Senator Sheldon Whitehouse: “We Need Nuclear Power”

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, public domain image, source Wikimedia

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, public domain image, source Wikimedia

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, until recently a leading figure in the campaign to prosecute climate skeptics under RICO laws, now wants bipartisan support to fix the problems with Obama’s clean energy policies.

To Slow Global Warming, We Need Nuclear Power


If 20 fire marshals came around and told us our houses were about to burn down, we’d buy some fire insurance. So when the leading science academies in 20 developed countries, along with several major American corporations and the national security community, all tell us that burning fossil fuels is causing dangerous changes to the climate, we think it’s time for the United States to get serious about clean energy. It also means supporting safely operating nuclear power plants that produce carbon-free electricity.

Already, 60 percent of our carbon-free electricity comes from the 99 nuclear reactors that dot the nation’s map, from Avila Beach, Calif., to Seabrook, N.H. These reactors provide low-cost, reliable electricity for the United States, which uses nearly 20 percent of the world’s electricity. But over the next decade, at least eight of these reactors are scheduled to shut down. That will push up carbon emissions from the American electricity sector by nearly 3 percent, according to the United States Energy Information Administration.

Unfortunately, some of our federal policies to encourage clean energy, such as the Clean Energy Incentive Program within President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, do not explicitly include or incentivize nuclear power. Likewise, some states have chosen to adopt policies, such as renewable portfolio standards, that do not include or incentivize nuclear power.

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Sheldon Whitehouse’s co-author is Lamar Alexander, a centrist Republican senator. Alexander’s Wikipedia entry notes he is one of the most bipartisan Republican members of the Senate.

Senator Whitehouse seems to have been consistent in his support for nuclear power, which is unusual for a green. But his approach to encouraging the development of US nuclear potential, by putting a price on carbon, in my opinion would be an unmitigated disaster.

Under a carbon tax, nuclear industry players would have no incentive to improve their product. Why should nuclear power companies take the risk of attempting to develop cheaper, safer nuclear technology, when they could receive a much safer return on investment by spending that potential research cash on schmoozing politicians, lobbying politicians to crank up carbon taxes on fossil fuel competitors?

Nuclear power has the potential to be cheaper than coal, but realising this potential will require a serious political effort to remove bureaucratic roadblocks – to establish that passive safe systems really are safe, that all the hideously expensive multiply redundant containment and cooling systems required by current generation active safe systems are not required for next generation nuclear designs.

If Senator Whitehouse genuinely wants more nuclear power, he should have a go at dismantling the red tape which makes nuclear power uncompetitive, rather than putting his effort into trying to imprison political opponents, and bankrupt coal companies.

229 thoughts on “Senator Sheldon Whitehouse: “We Need Nuclear Power”

  1. “Lamar Alexander, a centrist Republican senator”
    Alexander is a climate change pushing amnesty shill of the worst sort.
    4 words apply to Alexander: Republican In Name Only.

    • LOL. I can do that in one word, a portmanteau of cuckold and conservative. Conservatives that look left for approval and guidance.

      • I agree with him on needing nuclear, but not for the same reasons, and likely not the same type of nuclear. I would like to see Thorium cycle take over, and I would like to see it replace all other nuclear plants and coal over the longer term.

      • Seems like they might be on the right track though, if they want to Decarbonize the energy sector, do so by making alternative solutions that actually cost less than conventional sources.
        If you can make Nuclear cost less than Conventional Coal, this is a good first step.

      • Let’s make a few deals in the U.S. Senate and then “we” can get back to business as usual.

        DOE furnished $40 million of the project cost to install the first wind turbines in Lake Erie offshore Cleveland, Ohio. Planned for sometime in 2018.

        First offshore ocean wind turbine project in operation offshore Rhode Island.

      • Whitehouse randomly stumbled onto the elephant in the middle of the room that has been there for decades. I am sure he voted to close Yucca Mountain but, hey…at least Trump will reopen it.

    • The open paragraph of the statement sums up the problem nicely. But, let me paraphrase it slightly differently:
      If several weavers and clothiers were to approach your house and tell you that your entire wardrobe was going to suddenly become passé, and they were the only ones who could save you with their magical loom that wove cloth so fine only intelligent people could see it, would you still be buying it. Or would you wait until some street urchin asked “Why is the man naked?”
      I suspect that the education of these morosophs lacked the import of nursery tales. The lessons weren’t obviously learned.

      • If 20 fire marshals came around and told us our houses were about to burn down, we’d buy some fire insurance…
        If 20 fire marshals came around and told you your house was going to be too hot or too cold 50 year from now, would you buy insurance? Of would you buy a bigger furnace and a bigger air conditioner?

        CO2 is not a fire, CAGW says CO2 is a thermostat on temperatures. You do not buy insurance to change the setting on a thermostat.

      • Not to mention, …IF 20 Fire Marshals came around and told you your house was about to burn down, the insurance industry WOULDN’T sell you any new Fire Insurance Policy nor accept an increase in coverage request for any existing policy

      • if 20 fire Marshalls told me my house was about to burn down, first I would look for smoke. If I didn’t find any I would then call the police because instead of being fire Marshalls I would suspect they were arsonists.

      • 20 FIREMARSHALS (in unison): “Your house is going to burn down, we are 95% certain”

        TYPICAL HOMEWONER: “How is the fire going to start? When is the fire going to start?”

        20 FIREMARSHALS (in unison): “We don’t know, & soon”

        TYPICAL HOMEWONER: “What can I do to stop it from happening”

        20 FIREMARSHALS (in unison): “Buy insurance, lots of insurance, spend about 6% of your income”

        TYPICAL HOMEWONER: “How does that protect me … why don’t you just help me now?”

        20 FIREMARSHALS (in unison): “It doesn’t protect you. You give the money to the insurance company & they pay us a consulting fee to figure out why/how your house will burn, that way we can determine what improvements you will need to make on your house; we need to be able to protect you”

        TYPICAL HOMEWONER: “I’m going to vote for Trump”

      • If Al Capone came to your door, and said “If you pay-a my insurance then maybe your house no burn down!” – Would you be in any doubt as to the ignition source when it does?

        If the climate alarmists predict floods, then floods happen in the UK, and it is found that government policies, especially EU policies, caused those floods…

  2. “Nuclear power has the potential to be cheaper than coal, but realising this potential will require a serious political effort to remove bureaucratic roadblocks “

    Aye, and there’s the rub.

    Yu are valancing several political inexpediencies here…

    – the price of coal which is abundant and dirt cheap in the USA
    – the potential price of nuclear power if silly regulations were removed and serious attention paid to passive safety.
    – the price of electricity
    – the political price of electricity
    – the political price of coal
    – the political puce of nuclear.

    In the end these boils down to which loses more votes?

    (a) nuclear power
    (b) coal power
    (c) unaffordable electricity and industrial job losses.

    • A sound analysis, save that you should include whether a policy promoting renewables add some votes. Some people who do not usually vote may be encouraged to vote in order to support so called ‘green’ policies.

      • Remember all the protests against nuclear power back in the ’70s?
        Those same people are now pushing it as green.
        That is specifically why you don’t make long term policy on the political fad of the day. Politicians are supposed to make those decisions – in other words Lead. Unfortunately today’s politics are about identifying a herd and get to the front, then call yourself a leader.
        I’m hoping Trump can actually lead.

      • Whitehouse just randomly told the first accurate fact in his life – “we need nuclear power”. Now lets see if he supports the reactivation of Yucca Mountain.

    • If you’re looking for maximum return on investment for the next 30 years, you’re going to build a natural gas plant.

      If your goal is to minimize cost volatility for 80 years, you build coal and pray that regulations don’t change significantly.

      If you want to comply with state level mandates, you build wind and solar.

      If your goal is to spend a decade or two donating hundreds of millions of dollars to the NRC before ultimately giving up, you pretend to build a nuclear plant and ultimately just use the site for natural gas. We have 4 reactors under construction in the US. They’ve technically been in construction since the 1980s. I don’t think the NRC knows how to approve new projects. It has been so long since they did so, I doubt that anybody currently working there ever has.

      In the US, at least.

      In many countries, nuclear already is the most attractive new generation option. The global fleet is expanding pretty rapidly. 60 reactors currently under construction:

      • vboring – I think you are spot on, but common factors color and distorts all options. It does look like gas has the best economics looking ahead 30 years, but regulations could change that. Stop fracking and the gas outlook changes tremendously. For coal, regulations could change for better or worse. Gas beats coal but that could change. Moving ahead with wind and solar requires assurances or hope of mandates and regulation. Lastly nuclear could likely still be safe and much cheaper without the oversight burdens they are currently saddled with. Among the top three options its a lot about the handicaps and burdens they must carry. Relative to it’s impact on the environment and safety I think Nuclear has the biggest most un-necessary burden, followed by coal and then gas, leaving renewables to get an assist.

      • Just what we need: a politician with good intentions. Sen. Whitehouse is a piece of work. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the worst type of electrical generation to use as backup for renewables is nuclear. It’s great for base load power but it can’t ramp output up and down anywhere near fast enough to cover the vagaries of supply for renewables. Gas generation is far, far more flexible. If Sen. Whitehouse now recommends nuclear, then where does his stance on renewable energy put him? They seem to be mutually exclusive. Is this an admittance that renewables don’t work, because it seems like it to me? The logical conclusion for all his rhetoric is for nuclear baseload and gas peak load. Maybe Sen. Whitehouse will arrive at the same conclusion one day after spending billions and bouncing from one idea to the next and expecting everyone to follow.
        He appears to be on this path of self-discovery (independent of any knowledgeable, professional advice) similar to a dog chasing its tail and I pity his constituents and the American taxpayer being taken along for the ride on the road to hell.

      • I’d agree that on paper nuclear fission looks fine. But ultimately many of the plants will be managed by ivy-league MBAs or their foreign equivalents. Or maybe worse if that’s possible. How confident are you folks that you can design a fission power plant that a Harvard MBA or airheaded political apointee can’t mismanage into a very expensive disaster.

    • The Molten Salt Reactor was recommended by the AEC to JFK in 1962 to be the basis of civilian nuclear energy due to its inherent low pressure safety and efficiency. With no pressure dome or 150 atmosphere plumbing or 3x redundant water cooling backup will be 1/3 the cost of LWRs. The design was funded by the US Air Force to power a nuclear bomber and had some 47 test flights. The MSRE then was run for 20000 hours at ORNL meeting all its goals. The program got shut down in 1972 as it was to move into Thorium breeding by the Nixon Administration.

      • “How would it generate electricity? No steam turbine? Steam turbines run on a high pressure steam.”

        It’s the reactor itself that operates at 1 atmosphere.

        There of course would be a steam generator, that operates at high pressure, connected to the reactor. That could fail with no danger of a meltdown. Would make a hell of a mess of course, but no China Syndrome.

      • Mike – China Syndrome was a movie! The Chernobyl reactor is graphite moderated and did not have a containment dome. The containment is designed to hold in a large loss of pressure accident. There were about 50 immediate deaths at Chernobyl some from radiation some from burns and falling debris. Over the next 25 years there has been an increase in thyroid cancer and leukaemia, the UN has estimated about 4000 resulting deaths, most of these calculated by assuming no threshold for damage done by radiation exposure. Far more people from the Chernobyl area have died from the traumas associated with dislocation and an unreasonable fear of small radiation exposures. Note that if you take radio iodine-131 for a blood volume test or Graves’ disease, or technicium for a heart stress test, you will receive a larger dose of radiation than most of the people displaced by three mile island, Fukishima or even Chernobyl.

      • Actually it is possible to have a thorium reactor that doesn’t use a steam boiler, by using the Brayton cycle and CO2 as the turbine fluid. The higher operating temperature makes LFTR ideal for this kind of advanced heat engine.

        Although, the main point is that the steam boiler, if used, would not be the reactor itself so if it does suffer a structural failure no nuclear disaster results.

