Newsbytes: Gas Burning Bright As Nuclear Renaissance Melts Down

From the Global Warming Policy Foundation

Throughout the history of Japan, its cities have been destroyed again and again by war, fire and earthquake. After each catastrophe, the Japanese have rebuilt, bigger and better. One hopes and expects that they will do the same again. –Lesley Downer, The Daily Telegraph, 15 March 2011

The Japanese disaster “will put new nuclear development on ice,” said Toronto energy consultant Tom Adams, the former executive director of Energy Probe. He said the nuclear industry was already facing challenges, noting that vast shale gas resources in North America and other parts of the world were starting to make cheaper gas-fired plants the electricity generators of choice. – Eric Reguly, The Globe and Mail, 15 March 2011

Neither new nuclear, coal with carbon capture and sequestration, wind nor solar are economic. Natural gas is queen. It is domestically abundant and is the bridge to the future. – John Rowe, The Globe and Mail, 15 March 2011

Obama’s energy plan relies heavily on nuclear power to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions harmful to the climate as well as to reduce dependence on imported oil. The president proposed tripling federal loan guarantees to $54.5 billion to help build new reactors in the 2012 budget plan he sent to Congress. — Jeremy van Loon and Mark Chediak, Bloomberg 15 March 2011

President Barack Obama’s energy agenda appears to be jinxed. While Japan’s nuclear meltdown may be an ocean away, the industry has quickly become the latest example of a policy in peril not long after the White House embraced it. –Darren Samuelsohn, Politico, 15 March 2011

Despite Japan’s crisis, India and China and some other energy-ravenous countries say they plan to keep using their nuclear power plants and building new ones.  With those two countries driving the expansion — and countries from elsewhere in Asia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East also embracing nuclear power in response to high fossil fuel prices and concerns about global warming — the world’s stock of 443 nuclear reactors could more than double in the next 15 years, according to the World Nuclear Association, an industry trade group.—The New York Times, 14 March 2011

New data suggests Israel may not only have much larger gas resources than believed, but also the 3rd largest deposit of oil shale in the world. As a consequence of these new estimates, Israel may emerge as the third largest deposit of oil shale, after the US and China. –Dore Gold, The Jerusalem Post, 11 March 2011

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Stephan

I think Prof. Muller’s video (link below) is having a profound effect upon climate believers. After all, Muller is one, but he’s saying he now cannot trust the data because of the “hide the decline” If there is one video to break the camels back, I believe this is the one. I think “the team” may actually be sidelined/fired/demoted/not heard anymore, thrown under the bus etc…, shortly because of this video.

Stephan

previous: LOL climate change/warming believers hahahah

Mike M

Why does natural gas always seem to get a complete pass on carbon dioxide emission as though it did not emit any? (And besides, gas emits more water vapor than coal and that makes more snow from global warming 😉

I have written a blog on this topic
‘Meltdown’ blog
Posted: Mar 14, 2011 3:34 PM PDT
Updated: Mar 14, 2011 3:56 PM PDT
Monday morning, March 14, 2011
There is deep concern about “nuclear meltdown” at one or more of the nuclear power plants in Japan. While that concern is certainly valid, there is a general misunderstanding of what is meant by “nuclear meltdown” and what consequences follow such an event.
The entire blog is at:
http://www.kusi.com/story/14250073/meltdown-blog

etudiant

Despite the nuclear disaster in Japan, it is insane, imo, to waste the spectacular raw material that is natural gas for boiler fuel. Natural gas is the preferred chemical feedstock for almost all plastics and a wonderful fuel for transport vehicles.
Like helium, it is a limited resource that should be used with respect, not simply stripmined to exhaustion.

Juice

Until US nuke plants are threatened by tsunami, I don’t see the connection.

