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The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) carried out 15 special inspections last year spurred by potentially serious incidents at power plants, the Union of Concerned Scientists said in a report released Tuesday.

A large number of those "near-misses" occurred because plant operators and regulators "either tolerated known problems or failed to address them adequately", the UCS said in "The NRC and Nuclear Power Plant Safety in 2011: Living on Borrowed Time."

The report, however, also praises the NRC for instances where regulators "did an outstanding job addressing safety problems before they could lead to a potentially dangerous situation".

"Last year's record shows that the NRC is quite capable of being an effective watchdog that protects the public and saves the nuclear industry from its worst tendencies," report author Dave Lochbaum, director of UCS's Nuclear Safety Project, said.

"But the agency too often does not live up to its potential, and we are still finding significant problems at nuclear plants that could too easily trigger a serious accident," the veteran nuclear engineer added.

Lax supervision by the NRC has allowed some problems to worsen over the course of decades, according to the UCS, which said that almost half of the 104 US reactors "still do not comply with a fire regulation the NRC established in 1980 and amended in 2004".

"The serious accidents at the Fermi plant outside Detroit in 1966, Three Mile Island in 1979, Chernobyl in 1986, and Fukushima Daiichi last year happened when a handful of known, uncorrected problems resulted in a catastrophe," Lochbaum said.

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Comment Preferences

  •  After Fukushima, I'm in the shut them down camp. (15+ / 0-)

    Sig seen on Redstate: ABO Anybody But Obama. Sorry, I'm stealing that.... Another Barack Opportunity. Vote Obama/Biden 2012!

    by mrsgoo on Wed Feb 29, 2012 at 12:10:45 AM PST

    •  I'm in the "pay more attention" camp (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Roadbed Guy, 4mygirls

      But that would be "big government"!

      I think nuclear power is here to stay. While i have a lot of issues with that, my biggest concern is the bastards who make it their business to get in the way of decent regulation in the pursuit of the almighty dollar. And that includes those who attempt to minimise the dangers.

      All things in the sky are pure to those who have no telescopes. – Charles Fort

      by subtropolis on Wed Feb 29, 2012 at 02:00:02 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Fusion (4+ / 0-)

    We have to find a way to make fusion work. I don't know if it's still in print, but there was a good book called ''We Almost Lost Detroit''. Worth reading if you can find it.

  •  Of course, any real SCIENTIST can cite definite (8+ / 0-)

    KILLS at every single dangerous fossil fuel plant on earth.

    They kill 2 million per year, 5,000 per day, 210 per hour EVERY day.

    In order to be as dangerous as dangerous fossil fuel plants, nuclear plants, which have operated in this country for more than 50 years, would have needed to KILL 20 million people in the last decade, and as many people who died worldwide, in World War II in the last 50 years.

    Um, that form of energy, invented and developed by scores of Nobel Prize calibre scientists, hasn't killed anyone in this country.   Zero.  Zip.

    Nevertheless, dangerous anti-nukes burn dangerous fossil fuels to rant that nuclear energy is unsafe.  

    Compared to what?

    Despite the insane rantings of anti-nukes, who inisist that nuclear power be safe not only in reality - which it is - but also in their paranoid little imaginations (which are NOT at all connected with something called "science"), nuclear power is the STILL the largest, by far, source of climate change gas free energy.

    All the fear mongering of the denizens of fear, ignorance and superstition who attack nuclear energy can't change that fact.

    Have a nice evening.

    Nuclear power doesn't need to be perfect, nor does it need to be risk free to be vastly superior to ALL of its alternatives.    It only needs to be vastly superior to all of its alternatives, which it is.

    •  I agree except (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Iron Spider

      for the fact that the NRC has basically been defanged and regulation of the nuclear industry is pretty much a joke. I see no prospect of this changing anytime soon.

      "I wish I could tell you, in the midst of all of this, that President Obama was waging the kind of fight against these draconian Republican proposals that the American people would like to see. He is not." -- Senator Bernie Sanders

      by Sagebrush Bob on Wed Feb 29, 2012 at 04:00:19 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  So they've been operating safely for (3+ / 0-)

        some 30 years now all of their own volition?