      • Back in the 1970s, MSR would have required a steam turbine complex, just like light-water reactors. But with the development of super-critical carbon dioxide turbines, these are no longer necessary. And the super-critical carbon dioxide turbines are a lot smaller, and have lower operating pressures, so they are both cheaper, faster to build, and safer.

    • I think you left out one of the most important barriers to nuclear development. Natural gas has been less than $4.00/MMBTU for the last year, and less than $6.00 in this decade. This is way under the energy equivalent of petroleum, which is ~6MMBTU/bbl.

      NG can be turned into electricity by using it to fuel gas turbines (so can petroleum). Gas turbine power plants can be factory built and literally dropped into place. Since gas turbines do not produce particulates, they are easy to permit. Right now, these are the only power plants being built in the US.

      I don’t think that a monoculture of power plants is good idea. Diversification of risks is a good idea in the power system, just as it is in the financial system. But, in the current economic and political environment, it is what is happening.

      Trump’s going to fix that. Not unless he can arrange to have the last “environmentalist” strangled with the entrails of the last lawyer.

      • “Trump’s going to fix that. Not unless he can arrange to have the last “environmentalist” strangled with the entrails of the last lawyer.”
        And the problem with that is…?

      • “Right now, these are the only power plants being built in the US.”

        In northern Michigan, which is sparsely populated, existing coal-fired plants are being replaced with natural gas fired reciprocating engines, either Diesel or spark ignition, to run the generators.

  3. If greens were honest, they’d have pushed nuclear years ago, but of course they are not honest people. I asked one of the IPCC people at a lecture why don’t you advocate nuclear, he said there is not enough, also its too dangerous. I replied but the dangers of hydrogen don’t seem to concern you.

    • Saying there is not enough nuclear is being dishonest. You have to stipulate no more uranium exploration, no ability to pull uranium out of seawater, no breeder reactors, no technology to burn Thorium, and no spent fuel reprocessing. Then stipulate that all motor vehicles become battery powered and are recharged from the grid. In fact, all these things *could* be done, but assume higher prices for fuel. Since the fuel cost of a nuclear power plant is less then $.03/KWHr, that’s an invalid argument. It’s the difference between fuel running out in 80 years vs fuel running out in 300,000 years.

  4. Greens have no minds of their own: they run with the lobby pressure, which is all commercial. Gas lobby powers the greens, and so they won’t allow competition with Big Gas, and that means coal, fracking and nuclear.

    Renewable energy is no competition to anything, so they don’t really care about stopping that. In fact its likely to increase gas usage.

      • I don’t think they are… Germany has the world’s most reliable grid.

        Diesel generation backup schemes in the UK are primarily for full grid outages and must run no more than 200 hours a year.

      • Griff

        Where is the evidence to back up your grandiose claim?

        It might be that the German grid, at one time, had a good reliability record, but it appears that matters are becoming more strained due to the closure of nuclear plants. See for example:

        Germany is phasing out its nuclear plants in favor of wind and solar energy backed-up by coal power. The government’s transition to these intermittent green energy technologies is causing havoc with its electric grid and that of its neighbors–countries that are now building switches to turn off their connection with Germany at their borders. The intermittent power is causing destabilization of the electric grids causing potential blackouts, weakening voltage and causing damage to industrial equipment.

        The instability of the electric grid is just one of many issues that the German government is facing regarding its move to intermittent renewable technologies. As we have previously reported, residential electricity prices in Germany are some of the highest in Europe and are increasing dramatically (currently Germans pay 34 cents a kilowatt hour compared to an average of 12 cents in the United States). This year German electricity rates are about to increase by over 10 percent due mainly to a surcharge for using more renewable energy and a further 30 to 50 percent price increase is expected in the next ten years. These changes in the electricity generation market have caused about 800,000 German households to no longer be able to afford their energy bills.

        I suspect that Norway and Iceland have very reliable grids.

      • “Griff December 22, 2016 at 3:57 am”

        Germany also has one of the largest, and growing, numbers of domestic consumers of power being disconnected, largely due to expensive “renewables”, when they most need power, during winter.

      • “richard verney December 22, 2016 at 4:22 am”

        I am sure Griff will find an article at The Gaurdian to refute your post.

      • when I can generate income for the National Health Service by agreeing to have NHS generators on standby for them I`m going to do it, I`m also looking to increase diesel generating capacity into the future as I am sure many others within the NHS are

      • jono1066 December 22, 2016 at 5:03 am

        when I can generate income for the National Health Service by agreeing to have NHS generators on standby for them I`m going to do it,
        And that regressive taxation mainly damages the poor who have to choose between eating and heating, as their heating costs are used to subsidize your NHS, which then is forced to pay for the elderly suffering disease due to lack of heating. So with one step you enrich your organization and help justify its establishment. Any concern about the number of deaths from cold?

    • “Greens have no minds of their own:”
      They are briefed with what to say in response to any criticism of Green policies. Mostly they don’t understand the subjects anyway. Though in the UK the Greens are fanatically against gas, esp shale gas. Probably because it’s the main competitor to wind.

  5. Nuclear power in its entity is more hazardous than thermal power in its entity. It starts from the mining for uranium — it creates both radio-logical and non-radio-logical health hazardous pollution. Then the for uranium processing — tail transportation from mining site to processing site; tail pond life creating both air and ground pollution & direct impact on life forms. Uranium purification; finally power production — USA, Russia & Japan accidents. Do people really need to take such a risk for the sake of global warming of 0.1 oC for century???

    • Nuclear fuel has a million times the energy density of coal, every ton of uranium potentially replaces a million tons of coal – so any handling problems have to be seen in context. The original promise of nuclear was electricity too cheap to meter – if that dream can be realised, a lot of poor people will benefit.

      • That concept hurts Liberals to their core. BARFFF. Obama just took away a ton of supply which will mean greater prices for…, well…, ever if he has his way.

      • dan no longer in CA, Electric power generation is the only industry where it’s standard GAP (Good Accounting Practice) to consider labor a fixed expense. I took an Accounting Course with 2 power station operators from DTE’s Belle River Power Plant the night shift had 3 people working and produced 1,664 MWe! The only variable cost is fuel.

      • Sorry Sir, it is not so — to get a ton of uranium thousands of tons of ore. The cost of nuclear power without government subsidy is exorbitantly high. Spent fuel storage costs, tail pond maintenance cost — running costs — and finally the power reactors are of poor quality available in the market — because of this, when government of India brought out an act, the US government pressurised Indian government to change in favour of industry. France is buying uranium and developed their own reactors. Ask the French government, how much subsidy the government is dolling out.

        Few kilometers from Hyderabad/India a uranium mining project was cleared. This is on the banks of large Naarjunasagar reservoir that provides, drinking water to millions and irrigation — rice bowl of India. This water is being contaminated but nobody bothered on this just because they get their share of illegal money. From this mining site the ore is transported [originally planned to locate it by the side of drinking water supply pond to Hyderabad city but after the fight by environmental groups (I am one of them) the site was shifted] to the processing plant which a environmental friendly sight with migratory birds.

        Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

      • “Sorry Sir, it is not so — to get a ton of uranium thousands of tons of ore. The cost of nuclear power without government subsidy is exorbitantly high. Spent fuel storage costs, tail pond maintenance cost..”

        That is like saying that the GeeBee Racer proved that aviation is so dangerous it ought to be banned. The Douglas DC-series of early airliners proved otherwise, and it became a thriving industry with a better safety record than roads.

    • I’ve made the same arguments to no avail. Tailing are an untold source of contamination. Whether the dust blowing in the wind or rainfall on those tailings polluting ground water. Then there is the matter of maintains the spent fuel. Who’s going to watch this stuff for the next 400,000 years ? Steel barrels that they put this stuff into won’t last that long. And where ? We are talking about geological time scales.

      Another argument against nuclear is the cost. The reason that interest rates in the US hit 18%, homeowners might remember that or investors getting 30 year bonds with returns of 15%, is that building nuclear power plants were soaking up tremendous amounts of money. One plant wouldn’t have much of an affect on the market, building a lot will.

      • The waste can be ‘glassified’ (turned into glass), and shipped to the ocean for safe disposal. I worked on that for the Savanna River project. It is a perfectly safe disposal method, with no harmful side effects. It could also be stored on land, but at sea makes more sense.

      • Interest rates during the time when a lot of utilities were building nuclear plants was a result of and not a cause of the direct policy by the Federal Reserve to reduce the money supply in order to curb inflation. That inflation was caused by the policy of paying for the war in Vietnam by monetizing the federal budget deficit.

        This was made worse by the regulatory decisions of some states like Missouri where the cost of the nuclear plant could not be included in the utility’s rate base until it was able to be put online. That forced utilities to borrow the entire cost of the plant over its entire multi-year construction cycle, and with bond interest running in the teens, the compounded interest came close to doubling the amount of money the utility had to finance. All in the name of protecting the consumer. The utilities were helpless in this as the federal government was willing to bid up interest rates to whatever level was necessary to achieve its broad policy goals. I recall that the interest on my moneymarket checking account at one point exceeded 18%.

      • I live near abandoned uranium mines, we have an ore processing facility (which had been repurposed as some chemical plant after depletion of the deposits) and a tailings burying site. There’s absolutely no contamination of ground water or air, and the local populace have no health problems whatsoever. In fact, our city is a resort famous for its mineral waters.
        Spent fuel can be reprocessed. Many of the fission products have multiple uses in medicine and industry. What can’t be recycled can be glassified and sealed in lead containers, so it has zero chance of leakage.
        And with all its costs, it’s still cheaper than wind, solar and other alternative sources. Countries powered primarily by nuclear plants, like France, have relatively cheap electricity, while countries powered primarily by wind plants, like Denmark, have exorbitant electric bills.

      • That was not the reason nor cause of the interest rates spike.

        The spike was caused by the Fed clamping down on inflation and employment.
        The Fed Chairman believed that unemployment should be maintained at roughly six percent as a hedge against inflation.
        His immediate response to inflation was to raise interest rates to excessive levels. He did shut down borrowing almost immediately.
        I was in the middle of applying for a home loan and within days, the possible interest rate went from sensible to over 20%. I ended up leasing the home for years until the rates came down.

        Any true nuclear waste can be recycled by the Earth itself. As another points out, enclose the waste into glass and then deposit it at any subduction boundary. Where the Earth itself will subduct the radioactive waste and recycle it naturally; as the Earth has accomplished for several billion years.

        From my other post, you can see typical uranium mines. They are surface exposures and have been exposed to wind and rain since first reaching the surface. Plus uranium is throughout massive granite emplacements worldwide. The radon belt in Eastern USA is caused by granite emplacements through most of the East coast.

      • buckwheaton
        December 22, 2016 at 4:31 am

        Interest rates during the time when a lot of utilities were building nuclear plants was a result of and not a cause of the direct policy by the Federal Reserve to reduce the money supply in order to curb inflation. That inflation was caused by the policy of paying for the war in Vietnam by monetizing the federal budget deficit.
        That’s it in a nutshell.

      • ” The reason that interest rates in the US hit 18%, homeowners might remember that or investors getting 30 year bonds with returns of 15%, is that building nuclear power plants were soaking up tremendous amounts of money.”

        Nonsense. The reason interest rates spiked in the late 1970s is that inflation was running above 10%/yr. I was working in the financial business in New York at the time. My office window looked out over the 47th street diamond business area. I saw people lined up to sell gold jewelry when gold hit $800/oz. in early 1980. What spiked the rates was the actions of the Fed to bring inflation under control.

        Your claim about uranium mine tailings is also nonsense. They are just silicate rock, little different than the tailing of any other mine. They are not nearly as radioactive as coal ash.

      • That was the 80s not the 70s Walter. Vietnam had been over with for awhile. I have a lot less faith that we can manage those things than most you who try to smooth it over. If you think climate change is a fight, some of you should get involved in the practical day to day crap that goes on. Not only would you change your minds in a hurry, you’d be an outspoken person to ban them. I’ve seen that happen. It’s like dealing with Kenneth Lay with nuclear rather than money. Or something less extreme, like Flint, MI.
        I think that we need nuclear, but the structure is inadequate to the challenges. And as time goes on we will make it safer and better hopefully. If the structure of the climate change people got in control, it’d be truly aweful. In any event, there isn’t enough land on earth to build enough nuclear reactors to replace fossil fuels. The cost just isn’t worth it. I’d tear down the windmills and limit solar. Nuclear is more reliable and stable for the grid.

