“Even if nuclear reactors weren’t top terrorist targets…”
Lie. A nuclear reactor is a terrible target. It’s about the hardest target you could even go after, encased in concrete and steel that would crush a plane in seconds.
“Even if radioactive waste didn’t remain deadly for 10,000 years…”
What are you talking about? Are you going to eat it or something? Do you think something magic happens in the 10,001st year? Do you think eating the toxic heavy metals that make up a solar panel is less deadly? Do you think that the impact of a thrown blade from a windmill is safe? Do you think that the explosion of a fossil-gas power plant doesn’t kill?
“Even if you wouldn’t mind radioactive waste passing through your town…”
Greatly preferable to the toxic chemicals that pass through every day. Most of them have no shielding and are highly chemically reactive. Radioactive waste is low-volume and heavily shielded.
“How would you feel about exposing your family to a potential radiation accident?”
And what would that be, Enemies of the Earth? Radioactive materials are shielded and radiation exposure is a weak carcinogen. Smoking is far more deadly and so is driving. But the most deadly of all is living without access to energy.
“Tell President Obama, no bailout for new nuclear reactors!”
He already knows. He’s not bailing out anything. He’s providing loan guarantees that will save taxpayer dollars and facilitate the construction of new clean nuclear energy.
Let me ask you, Enemies of the Earth, who’s paying you to put this garbage up? Is it coal, oil, gas or all three? Why do you expend all this energy fighting the best form of large-scale reliable energy we have?
I have a pretty good guess why you do it, and it has nothing to do with being a friend of the Earth.
(this was posted as a comment in the wrong thread, but I thought it deserved to be brought to the front)
It happens I wrote a blog post about this accident when it occurred, to the same point- that we tolerate many more dangerous substances than nuclear, and many more deaths from them, than we ever would from nuclear power.
If this had happened at one of our 108 nuclear power plants, mass hysteria would have transpired. There would be angry demonstrations replete with eco-tards chaining themselves to the fences around the plants,at every nuclear plant in the country. There would be congressional hearings. The news media would be filled with angry editorials calling for the shut down of all nuclear plants.
But gas? Never mind that there are at least a couple of people killed in gas explosions in residential structures every years. Here in Chicago, we have had numerous fires caused by surges of gas due to corroded old gas pipes in apartment buildings and houses, yet this nasty, dangerous, polluting substance powers almost every home furnace in the midwest, and is the preferred cooking fuel of most of Chicago.
While people send delegations to state legislatures to protest the transportation of low-radiation spent nuclear fuels through their communities, they are totally ignorant of the vastly more hazardous substances in tankers riding their bumpers on the highway, or stored in corroding drums at abandoned factories all over the country.
Thus we see the power of symbolism and loaded language to trump rational thought and common sense. Most people do not reason, but “think” in images and symbols, and the anti-nuke crowd got to our population before the voice of reason, and did a great job of negative anchoring by means of negative images, with nuclear power. And countering these images with reason is going to be an uphill battle.
Six people were killed and many more were injured. A $1B development was destroyed.
I can’t help but compare and contrast “clean and safe natural gas” to “dirty and dangerous nuclear power”….
Hmmm, how many people have been killed by civilian nuclear power plant accidents in the United States?
But lots of people get killed by natural gas explosions and coal mining accidents, to say nothing for the tens of thousands slowly killed by the emissions of burning coal.
Just out of curiosity, I decided to peruse some of my favorite anti-nuclear, pro-renewable websites and blogs, to see how they responded to the disaster in Connecticut, and to see if they showed some consistency by calling on a ban on natural gas just as they continually call on a ban on nuclear energy.
My first stop: Joe Romm and his blog “Climate Progress”.
Let’s see what Joe has said since February 7th. Now remember, Joe writes a lot since he gets paid to blog by his “non-profit” employer. Since February 7th, Joe has written more than 60 posts, and NOT ONE of them has been about the disaster in Connecticut.
But he found time to write one about the incomprehensibly miniscule tritium leak from the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant, with the obligatory Homer Simpson cartoon thrown in for good measure.
