Risk and Nuclear Power Plants

By Andy May

The financial risk is too great.

Updated post (2/21/2017)

In any discussion of the future of energy, nuclear power generation is brought up. Once a nuclear power plant is built and operating, it can produce cheap electricity reliably for decades. Further, in terms of human health, some claim it is the safest source of energy in the U.S. Others, like Benjamin Sovacool, claim the worldwide economic cost (worldwide total: $177B) of nuclear accidents is higher than for any other energy source and nuclear power is less safe than all other sources of energy except for hydroelectric power. Some of the costs could be due to an over-reaction to nuclear accidents, especially Chernobyl and Fukushima.  Others have much lower fatality estimates than Sovacool, it is unclear how many later cases of cancer are, or potentially will be, due to Chernobyl.

Permitting a new nuclear power plant and building it is a problem because there have been more than 105 significant nuclear accidents around the world since 1952, out of an IAEA total of 2,400 separate incidents. Thirty-three serious nuclear accidents compiled by The Guardian are listed and ranked here and mapped in figure 1. As figure 1 shows these incidents have occurred all over the world, some are design flaws, like the Fukashima-Diachi 2011 disaster and some are due to human error, like the loss of a Cobalt-60 source in Ikitelli, Turkey.

Figure 1: All nuclear power plant incidents, source The Guardian.

There is an ongoing debate about the safety of nuclear power. Roger Graves has written persuasively that:

“… there is no justification for singling out nuclear power as being especially dangerous. The fear of nuclear espoused by much of the media is vastly exaggerated.”

There have been either 4,231 fatalities due to nuclear accidents since 1952 or fewer than 100 depending upon who is estimating.  The biggest difference is how many died due to the Chernobyl disaster.  Was it the 31 who died right away or were there thousands that died later due to radiation induced cancer as Benjamin Sovacool argues?  Either way, this is small compared to the number of fatalities due to hydroelectric dam failures, like the 171,000 people who died when the Shimantan Dam and 60 other dams, including Banqiao, broke in China in 1975 or the 4.3 million who die every year due to indoor air pollution from burning biomass or coal indoors. So, do we irrationally fear anything that glows in the dark? Or, are Benjamin Sovacool’s arguments more valid than Roger Graves? The differences are mostly due to what fatalities and costs are included in the calculation, both use reasonable methods and criteria. Either way nuclear is different from other sources and the risks are different. I’m not sure a valid safety comparison between nuclear and other sources of energy can be made.

If we include all air pollution from coal as a cost, coal becomes the most expensive and dangerous, except for hydroelectric. Yet, most of the problems are from personal, household use of coal or antiquated coal power plants with no pollution control equipment. Modern coal plants, used in western countries for decades, produce very little pollution and are safe. Households do not have nuclear power, nor do they have personal hydroelectric dams, so this seems like an invalid comparison.

It seems that nuclear power is here to stay, there are nuclear power plants all over the world after all. Why is it so hard to permit and build one? Why did Germany shut down so many nuclear plants? How serious are the dangers? We will not answer these questions here, but we can present what data we could find.

By nuclear we mean fission reactors. Fusion reactors always seem to be 20 years away and this seems unlikely to change. The most recently completed U.S. nuclear power plant, Watts Bar Unit 2 in Rhea County, Tennessee entered commercial service October 19, 2016.

Figure 2: Watts Bar Unit 2 nuclear power plant, source TVA.

Unit 2 was 80% complete in 1980. Construction was stopped at that time due to a projected decline in demand. Construction resumed in 2007. The Fukushima-Daichi disaster in 2011 caused construction to be halted again and the NRC (Nuclear Regulatory Commission) ordered some design modifications. The delays and the late design modifications caused the initial estimate cost of $2.5B to almost double. The final cost, when it was completed in 2016, was $4.7B. So, this older generation “2” nuclear reactor, from beginning to end, took over 40 years to build. Over the 40 years the cost doubled.

TVA has also spent more than six billion dollars on two partially constructed nuclear plants at their Bellefonte site near Hollywood, Alabama. These were to be Units 1 and 2. They have also applied for permits for two more plants, units 3 and 4. Recently, they announced they have no plans to finish the first two plants and withdrew their permit requests for the second two. Obviously, nuclear power plant planning and construction has its problems. The problems seem to be the uncertain permitting process, high initial costs, and the very long construction period. The long permitting and construction times complicate financing and mean that revenue, profit and demand forecasts are obsolete long before the plants are completed. Thus, as the plants are being constructed, markets change, there are periods when the project appears uneconomic, and construction is shut down. Once shut down, any project is hard to restart.

There are two big problems here. The first is a perceived danger to the public, that may or may not really exist. The second, partially caused by the first, is the huge length of time from inception to completion and the very high and uncertain front end costs. I think anyone who has ever worked in a capital-intensive business will instantly see the problem. The problem is not safety per se, it is risk. This is not an industry that can survive in the marketplace without government guarantees, the risk to capital invested and the potential liability costs are so large no private company would ever touch it. Or stated another way, only a government would be foolish enough to put their money into building a nuclear power plant.

Without a viable business outlook, nuclear is probably doomed unless the design to completion timeline is shortened. The permitting time needs to be shortened and made more certain. This means the industry needs to mature and standardize the components of their commercial reactor designs, so approval of the standard components is guaranteed. Second, construction times need to be radically shorter. Standard components will help here as well. You must be able to propose, design, permit and build a plant before your economic forecasts become useless. There is no way around this, cash flow is king, design to startup times must be short and predictable. Time is often the most expensive component in long term projects, ask any construction company or oil and gas company.

Consider what Hollywood, Alabama Mayor Frank “Buster” Duke, who worked as a pipefitter helping build Bellefonte from 1974 to 1984, said about the TVA Bellefonte construction site:

“I think this was one of the best nuclear plants TVA ever built, but it’s not looking good for any nuclear use of Bellefonte. I’m afraid everything is outdated there now like an old computer. I just hope TVA can do something with all [these] assets.”

The radioactive waste created by nuclear power plants is also a serious problem. Every year nuclear power plants, worldwide, produce 200,000 m3 of low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste and about 11,000 m3 tonnes of high level waste. In the U.S. there is no infrastructure to permanently dispose of the waste, some of which is dangerous for many thousands of years or more. Some countries, including the UK, France, Germany and Japan, reprocess their high-level waste and recycle the remaining uranium and plutonium which decreases the volume of waste. For a list showing how various countries dispose of their waste see this report by the World Nuclear Association.

Waste products are also a problem for thorium molten salt reactors. Besides generating waste, thorium reactors are a nuclear proliferation threat, as discussed by Ashley, et al., 2012 in Nature. This is because one of the waste products is 233U and 8 kg of 233U is enough for a nuclear weapon.

Nuclear power plants have many attractive features, if they don’t leak any radioactivity to the environment and their waste is safely disposed of, they are pollution free. If you can get one permitted and built (no small feat) it produces cheap power and little waste. But, it seems unlikely to be a significant source of new electricity generation due to the public fear of accidents and the high financial risk. To be sure, the actual accidents to date have not caused a lot of injuries or deaths, relative to other energy sources, but the economic cost of the accidents, and the builder and operators liability, is extremely high.

Nuclear power generation has produced no deaths in the U.S. or in the UK. A Caithness Windfarm Information Forum (CWIF) compendium tabulated a yearly UK average of 164 windfarm accidents from 2012-2016 inclusive. Over the same period, 34 of the UK accidents were fatal. In total, in the UK, there have been at least 170 fatalities due to wind farms, so by this measure nuclear is safer than wind. While the safety record of nuclear in the U.S. and in the UK is quite good, the concern is the potential catastrophe. Certainly, the economic costs of nuclear accidents are much higher than for any other form of energy at least according to Benjamin Sovacool here. Sovacool has also shown that 94% of accidental electricity generation fatalities are due to hydroelectric dams, especially one large accident at Shimantan Dam in China. The nuclear catastrophe that can be imagined is horrific, particularly with regard to terrorism. Plus, we have all that nuclear waste being stored on the surface in temporary facilities. To quote Sovacool (source):

“… , nuclear power is less safe than alternatives. When overall fatalities from other energy sources are compared independent of the amount of energy they produce, nuclear power ranks as the second most fatal source of energy supply – after hydroelectric dams – and is responsible for more onsite deaths than oil, coal, and natural gas systems (Sovacool 2008).”

Coal mining is very hazardous, especially in China. But, elsewhere it has become much safer, especially in the U.S., in recent years. Urban indoor pollution, from burning biomass (wood, dung and charcoal) and coal indoors, kills 4.3 million people each year per the World Health Organization. This is the largest killer of all energy sources.

So, although we have estimates of how many have been injured or killed by nuclear accidents that range from less than 100 to over 4,000, both numbers pale in comparison to the deaths caused by other power sources, especially biofuels, coal and hydroelectric.  By this measure, nuclear is safer.  The problem is the perceived danger from a possible nuclear accident or terrorist attack, not the actual safety record.  This fear causes expensive actions (over-reactions?) to be taken when an accident occurs, raising the accidents cost and the potential liability of the operator and builder of the reactor.

It is unlikely, after 60 years of building nuclear power stations, that the cost and time to build them has to be what we see today.  After this much time, there is no need for every reactor to be a one-off and approved piecemeal one at a time.  But, this is where we are.  It is a capital intensive business with high front-end costs and the regulations and lack of standardized pre-approved components drag out the construction (no-revenue) period and private companies cannot get into the business.

I suspect that if a standardized power plant design can be agreed upon by the government and industry, a permanent storage facility built for the waste and permitting and construction streamlined; nuclear would be a success. But, until that happens, I doubt it will ever succeed. No one, outside of government, is foolish enough to invest in the industry the way it is now.

547 thoughts on “Risk and Nuclear Power Plants

  1. Organic bean sprouts in Germany and cantaloupe in Colorado killed more people in 2011 than have so far died from Chernobyl. Fukushima was an absolute worst case with three melts on one site — 0 dead, 0 injured, 0 sickened and the initial projections of any future issues now have to be scaled back because it has been determined that the radiation dose received by the nearby population was only half what it had been initially estimated to be.
    Nuclear power is expensive because of lawfare. People seem to be much more afraid of radiation than they need to be. More people died at Deepwater Horizon than died at Three Mile Island. An oil train burned dozens of people alive in a town in Quebec, Canada. It is only the massive war against nuclear power than makes “renewable energy” even a consideration in Germany.
    Nuclear power is expensive because of what I believe are quite idiotic regulations. State regulations prevented replacement of San Onofre heat exchanger tubes that had been discovered to have a manufacturing defect and as a result, that plant has closed. It’s just idiotic. Spent fuel should be reprocessed ON SITE to provide new fuel and prevent shipment of nuclear fuel around our highways. Instead we have engaged in an idiotic “burial” disposal process that will probably never actually happen for fuel that has had only about 5% of the potential energy used up.
    The WHO estimates that the greatest health impact from Fukushima will be stress due to inaccurate reporting.

    • You make a very valid point. Regulations and regulatory delays are what killed most projects. The very high costs of the nuclear accidents seem to be mostly related to government over-reaction to the accident, this is especially true of 3-mile island, Chernobyl and Fukushima. But, whatever the cause of the high costs, it is the costs and the time that kill nuclear power. It is too bad, because in many ways it is probably the best source of energy from the standpoint of human health, unless terrorists get hold of the radioactive materials and do something awful with it. Complicated subject.

      • The only reason why terrorists with nuclear materials is a problem at all is because of the irrational fear so many people have of radiation.
        If there is a dirty bomb, the solution is simple.
        1) Stay out of the area for a few weeks.
        2) Set up traps in all the sewers then pressure wash all the streets and buildings in the area. No need to wash higher than the second or third floors. Retrieve the traps and transport to a facility that can handle radioactive waste.
        3) Repave all the streets and paint all the building.
        NOTE: Step 1 may not be necessary depending on the size of the bomb and the exact list of materials used in it. On the other hand, it may take a week or two to construct and install the sewer traps anyway.

      • Government (and media) over-reaction was a problem for Three Mile Island, but Chernobyl and (to a lesser extent) Fukushima were serious and avoidable nuclear accidents. Both were exacerbated by poor government communications.
        In both cases of Fukushima and Chernobyl, the most significant harm was to the employees. Three Mile Island didn’t hurt anybody, but boy was it exciting. I got out of school for three days.

      • Chernobyl was not a nuclear accident. It was an industrial accident that happened to involve some nuclear material. And other than those killed in the immediate steam explosion, nobody else should have died. Simply rotating in new people would have kept exposures to safe limits. The people in charge of the response were, in exact terms, idiots.

      • Thank you Andy. This is possibly the first and only honest and objective discussion of this topic I have read.
        Usually all articles about nuclear power is highly partisan one way or the other. A refreshing change.

        Coal mining is very hazardous, especially in China.

        94% of accidental electricity generation fatalities are due to hydroelectric dams, especially one large accident at Shimantan Dam in China.

        OK, so China is a walking disaster zone. Workers are plentiful and easy to replace. Maybe we should recalculate the risk assessments for the rest of the world.

      • How is a report that uses highly inflated and undocumented counts of nuclear deaths be “honest and objective”?

      • MarkW, it seems that a terrorist in possession of nuclear materials is a bigger threat to himself than others from a radiation dosage perspective…

      • Markw @ 2.54 Which part used inflated nuclear deaths? Unless you mean the first part which was (as far as I can tell ) taken from the “Guardian” news paper. And not Andy’s report. I could be wrong but I thought Andy wrote his answer in support of nuclear power.

      • Markw
        “The only reason why terrorists with nuclear materials is a problem at all is because of the irrational fear so many people have of radiation.”
        And an irrational fear of terrorists. The US kills far more of it’s own with guns (around 10,000 a year) than any terrorist is going to manage. Still Trumps loves guns and hates terrorists…. go figure. I’m not saying terrorists don’t cause problems, but their impact is pale compared the slaughter that is homicide by shooting.

      • Chernobyl was NOT an accident. Prior to a shutdown the experienced first shift was going to do experiments on the reactor trying to make the reactor do things it was not designed to do. The night before the man in charge of the less experienced 2nd shift took it upon himself to do these experiments and to do so all safety measures that would automatically shut the reactor down in case of problems were disabled. It was not an accident, it was not a faulty reactor or design, it was plain old human stupidity gone out of control. People rant on about Chernobyl but never take the time to learn the true story.
        In the case of Fukushima it is supposedly the loss of power to the cooling pumps and the plant that created the situation. TEPCO located the backup generators down by the water behind a seawall. Thus they were put out of action with the surge. TEPCO had been ordered to move the generators to higher ground but never did. They also did not have a backup plan in case the generators did not work. It seemed to me as the disaster unfolded that everything TEPCO did was based on an analysis of the situation and took the cheapest alternative at every step not the best. The US offered it’s best experts and TEPCO refused possibly fearing a loss of face. The whole disaster was started by the Tsunami but it was the incompetence of TEPCO then and up until today that created this mess. Again, human stupidity.

      • I love the way trolls are so hung up on guns.
        If you aren’t a gang banger or suicidal, you have nothing to fear from guns.

      • This discussion should include the Plutonium bombs that the US dropped on a small village Spain in 1966. It was a mid-air collision including a B-52. I believe 2 of the bombs exploded as they were designed if not armed: To disperse the Pu so that the bomb cannot be reused by someone finding it. Nobody on the ground was hurt, and the Americans had several hundred people there cleaning up.

      • I feel strongly that any such discussion of the safety or danger of nuclear power should include some reference to what is now known about radiation hormesis, and the implications this affect has on projections of cancer deaths from low level radiation exposure.
        In fact, people exposed to non-fatal levels of radiation have less incidence of cancers compared to people with no such exposure.
        The majority of the public is still completely oblivious of this finding, and making it a part of the common knowledge could go a long way towards dispelling the irrational fear of radiation and all things “nuclear”.

      • Found this from the UK business insider:
        According to a March 2011 data analysis by reporter Phil McKenna at New Scientist, dams may be among the riskier power sources in the world. The magazine compiled data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the International Energy Agency, and other sources. The analysis calculated the immediate and later deaths that occurred for every 10 terrawatt-hours (TWh) of power generated globally — as a point of contrast, the world makes about 20,000 TWh of electrical power a year. The data give a range of deaths for each type of power, but the ranking consistently places hydroelectric power as more deadly than nuclear energy and natural gas:
        • Nuclear — 0.2 to 1.2 deaths per 10 TWh (least deadly)
        • Natural gas — 0.3-1.6 deaths per 10 TWh
        • Hydroelectric — 1.0-1.6 deaths per 10 TWh
        • Coal — 2.8 to 32.7 deaths per 10 TWh (most deadly)

    • ” More people died at Deepwater Horizon than died at Three Mile Island.”
      I remember the slogans:
      “More people died in Ted Kennedy’s car than died at Three Mile Island.”
      Latest score:” Chappaquiddick 1 Harrisburg 0″

    • Your trivialization and none negative reporting of the effects of the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster diminishes to zero the perceived value of anything you have to say.
      Only .5% of the energy in uranium is extracted.
      [“None negative reporting” ?? .mod]

      • Mod – see what you mean… but to explain…None negative reporting – there are a lot of terrible consequences – negatives to associate with the nuclear aspect of the accident – none were mentioned.

      • N, three points. 1. Fukushima was an (in hindsight) improperly designed and sited gen 1. Its sister gen 2 Fukushima Daini complex just 10 km away shut safely after the earthquake. 2. There have been no,deaths or injuries from radiation despite the mess. Japanese officials over reacted, both to Fukushima Daichi and generally.
        That a low percentage of uranium energy is extracted is a food reason to research gen 4 designs, not give up.