Wondering Aloud

This is such a load of hooey anyway. Even if worsed possible case were to come to pass in Japan, nuclear would still be safer and cleaner by orders of magnitude than gas.
I particularly liked drudge headline photo showing radiation of 2 microsieverts and hour (OH PANIC!) Here we have this enormous panic over radiation levels lower than people get when they go to the spa. A 500,000 hour dose recieved all at once has a slight chance of making you have nausea. Heck I have nausea just from reading this BS.

Kev-in-Uk

I did love that term ‘energy ravenous’ – because, in truth, that is precisely what the world has become – certainly the developed world, with the less developed world harbouring high hopes of attaining the same level as the major economies!
And what is the cause of all this energy demand? No matter how you cut it – it is you and I, our lifestyles and families! There is no getting away from it. Even those in 3rd world countries, supposedly recycling our secondhand PC’s and mobile phones are starting on the long road to energy ‘demand’!
The greenies can wave their arms as much as they like, Joe Average can save as much energy as he can – but the end result WILL be the same – we are heading for an energy crisis. (Yeah, I know it’s largely a population realted thing too..)
Until the world population begins to level out, there is no point in even thinking about a final guestimated level of energy ‘demand’ – it will simply keep rising UNLESS we all move back to mud-huts and raw meat! It doesn’t take a genius to see that when you add in all the products made and widely sold to make our lives ‘better’ – the energy demand is simply massive – and those aspiring to better lifestyles want it too!.
On the reasonable assumption that the worlds population is not about to ‘give it all up’ – and go back to the trees/caves. We must source more energy……..
Realistically, renewables can do their bit – but it simply cannot be enough. Oil is most definately a finite resource and Coal too (but obviously there is a good wedge of coal around). So ultimately, we WILL require nuclear power to supply our energy demands.
The green argument that says we should transfer to alternatives and save FF’s now is equally valid for application to nuclear power. The argument that alternatives will get more efficient with ‘practise’ and improved technology is again, equally valid for nuclear power.
One cannot ride a bike without falling off – make an omelette without breaking eggs, etc, etc. The oft quoted greenies favourite of the ‘Precautionary Principle’ is entirely valid for nuclear power. We must maintain and develop nuclear power even if only as a precaution against the failure of other energy sources to meet demand!
Hence, as you may suspect, I am pro-nuclear – BUT with the obvious caveat that it needs careful consideration, design and implementation – after all, we can’t simply have unstable countries holding the keys to nuke power stations, can we? It seems the nuclear age has been forced to rest on its laurels over the last few decades because it fell out of favour. This kind of incident in Japan is a valuable lesson – but it IS a lesson – it simply cannot be seen to be a ‘nail in the coffin’ for nuclear power just because of a problem – and those that would do that are severely myopic. God forbid that anyone dies from radiation exposure in Japan – even one death is regrettable – but what would the world say about the number of people dying from electricution every year? Are we about to ban electricity?
I am suddenly reminded of a quote about electricity when I was a young lad in a Physics lecture. It was ‘Electricity is a great slave, but a terrible master’ – nuclear power is the same! (but obviously much worse in potential disaster!)
The development of nuclear programs is paramount to the long term energy demands of the world and needs to be encouraged – albeit under very very strict controls and designs. In the actual theme of global warming – how much long term production of CO2 would have been cut if all the resources used by AGW research had been ploughed into R&D of better future nuclear power stations?

Dan in California

Mike M says: March 15, 2011 at 12:23 pm
Why does natural gas always seem to get a complete pass on carbon dioxide emission as though it did not emit any?
————————————————-
Mike: You’re using logic and numbers. Western governments are getting further away from that. For example, the German government is calling to shut down 7 nuke power plants. I guess they’re afraid of an imminent tsunami in central Europe.
http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/03/15/germany-nuclear-idUSLDE72E17620110315