        It’s easy to negate an argument by saying we can covert that to glass or put it in dry caskets, why haven’t they done so ? Almost all of the nuclear waste is stored on site in pools. Do you know why they aren’t shipping it off some where ? Further where they have stored it, there is the problem with leakage. Out of sight, out of mind. Some day it’ll come back to bite you. Oh we have a water leak in one of the reactors, we’ll send some guys down there with buckets and mops. I’ll be sure to send you down there to clean it up, you’re expendable. I am not. .. while I am on my rant here, did you figure out how to stop the rats from chewing through 4 feet of reinforced concrete ? Rats are unbelievable, have you ever tried to open a fiber optic cable ?

        However nuclear will be nothing more than a supplement not a replacement. I am for putting a lot more effort into fusion.

      • rishrac The million to one ratio means a lot fewer mines and miners (a dangerous occupation) and a lot less transportation for the same amount of energy. Nuclear plants typically take up A similar area to a coal fired plant so I cannot see how you think there is not enough space for the 500 or so plants that could supply most of the base load energy – about 20000 acres I’m guessing. That is about 32 square miles out of 3.8 million square miles. Plenty left over. Compare that footprint with wind and solar.
        And those wastes, a small enough volume so that they can presently be kept on site and too valuable to bury. Next gen reactors could use these ‘wastes’ as fuel and extract another 95% of the energy present in the original uranium. Note that if we could presently get 98% of the energy out of our uranium we would have enough energy for the entire US for another 60000 years.

      • But that is what they have always been after. I remember in the 70’s when there was talk of a new ice age that one of the answers was depopulate the planet. Now we are on global warming/climate change/climate extremes one of the answers is depopulate the planet. Think I see a theme developing here.

    • The advanced nuclear design of molten salt reactors does NOT require terrestrial mining of uranium from the ground. In point of fact, these reactors will in all likelhood spend their entire lifetime burning our nuclear wastes and rendering them to as low radiactve wastes, easily and cheaply store for the hundred and 50 years required for them to return to background radioactive levels. This country has nuclear wastes right now that contain enough extractable energy by molten salt reactors to provide akll the power this country needs for 1000 years. And those countries that
      don’t have nuclear wastes can easily access the immense supply of uranium dissolved in the oceans thru filtering. Filtering the oceans right now costs 3 to 4 times more than terrestrial mining,
      but molten salt reactors can extract so much more energy than current reactors (making their fuel costs inconsequential, insignificant) that they can easily be powered by uranium extracted from the oceans. I also reject any claims of pollution ground or otherwise from current light water nuclear
      reactors. The NRC is VERY picky about any radiation leaks, regardless of where they occur. Until you provide documented proof of any dangers (and a small water leak from a plant into a coling lake is NOT acceptable, dspite freaking out ignorant folks in New England when one of their plants had such a leak. The NRC deemed the leak inconsequential and refused to shut down the plant, ordering the leak to be repaired at the next refueling shutdown). With molten salt reactors the whole fueling ball game changes.

    • And how many ppl died as a result of the TMI melt down? NONE! Which was caused by human error BTW. If those operators hadn’t shut down the high pressure injection pump it never would have happened! And if the PORV on the main loop would have had a position indicator on the control panel (recommended by B&W BEFORE that accident) that would have prevented it also.

      And don’t ignore the fact that the Chernobyl reactor wasn’t even built inside a containment building, another human error.

      Then the Japanese plant who’s emergency power generators were installed without considering what a tsunami would do to them, another human error.

      I worked in that industry here in the USA for a number of years working refueling/maintenance outages and I’d have one built to USA specifications in my back yard if I could.

    • Oooh!
      “Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy December 22, 2016 at 2:58 am”
      That sounds so frightening! So scary…
      Can you make that specious claim any more lurid?

      Your claim matches the obstructionist EPA findings on their various “analysis” of mining and oil applications.

      Sixty and Seventy year old land rush mining methods are used as examples against mining. Without taking into account modern clean and safe methods of extraction.

      It is the Earth! Most mines are from surface exposures where runoff existed from time immemorial. Man has learned to control and minimize mining issues.

      &bull: Russia: their accident came from an archaic obsolete when built, nuclear facility design, coupled with poor maintenance and management procedures.

      &bull: Japan: Agreed, building nuclear facilities on an active earthquake fault without taking into account extensive earthquake safety procedures. All things considered, still a minor problem where major was possible.

      &bull: USA: By any chance are you referring to “Three Mile Island’s” small release of radiation? Again, modern safety designs have incorporated protections.

      Uranium is pervasive in multiple parts of the world. Many granite emplacements and even their alluvial remains have included uranium, a source of radon gas in many basements and even walls.

      There is a Utah State Park where parts of the film “Galaxy Quest” was filmed; the beryllium sphere scenes.
      Goblin Valley State Park
      Inside the park’s boundaries one can visit and even walk several trails that wander through a number of uranium glory holes where uranium was hastily mined; some for the Manhattan project.

      Just visible are two small specks who happen to be my sons, standing just below several such mines at GVSP:

      For a better perspective, the same scene without zoom. Also in this photograph are the rather crude facilities available at this trail stop. Crude, until you consider the difficulty of finding a truly secluded spot for human ablutions.

      Just to the left are some of the “goblin” stone structures abundant throughout Goblin Valley State Park.

      My sons are in roughly the same positions through all three shots. They both found pitchblende samples beneath the mines. Yellow uranium ore spots were easily visible in all of the pitchblende pieces, obviously low grade with few uranium dots. Yes, we brought a metal detector and yes, the pitchblende was somewhat hot. No, we didn’t bring any home.

      These mines are not deep. They are all small diggings in certain stratigraphic layers, that were and still are exposed to rain and air. Man’s removing the uranium from such exposures may be beneficial rather than damaging.

      Those mines are in Utah.
      Here in the East, Virginia to be specific, when visiting granite quarries, (crushed rock sources for roads, malls and subdivisions); Uraninite concentrations are easily spotted on the granite walls. Each seems to be the center for some distortion of the surrounding host rock; caused, I understand by changes in the mixed radioactive minerals, not from radiation.

      The Uraninite concentrations are quite hot radioactively, but not commercially viable. This is common through many granite sources and this is the rock often used for building roads, bedding railroad track, granite stone blocks for foundations, etc.

      fear of uranium is inherently foolish. It is common throughout our environment, even in miniscule amounts, but amounts to more radiation than people ever get from nuclear facilities.

      A few additional points:
      Uranium is often hydrothermally concentrated in calcium deposits. e.g. Yellowstone and hundreds of other hot water emanations from underground volcanic heat are hydrothermally depositing minerals in vents, including the rare heavy minerals like uranium.

      Quite a few of these deposits are further modified by hydrothermal and metamorphic events into various quartz concentrations; e.g. agate, jasper, limestone, marble, petrified wood, dinosaur bone replacements and even opal.

      Petrified wood and dinosaur bone exhibits are open to the public worldwide; and very few have been evaluated for radioactivity.
      Agate, jasper and opal are used in decorations, carvings, wall coverings and jewelry, again worldwide.
      Limestone and marble are used for floorings and walls around the world.

      All it takes is hydrothermal action and calcium deposits to concentrate uranium with calcium; with the calcium later imbedded into place or replaced by quartz.

      A side story: I was part of a student group selected through Westinghouse. We got to visit and learn a lot of neat advanced science.
      One such series involved out visiting a nuclear pile where we irradiated objects and then monitored their half life activity levels.
      Naturally, this sort of activity required diligence and several of us student pairs had continuous trouble with our readings. During a break session where we were discussing problems and testing other group’s equipment, one student discovered his brand new High School ring was hot radioactively.

      A little more testing and we discovered that each group having measurement inaccuracies included at least one student with a hot object (we didn’t stop at rings).
      My bright yellow ring was quite hot, to me. While technically deemed safe under a maximum daily radiation dose level, I stopped wearing the ring. Literally a couple of weeks after receiving it.
      During one of the early gold rush commodity spikes, I sold the ring for the gold content.

      What was that about uranium radioactive dangers?

      • ATheok — Have you seen the Indian mining scenario existing today? I doubt. If you have the knowledge, you would have not made such statements. Here many things are involved — . You please visit Vishakhapatnam port area where ores of different minerals are exported/imported creating hell.

        Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

      • “Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy December 22, 2016 at 2:58 am
        Nuclear power in its entity is more hazardous than thermal power in its entity. It starts from the mining for uranium — it creates both radio-logical and non-radio-logical health hazardous pollution. Then the for uranium processing — tail transportation from mining site to processing site; tail pond life creating both air and ground pollution & direct impact on life forms. Uranium purification; finally power production — USA, Russia & Japan accidents. Do people really need to take such a risk for the sake of global warming of 0.1 oC for century???

        Uranium in the environment is natural and quite pervasive.

        Modern mining methods and processes literally clean up and contain the minerals. Or did you miss the multiple posts from people directly involved in mining uranium and the nuclear industry?

        Mining and transport problems in India can only be solved in India.

        Man caused problems in India do not give your anti-nuclear rant validity.
        The true facts about careful mining, processing, transporting, refining and utilizing radioactives or other quite poisonous metals is that they are safe today and we can expect them to be safer tomorrow.

        Which leaves the nuclear industry producing low cost, very safe, very efficient electrical generating plants for decades. Nor do they need 10 square miles of land for frying birds and insects.

        I explained uranium deposit petrogenesis, visited existing mines, deposits and occurrences. Pointed out how pervasive radioactive minerals are in the environment anywhere granitic emplacements are or where magmatic hydrothermal rock forming occurred.

        My personally seeing India’s mining disasters do not change reality or the reality of modern clean nuclear power generation.

        India is building coal plants and ramping up coal utilization. While coal is easy, cheap and effective; coal mines can be far more unhealthy if not kept clean and the dust kept down.
        Given your description of India’s nuclear minerals handling, their coal, rare earths, heavy metals and some of the truly dangerous metals, i.e. selenium and beryllium mineral handling will be disastrous.

        Now what will you do to bring India’s mineral handling into the 21st Century?

      • No one has been hurt by radiation from US commercial power reactors or US naval propulsion reactors.

        That Is a perfect safety record.

        So exactly how do you plan to make MSR more safe? The best they can do is also have a perfect safety record.

        Since most of the rest of the world has followed US designs and no one has chosen MSR for power reactors, could it be you are clueless about nuclear power?

    • You are ill-informed, the uranium that I mined in my past, was surface uranium. It was already open to the world and could be found without any mining needed. Mining uranium does not increase the so called radio-logical pollution. You need to get out into the real world where uranium is found in nature. Sheesh what a load of…..
      Maybe we should just leave the planet since there is so much free uranium laying around causing so called pollution.
      I thank the people who allowed me to make a living over 35 years ago. Uranium doesn’t kill, ignorance does.
      /Rant off

    • As nuclear power is thermal power, the first statement is nonsense. Second, creation of pollution has no numbers. Do you want to deny reliable power to billions of people because of some ill defined “pollution”? Third, it’s time for various government agencies to stop classifying any radiation as bad. It has been shown over and over that people living in areas with high background radiation have lower cancer rates. Here’s a start on that subject:

    • Dr Reddy: Please check your facts. I have worked in uranium mining for years. The industry is highly regulated and all tailings, processing, waste streams (including domestic waste at mine sites) is checked for radiation and remediated when required. Nothing is allowed to leave site unless it is at nominal(normal background level) activity. Fuel processing follows the same rules, as does electrical generation.
      Fear of radiation is understandable, Posting comments based on ignorance is not.
      I too opposed nuclear until learning more and understanding the facts.
      Nuclear energy is one of the safest means of generating electricity, based on the facts and numbers since inception over a half century ago. Facts trump fears.

