Environmentalists Going Nuclear on Pluto

Guest essay by James Wanliss


Pluto as seen from the New Horizons spacecraft, courtesy of NASA and nuclear powered spaceflight

Every technology has costs and benefits. Horses and oxen can draw carts but they also draw flies. Fire can cook food, but can also burn down the kitchen. Energy use allows us to feed our children, but environmentalists claim human energy use causes global warming, which will fatally transform the planet.

Yet one of the safest and cleanest energy sources, one which emits no carbon dioxide gas, also elicits hysterical behavior from the Green movement. Environmentalists have a knee jerk reaction to nuclear power. They are against it.

For instance, advocacy group Greenpeace writes that it “has always fought – and will continue to fight – vigorously against nuclear power because it is an unacceptable risk to the environment and to humanity. The only solution is to halt expansion of nuclear power, and to shut down existing plants.”

Environmentalist policy causes consumers to pay higher bills for renewables compared to coal and nuclear. Environmentalist ideology is backward looking because it thinks of de-development of industrial society as positive. The result—one hopes it is an unintended consequence—of environmentalist policy is poor countries staying poor because energy on a massive scale is requisite for human development. Green energy policy shows only contempt for the aspirations of the poor.

Environmentalist ideology afflicts not only energy policy, but other technologies too. Take spaceflight as an example.

The past year has been a stunning time in the space sciences. On July 14, 2015, NASA’s nuclear-powered New Horizons probe breezed past Pluto, capturing history’s first close-up looks at the little rock that couldn’t. You may remember, until recently Pluto was the ninth and smallest planet in our solar system. Pluto was then declared a dwarf planet, but the mighty mite could make a comeback because of data gleaned from New Horizons.

The $723 million New Horizons mission launched in January 2006. It was proposed in 1989, the same year NASA’s Voyager 2 probe zoomed past Neptune, getting the first up-close looks at that stunning, blue “ice giant.” But is questionable whether the mission could fly today because of the political clout of the out of control environmental movement, represented first of all by Barack Obama, arguably America’s first truly green president.

It took more than a decade of hard work and wrangling before New Horizons graduated from concept to full-fledged NASA mission. Forgotten in the excitement of the flyby is the tortured history of New Horizons as environmentalists sought to block the mission at every turn.

Environmentalist knee-jerk opposition to nuclear power was the central complaint.

The powerful advocacy groups Greenpeace and ‘Friends of the Earth’ were at the forefront of opposition and many environmentalists picketed the launch site.

Nonetheless, with the Bush administration friendly to nuclear power and open to scientific innovation, just less than a decade ago New Horizons defied the greens and blasted off to Pluto – a target nearly 3 billion miles (4.8 billion km) from our planet.

Thanks to nuclear powered engines the robot ship sped away from earth at speeds approaching 36,000 miles per hour. This is the fastest flight of any spacecraft and allowed New Horizons to speed past the Moon about nine hours from launch. Less than a decade later it threaded the needle of Pluto’s orbit.

Not too shabby of an achievement when one considers that this is equivalent to shooting a thread through the eye of a needle located 300 m (1000 ft) away, or sinking a hole in one between Jerusalem and Kathmandu. Not too shabby.

The launch of another nuclear powered mission would be impossible today. The green ideology—flower power—has consequences not only in the energy sector but in virtually every aspect of modern life. Going green means not only increased poverty, it means not going to Pluto. The choice really is ‘Pluto or bust’.


James Wanliss, Ph.D., is Professor of Physics at Presbyterian College, Clinton, SC. He is a Senior Fellow and Contributing Writer for The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, and author of  Resisting the Green Dragon: Dominion, Not Death. He has published over 50 peer-reviewed physics articles, has held the NSF CAREER award, and does research in space science and nonlinear dynamical systems under grants from NASA and NSF.


189 thoughts on “Environmentalists Going Nuclear on Pluto

  1. Well, the greenies did lobby to have a reallllllllyyyyyyyy long extension chord attached to idiots on bikes, but the Bush administration refused to fund them for it, those heartless bastards.

  2. Can’t we just dump all of these fascist nutters in some pristine wilderness where they can all get on with grubbing for roots and tubers and picking parasites out of each other’s hair? Then perhaps they might leave the rest of us alone to get on with life.

      • I took a friend, who’s always bleating about “we need to reduce our standard of living to help the environment” to see Les Misérables. As we left I could see she was moved by this really good movie. I casually mentioned “there’s your lower standard of living”. She didn’t have much to say, for a change.

      • “expat April 12, 2016 at 4:21 pm”
        I’ve always asked, quite simply, when was a better time than now to which these folks would like to return. Whatever era they mention, I can bring up a dozen reasons why they probably don’t want to.
        Starting with “you can’t get a decent latte” followed by “the cell service really sucked in the 1800s”…

      • For some reason, it’s always other people who have to lower their standard of living.
        It’s always the speakers lifestyle that is the target that everyone else is supposed to strive for.

      • They’re not Morlocks. The Morlocks were the do-ers in the far future society. They are the Eloi. The beautiful people who are good for nothing but protein for the Morlocks.

      • Bartemis, no- listen carefully – it’s nearly April 18. Do you not hear the dinner bell?
        The bell tolls for you.

      • gnomish April 12, 2016 at 5:14 pm
        Bartemis, no- listen carefully – it’s nearly April 18. Do you not hear the dinner bell?
        The bell tolls for you.
        Ah no…
        Lets move on
        ( the dietitian is giving me crap again)

    • “Can’t we just dump all of these fascist nutters in some pristine wilderness”.
      That was the poetic justice that Tom Clancy visited on the environmentalist villians in “Rainbow Six”.

    • Great idea. Venezuela needs lots and lots of Greenpace, Unfriends of the Earth, Sierra muerte, etc. But to be effective they would have to sign up for a minimum 10 year stay within the country.

  3. The anti-nuclear stance of the Greens?
    Cui Bono
    Cui Bono?
    Anti coal?
    Cui Bono?
    Who was it Al Gore worked for?
    Cui Bono?
    Whose actions are allegedly against big oil and gas,. but benefit Big Oil and Gas?
    Nothing is what it seems in this war of smoke and mirrors…

    • It is a Fusion Reactor constrained by a Large Gravitational field
      Nuclear Energy on Earth is (by comparison) a small Fission Reactor constrained by Lead and Concrete and requires constant cooling to avoid melt down.
      Don’t get Con-Fusion over Pro-Fission

      • A general belief, but I am not sure a correct one. That may not be a fusion reactor, and it’s constraint might not be a gravity well, if you will. Some times common beliefs aren’t actual correct, but are the best one available at the time they are adopted. And just like in green or climate thinking, common beliefs are difficult to change because of inertia and that much of a belief set is built upon them, thus holding us back from moving forward.

      • How about the fission reactor you’re standing on? The Earth would be cold, dry and dead without all those nice heavy elements fusing just under your feet.

      • Don’t confuse fission, which can be stimulated by neutrons, with radioactive decay, which can’t!

