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BS: TMI- Risks of 'clean' power

beardedbruce 31 Jul 07 - 12:01 PM
GUEST,PMB 31 Jul 07 - 12:15 PM
McGrath of Harlow 31 Jul 07 - 12:22 PM
Rapparee 31 Jul 07 - 12:33 PM
Midchuck 31 Jul 07 - 12:42 PM
PoppaGator 31 Jul 07 - 12:52 PM
McGrath of Harlow 31 Jul 07 - 01:24 PM
gnu 31 Jul 07 - 01:45 PM
Bill D 31 Jul 07 - 01:51 PM
Rapparee 31 Jul 07 - 02:04 PM
Midchuck 31 Jul 07 - 02:25 PM
Amos 31 Jul 07 - 02:53 PM
Wolfgang 31 Jul 07 - 03:07 PM
Don Firth 31 Jul 07 - 03:08 PM
GUEST,MarkS 31 Jul 07 - 03:15 PM
MMario 31 Jul 07 - 03:26 PM
Rapparee 31 Jul 07 - 04:07 PM
Bill D 31 Jul 07 - 04:53 PM
Charley Noble 31 Jul 07 - 05:46 PM
Charley Noble 31 Jul 07 - 07:11 PM
McGrath of Harlow 31 Jul 07 - 07:58 PM
The Fooles Troupe 31 Jul 07 - 08:19 PM
Don Firth 31 Jul 07 - 08:42 PM
Rapparee 31 Jul 07 - 08:52 PM
Gurney 01 Aug 07 - 12:18 AM
mrdux 01 Aug 07 - 12:27 AM
JohnInKansas 01 Aug 07 - 05:52 AM
Ron Davies 01 Aug 07 - 07:44 AM
Grab 01 Aug 07 - 07:49 AM
beardedbruce 01 Aug 07 - 07:56 AM
JohnInKansas 01 Aug 07 - 09:30 AM
Charley Noble 01 Aug 07 - 09:33 AM
Bill D 01 Aug 07 - 12:02 PM
GUEST,petr 01 Aug 07 - 12:33 PM
Charley Noble 01 Aug 07 - 02:14 PM
beardedbruce 01 Aug 07 - 02:28 PM
Donuel 01 Aug 07 - 04:37 PM
Grab 01 Aug 07 - 06:03 PM
GUEST,petr 01 Aug 07 - 08:58 PM
Charley Noble 01 Aug 07 - 10:55 PM
beardedbruce 02 Aug 07 - 06:52 AM
Mr Red 02 Aug 07 - 08:07 AM
Charley Noble 02 Aug 07 - 09:32 AM
Grab 02 Aug 07 - 09:50 AM
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Subject: BS: TMI- Risks of 'clean' power
From: beardedbruce
Date: 31 Jul 07 - 12:01 PM

More to the point, what ARE the acceptable levels of risk for power generation? Think how many die in coal mining accidents, from acid rain, and in construction of power plants. We accept the risk of death or harm in all other cases- Why not for Nuclear power???







"Rethinking Three Mile Island

It was billed as the nation's worst commercial nuclear accident, but how bad was it really?

By David Whitford, Fortune editor-at-large
July 31 2007: 11:38 AM EDT

Editor-at-large David Whitford went on a 7,000 mile road trip to examine America's nuclear past and the resurgent industry's plans for the future. This is the first of five installments from his reporter's notebook.


(Fortune) -- Ralph DeSantis was home in bed before dawn on March 28, 1979 when his phone rang. It was his shift supervisor at Three Mile Island (TMI), calling from the plant. "'We have an emergency at Unit II and it's serious,'" is the first thing DeSantis remembers hearing. Then he heard the alarms going off.

Twenty-eight years after the worst accident in the history of the US nuclear power industry, the alarms are still going off, and the consequences are still being felt. That's why I made TMI one of my first stops on a two-week, 7,000-mile road trip through the past, present and future of nuclear power in America.

DeSantis showed me around. He still works at TMI, although his job has changed. He used to be a security guard. Now he's a flack, a function which - and this is hard to believe - did not exist at Three Mile Island before the accident.

Somebody had to manage the crush of reporters, DeSantis stepped in, and that's what he's been doing ever since. So there's one small consequence of TMI: a new career for DeSantis, not to mention greatly expanded job opportunities for flacks throughout the industry.

TMI also confirmed a lot of people's worst fears about nuclear power, including, I'll admit, my own. I never really examined those fears again until recently, and I don't think I'm alone in that regard. After TMI, nuclear power sort of fell off the radar in the United States. Whatever your feelings 30 years ago, chances are you still feel the same way.

Impact on health
I think the question we need to ask ourselves now is pretty simple: Is it time to take a fresh look at nuclear power? One of the experts I talked to before I began my trip was Andy Kadak, a professor in the top-ranked nuclear engineering department at MIT. I asked Kadak, What were the health consequences of TMI? "Nothing," he insisted, "Practically speaking, nothing."

Then he addressed Chernobyl. "That was a worst-case scenario. Ten kilometers were significantly affected, but were cleaned up. Thirty kilometers were made into a restricted zone, but now people are coming back, rightly or wrongly. There was radiation distributed around the world - but it was probably less than what was emitted by nuclear weapons testing back in the '50s or '60s. It was clearly unacceptable.

"But I don't think it gets any worse than that. You had a burning fire throwing up this radioactive debris and distributing it all over the planet. It doesn't get worse than that." Kadak's conclusion: "Even in the worst-case scenarios it's very hard to see a global nuclear nightmare occurring because of a nuclear accident."

Putting things in perspective
Kadak and others led me to James Lovelock's fascinating book, "The Revenge of Gaia." Lovelock is a British environmental scientist who has come to the hard conclusion that the unprecedented challenge of global warming leaves us no choice but to make a massive global investment in nuclear power, which emits no greenhouse gasses.

Are there safety risks associated with that? Well, sure, but here's how Lovelock puts those risks in perspective.

How many people died at TMI, Lovelock asks? Zero. How many at Chernobyl? According to an authoritative study conducted by the United Nation's World Health Organization 19 years after the accident, no more than 75 people died at Chernobyl. And remember, that was a worst-case scenario.

What about the long-term risks of cancer for those exposed to radiation from Chernobyl? The United Nations Scientific Committee on the the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) reported last year that "among the residents of Belarus, the Russian Federation and Ukraine, there had been up to the year 2002 about 4,000 cases of thyroid cancer reported in children and adolescents who were exposed at the time of the accident, and more cases can be expected during the next decades."

There were consequences, in other words. The risks are real.

