedy made his pledge to put an American on the moon within the decade, no one could have shown research from anyone credible that it could be done with technology that existed at the time.  

            Hydroelectric already provides a sizeable portion of the electric power in countries like Norway, Canada, Venezuela, Sweden and Brazil.

            What could be done if we applied the same level of resolve and resources we did back then?

            We don't have a spreadsheet that shows that.

            We'd rather dream the American Dream than fight to live it or to give it to our kids. What a shame. What an awful, awful shame.

            by Into The Woods on Sun May 29, 2011 at 07:52:25 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  There are more recent designs, but (0+ / 0-)

        There's a very old adage that the last 10% of engineering happens in the field. It's difficult to judge the relative merits of the new vs. the old until after the fact.

        Others have simply gotten old. I prefer to think I've been tempered by time.

        by Just Bob on Wed Jun 01, 2011 at 06:12:45 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  And kill how many in Chicago this summer? (0+ / 0-)

      Do you know how many elderly depend on AC to survive summer heat waves (caused by coal, not nuclear)??

      In Illinois, we get half our electricity from nuclear power.  Shut them all down and Chicago will see daily blackouts as demand far outstrips supply on hot summer days.

      How many senior citizens are you willing to watch die from heat stroke due to your paranoia?  1000?  10,000?  How many?

  •  I don't see where you show that (0+ / 0-)

    our spent fuel storage is a bigger hazard than spent fuel at Fukushima. I think we need to store fuel off site in dry casks but I don't see that there's any emergency about it.

    look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening. "It's the planet, stupid."

    by FishOutofWater on Sun May 29, 2011 at 08:53:25 AM PDT

    •  The quantity, and more important (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      evergreen2, Russgirl, splashy

      the density (way above original design) of physically insecure storage (elevated above grade in essentially open structures, for heavens sake) poses a very real threat.  Let a storage pool (like Unit 4 at Fukushima, for example) run dry and you have a very very real threat of fire, meltdown, and a substantial atmospheric release of radioactive material.  There's no effective containment for "wet pool" storage as it is currently implemented, and a lot of ways they could "accidentally" drain or just boil dry.  Now that we've actually seen that happen we should be wide-eyed and very worried . . .

      Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

      by Deward Hastings on Sun May 29, 2011 at 10:31:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Russgirl, evergreen2, Joieau, splashy

    for all the good information, although it's not very comforting.

    I always had mixed feelings about nuclear power but became really concerned when the powers that be built the Palo Verde Nuclear Plant about 45 miles southwest of my house in Phoenix.

    What concerned me the most was that they built it west of Phoenix and the prevailing winds for most of the year are out of the west and southwest. That puts Phoenix and my house in line of any contamination if an accident occurred.

    I mean just today from the Red Flag Warning issued by the National Weather Service:


    So God Forbid, if something happened today and radiation leaked from the plant, it could be a matter of minutes before the entire valley is exposed.

    Not good planning in my view.

  •  I posted this link (5+ / 0-)

    in a diary I did yesterday:

    'Tornado Alley' reactor not fully twister-proof

    (AP) – 2 days ago

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The closest nuclear power plant to tornado-ravaged Joplin, Mo., was singled out weeks before the storm for being vulnerable to twisters.

    Inspections triggered by Japan's nuclear crisis found that some emergency equipment and storage sites at the Wolf Creek nuclear plant in southeastern Kansas might not survive a tornado.

    Specifically, plant operators and federal inspectors said Wolf Creek did not secure equipment and vehicles needed to fight fires, retrieve fuel for emergency generators and resupply water to keep nuclear fuel cool as it's being moved.

    Despite these findings, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission concluded that the plant met requirements put in place after the Sept. 11 attacks that are designed to keep the nuclear fuel cool and containment structures intact during an emergency.

    War crimes will be prosecuted. War criminals will be punished. And it will be no defense to say, "I was just following orders." G.W Bush

    by LieparDestin on Sun May 29, 2011 at 09:23:36 AM PDT

  •  Well. This is just terrifying. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    skillet, Joieau

    Can I get a HELLZ YEAH! for infrastructure?!