  4. One wonders what these nuclear-illterates will do when the molten salt reactors go commercial, probably within the next 7 years – every single objection they have to nuclear power – meltdowns, radioactive blasts from a ruptured reactor vessel, nuclear waste management, nuclear plant build costs and nuclear power
    costs, constrained to baseload (constant) operation only, proliferation issues, etc…. is thoroughly demolished by the molten salt reactor technology. Would love to see the blank unknowing exprssions on their faces when confronted by such obvious facts of life about molten salt reactors. These will produce power cheaper than any other technology and get rid of nuclear waste issues altogether.

    • If you are talking about Thorium Molted Salt reactors, isn’t that still in the proving stages??
      If so, hopefully it shakes out into a functioning reality.
      It was my understanding though that Thorium (non fissile in any quantity) wouldn’t produce sufficient heat to melt salt without the inclusion of fissile uranium materials. So long as fissile materials are required, don’t expect the Greenies to be happy about it.

      • China came over and was GIVEN the plans for the Thorium nuclear reactor we built in the 50’s. Now they are building 4 pilot plants and licensing it for themselves!
        India is building 2 pilot plants.

      • Don’t get hung up on Thorium. The reactors will run just fine on old fashioned U/Pu with the added advantage of not requiring a chemical processing step.

      • Bryan, the US had a functioning liquid fluoride salt reactor in the 1950s – a LIFTR. The system was shut down because it had no weapons applications (far, far less Plutonium production). The salt contains Th-232 suspended in fluoride salt doped with a minor amount of Uranium as a neutron source. There is immensely less waste (hundreds of orders of magnitude less) than a high-pressure water cooled reactor, less onerous engineering, and best of all the reactor cannot blow up. Look here:
        The “Green Community” might moan, but the source is either profound ignorance of the

    • You misunderstand the eco-zealots. Facts mean nothing unless they confirm their viewpoint. It is all about emotion. We have been confronting them facts for years and years and there is never a blank expression, just an ad hominum attack. It won’t change with any cheap, plentiful power source.

      • Yup. When the ice begins moving slowly south to cover Canada, Scandinavia, and the British Isles once again, they’ll still be screaming that it’s all man’s fault and want to kill off half the population to stop the global cooling. They’re total loons.

      • “When the ice begins moving slowly south to cover Canada, Scandinavia, and the British Isles once again”
        Try Fallen Angels by Larry Niven & co. He/they captured the eco-green attitude to a tee.

      • When the solution to every problem is the same, you start to wonder if they really care about the problems.

    • ” every single objection they have to nuclear power…. is thoroughly demolished”
      Actually no, the objections they state are just the rationalizations. Their real objection is that it exists. You will never get past that.

  5. Tor search for raw materials, rare earth’s / and what we’re not even knowIng to need we since long ought to be in the meteorite belt!
    We’re in the 21st century!
    Best Regards – Hans

  6. Thanks to nuclear powered engines the robot ship sped away from earth at speeds approaching 36,000 miles per hour.

    Are you sure about that? I thought the nuclear power was just to keep the electronics going, not to accelerate it.

    • See my comment below. No nuclear engines anywhere on this mission. I suppose you could call some of the ion thrusters used on other missions “nuclear engines” if the accelerator power came from an RTG.

      • I was just going to comment on this myself. There were no “nuclear engines”, only the electricity is from nuclear energy because it is too far from the sun for solar. Basically anything past Mars needs a nuclear power source. Solar just isn’t enough.

      • He didn’t say nuclear engines. He said nuclear powered engines. Electric thrusters require a source of electricity. RTG’s, which generate their power through nuclear decay, produce said electricity. That means the engines are powered by electricity generated from… nuclear power.

    • The whining on this mission was that the craft was going to use the earth as a slingshot to speed it on it’s way to Pluto.
      The green weenies were afraid that if something went wrong, the pound or two of plutonium powering the crafts reactors was going to kill all life on earth. Or something insane like that.

    • They were not nuclear engines, in the sense of relying directly on a nuclear reaction to produce thrust, so yes, it is a little misleading. But, he did say nuclear powered, so there is some wiggle room.
      The thrusters were hydrazine, but they still required electrical power for heating the catalyst bed, and for opening and closing the values. And, that far away from the Sun, you don’t have many options to produce electrical power in quantity.

  7. Environmentalists are both anti-science and anti-life.
    All life will cease as our sun approaches the end of it’s life. And with the risk of numerous potential planet killing events, for the (ultimate) survival of ALL species, the need to leave this planet and settle elsewhere is mandatory. Wind, solar and water power won’t cut it.

  8. “Thanks to nuclear powered engines the robot ship sped away from earth at speeds approaching 36,000 miles per hour. ” What? There is an RTG on the spacecraft to supply power to the instruments and systems. Spacecraft propulsion is by hydrazine thrusters. Apart from heaters powered by the RTG there is nothing nuclear about them. The launch vehicle was an Atlas V/Centaur/Star 48 system. No nuclear engines there. Star 48 actually reached Pluto’s orbit before the payload.

    • The RTG unit uses Pu238, which has a halflife of 88 years, which is really good for multi-decade space probes. The radiation degrades the thermocouples, so electrical output declines faster than half every 88 years, this is impacting some of the older probes.
      This is a partial list of things it’s been used in:
      Pacemakers (Yes, implanted in humans. Its alpha radiation is simple to block.)
      ALSEP, the Apollo science package left by astronauts on the moon.
      Voyager (power down to 67%)
      Cassini (In fact, any probe beyond Jupiter. Sunlight is too dim to be cost effective.)
      Curiosity (NASA had some challenges scrounging enough Pu238 for the mission.)
      NASA is paying the DoE to make more of the stuff, see http://www.nature.com/news/nuclear-power-desperately-seeking-plutonium-1.16411
      Oh – Pu238 isn’t fissionable. If you want a real atomic bomb, it’s Pu239 you need.
      Neither will let you send a probe to Pluto at “36,000 miles per hour.”

      • Well stated.
        Let me add that there was never a planned flyby of Earth, and I don’t remember much at all concern from the Greenies about New Horizons. Their big anti-nuke demonstration (I think about 6 people showed up) was with Cassini.
        The rocket used a chemical propellant, not nuclear. What I thought was really impressive about the New Horizons Atlas 5 launch was that had the mission missed it’s primary window the next attempt would not use a gravitational assist from Jupiter, it would fly straight from Earth to Pluto.

    • ” There is an RTG on the spacecraft to supply power to the instruments and systems. Spacecraft propulsion is by hydrazine thrusters.”
      Control thrusters might be hydrazine, but thrust was from an RTG powered electric ion engine, which was the source of its high performance.

  9. Actually, the “robot ship” was not propelled by “nuclear powered engines.” The nuclear power plant was just for onboard electricity. Heat from radioactive decay of plutonium provides (through thermocouples) 200 some watts of power for the cameras, computers, radios, etc. Shooting a rocket loaded with 24 pounds of plutonium through the atmosphere really is somewhat hazardous. We’re fortunate that it didn’t have a Columbia-style accident (explosion shortly after launch is a fairly common occurrence). Protesting that launch was one of the least idiotic things that Greenpeace has ever done.