      • @Leo – Aren’t any? Really.
        It is only right to acknowledge (that there are) serious aspects of nuclear disaster in the debate. To claim/say/suggest no one died so nuclear is ok just diminishes respect for the author of that comment. The case for nuclear is strong, very strong, on nearly all the facts/comparisons. But a disaster has many aspects and a balanced argument would acknowledge these.

      • @ristvan. Acknowledged. My point was more about the fact that there are serious consequences when something does go wrong. Radiation release, land, sea, nature, food, housing contaminated for decades, 1000’s of people lose their homes towns livelihoods . To just say no one died from radiation does not do the issue justice.

      • I’ve always supported nuclear power – properly built. But if anyone takes Tepco/Japanese Gov. (they are one an the same) stats on this story at face value, they you should all be part of the fabled 97%… Was there a single piece of truth they did admit to without skeptics first making it impossible to do otherwise?? Just sayin…

      • N, your point is well taken. But of that sort of incident, there are exactly 2: Chernobyl and Fukushima. Chernobyl,was bad. The thing should never have been built, and the erringnoowrators paid with their lives. Fukushima is harder, because al lot ofbthe anciliary costs seem due to Japanese over reaction from what I have read. Since notbthere, hard to know for sure. No doubt the site is a disaster that will take decades to clean up. But that workers are there cleaning up raises real questions about the possible over reaction in the surrounding countryside for many kilometers.

      • “It is only right to acknowledge (that there are) serious aspects of nuclear disaster in the debate. To claim/say/suggest no one died so nuclear is ok just diminishes respect for the author of that comment. The case for nuclear is strong, very strong, on nearly all the facts/comparisons. But a disaster has many aspects and a balanced argument would acknowledge these.”

        Double talk.
        A) No one died. period.
        B) Radioactivity released, very little.
        C) Radiation injuries are virtually nil.
        D) Permanent, in human terms, radiation; contained within the reactor.
        Few of your claims are clearly stated; leaving readers confused.
        Your accusations, inclarity and slurs are without documentation and frankly are not supported by any official or expert reports.
        Leaving your confusing series of words vague, contradictory and without basis.
        The author above performed an admirable job of reporting on an article published in the Guardian.
        After reading Guardian’s rationale and cause descriptions for what they term accidents, I remain completely unconcerned.

      • This article seems to contradict itself. Nuclear is the worst of sources nuclear is the best of sources. Then the death rate for a year of wind farms is tallied higher than two generations of nuclear power. And that Guardian article listing all nuclear accidents not only those concerning nuclear energy. Are we supposed to include accidents with medical equipment or in radioisotope labs, or accidents that occurred in producing U-235 and Pu-239 for bombs. How are these relevant? Surely the many lives saved by the use of radioisotopes is on the plus side. More demonization of nuclear power is throwing away one of the great promises. With breeder reactors producing more fuel than they consume using 50 tonnes of fuel over a 50 year life cycle. So little waste with actinide depletion that it could be stored in the volume of second bedroom. Energy for the entire world for more than 10000 years with present proven resources. Research the perils and promise of nuclear but look beyond the Guardian.

      • @ athrok – Not sure who/what am dealing with here
        – please tick ‘I am not a Robot’ or ‘I am Human’
        Just to pick one point ref B & D, radioactivity released was huge and via contaminated water most of which went straight into the sea.
        I made one point about the reporting, that’s all. Anyone who can click a mouse can find ‘Fukushima disaster’ and, tho’ thankfully no-one has been reported to have died, from radiation, see the disaster was real. I merely wanted due respect/acknowledgement that it was a disaster, balanced reporting. When someone brushes this disaster off with ‘no one died’, I am not inclined to read/trust the rest of what they have to say.
        I am for nuclear, especially Thorium MS when it gets here. Taking the ‘disaster’ aspects of the various power generation mechanisms and the numbers who died, I think nuclear comes out very well.
        You might check the criticisms you cast at me against your own comment. The original point I made goes for you too, I think.

      • “Only .5% of the energy in uranium is extracted.”
        Actually. About 5% of the U-235/Pu 239 in the fuel rods used in existing (mostly Gen 2) water cooled reactors, fissions before the rods must be replaced. A rational response to that fact would be to recycle and reprocess the rods which would reduce the amount of high level waste by a factor of about 20. This is what they do in France.
        Our problem is that the genius “nuclear engineer” President Carter decided to abandon that process and shut down all attempts at building a recycling plant in the US. His partisans, like the Thief Harry Reid, then conducted a 30 year campaign to block the building of a high level waste repository. They object to the storage facility on the grounds that it might leak thousands of years from now. In fact, the future of any such repository is that the fuel rods will be removed and reprocessed for the for use in a small span of years. As soon as the idiocy of anti-nuclearism and environmentalism decays to its background level.

      • Neillusion,
        Fair points, but it also bears mentioning that the non-nuclear related effects of the earthquake and subsequent tsunami that hit Fukishima were far greater than the nuclear related effects. Meaning, loss of life, injuries, property damage, etc, from the earthquake/tsunami were the real story. Not the fairly benign release of radiation to the surroundings resulting from, ultimately (iirc) the diesel tanks washing away (not the generators, as is often cited).
        With regards to the seawater release, which, btw, does continue to this day, the effects have yet to be determined. And, not to trivialize it, but imprecise descriptors like “huge” aren’t necessarily fair or accurate either.
        Finally, and this applies to the conversation in general, we fundamentally have a catch-22 of sorts. The current prohibitive costs of nuclear power are, in large part, due to burdensome regulations…which we complain about as hindering the industry. These regulations dictate everything from siting studies, seismic and other probabilistic risk assessments, redundant safety system designs, over-engineered components, and astronomical quantities of concrete (a surprisingly significant % of the cost of a new reactor).
        But, out of the other side of our mouth, we fiercely argue that every significant event/accident is due to human error, design deficiency, or both. All of which are the very reason for these burdensome regulations. So, we can’t honestly claim the safety of nuclear power and argue against costly regulations. The two, largely, go hand in hand. And that, fundamentally, is the problem.
        At the end of the day, despite a VERY motivated industry, the costs are still too prohibitive for the very smart and creative, and often well-funded, lovers of nuclear to make a solid case for new reactors. (Certain exceptions notwithstanding.)

      • “Neillusion February 21, 2017 at 1:34 am
        @ athrok – Not sure who/what am dealing with here
        – please tick ‘I am not a Robot’ or ‘I am Human’
        Just to pick one point ref B & D, radioactivity released was huge and via contaminated water most of which went straight into the sea.
        I made one point about the reporting, that’s all. Anyone who can click a mouse can find ‘Fukushima disaster’ and, tho’ thankfully no-one has been reported to have died, from radiation, see the disaster was real. I merely wanted due respect/acknowledgement that it was a disaster, balanced reporting. When someone brushes this disaster off with ‘no one died’, I am not inclined to read/trust the rest of what they have to say.
        I am for nuclear, especially Thorium MS when it gets here. Taking the ‘disaster’ aspects of the various power generation mechanisms and the numbers who died, I think nuclear comes out very well.
        You might check the criticisms you cast at me against your own comment. The original point I made goes for you too, I think.”

        Illusionary neil:
        “Just to pick one point ref B & D, radioactivity released was huge and via contaminated water most of which went straight into the sea”
        Straw man distraction. Without documentation, it is simply your claim.
        Searches for anything Fukushima and nuclear bring up many spurious claims. Your suggestion to mouse click is bogus.
        The relevant government agencies, which are still involved, have searched extensively and meticulously. Their results prove all claims of oceanic disaster are false.
        You fail to make any point in your earlier comments. Your writing rambles through fragmented sentences, jumping subjects without providing clarity.
        The Guardian is responsible for it’s own reporting, though most will agree that the Guardian is heavily biased progressive left; which means the Guardian posits Fukushima as much of a disaster that they can prove.
        Your inclination to read/not read is solely yours. The authors here and most commenters have established their credibility over years.
        Andy May, whose article brought us the report about Guardian’s article, is quite reputable and reliable. His research tends toward meticulous and extensive.
        Disagreement with article claims here, in general, require the commenter to provide proof for their personal opinions and claims. If articles here counter your opinions or beliefs, it means you need to check your sources assiduously, not flail and hand wave accusatory words here.
        You provide copious noisy disconnected blather, but zero proof. Proof needs to be explicit, definitive and from reliable sources.
        ‘Tu quoque’, is not a reply nor a rebuttal; beyond the third grade bully stage. It is rather pitiful that you resort to such responses in what should be a learned converse.

    • except for hydroelectric power…
      No different…either one, if not built correctly..like Chernobyl or Lake Oroville..it’s the same

    • Crosspatch
      You are right, all the obstacles and challenges of nuclear power are completely artificial – they are there because of policies and choices society has made. Not based on physical reality.
      The challenges Andy lists are all addressed in third and fourth generation reactor designs, if they will only be given a chance by rational policy making:
      Capital costs are reduced
      Modular design makes dealing with radioactive waste cheaper and easier
      Passive safety makes criticality and meltdown virtually impossible
      Proliferation risk from actinides is substantially reduced

    • I doubt those organic bean sprouts and cantaloupe will be responsible 4000 premature deaths due to cancer or a 1000 sq mi exclusion zone.

    • How can an article on nuclear safety be written without mention of the safety record of the navies around the world? These bouncing, jostling powerplants have been operating for 60 years, and as far as I know, there has been only one nuclear incident, involving a Russian (of course) sub.

  2. If only Green frustration of anything nuclear (keeping Europe dependent on Russian gas and oil) would allow the development of nuclear waste burning reactors like the Copenhagen Atomics proposal.
    “The primary purpose of the reactor will be to destroy Plutonium and actinides from nuclear waste through transmutation and fission. Therefore Thorium will be used instead of Uranium, to avoid breeding new transuranic elements and to avoid enrichment of Uranium. None of the isotopes produced in the reactor can be used for atomic bombs in any meaningful way.”

    • From the article above: “Besides generating waste, thorium reactors are a nuclear proliferation threat, as discussed by Ashley, et al., 2012 in Nature. This is because one of the waste products is 233U and 8 kg of 233U is enough for a nuclear weapon.”
      Clearly the author simply wants to dismiss liquid salt reactors. The waste they create is minuscule compared to solid state reactors. And he is wrong, U-233 cannot be used in a bomb as it is too radioactive and would advertise its presence to the word as well as probably kill those trying to build it as well as breakdown the electronics needed to make the bomb happen.

      • Jim,
        So what other issues with coal have not yet been addressed? And if you say CO2, then GONG, you get the hook.

      • I suspect that _Jim is either a troll who’s only objective is to sidetrack the conversation, or he actually is as dumb as he makes himself sound.

      • “So what other issues with coal have not yet been addressed?”
        How about the emission of thousands of tons of radioactive C14 every year?

      • Hivemind,
        OK, that’s ture, but pretty innocuous. C14 is a low level beta emitter and is a common, naturally occurring element. The total estimated exposure to C14 from all sources is about 1mrem/yr. The proportion due to C14 releases from coal plants isn’t even measurable. To put it in perspective, your increased exposure to living at high altitude (like Denver) is many times higher. Even moderate air travel is a greater exposure. So it’s a non-problem.

    • _Jim February 20, 2017 at 1:05 pm
      “Only a portion of the overall ‘issue’, then, has been addressed.”
      OK, so which portion of the overall ‘issue’ has NOT been addressed ??

  3. Almost all the problems with siting and building a new nuclear power plant are due to government regulations and fear whipped up by green organizations. Natural gas electrical generation would be too expensive it if took 30 years and several redesigns along the way to build one! And we have a storage site for “spent” fuel, but the green activists saw that it was never approved for use, even after spending billions of rate-payer dollars (in the form of fees) building it. And the government is still collecting those fees! Even though they have reneged on their promise to build and open this site.

    • Hear Hear. If you exaggerate the dangers, lie about the death toll, and generally make people panic,, you can justify draconian ‘safety regulations’ and ensure that insurance is massively expensive by specifying ridiculous decontamination criteria for trivial releases.
      Use of legislation based on public perception, engendered by faux nuclear news, such as this article is based on, is the commercial way to suppress nuclear power -0 eh only real rivall to Big OIl.
      Nearly every ‘fact quoited in this article is disingenuous at best, or at worst a simple lie.

    • I love the way the activists use legal shenanigans and political dirty tricks in order to make nuclear more expensive. Then they turn around and tell us, in a oh so reasonable voice, we have to abandon nuclear because it’s too expensive.

  4. The risk of nuclear power is far less than hydroelectricity. When the Banqiao Dam failed in China in 1975:
    90,000 – 230,000 people died as a result of the break.
    To protect other dams from failure, several flood diversion areas were evacuated and inundated, and
    several dams were deliberately destroyed by air strikes to release water in desired directions.
    26,000 people died at the province from flooding and
    another 145,000 died during subsequent epidemics and famine.
    about 5,960,000 buildings collapsed, and 11 million residents were displaced
    Given the cost of nuclear disasters seems to be in today’s money, let me translate this too:
    5.96 million buildings. Let’s say $100k each = $596 bn
    4 major dams. Let’s say $5 billion each = $20 bn
    90,000 people = $2m each = $180 bn
    Notice how I deliberately undervalued everything ignoring the cost of handling 11 million displaced persons?
    Total damage at least $800 bn

  5. In 1962 the AEC recommend to JFK to build all civilian nuclear plants using the ORNL Molten Salt Reactor design due to it’s inherent low-pressure safety; It can’t blow up, melt down and walk away safe due to its gravity drain cooling tanks with a freeze plug.
    MSRs will be 1/3 the cost due to no pressure domes, 70-150 atmosphere plumbing, triple redundant cooling and power backup systems.
    Thorium breeding isn’t a proliferation problem, they tried to make a nuclear bomb with 233, it was a failure as weapon material and the active radiation is high enough to not be useful for a terror dirty bomb attack.

    • The U-233 bomb worked. Not as well as U-235 and Pu-239 bombs, but they hadn’t as much experience with U-233. So U-233 is a proliferation risk; as are U-235 and Pu-239.
      On the plus side, I’d argue that a thorium molten salt reactor can be designed to leave almost no transuranic waste. All the fuel could be burnt up leaving only fission products. Atom bombs can’t be made from fission products. Both the US and Israeli military did studies showing dirty bombs are no military threat – just a psychological one. For U-235, after 300 years only 21% of the fission products remain as long term waste with half-lifes between 200k and 15 million years. The situation should be similar for U-233. This kind of material is not a threat.
      In proliferation terms, waste fuel of a thorium molten salt reactor can represent best practice. None of it can make a fission bomb. In contrast, existing light water reactors leave about 22 tonnes of spent fuel each year per Gigawatt reactor. All of that spent fuel contains 0.8% Pu-239. About 1.8 tonnes of Pu-239 per GW reactor, per year. Despite being contaminated with Pu-240 and Pu-241 it is possible to make fission bombs with impure plutonium. Not good bombs, but way more harmful than so-called ‘dirty bombs‘. In UK we built a reprocessing plant to extract plutonium from spent Magnox fuel. The plant is not economically viable. It appears to have been made just to clean the Magnox waste. It will shut when there is no more Magnox spent fuel to reprocess. Naturally, that’s not the ‘official story‘. The official story has it this reprocessing plant was built to make money. Of all reactors built Magnox has the cleanest plutonium, so was the greatest proliferation threat. That didn’t stop us selling a couple of reactors to Italy and Japan.
      The present practice of leaving vast amounts of spent fuel is far more of a proliferation threat than a best practice thorium molten salt reactor would be.
      Finally, reprocessing thorium molten salt reactor fuel should be far cheaper than the current PUREX process. If we can reign in the crazy regulators, it will be safe and profitable.

      • The Magnox reprocessing plant at Sellafield was never built to make money. It was built to extract plutonium from the Windscale Piles and later from the Calder Hall reactors in a race to explode a nuclear bomb. It has been used since to reprocess fuel from the other UK Magnox reactors.and those from Italy and Japan. Another reprocessing plant, the Thermal Oxide Reprocessing Plant (THORP) was built at Sellafield to reprocess oxide fuel mainly from reactors in Japan, Germany and Swizerland as well as the UK AGR and PWR reactors. This was built as a commercial venture and at the time of its completion in 1994 cost-plus contracts had been signed for over 10,000 tonnes of fuel. A full report on the history of the Thorp plant appeared in the April 1994 edition of Atomwirtschaft Atomtechnik.

      • Do we have a hint as to who the new head of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission will be? That’s a presidential appointment.

      • U233 id going to be contaminated with U232 as will all the other U products in a thorium molten salt reactor as it is way to difficult to separate U232 isotopically. U232 is a high deadly gamma emitter and no one can work around it.

  6. Mr. May, you obviously did a lot of research for your article and it includes many facts which show that nuclear power is the best source of energy production for the U.S. and how regulation artificially excludes it from the energy market. Overall, nevertheless, your article’s potential to mislead FAR outweighs any good it might do.

    There are two big problems here. The first is a perceived danger to the public,…

    Yes. And your erroneous writing (despite all the truth sprinkled throughout) loaded with misleadingly inaccurate qualifiers is only exacerbating that public irrational (in the U.S.) fear:
    (this is not an exhaustive list — just a couple of examples)
    1. may or may not {be a significant danger}
    This qualifier is nonsensical in the U.S. there is such a lack of facts to support it.
    2. … some claim it is the safest source of energy in the U.S. But, worldwide, the economic cost (worldwide total: $177B) of nuclear accidents is higher than for any other energy source and nuclear power is less safe than all other sources of energy
    This comparison is disingenuous — “the world” and “the U.S.” are far too different for such a comparison to be any rational basis for making a decision. And you lead off with this monstrosity of inaccuracy in the opening paragraph!
    Come now, Mr. May. You are better than that.