      • My read on this is that Dr. Reddy is trying to make the point that because some mining of uranium in India was done in a very careless and irresponsible manner, that it follows that uranium is bad, and nuclear power is an awful idea.
        Sophistry based on fear is not helpful in devising a sane energy policy for our country.
        When problems are caused by mistakes and poor decision making, the solution is to make better decisions and to identify ways to prevent such problems and avoid such mistakes in the future.
        Defeatism is not a rational response.

  6. Dear Mr. Shitehouse,

    If your house is about to burn down, you would do well to acquire some large, red fire extinguishers.

    When you have used ’em, read what it says on the tin: go ahead and read it again.

    “WTF”, I hear you say, “carbon-dioxide !”.

    Read a little more …

    ‘Carbon markets’, ‘carbon trading’, ‘carbon footprints’, etc. are all misnomers.

    ‘Carbon’ is a solid, naturally occurring, non-toxic element found in all living things. Carbon forms thousands of compounds, much more than any other element.

    Everything from medicines to trees to oil to our own bodies and those of all other creatures are made of carbon compounds. But pure carbon occurs in nature mainly in only three forms: graphite, diamonds and ‘amorphous’ (structureless) carbon such as soot.

    What is really being addressed when discussing ‘carbon markets’, etc. is one specific compound of carbon, namely carbon dioxide (CO2), an invisible, odourless gas crucial for plant photosynthesis and so all life.

    Ignoring the oxygen atoms and calling CO2 merely “carbon”makes about as much sense as ignoring the oxygen in water (H2O) and calling it “hydrogen”.

    PS: Now go and write your apology to your family and your people … and try to think of what your windshield is made of.

  7. The arguments against nuclear are :

    A) Cost.
    B) Severity of Safety Failures.

    To mitigate B you need to reduce the probability of a safety failure. That means increasing the cost, A.

    It’s hard to see how that can be rebalanced even with technological improvements.
    And those improvements need a large industry to exist in order fot hem to be devloped.

    • The French seemed to have managed that. 80% power from nuclear, and as far as I know, no serious “scare”.

      • I suspect because the French have done one thing right in their history: made a POINT of paying attention to safety. Perhaps we should hire French teams to run nuclear power facilities world-wide.

      • “Bill Illis December 22, 2016 at 4:07 am”

        So, for the last at least 40 years or more of absolutely NO SAFETY CONCERNS, French reactors now have “safety concerns”?

      • “Bill Illis December 22, 2016 at 4:07 am
        I’s like to see a huge expansion of Hydro wherever it can be done. The only bad thing about them is all those nice lakes they create.

        Ah yes; dam up those free flowing waterways so that the dams can create temporary lakes that trap silt, block upstream and downstream water life movements, flood usable and often highly desirable land, and put into place a possible future disaster.

        There have been attempts to chop the Grand Canyon into multiple dam projects. Glen Canyon, Hoover dam and several others were built to capture water for California’s use. Hydro-electric generation is a side benefit.

        Such thinking is selfish. One severely damages the entire waterway, just for a small benefit. e.g. there have been a number of law suits seeking minimum water release from dams to ensure proper fish spawning downstream.
        Once a waterway is dammed, people get very insensitive to all of a waterway’s beneficiary needs and quite selfish for their own desires.

        All dammed reservoirs are temporary. They are a major stopping ground for silt. As silt builds up, actual water volume decreases. The more active the water way and the higher level of silt content, e.g. Colorado River, Mississippi River (big muddy), the faster silt builds up.

        Go nuclear.

      • Bill Illis:

        Except about 40% of France’s nuclear power stations are off-line right now because of safety concerns.

        That was 4 weeks ago. The situation improved and the inspections did not take so long.:

        From mid-January, EDF will only have four of its 58 reactors offline, for reasons not related to the ASN investigation. These plants are Bugey 5, Paluel 2, Fessenheim 2 and Gravelines 5.

      • Bill Lilis
        Dams have safety issues and can fail catastrophically and have drowned thousands of people downstream. One Chinese dam has been linked to a major earthquake that killed tens of thousands. The massive weight of the stored water can release tectonic stresses. We have dams on the west coast that are placed in areas with high earthquake risk.
        Note that nuclear is far safer than almost all other energy technologies. Chernobyl 4000 radiation related deaths unknown relocation deaths, three mile 0 deaths, Fukishima 2? radiation deaths, maybe 1600 from unnessary relocations.
        One nice thing about radiation spills, they are readily detectable even in vanishingly small amounts.

      • Patrick MJD
        December 22, 2016 at 4:14 am

        “Bill Illis December 22, 2016 at 4:07 am”

        So, for the last at least 40 years or more of absolutely NO SAFETY CONCERNS, French reactors now have “safety concerns”?

        I believe that most of the safety concerns are due to the age of the installations as they are reaching the end of planned life. They will need to be replaced with new installations.

        President Hollande (failed socialist, sorry about the tautology) wants to reduce CO2 and proposes replacing them with wind turbines!

        New, properly maintained nuclear power stations are as safe, if not safer, than other options.


      • “Steve T December 23, 2016 at 6:06 am”

        That’s what i was eluding to. It’s not a safety issue because they are nuclear, it’s an age issue. They are end of life.

    • How many of those improvements have been fought against by greens and other reds over the past 40 years? How much further ahead would we be if experimenting and improving had been allowed to go forward instead of stymied by alarmists?

      We can’t get there if the Malthusians keep holding us back.

    • The business model of a conventional nuclear plant also has a much higher operating cost for the security overhead of current Uranium-based fuel cycle. The security costs of a small plant are not proportionally smaller than those of a large plant. This induces planners to make the plants large, and thus have far more capital costs. It also tends to centralize power generation. But much of these inputs to the business model of conventional nuclear power is rooted in the design of the reactor fuel cycle. I would dearly love to see serious research into Thorium molten salt designs for these reasons. This is why I advocate that we need new reactor designs that are “walk-away safe”.

      • You are presuming that the regulatory boards would let them build them without that just because they are not needed. I’d question that assumption.

    • Only one death in France from Nuclear. Only in Chernobyl has there been significant deaths ~40 and this was a completely unsafe USSR design. All were built before the electronic revolution (control stuff, etc.) even renewables have had comparable deaths. Even go to wiki for info.

    • @M Courtney
      If you’re a clever engineer, you look for a solution that kills two birds with one stone. Shifting to a different technology (LFTR) can get you there. Even within the existing paradigm things like passive cooling loops can reduce costs and improve safety.

  8. If 20 fire marshals came around and told us our houses were about to burn down, we’d buy some fire insurance

    No. I’d think I was being scammed. I’d think the fire marshals had shares in the insurance businesses. And I’d want to know what it was about my house that seemed to convince all those fire marshals my house was unsafe. Then I’d remind Senator Whitehouse that science doesn’t bow to consensus – or does he still think stomach ulcers are caused by stress?

      • True, it needs to be converted to U233 first. One way is to use a plutonium spark plug, but as soon as enough U233 exists the process is self sustaining and leads to 0.01% of the nuclear waste of u235 power generation

      • A few points about thorium.
        1. A thorium fuel cycle requires comprehensive reprocessing. This need not be expensive. We would need regulatory reform to allow it. We already have better unused reprocessing technology than the tech we currently use.
        2. Longer-term waste is still made with a MSR breeder (~ 33% of the fission products). About 21% of fission products are long-lived. (half-lives over 200,000 years), and another 12% have moderately long lives (5 to 100 years). That would total nearly one third of a tonne per year for a 1GWe MSR. Shorter lived fission products (~ 67%) are 99.9% gone after 50 years. Fission products nearly all have a one-off radioactivity, decaying once with beta (often in conjunction with gamma) radiation, then they are safe. In contrast, a current LWR of 1GWe makes about 22 tonnes of waste per year, with substantial amounts of uranium-236, plutonium, and, even americium. These decay in a decay chain cascade with as many as 10 decays before they are no longer radioactive. This used nuclear fuel has to be guarded because the plutonium can be trivially extracted to make a crude fission atom bomb. No such bomb can be made from the fission product waste of a reactor. Plutonium-239 has a half-life = 24,000 years. It must be guarded for a long time to prevent a fission bomb being made from it.

        This state of affairs – making so much, long-lived, potentially very lethal, waste is a legacy of giving military thinking people so much control over the nuclear industry; being happy with what we have; making nuclear power innovation so very difficult to do.

      • mark4asp–

        True enough, but here are some caveats. (1) U-236 can undergo successive neutron absorptions to become Pu-238, which is a very useful thermoelectric power isotope. Otherwise it decays to Th-232 from alpha emission. (2) Pu-239, -240, and -241 are usefully fissionable. Pu-239 must be separated from its sibling isotopes, which is not easy. [Military production uses reactors that operate at high power for short intervals, to build up a store of Pu-239 before it is contaminated with the other isotopes, and then is withdrawn for reprocessing.] (3) Americium is also fissionable. [Actually, in some ways desirable as a fuel, but difficult to process because it is a low concentration.]

        Very odd to think of potential fuel as being “waste.” The only things that are truly waste are fission poisons, and these can be processed out of the poisoned fuel. What to do with the radioactive ones? Glassify them and dump them in the drink. It will not make the slightest difference to the radiological content of seawater.

  9. Good idea. But why develop conventional nuclear when there is safer, cleaner nuclear power technology called molten salt reactors, or MSR? These burn thorium (cheap and widely available), can’t have catastrophic accidents, produce only small amounts of low-grade waste, and can even burn high-grade waste. The US had working prototypes in the sixties, and were planning to develop MSR as the main nuclear power technology, but the MSR program was replaced by conventional reactors because the military wanted high-grade waste for weapons. All our results and designs were published at the time, and the Chinese are currently leading redevelopment of the technology.

      • Indeed, Thorium is not fissile, but you breed Uranium-233 from Thorium-232.
        Get the Thorium 232 to absorb a neutron, and you get Thorium-233, which decays quickly thus:
        Thorium-233 –> Protactinium-233 –> Uranium-233.
        The latter is fissile on neutron absorption.
        So you do need to ‘prime’ a Thorium reactor with a neutron source, and the fission reaction that generates the heat is from Uranium-233,
        but your base nuclear fuel is nonetheless Thorium.
        It’s a bit like drying your logs.

  10. If you built an EDF EPR reactor, it would take you at least 10 years to get it on stream and the cost of the electricity would be more than you are paying for fossil fuel…

    US and Japanese designs would be a quicker build, but the cost of power is an unknown.

    Really the solution is wind, solar and some gas, with grid storage to help manage intermittency/frequency response.

    • “Griff December 22, 2016 at 4:00 am

      If you built an EDF EPR reactor, it would take you at least 10 years to get it on stream and the cost of the electricity would be more than you are paying for fossil fuel…”

      That is all well and good for you Griff as you have likely been consuming nuclear power from France as France has supplied power to the UK for decades. Now that France is heading down the madness of “renewables” the UK will likely experience the brown and black outs of the 1970’s again, not through union “action”, but through sheer stupidity which you are in full support of. Good luck!

      • The imports from France amount to a couple of GW, out of a demand of 50 GW at peak.

        In the last month a 1GW connector from France has been cut, during the coldest part of the UK winter, with no ill effect.

        Previously the UK was exporting down that line to France, as French reactors have been offline for safety issues.

        Germany is now Europe’s largest electricity exporter -frequently exporting to France.

      • Since Winter just officially began within the last 48 hours, we’ll have to wait and see how reliable that UK Green energy grid remains this actual Winter. How many tens of thousands of UK deaths have already been linked or outright attributed to Green energy policy? What’s that? The world is overpopulated?

      • The season winter may begin on the 21st, but the cold/winter season for power in the UK starts in October (or used to)… there is a marked change in power consumption peak after the clocks change in 3rd week in October and evenings get darker.

        check out the figures over last year here:

        (bottom of cols one and two).