    • Assuming the explosion would spread debris over a 120 square kilometer area (about1/6th that of the Challenger disaster), the concentration of Pu 238 would be below dangerous levels. In other words – the chance of dangerous Pu 238 contamination from a rocket explosion is essentially nil.

    • the RTG case containing the 238Pu is designed to remain intact if a launch destruct happens over water. Very low probability that the case would rupture and spread Pu. A remote submersible operated by the US Navy (remember the US Navy has nuclear powered submarines with real 239Pu warheads on missiles) would recover the RTG.
      GreenPeace is a bunch of unscientific kooks. Stopping whaling should be their one and only mission.

      • Depends on the type of sub.
        Only FBM’s carry missiles with nuclear warheads these days.
        Fast Attack boats did carry ASROC and later the nuclear tipped version of Tomohawk for land attack. Both have been retired from the Navy’s inventory.

  10. A quick check confirmes that no space program has ever actually flown a nuclear propulsion system, though much work has been done on various approaches. The Russians are working on a reactor powered ion engine system for potential use in deep space missions. I imagine NASA has various R&D programs.
    I see that the author is a physicist so the claim that New Horizons used nuclear engines is puzzling.

      • the Discovery probe currently in orbit of Ceres is 100% solar powered and uses ion engines for significant course changes. Nasa has no other currently active probs with ion engines.
        As for New Horizons 100% of the 36,000 mph velocity on the day of the launch was achieved by the chemical propellant powered Atlas buster used at launch. The probe then costed to Jupiter and got more velocity by traveling close to Jupiter. The probe then costed the rest of the way to Pluto. The thrusters on New horizon get most of there energy from chemical fuel and they are primarily used for minor coarse corrections.

  11. Nuclear powered does not necessarily mean nuclear powered engines. In this case the eclectrical power was generated by nuclear materials. IE, nuclear powered space craft. Somewhat misleading, I grant you.

    • No, it’s just wrong. We can also gripe loudly about “equivalent to shooting a thread through the eye of a needle located 300 m (1000 ft) away” etc. No mention of mid-course corrections. Some of the articles about what NASA ultimately aimed for (there was a of chance interference by a newly discovered moon) and all the timing issues were fascinating and and not at all equivalent to shooting threads.

      • If it didn’t use power from the RTG for any propulsion it would be wrong. If it did, then it’s correct to say nuclear powered engines. It doesn’t have to be an NTR in order for it to be nuclear powered.

    • Not to mention that the New Horizons nuclear-electric system is powered by a Plutonium isotope. Thorium is a vastly better choice for an everyday reactor.

    • All of the 36,000 mph velocity was from the Atlas booster. the Jupiter fly buy boosted its velocity by another 9000 mph. The thrusters were only used a handful of times during the coast to jupiter and the coast to pluto. Each time only for minor coarse corrections. At launch new Horizons carried about 170lbs of fuel. Not enough to make any significant change in it’s velocity.

  12. I like to greet such objections with the true observation that “space is radioactive anyway.” (And, if you don’t think so, I have a whole lot of cosmic rays to bombard you with.)

  13. Thanks to nuclear powered engines the robot ship sped away from earth at speeds approaching 36,000 miles per hour

    No the propellant was standard rocket fuel combined with clever swing-by accelleration.
    Why is this emberrassing post published on WUWT?

  14. With a heavy nuclear investment we could have 20x the energy available vs today. The future of earth could be 9 billion people living on about 40% of the land (vs 80% now) with the other 60% left as parks. Its easy to grow high quality food (without pesticides, etc) in huge LED powered greenhouses.
    The greens want to chop down every tree and feed it into places like Drax, and plant every available square metre with ‘biomass’. Energy will be rationed based on how close you are to ‘elite green’ status.
    Which future do you want.

  15. I am old enough to remember the “Abalone Alliance” and their campaign against nuclear power. Just remember, cheap and abundant power is like giving an idiot child a machine gun. The green blob opposes anything that might actually work.

  16. In 1980, I met some German climbers in the Italian Alps. Engineers who’d made their own super-hard bronze alloy ‘hammer through anything’ tent pegs. A sticker on their LPG powered Saab 95 said “Atomkraftgegner überwintern bei Dunkelheit mit kaltem Hintern”. Not hard to translate, either politely or in the vernacular. It made sense then and still does.

    • Check out the link for “Tips & Notes” on the top nav bar. By now, anyone who cares has been expecting that a Chapter 11 filing is imminent.

  17. “Knee-jerk reaction”
    I like that. If a Doctor taps your knee in the right spot with his little rubber hammer, your leg will jerk. No matter what your brain tells it to do.
    When I was young, the word “Nuclear” was the little rubber hammer used emote the desired response by those doing the tapping.
    Today “CO2 Emmisions” is the little rubber hammer that emotes a reaction divorced from the brain.
    Odd that nuclear power has the greatest potential to have power without CO2 emmisions yet the response to it hasn’t changed.
    (I did mention that the “knee-jerk reaction” to both doesn’t involve the brain, didn’t I?)

    • There is still a residual China Syndrome knee jerk reaction that prevails, even after all these years.

    • I believe it is incorrect to prefix the term “knee-” in the example shown for environmentalists; in my opinion “jerk” alone expresses well the save-the-world movement..

  18. “environmentalists claim human energy use causes global warming, which will fatally transform the planet.’
    Rather sweeping statement that really means nothing. Sure some may say that but the majority of people who know would say “some human energy use causes global warming, which will probably have serious consequences for humans and a good number of other life forms going into the future.”

  19. So the rocket engines weren’t nuclear-powered, but the electrical systems were. Oops. However, the thrust of the post is still valid. The nuclear power was an essential part of the mission, without which it wouldn’t have happened, and it was what the greenie idiots were opposed to.
    Bring back Planet Pluto! It never should have been demoted.

    • They recently found another object out in the Kuiper belt that is a bit larger than Pluto. Should it become an official planet as well?

    • This dwarf planet thing is really fouled up. Everyone has started writing, “Pluto is no longer a planet; it’s a dwarf planet.” Do we say a dwarf human is not a human? Someone wasn’t thinking about how people use words.

  20. Could have mentioned Rosetta’s Philae probe.
    That landed on a COMET! But then, because it was green photo-powered, but landed in shadow, and didn’t use nuclear batteries, failed to function and give us the data we hoped for.
    I notice that everyone kept very quiet about that, in case they learnt a lesson…

    • There is no such thing as a “nuclear battery.” Philae was carefully designed to use solar panels for reasons of mass, size, shape, power consumption needs, planned lifetime, planned mission profile, and cost. Nothing to do with “green.” A faulty thruster plus faulty anchoring harpoons caused it to fail to stick where it was “supposed” to, but it would have been impossible to precisely choose the landing spot anyway, because doing so would have required a much larger, heavier, costly spacecraft, and the mission designers intentionally decided against those expenditures. Dodgy Geezer’s snide comment is completely wrong.