    • Janice, Sorry you don’t like the wording, I worked very hard on it due to the complexity of the subject and the wide diversity of informed opinions I saw researching the article. Nuclear is everything from the savior of the world to the world’s biggest disaster. What I quickly realized is the problem is probably not safety. People can and do work the safety numbers however they wish, but mostly nuclear is OK if done well. The problems were 1) careless handling of radioactive materials and poor maintenance and 2) the long permitting process, regulatory delays and construction times. 1) might still be a problem, not sure. 2) nothing will happen unless this is fixed. I think I adequately covered the diverse opinions out there – but it might come across as confusing, because it is not clear to me who is right on either safety or costs of incidents.

      • Andy,
        Number 1 is primarily a problem outside the US. The only issue in the US in this regard is the refusal to open Yucca Mountain despite the fact that the US government is required by law to provide a long term nuclear waste repository, and is in fact still collecting fees to do so. If a company were in such obvious breech of the law, it would have been shut down by now and the head(s) put in jail. Number 2 can be easily fixed by Congress, but they are cowards. It seems the only things they are afraid of is being labeled a Trump supporter, a racist/bigot, or a supporter of Nuclear Energy.
        The truth is that we are in an inter-glacial period and eventually the ice will return. It is just a matter of time. And if it returns anytime in the next 100 years or so, we will need some form of nuclear energy to survive. Even then, the tropics will not be able to support the current population. We will need some place else to go, so let’s quite kidding ourselves and for the sake of future generations stop holding back energy production for the “sake of the planet”, otherwise the planet will kill us.

      • “…the fact that the US government is required by law to provide a long term nuclear waste repository…”
        Did not know this. Looks like there is room for collusion lawsuit against government … sue, settle, take a cut for the newly established [and make believe] “SAFE” (safe and for everyone) energy coalition, a 501c3 non-profit organization.
        Start working on standing, and then researching good jurisdiction decisions.
        And If things go well you can negotiate an “efficient” settlement that then leads to other more lucrative lawsuits in the future.

      • Don M…plenty of lawsuits and settlements have already occurred…essentially, the government (DOE) is now paying the cost of onsite storage of spent fuel at commercial nuclear plants. Every nuclear plant pays fees (I.e. a part of your electric) to fund the NRC and to pay for the long term storage/disposal site (Yucca Mountain)…they will continue to pay for onsite storage until they complete the long term storage/disposal site…btw, utilities have paid in over $25 billion towards the long term site…

      • One correction, if I may: It is expected that Thorium MS Reactors will eventually consume most of the fuel. An added benefit is the use of U235 waste to generate the reaction, thus using up our waste U235. A third benefit is the fail safe design with a freeze plug and automatic dispersal of the reaction if a “runaway” occurs or other operating problems. Another benefit is the MSR’s can be made much smaller so (fail safe) reactors can be built near towns or cities reducing the transmission network.
        SINAP sees molten salt fuel being superior to the TRISO fuel in effectively unlimited burn-up, less waste, and lower fabricating cost, but achieving lower temperatures (600°C+) than the TRISO fuel reactors (1200°C+).

    • Here are a few points:
      The public has been educated to equate nuclear power plants with nuclear bombs.
      One of the reasons why there were costs overruns at Diablo Canyon and Hanford was faulty engineering – I seem to recall that one unit was built backwards. Also the high cost of the overruns what exacerbated by short term borrowing rates being above 10% in the early 80’s.
      More recently, SCE’s nuclear power plant at San Onofre was closed down due the faulty maintenance.
      Most nuclear power plants in the US were built over 35 years ago. Technology has improved.
      Comparing Chernoblyl to a modern nuclear plant is like comparing a Yugo to a Lexus.

      • I agree. Nuclear power plants vary a lot around the world. The worst incidents were in Russia, Argentina and Turkey. One reason I worded Janice’s last complaint the way I did. If nuclear plant components were more standardized, things would be far better.

  7. What would fission power plants cost without the lawfare from the devout anti-nuclear advocates? Given the time value of money, delays are expensive, and much of the cost is due to endless appeal of the byzantine approval process in the US, and currently in Europe.
    Some of the problems in the US are a holdover from the malevolently mischievous administration of Jimmy Carter, who banned reprocessing of spent fuel in the US to set a good example on proliferation. Carter did not seem to care that no country has used reprocessed power plant fuel to create a bomb, either before or since, but his policy remains in place. This gives the anti-nuclear advocates the talking point that spent fuel remains dangerous for a very long time, and there is no means of “safe” disposal.

    • The estimates I have read are from a third to a half less. Not so much actual plant construction as all the time delays, permit lawyering, legal,challenges, and other soft construction overhead costs.

      • IIRC, another problem with the construction/permitting process was the lack of standardized design, where the regulators were requiring a one-off design for each plant.

      • Over-regulation doubles or trebles the cost of nuclear power plant construction. Cost at Kudankulam, India, of 2 × 1GWe nukes = $2.57 bn ~ $1.3bn each. Optimistic cost in UK to build 1 AP1000 (1.15 GWe) = $5 bn. Cost in China to build something similar to AP1000 ~ $2bn.
        The important point about nuclear power plant safety is we now know what can go wrong now and how to stop it. Expecting the same nuclear disasters today because decades ago the Soviet Union built a badly designed power plant, run with a ridiculously high positive void of 4.5 (so: unstable / hard to control), no outer containment, operated by badly trained personnel. Then: in between shifts they ran an unscheduled emergency shutdown ‘test‘. That kind of cowboy operation will never be seen again – regulators or none.

      • Another point is that what do we do about the fact that over regulation and lawfare are making nuclear power way more expensive than necessary.
        From his comments in this post, it seems to me that the author of this article feels that we should just admit defeat and give up on nuclear power.

  8. I’m going to mention this just once – SunCell; debuting in a ‘test’ on Feb 28th (sans the PV assembly) about a week out. Conduct your own due diligence accordingly going forward on how this may effect ‘conventional’ generation resources..

    • So let me get this straight Jim: some solar cell startup company is doing a public trial minus the solar photovoltaic cell?

      • SlyRik February 20, 2017 at 1:02 pm
        I think he means …
        We could do w/o the slander on NO factual basis other than ‘wild hairs’; meanwhile DO you own due diligence. If you lack the ability to evaluate emerging technology then stay OUT of the market and stay OUT of the discussion. If you THINK it is a scam, It IS as simple as that to avoid ‘falling prey’.

      • SlyRik February 20, 2017 at 1:02 pm
        I think he means …
        We could do w/o the s l a n d e r on NO factual basis other than ‘wild hairs’; meanwhile DO you own due diligence. If you lack the ability to evaluate emerging technology then stay OUT of the market and stay OUT of the discussion. If you THINK it is a s c a m, It IS as simple as that to avoid ‘falling prey’.

      • From Wikipedia… (yeh iknow but the quote is verifiable)
        “Critics say it lacks corroborating scientific evidence, and is a relic of cold fusion. Critical analysis of the claims have been published in the peer reviewed journals Physics Letters A, New Journal of Physics, Journal of Applied Physics, and Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics. These works note that the proposed theory is inconsistent with quantum mechanics, and that the proposed hydrino states are unphysical and incompatible with key equations that have been experimentally verified many times.”
        duy diligent enough??

      • SlyRik February 20, 2017 at 1:23 pm
        From Wikipedia …
        A MOST reputable source.
        (If you note, moron, THEY can’t even CORRECTLY state Mills’ CV, so DOUBLE FAIL.)
        Qui habet aures audiendi, audiat.

      • -Jim, this is the latest reincarnation of Randy Mills hydrino scam. Right there on the front page of the website. I eviscerated 3 previous incarnations plus his supposed underlying physics theory as an illustrated example in The Arts of Truth. The theory is gobbeldygook; for example, the math is not Lorenz invariant, a requirement for this universe. This is a long running scam that has already cost gullible investors in previous reincarnations (Blacklight Power, Catalyst Induced Hydrino Transition (CIHT) electricity generation, 1000 mpg from water cars…) over $60 million at the time (2012) I wrote the book. You need to do more due diligence, and stop hyping an obvious con here.

      • ooo oooo oooo being called amoron by someone I have never met on the internet… oooOOOOoo that hurts…
        (do I need the /sarc tag???)
        put your money where your mouth is … remortgage your house and sink all your savings into it.. 😀

      • ristvan February 20, 2017 at 1:34 pm
        this is the latest reincarnation of …
        You’re not credible on this subject anymore, restvan.
        Your ‘work’ is *dated* and was on dated material, and DOES NOT take into account nor reflect ANY experiential work (WHICH I take it you REFUSE to examine) since then.
        ‘nuf said.
        AS I wrote above, “I’m going to mention this just once” and to which I would add: Qui habet aures audiendi, audiat.
        To others I would advise DO YOUR OWN DUE DILIGENCE.

      • -Jim, anything having to with Mills and hydrinos is not dated. There is no such thing as a hydrino, and that information is timeless. So there can be no credible experiment comcerning them—unless you assert that all of quantum physics, with its myriad experimentally proven predictions (including the quantum base state for hydrogen, the only atom for which the Schroedinger wave equation can be solved exactly) is wrong. That assertion is part of how you can determine Mills is running a delusional con. Your indignation says you either did not do due diligence (you would not be alone), are a shill, or both.

      • ristvan, it’s beginning to sound as if _Jim is in on the scam or is somehow hoping to recoup his investment.

      • If you lack the ability to evaluate emerging technology

        1878: Augustin Mouchot displayed a solar power generator at the Universal Exhibition in Paris. 5 years later in 1883 there was a rooftop PV solar array built by Charles Fritts on the rooftop of 42 Nassau Street, NY.
        How can 139 year old technology be called ‘emerging‘?

    • Everything that _Jim says is 100% truth except that the plan is to have the ‘test’ on February 29th for the next 3 years.

      • To: SlyRik
        Perhaps reading comprehension is not your strong suite? NOTE the opening line: “I’m going to mention this just once”.
        Anthony’s blog on an off-topic is not the place for this. I do this out of respect for Anthony and WUWT. Qui habet aures audiendi, audiat.

      • With all due respect you opened the topic so must expect some response.. as for your latin.. I’m deaf not daft unlike some on here
        finally has anyone ever met anyone with their head shoved so far up their own rectum he doesn’t know from which orifice he speaks?? reading comprehension wha??

      • re Jim
        At least he’s (probably) not Griff. This whole troll thing has me guessing that folks who live long-term in their mother’s basement are congenitally cranky and don’t develop the ability to interact with anything other than a keyboard.
        But I digress:
        I’m in awe of Jim’s powers of persuasion (an uncharitable few might say the thinness of Jim’s skin is only exceeded by that of the logic in his arguments). Couple of Jim’s antics befuddle me:
        1) His espoused respect for WUWT and staying on topic, yet he’s taken us off topic, but at least Jim promised to only say it once (I guess that makes it ok, ya know, because Jim says so).
        2) I gave up impressing people with my Latin in the 7th grade
        So, Jim, I’m only going to say this once: cuius cerebro cogitet. Oh yea, and adios.

      • So _jim is only going to mention this once, but I think he has mentioned it at least three times so far.

    • Jim,
      I’ve been watching these people for a long time produce nothing practical, so I’m skeptical. But we will see in 8 days time if they finally have something useful to show. If not, then it is just another failure in a long series.

    • _Jim February 20, 2017 at 1:59 pm
      “To others I would advise DO YOUR OWN DUE DILIGENCE.”
      As one of the “others”, why? If it works it works. Period. No need to get testy and call people names. Are you trying to get people to invest in it? If you have invested, and have faith in it, great. You will get to laugh all the way to the bank.
      Your remarks appear panicky as if the lack of enthusiasm by some commentators here will jinx it.
      If you have invested in this enterprise and a lack of agreement to it’s utility by some people here causes you this level of anxiety, perhaps you might consider a reassessment.
      Best of luck

  9. My neighbour explained the dangers of nuclear to me in some detail. Droned on for a considerable period of time about all the different cancers it can cause, and how that justifies laws that prevent people from being exposed to such awful substances.
    Then she calmly lit a cigarette…

    • DH, it is true that the dangers of nuclear power have been overstated. And it is also truemthatnthe consequences have worsened nuclear generation economics. But it was never good even before 3 Mile Island. See comment below.

    • “Then she calmly lit a cigarette…”
      This is a risk when working in nuclear power. I was representing my church at convention (near TMI). My minister introduced me to an NRC employee thinking we had a common interest. A woman overheard this and jumped into the conversation with the usual anti-nuke rant. The NRC guy declined to comment as it would be a conflict of interest which it would have been. If the question had been raised at a public meeting he could have provided the NRC position.
      Her wrath to me. I declined to answer because it was neither the time or place. She continued to badger me. Even after others pointed out I did not want to argue about nuclear power at a church function. Finally I gave in, telling her that I can explian risk to someone with a drink in one hand, a cigarette in the other, with a deep suntan, wearing high heels.

    • ROFL. Reminds me of my ‘green’ sister decades ago getting very incensed when I told her that Germany actually had lots of nuclear power plants (she lives there). As we drove down the autobahn she was getsici8lating and getting hysterical about ‘the danger it represented to her children’ who were sitting bemused in the back seat.
      I mildly pointed out that in fact the greatest danger to her children was being driven down the autobahn by a hysterical woman at 130km/h with no seat belts worn by them.
      Things went very quiet….for a while

  10. A major consideration that is constantly overlooked is where they are currently located, and where they are building new ones. Also the location of waster storage.
    Most are located where the ice sheet in the next ice age will cover. Given the number of them, the reluctance for anyone to act swiftly in decomissioning, The cost, the long time period required to decomission and the available specialists poses a huge risk. They can be built to the highest spec, but it wont match a 3 km high moving ice sheet.
    This interglacial is well advanced, with some specialists recently predicting that an ice age is imminent. Those that have studied ice ages will know that things can change fast. Access to them may be a problem.
    Again there is little focus on any future climate movement, as its only going to warm according to the AGW crowd.
    Crazy ??? – we will see

    • Even if a new ice age were to start, it would take hundreds of years for the ice sheets to reach the places where nuclear plants are located.
      That gives plenty of time for decomissioning and cleanup. Your irrational panicking is noted and duly ridiculed.

      • MarkW
        Not irrational, no panicking. Comment only. Your ridicule unwarranted.
        It may take years (number unknown, unless you have data to the contrary) for the ice sheet to build to that height, but these places may become very difficult to access and work in.

      • We may not know the exact number of years it would take for ice sheets miles high to form, but our experience with mountain glaciers, the Greenland ice sheets, and the Antarctic ice sheets tells us it will be many decades and probably hundreds of years. Plenty of time to decommission the nuclear plants. On the other hand, if we don’t get going now to build up our energy technology, old nuclear plants getting bulldozed by the ice sheets will be the least of our worries.

      • ozonebust February 20, 2017 at 1:15 pm
        These are nuke power plants remember? Just get some big space heaters and long extension cords……
        michael :->

      • Plus I don’t think the ice would survive the waste heat from the plant. Should cure the cooling issue though.:-)

    • “Your ridicule unwarranted.”
      MarkW was being too nice. Stupid and clueless fits better for ozone.

  11. “4,231 fatalities due to nuclear accidents”
    Misleading. How many fatalities from commercial nuclear power plants?

    • That number is from Sovacool, 2008, where it is explained. I read it here: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/263253304_Questioning_the_Safety_and_Reliability_of_Nuclear_Power_An_Assessment_of_Nuclear_Incidents_and_Accidents
      on page 96. The title of the key paper is “The costs of failure: A preliminary assessment of major energy accidents, 1907-2007” Published in Energy Policy. Of the 4,231 killed, 4,056 were at the Chernobyl power plant disaster. Of the remainder, 5 at Fukui plant(2004). The rest are transport, careless handling and research.

      • The numbers (4,231 Chernobyl-related deaths and 5 Fukushima-related deaths) are not valid. Deaths that are attributable to Chernobyl disaster are under 100 (most were plant operators and first responders; there were also 20 or so deaths from thyroid cancer in children). There were 0 deaths (attributable to radiation) at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, and no latent cancer deaths distinguishable from background are expected. Simply put, the risks from low-dose/low dose-rate radiation exposure have been highly exaggerated.

      • Over 4,000 of those 4,231 fatalities are inferred (estimated additional cancer deaths from Chernobyl). The direct loss of life in all non-military nuclear accidents since 1945 totals less than 200 people. Most of the deaths, apart from Chernobyl, were the result of radiotherapy and radiography mishaps.
        The verifiable death toll from Chernobyl was less than 30 people, most of whom were fighting the fires…


        According to UNSCEAR (2000), 134 liquidators received radiation doses high enough to be diagnosed with acute radiation sickness (ARS). Among them, 28 persons died in 1986 due to ARS. Other liquidators have since died but their deaths could not necessarily be attributed to radiation exposure.
        An increased number of cancer deaths can be expected during the lifetime of persons exposed to radiation from the accident. Since it is currently impossible to determine which individual cancers were caused by radiation, the number of such deaths can only be estimated statistically using information and projections from the studies of atomic bomb survivors and other highly exposed populations. It should be noted that the atomic bomb survivors received high radiation doses in a short time period, while Chernobyl caused low doses over a long time. This and other factors, such as trying to estimate doses people received some time after the accident, as well as differences in lifestyle and nutrition, cause very large uncertainties when making projections about future cancer deaths. In addition, a significant non-radiation related reduction in the average lifespan in the three countries over the past 15 years caused by overuse of alcohol and tobacco, and reduced health care, have significantly increased the difficulties in detecting any effect of radiation on cancer mortality.
        Although there is controversy about the magnitude of the cancer risk from exposure to low doses of radiation, the US National Academy of Sciences BEIR VII Committee, published in 2006, a comprehensive review of the scientific evidence, and concluded that the risk seems to continue in a linear fashion at lower doses without a threshold (this is called the “linear no-threshold” or LNT model). However, there are uncertainties concerning the magnitude of the effect, particularly at doses much lower than about 100 mSv.
        The Expert Group concluded that there may be up to 4 000 additional cancer deaths among the three highest exposed groups over their lifetime (240 000 liquidators; 116 000 evacuees and the 270 000 residents of the SCZs). Since more than 120 000 people in these three groups may eventually die of cancer, the additional cancer deaths from radiation exposure correspond to 3-4% above the normal incidence of cancers from all causes.