wsbriggs

Mike M says:
March 15, 2011 at 12:23 pm
Why does natural gas always seem to get a complete pass on carbon dioxide emission as though it did not emit any? (And besides, gas emits more water vapor than coal and that makes more snow from global warming 😉
Well, it’s like this, most fuels get a complete pass on CO2 because it really doesn’t matter. CO2 is not a problem. Even the minute bits of ash from coal fired plants aren’t the problem that melted fuel rods are.
The sad thing is that we’re having to have any debate at all about nuclear energy. Had the U.S. Government not insisted on BWR for strategic military purposes in the 50s, and instead had gone forward with the safer Thorium reactors, we wouldn’t be having discussions about “green,” “purple,” or any other color of energy.
Personally, I hope that the Japanese turn rapidly to LNG fired powerplants. They can quickly be brought online.

mpaul

We need more research into thorium reactors which could have a dramatically better safety profile.
I used to live in a country where we would set out to do big, ambitious things — build the Hoover dam, create an interstate highway system, go to the moon. Occasionally, our rockets would blow up. We would learn from our failure and build better rockets. We would get to the moon.
Now we just wet our pants when things go wrong.

John-X

There has not been one new nuclear reactor constructed in the US in the last 30+ years.
I have long believed that if – somehow – the political will could be summoned, and pressure-group and NIMBY opposition overcome – a new nuclear power plant could be built in the US, we would not be able to bring it online – a single nuclear plant – for less than 50 billion dollars.
And yet our need for electricity will increase. How will our needs be met?
We already saw how, in the recent winter storm in Texas. OUTSOURCING!
We will buy power from Mexico.
Mexico will build coal, and maybe even nuclear plants, with little threat of enviro-activist oppostion, and sell us their electricity.
Mexico will get the architect jobs, the engineer jobs, the construction jobs, the power plant operator jobs, the repairman jobs and the supplier jobs, and lots and lots of our money; and in return, Mexico will rescue us from our self-inflicted cold and dark (dark green) future.

wsbriggs

etudiant says:
March 15, 2011 at 12:37 pm
Despite the nuclear disaster in Japan, it is insane, imo, to waste the spectacular raw material that is natural gas for boiler fuel. Natural gas is the preferred chemical feedstock for almost all plastics and a wonderful fuel for transport vehicles.
Like helium, it is a limited resource that should be used with respect, not simply stripmined to exhaustion.
I would suggest that you do a little more research on the subject of natural gas. The amount currently available on the market has caused prices to drop below $4/mmcf. And stay there, with oil up from $60/bbl to $104/bbl. Remember at the time of the oil price spike ($150+/bbl) in 2008, it was at $15/mmcf. It’s low because there is plenty of it.

Jeff Carlson

I would point out that the latest generation of co-gen power plants using natural gas can get very high thermal efficencies (60-70%) and are ideal for electrical power generation … they are a very efficient way to generate electricity which is and will continue to be the primary power source for non-transportation power consumers …

Jeremy

Apparently I need to move to Mars to get away from all the luddites.

Jeff Carlson

I would also point out that these nuke plants is question are of 1970’s design and are actually old designs from a safety perspective yet they have thus far managed to avert an actual disaster … (fingers crossed of course) …

Carsten Arnholm

Mike M says:
March 15, 2011 at 12:23 pm
Why does natural gas always seem to get a complete pass on carbon dioxide emission as though it did not emit any? (And besides, gas emits more water vapor than coal and that makes more snow from global warming 😉

Not exactly true, the Norwegian government resigned in 2000 over this issue
http://articles.cnn.com/2000-03-09/world/norway.govt.01_1_coalition-government-power-plants-vote?_s=PM:WORLD
Obviously, the CO2 emissions don’t affect the climate in any measurable way, even if they said so then and say so now.