        That's impressive!!

        •  Concise rebuttal. :) (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Roadbed Guy

          Still, there are serious deficiencies in nuclear regulation and safety inspection in this country, and those need to be addressed.

          We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another. -- Jonathan Swift

          by raptavio on Wed Feb 29, 2012 at 07:11:49 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I just find it amusing how (0+ / 0-)

            in the very same diary two diametrically opposite points can be argued by anti-nukers.

            Please, to stop my head spinning - please decide whether this technology is super duper dangerous EVEN WITH THE BEST REGULATION IMAGINABLE

            or IS THE PROBLEM SUPER LAX REGULATION? (in which case, remarkably enough, it is still the safest form of large scale power generation in the world . .. )

            •  The best argument (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Roadbed Guy

              that someone who's against nuclear power has to make is that one major reactor failure could result in a Fukushima level disaster -- or worse -- here in the US. As someone who lives less than 30 miles from a nuclear power plant, that's a very valid concern.

              The problem is that even a Fukushima level disaster at any plant in the US wouldn't match the level of damage done by coal power in this country.

              We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another. -- Jonathan Swift

              by raptavio on Wed Feb 29, 2012 at 07:37:33 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Well, here's another argument: (5+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Joieau, Russgirl, Lawrence, Woody, jeanette0605

                Pollution from fossil fuels is relatively short-lived, and the damage it causes is largely remediable. Radioactive poisoning of the environment is permanent. And cumulative. There is literally no way to remove radioactive isotopes from the environment, once they are released, and there is no way to contain them. They spread globally, and they last forever.

                There is no "safe" dosage of these isotopes, but rather a sliding scale - the more of them we are exposed to, the worse their effects on our health.

                As nuclear power plants proliferate around the world, there WILL be other Fukushimas, somewhere, inevitably, whether more or less disastrous. Maybe the next one will occur in England, or India, or even Iran, who knows? It's not a question of IF that will happen, it's a question of when, and how often.

                It's a question of how much radioactivity we are prepared to live with for the next ten thousand years.

                "Here's another nice mess you've gotten me into." - Oliver Hardy

                by native on Wed Feb 29, 2012 at 08:25:59 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Actually.... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Roadbed Guy

                  radioactive poisoning's duration is inversely proportional to its toxicity - as the more radioactive something is, the longer its half-life. Radiation of the kind that lasts ten thousand years is going to be on the order of the amount of radiation you absorb on a transcontinental flight.

                  Remember, even pointing a geiger counter at your own body inside a lead suit will read more than zero.

                  Given the quantities of radioactive byproducts of nuclear fuel generation, it's not like we're talking about a mountain here. Heck, there have even been not entirely unfeasible proposals to disposing of the most toxic stuff by shooting it into the sun. These aren't huge quantities.

                  We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another. -- Jonathan Swift

                  by raptavio on Wed Feb 29, 2012 at 09:50:17 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •  What's the half life of carbon dioxide? (0+ / 0-)

                  Unless I'm mistaken, it last pretty much forever . . . .

                  In any event, just saying a bunch of shit doesn't make it so.

                  First, radioactive poisoning of the environment is not permanent.  The Ukranian and Belarus governments are now considering resettling the area around Chernobyl (might as well, people have been living there anyways)

                  Second, there are plenty of ways to remove radioactive isotopes from the environment.  One such way is by mining, which they do for uranium.  Another is to plant banana plants or brazil nut trees, which both concentrate radioisotopes in their fruit or nuts, respectively.  Algae can be used to do likewise in a more deliberate fashion and some fungi even use ionizing radiation as an energy source . ..

                  Third, there are safe doses to radioisotopes, or else we'd all be dead . . . . for example, mankind has always been exposed to that mostly deadly poison imaginable - plutonium (we have between hundreds of thousands and a billion or so plutonium atoms in our bodies) - yet we survive!

              •  I wouldn't be too sure about that. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                jeanette0605

                Fukushima wasn't as bad for the surrounding population as it could have been because most of the radiation went downwind and out to sea.

                Chernobyl also would have been far worse if Kiev had been downwind.