But Lovelock then asks us to consider China's Yangtze Dam, a huge source of squeaky clean hydroelectric power. "If the dam burst," Lovelock points out, whether because of an earthquake or an act of terrorism, "perhaps as many as a million people would be killed in the wave of water roaring down the course of the Yangtze River."

A million people. Why is that an acceptable risk, and nuclear power is not?"


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Subject: RE: BS: TMI- Risks of 'clean' power
From: GUEST,PMB
Date: 31 Jul 07 - 12:15 PM

Perhaps you noticed that environmentalists are as much against giant dam schemes as nuclear power?


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Subject: RE: BS: TMI- Risks of 'clean' power
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 31 Jul 07 - 12:22 PM

The essential thing is to find ways of living that don't involve using masses of power, no matter how it is generated. Technical fixes that ignore that just shift the problem around.


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Subject: RE: BS: TMI- Risks of 'clean' power
From: Rapparee
Date: 31 Jul 07 - 12:33 PM

Use what's regionally available and use nuclear as a last resort. For example, I live in an actively seismic area but geothermal energy is nearly unheard of here and wind is only now getting a toehold. But the most critical step we can take is to reduce population -- THAT'S what drives worldwide demand for everything. And either we do it or Nature will see that it is done for us.

The planet can survive; humanity may not.


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Subject: RE: BS: TMI- Risks of 'clean' power
From: Midchuck
Date: 31 Jul 07 - 12:42 PM

The essential thing is to find ways of living that don't involve using masses of power, no matter how it is generated. Technical fixes that ignore that just shift the problem around.

Easy. Have a big war and kill off 75 or 80% of the world's population.

Given present population levels, however, you're going to continue to need mechanized agriculture, big trucks and railroads to transport the food, massive aqueducts to take fresh water to where the people are, etc. ad infinitum. I'll grant, you could cut a substantial proportion of power use by just eliminating such things as recreational travel and toys like snowmobiles and ATVs. And letting the grass grow instead of using power mowers - you not only eliminate the mower exhaust, but the grass will "eat" more CO. But as long as population continues to increase, those are only stopgap measures.

On the other hand, population increase is slowing in many nations, and is already below replacement level in some. Endless population growth until there's a collapse is now longer a given.

I'd kinda like to go canoing in Times Square, myself.

Peter.


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Subject: RE: BS: TMI- Risks of 'clean' power
From: PoppaGator
Date: 31 Jul 07 - 12:52 PM

Three Mile Island may have been less catastrophic than first imagined, but it is still an undeniable fact that Putonium Is Forever. The serious potential damage from nuclear power is long-term and unavoidable, whether or not some nasty "accident" occurs in the short term.

The problem is that the sanest and safest energy alternatives, while truly economical, do not promise large and immediate profits to individual entrepreneurs ~ they promise relatively modest, albeit permanent, savings to everyone. So far, that has not provided sufficient economic incentive to get any truly paradigm-changing projects off the ground.


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Subject: RE: BS: TMI- Risks of 'clean' power
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 31 Jul 07 - 01:24 PM

Three Mile Island was a lucky escape. Chernobyl was the real thing - and even that would have been vastly worse if it hadn't been for the incredible courage of the workers who sacrificed their lives to save others.


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Subject: RE: BS: TMI- Risks of 'clean' power
From: gnu
Date: 31 Jul 07 - 01:45 PM

I won't get into the debate, but, McGrath has pointed out something you very seldom hear about. Those who sacrificed their lives at Chernobyl are true heroes.


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Subject: RE: BS: TMI- Risks of 'clean' power
From: Bill D
Date: 31 Jul 07 - 01:51 PM

Risks? Remember, there are STILL folks who are seriously considering a project to dam the Straits of Gibraltar and lower the Mediterranean....which 'might' be safer than more nukes.

I am a believer in mathematical odds...and I am willing to bet that there WILL be more Chernobyls and TMIs, and that the more plants, the sooner the accidents.

Time for more tidal power and windmills....and fewer people.


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Subject: RE: BS: TMI- Risks of 'clean' power
From: Rapparee
Date: 31 Jul 07 - 02:04 PM

There is also the energy ROI to consider: if it costs more to make the stuff that generates the power than the power produced over the lifetime of the stuff is worth, it's a negative ROI. Example: let's say that a wind generator costs $500,000 to produce, but over its lifespan it will produce only $450,000 of electricity. Or if a technology, say a solar panel, costs 15,000 "energy units" to produce but only pays back 10,000 "energy units" you have expended more energy than you have gained (and probably added to the pollution problem in doing so).

Look at fusion. It would produce ample power AND use the current nuke waste for fuel (it can use ANYTHING for fuel). But the US Gov. shut down the fusion energy projects just as they were starting to show some promise...the R&D was felt to cost too much.


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Subject: RE: BS: TMI- Risks of 'clean' power
From: Midchuck
Date: 31 Jul 07 - 02:25 PM

Note that there's no difference between "solar" power and "fusion" power except where he fusion takes place.

Peter.


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Subject: RE: BS: TMI- Risks of 'clean' power
From: Amos
Date: 31 Jul 07 - 02:53 PM

Well, from an Earthling viewpoint there's a major difference!!

A


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Subject: RE: BS: TMI- Risks of 'clean' power
From: Wolfgang
Date: 31 Jul 07 - 03:07 PM

The first Rasmussen report made the calculation that there would be one very large scale reactor accident in 100,000 "reactor years". That was without calculating human error. The second Rasmussen report including human error (but not bad human intention) came up with a roughly 1 accident in 50,000 "reactor years". Some German critics said the number may well be as low as 10,000 "reactor years".

We have one single datum so far for large scale accidents, Chernobyl was after roughly 4,000 "reactor years".

Let's ignore the critics and this single datum, for that reactor was a particularly bad design (I still hear the then West German communists saying that socialist reactors were inherently safer than capitalist reactors because they belonged to the people, but I digress).

Let us assume, 50,000 is a good guess. A "reactor year" is a year during which one reactor runs uninterrupted. So, if 100 reactors run one year without standstill, that makes 100 "reactor years".

In 2003, there have been 437 commercial reactors worldwide (noone knows exactly how many noncommercial reactors there are, so lets ignore them at this point). I therefore calculate roughly 400 "reactor years" per year. That makes 24,000 "reactor years" in 60 years (assuming the number of reactors is constant, which at the moment underestimates the number of reactors).

That is, even if we take the numbers from the second Rasmussen report which have been disputed and do not even try to calculate bad will actions, we have a very roughly 50:50 chance of seeing a very large scale accident within the next thirty years, somewhere in the world.
If the number of reactors would increase by factor ten (some energy scenarios say that) the number of "reactor years" per year will also increase by 10. With 5,000 reactors all over thw world, the pro-nuclear-energy Rasmussen report would expect us to adapt to roughly one very large scale accident some place in the world per decade.