        The worst non-military nuclear accident in history killed 28 people.
        It possibly caused an additional 5,000 cancer deaths out of a population of 5 million people – This is also impossible to verify. It’s almost too small to even measure. It would only represent a 0.6% incremental increase over the expected cancer death rate for that population over the period from 1986-2000.
        The death rate from cancer (neoplasms) was rising in Russia, the Ukraine and Belarus before Chernobyl and continued to rise until 1993…

        How Many People Have Really Been Killed by Chernobyl?
        Why estimates differ by tens of thousands of deaths.
        By Mary Mycio|Posted Friday, April 26, 2013
        When the Chernobyl nuclear reactor exploded in 1986, experts predicted as many as 40,000 extra cancer deaths from the radiation spewed onto parts of what was then the Soviet Union. Friday is the 27th anniversary of the disaster. How many people has Chernobyl killed so far?
        We’ll probably never know. That’s partly because even 40,000 cancer deaths are less than 1 percent of the cancer mortality expected in the affected population. Statistically, the deaths are undetectable. Even if they weren’t, science usually can’t say that a particular cancer was induced by radiation rather than something else.
        One exception is thyroid cancer, a very rare disease in children that skyrocketed to nearly 7,000 cases in Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine by 2005. There is no doubt that radioactivity from Chernobyl caused them, including about a dozen fatalities. We also know that two people died in the explosion and more than 100 people, mostly firefighters ignorant of the dangers, received doses high enough to cause acute radiation syndrome. Of them, 29 died within a few months, followed by 18 more deaths over the years. The group seems to be at higher risk for blood cancers.

        There was no significant change in the slope of the function after Chernobyl.
        While, there is little doubt that Chernobyl did cause some cancer deaths, the impact is statistically undetectable.
        Chernobyl was a really bad accident caused by a fatally flawed reactor design and grossly incompetent operating procedures.
        Fukushima was the next worst accident in nuclear power history. It was caused by a tsunami generated by one of the most powerful earthquakes ever recorded. Its death toll stands at zero-point-zero.

      • Andy
        Repeating a lie is still lying.
        For example, ‘5 at Fukui plant(2004)’, was an example of a problem that has occurred at many steam plants.
        Before you say that the statement was only misleading, that is just another form of lying that shows intent to lie.

    • I agree. I tried to verify that number, and I can’t find supporting information for it. As near as I can figure:
      1) Most of these deaths (~4,000) are estimates from Chernobyl for excess cancer deaths in the region around the plant. The number is likely valid, but it’s hard to condemn an entire industry for terribly shoddy practices in Soviet Russia. Estimates range from 56 direct deaths to 985,000 deaths (a ridiculous figure.)
      2) Several other nuclear disasters in Soviet Russia, both military and civilian are most of the remainder of the total. The 2nd worst disaster was Khyshtom in 1957 with no reliable estimates on deaths. (Submarines K-431, K-27, and K-19 are also serious accidents with a total of 27 deaths and 162 exposed.)
      3) The next worst accidents were a uranium metal fire in Windscale UK (1957) — part of their atomic weapons program (estimated 33 excess cancer deaths) and Fukushima (six employees died and an estimate of 1600 excess deaths reported from “evacuation stress.” — that’s right, the evacuation was worse than the accident.)
      4) There have been many incidents of “radiotherapy deaths” all across the world. For instance, there were 17 deaths in Panama and 13 in Costa Rica. The worst in the United States was in Houston in 1980 with 7 deaths (one year after TMI with 7 more deaths — why didn’t that receive seven times the coverage?)
      5) The worst nuclear accident in the United States was SL-1 in 1961. Three people died.
      So, outside of the Soviet Union, there have been very few commercial nuclear accidents which have created risks to the public since 1961.
      That’s a pretty good track record. However, we should actively pursue an end to radiation therapy. {sarcasm intended.}

      • Think of all the people that get radiation therapy and still die of cancer. Isn’t that a failure of radiation therapy? /sarc just in case

      • “six employees died”
        How did they die?
        Pond scum use personal tragedy to support their sick agenda. They have no concern for safety. One was in a crane when the earthquake occurred. Two drowned because of the tsunami.
        The safest place to be in a natural disaster is working at a nuke.

      • Retired Kit P — the six deaths are Fukushima are still attributed to the use of nuclear power. Not one died from radiation exposure. However, the point I was making is that 1600 people died due to the stress of the evacuation. That’s when you have to wonder about our priorities.

      • Most of these deaths (~4,000) are estimates from Chernobyl for excess cancer deaths in the region around the plant. The number is likely valid

        Those 4,000 deaths are a projection using the no safe dose – linear no threshold model (LNT) for carcinogens. That hypothesis dates back to, at least, the 1920s. I think we know a lot more about radiation, the genome, etc. since then. We even discovered DNA in the intervening years. Since 2015, science officially recognises Nobel prize winners who characterized several DNA repair mechanisms in organisms too. LNT is wrong. 4000 people did not die as a consequence of Chernobyl.
        Here is my transcription of Mohan Doss’ submission to the US NRC, Nuclear Regulatory Commission arguing and presenting evidence for new radiation protection standards. A link to his original (pdf) is also there.

  12. Fission power works great in the US Navy. There is the model to follow.
    And get rid of that Jimmy Carter hobble. He’s got one foot in the grave already…

      • At least five decades by my count. Comparing soviet era fission to PWR is like comparing a Trabant to a Porsche. Both are German but the rift starts right after that fact.

    • Fission power works great in the US Navy. There is the model to follow.

      Indeed – Adm Rickover literally wrote the book on safe operation of nuclear systems and there was no compromise allowed in the personnel or procedures. I’ve always had a bit of a problem allowing public nuclear utilities being run ‘for profit’. If making money is an incentive for the bottom line, safety may be compromised as an acceptable & allowed risk. The US Nuclear Navy does not allow risk to be compromised and it shows in their record of safety.

      • I spent the last 35 years after the navy in commercial nuclear power. About one third of the workers in the commercial nuclear field have a navy background.
        And it ‘shows in their record of safety’ which is perfect. No one has ever been hurt by radiation from a commercial PWR or BWR.

      • One of the costs of business is insurance. Both liability and health.
        One of the best ways to keep both costs down is to operate safely.
        Every place I have ever worked has had yearly, mandatory safety seminars. Additionally, if a manager caught you doing something unsafe you were written up, and fired if it continued.

    • KJ, Navy stuff cannot be ported to civilian use. The reactors use highly enriched uranium (close to weapons grade) and are never refueled. Just buried at Hanford after 20 years operation.

      • I think you may want to check your facts.
        CVNs and Subs have been getting refueled for the last 50 years.
        The newer reactors that last longer do not require refueling but it’s because of improved efficiencies and methodologies.

      • The main reason CVN-65 USS Enterprise can’t be turned into a monument/museum is the fact that they would have to cut open the ship to remove the reactor & fuel. While this can be justified for a mid-life SLEP for a $4 billion (2015 USD) capital warship, it is prohibitively expensive for a museum.

      • ristvan said:

        KJ, Navy stuff cannot be ported to civilian use. The reactors use highly enriched uranium (close to weapons grade) and are never refueled.

        how stupid – of course they can ‘be ported to civilian use’…because they were. Rickover chose the PWR design because it was already established. *ALL* PWR use highly enriched uranium fuel and.of course they are refueled. Follow your own advice concerning Google…

        Navy Refueling involves replacing the reactor, not refueling what is in it. Google is your friend here.

        yes, Google is your friend…when used properly 😉
        In a nuclear-powered ship, the nuclear fuel is essentially a solid inside a reactor core which is inside the ship’s nuclear reactor. Once a reactor core has gone critical, meaning it has been used during a reactor operation, highly radioactive nuclear fission products have formed in the core, and the core has become highly radioactive. Refueling involves taking the expended core out of the reactor and putting in a new core with fresh nuclear fuel.
        I was in the Navy & served on a nuclear ship…please, I thought you were smarter than that…

      • JKrob said:

        *ALL* PWR use highly enriched uranium fuel

        Oooops – my bad. not all PWR use HEU (Highly-Enriched-Uranium)…but it is irrelevant whether HEU vs LEU is used.

      • “Just buried at Hanford after 20 years operation.”
        Spent navy fuel will end up at Yucca Mountain. Activated components like the reactor vessel go to the low level landfill at Hanford.

      • Yucca Mountain was stopped by Obama. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yucca_Mountain_nuclear_waste_repository
        The project was approved in 2002 by the United States Congress, but Federal funding for the site ended in 2011 under the Obama Administration via amendment to the Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, passed on April 14, 2011.[2] The project has had many difficulties and was highly contested by the general public, the Western Shoshone peoples, and many politicians.[3] The Government Accountability Office stated that the closure was for political, not technical or safety reasons.[2]
        This leaves the US government and utilities without any designated long-term storage site for the high-level radioactive waste stored on-site at various nuclear facilities around the country. The US government disposes of transuranic waste at WIPP in New Mexico, in rooms 2,150 feet (660 m) underground.[4]
        My comment here: it is interesting to me, I grew up in Arizona and lived next to the Papago reservation and dumping stuff where the Tribes live is…ahem…well…’not in MY backyard’ stuff.

    • Spent 10 years in the US nuclear navy with my last job being radiation safety officer. No one has been hurt by radiation from the reactor on a US navy ship.
      Just for the record, POTUS Carter entered the nuclear program but left before getting qualified. I am not suggesting they he could not have qualified but he he had dumb ideas about energy.

    • If you have a fire at your power plant and it is on the roof of your house, tell me why solar is safer for your family.

  13. Thank you for presenting the facts on Nuclear power. Ultimately coal is by far the most superior fuel for electricity generation.
    I would rather live beside a coal plant than a nuclear plant any day of the week.
    In terms of “pollution” from coal fired power, even the ageing plants in the Hunter Valley do not have a discernable signature above background levels at the nearest population centres. This was proven by the Upper Hunter Particle Characterisation Study which is available online. Interestingly, in these mining towns the largest source of particulate matter was from household wood fires.

    • You get more radiation from living next to a coal plant than you would get from living next to a nuclear plant.

      • A nuclear plant releases very little radiation until…there is a flood! Then it can blow up like Fukushima! I would suggest that this is a very scary thing.

      • Kit P, make it a chemical processing plant, or any of the hundreds of types of commercial facilities that handle toxic materials.

      • ems, first it was a hydrogen explosion, not a nuclear one.
        second, the release of radiation was small and has been cleaned up
        third, had they moved the generator as the regulators had requested, there never would have been a problem.

      • @Retired Kit P:

        A coal plant does not have the risk of harmful levels of radiation.

        So I guess you think LNT is nonsense. Because LNT says all radiation is harmful. In which case you are only worried about large scale radiation which escaping confinement. Molten salt reactors, MSR, can be made with no possible mechanisms leading to widespread radiation contamination.
        So you must support MSRs and oppose LNT – you are most of the way to being a pro-nuke already!

    • Natural gas on CCGT plants … they produce 50 percent more electricity from the same fuel than a traditional simple-cycle plant. The waste heat from the gas turbine is routed to the nearby steam turbine, which generates ‘extra power’ normally otherwise wasted …

      • One can’t really store the gas. That makes natural gas susceptible to economic / political disruption. That’s why the French built their nuclear fleet – in the 1970s their mostly diesel generated electricity was badly hit by the oil crisis.

    • AP
      I do not have a problem living next to a coal plant or a nuke plant and have done both.
      Nuclear is a superior fuel if you do not have coal.

    • I would rather live beside a coal plant than a nuclear plant any day of the week.

      I wouldn’t. I’ve visited both.
      Apart from anything else, coal plants emit more radioactivity than nuclear plants do.
      Fly ash is as radioactive as ‘low level nuclear waste’ but its routinely made into blocks and has houses built from it.
      Coal is cheap but filthy.
      Nuclear is very very clean and has almost zero emissions of anything except heat and electricity.

      • So Leo where do you live?
        I visited the location of the worst US coal ash spill at Kingston, Tennessee.
        What a beautiful place? It would be nice if I could afford a house on the lake looking at the power plant.
        Cleaning up the mess cost TVA rate payers more than the TMI cleanup.

  14. Nuclear accident = limited & local. Predicted CO2 catastrophe = total & global.
    Most opposition from the greens (warmists) to nuclear stems from fears of a catastrophic accident. The warmists think that CO2 emissions will cause a global catastrophe on an unprecedented scale, while the damage of even the worst conceivable nuclear power accident would be primarily confined to a local area. Arguably the most influential warmist, NASA’s James Hansen, has warned of “the oceans boiling” in a runaway greenhouse effect if CO2 emissions are not checked and cut by like 90%. If that threat and the other threats the Chicken Littles squawk about from CO2 were true then it makes sense that *everything* be done to limit that threat, and the most obvious thing to do is develop non-CO2 emitting nuclear power to the hilt. Again, even the worst conceivable nuclear accident would have minimal and essentially local impact versus the bs predictions of “boiling oceans” and global destruction caused by CO2 emissions. But most all warmists oppose nuclear. That seems nonsensical but is consistent with the idea that in truth climate has nothing to do with what motivates the ideologically driven prophets of doom.
    I add that the greens support of fanciful wind and solar can be seen as little more than a smokescreen to camouflage their opposition to energy itself. Arguably wind and solar increase emissions because of the complex economics involved in their production. Regardless, costly wind and solar would economically destroy and bankrupt countries before they ever were able to truly provide for a country’s energy needs.

    • Renewables can’t actually generate enough energy ever, in most national scenarios. Their energy sources far to weak, diffuse and intermittent to meet current demand, when needed, never mind the tripled electricalenrgy levels required after fossil.
      I do a lecture on the physics of this, here’s a key summary slide. https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/1976309/What%20Changed%3F.gif or let Sir David MacKay FRS the UK DECC Chief Scientist from 2008-2014 and author of world renowned “Sustainable Energy – Without Hot Air” , explain: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/may/03/idea-of-renewables-powering-uk-is-an-appalling-delusion-david-mackay?CMP=share_btn_fb
      As for safety, what is this “some say”. It is te clearly documented fact nuclear is the stand out safety winner on the record of decades. No opinion relevant. You can check the nuclear record in the UN UNSCEAR papers but this summary is well referenced and supported by the base data. http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2012/06/10/energys-deathprint-a-price-always-paid/#7d8ed65449d2

    • Greens are by and large not very technically ‘ept’. Any technology scares them because they dont understand it, they probably didn’t do science and certainly didn’t do it at university level, or did science that has little to do with climatology or nuclear physics.
      I spent Xmas with sister and in-laws and HER in-laws. Three men, with nuclear physics, geology and engineering degrees, two women with arts qualifications. Guess who believes in climate change and scary nuclear power. You guessed it, the ‘liberal ‘ arts not-even-graduates.

    • Predicted CO2 catastrophe = total & global.

      Hardly anyone believes in that here. Those who do probably hate nukes. There are many other reasons to support nuclear power too. You should tailor your arguments to your audience. E.g.
      * security of supply. It is easy to store a decades worth of unused nuclear fuel at a plant.
      * It is the safest form of electricity generation,
      * it is one of only 2 forms of baseload electricity generation which is ‘non-carbon’,
      * the other form of RE baseload is far more dangerous and is resource limited,
      * we will eventually run out of fossil fuels, …

      • Never heard of anybody evacuating hundreds of thousands of people & establishing a lifetime 20-mile radius exclusion zone around a train wreck. I could be wrong.

      • On the night of 2-3 December 1984, over half a million people were exposed to methyl isocyanate gas and other dangerous chemicals. The government of Madya Pradesh region confirmed 558,125 injuries and a total of 3,787 deaths related to the gas release.

        Maybe they SHOULD have been evacuated.
        Of course whilst chernobyl (1986, <100 dead), and three mile island (1979, no dead) remain fixed in public memory by continuous hysterical follow-ups, who even remembers Bhopal?

    • According to Cohen transportation is the most significant risk factor in making electricity. The most dangerous occupation is being unemployed but at least there are not safety meetings.
      “Name one person killed in construction of a fission power plant.”
      Construction is a dangerous occupation but has improved at power plants. One worker was killed working on the EPR in Finland.