                We wouldn't necessarily be that lucky if one blew here.... if there's a major city downwind, then the amount of damage done would be near incomprehensible.

                It is not worth the risk, especially since we have better alternatives nowadays.

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

                by Lawrence on Wed Feb 29, 2012 at 09:45:13 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  No we don't. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Roadbed Guy

                  That's the big lie - we do NOT yet have better alternatives to nuclear power. None that are feasible to replace our energy needs.

                  We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another. -- Jonathan Swift

                  by raptavio on Wed Feb 29, 2012 at 09:51:12 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  With respect, yes we do. (0+ / 0-)

                    Renewables have developed along an incredible development curve in the last decade, mainly due to Germany's progressive policies.

                    This will continue, and will likely accelerate, as there has been a global democratization of renewables R & D and production.

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

                    by Lawrence on Wed Feb 29, 2012 at 09:57:50 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Linky. (0+ / 0-)

                      With respect, I'm disinclined to take your word for it, as I researched this quite thoroughly less than a year ago.

                      We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another. -- Jonathan Swift

                      by raptavio on Wed Feb 29, 2012 at 10:29:05 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Here's a recent, quality report from Michigan: (0+ / 0-)

                        The key sentence is on page 29 -

                        The weighted average price of renewable energy contracts is $91.19/MWh, which is less than forecasted in REPs and is substantially lower than the cost of new coal-fired plants.

                        http://www.michigan.gov/...

                        And this is Michigan, where wind and solar resources aren't exactly the best in the U.S.

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

                        by Lawrence on Wed Feb 29, 2012 at 10:42:14 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  And yet nuclear is (0+ / 0-)

                          We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another. -- Jonathan Swift

                          by raptavio on Wed Feb 29, 2012 at 10:47:27 AM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Not for new nuclear, it isn't. (0+ / 0-)

                            And I wouldn't exactly call that a reliable source.

                            If Nuclear were so cheap, wind electricity generation wouldn't be winning virtually all of Brazil's latest round of electricity generation bids.

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

                            by Lawrence on Wed Feb 29, 2012 at 03:40:26 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Unless (0+ / 0-)

                            Brazil is skittish about the potential of nuclear accidents.

                            BTW, casting aside data that conflicts with your beliefs the way you just did is called "confirmation bias." Notice they sourced their claim to a neutral source. The onus is on you to find a refuting source.

                            We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another. -- Jonathan Swift

                            by raptavio on Wed Feb 29, 2012 at 04:37:41 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  The guy is using data from 2008 plus he is using (0+ / 0-)

                            costs of old nuclear, not new nuclear.

                            Seeing that the cost of renewables had dropped drastically in the last 3 years while cost estimates for new nuclear are only going up, I don't see why a smart guy like you is even paying attention to that.

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

                            by Lawrence on Wed Feb 29, 2012 at 04:49:55 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  P.S. (0+ / 0-)

                            Here's a "refuting source" for you:

                            Stunner: New Nuclear Costs as Much as German Solar Power Today — and Up to $0.34/kWh in 2018
                            By Stephen Lacey on Jun 6, 2011 at 10:28 am
                            http://thinkprogress.org/...

                            Brazil is going for wind because onshore wind delivers the cheapest possible electricity, btw.

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

                            by Lawrence on Wed Feb 29, 2012 at 04:53:29 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  So.... (0+ / 0-)

                            you dismiss my data based on the source, and cite an alternative energy advocate who doesn't source his own data?

                            The actual source is here, which took some deep digging: http://www.nirs.org/...

                            So now we have some claims that nuclear power will be overcostly, that are actually sourced. So. Now we have to figure out who's accurate.

                            We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another. -- Jonathan Swift

                            by raptavio on Wed Feb 29, 2012 at 05:06:39 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I'm not trying to win an internet argument here, (0+ / 0-)

                            raptavio, I'm merely trying to provide enough information to someone whom I generally respect so that he may understand that his thoughts on renewables are outdated.

                            I dismissed that guy because he uses outdated data and also is just an amateur on a blog who is trying to make a case for nuclear using outdated data.