        I note UK is supposed to have got 50% power from renewables and nuclear in Q3 2016… and the huge drop in coal power use since plant shut down in March.

        We got through the cold spell in November with a French interconnector out OK…

        Nobody in the UK has died from green energy… that is a ridiculous claim.

      • Griff said: “Nobody in the UK has died from green energy… that is a ridiculous claim.”
        Except that no one made that claim, you just built a straw man. You did that on purpose.

        Each Winter for the past several years has seen reports of (tens of) thousands of excess Winter deaths in the UK, but that’s what happens in the cold, people die. Cold kills not only by hypothermia, but through many mechanisms, including deaths by strokes, heart attacks, etc., due to reduced circulation in human victims. Many of those deaths have been directly attributed to fuel poverty, brought about by the increased price due to UK Green energy policy.
        Here’s a quote taken straight from Wikipedia: “Deaths from hypothermia among UK pensioners almost doubled during the 5 years up to 2012, a time when several cold winters combined with large scale increases in energy prices.”

        This information is well known and often publicized and debated within the UK, which is where you live. The fact that you attempted to deflect from that certainty with your pitiful straw man argument only adds to the appraisal of the body entire of your posts here and confirms that your efforts are indeed “ridiculous”.

    • Griff
      This last Monday the UK demand at 17.30-18.00hrs was met by coal, gas and nuclear going flat out, with some frantic calls from NGC to industrials to reduce demand. Wind contributed 1GW and Solar zero at the time. The French interconnector was doing what it could at 1GW reduced capacity.
      Without the 8GW of coal there would certainly have been blackouts across the nation. And it doesn’t matter how many stupidly expensive useless windmills were built to replace that capacity , because the wind didn’t blow.
      Its not January yet. It wasn’t particularly cold.
      Frankly, Griff, you are an idiot.

    • The greatest problem with building new nuclear plants is the lack of professional people with nuclear construction experience, in the utilities, in the reactor vendor operations, in the architect engineering firms, in the firms that supply the equipment and the concrete and piping, etc. Nuclear build has much more exacting standards than any other construction projects. The French had to re-learn how to pour nuclear concrete. If new nuclear plants are built, there will be all sorts of unpleasant stories about problems as the industry relearns how to build them. There will be cost over-runs and delays, and lots of embarrasing stories.

      What the nuclear industry needs is a steady pace of building plants that are not new or unique. The French did this back in the 70s and 80s. If someone wants to experiment with a MSR or a gas reactor, or something else, they will need lots of government help, for no other reason than that they will have to build the first prototype in some formerly godforsaken wasteland (now a fragile ecosystem), so as to not terrorize the locals.

      And, now that Harry Reid is gone, they should complete the licensing of Yucca Mountain and start to put waste into it.

      • rxc, agree with the retirement of Harry Reid, many sensible and important things, such as using Yucca Mt. for radioactive waste storage, are possible.

  11. We do need nuclear power, but when we build any new plants they must be “walk-away safe” designs. Above all we must never build another plant where the spent fuel requires active cooling. This is exactly why the tsunami that overwhelmed the Fukushima reactors became such an ecological and human disaster. We also should be exploring reactor designs that use thorium as a fuel due to its abundance. When used in molten salts such a reactor fuel cycle might be the safest possible.

  12. Senator, what colour is the sky where you are?

    Surely, if all those fire-marshalls said that about your house, you ain’t gonna get insurance for love nor money.

    • Peta from Cumbria
      December 22, 2016 at 4:27 am

      Senator, what colour is the sky where you are?

      Surely, if all those fire-marshalls said that about your house, you ain’t gonna get insurance for love nor money.

      I think you would be sold fire insurance, but when they find out how and what you knew when you bought it they would find some small print and refuse the claim.


  13. When nuclear power first arrived we were told that it was going to be so cheap there was scarcely any need to charge for it and we were entering a new utopia.
    Then the Greens evolved out of CND, invented the radiation bogeyman and it became expensive.
    I assumed the inventing and the becoming expensive were linked, but I am a real sucker for propaganda when I stray outside my chosen field so what do I know?

    • The radiation bogeyman was invented by the fossil fuel interests. 3 months after Eisenhower’s Atoms for Peace speech at the UN, various Rockefeller people met to decide how dangerous nuclear power was. They organized and staffed a committee called BEAR which produced a report in 1956 (featured on the NYT front page), telling Americans that there was no safe level of radiation exposure. Nothing to do with CND or the peace movement. Various nuclear war dystopian novels followed BEAR. Some of which pronounced the extinction of humanity. Prior to BEAR, in the 11 years following the atomic explosions of 1945, no novels pronounced the human extinction due to radiation. Aldous Huxley (himself an author of a 1948 nuclear war dystopian novel), would be found letter writing against nuclear power after the publication of the BEAR report, not before.

  14. If 20 fire marshals came around and told us our houses were about to burn down, we’d buy some fire insurance.

    If the fire marshal tells you that your building is going to burn down, you fix what he tells you to fix. You won’t be able to get insurance until that is done and, even if you do, you won’t be able to collect. The metaphor is just stupid.

    While we’re mangling metaphors … Would you pay a million bucks to insure a property that is only worth half a million? That’s what the alarmists are asking us to do. Even if AGW were an issue, the cost of adapting is way less than the cost of prevention.

  15. “If 20 fire marshals came around and told us our houses were about to burn down, we’d buy some fire insurance. So when the leading science academies in 20 developed countries, along with several major American corporations and the national security community, all tell us that burning fossil fuels is causing dangerous changes to the climate, we think it’s time for the United States to get serious about clean energy. It also means supporting safely operating nuclear power plants that produce carbon-free electricity.”

    Lamar signing off on this wording says a lot about him. Clueless comes to mind.

    The leading science academies in 20 developed countries, along with several major American corporations have a vested interest in pushing CAGW.

    And “the national security community” is only playing along with Obama’s CAGW agenda. No rational person involved in national security takes the CAGW BS seriously. The “national security community” will forget about CAGW in about 30 days.

    I see some commenters are throwing cold water on the U.S. building nuclear reactors. No problem, we can just buy them from China in the not-too-distant future.

    What alternatives do we have for electricity? We have bird-killing windmills and solar thermal; fossil fuels, and nuclear. Choose your poison. Personally, I’ll go with nuclear.

    We also have solarpower satellite technology that could be developed, if we want to think outside the box. No pollution, no animal deaths and can power the whole world. What’s not to like?

  16. Whitehouse sticks his finger up to see which way the wind is blowing.
    No surprise here.
    Opportunistic politician, nothing more.
    Elections have consequences.

    • “Whitehouse sticks his finger up to see which way the wind is blowing.”

      He may have been tipped off by Gore that (IMO) Trump is going to propose a strong move to nuclear power.

    • It doesn’t matter which way you stand, the wind is always blowing towards you (old Aussie bush saying).

  17. “Why should nuclear power companies take the risk of attempting to develop cheaper, safer nuclear technology, when they could receive a much safer return on investment by spending that potential research cash on schmoozing politicians, lobbying politicians to crank up carbon taxes on fossil fuel competitors?”

    I had to laugh out loud at this one. Tell me, if the nuclear power companies have such impressive lobbying power, why do they find themselves in a mess of regulatory ratcheting that has been going on for the past 40 years?

    “Nuclear power has the potential to be cheaper than coal, but realising this potential will require a serious political effort to remove bureaucratic roadblocks …”

    Or to subject the coal industry to equivalent regulations. Nuclear power would be cheaper than coal today if there were an even playing field. In any case, coal doesn’t matter. The biggest threat to nuclear power today is a combination of low natural gas prices and subsidies and mandates for renewables, which makes some nuclear plants — particularly older plants with only one reactor — uneconomical for the near future.


    IT WAS NOT MY WISH for a simple dropped PDF link in the above message to metastasize into a buggy page-stomping included rectangle of ugly page-stomping-ness with blank pages (bugs!)… there’s not even a link to it at all … I rue that this has happened. How can I prevent it from happening? Not link to anything for fear that the link will become a page stomping menace? Prepend text? Help!

    • In the future, there is a Test page at the top of the site.
      You can do a dummy run there if you’re trying to link things.
      Werme’s guide at the side helps also.

      And generally it’s the:
      ‘less than symbol’ – followed by – a href=”url here” – then – ‘greater than symbol’ – put the text you want as a link button and then – ‘less than symbol’ /a ‘greater than symbol’

      Hope that helps.

  19. An alternative way to reduce cost is saner regulation. One of the smaller nuclear plants due to close because it is uncompetitive with gas has a labour force of 600 now. It’s design called for an operating labour force of 60. Those extra 540 people contribute to cost. Assuming the average employee costs $50k/year, that’s an extra $27 million per year. The difference between a profit or a loss.

    In the long run, the answer is better technology. For example: molten salt reactors, MSR. These operate without pressure, so are automatically safer with no realistic mechanisms by which radiation contamination can disastrously spread should the worst happen. MSRs are melt-down proof. MSR reactors are cheaper. LWR pressurised reactors are 8″ steel, and need a 6 foot thick, reinforced concrete dome, with a volume 1000 times that of the water coolant. MSR’s only need a modest dome to protect the reactor from sabotage by flying an aircraft into it. MSR reactors can be ordinary steel containers similar to those used elsewhere in chemical, food and brewing industries. MSRs can also cut fuel cost significantly; by recycling, by using thorium, and by not requiring expensive fabrication into carefully engineered fuel pellets and fuel bundles. MSR designers consistently believe they can undercut the price of coal-made electricity, by as much as 50%.

    US national labs already plan to help nuclear power startups develop their designs by providing locations where test reactors can be built.

    Republican presidents created both the Environmental Protection Agency, EPA (1971), and Nuclear Regulatory Commission, NRC (1974). Republican administrations are at least as much at fault for the high cost of nuclear power as Dems. Most of that cost due to excessive regulation. Both these agencies regulate radiation exposure excessively. For example: EPA define normally occurring radioactive material, NORM at a level so low that lots of mining tails are NORM. Such material must be specially disposed of. Regulations like this effectively killed off rare earth mining in the USA. The other agency regulating nuclear power is the Dept. of Energy, but secretly. DoE spooks directing the nuclear industry with threats, bribes and deals (e.g. cradle to grave) along lines making it look like an appendage to the military. No wonder we are still using pressurized water reactors. With the LWR patent dating back to 1947, which the military were satisfied with in the 1950s.

    US reactor cost escalation (constant prices). Note after 1974, after NRC was created, vast numbers of reactors were cancelled. In its first 40 years the NRC licensed about 4 new reactors. [ Source: Lovering et al, 2016.]

      • Lovering et al, 2016 give another chart done to constant 2010 prices which shows a prices decrease, as technology was mastered, followed a boom, ending with a price explosion.

        By capturing a full overnight construction cost history for the US by construction start date, four distinct phases of nuclear power construction become visible, shown in Fig. 2.

        Between 1954 and 1968, starting with the first reactor at Shippingport, 18 demonstration reactors were ordered and completed.

        In this first phase, overnight construction cost (OCC) decline sharply, from a high of $6800/kW to a low of $1300/kW, an 81% drop, or an average annualized rate of decline of 14%. In this period, reactor size increases from under 80 MW to 620 MW, suggesting economies of scale were important.

        The second phase, from 1964 to 1967, represents the era of turnkey contracts. The OCC of these 14 reactors are in the range of $1000-1500/kW, a 33% drop, or an average annualized rate of decline of 13%. In this period, reactor sizes increase to a range of 800–1100 MW. …

        Between 1967 and 1972, the 48 reactors that were completed before the Three Mile Island accident in 1979 began construction. Their OCC rise from a range of $600–$900/kW to approximately $1800–$2500/kW. These reactors follow a trend of increasing costs by 187%, or an annualized rate of 23%. Phung (1985) attributed these pre-TMI cost increases to emerging safety requirements resulting from pre-TMI incidents at Browns Ferry and Rancho Seco. Two outliers, Diablo Canyon 1 and 2, cost about $4100/kW in overnight construction cost, and were completed 17 and 15 years later, in 1984 and 1985.