      • I have commissioned 8 reactors in N.A. We lost 4 workers while constructing in total. All due to falls. Two by a failed temporary construction elevators and two falling off the structure. Blood alcohol was suspect on those that fell. Nuclear construction is like any large construction. They are not idiot proof and accidents will happen. GK

  15. I’m astounded that Andy May is so ignorant of the new nuclear power designs that will make all of his rather exaggerated negative claims obsolete. Molten salt nuclear reactors will cost less than a third what current light water reactors cost,can be built and operated virtually anywhere with not the slightest risk or danger to man nor property. They will be built in factories and can be installed very quckly. They also can burn nuclear wastes and are extremely resitant to proliferation and do not produce plutonium, unless built to be fueled by Thorium, something that is not recommeded by the designers. Andy must be living on Mars or has zero conections to the field of nuclear power to be so completely ignorant of the most revolutionary change in nuclear designs in the past 80 years. While the design of molten salt reactors goes way back and several experimental reactors have
    been built and operated , previously they were impractical due to the mass of the moderator required , which limited their efficiency unless highly enriched uranium was used, a no-no for commercial power plants. They also lacked a sufficiently corrosive resistant material that could withstand molten salt environment. They have such materials now, and alternately some designs use sacrificial material. There are three companies currently proceeding well along with their varying designs, and also the Chinese govt is rushing to build such plants. They will have a
    levelized cost of power that is the cheapest of any technology, less than 4 cents per kWhr,
    with a build cost under $2 per watt, about a third of the cost of current nuclear plants. They can be built and deployed very rapidly. The reactors do not require massive structures, as the fuel
    (radioactive) side of the plant is not under any significant pressure, rendering any unlikely breaches as innoculous events. They are walk-away safe and fission operations cease almost immediately
    after an accidental shutdown. They do not require water for reactor cooling or any operator actions to shut down quickly and safely should something go amiss. Core meltdowns are physically impossible and it is impossible for the fission process to go out of control, regardless of what may occur to the plant. A terrorist bomb would be of no significance. They are the future of nuclear power, not the current light water reactors we are building today.
    But I must point out that Andy May has exaggerated the danger of current reactor (light water) designs. Regardless of what he imagines has happened in the past (quite frankly, not much – the greatest accidents ever -Three Mile Island, Fukushima – resulted in zero human casualties, excepting what happened at a primitive Communist reactor at Chernobyl, where less than 30 were killed). Today’s light water reactories are so much advanced that past history makes any attempt to label them dangerous , using events that occurred with completely different safety designs,an ignorant, anti-nuclear fraud. Considering also the two sites maintained in this country that have the ability to airlift emergency equipment to any nuclear plant in trouble, May also grossly exaggerates any safety concerns for even the older model reactors. The newer models are thousands of times less likely to ever experience a meltdown or ejection of radioactive material int the environment. As for the cost and time requred to build, the U.S. is not the place to go to to understand the current state of affairs, as virtually all of the 74 or so reactors currently under construction are being built elsewhere. Here in the U.S., just recently the first new reactor went online at TVA in Tennessee, and two AP1000s are being built in South Carolina (making their total 9 reactors, and over 80% nuclear generated electricity) and two more in Georgia. But these, in my opinion, will be the last of the non-molten salt design that will be built. Peter Thiel, a Trump associate has invested in Transatomic Energy’s design of the molten salt reactor. Terrestrial Energy and Moltex Energy are also proceeding quite nicley with their alternative molten salt designs. All can render current nuclear wastes easily stored for the relatively short time required for their very reduced radioactive status to achieve background levels. Molten salt reactors can extract such a large amount of the energy that remains in our nuclear wastes that those wastes can provide all of the power this country needs for hundreds of years. Fuel costs are totally insignificant for molten salt reactors, regardless of whether that fuel come from nuclear wastes, terrestrially mined uranium, or uranium extracted from sea water (and endless supply and newly improved by Standford scientists just recently).

    • Those are all gen four designs. Not have been demonstarted even at commercial pilot scale. The bery early ONR molten salt that operated as PoP for a few years could not have been scaled. IMO, Transatomic Power’s white paper is the best summarynofmthe remaining engineering challenges to be solved, and possible solutions. None yet tested at. Ommercial pilot scale. For at least the next decade, nuclear means current gen 3 designs with associated cost overrun and spent fuel disposal issues.

    • My point was that the problem is financial risk to the builder and operator due to the time involved. If new reactors are built in factories with pre-approved parts, that problem will be solved. Time seems to be the enemy here.

    • Where is there one of these operating commercially, with some track record for performance and safety.
      If they are that good they should be all over the place.

      • They will be. Give them time. Remember this the the most over-regulated industry on the planet.
        Apart from the lower cost another great thing about the MSRs is they can be built faster than coal plants. So a large part of the risk will be removed from the equation. MSRs should take no more than 18 – 24 months to build once the tech is established.

    • “But these, in my opinion,…”
      Do you have any experience with design, construction, or operation of nuclear power plants?

  16. Many thanks to Andy May to what, as an European person, I consider one of the best US-originating problem reviews I read in the last years concerning the use of nuclear energy for electricity production.
    I lack the time today but I’ill try tomorrow to give some more precision on what this my opinion is based on.
    One thing is evident: it is a well-done trial to offer readers a kind of ‘360° overview’ over a really difficult context.

    • Its not a US originating problem review. Its recycled anti-nuclear waste from green smear sources in the UK, namely sovacool.
      ” Professor Sovacool is the founding Editor-in-Chief for the international peer-reviewed journal Energy Research & Social Science”
      WTF has social science got to do with energy research?
      Sovacool has written over a dozen books all purporting to be scholarly reports on energy, and how we shopuld all go green.
      This article is simply a regurgitation of the rubbish spouted in his book
      Pure ‘concern trolling’
      Just take one aspect. He insist that CO2 emissions of the nuclear power cycle would rise as uranium gets harder to mine, and needs more energy to do it. This is monstrously stupid extrapolation. If Uranium gets more expensive to mine
      1/. You build breeders to turn all the fuel into energy instead of 1% of it
      2/. You extract it from sea water at an energy and real dollar cost of about 4 times current mining costs.
      Sovacool is fundamentally a green ‘concern troll’*, faking up spurious data to ensure that the average Champagne socialist who buys his book, will feel comfortable in his confirmation bias that nuclear ain’t worth the candle.
      * I agree with you but I do have these ‘concerns’….

      • Don’t forget his joke anti-nuclear paper from last year. ‘Peer reviewed‘ (by his mates?) then but now retracted. His fellow researcher (ha ha!) took 27 rows from a published table of data. Subtracted the number in one column from another (27 subtractions). Somehow managed to get 26 of their numbers completely wrong. Then they tried it again in a proposed addendum. They even managed to get some of those subtractions wrong! Did Sovocool somehow miss his primary education? Then the addendum was scrubbed and they just accepted defeat with a retraction.
        Just for a laugh. Here are his colleague’s errors
        Correct values are in column ‘2005-2012’
        Published paper (retracted values) in column ‘OLD DATA’
        Attempted correction (but withdrawn) in column ‘CORRECTION’

    • David, my understanding is that the upriver Shimantan Dam failed and released so much water that Banqiao failed. But, the water from Banqiao was the water that killed the most people. In all some 60 dams were involved, some were destroyed by the military. The various stories about how it all happened are pretty confusing, but it does seem like dominoes falling with Shimantan the first domino,

    • Andy May Yes, the Shimantan Dam did fail first, but it was on a separate tributary/catchment from the Banqiao Dam. See The World’s Most Catastrophic Dam Failures: The 1975 collapse of the Banqiao and Shimantan Dams Yi Si. Several sources indicate that all told, 62 dams failed. A week later they dynamited some remaining dams to drain the flood waters and rescue people.
      A Profile of Dams in China Shui Fu

      By 1980, 2,796 dams had collapsed, including two large-scale dams (the Shimantan and Banqiao dams). One hundred and seventeen medium-sized and 2,263 small dams had also collapsed. . . .The official death toll resulting from dam failures came to 9,937 (not including the Banqiao and Shimantan collapses, which had a combined estimated death toll of up to 230,000).

  17. This is a complex subject. I wrote a thesis on it a few decades ago. Was able to rigorously show back then that nuclear was likely uneconomic in the greater scheme of things. Method was to develop then employ dynamic input/output analysis. Situation has since gotten worse for three reasons, at least in US. 1. No spent fuel repository and no fuel reprocessing. 2. More adverse regulatory/safety environment. (Which is bankrupting Toshiba at gen 3 westinghouse AP1200 designs Voglte 3 and 4.) 3. Development of inexpensive shale gas plus cheap efficient CCGT. Units can be emplaced in 2-2.5 years at an all in capital cost under $1500/kw, with thermal efficieny 61%.
    At least for the US (and probably UK) this provides decades of time to develop one or more gen 4 fission concepts. These all have three defining features: inherently safe, fuller consumption of nuclear fuel, and reduced radwaste. Wrote about the more interesting ones in essay Going Nuclear in ebook Blowing Smoke.

    • YES. Shale gas wil give the UK time to deploy trials of various nuclear technologies. US too. We have time, UK at least 40 years to get enough Nukes on stream to meet base load while we max out decarboisation by replacing coal with gas. Al this is on grid based sites, no renewable eco vandalism required – i fact quite pointless in science fact. . BTW someone said the US had enough nuclear base load – at 20%? Not really. Good mix is 80% nuclear and 20% hydro, that can handle the daily variations, keep the fossil fuel for other chemical stuff and essential transport use, not baseload generation we can do sustainably for ever with nuclear.. You won’t get any more highly energetic portable hydrocarbon fuel unless you synthesise it expensively with nuclear electricity by sucking it our of the air. .

    • Of and by itself nuclear is highly economic . Its what the cost to assign to insurance, cleanup and fuel reprocessing that alter it as well as the regulatory library you have to fill out to build.
      Around 85% of the cost of nuclear is directly or indirectly the result of political legislation.

      • The beauty of dynamic I/O was it captured all these indirect effects. Why Harvard granted my undergrad summa thesis Ph.D status. So the technology of the time was uneconomic. Gen 4 (as commented above) addresses the main excess cost drivers: instinsic safety, much better fuel utilization, and much lower and easier to handle radwaste disposal. Hit that trifecta, we have a new nuclear ball game.
        My view is fracked shale gas gives us the decades to figure this gen 4 stuff out correctly. But we should start to do so now.

      • It always amazes me that the benefits of an Ivy League do not include common sense. Like John Kerry ristvan is an over educated idiot.
        With an intercity education, I figured out how not to get wounded in Viet Nam and still serve. I have the greatest respect for combat vets but not rich kids who do it for political reasons.

      • Course not. Costing a project like a reactor and working with O & M costs is something only engineers have a chance of actually getting near.
        Its clear from the things ristvan handwaves into the arena that he has no intrinsic understanding of the real costs risk and engineering aspects of nuclear power.
        Example: He claims that gen 4 or breeders would improve costs by using the fuel more efficiently.
        Actually no, they wouldn’t. Today there are almost no breeders running, because URANIUM IS SO CHEAP that the extra cost of a more efficient reactor wasn’t justified.
        EDF who run France and the UK’s reactors have stated that Fully finished fuel rods represent 15% of the final cost of the electricity., The actual cost of the raw uranium going into them is a tiny fraction of that. Actual raw uranium costs barely move the needle on the cost scale.
        But to an uneducated mind, the idea that ‘uses less fuel = cheaper’ transported over from fossil to nuclear, has traction, as does the idea that ‘renewable energy is free’
        These are typical ways to mislead the public used by the green energy brigade.
        Likewise Prof. Cohen made the very clear point, that watt for watt, building a nuclear plant uses no more materials and labour than a coal plant, until you add in the regulatory stuff.
        Two thirds of the cost of building a nuclear plant is making sure it meets the most swingeing of regulations.
        And yet the worlds expert in radiation effects on living cells, Wade Allison, estimates from a lifetime experience in the lab dealing with nuclear medicine, that we are by an order of TWO TO THREE MAGNITUDES being more paranoid about radiation than we need to be

        So for all practical purposes there is a threshold of risk at 100mSv – what happens at lower doses is unmeasurable, even when nuclear bombs are dropped on two major cities and the health of the survivors is followed for 50 years.”

        (data from Hiroshima and Nagasaki)
        Fukushima exclusion zone is less than 20mSV per year similar to parts of Dartmoor in the UK, which is so ‘radioactive’ that it would not be possible to build a nuclear power station there under current regulations, as workers would receive an illegal dose over a year even if there were no reactor running….

        The reasons for the fear of radiation are instinctive and historical. It is natural to shun what is powerful and unseen, and the legacy of the Cold War with its weapon of nuclear fear has added to that. Although the public accepts moderate to high doses of radiation when used benignly for their own health, non-medical international safety standards are set extremely low to appease popular concerns – these specify levels found in nature or as low as reasonably achievable (ALARA). Yet modern biology and medicine confirm that no harm comes from radiation levels up to 1000 times higher and realistic safety levels could be set as high as relatively safe (AHARS).
        Indeed the local damage to public health and the social economy caused by ALARA regulations imposed at Chernobyl and Fukushima has been extremely serious and without benefit.

        There is an organised effort by parties unknown, but suspected, to ensure in anyway possible that nuclear energy fails. Sovakool is just one of many…
        Cui Bono?
        It is notable that once you perform even a perfunctory analysis of Renewable Energy ™ http://www.templar.co.uk/downloads/Renewable%20Energy%20Limitations.pdf you will ascertain it is uncompetitive against fossil fuel, and therefore it is of no commercial disadvantage to fossil fuel operations. The world needs fossil fuel and renewable energy cannot replace it.
        But cheap nuclear power, engineered to reasonable safety levels, could destroy for sure the coal and gas baseload electricity markets, and if cheap enough, could undercut fossil fuel in all except transport applications. Renewable energy becomes even more pointless than it already is with nuclear providing an emission free generating standard.
        Cheap nuclear means profits will be lost in coil, oil, gas, renewable energy markets.
        To stop it, needs two prongs of attack. Firstly, on the Green side, you challenge the ‘zero emissions’ orthodoxy by claiming that actually, unseen, huge amounts of fossil fuel WILL be used in mining and milling it, based on the false premises that it will get more difficult to extract, and that there is no alternative to using vast amounts of it.
        As I pointed out earlier, these are false assumptions both: Anyone basing arguments on these assumptions is either ignorant of the subject, or deliberately misleading the public – or indeed both.
        The second prong is the concern troll approach to costing and safety – yes it would be lovely if it were only cheaper and not so dangerous….
        Point one, Real examination of the hard data, instead of discredited model outputs, shows it is in fact alarmingly safe. Very few peole have died from radiation induced by nuclear power accidents, with one notable exception. In the UK 2000-3000 people a year die from radiation induced cancer, from lying in the sun too long. That big fusion reactor in the sky that powers all those solar panels and windmills kills a world trade centre of people every year in the UK alone.
        Point two, it is expensive precisely because public perception of danger has been whipped up over many years by agencies with skin in the game. In the days when commercial reactors handily bred plutonium for bombs, attacking the power industry attacked the weapon’s industry. CND was part funded from the USSR, and organised there. It morphed into the politically correct cultural Marxism (sorry ‘Liberalism’ :-)) of today, and the Green movement. Both have proved entirely useful in achieving commercial goals once they have been subverted to the cause of profit: Legislation can change the price of anything and environmental politics can justify it.
        And that is precisely why nuclear power is so expensive. Its been legislated into near extinction. Its easy to see how this escalates beautifully.
        First of all, set ridiculously low radiation emission standards. OK they can be met, BUT what then happens if an accident happens?. They are breached. Then its EASY to claim that massive evacuations and cleanups at enormous expense are needed because regulatory limits have been breached. That means operators now must carry enormous insurance premiums.
        Or take waste and decommissioning. Frankly 99% of nuclear waste put in steel embedded in concrete and dropped in the bottom of the ocean would be 100% safe forever. So we can’t allow that, its far too cheap. So let’s object to each and every proposal on how to deal with waste, and spin that into ‘nobody knows what to do with the waste or how much it will cost’.
        And the same line is applied to decommissioning. Its standard practice to leave a reactor once the fuel is extracted for around 40-60 years before starting to cut it up. That way its safe to do so with no especial precautions.
        That becomes ‘no single reactor has ever been decommissioned’ …’and we dont know how much it will cost’…so its OK to throw in whatever inflated cost you think will support your fundamental thesis that ‘nuclear power is too expensive and dangerous’
        Sovacool and Andy May are both witting or unwitting parts of that process. Unbeknownst to them they are in the pay of Big Something. The normal Marxist phrase is, IIRC, ‘Useful idiots’.
        Nuclear power is to be stopped because it threatens a lot of very deep pockets.
        Deep enough to get this post written on the most important skeptic site in the world, and to pay enough people to up tick the post and comment on how great it is, when fundamentally its a pack of lies and greenspin.
        Civilisation as we know it won’t survive without nuclear power.
        If that is of any concern to anyone.

  18. These “nuclear power plant incidents” source the Guardian, appear to be a mixture of actual serious incidents and no pasa nada. The one in Argentina, at the Atucha 1 nuclear power plant is a good example. There a worker exceeded by a small amount the annual dose limit, determined by personal dosimeter. This type of one worker exceeding the limit is almost certainly due to some conduct outside the established safety protocol. I personally consulted with ARN (Agencia Regulatoria Nuclear) in Argentina in establishing a safety protocol for the company I was managing and found them to be up-to-date in protocol (but a little under-funded with respect to modern personal dosimeters). We had outcrops saturated with uranium to the extent that the modern scintillometers sounded an over-dose alarm at the reading, but we never exceeded ten percent of the monthly limit in any worker! Remember dose is time-rate.
    There are only two events that represent actual excursion into the danger zone, Chernobyl and Fukushima, and only Chernobyl, a human-induced failure, actually did damage to people. Nuclear is the safest and least expensive way to go, and for sure fusion is coming soon. The actual biggest safety issue is eco-terrorism!