These are in rough estimation the numbers as the nuclear industry itself deals with. The evaluation is of course up to yourself.
2015 (China), 2025 (Pakistan), 2035 (Iran), 2045 (Mexico), 2055 (?)

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: BS: TMI- Risks of 'clean' power
From: Don Firth
Date: 31 Jul 07 - 03:08 PM

In one of Midchuck's posts above, he mentions ". . . letting the grass grow instead of using power mowers. . . ."   And then he goes on to point out the CO2 absorbing benefits of just letting the grass grow.

But if one insists on having a "well manicured lawn," something sprang into mind. But first, I looked up the following as a very relevant item:
Latest Obesity Statistics
USA Obesity Rates Reach Epidemic Proportions
     58 Million Overweight; 40 Million Obese; 3 Million morbidly Obese
     Eight out of 10 over 25's Overweight
     78% of American's not meeting basic activity level recommendations
     25% completely Sedentary
     76% increase in Type II diabetes in adults 30-40 yrs old since 1990
Then, the report goes on to give the stats on obesity related diseases, the prevalence of childhood obesity, and a whole bunch of other stuff that comes as a result of stupid eating habits and lack of exercise, or physical activity in general/

I recall when I was a kid, one of the oft observed weekend activities was someone out mowing their lawn. And some enterprising kids had themselves a nice business going around the neighborhood mowing lawns.

And not one power mower to be seen. Everybody used the hand-pushed variety.

I thought I'd go googling and see if I could find a picture of one of the hand-pushed lawnmowers just in case some of the younger Mudcatters had never seen one and wondered what it looked like and how it worked. And you know what? I found hundreds of pictures of various kinds of power mowers—gas powered and electric powered—and not one photo of a hand pushed mower could I find! That speaks volumes.

I did, however, find a couple of photos that offered alternatives to lawnmowers that have to be plugged in or filled with gasoline. If you absolutely insist on having a power lawnmower, there's THIS. This has the advantage of quite possibly fertilizing your lawn at the same time. Or if you prefer a riding lawnmower, THIS looks like a pretty good idea.

By using a hand pushed lawnmower, the only energy you use is your own. And by doing that, you might also sweat off a little bit of that accumulation of lard.

And in fall, all around the nation, one hears the din of leaf blowers.

Whatever happened to RAKES?

And this doesn't even address the possibility of walking the two blocks to the grocery store instead of hauling one's overly upholstered butt into the Ford Explorer and driving there and back.

Sometimes I despair of my species.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: BS: TMI- Risks of 'clean' power
From: GUEST,MarkS
Date: 31 Jul 07 - 03:15 PM

The essential thing is to find ways of living that don't involve using masses of power, no matter how it is generated. Technical fixes that ignore that just shift the problem around.


Too true, Mc Grath, too true. But the trick is to find the least hazardous way of manufacturing whatever fraction of power we do finally wind up needing. Would rather see the debate around evaluating which technique of power generation is the most environmentally beneign.

Mark


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Subject: RE: BS: TMI- Risks of 'clean' power
From: MMario
Date: 31 Jul 07 - 03:26 PM

I doubt un-mowed lawns would be significant in reducing co2 as 80% of oxygen production is ocean based.


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Subject: RE: BS: TMI- Risks of 'clean' power
From: Rapparee
Date: 31 Jul 07 - 04:07 PM

Don, even with a self-propelled power mower (such as I have) you can still end up walking a pretty good distance. Last time I mowed my pedometer tracked over 5,000 steps. That's about 2.3 miles, just walking back and forth, back and forth. It doesn't count the other stuff I did that day (such as shopping) or the intensity of the exercise (steps taken walking uphill use more calories than those on level ground, for instance). One of these days I'll use a pedometer on a piste just for the helluvit.

Watching the golfers from my back porch I see all sorts of buggies, and perhaps only 25% of the golfers are walking the course even pulling their clubs in the cart. Far fewer actually carry their clubs. I used to caddy, and even 9 holes spent totin' a leather golf bag with a full set of clubs in the hot August sun will put hair on your chest.

Something the Western World would do well to reinstate is reasonably sized menu portions. I just came from lunch where I had a two-egg omelet, a biscuit with butter, and some fruit. I could have had a double cheeseburger with bacon, each patty weighing 8 ounces, with "endless" fries, but I didn't.


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Subject: RE: BS: TMI- Risks of 'clean' power
From: Bill D
Date: 31 Jul 07 - 04:53 PM

After my "guestimate" post above, it was interesting to read Wolfgang's compilation of figures which say approximately what I said, but in detail. You just do NOT have perfect, accident-free records in any endeavor....but nuclear power plants are on a different scale than slipping in the bathtub or driving cars or flying on airplanes.
   After a plane crash, even at an airport, they can clean up and use the runway again...but the area around Chernoybl will be causing damage for many, many years, and there are a limited number of places we CAN build plants. I know this seems to be belaboring the obvious, but these are statistics that need to be considered....if we had 5000 plants, and one serious accident every decade, large areas of the globe would be affected for eons.
   It all tells me that less NEED for power is a goal, as is safer ways of producing it. Ethanol as fuel is a prime example of the problem that it takes almost as much energy to produce as we gain.

Once again....fewer people would help with this, as well as many other issues.


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Subject: RE: BS: TMI- Risks of 'clean' power
From: Charley Noble
Date: 31 Jul 07 - 05:46 PM

BeardedBruce has succeeded in finding a current article which greatly understates the impact of accidents at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. I really hate to see the PR people for the nuclear industry get away with this.

I worked as an anti-nuclear organizer for over ten years on this issue, from 1982 to the early 1990's based in Maine. There's nothing like being involved to make one aware of skillful editing. My parents spent 5 years challenging the siting of the Maine Yankee nuclear plant from 1968 to 1973. It's an issue with a long half-life.

First of all the Three Mile Island accident in 1979 was in fact a partial melt-down of the reactor core. A year or so after the accident plant worker and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff were able to determine that the melted fuel rods had eaten their way through the containment vessel and then pooled beneath it. The public in the immediate vicinity and those downwind were very lucky that more radioactive gas didn't escape from the plant than did. The reactor engineers at the time of the accident had no clue that the reactor containment vessel had been breached. Even today there are few people aware that there was a partial meltdown of the fuel rods.

The Chernobyl accident in 1986 was much worse. While the immediate deaths from radiation was limited to a few dozen emergency workers, hundreds more have died since then from radiation poisoning, and the final toll will probably be in the thousands. The children in the Ukraine were the most vulnerable, thousands are still under treatment for thyroid cancer. The estimates of mortalities and illness are mitigated by the fact that hundreds of thousands of residents were evacuated from the contaminated areas and are difficult to track long term. With the exception of a few senior citizens, very few people have moved back into the areas from which they were evacuated. The economic costs of this accident were catastropic to the economy of the Ukraine.