He also found time to mock Bill Gates for asking for an energy miracle, probably since Gates thinks that miracle will be found in nuclear power.
Amazing, Joe. You have time to strain at tritium, but you swallow the natural gas disaster without a mention. Truly amazing.
What about the Sierra Club?
Neither their “Compass” blog nor the personal blog of their head Carl Pope found time to mention the natural gas disaster in the last two weeks. Must not have been that important, I guess.
Then I get to Greenpeace.
Bless their brain-dead little hearts, they said something. Wedged between numerous posts burning with anger and hatred against nuclear energy, was this one little nugget. Michelle Frey, nine days after the disaster, mentions a “chemical blast” and calls on the government for better “chemical security legislation”. Bless her green little heart, she wants the government to make things safer.
You know, like the Nuclear Regulatory Agency is supposed to do for nuclear power plants.
So the score is: Joe Romm, 0; Sierra Club, 0; Greenpeace, 1. And I’m not even taking points away for all the anti-nuclear crap they wrote in the meantime.
On the other hand, the pro-nuclear blogosphere has been ready and responsive on this topic.
Rod Adams has written three pieces worthy of mention:
The anti-nuclear, “environmentalist” movement continues to lose all credibility based on how they ignore this tragedy.
You’re going to want to bookmark this one for later reference:
Probably one of the best that’s been on Depleted Cranium, and Steve Packard sets the bar pretty high for himself.
Boy, sometimes someone mentions something to a group of people that give a concept a level of credibility no money could buy:
13:28 — “there are some innovations in nuclear…modular, liquid…”
23:10 — “there’s a liquid-type reactor, which seems a little hard…but maybe they say that about us.”
Lately we’ve been seeing a lot more discussion about nuclear power on “environmentalist” and other left-leaning sites that have traditionally been opposed to nuclear. I know that part of this has been driven by the interest in building new reactors and reducing CO2 emissions, as well as by the President’s announcement of new loan guarantees to help build nuclear power plants.
But there is a fascinating sub-thread in many of these articles, especially in the comments sections: some folks who have been “anti-nuclear” are now publicly stating that they are “pro-thorium”.
The WIRED magazine article probably had a lot to do with it, as did Dr. Jim Hansen’s endorsement of LFTR and thorium in a letter to the President. But the idea seems to be spreading far and wide, and this article is yet another example of the trend. Steven Kotler interviewed me for this article last year, but it wasn’t until a few days ago that I found out that the article had been released. Steven does a good job helping people understand that “nuclear power” is a much bigger idea than they might have previously assumed, and isn’t just light-water reactors burning uranium.
There’s a lot of nuclear reactor designs out there, and more and more people are answering the question “are you in favor of nuclear power?” with the response:
“which kind of nuclear power?”
Maybe the liquid-fluoride thorium reactor is, since the vast majority of the nuclear industry doesn’t know anything about it.
But thanks to the WIRED article, the word is leaking out, and I was pleasantly surprised to find this article yesterday.
I was even more surprised when I looked at the website it was on.
Start with the fact that we haven’t built a new nuclear plant in over a generation. That means that the profession of nuclear engineering has not been much of a draw for at least that long. Our best and brightest STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) students went into other fields, like computer science, biology, or even finance. The breakthroughs they achieved over the last generation have transformed the way we live, giving us the Information Age, the biotechnology revolution, and the financial meltdown. Oops, can’t win ‘em all.
As a consequence, we do not have the cadre of engineers to build and operate lots of new nuclear plants. People with experience are a vanishing breed: at the ends of their careers, retired, or dead. We really have only three choices: import experienced engineers, outsource to foreign engineers, or educate our own engineers.
Shoot, I’m ready to give up. No point in trying.
Then there is the still unresolved problem of what to do with the nuclear waste. There is much to say on this topic, but I will limit myself to one observation. The amount of time we need to watch over nuclear waste is longer than the longest-lived human civilization – including China.
Proof that having a PhD doesn’t make you an expert on everything. During the thousands of years that the professor will watch over the waste, he might take a few days at the beginning to study exponential decay and then he’ll realize that the “problem” is vastly overblown.