      • Tom Dayton at 5:23
        Tom, perhaps you’re being a bit harsh on Dodgy Geezer’s comment…it’s not “completely wrong”. If there had not been so much stupid anti-nuclear mindset in the US and Europe space agencies maybe we could have developed a smaller light weight RPG that could have fitted into Pilae. We’ve been in space for over half a century…more than enough time to develop such a device given all the other amazing things we’ve done.
        The ability to operate in the shade would have provided us with so much more information.

  21. The Juno probe to Jupiter uses solar panels. Big ones. Big enough to generate over 12 KW near earth but less than 500W around Jupiter. And of course, Lithium-Ion batteries. Presumably, the reason for not using RTG was the shortage of Pu-238.
    Should arrive in July this year.

  22. Nobody seems to talk about the US nuclear subs.
    What is wrong with using their power plants?

  23. The insanity over nuclear is really costing us as a species. We have had the technology to mount affordable manned interstellar missions for years, powered by 1950s technology space drives capable of accelerating a really big starship up to 0.1c – fast enough to reach Proxima Centauri in 40 years. All mothballed and gathering dust, because everyone has wet their knickers over the nuclear issue.

    • Manned missions, Eric?
      If you have a solution to the cosmic background radiation problem, NASA would like to hear from you…
      = = = = = =
      “Galactic cosmic radiation originates outside the solar system. It consists of ionized atoms ranging from a single proton up to an uranium nucleus. The flux (rate of flow) levels of these particles is very low. However, since they travel very close to the speed of light, and because some of them are composed of very heavy elements such as iron, they produce intense ionization as they pass through matter.
      For the most part, the Earth’s magnetic field provides shielding for spacecraft from galactic cosmic radiation.
      Except for the Apollo missions to the Moon, NASA’s manned spaceflight missions have taken place within the cocoon of the Earth’s magnetosphere. Between the Apollo 16 and 17 missions, one of the largest solar proton events ever recorded occurred, and it produced radiation levels of sufficient energy for the astronauts outside of the Earth’s magnetosphere to absorb lethal doses within 10 hours after the start of the event. It is indeed fortunate that the timing of this event did not coincide with one of the Apollo missions. As NASA ponders the feasibility of sending manned spaceflight missions back to the Moon or to other planets, radiation protection for crew members remains one of the key technological issues which must be resolved.”
      = = = = = =
      “The research is still preliminary, Buhler stresses. Moondust, solar wind and other problems are still being investigated. It may be that a different kind of shield would work better, for instance, a superconducting magnetic field. These wild ideas have yet to sort themselves out.
      But, who knows, perhaps one day astronauts on the Moon and Mars will work safely, protected by a simple principle of electromagnetism even a child can understand.”
      = = = = = =

  24. Well, correct me if I am wrong but nuclear power to date has had some very horrible fails. Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, Fukashima, and some military fails that we will never hear about. The other problem is storage of radioactive spent fuel rods that require monitoring and maintenance perpetually. Breeder reactors may alleviate the spent fuel rod issues, however, I have not read anything demonstrative of nuclear safety or cleanliness for our food chain or environment at large. That does not mean I object to nuclear power out of hand, breakthroughs do happen and will happen. Harvesting the abundant and limitless supply of ions and cosmic particles directed to collectors and storage devices for conversion to work and heat is not a bad option either. Wind mill farms , I have to say fail for a variety of reasons, maintenance costs, landscape is altered, birds apparently get chopped up routinely. Solar voltaic panels are great and require mining and exacting manufacturing processes so these devices come at a cost like anything else. Carbon Dioxide from burning coal and petroleum products in my mind do not constitute pollution or a problem. CAGW meme is fraught with fraud. I would love to see our technology truly advance to the stars, and solve our planetary woes. Profit motivated and control motivated impetus is the problem. Political will and ambitions also stymie our evolution to a clean energy and advanced space age civilization. Answers? I wish.

    • George
      What was horrible about TMI? Did you have stock in GPU?
      “I have not read anything demonstrative of nuclear safety or cleanliness for our food chain or environment at large. ”
      Did you look? Safe levels of radioactive material in food and water are well established and published in the federal register. I was the radiation officer on a navy nuke ship. We also needed the information for responding to a nuclear war.
      “Answers? I wish.”
      I suspect George can invent problems faster than anyone can answer them. In case you did not get the memo, the space age is here and energy is clean.

      • Hi Kit, I accept that everything has a cost and no I do not invent problems, I observe them. Like everyone else on this planet I work using tools made in a factory somewhere, I drive trucks and cars and I burn electricity in my home and I love the ease of life all this technology provides. I grew up near the Indian Point Nuclear Power plant when it was being built. One of the disturbing issues living near that site was the impossible evacuation of some millions of people in the event of a major fail. Indian Point is right on the Hudson River just about 45 miles from New York City. My desire is to see more small scale manufacturing, small scale production of power. Just making our use of fuels more efficient will accomplish less pollution and stretch our resources. I visited the open uranium mines and miles of radioactive mining tailings just exposed to the air and wind near Tuba City in Arizona. Native populations in the region suffer birth defects directly attributable to radioactive dust. Extraction technologies can be far more responsible but the demand for profits often demand corners be cut to “save” money. There are good things too, automobiles have become safer and more fuel efficient. We have reduced lead and sulfur emissions quite effectively. We produce more food on less land. The planet is greener because the boost of CO2 in the atmosphere. And innovations and breakthroughs do happen.

      • In what way was Three Mile Island a ‘nuclear’ issue? Someone left a valve open, right? That’s it. No one was hurt, right? A far worse ‘nuclear’ event occurred in a dump in Brazil when a canister of Cobalt 60 (probably originally from Chalk River, Ontario) was tossed out with multiple fatal consequences. Does that mean we should stop having departments of nuclear medicine?
        If the stupidity of using light water reactors were not dominating the industry, we would not be talking of Fukushimas and Chernobyls.

        • “If the stupidity of using light water reactors were not dominating the industry, we would not be talking of Fukushimas and Chernobyls”
          And the only reason for this is the activists themselves, protesting everything with the word nuclear in it, bloody morons.

    • As I recall, the TMI reactor was a Westinghouse PWR, Chernobyl was a graphite moderated reactor, and Fukushima was built in a very seismically active area. Fukushima might have had some design flaws, as well.
      Well-designed and operated BWR reactors are fail-safe by design.
      As I recall…my old brain doesn’t work as well as it used to.

      • “Well-designed and operated BWR reactors are fail-safe by design.”
        Nothing is fail-safe. We mitigate failure with diverse and redundant design features so that people are not hurt. The designs to remove decay heat are slightly different at each of the Fukushima reactor. I am an expert on 4 out of five systems. All the systems functioned as designed after the earthquake but the RHR (residual heat removal) requires diesel backed AC power. The tsunami flooded the cooling water for the diesels.
        Diverse systems, for example, use steam turbine driven pumps running off the decay heat. The control system is battery operated. However, eventually decay heat must be removed from the containment building for those systems to keep working. Core damaged did not occur for several days and the containment was not vented until evacuations were complete.