In additional to the risk of catastropic accidents, there is also the lingering issue associated with successful nuclear power generation: what should be done to safely store the highly radioactive spent fuel for hundreds of thousands of years? Nor do the nuclear power advocates mention the massive low level radioactive contamination that happens when the uranium ore is concentrated into nuclear fuel.

What a disgusting shell game!

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: BS: TMI- Risks of 'clean' power
From: Charley Noble
Date: 31 Jul 07 - 07:11 PM

Here's a link to what Wikipedia has to say about the Chernobyl disaster: Click here for article

Here's a link to a story about the Three Mile Island Accident: click here for article

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: BS: TMI- Risks of 'clean' power
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 31 Jul 07 - 07:58 PM

"Look at fusion."

Precisely. We look at it every time the sun rises. Giving us all the power we need, one way and another - wind power, wave power, tidal power, fossil fuels, it's all solar power when you get down to it. And we are only using a tiny fraction of what's there - and it's good for another 5 billion years or so.

Maybe someday we'll have the technology to run fusion on a smaller scale locally, here on Earth - but as of now we can't, and it's no good assuming we'll be able to do it. Counting your chickens before the eggs are even laid has always been considered to be a dodgy basis for forward planning.


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Subject: RE: BS: TMI- Risks of 'clean' power
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 31 Jul 07 - 08:19 PM

Hand Mowers are still sold in Australia. Google 'hand mower' turns them up all over the place.


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Subject: RE: BS: TMI- Risks of 'clean' power
From: Don Firth
Date: 31 Jul 07 - 08:42 PM

"Hand mower" or "push mower" turned up a whole bunch of them, so I guess they're still out and around. Thanks, Robin!

Here we go. THIS is pretty similar to what I remember seeing when I was a kid. There was also a sort of canvas bin thing you could hang on the back to catch the grass cuttings.

You can still buy them, but I haven't seen one of these things in actual use in decades!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: BS: TMI- Risks of 'clean' power
From: Rapparee
Date: 31 Jul 07 - 08:52 PM

Come 'round here and visit, Don. I've seen several recently.

Just because we don't HAVE fusion doesn't mean that we will NEVER have it. I suspect that when (not if) it is developed it won't be done by the US, but by China or India.


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Subject: RE: BS: TMI- Risks of 'clean' power
From: Gurney
Date: 01 Aug 07 - 12:18 AM

As several have pointed out, less people is the answer.

But it isn't going to happen, is it!

In what could be termed the western world, population is rising at an alarming rate, and although I have no figures to prove it, observation and reading leads me to believe immigration is a major factor in this increase.

In the third world, population is rising at an alarming rate, and although I have no figures to prove it, observation and reading leads me to believe that advances in medicine, foreign food aid, and the fact that no social security exists there,(more children = survival in old age) are the major factors in this increase.

So, how do you go about stopping immigration, and letting 'foreign' children die of starvation and curable diseases.
I haven't any answers. None at all.

I read somewhere that nuclear power produces waste volume the size of an asprin per consumer per year. Nasty waste, though.

I'm not advocating anything, just sharing thoughts. I live in a country that has had a population increase of 33% in 30 years, that bans nuclear power and weapons, where I am an immigrant, and I'm an ex-coal miner and ex-insurance agent in a mining area, and I've had a hand in building many vehicles. And I'm sitting in front of my 4th computer in 10 years.
Chris.


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Subject: RE: BS: TMI- Risks of 'clean' power
From: mrdux
Date: 01 Aug 07 - 12:27 AM

Don --

I actually use a 40 year old push mower, and it still works just fine. I don't use one of the canvas grass catchers: the clippings are a good mulch for the grass (or so says my wife and resident gardening expert). If you're down in Portland, I'll be glad to give you a demonstration, or even let you try it yourself. . . And also show off our new (as of June) solar panels -- even here in the PNW, the array is supposed to generate close to 3/4 of our annual electricity needs -- so far, it seems to be on target. It's really a kick to stand in the driveway and watch the meter run backwards.

michael


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Subject: RE: BS: TMI- Risks of 'clean' power
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 01 Aug 07 - 05:52 AM

Chernobyl ... up to the year 2002 about 4,000 cases of thyroid cancer reported in children and adolescents who were exposed at the time of the accident, and more cases can be expected during the next decades.

This statistic is not too much different than the suspected results of weapons tests in the US.

The "downwind" drift from Nevada tests is suspected of being the cause of a "thyroidectomy" boom in north Texas and adjacent areas during the 50s and early 60s.

At the time, without knowledge of the effects of radiation, "other explanations" (some of which may have contributed) sort of dismissed it and it seems to have been forgotten now that there's enough real understanding that the link might be shown (or might be refuted).

But quite a number of people from the region still require daily L-thyroxine/synthroid as a result of having their thyroids excised at an early age. I know a couple of them - fairly intimately.

Regarding the use of a push mower: You can only do that successfully if you don't fertilize monthly and water twice per week. It's anti-Yuppie to live like that.

Having some experience "pushing the issue," hand mowing must be done before the grass gets very far ahead of you, or you can't push through it. It also helps if it's not a truly thick/dense carpet of grass, as when it's not over-fertilized and suffers a bit from drying out occasionally.

John


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Subject: RE: BS: TMI- Risks of 'clean' power
From: Ron Davies
Date: 01 Aug 07 - 07:44 AM

Chemical fertilizer, leafblowers--not to mention power mowers--which aren't likely to be phased out any time soon--there are all sorts of environmentally disastrous ways--and some actually stupidly wasting fossil fuels-- that people, in the US in particular, behave.

As has been pointed out here--and I pointed out years ago--there is actually absolutely no justification for leafblowers.

The issue of leafblowers is tiny, in the grand scheme of things, but multiplied by the number of the infernal things in the US, it's a sizable waste of fossil fuel.

And lawns themselves are a waste. Sure it's nice to sit out on the lawn once in a while. I never did have a large lawn. Now we've planted it up completely with a garden primarily of butterfly- and bee-friendly plants--all native. No lawn. No use of power mower. No fertilizer--except mulch. And for absolute sure no leafblower.

Obviously some lawns are much bigger. But they could be shrunk, by making gardens of more of the space.


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Subject: RE: BS: TMI- Risks of 'clean' power
From: Grab
Date: 01 Aug 07 - 07:49 AM

Rapaire, there *is* fusion research going on, funded internationally (including by the US) - JET in Switzerland has been going for years, and there's a new one in progress (can't remember the name offhand) which is intended to be the last step before commercial fusion. It can and will be done on Earth, almost certainly in my lifetime.