    No coalition has ever succeeded with one part telling the other that their values are flawed, that they are wrong to want what they want, that they are wrong to be upset when they don't get something. -- robert cruickshank

    by Colorado is the Shiznit on Sun May 29, 2011 at 11:00:26 AM PDT

  •  wouldn't it make sense to have your water (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Norm in Chicago

    coolant stored above the level of what you're cooling, so that if your power goes out, it would naturally flow down to it?

    •  Yes, and new designs do just that (0+ / 0-)

      New reactor designs, ones not designed in the slide rule era, have passive coolant systems that are gravity fed and heat driven and don't need pumps to work.

      But of course using that means builiding new reactors, which everyone refuses to allow, so we keep using the ones built in the 50s, 60s and 70s.

      I'm getting really sick of the scientifically illiterate political class.

    •  Only if the (0+ / 0-)

      weight of the water didn't destabilize the structure in case of wind, waves and earthquakes. The AP1000 has three strikes on that score. So far.

      Now, more than ever, we need the Jedi.

      by Joieau on Sun May 29, 2011 at 01:13:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Shut the reactors down (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    And do the best we can to make these spent rods safe.

    It's time to go with better ways to generate electricity.

  •  So stop stalling on permanent storage (0+ / 0-)

    Don't like Yucca Mountain?  Fine, then we can find another spot in the desert.  There is a spot in the US where nuclear fuel can be stored permanently.

    Don't want permanent storage anywhere?   Fine, then don't whine about spent fuel pools everywhere.

    Even if you shut down every nuclear reactor right now (and give us all more radiation in the air from coal ash), the spent fuel isn't going anywhere until we find a place to put it.  The ball is in NIMBY's court, have fun with that.

  •  Fukushima Fatigue (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RWood, ekyprogressive

    I don't think people are paying attention anymore. We have all these hair on fire announcements, yet people can't see destruction beyond what they saw at the beginning of the crisis.

    People see destruction in Joplin and other places and it resonates. I'm afraid people are going to tune out unless and until there is more visible destruction.

    I'm afraid Fukushima, at this point, has only stalled the building of nuclear power plants, not stopped it. Sadly, we are going to have to see more "bang", more tragedy, before more people are persuaded against nuclear.

    We have to be smart about how we persuade, even when it seems like no persuasion should be necessary. I'm afraid people are going to come to think that "meltdown" isn't such a catastrophic thing after all.

    "Most people would sooner die than think; in fact, they do so." ...Bertrand Russell

    by sebastianguy99 on Sun May 29, 2011 at 12:45:13 PM PDT

  •  5600 deaths maybe, or 13,200 certainly? (0+ / 0-)

    So if there is an accident at Indian Point (and only if we refuse to move the fuel to safe storage) then MAYBE 5600 will die.

    But 13,200 people WILL die frol coal power plant pollution this year alone.  13,200 next year and every year after that.

    So what are you gaining by opposing new reactor designs and a permanent waste storage center?  You're certainly not saving any lives...

    •  I understand your point, (0+ / 0-)

      we have too many people and we need the energy.

      But did you see

      The Implications of the Fukushima Accident on the World's Operating Reactors?

      We have Nuke plants all over the country that have the same design as Fukushima, and many are near major population centers.  It seems to me that some of these should be shut down regardless.

      •  Once the coal plants are shut down, sure (0+ / 0-)

        Replace all the coal plants first, then replace the oldest and most outdated reactors.

        If the entire nation can run on wind, solar, hydro and geothermal, great!  I have no problem with that.

        But as long as the coal plants are still burning, those are the primary target.

  •  Tornado Damage (0+ / 0-)

    Think about what would happen if a large tornado were to hit one of those sites and start tossing fuel rods around....hmmmm....