      • Fukushima Daiichi Units 1-4 are all BWR type reactors. All of them were at the end of their useful lives. In fact Unit 1 was to close permanently in 2011, and all of the remainder were on the last or next to last fuel cycle. There were several critical design flaws.
        1. The seawall was of insufficient height.
        2. The backup diesel generators were in the basement, where they were destroyed by flooding.
        3. The diesel fuel storage tanks were unbunkered in the plant yard, where they were swept away by the tsunami.
        4. BWRs are incapable of passively radiating decay heat from the core. The reactors were all shut down safely at the instant of the earthquake, but they required active cooling to remove the decay heat. This is a particular problem for BWRs because of their single-loop system.
        5. The Daiichi reactors had no system for managing hydrogen buildup such as igniters.
        7. There was no dedicated, isolated power system for the plant control rooms.
        There is no such thing as “fail-safe”. All nuclear reactors are built to meet a design-basis accident. Exceed those DBA conditions, and an accident can happen. The purpose of nuclear safety systems is not to be fail-safe but to ensure that when and if accidents happen the consequences are mitigated. The DBA of the Daiichi reactors was exceeded enormously by the magnitude of the earthquake. Nevertheless, the reactors all shut down promptly and efficiently. The failure was in Tepco to update properly the safety case of the reactors and improve inundation protection. Tepco declined to do this because the reactors were all within two years of final closure.
        The six reactors at Fukushima Daiini were just next door. Set at slightly higher elevation, they had no significant problems from the earthquake and tsunami.

    • Chernobyl was a crappy design even by Russian standards and never should have been allowed to operate in the first place. TMI’s trouble never escaped the containment vessel, despite the operators doing just about everything wrong that they could. Fukushima was hit by a very unlikely event, and still could have avoided trouble if the operators had thought a little bit and the government had been more responsive.
      A great deal,of the problem stems from the anti-nuclear activists that keep both the government and the power companies from planning things properly. Now the French get most of their power from nuclear generators and I’ve never heard of a problem there. One important reason is that they use standardized designs instead of redesigning the plant each time.

      • “if the operators had thought a little bit and the government had been more responsive.”
        Paul you an idiot! Reading the minute account of the event clearly indicates operators were excellent and inventive. Rigging portable pumps and generators was hampered the destruction of things like normal access roads.
        As far as the government was concerned there was a lot to respond to besides the nuke plants. This is kind of the problem with nuke fear mongering. Frequently, a major epidemic follows a natural disaster. Not in Japan.
        As far as France are concerned they adopted a US design just as Japan did earlier. Does the French ‘standard’ design include a ‘standard’ site with active volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunami, and typhoons? The problem in Japan was not the reactor design but site location.

      • More directly, if Tepco had simply heeded their own probabilistic risk analysis and 1. had a seawall about 3 meters higher, or 2, had the backup generators either a) not in the basement, or b) behind water tight doors, no one would ever have heard of Fukushima.
        The Daiichi plants were all at the end of their lives, within two years of final closure. Emergency preparedness and training were significantly lacking and below nuclear industry standards.

      • Kit, they brought in portable generators by helicopter. However, emergency training was so bad that the station crews didn’t know what to do when the plugs didn’t fit, So by and large they sat unused until hydrogen buildup blew the secondary containment.

      • There is not one design for NPP in France, but several variants originally based on the light water “U-shaped” vapor generators Westinghouse PWR design, labelled according to the “generation”:
        – CP0, CP1 and CP2: 900 MWe
        – P4, P’4: 1300 MWe
        – N4: 1400 MWe
        – not completed: EPR, 1600 MWe (will have reduced power for safety?)
        P is for “palier”; EPR was European Pressurized Reactor but it’s now just Evolutionary Pressurized Reactor.
        Some reactors have single concrete containment, others have single steel covered concrete containment, others have double concrete containment. For safety, all reactors have been back fitted with sand filters and passive hydrogen recombiners.
        Many reactors have been back fitted to handle MOx fuel made from separated plutonium from used fuel. Many reactors can load follow and compensate frequency drift.”Black” and “gray” neutron absorbant bars are used. Load follow is implemented by a pre-programmed boron dissolution or boron removal in water.
        EPR design is based on ideas from N4 reactors and KONVOI reactors (which are quite similar).
        All the other power reactors types studied and build in France (CO2-graphite, heavy water, fast) have been stopped for various reasons (economic or political). AFAIK, France never had any BWR.

      • Re: Daiichi plant blackout
        “However, emergency training was so bad that the station crews didn’t know what to do when the plugs didn’t fit”
        I recall that the electric bus had been flooded anyway.

    • The only reason why we have to store nuclear waste is because the green weenies won’t permit reprocessing.
      Chernobyl was a design that was rejected in the west because it was inherently unsafe. It was used by the Soviets because it was cheap. Regardless, it would have been a minor accident had the Soviets not also cheaped out by not building a containment vessel.
      TMI was a minor accident that resulted in almost no radiation leak.
      Fukushima was an old design that was about to be retired when the accident occurred. Had the backup diesel generator been placed 10 feet higher, or been put in a water tight building, nobody would have ever heard the name Fukushima.
      PS: I like the way you are so confident that there have been a lot of military related accidents, despite the fact that secrecy has prevented us from knowing about them.

  25. No problems with thermoelectric power sources properly launched. Plutonium radioactive heat decay fuels GaAs thermoelectric direct electricity. Works, and has on past planetary missions.
    Big problems with Cornwall Alliance assertions here, aka a front for ‘intelligent design’, aka God and a literal Bible…. See my explicit longish ID refutation in chapter 3 of The Arts of Truth. With many footnotes. BS. Having ID’rs cluttering skeptical climate sites just adds more ammunition to warmunists who exclaim we are all flat earth nutters. Because ID adherents provably actually are.
    AW, please do not go there again.

    • The “flat earth movement” is a pysop (psychological operation), I’m rather sure, ristvan.

    • ristvan, you’ve apparently confused Intelligent Design, which is consistent with scientific evidence, with Young Earth Creationism, which isn’t.
      I think you must surely know that many excellent scientists are Christians, who believe in the intelligent design of the universe, and of themselves. The fact that our opinion differs from yours does not make us “flat earthers.” When you find the mechanistic source for your own consciousness you’ll be able to scoff at Christians without sounding so unreasonable.

      • When you’re bigoted to begin with, it really doesn’t make much difference what your opponents are saying. Since you know they are wrong, there’s no need actually understand the differences between their positions.

  26. We really hate it when CAGW alarmists mix up discussions that there is consensus about warming, then switch the discussion that its mostly man-made and extremely dangerous, when there is no consensus about those added terms. The same dodgy discussion is often applied to nuclear power. Sure its safe, if you ignore the dangers and pretend they don’t exist. I would support nuclear power in a form that truly does not produce radioactive wastes. I’ve worked on radiation detection technology for many years, I have some samples for testing in my lab. So I’m not a nutter with a knee jerk reaction. The nuclear industry carefully avoids discussing some important details. Like venting xenon and tritium to the atmosphere every week from your local reactor, we’re pretty sure it’s not dangerous. Alpha emissions will kill you in the wrong circumstances. So let’s only talk about beta and gamma. And where shall we put another hundred tons of spent fuel? Somewhere safe for the next billion years? How much material is available to make dirty bombs with? These are real issues that are glossed over. Offer some real solutions, and the resistance to nuclear power would largely dissolve.