                            It's generally accepted that onshore wind is cost competitive or even cheaper than new nuclear and coal now.

                            Even Bloomberg knows this:

                            http://www.windkraft-journal.de/...

                            The E.U. Climate Change Commissioner even thinks that offshore wind is cheaper than new nuclear:

                            http://www.guardian.co.uk/...

                            As for the costs of onshore wind electricity, at good sites it is clearly the cheapest form of electricity production, aside from Hydro.  In Germany, in 2010, electricity from wind had production costs of between 4.5 and 8.5 eurocents:

                            http://www.umweltbewusst-heizen.de/...

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

                            by Lawrence on Thu Mar 01, 2012 at 04:56:23 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Okay. (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Lawrence

                            Let's say you're right. You still have the problem of scalability. The real estate requirements for wind power are quite large -- unless the whole "Turning California into a wind farm would e required" thing is also outdated?

                            We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another. -- Jonathan Swift

                            by raptavio on Thu Mar 01, 2012 at 06:00:52 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Wind power does not have a big footprint. (0+ / 0-)

                            In fact, most of the places where wind farms are located are simultaneously used as ranch or farm land.  Wind power could probably provide more than 50% of U.S. electricity, but the key problem is that most of the really good onshore wind sites are pretty far away from most major industrial zones and population centers.

                            Wind power probably can't do it alone, however, even if wind power resources in the U.S. are 3 times as high as previously thought:

                            http://www.wired.com/...

                            Solar, hydro, and biomass will also have to play their part, with solar likely to play a huge role in California.  Solar pv has a dropping price curve similar to the one that wind went through, it's merely about a decade behind.  An interesting read on the costs of solar pv:

                            http://solarcellcentral.com/...

                            And a good read on the rapidly dropping costs of solar pv:

                            http://thinkprogress.org/...

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

                            by Lawrence on Thu Mar 01, 2012 at 08:38:08 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  So if I read you right (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Lawrence

                            the conclusion is that we can't phase out our traditional power generation yet.

                            I'm glad we can ramp up our wind and solar generation, but we're still dependent on the traditional. And of those, nuclear is the least deadly.

                            Mind you, the breakthroughs in biomass announced earlier this week -- like, cheap crops-to-gasoline refining -- may change the game completely, as biogasoline would be carbon-neutral.

                            We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another. -- Jonathan Swift

                            by raptavio on Thu Mar 01, 2012 at 12:09:12 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Well, technologically it is possible to do it now (0+ / 0-)

                            But logistically it is another matter.  It'll take 3 or 4 decades, imo, but the faster the better.

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

                            by Lawrence on Thu Mar 01, 2012 at 12:24:31 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I think 3-4 decades (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Lawrence

                            is a pretty good target.

                            We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another. -- Jonathan Swift

                            by raptavio on Thu Mar 01, 2012 at 12:45:17 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                    •  Honestly (0+ / 0-)

                      We've frittered away precious time because neither nuclear nor renewables (even combined) are close to being able to adequately meet our energy needs and get us off of carbon based fuels:

                      Both the pro-nuclear and anti-nuclear forces are, by and large, vastly understating and oversimplifying the degree of the problem we face.

                      "I wish I could tell you, in the midst of all of this, that President Obama was waging the kind of fight against these draconian Republican proposals that the American people would like to see. He is not." -- Senator Bernie Sanders

                      by Sagebrush Bob on Wed Feb 29, 2012 at 12:54:11 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

            •  You vastly oversimplify my stance (0+ / 0-)

              by labeling me as a mere "anti-nuker."

              "I wish I could tell you, in the midst of all of this, that President Obama was waging the kind of fight against these draconian Republican proposals that the American people would like to see. He is not." -- Senator Bernie Sanders

              by Sagebrush Bob on Wed Feb 29, 2012 at 01:07:07 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  See (0+ / 0-)

          "I wish I could tell you, in the midst of all of this, that President Obama was waging the kind of fight against these draconian Republican proposals that the American people would like to see. He is not." -- Senator Bernie Sanders

          by Sagebrush Bob on Wed Feb 29, 2012 at 12:50:30 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Um, no they don't. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      HamdenRice, Joieau

      Indoor air pollution is responsible for 2 million deaths/year.... most of that is from people using open cooking fires and heating indoors.

