Think Nuclear is the Answer?

Please reconsider…

Got it? Now, please, never, ever forget!

15 Comments

  1. morphoyle

    February 20, 2010 at 6:18 pm

    Nuclear power can be very safe, clean, and efficient. The Chernobyl story has become anti-nuclear power propaganda at this point. The Soviets did a horrible job managing this plant. Many, many, safety checks had to be bypassed or ignored for this to happen. Perhaps this even should be looked upon as another failure by the Soviet government. It was a state-run facility, after all. They knew what they were doing, but cut corners to save costs. This is not the fault of the technology, but the people that were controlling it, and should not be used as justification to label all nuclear power as bad!
    The only way humans can develop a sustainable means to generate energy is through the diversification of the means of production. Wind, solar, geothermal, nuclear, etc. will all be needed to sustain a healthy system with minimal impact on the earth. Relying on only one or 2 methods is a recipe for disaster.

  2. C Ross

    February 20, 2010 at 7:39 pm

    Yes, and three-mile island was a blip, and the Davis-Besse nuclear plant here in Ohio that came within 1/2 inch of getting blown sky high until someone final noticed that, oh my gosh the reactor pressure vessel has just about been eaten through with corrosion, how did we ever miss that over the years. Well, thank goodness someone finally noticed, otherwise Oak Harbor would have become known as mutantville. How quaint. Bottom line is that if someone screws up, the result is ugly. Humans are fallible, they make mistakes, sometimes they get lazy doing the same job every day year after year, etc. So, I guess that means as long as can we figure out some way to have the operators be non-human, it’s all good. Until then, it’s begging for trouble.

  3. C Ross

    February 20, 2010 at 7:40 pm

    See here.

  4. sherry

    February 20, 2010 at 7:42 pm

    Okay…it’s official. I’ll let anyone further their thoughts, no matter how much I disagree. Morphoyle says, “Nuclear power can be very safe, clean, and efficient”

    Great! but it also ISN’T as documented here.

    Morphyle says, “The Chernobyl story has become anti-nuclear power propaganda.” Propaganda is defined as “a form of communication aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position. As opposed to impartially providing information, propaganda in its most basic sense, presents information primarily to influence an audience. Propaganda often presents facts selectively (thus possibly lying by omission) to encourage a particular synthesis, or uses loaded messages to produce an emotional rather than rational response to the information presented…”

    In this case of course, the pro-nuclear agenda does lie by omission by neglecting to mention these …’effects’, otherwise known as ruined human lives as well as the lingering land, water and air (which are still considered by many to be necessary to sustain human life) but are poisonous and will be for another 24,000 years if I were to be optimistic. It is the pro-nuclear agenda which is guilty of spewing propaganda, (a most toxic brew!!!) and not the anti-nuclear movement which is to be credited with presenting this documentation of facts…facts all to easily ignored by the powerful nuclear factions.

    Nuclear power is not only toxic to the environment and thus human life, it is toxic to economic freedom. 30% of all resulting nuclear power generated is paid for by government subsidy–you and me. The essence is, we pay dearly to be poisoned.

  5. morphoyle

    February 22, 2010 at 12:00 am

    All I’m saying is that people tend to focus on the negative aspects of nuclear power while ignoring negative aspects of so-called green power technologies. Many people are not aware that large scale generation of power by wind and/or solar would have an enormous impact on our environment as well. For example – too many wind farms would disrupt the transfer of heat from the equator to the northern hemisphere, resulting in a warmer equator and larger ice caps. What do you think the effect of thousands of square miles of solar cells absorbing rays that would otherwise hit – and warm – the earth? These are good technologies, if used in moderation, just as nuclear power generation can be.
    Do some research on nuclear power. A properly run, well regulated, modern fission reactor produces much less waste than in previous designs, with improvements occurring frequently. There has also been great progress in reprocessing spent rods and fuels to reduce the amount of waste that must be stored. Abandoning nuclear power ensures that no further progress will be made toward producing waste-free nuclear power.
    France currently enjoys the cleanest air and cheapest electricity of any industrialized nation – with few minor accidents and NO major disasters. This does raise an issue with waste, however, reducing the number of plants and supplementing with solar and wind generation could solve this issue, while keeping power cheap and the air clean. If anyone had bothered to read the final paragraph of my first post, you would notice that I advocate a sensible mix of power generation methods, including (heavily regulated) nuclear. Relying on one or two methods, no matter how clean you THINK they are, will have too great an impact on the environment, among other things. Put aside your laymen ignorance for just a second and think logically.