    • Not aure about fusion. The idea is to put the sun in a box. The difficulty is the box. Only even quasi credible thing out there is Lockeed Skunkworks high beta magnetic confinement. And then only because of the Skunkworks reputation, plus fact program has gone dark.

      • Internal combustion fusion reactor.
        Take a V8, attach a deuterium tank to the inlet, replace the spark plugs with pulsed high energy lasers, crank her up and hear that V8 burble..

      • Can’t put the sun in a box.
        The sun is powered by ….. GRAVITY ….. And gravity sucks; VERY VERY weakly !
        We don’t have any place nearly big enough to put enough material in a box to create enough sucking to produce nuclear fusion reactions.
        The EM force does not suck; it blows (pushes) and it needs something outside of it to push the stuff inside small enough to give fusion reactions. Earnshaw’s theorem says no such thing exists.
        The Livermore Whack-a-mole machine is still trying to light the match. Charles H. Townes told them all years ago, they were all nuts if they thought laser implosion was a way to fusion energy.

      • GE, completely agree. Trashed the inertial fusion effort at Stanford in the named essay. Coulombs Law is very difficult to overcome. =Like charges repel, opposite charges attract. And per the four forces of nature, there are exactly two EM charges, positive and negative.
        Sun’s gravitational field overcomes Coulomb’s Law in its core enough to sustain fusion. Otherwise, the box is very difficult.

    • Good point, Ron. A regulatory violation (exceeding the annual dose limit by a small amount) doth not a “nuclear incident” make. It occurs with some frequency in interventional radiology suites around the country…much more likely to happen there than at a nuclear power plant.

    • For sure, fusion is NOT coming soon; or even later. And you wouldn’t believe just how damn dangerous it is to get close to a working fusion reactor.
      Even 93 million miles might be too close to get on a steady basis.

    • Capital punishment is expensive because it is never used.
      There is no record of a criminal, administered capital punishment ever committing a crime of violence again; or any other crime.
      The recidivism rate is zero.
      Studies of the effectiveness of the deterrence of capital punishment universally exclude subjects who ever received such punishment. They only study persons who are not in the class of capital punishment recipients. Idiocy; excluding the only subjects you should be studying.

  19. https://www.google.com/search?site=&tbm=isch&source=hp&biw=1366&bih=653&q=chernobyl+children+mutations&oq=Chernobyl+children
    Russians found out valuable information from the destroyed DNA of Chernobyl’s victims. The DNA does NOT recover!
    Nuclear power has to answer for millions to billions of deaths, not a few thousand, which is just a lie. Look at the pictures. After these pictures, ask Google Images to show you the depleted uranium mutations from Iraq and Afghanistan we Americans are all responsible for. It’s disgusting.

    • The p@ar@noid fringe has been heard from.
      So nuclear is responsible for everyone who has died since the first nuclear plant went on line?
      Really, that’s the story you want to go with.
      DNA does recover, that’s been shown over and over and over again. In fact if DNA didn’t recover life would have died off a few thousand years after it got started on this planet, since the planet is and has always been radioactive. BTW, you’ll get more radiation from a banana than you will get living next to a nuclear power plant.
      As to depleted uranium, it is less radioactive than the ore that was taken out of the ground.

    • Depleted uranium is a poisonous heavy metal, like lead.
      Its a carciniogen, but not because of its trivial radioactivity.

      • Especially dangerous when fired as a bullet. Identical result to lead bullet ‘poisoning’. Good old A10 (Warthog) tank killer cannon. 4 depleted uraniums followed by 1 HE round.

        • Not quite. The depleted uranium at that velocity is pyrophoric, i.e. it spontaneously catches fire with great intensity. The HE is for soft targets, i.e. not armored.

    • What exactly do depleted uranium armour-piercing shells have to do with nuclear power stations generating electricity?
      That’s a whole issue on its own that has been swept under the rug by governments, as far as I can tell, but it has nothing to do with fission reactors. The words “straw man” and “red herring” come to mind when reading your silly comment., Larry.
      BTW “uranium” as an element with nothing but negative connotations in the minds of the less well informed has now been replaced by “carbon”, which can do many, many things, all of them bad
      Better add /sarc, you never know around here..

      • Well, its a blog, and off tooic trolls showed up trashing almost not radioactive depleted uranium as causing horrible radiation stuff in Iraq and Syria. So we fired some depleted uranium bullets at the off topic trolls. Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.

      • “Depleted” ought to be a pretty good clue… DU ammo has never irradiated a T-72… But it probably sieved a few… 😉

      • Well exactly. In essence nothing, but the linkage between bad deaths due to depleted uranium, and implied deaths die to radioactivity from uranium powered reactors can be forged there easily in the New Left Mind and kept alive by constant repetitions…

      • actually DU (U238) is very very very slightly radioactive. With a half life of 4.468 billion years, says wiki

    • Highly unlikely there would be much if any usage in Afghan seeing as there is no need to use more expensive DU rounds when simple HEI does exactly the same job for far less. As the Taliban has no armour capability, there is no need for AP. rounds. Put simply, you don’t bother using rounds designed to penetrate the armour of tanks, on mud and brick buildings. It’s expensive overkill and the DOD doesn’t like the bad PR surrounding the usage, or the potential fallout from having NATO/ISAF troops operating in a DU dust filled environment.
      As for birth defects in Iraq, do you know how many chemical plants were hit in 1991? DU gets the blame, but there were far bigger sources for contamination in the air. Those same kids who grew up in that environment after being slimed in 1991 and lived in the area for a decade, were having the deformed kids in the early 2000s. I recall seeing a news report back in 2004 about birth defects in Anbar province, focusing on Fallujah that blamed the use of DU for birth defects but ignored the fact that a fair number of chemical plants were hit near there in Desert Storm, including the infamous ‘Baby Milk Plant’. But never let facts get in the way of the narrative, and/or a potential legal suit.
      Post 2003 invasion, see the above on Afghan. No point on firing a kinetic energy AP round at a building when HE or even non explosive practice round will do the job with far better results, and to which they were designed to do. Were DU munitions used, absolutely. You load ammunition type for the job requirements, when armour was no longer a threat the amount used would have been non-existent. That applies to both armour and aircraft.
      Birth defects happen, and at a higher rate when incest and inbreeding come into play. Looking at you Afghanistan.
      As for billions of deaths, pffft. Ridiculous claim with no merit, or any facts whatsoever.

      • The earth’s population is only in the 8 billion range. He’s saying that 1/8th the world’s population has been killed by nuclear power.

    • Larry, this is a science site, not a hysteria vent. The most dangerous and costly thing one can do is not nuclear, it is lap up the BS on the internet. This has cost Trillions to society. People with an agenda can pollute the internet, Wikipedia has handlers that take perfectly good information and trash it with neomarxbrothers poison.
      Here you are, I’ll even give you Wiki, which even you know is in the hands of the “brothers”. Count the nuclear accident deaths. Note that most were high pressure steam explosions. UK has had zero deaths, US has had 3 and these were at a testing facility at Idaho falls. France, the most nuked country has had only one and this was in a spent fuel processing plant – not mention of how it happened – could have been a forklift accident. Here is a test. Without looking it up, how radioactive do you think Hiroshima is? If you answered what I think you did, you will get the drift if I tell you it dropped to background levels within one year. They rebuilt it and live in it. 4000 of Chernobyls “deaths” were based on anti nuclear modeled expectations at the time. They never materialized. Like CAGW, if your purpose is to spread scare and promote dismantling of western civilization, your models are going to give you what you want or you will change them. They even change the data to suit as well.

  20. there have been 4,231 fatalities due to nuclear accidents since 1952

    Andy: what’s your source for this figure? This is an order of magnitude higher than I have found from other sources. The total actual deaths from radiation or other nuclear reactor accidents since 1947 is less than 200 (not including China and N. Korea, for which there are no published figures). Nearly half of those were from radiography accidents.
    There are wildly varying estimates of excess cancer deaths attributed to reactor accidents, for example Chernobyl:

    Estimates of the total number of deaths potentially resulting from the Chernobyl disaster vary enormously: Thirty one deaths are directly attributed to the accident, all among the reactor staff and emergency workers.[4] A UNSCEAR report places the total confirmed deaths from radiation at 64 as of 2008. The World Health Organization (WHO) suggests it could reach 4,000 civilian deaths, a figure which does not include military clean-up worker casualties.[5] A 2006 report predicted 30,000 to 60,000 cancer deaths as a result of Chernobyl fallout.[6] A Greenpeace report puts this figure at 200,000 or more.[7] A disputed Russian publication, Chernobyl, concludes that 985,000 premature cancer deaths occurred worldwide between 1986 and 2004 as a result of radioactive contamination from Chernobyl.

    I question the methodologies used when the estimates range from 4,000 to 200,000 or even more.

      • Andy
        I think your source is wrong. The UN (UNSCEAR) did a close tracking on health effects of all major nuclear accidents.
        Chernobyl caused 63 fatalities in total according to UNSCEAR. Your source is mentioning 4,056 without detailing it.
        I also doubt the other fatality numbers from Sovacool. In total it’s hard to find more than 100.
        Source: http://www.unscear.org/unscear/en/chernobyl.html

      • Update:
        Unscear says 28 of the people which were exposed to severe radiation died within 4 months, further 19 died up to 2004 whereas not all of those cases can be attributed to radiation. Of the 6,848 people with thyroid cancer 25 died until 2005. Also there the attribution to the accident is not 100%.
        In total 62.

      • Probably my fault for not being clear in the post, but I do think the safety thing is overblown and the estimates of fatalities due to nuclear power plants are all over the place. I simply chose some extremes to include. People have chosen a metric to get the number they want.
        The issue here, is nuclear power is very capital intensive and the time from design to first revenue is very long and unpredictable. No private company can take that much risk. That means nuclear power is dead until the permitting and construction costs and time are slashed. It’s in the post, but a lot of readers obviously missed it. From a technical perspective nuclear power is a good option, we all seem to agree on that. From a business perspective it is a disaster – due primarily to excessive and poorly thought out regulations. Plus, the industry seems to always build everything from scratch – they need to standardize and get pre-approvals on their components. Short circuit the approvals.

      • The length and unpredictability are due entirely to enemies of nuclear power.
        We have two choices, fight or surrender.
        You seem to be advocating surrender.
        The problem with that is those who oppose nuclear power won’t go away. These same people oppose anything with a perceivable risk, they will just move on the the next target, all the more emboldened.

  21. Why is Fukushima considered a nuclear accident at all? It was caused by an earthquake a full order of magnitude greater than it was built to withstand. Wouldn’t it more fairly be considered a natural disaster? Even worse the unstable dual purpose reactor at Chernobyl was not something that could happen in most places simply because no one would build one like that for power generation alone..
    Comparing the costs of nuclear to other sources of power will show nuclear cheapest in terms of clean up and ongoing costs as well if we use anything approaching a fair measuring stick.

  22. Coupla points
    Safest place away from radiation is dived in a nuclear submarine.
    Fukushima deaths by radiation – none.

  23. Andy: the Sovacool report which you reference claims 4,056 deaths from Chernobyl, but does not give a reference. If you look at the UNSCEAR assessment, they list 28 deaths within three months among the group of 134 highly exposed workers, and another 28 deaths in the years 1987-2004 “of various causes not necessarily associated with radiation exposure.” The report also says:

    Among the residents of Belarus, the Russian Federation and Ukraine, there had been up to the year 2002 about 4,000 cases of thyroid cancer reported in children and adolescents who were exposed at the time of the accident, and more cases can be expected during the next decades. Notwithstanding problems associated with screening, many of those cancers were most likely caused by radiation exposures shortly after the accident. Apart from this increase, there is no evidence of a major public health impact attributable to radiation exposure 20 years after the accident. There is no scientific evidence of increases in overall cancer incidence or mortality rates or in rates of non-malignant disorders that could be related to radiation exposure. The risk of leukaemia in the general population, one of the main concerns owing to its short latency time, does not appear to be elevated. Although those most highly exposed individuals are at an increased risk of radiation-associated effects, the great majority of the population is not likely to experience serious health consequences as a result of radiation from the Chernobyl accident. Many other health problems have been noted in the populations that are not related to radiation exposure.

    This is from an exposed population numbering about 340,000, going by the number evacuated in the years following the accident.
    I think the Sovacool report includes all the cases of thyroid cancers among as fatalities. Depending on type and stage, thyroid cancer survival rates are mostly above 50% and in early stages close to 100%. So while many of the child thyroid cancer cases are likely due to radiation exposure, not all of them are and not all them resulted in deaths. I have not seen a more detailed assessment of post-Chernobyl thyroid cancer deaths.

      • If it’s the same report I’m familiar with, it also attributes most of the 4,000+ cancer cases to a much higher rate of screening, which has led to a higher rate of diagnosis and a much earlier diagnosis than would normally be found. So for the ones that would have got thyroid cancer regardless, the accident ironically helped save or prolong their life.

      • They do not have good numbers for the background rate of thyroid cancer in children for that population (i.e., no reliable cancer registry). Although they eventually began a large screening program, when you screen symptom-less children you will find many more pre-cancerous and cancerous conditions than if that population were left to simply head to the doctor when symptoms occur – thus, screening leads to the identification of a large number of cancers above what would have previously been seen in the population even if there were a registry.

    • …and another 28 deaths in the years 1987-2004 …

      The figure 28 was mis-typed by me; the correct figure is 19.

    • The sovacol is the usual LNT model output result. Based on the principle that if 5 Sieverts kills half the people exposed to it, a lifetime dose of 5 Sieverts spread out over 50 years (100mSv/yr) will also kill half the people exposed to it.
      In fact no single does below around 100mSV shows any cancer probability increase at all. Response to low level chronic radiation is non linear.

      • That is misleading. The LNT only applies to the rates of cancer and leukemia induced by varying but low dosages of radiation; it does not encompass the high dosages that will cause acute radiation syndrome.

      • I can assure you that LNT applies to ALL levels of radiation, or purports to.

        The linear no-threshold model (LNT) is a model used in radiation protection to quantify radiation exposure and set regulatory limits. It assumes that the long term, biological damage caused by ionizing radiation (essentially the cancer risk) is directly proportional to the dose. This allows the summation by dosimeters of all radiation exposure, without taking into consideration dose levels or dose rates. In other words, radiation is always considered harmful with no safety threshold, and the sum of several very small exposures are considered to have the same effect as one larger exposure (response linearity). (wiki)

        In other words a straight line is drawn between Total dose4 sieverts 50% chance of death and total dose 0, zero chance of death and the regulations are framed around that.
        And yet cancer patients receive massive total amounts of radiation, in smaller doses and survive. And peole live in places where whole life doses are massive, and show no signs of cancer.

        Ramsar’s Talesh Mahalleh district is the most radioactive inhabited area known on Earth, due to nearby hot springs and building materials originating from them.A combined population of 2,000 residents from this district and other high radiation neighbourhoods receive an average radiation dose of 10 mGy per year, ten times more than the ICRP recommended limit for exposure to the public from artificial sources.[9] Record levels were found in a house where the effective radiation dose due to external radiation was 131 mSv/a, and the committed dose from radon was 72 mSv/a. This unique case is over 80 times higher than the world average background radiation.
        The prevailing model of radiation-induced cancer posits that the risk rises linearly with dose at a rate of 5% per Sv. If this linear no-threshold model is correct, it should be possible to observe an increased incidence of cancer in Ramsar through careful long-term studies currently underway. Early anecdotal evidence from local doctors and preliminary cytogenetic studies suggested that there may be no such harmful effect, and possibly even a radioadaptive effect.[11] More recent epidemiological data show a slightly reduced lung cancer rate[12] and non-significantly elevated morbidity, but the small size of the population (only 1800 inhabitants in the high-background areas) will require a longer monitoring period to draw definitive conclusions

        30 years at 130mSv/a is just under 4 sieverts total dose. Which is about a 50% mortality rate if taken in a single dose. If radiation at that level had been that dangerous people in ramsar would be dying of radiation induce illnesses like flies.
        Average background is 3mSv/a.
        That’s what set Wade Allison on track.
        The data shows that peak single doses are far far more damaging than chronic low level exposure.
        Just as one day of bad sunburn is way more dangerous than living in a sunny place with a good tan all year round
        LNT is a busted flush, but its what current regulations are built upon, and it allows people with axes to grind to say:
        “There is no such thing as a safe dose of radiation”
        “Its over government limits so its must be dangerous”
        and so on ad nauseam.
        And that’s the reaosn for the HUGE discrepancies in death tolls.
        There are deaths that are unequivocally due to radiation – acute radiation sickness that got around 50 workers at chernobyl. Plus data that is statistically significant. 3000 excess thyroid cancers in Pripyat post Chernobyl, though few were fatal.
        Those are the facts.
        THEN there are ‘projections ‘ or ‘model outputs’ Do I hear WUWT readers laughing…of course, LNT is a ‘model’ and like all ‘models’ its only as good as its ability to predict, and its frankly useless.
        LNT predicted upwards of quarter of a million excess deaths from cancer long term in the whole of NE Europe.
        You cant hide quarter of a million blip in cancer statistics. Well my ‘green’ sister claims that governments can do that, but then believes that the givernment , that supports LNT, is terribly right about the dangers of nuclear energy.
        She has a degree, but sometimes she’s not very bright…or she has learnt to double think. I am never sure whether the government which regulates nuclear power out of existence in Germany, is the good guy, or whether its responsible for ‘suppressing the true facts about nuclear energy’. Sigh.
        Anyway, Sovakool and et Guardian (US readers think NYT) reading LeftyBrains like the sound of models that make it all scary, because it supports their emotional narrative. And they never let facts get in the way of a good anti-nuclear scare story. And it works:
        A CND friend assured me that a professors had proved that there were some excess leukaemias due to the accident at Windscale UK, and that back in the day he had ‘read it in the New Scientist’.
        I searched online, and all I came up with was that a professor had predicted that there would be excess deaths due to something or other.
        NO story about there having BEEN any REAL deaths was to be found.
        And that is how propaganda and myths are spun for very unpleasant reasons of commercial profit and fighting of cold wars.