      Quit being so dishonest.

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

      by Lawrence on Wed Feb 29, 2012 at 05:04:46 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's not dishonest (0+ / 0-)

        I'm not sure why you're supporting fossil fuel combustion, but the facts are that if clean nuclear power was available, people wouldn't be burning animal dung, or whatever, indoors . .. .

        Also, of those 2,000,000 deaths, the MAJORITY of them are due to straight up regular outdoor pollution.  For example, in China alone which suffers from 750,000 of the deaths, 400,000 of them are due to outdoor pollution

        link

        In the USA, that number is estimated to be between 30,000 and 500,000.  With the upper number coming from:

        Epidemiological studies suggest that more than 500,000 Americans die each year from cardiopulmonary disease linked to breathing fine particle air pollution. . ."

        Note that is coming from the AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY which, if anything, would be expected to downplay the effects of chemical-based pollution . . .

        •  Actually, it is dishonest. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Joieau

          And that's par for the course with NNadir.

          Even in his link it clearly states that the 2 million deaths are from indoor air pollution, yet he attributes it directly to "dangerous fossil fuel plants".

          Nuclear power plants aren't going to help with that at all.

          Smart projects like small-scale biomethane anaerobic digesters could help a lot, though.

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

          by Lawrence on Wed Feb 29, 2012 at 05:40:51 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Sure they could, if they replaced the need (0+ / 0-)

            for burning shit (literally) indoors.

            Besides, if you start adding things up, it is quite plausible that 2,000,000 deaths DO occur from outdoor pollution.

            For example, the 400,000 in China and 500,000 in the USA I mentioned above plus 310,000 in Europe  - now we're at 1,210,000 and haven't even included most of Asia and South American, not to mention Antartica, New Zealand, and Australia.

            •  Nobody is going to be building nukes in countries (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Joieau

              like Nepal, Uganda, Mali, etc.... and those are the countries where most of the indoor air pollution takes place.  Most of those people are far too poor to be able to afford expensive, new nuclear power.  Suggesting nuclear power as a solution for these kinds of pollution problems is like suggesting the use of a sledge hammer to hammer in a tiny nail.

              Outdoor air pollution is mostly due to automobile emissions, not power plants, with some notable exceptions.

              I doubt that anyone dies from air pollution in the Antarctic, btw.... nobody lives there.

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

              by Lawrence on Wed Feb 29, 2012 at 05:52:45 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Nuclear power isn't that expensive (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                SquirrelWhisperer

                A lot of countries could use a few of these (and if you look at the accompanying illustration, it seems like it's targeted at rural Africa - if the Bill Gates foundation wanted to do something actually useful for Africa, it could buy them a few of these).

                And it is a fair point to try to figure out how many deaths result from traffic (which * could * be electrified, but whatever) versus coal generation.   In any event, I really don't think that pollution from coal should be regarded as negligible - it's still aproblem in this country so imagine how bad it is in countries w/o our pollution standards (which could be better for sure, but by global standards really are quite good).

                Something else, to be fair, the death stats should probably be age-adjusted as well.  For example a 7 month old who dies could be counted as 99% of a person while an oldster like me 5 to 7% of a death.  With our country's  history of apportioning partial personhood to certain demographic groups, this shouldn't be difficult to do at all.

                And good catch about antartica, shows you were really paying attention!

                •  That right there is unproven technology, ie. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Joieau

                  it is "pie in the sky", much like nuclear fusion.

                  Furthermore, small-scale nuke reactors would lead to a proliferation and potential terrorism nightmare.

                  Small-scale nukes are just pretty much an insane idea in third world countries, tbh.

                  Coal pollution is, indeed, a serious matter in countries like China.   Aside from CO2 emissions, it's not really much of a factor in particulate emissions in countries like Germany, where high quality filters are installed in coal power plants.  Installing these filters should be required everywhere.

                  As for replacing coal plants.... I'd rather see them replaced with renewable electricity generation than with nuclear power plants.