A number of people are writing to their elected officials and others, asking them to preserve the precious U-233 inventory of the United States from permanent destruction at an absurd cost of $477 million dollars.
This letter will be sent to Secretary Chu by one of our regular commenters “arcs_n_sparks”, who addressed some specific concerns of the DOE based on his own experience. This letter is reproduced with permission:
Dr. Steven Chu
Secretary of Energy
U.S. Department of Energy
1000 Independence Ave., S.W.
Washington, DC 20585
Reference: U?233 Downblending and Disposition
Dear Secretary Chu,
I urge the Department of Energy to reconsider the proposed downblending of U-233. This is a valuable nuclear material, derived at no small expense by the country, and would prove quite invaluable to a future fleet of thorium?based reactors. Additionally, the proposed cost of disposition (nearly 1/2 billion dollars) is something we can little afford in our current budget situation.
In reading the final Environmental Assessment on this topic, the DOE articulated the following statement of need:
NEED FOR THE PROPOSED ACTION: DOE action is needed to: (1) satisfy the requirements of DNFSB Recommendation 97-1; (2) address safeguards and security requirements, (3) eliminate long-term worker safety and criticality concerns; and (4) provide for final disposal of the U-233 inventory.
1. Certainly, meeting the recommendations of 97-1 is important. Nothing in the DNFSB recommendations exclusively drives one to downblend. In fact, the word does not appear anywhere in 97-1.
2. Having been directly involved in SNM protection for the DOE, I can appreciate the concern regarding safeguards and security requirements at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) B3019. However, there are several other sites that can adequately protect this material with no (or minor) additional cost to NA-70. A site prepares a revised Vulnerability Assessment and updated Site Safeguards and Security Plan. For a number of sites, this is already performed on an annual basis. For those sites incurring the security costs of CAT I SNM protection, this is a very modest amount of SNM to add into their mix.
3. Since any movement of U?233 will require processing and repackaging (even for a downblending operation), downblending is not an exclusive remedy for meeting this requirement. The deinventory experience at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is a model of processing and repackaging material in a manner to ensure increased worker safety and criticality control.
4. While downblending accomplishes this disposition objective, it borders on “waste, fraud, and abuse.” The country has expended significant effort to acquire this valuable material, and is now proposing spending nearly 1/2 billion dollars getting rid of it. There are less costly alternatives that preserve the value of this material for the country.
In dismissing alternatives in the EA, the DOE determined the alternatives: “not to be reasonable as they fail to fully address the DOE purpose and need.” This
included the development and testing of a thorium fuel cycle.
As you know, the thorium fuel cycle, originally developed as the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment at ORNL over 40 years ago, has substantial safety, non-proliferation, fuel utilization, and waste management advantages. Unfortunately, at that time, it did not support the growing nuclear weapon material production needs of the country or the light water reactor approach embraced by the nuclear Navy. We, as a country, need to revisit that decision in light of today’s realities, which include reducing the dependency on, and the dangerous byproducts of, fossil fuel utilization.
If providing safe, reliable, affordable, and clean energy is not within the “purpose and need” of the Department of Energy, then I respectfully suggest a serious reconsideration of what the DOE mission and vision is for the country.
The latest news about the destruction of the precious uranium-233 at ORNL is that the price tag continues to go up:
The latest project estimate is $477 million. That includes the contractor’s “interim project baseline” (of $404 million), plus $73 million of DOE-held contingency, etc.
The Oak Ridge project is designed to mix the U-233 stocks with depleted uranium, eliminating its status as a special nuclear material, and ultimately disposing of what will be a high-activity, low-level radioactive waste at the Nevada Test Site.
And I continue to point out–along with the help of many of the readers of this blog, who have taken time to write their representatives and senators–that this material is precious and can be used to generate clean energy from thorium forever.
Please, DOE, please, Mr. President, please, US Congress…please stop spending money to destroy something this valuable and precious. Please spend the money instead to develop LFTR technology and provide the world with clean energy forever!