      • With respect to the experience at Chernobyl, there were a number of contributing factors resulting in the excess childhood thyroid cancers, including the lack of KI distribution, delayed interdiction of milk, failure to effectively communicate milk interdiction orders to rural populations dependent on locally-produced milk, and low iodine in the local diet (resulting in higher uptakes of the radioactive iodine in the milk and leafy vegetables). That is not to say the releases from Chernobyl are not to blame, they are; but, the entire response was mishandled, and made the situation much worse than necessary.

  24. A 2008 update on the UNSCEAR report states:

    The contamination of milk with I(131), for which prompt countermeasures were lacking, resulted in large doses to the thyroids of members of the general public; this led to a substantial fraction of the more than 6,000 thyroid cancers observed to date among people who were children or adolescents at the time of the accident (by 2005, 15 cases had proved fatal).

    So I make that 28 immediate deaths, plus 19 among the heavily exposed over the following 15 years, and 15 thyroid cancer deaths likely due to I-131 exposure. Total comes to 62.

    • Unless thyroid cancers were unknown in this population prior to the accident, at least some of those cases would have occurred anyway.

    • Oh this hurts so much: When I was young, my family was involved in the entire nuclear bomb thing in the Mohave Desert and the ranchers living downwind from the nuke bomb tests of the 1950s were told, radiation was no problem.
      But it was a ‘problem’. One of my dear friends died as a child due to nuclear radiation exposure from living downwind. I freaked out after her funeral and had a fight with my father about this.
      These deaths never made the news back then! But inside the ‘machine’ there were raging arguments about nuclear bomb side effects with downwind radiation being a major issue. Thus, the push for underground tests.
      It was signed and the above ground tests stopped but not after doing grave damage.

      • It takes an enormous amount of radiation to kill someone. How did friend get so much and no one else did?
        It is human nature to want to find blame.

    • Alan, I recall it was Strontium-90 in milk. I’ve made it to within a year of 80 so far and I’m feeling pretty good – still working, too.

  25. The total number of recorded deaths from all nuclear POWER – as opposed to other radiological accidents – is less than 300.
    Any figure higher than that is an estimate based on a model – the LNT model – that is even more discredited than the Climate Change model
    See Wade Allison http://www.templar.co.uk/downloads/Public_Trust_in_Nuclear_Energy.pdf and the late Professor Cohen http://www.phyast.pitt.edu/~blc/book/ for a far more balanced view of radiation and financial risk

      • MarkW.
        He might have learned something true.
        Learning something true on the other hand is contraindicated.
        Yes, he may well have learned something true, however,
        Do you think Fox news, Alec Jones and Breitbart are paragons of truth? Really?

      • Yes, they are. Especially compared to the Guardian.
        I realize that as a socialist you are required to believe that only things that fit the left wing narrative are true.
        However the rest of us do not suffer from such delusions.

      • Really Mark, you believe what Alec Jones tells you about pedophile rings run by politicians from Pizza houses? And many other outrageous allegations. That’s a sad reflection on your belief in climate scepticism. I mean , can anyone who believes Alec Jones and Breibart are unbiased and truthful news sources be relied on to be objective in climate science?
        The Guardian is biased and tends to support LibDems ( though not , as you believe, the hard left like Corbyn) but it rarely lies or makes up outrageous deceits in the manner of Alec Jones.

      • It really takes a total moron, but then again, you have fallen for the socialist chimera, to lump Fox and those others together.
        But then again, you have been trained to believe that anything you don’t agree with is a lie.

      • BTW, Breitbart has been proven to be accurate.
        Of the three Jones has the distinction of being slightly more accurate than the Guardian. The others are virtues of honesty compared to the Guardian.

  26. Cold war Plutonium factories called pressurized, boiling and supercritical water reactors are dangerous indeed. Whenever you put hot water under high pressure into a reactor core composed of solid metal components, it is a disaster waiting to happen. Also, as you only use up half a percent or so of fuel, you end up with a tremendous amount of waste, containing lots of long half life Plutonium. That is, waste can be mined for bomb material for tens of thousands of years. I do not know of any object that was guarded continuously since the dawn of civilization.
    On the other hand fuel dissolved in molten salt can’t be damaged structurally by neutrons, the molten salt itself does not have to be pressurized, since its boiling point is extremely high, the system has a negative temperature coefficient of reactivity, and almost all fuel can be burnt, meaning a hundred times less waste for the same energy output, containing no long half life radioisotopes.
    There is a huge difference between different basic nuclear reactor designs. Some are inherently safe with barely any control, others are like balancing a pencil on its tip.

  27. It’s worth remembering that more US citizens have been killed by firearms in the last 25 years than have died in every war she has fought. I think this puts the dangers of nuclear power in perspective.

    • Better supply some reliably sourced numbers on that. Cause probably isn’t true and smacks of anti second amendment nonsense. Civil war Union deaths 359,000. Confederate deaths 258,000. WW1 116,000. WW2 405, 000. This ignores Revolution, 1812, Spanish American, Vietnam…
      In 2013 (last years stats available) there were ~11000 homicides, ~500 axcidental gun deaths, and ~21000 gun suicides. The suicides don’t count for your purposes..

      • Many of the homicides don’t count either. When a person is determined to kill another, they will find a way.

      • MarkW
        If your comments were aimed at ristvan’s numbers, then this is he QED he left for you (otherwise, I apologize for incorrect target assumption)
        ristvans numbers for just the Civil, WW1 & WW2 wars add up to about 1.1M (historians will argue about numbers forever, but those are reasonably consensus, which counts in history…). I think most would agree suicides don’t count (if no gun, than something else).
        So you’re left with 25 yeas of 12,000/year = 300,000. Maybe YOU should have gone for the big number an claimed the last 100 years.

    • This is one of my sources below, there are many others. Even if you don’t believe it, the number killed by guns is stunningly high in the US. The post was meant to make a point on how we assess risk. In nuclear power any fatality results in substantial efforts to improve safety. In gun control the result of the wholesale slaughter is for a President to reduce the restriction on people who are deemed to be a risk obtaining firearms. It is a great example of national cognitive dissonance. The actual figures are included if anyone is interested.

      • I love the way leftists use political commentators as their source of ultimate truth.
        Unless you are a gang banger or suicidal, your risk of being killed by a gun is very, very low.

      • Mark W whines:
        “I love the way leftists use political commentators as their source of ultimate truth.
        Unless you are a gang banger or suicidal, your risk of being killed by a gun is very, very low.”
        But substantially higher than being a victim of Islamic terrorism or as a result of a nuclear accident.
        Interesting that being hurt by Islamic terrorism is an infinitely small chance, as is harm from nuclear power. But Trump bans Muslims, revokes gun controls and people here worry about nuclear safety ? Weird or what?
        By the way, the source material is not a left wing site, but even low IQ right wingers should be able to understand its unbiased and straightforward information. You may eventually realise it is a check on whether certain facts are correct or not, it is not political commentary as in Fox news and Breibart.

      • They weeny Gareth complains about Fox news, then he repeats many times refuted lies from his favorite propaganda site, the Guardian.
        Trump never banned muslims. He temporarily halted immigration from seven countries known to harbor terrorists.
        Trump hasn’t revoked any gun controls. Not a single one.
        Regardless, none of the gun control actually controls violence, they just make it harder for the victims to fight back. Which is how socialists like the world to be.
        I could repeat my refutations from earlier, but Gareth, like most socialists is impervious to any fact that hasn’t been filtered through the proper authorities and declared fit for human consumption.
        It beats actually having to think for yourself.

  28. Visited construction site at Moscow, Ohio, with reporters and local Chamber of Commerce. A relative was a grunt at a coal-, oil- & gas-fired plant some 40-50 miles away of the same firm. Months later, there was much fuss. The construction firm had not been doing any of the weld tests and were caught faking some by copying materials from more recent tests, so the nuclear plan was ditched.
    There was also fuss because some of the crew pranked the inspectors, dumping water and fire extinguisher down on them. This was a typical prank — along with shmearing limburger cheese on hot valve wheels — from the older plants, that the workers played amongst themselves, but this time the media and government went hysterical.
    In the end, it became a conventional fuel fired plant…the company just could not afford the furor and panic, and then they became Cinergy, then consolidated into Duke.

  29. Andy:
    My own research, drawn from here, plus some additional digging, yields a total of 184 direct deaths from radiation exposure or other accidents at nuclear plants, plus another 103 attributed excess cancer deaths since 1947. The breakdown is as follows:
    military research, tests and reactors (excluding weapons use): 34 actual / 33 attributed.
    civilian reactors: 61 actual / 70 attributed.
    radiography and radiotherapy accidents: 89 actual (there should be some attributable excess deaths, but I could not find any).
    Civilian reactor death figures include non-radiation causes, as these are fairly accounted as part of the risks of nuclear power.
    Most of the deaths from both civilian and military accidents were in the USSR. If we had figures for China and N. Korea, I expect these numbers would be higher.

    • Alan Watt: You could very well be correct. Even in peer reviewed literature I found numbers all over the place. Certainly the direct deaths due to the Chernobyl disaster were very low, no where near 4000. Sovacool documented what he did and provided a complete list and it was peer reviewed. Either way (4000 fatalities or 89), safety and fatalities are not the reasons why nuclear has not taken off. Let’s not get sidetracked on non-issues. The reasons are risk, liability, regulations and construction times. That was the point I was trying to make. To fix a problem, first identify what the problem really is.

      • “To fix a problem, first identify what the problem really is.”
        Spot on. And I thought the problem was that we are going to boil from raging heat and drown from rising sea levels. If anyone was serious about the death and devastation that will be caused by the direct and indirect cost of CAGW, nuclear is the only contender. To argue for renewables as a solution is to argue for technology just as unproven as Gen 4 nukes. But it’s more hypocritical because it ignores the appalling conditions that many of the required raw materials are going to be sourced from (and the supply/reserve limitations – they are called ‘rare earths’ for a reason). And whacking huge batteries on the side of every domestic house isn’t going to hurt anyone is it? Just check the stats on household deaths and injuries from electrocution and electrically caused fires …

      • Genetic injuries are obviously not important to some people but I would very much beg to differ. The ongoing horrors of Fukushima and Chernobyl are not minor incidents. They are ongoing messes. And then there is all the natural life forms forever damaged by nuke accidents…plants, animals, even humans…

      • As always, emsnews just makes it up has he/she/it goes.
        This nutcase is still trying to claim that last year, half the Humback whales in the Pacific suddenly died from radiation poisoning.

      • Emsnews-there is no credible evidence for genetic effects in humans, based on the studies of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki survivors.

      • The fact that you call me names is telling…pretending nuclear disasters are nothing won’t travel far where people have some sense of reality. I beg you all: prove me wrong.
        Move to Fukushima and get pregnant if you are a woman, if a man, volunteer to clean it up. The robots failed so maybe you can do the job there.

      • emsnews
        You made the claim, you ned to provide the evidence.
        You have (tried to) put Barbara in the position of proving a negative.
        If you have evidence of genetic effects on Hiroshima and Nagasaki survivors, cite it (I mean assuming it’s not the Daily Mail).

      • emsnewws, the Fukushima did not fail they were build at great expense for very specific areas of the plant to locate burned and spent fuel ( like through small openings like pipes etc. and under water) and operated on battery power when the battery power ran out they,…….
        you know stopped moving. and were left in place as it would have cost a fortune to design a new robot to retrieve them. Most of the reports on the robots are simply not true, yes they have had problems operating them because of the fact that they are remote controlled, operate under water in confined spaces and radiation interfered with video and with wiring, the controllers lost contact. Each one though has led to improvements but at a great cost. Not monetary but time wise, it can take 2 to 3 years to develope a new one.
        But hey, I hope your basement is warm.

      • emsnews: I drive by one of those yellow radiation signs on my way to my cabin. It’s a former uranium mine where my husband worked.
        I would love to visit and study Chernobyl, though the access is very limited by Russia. (Your “help clean-up” in nonsense. Neither country will allow such a thing and you most certainly know that.) It is a fascinating area, and many areas of study are being suppressed to maintain the fear level. The women who still live in the area are a golden opportunity to study why some people are not affected by radiation as much as others, but politics says that’s impossible, so no one is studying this and science is completely shut out. It’s criminal. To simply refuse to look at reality in the name of continuing to terrify people.

  30. Steam boiler explosions in the 19th century killed a lot more people than nuclear power has. In one incident alone, the Sultana in 1865, an estimated 1,700 people died from the explosion, steam burns, or drowning when the ship sank. Granted, the Sultana was criminally overloaded, but the same explosion if loaded to legal capacity would still have killed more than all the reactor deaths to date.

    • How many generations of survivors of that ship disaster had to deal with birth mutations, early deaths, etc? These two types of events cannot be compared. Fukushima is still polluting Japan and causing genetic problems. Not to mention, where the Sultana sank isn’t a disaster zone to this day, too dangerous to stay for long unlike Fukushima where even robots die from radiation effects trying to just ‘see’ what is going on there.

      • Carol died of thyroid cancer. I had to be operated on that same year because my own thyroid had problems, too. I can’t tell you all how frightening this is. It is no joke, not a thing to swipe aside with ‘few died’ when it hits home.

      • You receive more radiation from your granite counter top than most people who lived near Fukushima received.

      • emsnews, what you are engaging in is what I will call the “Silent Spring” fallacy, that artificial risks are much worse than natural risks. If the level of radioactivity does not go up appreciably, it does not matter that part of that level is produced by evil man. Try doing research on the failure of the so-called “Linear-no threshold ” model of radiation effects.

      • emsnews: I was reacting to Andy May’s claim of “4,231 fatalities due to nuclear accidents since 1952.” This number was an order of magnitude higher than I had gleaned from previous research, so I challenged it.
        You can discuss non-fatal injuries resulting from nuclear power, but that’s a separate issue from getting the fatality numbers correct and in perspective.

      • I didn’t know there is an army of people desiring to move to places where nuclear disasters are happening. Seriously, they are in desperate need for volunteers. Sitting safe at home while this goes on is wrong. Contact the Japanese and Ukrainians and tell them you are ready and willing.

      • I doubt if you or anyone you has had cancer probably linked to cancer. I think you are just another troll pushing lies.

      • emsnews: I got tongue cancer with ZERO risk factors. NONE. NADA. ZIP. Very depressing—nothing to blame, nothing to sit around in terror of…..oh, wait, maybe it’s better that way. I just dealt with it and went on, not looking under rocks with a geiger counter or eating only organic and wearing a charcoal filter mask everywhere (though acquaintances of mine do that due to fear of “chemicals”). Having things to blame is not always a good thing.

      • I didn’t know there is an army of people desiring to move to places where nuclear disasters are happening. Seriously, they are in desperate need for volunteers

        There are a lot of people in the third world who would jump at the chance to live in a modern country like Japan. And the fact that the would be exposed to tiny amounts of additional radiation would not be any kind of deterrent.
        Not that there’s any need for volunteers now. But in the unlikely event that something like that would happen again in a modern country, working there would be a lot safer than trying to get into Europe in a leaky boat, like many refugees have been trying to do recently.
        BTW I’m sorry that your Carol died of thyroid cancer, and that you’ve had thyroid problems too. I’ve had cancer three times and two were quite threatening.

      • In another forum I once debated a young man who was 100% opposed to automobiles. He wanted the government to ban them and he would not accept any compromise.
        When pressed we finally found out that his mother was killed in an auto accident when he was young.
        From this he had concluded that cars were unacceptably dangerous and there was absolutely nothing that would ever change his mind. The more people ignored him and kept using their cars, the angrier he got.
        emsnews reminds me of that young man.

      • According to Erik Larson (don’t have the book so don’t know his reference), around 1900, two pedestrians a day were killed by trains in Chicago alone, a larger number maimed, and a dozen daily in fires. That’s not even counting things like diphtheria, typhus, cholera, influenza, etc. (they’d reversed the Chicago River by then but enough rain could still push sewage out into Lake Michigan and into the city’s water system).
        Don’t recall the numbers, but I’ve seen stats on farmers (and, in particular, on farm kids) from that era that were pretty ugly. Life in general in the 1800s was much more dangerous than most people think. Most Americans take for granted a level of safety that earlier generations would consider paradisaical.

  31. Here in the US, it is not just nuclear, it is everything. The regulatory agencies seem to have an agenda to kill any proposal with a hugely complex and expensive permitting process. Then you have the third party actors. In Massachusetts, there is the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF), ostensibly dedicated to protecting the environment. A spox for CLF stated once “We have shut down bigger projects than this. We just tie them up in court and force them to burn through all their cash.”
    A case for a Gas Fired plant:
    After a few years of wrangling, a power company built a plant in Bellingham, MA. It was successful, and the company wanted to build a second plant in Franklin, MA, which is right beside Bellingham. So the local populace was familiar with the plant, and knew it to be a good neighbor. Nonetheless, the Greenies went wild. Pollution, toxic waste, poisoning the children, explosion hazard, the works. All for a gas fired plant. Then the Franklin Town Council got involved. They negotiated point after point, getting concession after concession. Then they would negotiate something else, and reopen settled issues, Then they wanted to restart the negotiations from the beginning. All the while playing politics with their local base.
    The company gave up and offered the second plant to Bellingham, which eagerly accepted.
    The town of Franklin then filed a lawsuit to “recover” taxes they would have gotten if they would have approved to plant.
    Now try this with a nuclear plant. Imagine all these regulatory and permitting games being played at the local and the state and the federal levels. Add in third parties pinning you down in court, just to make you burn through cash.
    And then people will turn around and say “It costs too much, and takes too long, it just is not viable.” Why do you suppose that is?