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

                  by Lawrence on Wed Feb 29, 2012 at 06:59:48 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

              •  OK, straight from the horse's mouth (0+ / 0-)

                here are WHO stats

                Indoor air pollution: 1,479,000 deaths
                Outdoor air pollution: 865,000 deaths

                So, turns out to be a false alarm, if fossil fuels are causing less deaths than traffic accidents (1,000,000 year), we clearly have bigger fish to fry.  

                Nothing to see here people, please move along now.

                •  And that right there is why I correctly stated (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Joieau

                  that NNadir was being dishonest when he said that "fossil fuel plants" are the cause of 2 million deaths, when they clearly are not.

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

                  by Lawrence on Wed Feb 29, 2012 at 07:01:22 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I don't think it is at all "clear" that (0+ / 0-)

                    they are not.

                    For example, upon closer inspection the WHO data predates the studies that implicate certain fine particulates in hundreds of thousands of outdoor pollution deaths.

                    So when all is said and done, that could be almost spot on.  He just needs to update his sourcing.

                  •  True (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Lawrence

                    but they are certainly responsible for far more deaths than nuclear plants.

                    We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another. -- Jonathan Swift

                    by raptavio on Wed Feb 29, 2012 at 07:12:58 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Yes, they are. (0+ / 0-)

                      They also produce far more power globally than nuclear power plants do.

                      Both suck, though, as both have the capacity to kill lots of people over very long periods of time.

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

                      by Lawrence on Wed Feb 29, 2012 at 09:37:25 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  True (0+ / 0-)

                        but even on a per-plant basis, fossil fuel production is responsible for far more deaths. By orders of magnitude.

                        The problem is, we need one or the other until a viable alternative presents itself. Nuclear power is, even in the wake of Fukushima, the far lesser evil.

                        We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another. -- Jonathan Swift

                        by raptavio on Wed Feb 29, 2012 at 09:44:00 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  We already have plenty of viable alternatives (0+ / 0-)

                          with renewables.  They're already cheaper than new nuclear power plants, they democratize the money flow in power production, and they are getting better and cheaper every year.

                          Nuclear is a risk even when the plants have shut down, as can be seen at Fukushima.  The people of Japan, Belo-Russia, and the Ukraine can attest to the long-term damages that nuke plant accidents cause.  Hell, even in some parts of Germany one still can't eat venison, wild boar, and mushrooms.... all because of the long-term effects of Chernobyl.

                          Modern, filtered coal plants don't cause as much small particulate pollution as many think they do, btw.  There are modern coal plants smack in the middle of Berlin, and this city has better air than any other metropolis that I have been to.

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

                          by Lawrence on Wed Feb 29, 2012 at 09:52:58 AM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  False. (0+ / 0-)

                            Wind power? It'd take converting the entire state of California into a wind farm to meet our needs.

                            Hydroelectric? There isn't enough running water.

                            Tidal? Solar? Nope. Nope. Same reasons. Too much land requirements.

                            None of these are cheaper than nuclear plants in terms of energy produced over the life of the generator.

                            Hopefully, this will change, but we aren't there yet.

                            We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another. -- Jonathan Swift

                            by raptavio on Wed Feb 29, 2012 at 09:56:02 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  New wind power already is far cheaper than new (0+ / 0-)

                            nuclear power and the development with solar power is similar, just a few years behind.

                            It's all about siting.

                            The only large impediments currently are regulation mechanisms and the intermittency factor.

                            Intermittency can, however, be largely solved in a large, distributed grid, and - by the time the new nuke plant in Georgia is built - there will be cheap batteries for storage available, such as Vanadium-Redox Flow Batteries.

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

                            by Lawrence on Wed Feb 29, 2012 at 10:02:58 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  See response elsewhere in thread. (0+ / 0-)

                            We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another. -- Jonathan Swift

                            by raptavio on Wed Feb 29, 2012 at 10:31:30 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Oh... (0+ / 0-)

                            and the best solution to the risk of accident is to fix our regulatory agencies and ensure proper safety measures. Which is, though very difficult, at least possible unlike scrapping our nuclear power plants.