        A break in construction starts is visible around 1971 and 1972, which is likely attributable to a confluence of events affecting nuclear power construction in the late 1960s and early 1970s. These include the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency in 1971, and the AEC’s gradual loss in public trust and its eventual replacement by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in 1975. Golay et al. (1977) determined that 88 reactors in various stages of permitting, construction, and licensing were affected by the 1971 Calvert Cliffs court decision resulting in revised AEC regulations that included back-fit requirements.

        Finally, the last 51 completed reactors represent a set that began their construction between 1968 and 1978 and were under construction at the time of the Three Mile Island accident in 1979. For these reactors, OCC varies from $1800/kW to $11,000/kW. Thirty-eight of these reactors fall within a mid-range of $3000/kW to $6000/kW, with 11 between $1800 and $3000/kW and 10 between $6000 and $11,000/kW. From the OCC of about $2,000/kW for reactors beginning construction in 1970, OCC increases another 50–200%, or an annual increase of 5–15% between 1970 and 1978.

    • The future belongs to factory-built molten salt reactors, so talk about current light water reactors
      is somewhat irrelevant. Nevertheless, it is easy to see why it costs so much to build a nuclear
      plant IN THE UNITED STATES. It had been so long since a nuclear plant had been built before the current crop of 5 reactors in Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee were started, that companies that had supplied the component parts had long since gone out of bubiness. One of the big problems Westinghouse ran into when building their Gen 3+ AP1000 reactors (with passive safety systems) was the lack of American manufacturing capability to produce the steel components, etc. That was what halted and slowed down construction last year. Also, the NRC charges the company which submits a new design for them to certify over a billion dollars !! And they take forever – they are slow and understaffed. And then there’s all the environmental hoops about site locations to get thru, etc. It’s small wonder that few utilities wanted to go thru all that. With molten salt reactors, all that changes, regardless of who’s in charge in D.C. Site approvals are vastly simplified and easier to obtain, since the reactors are so much smaller, and don’t require anywhere near the amount of earth moving for a light water reactor. They will cost between 1/3rd and 1/2 the cost of a current trypical reactor (Moltex Energy claims a build cost at less than $2 per kw – that would be less than
      $2 billion for capacity that currently runs (in the US) at least $6 billion. They can be configured in practically any capacity and can be located within a city , if one wants to. They will provide the cheapest power. Period. China has a crash program to develop molten salt reactors, and there are three main developers in the West.
      Worldwide, the cost of nuclear is quite different – Russia has signed agreements to build and then operate nuclear plants in a variety of locales, and their price generally runs a couple of billion less than what can be bought in the U.S., China also can build reactors (with essentially the same design as Westinghouse) a lot cheaper than they can be built here. China curently has several dozen plants under construction, some built by Westinghouse,some by the Russians, some by the French and some themselves. Their future plans are for thousands to be built.

      • I don’t believe NRC charge $1 billion per design validation. In UK, our regulator: Office of Nuclear Regulation (ONR) charged £35 million to certify the EPR design over 4.5 years.

        ONR estimates that the GDA process for EPR has involved 27,000 days of assessment time and literally thousands of technical documents.

        The cost of regulation in multifold:
        * delays in taking a product to market
        * obsession with demanding the best quality for everything (military grade plus)
        * building delays, which may include rebuilding something not made perfectly to spec. Literally tearing it down and starting again, even if the slight change from the spec has no safety implications.
        * on site delay of 1 year for connection (from construction end to delivery of electricity to the grid)
        * regulatory ratcheting – changes to spec after construction began when a regulator adds some ad hoc requirement
        * preventing any change in plant operation. E.g. One can’t upgrade anything because the whole must be recertified if one does.
        * preventing resale of reactors. A license is per company. A change of ownership means it’s all back to square one.
        * safety paranoia. E.g. A disturbance on the electricity grid external to a reactor can easily result in a reactor shutdown because stringent safety regulations demand safety first.
        * Labour duplication. Many actions have to be checked because no one trusts anyone in a NPP to tie their shoelaces without an inspection.
        * Security staff to guard against terrorism which will never happen.
        * Features to guard against terrorism. E.g. After 9/11 all plants (even non-pressurised) ones will need a safety dome covering which must now be proof against high speed impact from an air-liner.

        Those are just some of the costs of regulation off the top of my head. I, personally, like the example of the nuclear plant designed to be operated by 60, which now employs 600. Nearly all of that due to a desire to satisfy the regulator.

  20. Before DOE was created a Millstone #3 reactor was built. A copy of it was started construction in NY Long Island. It cost about 10 times more (a copy!), and it was never started. Eventually it was dismantled. Thank you NCR/DOE. As to the cost, as always, labor is the prime item in energy cost. Consider that expense knowing how much labor goes into a unit of energy production:
    The table below summarizes the productivity numbers of the major electricity sources. It shows that, for example, 130 employees (not two or three!!) are needed in solar plants where just one suffices for the same electricity production in nuclear plants. Counting about $100,000 per employee for salary and benefits amounts to $13 million extra expense.
    Nuclear 2000 kW per employee
    Fossil fuels 1300 kW/e.
    Wind 250 kW/e.
    Solar 15 kW/e.

    • Jake: Do those numbers of employees include the folks mining the coal and transporting it to the power plants? It takes a lot of trains to supply a 1000 MWe power plant. Ditto natural gas.

      • Each of those many trains has only one driver. The totality of all those engineers is indistinguishable on the scale of the coal electricity production or the energy each train carries. Ditto for the gas pumping stations.
        All those numbers are the average of great many differing numbers. The point is that the ball park numbers differ by multiples, not just a few percents.

  21. “If 20 fire marshals came around and told us our houses were about to burn down, we’d buy some fire insurance. So when the leading science academies in 20 developed countries, along with several major American corporations and the national security community, all tell us that burning fossil fuels is causing dangerous changes to the climate, we think it’s time for the United States to get serious about clean energy.”

    Except, that is not the best analogy. What we have is 20 insurance company executives who swear to state insurance regulators that, while home fires are dropping, the fire incident rate will likely be higher in the future based on model projections which include industry standard adjustment factors. Therefore, they need higher insurance rates.

  22. Eventually, Thorium MSR Reactors will replace fossil fuels.

    China’s first test Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor goes online next year and a commercial design will be available in 15 years or so.

    LFTRs are by far the cheapest, safest, most scalable, and most sustainable form of nuclear energy.

    Once the Chinese build their first commercial LFTR, Western countries will frantically try and play catch up, however, Western Leftists will fight tooth and nail to curtail development.

    • These show some promise, but you are right, it will be 15 years before the first commercial one can be online…

      what to do till then?

      and until 15 or so years from now, we have no clear idea of the cost, time to build, output/number required.

      this is a (potential) solution for 20 years from now… but not a guaranteed solution

  23. Will wonders never cease.? A Democrat makes some sense.
    Of course, he also displays considerable ignorance – he is convinced we are warming
    to a dangerous degree, and he doesn’t know the name of the new , nuclear waste burning
    reactors (molten salt) and he mis-states their safety by only claiming that they “reduce the dangers of meltdowns” when in fact, meltdowns are physically impossible. But hey, can’t expect too much actual knowledge from a Democrat.

  24. Weighing energy density against contamination density of nuclear power (as discussed in these comments), I am not liking the trade off.

    Is it really a better situation to increase the amount of energy at lower cost, if we also increase the risk factors of deadly environmental contamination? I just have a bad feeling about it.

    • Check your feelings and analyze the data. Nukes are preferable if the goals involved are sustainable, dependable, scalable and low environmental impact.

      • Good practical advice, hunter.

        What worried me, though, in the earlier comments was the mention of waste products that have to go somewhere, accumulating year after year, when the breakdown time of the waste far outdistances the turnaround time of one year’s waste needing to take the place of the next, forcing an ever increasing requirement of land area to continuously store the waste. How do we deal with such a thing on a mass scale?

      • Robert: The storage area of the waste is trivial. The only US waste storage site, Yucca Mountain, never became operational. Waste is currently stored at each reactor site, essentially in their collective ‘back yards’. With reprocessing, as is done in other countries, the volume of waste drops by a factor of 10 or so. There is no technical nor financial problem with waste storage; it’s all political. I have personally been 3 meters from power plant waste that was 2 weeks after removal from the reactor. I was leaning over the railing looking at the blue glow around the fuel rods. Two meters of water was all between me and the highest level waste ever to come from a power plant.

    • On the other hand, no matter how compelling any argument for nuclear power becomes, anything with Sheldon Whitehouse’s name attached warrants scrutiny.

  25. One of Al Gore’s “billionaire” buddies recently bought an unfinished nuclear plant from the TVA and plans to finish it. I suspect that might be connected to this bipartisan nuclear advocacy one month later by a Tennessee senator and the most vocal “climate change” senator.

    • As I posted at the time of the Gore / Trump meeting, I suspect Trump plans to replace renewables with nuclear as his power focus. Gore would like that, because his main man Hansen is a nuclear advocate.

  26. People in here are talking as if the question of nuclear power is to have it or not have it. Globally, that choice is not in the hands of the USA or Europe.

    According to the World Nuclear Association, China alone, at this point in time, operates 35 nuclear reactors and has 20 more under construction.
    Worldwide there are 60 new reactors under construction.

    Horse is out of the barn folks.

  27. Just got my power bill in Maryland.

    $36.00 for gas commodity.
    $61.00 for gas delivery.

    Our house has natural gas for heating and hot water. It leaks like a sieve when the wind blows. We turn down the thermostat, manually, to save energy.

    According to my bill, our electricity comes about 35% from coal, about 35% from nuclear. Renewables are about 4%. The delivery charge for the electricity was higher than the cost of the electricity itself.

    I am sure the Green could make this all more expensive.

    P.S. I drive a 16 yo car which gets 29 mpg. I am more green than anyone driving a hybrid or putting solar panels on their house. And, it didn’t cost me or the govt a penny to be green.

    • Just to add to your misery, the Green lobby stated that switching coolants in air conditioning systems would only cost pennies more. That side stepped the cost implications of higher pressured equipment and almost mandatory maintenance service contracts for the higher cost equipment and repair. Even if the switch was needed, it’s honesty that is in short supply.

    • FWIW I drive a 24-year-old car that averages 41 mpg around town on gasoline. Can you guess what I drive? (Hint: MIJ)

  28. It’s hard, but not impossible, to do business with bad people and have a desirable outcome. There will be difficult compromises ahead. There is nothing close to a viable skeptical majority in government. And the climate consensus is rabid and persistent. We may have to make and accept some tough choices.

  29. The Senator has a point on taking good advice from experts such as his point on fire risks.

    And if the insurance sales force said to take out $1 million dollar policies on all homes though they may only be worth $500k each, would you pay the premiums regardless? I don’t think so.

    How much need we pay to save the planet or at least adapt to some warming?

    So why not determine the costs before developing an appropriate price? The uncertainty of currently applied ECS amplification factors and the discount rate used to determiner SCC are devilishly uncertain and imprecise leading to a high probability of over pricing and all that entails for those who must pay.

  30. Redundancy is good. The issue is antiquated technology mandated by regulation. Containment is good. Stagnated R&D hinders CI.

    Just like in the general aviation market in the 400 Hp and below where antiquated engines rule, atomic energy is over regulated. General aviation however, sees some R&D through experimental aviation.

  31. Oh .. the irony ..

    The ONLY reason we have so many CARBON spewing hateful coal plants is because
    The left wing Green loons were so misguidedly rabidly anti-nuclear 40 years ago ..
    If nuclear had been allowed to continue the development path it was already on ..
    We’d be enjoying a carbon free present that the Greens insist we must have ..
    Gen III and GEN IV nuclear would have been a present reality ..
    They’ll never admit it though ..