    • Spent fuel is only a radiation problem for about 100 years. But you are correct (billions and billions) if you need the radiation to go to zero.
      Ask yourself a fundamental question. Why are people living in Hiroshima?

      • Many of the radiation daughter products have half-lives of longer than a million years. There are about a dozen daughter products in the chain that starts with uranium.Most of the material in a weapon are immediately converted to things like iodine and cesium, which decay pretty fast. Fuel rods, not so much.

      • Kent, that’s a rather alarmist viewpoint. Yucca Mountain was a fine choice for nuclear waste. Even better would be to encase the waste in glass and drop it into the subduction zone in the deep Pacific where it would be dragged down into the mantle.

      • Quite right. After approximately 1000 years, used nuclear fuel has no higher a radiation level than the uranium ore from which it was originally produced. By definition, radiation will never go to zero, at least not before the heat-death of the universe.

    • It looks as though we’re all doomed anyway.
      “The average person receives a higher dose of radiation from the radon levels in their home than from their combined exposure to all other radiation sources, natural or man-made. Radon gas is a naturally-occurring byproduct of the radioactive decay of Uranium in the soil.”
      Flee! Flee! Or maybe commit suicide immediately. No place in the known universe is free from radiation!
      What nonsense! Everything is dangerous. Make your assumptions about the dangers, and the future, live your life accordingly.
      Works for me.

    • “I’ve worked on radiation detection technology for many years, I have some samples for testing in my lab. So I’m not a nutter with a knee jerk reaction.”
      Of course are fruit case Kent. All those hazards you discussed are discussed many palaces if you bother to look. Bothering to look is how you avoid knee jerk reactions.

    • What utter rubbish your post is, Kent. No one in the industry pretends that dangers don’t exist. And if you are in the industry, you should have a pretty good idea of just what the various protection systems are.

  27. the ozone depletion story is probably even weirder.
    the ozone depletion fear successfully blocked the development of high altitude supersonic air travel
    and almost blocked the space shuttle program
    then the UNEP sold us the Montreal Protocol to ban man-made substances that were depleting the ozone
    without evidence of ozone depletion
    history of the ozone depletion scare
    no evidence of ozone depletion

  28. Producing electricity is inherently dangerous. Over the years many power plant workers have died. However, nuclear power has an additional hazard of radiation. This hazard not only will kill workers but also their families who live nearby. So from the beginning the nuclear industry has used methodologies to protect ourselves and our families and our neighbors. The US commercial and naval reactor programs have a perfect safety record.
    What is said when looking at deaths from accidents is the failure for other industries is these methods were not adopted till after major loss of life. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_accidents_and_disasters_by_death_toll#Industrial_disasters
    Process safety regulation were not imposed on the American chemical industry until after the Bhopal disaster. When considering the list of radiation accidents, it is clear that the hazard is real. The soviets and the medical have been responsible for the bulk. However, no LWR designed to US standards are correctly on that list.
    “Mihama Nuclear Power Plant accident, 9 August 2004. Hot water and steam leaked from a broken pipe”
    This was a steam plant accident that can occur steam plant. Like I said making electricity is inherently dangerous. The sad part of this accident was the root cause was identified at a US plant 20 years earlier. So disturbed by the loss of coworkers, all of the nuke plants run by that utility were shut down until the root cause was known and corrected.
    So there is a systematic approach to safety that includes science. Irrational fear ignores science.

    • All true, Kit. What you left out was that the hazards of having no electricity are vastly greater by many orders of magnitude than producing it by the most hazardous of all current methods (in terms of loss of life expectancy).

  29. Environmentalist dont want ‘clean’ energy, or ‘renewable’ energy, they want expensive energy.

  30. All of Greenpeace; offices, officers, lawyers and troops, should be immediately disconnected from the grid, and forced to use only renewable energy and electricity, except that from dams, which they also oppose. They should be identified with a brand, and should be denied the ability to purchase any oil or natural gas products whatsoever, be denied driving licenses, and forbidden from flying. Their passports should be revoked.

  31. The West’s technical ascendancy will fade. The Chinese, India, the Africans, some South American countries will replace the West. Those countries care more for the poor. They are hungry for development, and have fewer delusional green fantasies.
    It’s starting now.

  32. The New Horizons was pushed away from Earth with a powerful chemical rocket but its electricity in deep space was provided by a radio-isotope themo-couple aray…hot plutonium…

  33. The author made a mistake by stating New Horizons used nuclear powered engines. It used nuclear material to generate power, not thrust.
    Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators, or RTGs, provide electrical power for spacecraft by converting the heat generated by the decay of plutonium-238 (Pu-238) fuel into electricity using devices called thermocouples. Since they have no moving parts that can fail or wear out, RTGs have historically been viewed as a highly reliable power option. Thermocouples have been used in RTGs for a total combined time of over 300 years, and a not a single thermocouple has ever ceased producing power.

  34. The greenies also picketed the nuclear-powered Cassini orbiter at launch time — today it’s happily orbiting Saturn. Greenies just want us back on all fours.

  35. The “problem” is that there is no money for the freeloaders in energy solutions that actually deliver on price and quality. Why should Greenpeace go out of business when they can meet all of their fundraising needs by operating their patented Molten-Hobgoblin-Reactor (MHR) to deliver proven moral superiority to their customers? Even the waste product from the MH Reactor is useful, as many seem to enjoy slathering themselves with “sanctimony”; the slimiest element in the periodic table of new-age moralists. Although no one yet knows the half-life of sanctimony it continues to be socially useful to bolster your status in many social situations. The, “If you’re not a “greenie”, you’re a “meanie””, meme lives on.

  36. Energy use allows us to feed our children, but environmentalists claim human energy use causes global warming, which will fatally transform the planet.

    That’s not exactly what they say. They say that the combustion of fossil fuels causes global warming. As you point out there are other energy sources. Nuclear, you mention. Also wind, solar, geothermal, and hydro also exist and are significant in some regions.

    Thanks to nuclear powered engines the robot ship sped away from earth at speeds approaching 36,000 miles per hour.

    The electricity on board new horizons is generated from a thermoelectric generator, the heat for which is supplied by a lump of plutonium. But the engines aren’t nuclear powered, they’re normal hydrazine monopropellant thrusters.
    The reason it’s going fast is due to the Atlas V rocket (with the third stage added), plus the Jupiter slingshot. Neither of those had nuclear powered engines either.

    The launch of another nuclear powered mission would be impossible today.

    Plutonium-238 dioxide fuelled Curiosity was launched five years later without any problems, and the Mars 2020 rover will have the same generator as Curiosity.