                            We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another. -- Jonathan Swift

                            by raptavio on Wed Feb 29, 2012 at 09:57:02 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

          •  As a charter member of Small-scale Biomethane (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Joieau, Lawrence

            Anaerobic Digesters International, I can proudly say, "We do our part!"

  •  David Lochbaum (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    erush1345

    at the Union of Concerned Scientists is just about the only activist I have any respect for and that people in the nuclear industry pay any attention to, even if I rarely agree with his conclusions. As far as I can tell he is just about the only activist most people inside the NRC have any real respect for too.

    "Near miss" is not a term defined by the NRC and utilities  use the term differently to refer generally to any situation that had the potential to have an undesired outcome, be it nuclear or (usually) personnel safety, such as when an electrician discovers that the circuit he/she has been asked to perform maintenance on was not completely isolated and was still energized when conducting initial safety checks.

    So various anti-nuclear individuals and groups are free to define the term as it suits their purposes. Greenpeace calls any condition report entered into a plant's corrective action program a "near miss". Since plants establish a low threshold for the items that are to be entered into the system most of what you will find is relatively mundane stuff. People even use it complain about their paychecks not being processed correctly. Consequently plants have literally thousands of these "near misses" every year (as defined by Greenpee). As someone who works in the industry I always feel like buying a lottery ticket when they talk about how "lucky" we in the industry have been at averting disaster.

    Speaking of odds, the way David Lochbaum defines "near miss", is to count any time the NRC invokes something called Management Directive 8.3 to send an investigation team to a plant. The type of team the NRC sends depends on an initial guestimate of the added probability of a core meltdown the situation or event posed. As Lochbaum indicates, 14 of the 15 teams sent were for events were the percieved risk increased by a factor of 10 to a factor of 100. One team was sent because the initial guess was for an event where the percieved risk of a meltdown was 100 to 1,000 times higher. No teams were sent for events with percieved risks that were even larger. The NRC then investigates and issues findings based on the actual risk, which is generally much much lower once all the facts are gathered.

    Although the NRC doesn't call them "near misses" it sends an annual report to Congress every year of Abnormal Occurrences. Most of the events described in it are for medical errors involving the use of nuclear material but it also has a section for events at commercial power plants. The criteria for what gets reported is conditions that existed that resulted in a one in a thousand potential for a Three Mile Island type core meltdown. If the NRC were to define a "near miss" this would probably be it. This section of the NRC's report has been blank for many years and if UCS used this criteria their report would have been a blank sheet of paper too.

    While the events Lochbaum describes are not anything the industry is proud of, the public has a right to know and understand them and he does a good job of explaining things in layman's terms (something I and most people in the industry frankly suck at). I'm sure most people in the industry will feel he lays on the "near miss" bit a bit thick but hey, he has to justify his job and feed his family and those of us on the inside are not necessarily objective ourselves. He accurately portrays the facts of the circumstances and overall is fair and balanced, which is why when he speaks at NRC meetings people tend to listen attentively.

    If you are going to talk about the UCS report you really should edit the diary tolink to it. I'm sure David appreciates people talking about it third hand but would like it even more if people actually read it.

  •  How many near misses were there at airports (4+ / 0-)

    and in the skies?

    I would agree that some plant operators need to improve their management but nothing happened. At least give us details showing that there was a serious problem.

    I have concerns about old BWR's that may become unstable when offsite power is lost. That's a small percentage of the total number of nuclear plants.

    Coal kills far more people in the U.S. than the wildest calculations of deaths from TMI and routine operations. And fracked gas fouls the air leading to premature deaths. There needs to be some rational balance in how we assess the risks of nuclear plants and we need some specifics to hold a rational discussion.

    look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

    by FishOutofWater on Wed Feb 29, 2012 at 03:12:21 AM PST

    •  There's about one a day (0+ / 0-)

      (there is actual criteria and terminology to define that)

      Anways, I was just watching a History and/or Discovery channel documentary about that and when I saw the title of this diary thought that nuclear power plants would be a good follow up.

      And btw, coal routinely kills more people than even the worst nuclear power plant calcuations - the ratio is something like 20,000 to 1 on a time averaged basis.

      And renders MUCH more land uninhabitable, too!