Jim

Meanwhile the Guardian, the UK’s green propanda tabloid is lapping up the horrendous event in Japan:
“Japan nuclear crisis puts industry revival in doubt
Disaster described as a colossal setback for industry at a time when climate change is sparking a renaissance”
The bed wetters are out in force, the cause of the accident was the diesel engine generators were flooded with salt water from the Tsunami(something that can be remedied in future).
The greenest nastiest bed wetters are rejoicing the devastation in Japan, in particular the problems with the cooling system. Really and truly the greens have a hatred for the advancement of the human race.

ew-3

The problem with this situation is that the debate if being framed by the media. They have paraded one after another “expert” to create fear. Have been checking up on these “experts” by googling on them. Many are poli-sci majors with their own agenda.
The congress needs to fire up some meetings to discuss nuclear power and particularly how to replace older gen 1 nukes in the US with gen 3 or gen 4 nukes.
Get the word out that the issue in Japan is largely due to it being older technology and if we’re smart we’ll swap out some of our older units with newer ones to improve safety. This might get the ball rolling again.

msinillinois

The disaster in Japan has made conventional nuclear power untenable. Fortunately we have natural gas to use as a bridge, while thorium LSR’s are developed. Three mile Island in 1979, Chernobyl in 1986, and two weeks ago it was looking like nuclear power was an acceptable alternative. In another 15 years, memories will fade, fossil fuels will be more expensive, and nuclear power will once again start looking good. Hopefully we will not waste the time in between.

R. de Haan

Business as usual: Russia, Belarus sign 9 billion nuclear power contract
http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Russia-Belarus-sign-9-billion-apf-4040845331.html?x=0

Vince Causey

Etudiant,
“Despite the nuclear disaster in Japan, it is insane, imo, to waste the spectacular raw material that is natural gas for boiler fuel.”
You are right, but this is happening because of the market distorting effects of anti-co2 measures. Coal is cheaper, and more suitable for electricity generation. It would free up gas for domestic use and transport. Whenever governments get involved in markets they create a disaster. Ronald Reagan once said, “if the government ran the Sahara desert, there would be a shortage of sand.”

R. de Haan

Welcome to the Third World, by Paul Driessen
http://icecap.us/index.php/go/joes-blog

Matt

“Smart” Germany is shutting down the nuclear plants because of Japan – no earthquakes seen so far, and tsunamis not very frequent there too. Will anounce
to go green and then buy French or Czech, or Russian nuke power. Hmmm.
Some NIMBYies do live in the States, but in Germany they are all over the place.

Sunfighter

They should ban water, considering its the killer here. First there was too much of it and it got everywhere, smashing homes, cars and people, then it went away when it was needed to cool the reactor core. Water is completely unreliable and needs to be banned.

Dave Springer

Kev-in-UK
“So ultimately, we WILL require nuclear power to supply our energy demands.”
Not a prayer. Ultimately we’ll harvest whatever we need from sunlight. We’ll make our own fuels pretty much on demand and they’ll be the same fuels we get out of the ground now. The technology is less than 20 years away which is how long it would take to get any commerical thorium reactors online. No one is going to invest their hard earned capital into new nuclear technology when something far cheaper, non-polluting, completely safe, and renewable is going to be mature at the same time.
Synthetic biology is the future for energy, agriculture, manufacturing, medicine… pretty much everything. It’s just a couple decades at most away now. Pilot plants are already being constructed that can produce transportation fuels at the cost equivalent of $30/bbl oil. Synthetic biology can produce methane (natural gas) as easily as ethanol, diesel, gasoline, jet fuel, you name it.. pretty much any carbon compounds you want. Living things are masters at it. We just have to continue building up our knowledge of the molecular machinery in bacteria so we can modify and reprogram them to do exactly what we want. It’s getting close. The first fully synthetic bacterial genome was created and brought to life just a year or two ago. The rate of progress in the field reminds of semiconductors and Moore’s Law.

lionsden

Plenty of media beatup. But the reality is that a 40 year old power plant using a now unpreferred BWR technology, successfully shut down when faced with a magnitude 9 earthquake only 50 km away.
It was the tsunami which caused the problem, by disabling the backup diesel generators hence being unable to cool the shutdown heat. BWR’s are vulnerable to negative voidage, other systems such as SGHR’s are not.
This is no argument at all against nuclear power. Modern designs are inherently safer, and the reactor shutdown worked anyway.
Nothing against gas fired power stations – they are the best power technology in terms of cost, reliability and for that matter also CO2 emissions as compared to wind power on a full project cycle basis.