  6. morphoyle

    February 22, 2010 at 1:30 am

    Here is an excellent online book about energy diversification – http://www.withouthotair.com/Contents.html

    Note that it is mentioned – “With the exception of Chernobyl, no radiation-related fatalities ever occurred at any commercial nuclear power plant”

  7. Jefferson

    February 22, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    This is why I like this paper. Good debate on a serious subject with both sides well represented. These types of discussions are what’s missing in our society. I seriously doubt either Sherry or Morphoyl have stock in a nuclear plant or a wind turbine company. No financial gain leaves out hypocrisy.

  8. sherry

    February 22, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    A Russian proverb states it well–

    Where money is heard, the truth is silent.

    On top of my nuclear safety concerns–I mean, yes, there are so many advances, and often it turns out well…but it also doesn’t. Hasn’t. And when that happens the effects are JUST TOO D@MNED BIG to justify the risk…IMHO.

    And morphoyle…is the same government that let our current financial crisis develop–if not aided and abetted such a catastrophe–the same one that would ultimately be in charge of regulating expanded nuclear capabilities? That’s just not good enough.

    You can glance over the headlines here on the LV for about two secs and see how I might think about that! Like you, I believe in alternative energy sources, and yet believe that nuclear is archaic in its cost and risks.

    NEXT! I am sure that there is a better way!

    I refuse to believe that there is an energy crisis at all. It’s like saying there is a shortage of mass…

    The gov just needs to get out of the way and allow the innovations come forward…stop protecting nuclear, oil and gas through subsidies and other anti-free market maneuvers.

  9. morphoyle

    February 22, 2010 at 11:09 pm

    But Sherry, so far, it has turned out pretty well compared to our other “main” energy sources – namely coal, natural gas, and petrol products. So far, alternate energy sources such a solar and wind have not proven efficient enough for the massive amount of power required to support our current lifestyles. Even the most conservative statistics on these methods show that we would need to devote MASSIVE amounts of land to wind and solar power to even come close to meeting power demand. In the future, I’m sure developments will come that will increase the power producing capabilities of these methods, and when that happens, I would be more than happy to see wind and solar be our main means of energy production. In the meantime, we still need a way to meet power demands, reduce dependence on foreign fuels, and stop destroying the environment.
    In the meantime, I firmly believe nuclear power should replace coal as our main supplier of electricity, while being supplemented by the current alternatives – like wind and solar. Either that, or people worldwide will have to DRASTICALLY cut consumption. I don’t just mean turning lights off, unplugging devices when not in use, etc. Actions like that have little or no effect on the bottom line, though they might make us feel good. It’s akin to bailing out the titanic with a teaspoon. Much more power goes in to the production of goods and foods. Since the “need” for more – ie human nature – is unlikely to change anytime soon, we need to have a sustainable. clean energy policy.
    I just hate the nuclear power is being looked upon as “archaic” when it is anything but that. Modern fission reactors run very safely, efficiently, and contribute ZERO air pollution. Spent fuel has gone from needing tens of thousands of years to completely decay and become harmless, to only needing a few hundred. Granted, that is still a long time, but is a long sight better than the viable fossil fuel based alternatives. If you throw advancements in fusion nuclear reactors in to the mix, then in the next several decades, we will all be looking at cheap power with no pollution and no harmful by-products!

    What are your ideas on this? I really am curious. I just have trouble seeing a way for us to reduce our need for foreign oil and domestic coal while still meeting energy demands (while still working within human nature) without nuclear power being used – even if it’s just a stepping stone to something better.