I suspect you mean fast-breeder reactors, and on that you're right. BNFL got majorly screwed over that. Their plan was that Britain became the international centre for fuel reprocessing, they built up a stash of plutonium (which was a "waste product" for uranium-based reactors) from reprocessing, and then used that plutonium as essentially "free" fuel for fast-breeder reactors. This would use up the plutonium (plutonium is *not* forever if you use it as fuel!) and convert it to shorter-halflife elements which solves an awful lot of Charlie's "hundreds of thousands of years" problem. But anti-nuclear protests prevented any significant building of fast-breeder reactors in the UK, so BNFL has been shafted with storing it basically ad infinitum.

Charlie, my dad worked as the environmental officer at BNFL's Salwick plant, so I've unavoidably picked up a fair amount of info. This doesn't mean I'm pro-nuclear, but it does mean I know a fair amount of the facts. I'm basically nuclear-agnostic, and fossil-fuel-agnostic and mega-dam-agnostic too - I'm not actively opposed to any of them on principle, but if we can find safer generation methods then I think we should.

On that front, I have to take issue with the "massive low-level radioactive contamination" from fuel processing. Is that "massive" as in high-level, or "massive" as in covering a wide area? And is this "contamination" significant compared to background radiation? or compared to radioactive particles from fossil-fuels? My dad had personal experience with this particular subject, when FoE produced a study showing the potential for radioactive particle concentration in the river Ribble. At some expense, BNFL got a study of the *actual* river behaviour, and found that not only was there no such concentration, the river behaviour was fundamentally different to what the initial study showed, indicating that the initial study's river model was so fatally flawed as to be worthless. FoE hadn't done any such checks.

Let's not dance around it though. Nuclear fission reactions *are* potentially dangerous, and so are the processing methods for producing fuel rods. What stops them being *actually* dangerous are the design of the reactor and the design of the processing plant, reliable automated control systems (including interlocks to prevent human errors), and human monitoring to ensure that everything's working properly.   Where accidents have occurred, it's always been a failure in one of those three elements: bad design, unreliable control systems or inadequate monitoring.

In that, they're no different to coal/oil/gas power, or dams, or chemical factories for that matter. Coal mines and oil/gas rigs are hugely dangerous, and those power stations can give off huge amounts of hazardous chemicals - check out Russia's industrial wastelands for example. You think Chernobyl was bad, then check out China's record on dams - a major failure in 1975 drowned 26,000 people, with another 145,000 dying from disease and famine in the aftermath. And the potential problems with chemical factories should need no explanation, given that just about everything in there is toxic, explosive or both - Bhopal is a good example here, or the many places in the US contaminated with dioxins.

To give an example from somewhere else, consider planes. The DC-10 was designed with its control cables running along a single slot which was vulnerable to damage. When this failed, the planes weren't controllable and crashed. At least one Airbus is known to have crashed because of failure of its electronics (most likely due to software). The number of plane crashes due to faulty radar, faulty landing-assist systems and simple pilot error is simply huge. We'd have to be crazy to fly - wouldn't we...? Well actually no, because the FAA and other organisations try to learn from what's gone wrong and ensure it doesn't happen again, and airplane manufacturers also try to learn from what's gone wrong before because their company is at stake.

But does this happen with nuclear? That's my main worry with nuclear is with the second and third points - control systems and monitoring. Reactor designs are very mature, and all nuclear plants in the West are designed to fail safe. But control systems are open to interference from management saying "we've got a deadline and it's good enough, so just do it" - Les Hatton quotes examples of this in his book on software reliability. They may also be open to sabotage or other active stupidity, such as with Chernobyl (which was not a failsafe design but relied on automated controls to keep it safe). And there have been several cases of monitoring being circumvented - one case involved X-rays of welds being falsified to save money.

This isn't unique to nuclear plants though - they just happen to be the highest-profile example of this general human problem. The Buncefield depot fire in Hemel Hempstead is one example. Or the many coal-mining disasters, most of which have turned out to be avoidable. Or zillions of chemical spillages, or homeowners being told to stay indoors because some dangerous gas has been released from their local ICI plant because of some screwup there. In all these cases, designs are mostly good because the potential problems with a chunk of metal or concrete are visible and civil engineering is a very mature area, but control systems are less visible, and human factors rely on individual people being consciencious *and* systems being in place to make sure they are. Basically, I'm trying to say that *all* heavy industry is a potential danger, and I think nuclear is no more or less a danger than other heavy industry.

Graham.


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Subject: RE: BS: TMI- Risks of 'clean' power
From: beardedbruce
Date: 01 Aug 07 - 07:56 AM

1. I agree that the problem is too many people- but who gets to decide who gets to be eliminated?

2. The article points out thet the risks of ANY power source have to be considered.

"The Chernobyl accident in 1986 was much worse. While the immediate deaths from radiation was limited to a few dozen emergency workers, hundreds more have died since then from radiation poisoning, and the final toll will probably be in the thousands."

And how many have died in coal mine accidents? And of black lung?

Even with idea that there would be an accident every decade, would that be more or less people killed than by an equal amount of coal, or oil, power production. I did NOT state that nuclear power was SAFE, but I will claim that it is something that should be considered. There are places where it should NOT be used: but there are places that hydro or coal should not be used.

As for the spent fuel rods, please let me know where all the ash from coal plants has been put, and ITS environmental impact. Is the once per decade release of radioactive materials as dangerous as the continuous acid rain that coal plants provide? Just look at the deaths PER MEGAWATT, using the expected accident rates. Don't forget to include the mining of the fuel, the transport, the operation of the plant, and the disposal of the end products.- FOR ALL sources.
THAT is what needs to be looked at.


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Subject: RE: BS: TMI- Risks of 'clean' power
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 01 Aug 07 - 09:30 AM

It should not be overlooked that fusion power, while expected to be using only light elements (usually hydrogen/deuterium) as an input fuel, requires sufficiently high particle fluxes at high energy that it renders everything used to build the device eventually radioactive.

Whether the problem is safely storing "depleted fuel" that was once highly radioactive and now is less so, or safely storing initially inert nuts and bolts made radioactive by being used in or near a fusion reactor the problems remain very similar.

The point is not that fusion power is too dangerous to ever use, but that it's not inherently that much safer or cleaner than fission, does not inherently produce "no radiation waste byproducts" - so it makes no real sense to wait for "something better." It won't be that much better.

If the disposal problems can be dealt with satisfactorily, and my personal opinion is that mostly they can, then the real question is whether fusion or fission reactors are at least "no more destructive than fossil fuel plants."