RockyRoad

John-X says:
March 15, 2011 at 12:53 pm

There has not been one new nuclear reactor constructed in the US in the last 30+ years.

Actually, that’s not entirely correct. Even as we speak, a “nuclear reactor” is being built in Miami, Florida. In this particular case, the design is revolutionary–so revolutionary that had the Japanese been using this approach, they wouldn’t have any of the difficulties they currently face in the aftermath of their earthquake/tsunami. The design is so revolutionary that there won’t be any radioactive feedstock and no radioactive waste products. And during operation, moderate shielding is all that’s needed to keep everybody safe; once they throw the “Off” switch, the reactions die down without a melt down. Revolutionary. Unprecedented. Absolutely amazing!
http://www.nyteknik.se/nyheter/energi_miljo/energi/article3081694.ece
Additional tests confirm original demonstrations:
http://pesn.com/2011/02/28/9501774_Future_Impact_of_Rossis_Cold_Fusion/

Dave Andrews

It is pathetic how the Western media has switched from coverage of a major, major natural disaster with, as yet, unknown numbers of deaths and millions of displaced and bereft people to concern about radioactive releases.
Even if the latter becomes worst case the destruction wreaked by nature is fa, far worse.
The decision by Germany and others to suddenly institute safety reviews of their nuclear plants is spineless reaction by the politicians. As said above, how many tsunamis are we expecting in the middle of Europe?

Hoser

What do the events in Japan have to do with new nuclear development? Nothing. I don’t thing anybody plans to build more 1960s nuclear reactor designs. The media attack on nuclear power is simply a way to keep people stuck in green energy.
Green wind and solar sources deliver unreliable power and require monitoring of what we do in our homes (Home Area Network, autoresponse). It is much more expensive. We will be certain of third world conditions where even industries will have to wonder whether power will be available today. More people will be out of work.
Green energy will lead to the certainty of grinding poverty, depression, illness, malnutrition and death. And all this because of a fear of the possible problems with nuclear power? What are the actual problems? Very few people died as a result of even Chernobyl. And those were mainly the heroes who built the containment and fought the fire. Nobody died because of TMI.
New nuclear power is not the same as the aging Fukushima reactors. We need to build Integral Fast Reactors, the probable best case being liquid fluoride buring thorium. The current disaster scenario simply can’t happen. And an added benefit is the vastly reduce quantity of high-level waste produced.
I hope these recent events lead to a more complete discussion of the future of nuclear energy. We must achieve independence from foreign energy sources. Nuclear energy can power the world for several centuries. By then I hope we have fusion working.

richard verney

It is silly to be having this debate now before the full extend of the problems being encountered in Japan are known. A proper and full investigation of what went on and how the reactors coped is needed. After that investigations, lessons must be learnt.
One has to bear in mind that these reactors were subjected to one of the most terrible natural disasters imaginable. This was on a scale which is extremely unlikely to ever incur in the vicinty of most reactors in use today. I suspect that in many ways, it will be found that the reactors stood up very well to this natural disaster.
We must not over react. It is likely that the only significant lesson to be learnt is not to site a reactor where it could be adversely affected by a Tsunami. Whilst, I envisage that it will be found that the reactors stood up reasonably well to the earthquake, a further lesson will be that it would be imprudent to site reactors
near to fault lines or in known earthquake zones. Taking this approach into account, it would be imprudent to site a reactor in te shaddow of a volcano. Of course, there will also be lessons to be learnt to safety/fail safe features which features can then be improved upon.
We must not over react (as Germany has already done so by closing down all reactors built before 1980). Nuclear is still a viable option.
I am not against using natural gas, shale gas, or coal (without carbon capture sequestration), for energy production but as other have pointed out gas has useful chemical applications and should not be wasted when better alternatives are available.