  10. morphoyle

    February 22, 2010 at 11:25 pm

    As far as the government comment goes – they do need to be out of the free market, but I would worry more about the massive subsidies given to banks and wall street before I would worry about which technological developments they encourage.
    In the past several decades, they have actually discouraged nuclear power. It is only recently that USNRC has begun to encourage growth and development in this area again. If anything, the government has stood in the way of making nuclear power less wasteful and safer. The current administration put the breaks on an environmental review that would have reduced the mass of our current stockpile of spent nuclear fuel by as much as 30%!
    And no, there isn’t an energy crisis at this very moment, but it is defiantly impending, especially given the current hooplah about CO2 emissions. In the UK, there are several power plants that must be shut down because they are old and produce too much air pollution. They face energy deficits in the neighborhood of 20% in the coming decade. It’s only a matter of time before this issue hits home. Why wait until an issue becomes a crisis before we do something about it?

  11. sherry

    February 23, 2010 at 10:02 pm

    Alternatives: Utilizing wave motion, hemp, biomass, hydroelectric, geothermal, solar, hydrogen production or some admixture thereof…

  12. morphoyle

    February 24, 2010 at 11:34 am

    These are all great alternatives, but they each have their own set of problems! Here is a very quick, dirty rundown, having done no additional research before typing this comment – Hemp/Biomass diverts food from people that don’t have enough already, and the efficiency isn’t there. Hydro isn’t terrible, but it does divert rivers and can devastate local wildlife and/or populations. Geothermal is impractical for electrical generation due to inefficiency (it’s much better for lower temp hot water for things like baths or cooking) and that it must be moved from time to time after the “hot spot” the plant relies on cools too much to produce a meaningful amount of electricity. Hydrogen, though efficient, is very inefficient to produce, and ends up costing more in energy than you can get back out of it. Ironically, the most efficient hydrogen production methods utilize a nuclear reactor, from which hydrogen is a by-product.

    I’ve done a lot of personal research on this, and I’m a physics nut….

    From a basic physics standpoint, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, and energy can neither be created or destroyed, only converted from one form to another. These basic facts must be considered when thinking about what energy policy is best for our country. If those in power can’t be trusted with the responsibility to make sure power plants run safely and efficiently, can they really be trusted to run anything else? If your answer is no, then why haven’t we taken to the streets yet?

  13. sherry

    February 24, 2010 at 11:57 am

    I don’t know enough on this. It is true. I am not one to participate in destruction–except of false perceptions. that is where my refusal to participate in nuclear is coming from. Ever heard of the New Madrid fault? Japan’s disaster illuminated many to believe that US not ready for occasions of earthquakes. AS you well know, the soil in this part of the country (Heartland) carries waves all too well, while the west’s soil cushions the shocks making a similar earthquake far less destructive than that of New Madrid. A 6 earthquake at San Andreas would reach thousands of square miles, but a 6 at New Madrid (where there are far less stringent earthquake-related building codes) results in millions of acres being affected…and woooops! The Perry nuclear facility (located on Lake Eary, isn’t it?) is build directly over the fault line. Hopefully it’s been checked more effectively than the Davis-Besse plant, which, like the Perry plant is also run First Nuclear. also it’s unfortunate that the same government inspecting commission is charge of both.

    So, we’ll pray for the best…cause the risk of nuclear disasters are just the ‘best alternative’…

    As to “why haven’t we taken to the streets yet?” That is one he double hockey sticks of a good question, and the source of much frustration.

  14. morphoyle

    February 24, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    The RISK (not certainty) is certainly better until the better alternatives you have mentioned can catch up. With currently available fossil fuel technology, horrible occurrences are a CERTAINTY. Just think about all the damage coal does – and not this CO2 BS the Obama administration is peddling to tax more – mercury(airborne), carbon monoxide (airborne) , lots of mining accidents, fine particulate (airborne) and radioactive elements (also airborne). Oh, and while I’m on the topic, please try not to buy in to the “Clean Coal” BS that is being pushed. Its not feasible at this point (we can’t afford it) and it CO2 is not even close to the worst or most harmful substance to come from burning coal and other fossil fuels.