    You could be listening to DBlog Radio!

    by libnewsie on Sun May 29, 2011 at 01:58:08 PM PDT

  •  Which really begs the question why safety of SFP (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RWood, amry, evergreen2

    is such a low priority in most of the emergency preparedness regs.  Why is it that we are paying so little attention and committing so little in the way of resources to addressing what we already know are risks:

    Backup power (not just for reactor cooling but also SFP cooling), by which I mean both "any" and "longer than a couple of hours or even a couple of days".

    Containment. (Including the hardening of surrounding and supporting structures and of critical systems necessary to maintain both safety and security of SFP.)

    Seismic Risk.  (Which, from what I can tell, was not even considered for SFP in the GI-199 review of increased seismic risk -which looked initially at core damage, not multi-source risks of release of radioactive materials - but has belatedly been revised to supposedly look at this issue.)

    If people, like Alvarez, who want to keep us safe can see the issue this clearly how much more intensely might people who wish to do us harm be considering this vulnerability?

    We spend untold (literally) sums of money listening in on Americans' private conversations and looking into their records (according to a US Senator of good repute, much more than we might think or approve of) and yet we cannot spend the comparatively small amount of money that would provide a significant safety buffer against our nucluear power plants losing offsite power (and likely the ability to refuel their emergency diesel generators) for extended period (potentially many weeks.)

    Much of the official rational for dismissing authoritative messages that have previously identified these risks was based on what was considered the low probablity of such circumstances occuring.  

    In essense, this has been the historic and repeated response to calls for greater safety and security for SFPs:

    It can't happen, therefore even though the consequences might be catastrophic, the odds of it happening are so low that resources are better directed elsewhere (or better taken as profit.)  What would you have us do, prepare for the commet strike or Yellowstone Supervolcano?

    Which is interesting because:

    1.  The natural disaster that could cause long-term power outage (severe geomagnetic disturbances) has occurred a number of times in the past hundred and fifty years (more, and more recently,  if you count instances that occurred, but just did not happen to be aimed at the earth.)

    2.  Fukushima is the incident that could not occur. (So, in essence, that commet came early and maybe ought to be viewed as not quite so infrequent an event as they have led us to believe.)

    It's the problem with "black swans".  The term itelf reveals the problem.  Black swans were presumed to be much more rare than they truly are, so the term was used to describe infrequent, unpredictable events with high consequences.  Thing is, neither the black swans nor the events the term is used to describe, are as rare as we like to pretend.

    The severe geomagnetic disturbances (severe space 'weather' or CMEs etc) will be increasing in probability as we enter the upswing of the 11 year solar cycle, predicted to peak sometime in the next couple of years.

    And what's truly difficult to grasp is that the potentially catastrophic impact of such an extended loss of power on our nuclear power plants would probably be only a minor issue compared to the larger impact of such an loss of electric power for such extended periods over an extended, multi-state geographic area.  That would just be the radioactive icing on that truly catostrophic cake.

    Hope is not a plan and a plan is not preparedness.  

    We know the risks.

    No One Could Have Predicted Does Not Apply When Respected, Responsible and Reliable Scientists and Institutions Have Predicted and We Have Chosen Not to Defend Against the Risk.

    We'd rather dream the American Dream than fight to live it or to give it to our kids. What a shame. What an awful, awful shame.

    by Into The Woods on Sun May 29, 2011 at 03:29:24 PM PDT

  •  But there was no (0+ / 0-)

    "catastrophic release of radioactivity from the spent fuel pools" at Fukushima Daichi. The catastrophic releases were from the reactor cores themselves. Early on there were allegations by NRC Chairman Jaczko that the Unit 4 spent fuel pool had gone dry and other reports that the fuel had actually caught fire. The later at least appears to be false. If the spent fuel pool was actually dry as Jaczko claimed it calls into question Alvarez's core assumption, that the zirconium will catch fire since it would have been precisely the scenario he was concerned about.

  •  so that's one (0+ / 0-)

    spent fuel rod for every 10 Americans?
    do I have that right?

    I don't see how the pro-nuke peole can defend this

    Thanks for writing this diary.
    I am now following you also.

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