Legatus

The panic over all this “nuclear meltdown” is based entirely on bald faced, flat out lies. Want to see what really happened? Read here http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/03/14/fukushiima_analysis/
and here (original source) http://www.kalzumeus.com/2011/03/13/some-perspective-on-the-japan-earthquake/ (from actually inside Japan).
Shutting down nuclear reactores based in bald faced lies in the press is basically criminal, the offending “news” sources should be charge and convicted, it’s people who wrote that jailed, it itself should be put up for sale to any new owner with the cash. At the very least, if you see panicy reportage on the front page of your local newspaper, you should call them up and tell them that if they do not put an immediate retraction also on the front page, you will cancel your subscription immediatly and tell all your friends and neighbors to do the same and why.
Lies should be challenged.

Sun Spot

A 40 year old light water reactor. Why are there any of this type of designed reactor still in operation ? High tech modern Uranium and Thorium reactors are critical for modern western civilized countries. For those who wish a third world standard of living go the eco-extreme and oil/gas route.

Malcolm Miller

It’s the perception of nuclear hazard that matters, not the facts. So nuclear will be out of favour in the USA and in Australia for another decade or so. But our Oz politicians have never heard of the boom in availablility of natural gas due to new extraction techniques. They don’t ever read blogs like this. They haven’t heard of ‘fracking’. They are more afraid of the ‘Greenies’ than either nuclear or coal with their cheap energy and powerful enemies and anti-coal and anti-nuclear lobbies.

Alan Wilkinson

“The disaster in Japan has made conventional nuclear power untenable.”
Why? It has clearly shown exactly the pitfalls that nuclear safety design must avoid. If you change sources you will need another disaster of this magnitude to reach the same level of knowledge in that field.

Jim

The greener nuclear alternative (Thorium).
http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/45178.html
“For one, a thorium-powered nuclear reactor can never undergo a meltdown. It just can’t. This is because thorium is slightly lighter than uranium and is not fissile – meaning you can pack as much of the stuff together as you want and it won’t undergo a runaway chain reaction.”

Mike M says:
March 15, 2011 at 12:23 pm

Why does natural gas always seem to get a complete pass on carbon dioxide emission as though it did not emit any? (And besides, gas emits more water vapor than coal and that makes more snow from global warming 😉

Mike, you gave the answer to your question in the remark that you appended.
Fossil fuels are hydrocarbons (as is ethanol, by the way).
The combustion of coal produces a lot of CO2 and very little H2O, while the combustion of natural gas produces far less CO2 and much more H2O per BTU. Gasoline is somewhere in between, while ethanol may be a far more copious source of H2O than natural gas is, although it still produces CO2. (A chemist may be able to put, with relative ease, exact numbers on all of the constituents of the respective combustion product per BTU for each of those hydrocarbons.)
CO2, a prerequisite for life to exist and thrive, has been assigned the role of a villain in the game people play for world domination and control; the ultimate aim of which is to squeeze the rubes — the end consumers, that is — for every nickel they’ve got.
The other combustion product, H2O, is of course also a prerequisite for life to exist and thrive, but the rules of the game require that H2O as a combustion product not be mentioned, even though is should be considered a far greater cause of global warming due to industrial, transportation and residential emissions.
Without those rules there is no game, therefore it is the bad luck of CO2 and everyone having to pay for using fossil fuels that CO2 has been capriciously labelled the villain.
For that reason, natural gas is considered saintly. By the rules of the game and by the amount of CO2 produced per BTU, coal is a greater offender than is natural gas, even though, objectively, natural gas put much larger volumes of global-warming-producing H2O into the atmosphere.
Of course, that is only if one believes the doctrine of post-modern science that truth it relative, that reality is subjective and that neither can be judged by old-fashioned, objective standards.
By the way, in cold climates like ours in central Alberta, people who used their old chimney flues for injecting exhaust gases into the atmosphere found that the much-lower exhaust temperatures caused the H2O exhausted from high-efficiency furnaces to form ice that builds up on the inside of the chimney, closing the chimney off entirely and filling their home with exhaust gases (not detectable by smell), a good portion of which would have been CO2 and at times enough CO to kill them through carbon-monoxide poisoning.
Fortunately, provided that the occupants are sufficiently awake to still be able to notice it, all of the windows in their home would fog up — due to the high H2O contents of the natural gas combustion products of their furnace.
The misery and possible deaths that result from those circumstances can thereby be avoided.
I need a bit of funding to enable me to explore that in more depth.