  37. As per usual, WUWT omits reference to environmentalists who are pro-nuclear and pro-GMO and pro-glyphosate. The most important environmentalist voices today are not pseudoscientists, e.g. Stewart Brand & R. Paul Thompson
    Do you know who are pseudoscientists? Those who claim that extra CO2 in the atmosphere does not augment the greenhouse effect. Such people are clearly cranks.

    • Mr Andrew: If the “extra CO2 in the atmosphere augments the greenhouse effect” how come the planet’s temperature has remained remarkably stable (within natural limits) for the last 20 years while CO2 emissions have been going up? Do you, a real scientist (?), have any insight into the correlation of CO2 to temps (other than what is accepted as a normal GHE)?

    • Andrew, when I was a snotty-nosed arrogant bast…d, probably like you are, I was told by a smarter, older guy the ‘we all know what BS is. Well MS means ‘more of the same’, and PHD means, ‘Piled Higher and Deeper.

    • D. Andrew White BSc MSc,
      From your website:
      I am a consulting arborist or tree doctor. I specialise in hazard tree evaluation, arborist report preparation, tree bylaw issues, expert witness, and expertise on tree health. I have over a decade of experience as a consulting arborist.
      As a glorified gardener you should be better placed to tell us how well CO2 enrichment of the atmosphere augments plant growth rather than temperature.
      Temperature “forcing” is an incredibly elusive phemomena, requiring statistical acrobatics over arbitrary time frames using continuously adjusted temperature records. Even with Orwellian adjustments, you can’t actually see the global warming unless you zoom in with the eye of faith to examine the 4th decimal place on the temperature scale.
      The growth “forcing” on plants, on the other hand, can be seen with your own eyes in greenhouses worldwide. It’s very easy to measure & quantity.
      Given all the years you invested at university becoming an over-credentialed gardener, why don’t you focus on educating alarmists about the plant forcing? Most of the “cranks” in the carbon climatology cult won’t acknowledge it.

    • Almost nobody claims that CO2 had no impact.
      Those who have to lie about what their opponents say, are quite clearly cranks.

  38. This website was so much better before it became a political activist and propaganda site.
    It’s really sad.

  39. @George EC
    “and no I do not invent problems, I observe them.”
    Did you ever observe an ‘impossible evacuation’? No you invented it. Operators of nuke must demonstrate a good evacuation plan to continue to operated. I was offered a job Indian Point when I got out of the navy so I have been there. LWR are walk away safe. Evacuations are a precaution. No evacuation was necessary at TMI. At Fukushima, it turns out that the levels of radiation in the area would not have hurt anyone. The evacuation caused more harm but that is hindsight.
    Think about how the natural disaster that killed 20k in Japan would have affected NYC? BTW, our daughter lives there.
    “accomplish less pollution”
    Again, inventing a problems that does not exist in the US. We do not have a pollution problem.
    “Native populations in the region suffer birth defects directly attributable to radioactive dust.”
    Again an invented problem. In any case, that is an issue related to making weapons not commercial nuclear power.
    “Extraction technologies can be far more responsible but the demand for profits often demand corners be cut to “save” money.”
    Pure BS. Change ‘can’ to ‘are’. Welcome to the present.
    “We have reduced lead and sulfur emissions quite effectively.”
    Lead is are zero, and sulfur is not a heavy metal.
    I have to question the honesty of people who pretend to be reasonable while taking thing out of content of the era and minimize all that has been accomplished.

  40. “There were several critical design flaws.”
    Oh really! Just wondering about qualifications to determine what is a design flaw. First cgh tells that the plant operated to close to the end of its useful life and then he says the design is flawed.
    Scientist provide engineers with data about typhoons, floods, earthquakes, and tsunami. This is based on available information at the time in the 60s. Considering, 1600+ people died but radiation hurt no one, I am not seeing a ‘critical’ design flaw. After the 1000-year earthquake, there was new information.
    “BWRs are incapable of passively radiating decay heat from the core.”
    How is this a design flaw? It is a power reactor. We want steam to go to the turbine and not heat the reactor compartment.
    “This is a particular problem for BWRs because of their single-loop system.”
    It is a BWR fool. PWRs have loops with Steam Generators. BWRs can work on natural circulation after a scram. The power supply for Reactor Recirculation Pump is not from an emergency supply. Decay heat boils water in the reactor vessel to four steam lines. Relief valves open and the steam goes to suppression pool. This a passive function. Convective heat transfer is better for heat transfer in the temperature range for not damaging fuel.
    It would appear that cgh is repeating something he read but was not written a BWR safety expert. Sure the terminology is confusing.
    “Tepco declined to do this because the reactors were all within two years of final closure.”
    Gosh if Tepco had a crystal ball telling them the existing design basis wrong, then Japan should have evacuated the entire population to Kansas. No earthquakes or tsunami there!

    • In many cases, a design flaw meants: Not how we would build it today.
      Ignoring the 20 or 30 years of design improvements that have been made in the meantime.
      I would consider putting the back up generator in the basement in an area where tsunamis are a real possibility to be a design flaw.
      I also consider not putting water tight doors on the New York City subways to be a pretty serious design flaw.

      • Mark, it is a minor disagreement, but in my experience design flaws are corrected immediately. For BWRs, the first one that comes to mind is the fire at Browns Ferry. This resulted in Appendix R to 10CFR50. A second case was a partial failure to scram also at Browns Ferry.
        When it comes to water tight doors, I am very fond of them. Maybe it is my navy training. Got a million stories but requires a campfire and coffee royal.

        • ” coffee royal”
          Is that your favorite 100 proof beverage with a splash of coffee for flavor, or one of those quart sized coffees bought in France?

    • Kit, be careful in the future who you label an antinuke, you twit. As to design flaws, most reactors have a two-loop system. By having both a primary and secondary loops, an extra barrier is created against radiation release.
      As to radiating heat decay, LWRs suffer from the problem that after the reactor is shut down, the reactor must still be actively cooled to remove decay heat from the fuel. Otherwise, as we saw at Fukushima, the decay heat can and will melt the fuel. This problem does not occur in reactors like CANDU in which, 1. the reactor is physically so large as to radiate the decay heat into the building structure, and 2. other reactors like CANDU have much larger passive heat sinks. In the case of CANDU, its moderator is below boiling temperature, and the entire reactor is surrounded by a shield tank containing more than 500 tonnes of cold water.
      Next, some reactors have fully passive shutdown systems that will shut down a reactor in the event of complete station power loss. LWRs to not. They require power to drive in the shutdown rods. Nor unlike some reactor systems, do they have a second, independent shutdown system.
      As for Tepco, their mishandling of the event has been well documented by their peers in the nuclear industry. Go do your own homework. The reference to Kansas was idiotic. A major part of the Fukushima problem was the greatly excessive evacuation ordered by the Japanese government.