  32. I agree with the OP. Yet …, once again, I’d like to remind everyone the EPA began in 1971. The NRC and DoE in 1975. Agencies created under Republican presidents. The Atomic Energy Commission, AEC, was split into the NRC and DoE due to lobbying by fossil fuel interests (coal). Everything Republicans ever did in energy policy looks like it was done to satisfy fossil lobbyists. There is no such thing as a nuclear industry. There are electricity supply companies. After the creation of the NRC, with its single-minded safety mandate, new nuclear power was effectively killed in the USA. New reactor licenses were not granted after the NRC began in 1975. Some of this was due to the slowdown in the US economy resulting in less electricity demand. Many of the licenses to build reactors granted before NRC creation in 1974 were abandoned.

    The AEC had a dual mandate: to ensure safety at cost-competitive prices. The first step in deregulation should be to rewrite the NRC mandate away from its single focus towards the old AEC focus.

  33. “If 20 fire marshals came around and told us our houses were about to burn down, we’d buy some fire insurance.”

    Actually, the first thing I would wonder is who benefits from me buying fire insurance most. If it wasn’t me, I wouldn’t buy it.

  34. (Confession: I worked 30 years in commercial nuclear industry.)

    A seldom-discussed reason we should build nuclear plants: Nuclear energy has little use outside of weapons and commercial power. Natural gas and coal have many uses, including home heating, transportation, plastics, etc. We should use nuclear (and I like coal, too) for power generation, and save as much natural gas as possible for its important alternate uses. Solar panels and wind generators are mostly a waste of scarce materials, land and money, especially since they have to be backed up by instantly available, dispatchable, fossil-fueled power generators.

    As for the affect of increased regulations . . . The number of personnel in my first nuclear plant increased from about 50 to 300 in ten years (1965-1975). My second plant increased from about 75 to over 500 in less than ten years. The second, 750MW plant, completed in 1972, took about four years and cost about $110M. (Yes, that is million.) Today’s 1250MW plants cost in the neighborhood of $5B to $9B, and take years longer to build. Staff: Approximately 1,000 per unit.

    • Bob Cherba: “Nuclear energy has little use outside of weapons and commercial power.” There is also ship propulsion. Several countries have nuclear powered military ships, and the Russians are commissioning new ice breakers. The U.S. tried commercial ship propulsion with the NS Savannah, but the union sailors didn’t like it. Plus, battery powered electric cars are just starting to become viable (The Chevy Bolt is being delivered now) and it will take more grid power to charge those batteries.

      Otherwise, I completely agree with you.

  35. One way to look at energy requirements is what it is used for. In this part of AK, it is roughly divided in thirds – heating, vehicular fuel and electricity. Other parts of the county have differing percentages. When you push nuclear, you are mostly pushing the electricity piece. Natural gas works the heating piece, though it is used to power some appliances. Coal works the heating and electrical generation piece. Oil is mostly tied to fuels.

    So where are we going with this? Trump’s DoE questions appear to be supportive of nuclear energy and the Yucca Mountain disposal site. If they are truly as anti-regulation as they appear to be, tearing down the rules / regs that keep innovation for nuclear generation will go a long way to getting speed bumps out of the way. It also appears that the any exposure to radiation equals cancer worldview may be changing.

    Vehicular fuels may be most interesting as you have competition between oil (essentially limitless supply), natural gas via GTLs and coal via CTLs (the latter two via the Fischer Tropsch process). Break even for either is in the vicinity of $40/bbl and your competition is with the refiners rather than with the producers.

    Heating similarly can be competitively worked by some combination of oil, coal and natural gas depending on your location.

    I don’t think we need any new, magic technology to do any of this. While magic batteries for vehicles are possible, I don’t think they will be competitive with vehicular fuels for a while. And if Trump turns off the crony capitalist money, we will find out real quickly. Cheers –

  36. Enough of this Envirowhaco bovine manure that Nuclear power plants are not safe. Airplanes have killed more people than all NPP accidents and BOMBS. Someone above mentioned deaths from the Fukushima NPP, excuse me but no one died from any radiation from that accident. Reputable nuclear scientists also indicate that it is very unlikely that anyone WILL die from the minimal amount of radiation released. [Do not cut and paste envirowhaco lies from their Anti Nuke hate pages, I have seen it all.] Further the area around Fukushima has less residual radiation than most of denver, and many areas wher millions of people live, and have lived for thousand of years. And science shows people living in these areas have a LOWER death and/or cancer rate than the Average person.
    As far as SAFETY, If the FAA forced the airline industry to have “safety” regulations as strict and comprehensive as the NRC forces on NPPs, not only would most planes be to heavy to fly, you would be traveling by train due to the excessive cost. If the NTSB did the same for trains you would be walking!

    The big dream today is “Driverless Cars” everyone is claiming they are the Future many more are investing money in them. Who is at fault when it drives off of a clif, into a lake, into a train, etc when your wife, daughter is sitting in ti talking on the phone? these vehicles do not have a “two-out-of-four” safety related logic control system. If there was ever a requirement to have them Driverless cars, trucks, would cost 2-3 times as much and go away FAST. .As a Nuclear Instrumentation Engineer, and a project manager on one of the first plants we hoped to get “Digital Control Systems” approved by the NRC for I would not ride in one of those vehicles till it had a 1 out of 3, or 2 out of 4, or even a 1 out of 2 with worst case logic selection safety logic system, Well here is a point to ponder, Electronic Digital Computers were invented back in the 50’s. Nuclear Instrumentation Control Engineers were testing Digital control of NPP process in the 70’s. Keep in mind that most oil refining process were using digital control system by the early 80’s. Same for aircraft. Yet, the NRC dilly-dallied around only letting “auxiliary” systems (those systems that have no control function/impact to the reactor or protection thereof) to have digital controls in the late 80’s and only just recently writting a NRC regulation allowing safety related systems to have digital systems. So, why are we allowing these vehicles on the road. By NRC standards they are not safe enough. And 20 years from now after 30,000 ++ (that’s only about 1,500 a year, a drop in the bucket,)have died from computer problems everyone will just accept it as the norm, Claiming fewer have died than if a human was driving.

    • NRC safety concerns are only a facade for their true agenda of thwarting the building of nuclear power plants. As with any other of mankind’s efforts which is touched by politics, follow the money.

  37. “So when the leading science academies in 20 developed countries, along with several major American corporations and the national security community, all tell us that burning fossil fuels is causing dangerous changes to the climate, we think it’s time for the United States to get serious about clean energy”

    But what about the thousands of leading science academics and many major American corporations and others across the world who tell us just the opposite? The authors should give us examples of where warming is occurring to support their argument.

    • And “when the leading science academies in 20 developed countries, along with several major American corporations” and the envirowhacos tell us how dangerous NPPs are and they force “Clean Energy Incentive Program within President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, do not explicitly include or incentivize nuclear power ” thus forcing 6 NPPs to shut down in the last 5 years and probably 5 more in the next few years (un less Trump fixes it) tells me that the REAL problem is NOT CO2 but the existence of NPPs. There is no why the USA is going to reduce CO2 AND increas the economy, pay down the national debt, etc. UNLESS we proceed with a JFK space race initiative building at least five NPPs a year till all power is from Nuclear, including most power used in transportation.

    • The national security “supporters” of the climate consensus extremist claims are doing so because Obama has corrupted them into doing so. AGW is like a spreading cancer, metasticizing its corrupt thinking into every organization it’s believers sneak into.

  38. Nuclear doesn’t give off life-giving CO2. I wouldn’t bother with it as long as fossil fuels remain cheap. A day may come when to have to use nuclear energy to produce lots of Portland cement from limestone in order to keep CO2 at a healthy level.

  39. The Trump Effect! I believe the AGW house of cards is crumbling. Remember as soon as Raegan was elected Iran released hostages that couldn’t be negotiated before over the previous eight years by the softies. Oh, and USSR fell apart.

    Here is what you need to know about the entire continent of Asia including Asia Minor (pearse foreign policy 101): Act very tough, stir the pot, build up your military capability and you get what you want. Russia, Syria to Afghanistan, and China will sweeten up to America. This also works on the mice like S. Whitehouse etc. Kumbaya stuff invites recalcitrance, disrespect, aggressive behavior, Asian pilots barrel rolling your ships, shooting at your navy from flotillas of little boats after they’ve bested you in a deal., stealing your little yellow boat drones, not meeting your president with the red carpet and head of state, building a new continent where you used to command the China Sea…

    PFP works because all these countries have been trained to obey strength above all. A corollary of PFP is it works on the weeping useful fool followers of Kumbaya stuff too. Not bad for an old geologist, huh?

  40. I have no issues with nuclear power, except that when used instead of coal/gas, they deprive the atmosphere of MUCH NEEDED CO2.

  41. Apparently, ol’ Sheldon has no idea the green monster he and his political allies have empowered. Does he actually think the greenie activists, who hate oil, natural gas, hydro, and give only lip service to wind, but try and block it when it’s THIER neighborhood, will really let nuclear power be implemented… anywhere? Ever?

    This is what happens when morons speak and act without regard for consequences or the slightest thread of common sense.

  42. Question about nuclear reactors and nuclear waste…

    * nuclear reactor produces a lot of heat
    * which vaporizes water into steam
    * which spins a turbine
    * which generates electricity


    * nuclear waste produces a lot of heat
    * has to be stored away and continuously cooled. Huh?!?!?!

    Waste heat reclamation is not a new idea. See Note that nuclear waste has to be stored somewhere, so you might as well get some power out of it in the process. Doing so would slightly reduce demand for new fuel, which would hurt the uranium mining industry slightly.

    BTW, the Fukushima fiasco was due to nuclear waste containment losing cooling power. The waste containment area easily survived the initial quake. The earthquake knocked out the regular power grid, and the tsunami knocked out the backup diesel generators for cooling. With no cooling, the water in the containment tanks heated up and eventually boiled off. The waste then heated up enough to start burning. If the Fukushima waste containment area had been running waste heat recovery, it could’ve survived. Any extra electricity for the national grid would’ve been gravy.

    Any obvious flaws with the idea?

    • Yes, what makes you think the nuclear industry does not already do it?

      Steam from decay heat is used for steam turbine driven pumps which provide water to cool the core. These systems worked for days longer than design requirements.

      The flaw in Walter’s idea is that the decay heat will not produce enough steam after a few days. After that it was thought that portable equipment would take over.

      At Fukushima, the physical damage at the site slowed rigging temporary equipment.

      Think about it this way. We know that core damage will not hurt people. Killing workers to prevent it, is stupid.

    • Now calculate how many Wind Turbines and/or Solar panels are needed just to power all highway and railroad transportation, Determine total cost and factor in the cost of transmission lines for rail. Determine future value, for the year when the ice melts, and seems like you could raise the elevation of most coastal cities or build dykes for less. Especially if you include just a meager interest, Invest it in needed endeavors and you would be orders of magnitude ahead.

  43. If nuclear power is chosen as an alternative due to economic or energy mix considerations that’s fine . If it’s to stop global warming then it’s futile because there is no global warming problem. The last thing I would want to see is the warmists think they’ve solved the problem in 50 years time because when it didn’t warm dangerously it was because of all the new nuclear plants that were built in the 2020s. I guarantee most people think that the measures taken to fix the hole in the ozone layer ( another non problem) actually worked or when the barrier reef recovers naturally it’s because there is a carbon tax. The only way to stop global warming or to stop climate change is to make people fully aware and make them realise they have been conned. The reality is that people by nature are trusting and therefore extremely gullible and vulnerable. Even when they see obvious contradictions they will turn to people they should be able to trust such as teachers, scientists, religious figures, and be sucked in by their inane comments. The way to fix a non problem is to in fact to convince them by argument , something that is actively discouraged by the AGW high priests.

  44. “..all tell us that burning fossil fuels is causing dangerous changes to the climate.” Was I asleep and missed the dangerous changes?
    If we keep on forcing higher and higher costs on our economies I know that we will all be poorer.

    • “Was I asleep and missed the dangerous changes?”

      No, you weren’t asleep. The scientists making this claim got it wrong.