Brandon Caswell

This is what frustrates me:
-Yes this is a problem of a design issue in older reactors.
-But, no this was not an unforseen problem. It was indentifed as an issue long ago and they have gone to great lengths to remove this issue from new reactor designs.
-People saying we are not learning from this, are ignorant of reality. We learned from the possibility of this event even before it happened. New reactors do not suffer from this problem.
Do you decide if it is safe to drive a new car based on crash tests of 40 year old cars? Do you decide if a new building is safe, by looking at the design of one built 40 years ago? Do you decide if it is safe to build a new reactor based on an obsolete 40 year old design? I guess you do, if your an idealist. Hard to make informed choices when your not informed. Nothing is perfect, but we have come along way in the last 40 years. Reactor designers have not quit working and learning for the last 40 years, even if the anti-nuke crowd has.
Anyone that comes here regularily will already know that opinions not supported by facts will not stand up on sites like this.

DCC

@Jeff Carlson said:

I would also point out that these nuke plants is question are of 1970′s design and are actually old designs from a safety perspective yet they have thus far managed to avert an actual disaster … (fingers crossed of course) …

Actually, the failed Japanese reactors were designed in the 1950s and every reactor in the USA is at least thirty years old. These things only have a 50-year life span. If the US gummit had not had its head up its proverbial, we would have a proven breeder reactor design by now. Instead, two presidents started the necessary research and two idiot presidents later canceled that research.

Dave Springer

mpaul says:
March 15, 2011 at 12:52 pm
“We need more research into thorium reactors which could have a dramatically better safety profile.”
We (the United States) had a liquid flourine thorium reactor running for 5 years at Livermore National Research Laboratory. The only one in the world – ever. It was operating from 1964 to 1969.
What more do you think we need to learn about LFTR? Restarting a 50 year old research reactor is no big challenge for the U.S. I’m sure the design and procedures and data are still kicking around in some classified storage closet somewhere. I suspect those classified documents contain the reasons we aren’t jumping all over LFTR. From what little I could learn of that working LFTR I think it’s simply too difficult/expensive keeping the composition/chemistry of the liquid fuel in the proper state to make it economically feasible. The liquid fuel mix is constantly changing due to transmutating fission reactions. The fuel doesn’t burn spontaneously. It’s like having a pile of wet logs in your fireplace and you can only get them to burn if you keep sticking bits of dry kindling in amongst them and without a continuous supply of kindling in the right place at the right time. Then adding insult to injury wet ashes start piling up making your kindling not burn right unless you periodically remove the ashes. None of these problems exist with solid uranium fuels. The problem with them is they burn so fast and hot it can get out of control and burn down the house really easy and possibly release so much toxic waste that the neighbors for miles in each direction have to abandon their homes too.

Douglas DC

Pebble Bed, Thorium walkaway reactors, all advanced not these GE-Designed throwbacks to another era. Thousands of people were killed in the days of Sail
no one quit. We shouldn’t quit now…..

DCC

@R. de Haan who said:

Business as usual: Russia, Belarus sign 9 billion nuclear power contract.

Oh great, the US fails to support 4th generation reactor design and the world is forced to buy ancient Russian reactors.