    •  Scrubbed Coal DOES NOT Kill (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Joieau, Lawrence

      The pro nukes like to cite the "coal kills more than nuclear" theme but it ain't true unless you're talking about an old plant without stack cleanup.  Those plants are being phased out.

      Most newer coal plants have electrostatic scrubbers that get the particulates out of the stack emissions and these are relatively clean.  Especially compared to nuclear.

      Nuclear plants continuously emit tritium in abundance, even under "normal" operating conditions.  These tritium emissions cause child leukemias and cancers.  This is why death rates are so much higher within 20km of any nuclear power plant:

      http://enenews.com/...

      •  "Relatively" clean? (0+ / 0-)

        The figure I saw for electrostatic precipitators working perfectly (which they don't always do due to corrosion and clogging) was that they caught 99% of the particulate material going up the stack. They don't stop radon since it isn't a particle, it's a gas like carbon dioxide, sulphuric acids and nitrous oxides which the precipitators don't stop either. We'll ignore them for the moment and just look at radioactive particulate materials though.

         A 1GW coal-fired power station burns about 3 million tonnes of coal a year. Typical coal runs about 3-5 ppm uranium so the 1GW power station will burn 12 tonnes of uranium annually and assuming 1% of it escapes that results in 120 kg of uranium being deposited downwind from the stacks each year. Thorium is about the same level so that adds 120kg of thorium to the downwind plume each year. Radium-226, nasty stuff -- usually about 8 ppm in US coal so that means 250kg or so deposited downwind each year. There are some US-derived coal grades that have higher values of Ra-226 in them, up to 60 ppm but thankfully they're scarce. Po-210 and Pb-210, again significant quantities in coal and hundreds of kilogrammes dumped downwind from the coal-burning smokestack all year every year, not by accident when something goes horribly wrong.

         The US burns about 750 million tonnes of coal annually to  generate about 240 GW of electricity each year. That's 30 tonnes of uranium deposited across the country each year, 60 tonnes of radium, 30 tonnes of thorium, tonnes more of other radioisotopes even with stack scrubbers. This has been going on for decades and those isotopes tend to have quite long lives so the totals are cumulative.

         And what of the fly ash, the result of the stack cleanup system? It contains 99 times the amount of radioactive material that escapes the precipitators -- over 11 tonnes of uranium, ten tonnes of radium and many more tonnes of other radioactive materials each year. This waste is concentrated enough that it is thought worthwhile to experiment with extracting the uranium for use as nuclear power station fuel. This ash is not treated as dangerously radioactive materials from nuclear plants are though, sequestered in heavy concrete and steel containers. No, it ends up in fly ash lagoons left open to the elements and occasionally when things go wrong and a levee breaks it ends up in local rivers. A common end use for fly ash is construction materials like drywall or concrete infill where again its radioactive content is studiously ignored by those folks who would scream to high heaven if nuclear waste with similar radioactivity levels was to come anywhere near them.

    •  An Inept Comparison.. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Joieau, Lawrence

      The most important thing to consider in risk assessment is how many people would a midair collision impact compared to a serious nuclear event?

      Consider Fukushima: HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of people have been impacted, and many, many of those people are either dying or already dead.  WAYYY more than any aviation accident could produce.

  •  Apropos to your diary (5+ / 0-)

    I just saw this rather disturbing report yesterday on Aljazeera:

    "I wish I could tell you, in the midst of all of this, that President Obama was waging the kind of fight against these draconian Republican proposals that the American people would like to see. He is not." -- Senator Bernie Sanders

    by Sagebrush Bob on Wed Feb 29, 2012 at 03:58:09 AM PST

  •  This post is, unfortunately, a copy/paste w/o (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wretchedhive

    It seems curiosity has killed the cat that had my tongue.

    by Murphoney on Thu Mar 01, 2012 at 06:49:08 AM PST

  •  fair usage violation (0+ / 0-)

    hr'd accordingly

    Profoundly humbled by DKos generosity of spirit and selflessness of nature. Forever grateful beyond measure.

    by wretchedhive on Thu Mar 01, 2012 at 08:07:36 AM PST

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