    Even worse, according to the International Energy Agency, power demands are expected to rise by 60 percent by 2030, with 85% of total power coming from fossil fuels. To me, the remote risk of a Chernobyl are better than the certainty of destructive effects put forth by fossil fuel. I don’t feel that nuclear is the greatest solution, only the greatest when you factor in risk, availability, cost, efficiency, and total ability to generate power.

  15. Flame

    January 12, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    What I’m picking up here is that most visitors to this site are negative on the issue of nuclear power. As a senior, I was well along in school in 1945 when the bombs were dropped and was well aware of the progress of development nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, with all the negatives that people offered at that time and since, especially since I live about 80 miles from an aging power plant currently being decommissioned. Until about 3 years ago, I was solidly on the fence about peacetime use of nuclear power. Then someone educated me.

    An analogy. I took my very first airplane trip in the 1950s halfway around the world on a Pam Am Clipper with 4 huge propeller-driven engines. Jets were only available at the time to the military. Now who among you today would consider a typical commercial trip via propeller-driven aircraft? No one, of course, just as we have come a long way from starting our automobiles with hand cranks!

    The same is true of nuclear technology. The plant near me and Japan’s Fukushima are both 6-decade-old Light Water Reactor (LWR) technology—comparable to the prop planes. It’s time to upgrade to modern nuclear technology of which something called the Integral Fast Reactor (IFR) is pretty much at the top of the list. Consider your objections to LWR tech: 1) Terrorists can hijack plutonium and make bombs. 2) Those huge concrete domes can crack from steam pressure and leak radiation. 3) They are inefficient, giving us a small amount of power and humungous quantities of radioactive waste to be stored for millennia. All negatives.

    Now let’s look at IFR tech. 1) The fuel is not plutonium; it’s something called pyrometallurgical processing or “pyro” for short. To a bomb-maker, it’s “contaminated” and would require a whole processing plant to extract the plutonium. Ergo, no incentive to hijack and steal.

    2) The reactors are not cooled with water but with molten salt. Water when heated produces steam with much pressure, of course, to crack those containment domes. Not so with IFR and salt. Also, there are technical features in the design of the IFR plant whereby in the case of an accident, the PLANT SHUTS ITSELF DOWN without human intervention—kind of like having a lit candle in a tall glass that has a hinged lid to fall down if shaken. Research another Japanese plant called Monju. Wikipedia has the story. This is a new tech plant that experienced an accident before it was even fully on line. No one died; no one suffered radiation. The only damage was structural to the building.

    3) Nuclear waste. The typical LWR plant produces only about 2% of the potential energy in the uranium ore that supplies it, so about 98% of the resulting “spent fuel” needs to be stored—for 10,000 years. By contrast, in IFR tech, because the spent fuel is reprocessed several times, a whopping 95-96% of the potential energy is produced, 50-100 times the amount of power and vastly reducing the bulk of nuclear waste to be stored. That waste is much “hotter” radioactively than the LWR waste, but its half-life is reached in something like 300-500 years. So in the first instance, think of a railroad car full of uranium ore of which a footlocker amount actually produces energy and the rest is waste. Then think of the same RR car and reverse the figures so that the bulk of material in the car is burned to produce energy but only the footlocker size has to be dealt with as radioactive waste.

    Finally, I’m informed that with the amount of uranium currently mined, plus depleted weaponry and currently existing nuclear waste that could be reprocessed, we have sufficient fuel to create power for the next 700 years—yes, seven-hundred.

    Now I’m just an ordinary person—no fancy scientific degrees. I was educated in this by a man who is a nuclear scientist, and I found it easy to understand. My analogies are simple enough for you to grasp—maybe not 100% on point but pretty darn close.

    The US was on its way in the 1990s to using IFR technology here—but somebody went to Congress and persuaded them that “reprocessing” (which is all done on one piece of real estate, BTW, so that there’s no chance to hijack the fuels “in transit” and why the process is called “integral”) was somehow more dangerous than what we’ve been doing—so the Clinton Admin shut this down.

    Nuclear power can be safe, clean, efficient and cheap. We just need to persuade Congress to reopen this discussion and employ newer, more modern technology!!

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