Dave Springer

Juice says:
March 15, 2011 at 12:40 pm
“Until US nuke plants are threatened by tsunami, I don’t see the connection.”
You’re kidding, right? California is one of the most earthquake prone regions in the world. The recent earthquake in JAPAN caused $17 million in damage to Crescent City California when the tsunami hit. The San Onefre nuclear power plant in southern California is so close to the ocean you can hear the waves (not kidding).

Dave Worley

President Obama was warming up to increased offshore drilling when the BP spill happened.
I seem to recall that he was more recently warming up to Nuclear Energy as a green alternative.
Let’s just hope he doesn’t start promoting natural gas.

Theo Goodwin

Stephan says:
March 15, 2011 at 12:11 pm
Thank you so very much for this video from Muller. He places some hard kicks on the guilty butts. This is a revelation. Because of Climategate and the non-response of mainstream science to it, I had become distrustful of any of them who addressed these matters. Now, Thank God, I believe I was wrong.
Maybe Muller and friends will restore integrity to mainstream science, though that might be impossible for the Royal Society, NASA, and the NAS. I really want to see apologies from Monbiot, the Pit Bulls on the Guardian Boards, Real Climate, Al Gore, and all the dogged defenders of intentional scientific lying. I hope the guillotines fall and the careers of all Climategaters and fellow travelers are ended. Such action is necessary across the board if public trust is to be restored to science.
I hope Muller and friends will explain why they are doing this. That explanation should be a best selling book.

mike g

Problem with gas is the recent abundance is the result of new processes that involve pumping chemicals underground at high-pressure to fracture the rock formations. This is causing localized seismic activity resulting in non-trivial damage to property. Plus, this will obviously wreck havoc on the water table all over the country. Even if it were safe (which it can’t be), the Obama EPA, and state level regulators, are already making noises like they’re going to clamp down on the new techniques. This new technology is basically a scheme to get in quick, make lots of money, with no regard for the environment, get out, and plead ignorance (after damages are done to our biosphere that are far greater than any that might be inflicted by nuclear power).
Oh. Any burning natural gas emits CO2, not that there is anything wrong with that.

TonyK

I posted this on Tips, but it seems this might be a good place to repeat it. Max Hastings in the Daily Mail talking a whole lot of sense regarding nuclear:-
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1366274/Japan-tsunami-earthquake-Nuclear-power-plants-dangerous.html

Theo Goodwin

msinillinois says:
March 15, 2011 at 1:15 pm
“The disaster in Japan has made conventional nuclear power untenable.”
Please read something posted by rational people. Go to Nationalreview.com/TheCorner and read the posts. There are definitive posts from experts who explain that all danger of nuclear release has long passed and that the so-called fires that are reported at this time are ordinary detritus from a shut down.
There is going to be major blowback against the MSM, now including Fox, for their childish, hysterical ranting about nuclear holocaust. There should also be a huge humanitarian blow back against the MSM for taking the focus off the Japanese people and placing it on technology.

Robert L

Following the news the absolute worst case scenario evolving from the reactor problems in Japan will produce less than ~5-10 deaths (including long term cancers).
Meanwhile a thousand times that many are dead in the tsunami.
More die in a bus crash in Brooklyn.
A thousands times as many die in coal mines every year.
And a large proportion of the greenster dickheads of the world continue to smoke.
Makes me ashamed to be a westerner.

Theo Goodwin

ew-3 says:
March 15, 2011 at 1:14 pm
“Get the word out that the issue in Japan is largely due to it being older technology and if we’re smart we’ll swap out some of our older units with newer ones to improve safety.”
I am all for newer technology, but the problem in Japan was the site of the facility. You do not want to build a nuclear reactor on top of an earthquake hotbed where tsunamis are likely. Before we discuss anything else regarding existing or future nuclear facilities, we must evaluate the relative risks of the sites available for such facilities.