      There have been No dangerous changes to the Earth’s atmosphere or weather due to humans. It’s business as usual. What happens today has happened in the past. Nothing new to see here. Nothing unprecedented. Scientists who make such claims should provide examples of dangerous changes, instead of expecting people to take their word for it only. Declaring something is true is not sufficient.

      • Brian & jimmyJimmy,

        If I had the means I would try to set up a booster/donor lunch meeting between you two and the good Senator.

  45. Lots of unsupported assertions are being made here that greatly reducing, or even eliminating, NRC regulatory oversight over commercial nuclear power would greatly reduce its costs and thus make nuclear fully competitive with natural gas for electric power generation.

    I was working nuclear construction in the United States in the mid-1980’s and saw first hand what factors were driving costs up and were impeding the industry’s progress in preparing itself for an accelerated growth in nuclear power. A decade ago in the mid-2000’s, I was involved for a time in estimating the costs of the latest nuclear construction projects. And so I have a good deal of insight as to what the industry’s cost drivers actually are, especially for new construction.

    A recitation of the history of past cost growth problems in nuclear power, and of their fundamental causes, is in order here.

    In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, the regulatory environment became much more complex with a series of added regulatory requirements on nuclear plant design and construction. At the same time, the large 1300 megawatt plants were being constructed for the first time; they were being built without a prototype; and there were many things in those new designs which had to be tested and proven out for the first time in operational service.

    Also at the same time, the anti-nuclear activists switched tactics. They had gotten nowhere in the courts with their arguments concerning basic nuclear safety issues, and so they began to focus on emerging quality control issues with the plant construction projects. That is to say, they began to focus their efforts on the provable lack of effort on the part of the senior managers of large nuclear construction projects towards meeting the quality assurance standards those managers had committed to in their NRC license applications.

    The NRC had assumed in the mid-1970’s that one utility was much like another in its ability to manage a large and very complex nuclear construction project. This turned out not to be the case. In the mid 1970’s, the NRC had given construction licenses to utilities which were not capable of managing the demanding task of building a nuclear power plant to strict quality assurance requirements while at the same time working under significant cost and schedule pressures. By the early 1980’s, the wide differences which existed among the power utilities regarding their basic competency for managing a large nuclear construction project had become painfully apparent.

    Those nuclear construction projects which had weak project management systems and which suffered from a lack of commitment to maintaining high quality assurance standards were in deep trouble well before Three Mile Island occurred. Their lack of commitment to an effective quality assurance program was reflected in their tendency to place primary responsibility for quality assurance on the Quality Assurance organization, an organization which is not equipped for handling that job. The QA organization is a means of communicating to management whether or not the project’s QA objectives are being met. But it is not a substitute for management. For those projects which got into deep trouble, managers at every level of the project organization had abdicated responsibility for the project’s quality to the QA organization.

    The variety of problems these late 1970’s and early 1980’s nuclear projects were suffering were compounded by other basic weaknesses in their project management systems. Matrix management systems were common at that time, but these kinds of systems do not enforce enough internal discipline to keep a complex nuclear project on track. Every nuclear project which got into trouble in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s had a matrix management system. Another issue was the lack of project configuration control and the lack of contractor interface control. Projects which lacked effective configuration control and effective contractor interface control saw their budgets being eaten by the nuclear construction contractors.

    Inside those projects which got into serious trouble, middle managers and senior managers did not want to hear bad news of any kind. Managers at lower levels knew what the problems were, but by the time the message got to the senior managers, it had become so attenuated it was unrecognizable. Whistleblowers on the job became fed up with management’s lack of commitment to quality construction standards and went outside the project to the anti-nuclear activists. Those activists then made sure these very real QA problems were introduced into the NRC licensing process.

    Why was it that in the late 1970’s and the early 1980’s, it was primarily the whistleblowers who were exposing these quality assurance issues, not the NRC’s own professional staff?

    It was because at the time, the NRC viewed QA issues as not representing a danger until the plant was about to go operational. And so the NRC focused its oversight efforts on the last phases of the licensing process when the plant was about to go for an operating license. This meant that a project’s substandard construction practices which had been in place for years had remained unchallenged over most of the project’s life, and so the project had become complacent because it hadn’t heard from the NRC.

    In other words, no news was good news for these projects. But then when the anti-nuclear activists raised issues with how the plant had been constructed, issues which had been discovered by whistleblowers on the job, these projects began asking the question, where was the NRC in the earlier phases of the project when its oversight and input was most needed?

    Those nuclear projects which were successfully completed in the 1980’s were the ones which had strong project management systems and which viewed the NRC as a resource, not as an adversary. By the late 1980’s, most all of the earlier problems with nuclear construction had been resolved and the industry was well positioned to expand, had the market for nuclear power plants continued to hold up.

    But this was not to be. The weight of past problems and of increasing competition from coal and from natural gas put an end to nuclear construction in the US for a period of twenty-years. More recently, the emergence of the fracking boom and severe competition from cheap natural gas is putting an end to the nascent American nuclear renaissance.

    Those in the United States who say the solution to nuclear power’s lack of economic competitiveness with cheap natural gas is to remove the strict regulatory requirements government now imposes on the industry are living in a dream world.

    Having been involved for a time a decade ago in estimating the costs of the latest nuclear construction projects, my best guess is that removing the NRC’s regulatory burdens might reduce US nuclear construction costs ten to fifteen percent. But that reduction isn’t nearly enough to overcome the lifecycle cost advantages now enjoyed by natural gas.

    But more important than that, a decision to greatly reduce government oversight over nuclear power would greatly reduce the public’s confidence that nuclear is safe. Is that loss of public confidence worth a cost reduction of perhaps fifteen percent at best in nuclear construction costs — a cost reduction which has every probability of being completely illusory?

    • Not much in Betablocker’s comments to disagree with, though I could point out that type approval puts more emphasis on the manufacturer and removes much of the oversight burden of the utility or plant owner. But the cost of nuclear power is mostly construction and administration costs. Natural gas plants are far more sensitive to fuel costs. What happens if the price of gas goes up? We can’t build a nuke in a just a year or two to meet market demand. Looking into a secure energy future is a valid job of the national government.

  46. We need more CO2. There is no need to be concerned about CO2 emissions in North America as the continent produces no net CO2 as it is a CO2 SINK. America has completed the job that the AGW fools wanted them to do,

    Just as it has completed the Pollution effort with the continents AIR and WATER now clean, by the original standards started and aimed for in the ’70s. It will get even cleaner just with the continuing efforts already underway.

    The current G III+ fission plants answer all the concerns we critical scientists and engineers had about nuclear power. Before the green loons turned it into an emotional reason to vote for them, and demonize nuclear power. Build and operating licesning now control schedules and financial costs.

    MSRs have a problem observed during their limited use, Eddy currents creating nuclear “hot spots” in the molten salt flows, could and did, occasionally create areas of enhanced and uncontrolled spikes in nuclear reactions. The NRC would go crazy before licensing such possibilities, Recall it took the NRC almost 40 years to license the mere improvements to the 99 reactors operating every day for years in the USA. How long for a completely new design?

    Fusion is now proven, and close to happening in a few decades ,All the maddening instabilities have been seen understood and controlled now, And I think it is very likely and a wagerable be,t that a commercial Fusion power plant would be built and licensed long before an MSR. Even starting today before ITER is even finished. Indeed if the iTER were just starting design fresh today, it would be from 1/3 to 1/2 the size and cost. In the long run from mid-century on, Fusion will answer Mankinds clean, inexhaustable, power needs for billions of years, Enough to power elelctric cars and desalinate the oceans and irrigate the desserts.

    • “Fusion is now proven….”

      Not for producing electricity. I have to wonder what degree mill provided stas a degree in mechanical engineering.

      Just for the record we do not need an ‘inexhaustable’ supply of power. We need a finite supply. This is not a problem for most engineers.

      • First operation of ITER is now projected in the year 2035, as the project is now $4.6 Billion over budget. It’s turning into an international jobs program.

        If I were king, I would cut their budget to 1/3, return half of the savings to reducing the deficit, and split the remainder between a half dozen small scale hot fusion programs and (dare I say it?) another dozen cold fusion science projects. There are now two underfunded U.S. cold fusion university labs in addition to the commercially underfunded projects.

  47. Senator Whitebread just made a transitional statement supporting nuke power . Well at least he is politically astute . The exaggerated global warming con is done .
    Nuke power offers stable affordable power with some legit risks but it has always been the not so secret contradiction to those greenwashers who really would welcome people other than themselves to be living in caves .
    How many Democrat politicians realize they will now be be in the political wilderness attached to a party
    blowing an election run by their extreme green paymaster ? Now is the time to find a new brand if they want to be re-elected . A Demo -Green Party ain’t going to fly .

  48. “Fukishima 2? radiation deaths, maybe 1600 from unnessary relocations.”

    No one was hurt by radiation in Japan.

    The death toll from the natural disaster was about 19,000.

    Debate hypothetical deaths all you like but I would suggest that you take a few minutes to learn the lessons from real fatalities.

  49. Let me sum up nuclear power in the US. Perfect safety record. No one hurt by radiation.

    More electricity produced with fission than any other country. France is a distant second.

    The longest running reactors.

    One new reactor came on line in 2016. Four under construction as a result of incentives in the 2005 US Energy Bill.

  50. Can we dispense with the proliferation argument against nukes? Any GOVERNMENT which wants nukes will get them regardless of whether it runs a civilian nuclear power program. Look up how Stalin got his first bomb or the U.S. for that matter.
    The waste storage problem in the U.S. was caused by Jimmy Carter’s ban on reprocessing. A very stupid man. Our own peanut farmer in Australia was much smarter.

    If you want to make nukes safer, build and operate them and develop better designs. Bureaucracy is the death of development. You only need to look at small airplanes to see the lack of progress in 80 years caused by government certification. I’m amazed anyone bothers to build small aircraft commercially. There were aircraft in the late 30’s which were as good as any modern aircraft. The Messerschmitt 108 springs to mind. Thank Paul Poberezny, the EAA and an FAA official with his heart in the right place, for Experimental homebuilts where much of the progress is being made. OK I’ve got an axe to grind, I own and fly a BD-4 and am President of the Australian chapter of EAA.

    • And don’t forget that expensive uranium enrichment is NOT NECESSARY. This is why the Canadians developed the CANDU reactor, which runs on natural uranium. (They were shut out of the Manhattan Project and had to think smarter.) Any reactor will produce plutonium, which can be separated during reprocessing. And then other reactors can be made from the resulting mixed-isotope plutonium–even weapon-grade plutonium production reactors.

      So why haven’t the Canadians built an atomic bomb? Have you ever met a Canadian? Not their thing.

  51. “Maybe we can just aim for equally safe but at much lower cost?”

    Again it is the same argument. Anyone can make a claim about a paper reactors but it is not very likely that they can beat existing technology.

    The economics of nukes are going to depend on on the delivered price of fossil fuels over the next 60 years. If you are buying imported fossil fuel, it becomes a drain on the economy.

    Nuke plants benefit greatly from economies of scale and standardization. The nuke site I was at in China will have 6 – 1600 MWe LWRs designed for 60 years and will likely last twice as long. This one of many locations with multiple reactors.

    The point here is that with the exception of wind and solar, utilities do not build power plants based on internet advice.

  52. “it would take you at least 10 years ”

    I am so old that I remember when we could build a nuke plant in 5 years. That plant and others have been providing 20% of US power for the for more than 20 years. That is what is called a proven solution. And it work everywhere all the time.

    I would like Griff to calculate how long it will take for wind and solar to produce the same amount of power. The answer is an infinite time period. The reason is that wind and solar does not work for all practical purposes and then breaks long before the end of design. Aside from being impractical, grid storage of wind and solar needs something to store.

    “offline for safety issues.”

    It is a quality control issue. For it to be a safety issue, Griff would have to show that someone would be hurt. For example, Griff seems to like natural gas and solar. A quality control issue with a natural gas appliance or a rooftop PV do hurt people so they are safety issue.

    Griff likes renewable energy because it sound goods. Not because he has exercised critical thinking.

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