      • @cgh
        I would be interested in the source of your claims. Repeating a lie is still lying. Think about that before making serious accusations. For the record, I had a lot of billable hours working on mitigation for US plants. So I had lots of references.
        “So by and large they sat unused until hydrogen buildup blew the secondary containment.”
        The secondary containment did not blow up. The refueling floor and above on a Mark I & II containment design is not part of secondary containment. It is one of the confusing aspects of a BWR that anti-nukes like to exploit when telling a carefully crafted lie. It is just an industrial building with blow panels.
        Modern containment buildings for PWRs and BWRs are two structures. The outer building is a shield building to protect against tornadoes and airplane crashes. The inner build in the containment building designed to contain steam released if a pipe breaks. The annulus area is connected to ventilation to maintain a negative pressure.
        CGH I labeled you a ‘fool’ not an anti-nuke.
        Clearly cgh does not understand how nuke plants protect the public. At TMI, reactor relief valves lifted releasing coolant to the containment. Operators turned of the AC powered safety injection system because indication showed pressurizer level was going high. Eventually the core was covered and the fuel was damaged.
        PWRs being built now have an in-contaiment refueling water storage tank (IRWST). In a severe an accident with fuel damage most of the fission products are trapped in the IRWST.
        For the BWR, the streamlines are isolated and reactor relief valves discharge to suppression pool inside the containment. Safety injection systems independent of AC power inject water to the reactor. After several days, these lost the driving head and core was covered and the fuel was damaged. Fission products are trapped in the suppression pool.
        The secondary loop is irrelevant.
        “reactors like CANDU ”
        That explains a lot. I know very little about CANDU. Seems no one is building them anymore.
        “Next, some reactors ”
        What do you call those reactors, unicorn reactors.
        “documented by their peers in the nuclear industry ”
        I am a peer in the nuclear industry. It was not homework, it was my job. My early training and experience was in the control room for handling extreme events. I think the operators did an amazing job. I have also read what the crackpots and armchair quarterbacks have to say.
        So if you want to say something well documented, them you have to provide something I can refute.

        • ” I think the operators did an amazing job.”
          The teams going back into Fukushima are truly hero’s, I fully expected there to be many deaths amount them, and while they might have known they were still safe, that still took some big brass ones.

      • And you’re an idiot. CANDUs have two fully redundant, completely passive emergency shutdown systems both of which function in the complete absence of in-plant power. Hardly “unicorn” systems at all.
        “I know very little about CANDU”
        Tells me all I need to know. Maybe you should try reading a bit.

        • ” Maybe you should try reading a bit.”
          I’m all for reading(and if fact I’ve been reading about nuclear power plants since I was 8 or 10), but I’d rather hear from someone who has operated a nuke power plant than someone who just reads about them.

    • “It is a BWR fool. PWRs have loops with Steam Generators. BWRs can work on natural circulation after a scram.”
      And what makes you believe PWR can’t?

  41. @cgh
    I would be interested in the source of your claims. Repeating a lie is still lying. Think about that before making serious accusations. For the record, I had a lot of billable hours working on mitigation for US plants. So I had lots of references.
    “So by and large they sat unused until hydrogen buildup blew the secondary containment.”
    The secondary containment did not blow up. The refueling floor and above on a Mark I & II containment design is not part of secondary containment. It is one of the confusing aspects of a BWR that anti-nukes like to exploit when telling a carefully crafted lie. It is just an industrial building with blow panels.
    Modern containment buildings for PWRs and BWRs are two structures. The outer building is a shield building to protect against tornadoes and airplane crashes. The inner build in the containment building designed to contain steam released if a pipe breaks. The annulus area is connected to ventilation to maintain a negative pressure.

  42. “Not too shabby of an achievement when one considers that this is equivalent to … sinking a hole in one between Jerusalem and Kathmandu.”
    The golf analogy is brilliant. Just replace “Jerusalem” with a different city and present that comparison to nuclear power to Obama. That massive carbon footprint (moreso than anyone else on Earth – ever) leisure man will support it in a heartbeat.

  43. Sigh, these types of articles always bring out the “man-was-never-meant-to-fly” -type antediluvian Cro Magnons who want us all to huddle in fear. They dust off the 1940s-50s views of nuclear and seem unaware that the number of people who have been killed by nuclear power plants and even nuclear experimental laboratories since the 1950s is about 75 people, over half of which were killed in the Soviet built, zero safety factor design at Chernobyl.
    China kills over 4000 coal miners a year. Windmills and solar panels installation (they don’t include electrocutions and manufacturing accidents) have killed over 50 people in the US alone, so they have in a few years surpassed the deaths over 60years from nuclear electrical generation several fold.
    France, the most nuke/electrical country on earth with about 80% of their power from nukes has had…. wait for it…. 1 (one, uno, ein) death in the industry and it may have been from a forklift accident in a fuel rod processing plant! We’ve had a technological revolution of unprecedented magnitude with the computer age (largely accelerated by space exploration) that has refined controls and safety equipment in all, including nuclear, mining/processing, manufacturing,etc. etc. Many of the deaths of the early days wouldn’t happen today.
    Why do we let these unelected goons who want to destroy civilization cause us so much cost and pain? Under the dumbing down policy and endemic lefty propaganda we are burdened to the limit economically and in every other way. We need a revolution in politics with an agenda of high quality, engaging education to rid ourselves of useful idiots, and we need leaders with the guts to battle against the antediluvians. They represent the biggest tax rate on humanity. Trump may not be the model politician and he may have said a lot of stupid things. I think he is getting that part of his act together, thankfully. But he is absolutely right about the major issues. He is the only one who intends to take nothing for granted in all the policy tangle that has gone before. None of the “progressives” policies are too big too fail if they don’t pass an obvious utility test.
    That beautiful image of Pluto should be a rallying cry for people being dragged back into the dark ages.

    • From radiation-related deaths or injuries in France, the answer is zero. All industries will have conventional industrial accidents. The lost time injury rate for workers in the electricity industry in general is about 1/10 the industrial average in most western nations. The lost time injury rate in the nuclear industry is about 1/10 the average of the electricity industry. Even more extreme variances from the mining average prevail in the uranium mining industry.

    • “China kills over 4000 coal miners a year. ”
      Gary your data is out of date. China has made huge improvements in safety mining coal. When I worked in China, accidents at coal mines made the news. Responsible managers were in jail by the end of the week.
      Also, the US produces the most electricity with nuclear power.

    • Gary. I think the antediluvian Cro Magnons who want us all to huddle in fear you speak of have always been around, we just never paid attention to them. Must be television and the Internet.

  44. “The teams going back into Fukushima are truly hero’s, …”
    Micro, I agree but not because of radiation. It is easy to measure radiation at harmless levels. It is all the weird things after natural disasters or things like fires.
    The plant manager did not pull people back until the hydrogen explosion nearly killed plant operators. This was after civilians had been evacuated. Hydrogen is really scary stuff and is released from reactor coolant when it is depressurized. One of many sources at power plants.
    I the responsible engineer for waste gas systems at both BWRs and PWRs. At one plant there had been a history of problems with leakage for years so I was monitoring the operation at about 3 am. The problem became obvious when the HEPA filter overpressurized and a gasket blew out releasing hydrogen to the room. As I was getting the hell of Dodge, the rad detector was ejected missing my head by inches.
    In the last few years, one worker at a coal plant and 5 at metal processing plant were killed. If it had been at a nuke plant, the news media would be all over it.

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