In terms of real environmental and human health costs, it cannot be said that fossil fuels are low impact, or even that they have less impact than a nuke meltdown now and then. [slightly sarcastic I guess. Sorry.]

John


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Subject: RE: BS: TMI- Risks of 'clean' power
From: Charley Noble
Date: 01 Aug 07 - 09:33 AM

Graham-

I appreciate the effort you've put into your long post on the theory and operation of nuclear plants. I essentially agree with much of what you have to say. Some of our best speakers in our anti-nuclear power campaigns were former members of the industry who had believed in the potential of nuclear energy, only to be disillusioned by its operation.

The design of nuclear plants has improved over the years, with many more safeguards which were reluctantly adopted by the industry. However, technology does still break down, earthquakes can confound the most brilliant design, operators can still make mistakes, and when that happens the consequences can be catastrophic, far beyond what could happen with a similar accident at a conventional power plant. And, least we forget, power company decision makers may adopt least cost approaches to plant operation with jeoprodize long term public safety. Why would any sane energy policy maker want to run that risk? In Maine, the power company executives finally agreed to shutting down their maintenance plagued nuclear power plant 10 years before its license ran out.

The low level radioactive contamination produced in the processing and concentration of radioactive fuel might better be described as "extensive" rather than "massive." It's still a major environmental clean-up problem in our southwest states, which tends to be ignored by those advocating "clean nuclear energy." The high level nuclear waste, left after the "spent" fuel rods are removed from the reactor, is also often conveniently ignored by such advocates or addressed by saying that's a question that future generations will solve. To compare the danger of being exposed to high level nuclear waste to acid rain demonstrates an abysmal ignorance of the danger involved. Of course I don't recommend continued generation of energy by coal or other fossil fuel plants either. But great debating point!

Wind power is already competitive with fossil fuel plants and has a much lower impact on the environment and represents little danger to the public (even if it is near your back yard). Hydro power has enough of an environmental impact to require regulation but also does not contribute significantly to global warming (well, there may be problems with flooding extensive forest areas as has been done by Quebec Hydro). Solar power still has a long way to go before it is competitive with fossil fuels but it will be there when we need it.

Nuclear fission plants are even more dangerous than conventional nuclear power plants. I believe the reaction is still cooled with liquid sodium, which requires much stronger containment than water, and when things go bad as they did in the partial melt-down of the Enrico Fermi fission plant outside Detroit, they are even harder to control. The Japanese have also had some close calls with their fission plant. The objective is still appealing, to convert "spent-fuel rods" (high-level nuclear waste) into shorter lived nuclear waste while producing energy, but the risk still seems too high to me. And the re-processing of the spent fuel still leaves greater volumes of lower level (but still dangerous) radioactive waste products to deal with.

I have nothing to say pro or con about push-lawnmowers. I suppose it's a question that's easier to wrestle with than national or international energy policy.

Why am I painting the livingroom today?

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: BS: TMI- Risks of 'clean' power
From: Bill D
Date: 01 Aug 07 - 12:02 PM

"...less people is the answer.

But it isn't going to happen, is it!"

oh, sure it is! The only question is whether it will be controlled sanely by us, or happen in response to various disasters and famines. (Google "Donora, Pennsylvania"). This planet will flatly not support 50 Billion people.

As to stuff like push mowers...I used one as a kid, on a small, flat lawn. There is no way I could at my age, mow my large, hilly lawn with all the roots in it that way today.
   As Ron says, I would have to convert to some sort of bushes and ground cover...which require a different sort of maintenance. Probably a good idea, but BOY, the trouble and expense getting started.


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Subject: RE: BS: TMI- Risks of 'clean' power
From: GUEST,petr
Date: 01 Aug 07 - 12:33 PM

we had a friend of the family that worked in for the state agriculture dept in Czechoslovakia, back in the the late 80s. When CHernobyl happened he was sent out in the fields with a geiger counter.. He said it was all off the scale, and was under strict orders not to say anything, knowing that grass would be fed to cattle and the milk would be consumed by the public.

He didnt live to see velvet revolution only a few years later, he died of leukemia in 1989. Its hard to say what caused the leukemia but considering the time he spent outside one wonders what his radiation exposure was.

Im not particularly an advocate nor anti-nuclear, but an article I read in Home Power yesterday was rather interesting. Its been 34years since a nuclear power plant has been built in the US, and yet the industry receives 13billion $us yearly in funding. The 75 or so nuclear plants in the US were estimated to cost $45 billion but ultimately ended up costing - $175 billion (almost 4times the original estimate). It is expensive. and after 60years we dont seem to enjoy any economies of scale, or cheaper plants that one would expect with a maturing industry.

Implicit in talk about nuclear energy is that its green house gas free..however this doesnt address the mining, processing, transportation of uranium - and the transportation and storage facilities required of it afterwards. There is quite a lot of co2 generated in all those steps. As well as all the concrete involved in the construction.


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Subject: RE: BS: TMI- Risks of 'clean' power
From: Charley Noble
Date: 01 Aug 07 - 02:14 PM

petr-

"Implicit in talk about nuclear energy is that its green house gas free..however this doesnt address the mining, processing, transportation of uranium - and the transportation and storage facilities required of it afterwards. There is quite a lot of co2 generated in all those steps. As well as all the concrete involved in the construction."

A point worth repeating, repeating, repeating...

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: BS: TMI- Risks of 'clean' power
From: beardedbruce
Date: 01 Aug 07 - 02:28 PM

"this doesnt address the mining, processing, transportation of uranium - and the transportation and storage facilities required of it afterwards. There is quite a lot of co2 generated in all those steps. "

True- but nowhere near as much as is generated by coal or oil. If the cost of construction is figured in, both hydro and geothermal have high startup costs. To be fair, one has to look at the total lifetime costs for ALL the various forms of power production- and looking at the TOTAL cost, nuclear is still competitive. It takes a LOT more tons of coal"ore" per megawatt than it does uranium: AND I have yet to see the design for a coal "breeder" plant that produces fuel.

Nuclear is NOT the one-size fits all cure, by any means: but the radiation released by the burning of coal ( from NATURAL radioactives found in it) PER MEGAWATT is FAR above the expected ( WITH accidents) amount released by nuclear plants.


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Subject: RE: BS: TMI- Risks of 'clean' power
From: Donuel
Date: 01 Aug 07 - 04:37 PM

The Chesapeak Bay is getting a new nuke plant on the cliff side shore of Charles county.

This was a place where one can find incredible fossils within 5 minutes of digging. They fenced it off last year claiming the cliff is a public hazard.


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Subject: RE: BS: TMI- Risks of 'clean' power
From: Grab
Date: 01 Aug 07 - 06:03 PM

Thanks Charley. I guess neither of us disagree that they're dangerous when they go pear-shaped - I think we just disagree over whether the risk of pear-shaped-ness is any greater/less than other generation schemes.

Sodium-cooled reactors are actually a lot *more* safe than water, basically because there's no risk of boiling. IIRC, it wasn't the heat that blew up Chernobyl, it was explosive boiling of the water coolant. A quick Google found this link this link on the subject of sodium-cooled reactors. In other words, this is using good design so you don't need a robust control system or skilled operators - left to its own devices, it fails safe.

Of the high-level radioactive waste, a large part of that is plutonium or unreacted uranium. That goes for reprocessing to get the uranium out for reuse. As I said above, fast-breeder reactors can *use* that plutonium - why store it for thousands of years when you can use it to generate electricity? (It's a bit like having a back-yard full of charged gas canisters and worrying that they're so dangerous to store, and incidentally, isn't our electric central-heating getting expensive these days... ;-) And the remaining elements after the fast-breeder reaction have significantly shorter half-lives, making storage a much more manageable proposition.

Wind power is safe enough, but there are problems with it. The first problem is covering enough area - your average power station takes up a large-industrial-estate-sized area, where a wind farm of comparable wattage takes up most of the county. This might not be a big deal in Arizona, but Britain has a lot more population on a lot less area than the UK, so there isn't anywhere to put them that wouldn't be obtrusive to someone. There's also the energy-storage problem - serious use will need an absolute stack of pumped-hydro schemes (environmental impact there) to cover for when the wind dies. Thankfully maintenance is simpler on modern turbines which don't need the complex gearboxes the older ones had (which ironically tended to break in strong winds). There are some risks to birds too, although this is a fairly minor issue.

Solar really doesn't cut it for most of the world. Again, fine for Arizona, but not much use for a cold, cloudy British winter (or a cold, cloudy British summer if it comes to that!). And same energy-storage problems again.

As for the acid rain example, that's apples and oranges. For a fairer comparison, try comparing numbers of how many people and animals have been killed by acid rain and smog, and how much of the environment (and animals depending on it) has been killed by acid rain, fly ash and other fossil-fuel-based woes, as against combined totals for all nuclear accidents (and even that is biased against nuclear, given that we're talking nuclear *accidents* instead of regular nuclear output that people are exposed to). In cutting emissions from fossil fuels, the EPA website says: "When fully implemented by the year 2010, the public health benefits of the Acid Rain Program are estimated to be valued at $50 billion annually, due to decreased mortality, hospital admissions, and emergency room visits." And that's the effect on people. For the environment, there's the industrial heartlands of Russia, Welsh coal-mining communities like Merthyr, Scandanavian forests affected by British pollution, and so on. Compare those to Ukraine, where wildlife is positively thriving around the Chernobyl area in the absence of people.

Graham.


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Subject: RE: BS: TMI- Risks of 'clean' power
From: GUEST,petr
Date: 01 Aug 07 - 08:58 PM

'solar doesnt cut it for most of the world'
take a look at Germany - they set out to make 20% of their energy
renewable by 2020. It looks like it will be 30% actually.
True they have subsidized the industry - and have guaranteed to buy all electricity generated from home pv panels at 20c/kwh for the next 10years, (and they have a population willing to pay more)
but it it didnt take long for people to realize they can make money from it, and it has brought in lots of investment in the renewable energy industry - both wind and solar are miles ahead in Europe than in the US.
and I wouldnt consider Germany to be a particularly sunny climate..


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Subject: RE: BS: TMI- Risks of 'clean' power
From: Charley Noble
Date: 01 Aug 07 - 10:55 PM

Graham-

Nice link to how safe sodium cooled fission reactors might be, and backed up with data from a 20MW experimental plant.

Only one line of caution appears in the whole article:

"Although sodium can be dangerous if allowed direct contact with air or water, with appropriate care, it makes a nearly ideal coolant."

Do you suppose that "appropriate" engineering can be counted on to prevent such a leak in the highly active sodium coolant? Was such a leak the source of the partial melt-down of the Enrico Fermi plant near Detroit in 1966 (We Almost Lost Detroit)? Have we really lerned from this mistake?

Damn, I guess I'll have to reread some of my booring old reference books. It's so much more fun to shoot from the hip!

I was thinking that the Japanese had also experienced serious accidents in their sodium cooled fission plant. I could be imagining things, but real world experience is worth considering.

Nice to hear that Germany is investing in major solar eletricity production.

Someday we may get back to considering the tides for energy production as well. Maine is currently studying several sites for below water level tidal turbines.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: BS: TMI- Risks of 'clean' power
From: beardedbruce
Date: 02 Aug 07 - 06:52 AM

Solar electric power production using direct conversion panals is one of the MOST polluting forms of energy generation. The production of those solar panals produces large amounts of heavy metal waste, and is presently done in third world countries to get around environmental laws. So, I guess if you poison another part of the world it is OK, as long as YOUR country has clean energy? And what is the impact of the disposal of those panals, at the end of their usefull life.


The TOTAL lifecycle has to be looked at, to compare sources of energy production.



BTW, a coal plant WILL release those radioactive residues, continuously , when operating normally. A nuclear plant only releases them when there is an accident.


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Subject: RE: BS: TMI- Risks of 'clean' power
From: Mr Red
Date: 02 Aug 07 - 08:07 AM

It was said at the time - more people died on Chapaquidick that 3 Mile Island.

But should I ever be driven by the senator - I would take my chances.


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Subject: RE: BS: TMI- Risks of 'clean' power
From: Charley Noble
Date: 02 Aug 07 - 09:32 AM

Beardedbruce-

I do hope you lobby hard for tough environmental regulations for conventional power plants, and for upgrading the older ones. Otherwise I might suspect you are just stirring the pot to provoke more response.

I would agree that environmental pollution from conventional power plants, and improper disposal of industrial waste, are major problems that are inadequately regulated by the current administration.

Would you please admit that nuclear power generation runs the risk of a catastrophic accident in our lifetime, far beyond anything that a major accident at a conventional power plant could incur. Japan in a major earthquake zone has just experienced multiple failures (including the cover-up) of cooling systems, emergency fire suppression systems, at their largest nuclear power plant due to a 6.6 earthquake. They were very very lucky (so were the neighboring downwind countries). Evidently the liquid and gas releases of radiation were not too massive, although it's still far too early to get reliable reports.

Mr. Red-

Very witty.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: BS: TMI- Risks of 'clean' power
From: Grab
Date: 02 Aug 07 - 09:50 AM

The last big problem in Japan that I heard about was at a processing facility. The stupid sods decided to circumvent the automated processes by manually pouring stuff into the reacting tanks! Result was a bit of a bang when they managed to get critical mass in there. IIRC the dummies doing it got what they deserved, which was that two of the three operators died. Some leak of radiation too, inevitably. That's what worries me about the human aspect of it - how stupid can some people be?!

Yeah, sodium being very reactive with oxygen, it ain't friendly with air or water. Provided you can keep it inside though, it's good. I believe sodium-cooling is a more recent system, so I don't know if the Detroit reactor would have had it.

Quick check on Google (and hence Wikipedia) suggests the cause of the Enrico Fermi partial meltdown was an internal blockage in the cooling system, not a leak as such. Also says that there was no contamination outside the containment vessel (the "shell" around the plant) so I guess some of the "design" part worked to mitigate failure of other bits. I don't know anything about that one, so I'd appreciate info if you've got links.

Graham.


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Subject: RE: BS: TMI- Risks of 'clean' power
From: beardedbruce
Date: 02 Aug 07 - 10:25 AM

Charley,

I do hope you lobby hard for tough environmental regulations for ALL power plants, and for upgrading the older ones. Otherwise I might suspect you are just anti-nuclear, and NOT anti-environmental impact.


In fact, ALL sources should be looked at- THE ENTIRE LIFE CYCLE. I hear too many people who do not understand the impact of lead poisoning talking about how clean hybrid and electric vehicles are. The fact that the batteries have to be produced, and disposed of at end of life seems to have slipped their minds.

Nuclear, when designed correctly, is FAR safer than the present plants that they would replace: Look at the number of people killed mining coal vs the number killed mining uranium. You keep talking about accidents- They should be looked at, but you ignore the KNOWN deaths due to conventional plants, and make wild claims ( without supporting numbers) about nuclear ones.

Will there be accidents, YES, IN ALL CASES!

Should we not use any power at all, then, to avoid those deaths?????

And what will that cost in lives lost?


A byproduct of nuclear power are radioisotopes. I presume that, since there is a chance of the reactor making them having an accident, you are against their use?

COST/BENEFIT analysis, not unsubstantiated claims, should be used for ALL decisions


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Subject: RE: BS: TMI- Risks of 'clean' power
From: beardedbruce
Date: 02 Aug 07 - 11:00 AM

"Japan in a major earthquake zone "

It is incompetant engineering to BUILD a nuclear plant in a major earthquake zone.


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Subject: RE: BS: TMI- Risks of 'clean' power
From: Charley Noble
Date: 02 Aug 07 - 02:53 PM

Beardedbruce-

I couldn't agree with you more that it is ill-advised to construct a nuclear power plant in a major fault zone but that's what some power companies have done and are planning to do again. The most blatant example that I'm aware of in the States is the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant near San Luis Obisbo, California. Other examples in California include the Humbolt reactor near Eureka (closed down by NRC in 1975), and the San Onofre reactor near San Clemente.

Why do utility company executives continue to make such decisions? Well, to answer my own rhetorical question, it has something to do with the millions of dollars the nuclear lobbyists spend each year to convince them that the "new" nuclear power are fool proof and environmentally benign. I don't suppose you've run across some of their television commercials recently?

Graham-

Thanks for tracking down the story of the workers at the Japanese reprocessing plant who made a foolish and deadly blunder. My private fear is that the new nuclear plants have so many safeguards that the control operators will get bored at their jobs, be playing video games or answering e-mail when something critical is happening. Then it's all over except for the regrets.

Here's the supplementary info I could harvest from Goggle on the Fermi 1 plant in Michigan, and the coolant was indeed sodium:

"On October 5, 1966 Fermi 1 (described as a fast breeder reactor) suffered a partial nuclear meltdown. No radiation was released off-site, and no one was injured. The accident was attributed to a piece of zirconium that obstructed a flow-guide in the sodium cooling system. Two of the 105 fuel assemblies melted during the incident, but no contamination was recorded outside the containment vessel."

Detroit Edison made several attempts to put the reactor back into operation but after a "sodium coolant explosion" decided to give up.

This may be "old" history but relevant old history.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: BS: TMI- Risks of 'clean' power
From: GUEST,petr
Date: 02 Aug 07 - 07:44 PM

'Solar electric power production using direct conversion panals is one of the MOST polluting forms of energy generation'

I find that very hard to believe, do you want to cite some source for that? I think it would be a hard sell for Germany for instance to push for solar power because its green and outsource the manufacture of pv
to bypass environmental concerns.


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Subject: RE: BS: TMI- Risks of 'clean' power
From: Grab
Date: 03 Aug 07 - 06:23 AM

Petr, the problem with photovoltaic is that the way they're produced uses an absolute *stack* of really nasty acids and heavy metals. It's the same system as used for silicon chips, except in this case you've got a few square metres of silicon chips so there's a pretty significant impact. This wouldn't be such a big deal if they lasted forever. But they don't last forever - the ones on my parents' boat, for example, are about 10 years old, and only 50% of the cells still work.

Plus they're inefficient - last I heard, even the best ones are less than 15% efficient (12% IIRC?). And they're expensive. In Britain, we're still advised (by independent consumer groups) not to buy photovoltaic panels for houses, because the payback time is about 20 years and the panels simply won't last that long. They might make economic sense somewhere very sunny, but at the moment they don't. They're only a good bet for places that don't have a better way of getting power - remote cabins, boats, caravans, etc.

Where solar power's being used more seriously, it's using the solar power to heat water, and then using that heat to generate electricity and/or run your domestic hot-water system. You mount what are basically large radiators on your roof, except that they're catching heat instead of giving it out. Early versions actually did use radiators, and it's perfectly possible to put together a reasonable low-cost home-made solution from old domestic radiators (there are a zillion plans on the web, and a lot of people have done it), although more professional systems are much more efficient now (but cost more). This is not only more efficient than photovoltaic, but it's also a lot cheaper, and their lifespan is a lot better too.

There are ideas around for new photovoltaic systems. Some are trying to get better efficiencies, which might make them break even that way. Others are trying to use organic chemicals to make systems which are less efficient but are a whole lot cheaper and less polluting to produce. There's stuff in the pipeline there, but it's going to be a while yet before anything hits the shelves.

Graham.


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Subject: RE: BS: TMI- Risks of 'clean' power
From: GUEST,petr
Date: 03 Aug 07 - 12:59 PM

Ive been reading Home Power lately and there are quite a few people successfully living off grid with solar/wind -
including one couple since the late 70s with no backup diesel generator.
(they use wood for heating, but solar for all their electric and theyve never had a power outage - in fact the batteries never discharged below 75%.
its not a future technology its here now.
One guy added solar panels to a $1900 electric scooter and commutes the 5miles to work - unfolds the panels and re-charges the scooter for the way back..


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