    • No regulator ever got fired for turning down a project.
      On the other hand agencies have gotten into a lot of trouble when something went wrong at a project they had approved.
      Institutionally, there is a huge bias towards rejecting everything.

  32. Mankind has only one limiting resource, cheap energy. With cheap energy we can make all the fresh water we need to bloom all the deserts we want. We can suck gold out of seawater and melt tunnels through mountains. All we need is cheap energy. Eventually we will need to go nuclear. We can do this people.

  33. Why mention loss of Cobalt-60 source in conjunction with discussion of the risk of nuclear power? We would be making and using cobalt-60 sources whether or not we build and operate nuclear power plants.

  34. It is not at all safe in geologically active regions with violent earthquakes, tsunamis and active volcanoes. Japan and Indonesia being two prime examples of this. Nor should nuclear power be used by dictators running crazy governments like we saw in Ukraine.

    • emsnews – you are partially correct. Geologically active regions are very, very dangerous. Approximately 20,000 people died in the Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011. Zero of them died from radiation. If you really care about saving lives, I suggest you campaign to evacuate Japan.

      • How clever. Ahem: Fukushima is still polluting the ocean and Japan. It is not over. It is certainly not ‘fixed’ or even ‘cleaned up.’ The side effects are serious. Humans cannot get anywhere near where the radiation is happening, the recent robot that was supposed to be able to enter and see what is going on, fell apart quickly due to the violence of the radiation. This is no joking matter.

      • Emnews – the robots that have recently entered to obtain additional information on the fuel melt penetrated farther than they’d gone in before. Closer to the core, the higher the radiation – not unexpected, nor was the eventual failure of the robots. It was expected due to the known very, very high radiations levels near the fuel. In part the problems with the clean-up have been driven by the very fear you express. I believe it is real fear, but not rational based on actual residual levels of contamination in the vast majority of cases.

      • I am not a ‘he’ I am a female who knows how to hold up my end in an argument and I can speed type, too.
        The solidarity front on this topic is interesting to me. It shows how people can fool themselves when they choose ideology over reality. The reality here is, Fukushima didn’t just ‘blow up’…it was flooded with mere water and then blew up!
        Now…think carefully…if mere water can cause a massive catastrophe that continues for years…who could resist doing something nasty in the future to another nuclear power plant to make life very hard or impossible for someone else?
        Remember: simple water did this! And a number of nations have plenty of bombs that can do worse.

      • This is the way a p@r@noid mind works.
        The fact that everyone disagrees with it, is just proof of how big the conspiracy is.
        It’s a lot like the people who are convinced that the moon landings were fake.
        To them it’s so obvious that they are totally dumb founded that there is anyone who disagrees with them.
        When you try to explain the science to them, they refuse to listen.

    • “It is not at all safe in geologically active regions with violent earthquakes, tsunamis …” I assume you mean nuclear power generation, but you could insert anything there and be correct.
      Lots and lots of things aren’t safe in geologically active regions with violent earthquakes, tsunamis … lots and lots of things aren’t safe..
      Bathtubs, without the little rubber adhesive ducks in the bottom, aren’t safe in geologically active regions with violent earthquakes, tsunamis, or volcanoes. Bathtubs, WITH rubber ducks, in areas of violent earthquakes and volcanoes, are safer (but still not completely safe).
      Bathtubs, with adhesive ducks, in Akron Ohio (no earthquakes or volcanoes there), with grab bars and walk in doors, might be the safest place on earth to bathe. Notwithstanding, I’ll take the risk and bathe at home instead of going to Akron, but I draw the line at a potentially slippery bathtub.
      You draw the line at nuclear power generation and I’ll draw the line at bathtubs without adhesive rubber ducks. Let us both keep up the good fight.

      • A bathtub isn’t Fukushima. And as I pointed out earlier, the disaster wasn’t caused by the earthquake there, it was caused by a sudden flood. WATER caused the disaster which is still very much a disaster. I call that ‘very fragile systems’ not ‘robust and safe systems’.

      • A massive tsunami is different from a normal flood. (Said wave was also caused by the earthquake, by the way) Comparing the two shows that you are fundamentally unserious. And now US plants are designed with even more redundancy, with outside power facilities in water-tight buildings.

      • in 2014, Japan, 4,800 people drowned in bathtubs (there were no statistics available that were related to presence, or lack of, adhesive ducks). Bathtubs aren’t Fukushima … but they are pretty scary.
        There is an obvious nexus between cheap (nuclear) energy and bathtub accidents; If the cost to warm the water was significantly higher, there would obviously less bathing time for the people in the tubs, and therefore less drownings. With cheap electricity (from Fukushima nuclear or any other source), there would be more people-hours bathing and more drownings.
        Expensive energy (and adhesive ducks) saves lives.
        The above may seem silly, but it is based on solid fact. Starting with emotional based concerns and fears, then intermingling fact based arguments to make a point is silly.

    • emsnews – The nuclear core did not “blow up.” When the earthquake occurred, it took down all the off-site sources of power. The diesel generators kicked in as planned. When the tsunami arrived it impacted the diesel generators powering reactors 1 through 4, because those had been sited below-grade (due to concerns about earthquakes). The diesel generators powering units 5 and 6 had at least two that were elevated and continued to function. These could have been used to power units 1 through 3 (unit 4 actually had been completely de-fueled prior to the accident for maintenance), but for the fact that the power distribution center was also located below grade and flooded by the tsunami. The explosions were hydrogen explosions (which I can explain if necessary, but suffice it to say they were) not “nuclear” explosions. A full description of the accident can be found here: https://www.nap.edu/catalog/18294/lessons-learned-from-the-fukushima-nuclear-accident-for-improving-safety-of-us-nuclear-plants.
      Disclaimer: I served on the committee that wrote the report. All comments here are my personal opinion and do not represent the opinions of the NAS, but you can read it for yourself and see if I’m misrepresenting it. I don’t think I am. There is also discussion of the potential health effects in the context of the emergency response in Chapter 6. It’s a free download.

  35. Joel is right that the aim should be cheap energy and irrational nuclear fears stand in the way. Another way to think about this is that lack of energy resource is a bigger killer than anyway so far devised of producing it: poverty kills and the surest way to improve lifespan and human health is to provide energy to people without access to it. All the rest follows on.

  36. These fears are not ‘irrational’. If power plants are not carefully run, supervised or built on insane places like all of Japan or Indonesia or other volcano/earthquake/tsunami places, then all is well but then, they always end up putting these in stupid, dangerous places or political things deteriorate and things fall apart and voila: these entities are then incredibly dangerous.

    • Emsnews, empathtic to yourmpersonal plight. But, past need not be future,prologue because things change. My books show rather conclusively,thatnnuclear will eventually be needed. Now, I qdvocate we tale the time and care to domit right next time.

      • Then there is terror attacks and wars: remember, in all wars, nuke plants will be a #1 target. If hit, it ‘gives trouble’ for a long, long, long time. We cannot assume there will never be wars for history shows very clearly, there is. Ditto in spades with terror attacks.

      • emsnews
        O God; o god. We all need college safe zones to curl up in…
        Frankly, you demonstrate a juvenile understanding & ability to function in the real world. Yea, things are not black & white, but most mature humans have a brain that can identify & prioritize threats. Granted, nuclear threats are a little more complicated because of black swans (and goof-balls like you), public ignorance and radiation damage takes place almost invisibly (unlike a gun wound).
        It is quite possible (but not probable) that I will get hit by a meteorite tomorrow, but I’m not looking to buy a steel umbrella.

      • emsnews: Do you have a source for the statement “nuke plants will be a #1 target” or is that just your opinion? To be honest, there are a lot better things to start with than nuclear plants. Dirty bombs are just as effective in spreading fear and much easier to create. Knocking out communications could be a first priority—terror reigns when Twitter and Facebook go dead. Damaging water supplies. There are so many things people never think about but the terrorists and enemies in wars are sitting around coming up with these ideas. That’s how we got the biggest terrorist attack in America—doing the unexpected.

      • The ‘proof’ is obvious! Even ordinary power plants are a huge target in wars! A nuke plant would be double trouble for the victims and thus, a very enticing target. Doubt this, ask the Pentagon about these matters.
        I cannot imagine a military group being so arrogant to imagine an enemy seeking to destroy us, would overlook this sort of troublesome target. I give other humans credit for being able to figure out the obvious.
        Wishful thinking that nuke plants would be ignored by enemies is…well, hide under your umbrella, its going to rain cats and dogs.

      • Do you realize how hard it is to destroy a nuclear power plant as compared to a chemical plant? The containment building is inside a *reinforced concrete bunker* These are designed to take a 9-11 style attack. They also have the best security guards in the private sector – ex-military people with assault rifles and sniper rifles, using security system that can pinpoint intruders rapidly. Nuclear plants are only on the target list if you are facing a top-notch military, and if Russia is invading nuclear power plants are the least of our problems. Most chemical plants just have a gate guard, and some terminals or substations only have a fence.
        In short, I want terrorist to attack nuclear plants, because then they will die, and not attack chemical plants or other soft targets.

      • A simple big wave starts the biggest nuclear meltdown/explosion in history and you all think that these places are totally protected from war missiles? All they have to do is disrupt how the place is run (like mess with all the support systems) to cause a disaster. I can think of many things that could be set off. It isn’t all that difficult. I hope our ‘leaders’ do studies about this while they push for war with Russia and China.

      • emsnews: I want you on the opposing side in a war. Your strategy and understanding of what can and should be wiped out to win is definitely going to keep our side the winner. Unless, of course, you have something to generate a “simple big wave” (definite indication of NO understanding of reality there) and take out a nuclear plant. If you could that, you wouldn’t need the nuclear plant, you could just hit New York, DC and California. Happily, you’d be looking for a nuclear plant and not doing anything so effective as taking out coastal cities.

      • They crashed a jet into a wall built to the same standards as the walls for containment vessels.
        The jet was going over 400mph. The hole it made in a 12 foot thick wall was about 2 inches deep.
        Your fear of terrorists destroying a nuclear plant is as irrational as the rest of your fears.
        Terrorists would kill thousands times more people by putting that bomb into any number of chemical plants, causing the release of a toxic cloud.

      • Sherri, emsnews is a lot like a lot of the CO2 alarmists. They are on a mission from god to save the world.
        Facts are not important. The mission and the feeling of importance that it gives to their otherwise meaningless lives is all that matters.
        If emsnews were to admit that her fears were unfounded, it would destroy the only thing that gives her life meaning. So naturally she rejects any information that doesn’t agree with what she already believes.

      • Back in the 80’s, I worked on an upgrade for the Vogle nuclear power plant in Georgia.
        It was an information management system based on requirements that were generated after TMI.
        The system took in information from the plant and presented it on graphic displays. Original system had each signal as it’s own analog display. (The operator had to scan dozens of dials and determine what was going on in the plant based on what each was displaying.)
        We also designed and built the case for the displays and computers.
        The cabinets were built out of 1/4 inch steel, and the monitors were covered with bullet proof glass. We had to use the over head crane in order to assemble the thing for our tests.
        These things were built with terrorists in mind.

  37. The article claiming nuke power is too dangerous is based on lies. Isn’t the current term for articles like this “fake news”?

  38. Most interesting thread, well prepared and thoughtful, regardless of the self-perceived road-blocks Janice chooses mendaciously(?) to trip you up.
    My FLONUPS proposal ((Floating Nuclear Power Stations) answers most (all) of the problems raised. Let me briefly elaborate:
    1. Location:
    1.1. There’s many a nuclear reactor driving ships/submarines. Does Joe Public work about them? NOOOOO! Not even in Plymouth Sound where RN nuclear subs. dock for maintenance. My point is: OUT OF SIGHT, OF OF MIND!!!! Sooo….. FLONUPS!
    1.2. Nuc. Power Stations have (without exception?) been land based world-wide. The Regulations, Approvals & Permitting processes are vastly complex when dealing with Land-Use issues, local Planning Regs., NIMBYists from a 50 km.(??) radius of the proposed site and their concomitant political pressure; land-acquisition & re-zoning processes, Nuclear Regulatory Authorities (the ultimate bureaucracy of sinecure-retainers?), never-ending ALARP hurdles …. a self-perpetuatiuing gravy-train of obstructionism aided-and-abetted by the Regulators themselves and the pols. who hide behind them. In short, Committee-fied forever.
    1.3. Were the Gov’t to enact enabling legislation for offshore FLONUPS in 200 mile Teritorial Waters, the procedural road-blocks enumerated above would largely evaporate. Locate them just over the horizon (out of sight, out-of-mind!!) and the Average Joe couldn’t care less.
    2. Safety & Containment Issues:
    2.1. First & foremost, were there a catastrophic failure of a packaged, self-contained reactor unit in a FLONUP cell (one of six +/-?), it would be — what? — 25 km. removed from any significant community …. not ‘down the road’. (Tick one for ‘out-of-sight-out-of-mind!)
    2.2. The closest we have got to complete nucler power-station failures have been Chernobyl & Fukushima. The learned debate is endless, but the consensus is that Safety Protocols were the root cause of melt-down at Chernobyl, and ‘What-If’ Disaster scenarios for Fukushima fell short in the Planning process.
    2.3. Please excuse my ‘shouting’ BUT WERE THE FUKUSHIMA STATION PREDICATED ON FLONUP PRINCIPLES, THERE WOULD HAVE BEEN ***NO*** DISASTER ….. and this is illustrative of my ALARP, Risk-Minimization Strategy with FLOUNPS.
    2.3. In extremis, Chernobyl & Fukushima have demonstrated that MASSIVE WATER COOLING / CONTAINMENT IS THE FIRST RECOURSE. (Remember the pathetic images of helicopters dropping canvas-buckets of water? Nigh useless!) With a FLONUP unit, all marine-style package-reactor units will be located within the hull of the floating r.c. caisson SO AS TO BE BELOW EXTERNAL WATER LEVEL. In short, nigh-instantaneous gravity flooding of a rogue reactor WITHIN ITS RESPECTIVE SELF-CONTAINMENT CELL.
    2.4. Geological Risks:
    2.4.1. Earthquke direct: I am not a Geologist, but my reading leads me to conclude that a FLONUP offshore of Fukushima WOULD HAVE BEEN UNAFFECTED BY THE EARTHQUAKE per se ( I stand to be corrected, please.)
    2.4.1. Tsunami: All studies I read indicate that IF LOCATED IN DEEP-ENOUGH WATER, the tsunami pressure-wave passes below a floating structure with minimal disturbance (tsunamis only become dangerous when the pressure-wave meets shallowing-water).
    2.3. In Summary as to Safety & Containment, FLONUPS offer practical, fundamental, mantra-breaking solutions to both situational & operational isues in the context of Nuclear Power. Pack a bunch (6? 8?) of prefabricated marine-style power units into a massive reinforced-concrete floating caisson, each within its own r.c. containment cell, and you achieve an Nuclear Power Station with a fraction of the Safety & Containment isues encumbering a land-based alternative as perceived by the neighbours.
    3. Construction & Cost-Control Advantages:
    3.1 Land-based NPPs typically take — what? — 7-11 years to build a 2000MW (+/-) unit.
    3.2. The revolutionary concept of FLONUPS is its PRODUCTION-LINE principle, USING PREFABRICATED COMPONENTS.
    3.3. The reinforced-concrete (r.c.) caisson production technology dates back to the 1940s and Mulberry Harbour design (many units of which are extant despite the tests of time, 70 years later). Proven technology.
    3.4. Marine-style, pre-packaged, nucler-power units are proven, reliable technology.
    3.5. Marry the two in a production-line process established in traditional ship-building locations, where cellular-caissons can be slip-formed down ramps, floated and fitted with all electro-mechanical eqpt., before commissioning on-station offshore.
    3.5. Tailor the production-line process to match long-term, power-demand growth. Say one FLONUP @ 600 MW aggregate output per year?
    3.6. Moor succesive FLONUP units into a FLONUP Flotilla, say 6 geometrically spaced FLONUPS in a circular array, 3km. dia??, cented on a Mother FLONUP (first unit produced) which is Control, Operations & Mainenance Centre.

    • You make some great points and the manufacturing of floating platforms for production is existing tech, think oil platforms and all the tech that is applicable to your suggestion. I like it!

    • It is irrational to think humans can’t screw up things, we have tons of proof to the fact humans tend to screw up things. Forgetting about the dangers of humans deliberately attacking nuclear power plants is strange to me, if I were an evil person, that would be my #1 target and trust me on this: the world teems with nasty people who are evil.
      That reason alone is good grounds for fear. Dams are another item for ‘bombing’ for example. But the after effects of nuclear failures last a great deal longer than dam breaks.

  39. Ross King’s last …. P.S. to myself, and catching up with recent comments:
    Yes, indeed, the Regulatory/Bureaucratic/Health&Safety tentacles are all-crushing. “Precautionary Principle” is the Death of Progress.
    That’s why my FLONUPS proposal above has so much merit as it woirks around these obstacles …. for now, at least.

  40. Re: Ross King & FLONUPS, I stupidly forgot to invoke Henry Ford. Mass-production brought affordable personal trnsportation to the masses. Revolutionary … and few wd disagree?
    By extension, how about — gasp! — cheap energy for the masses? FLONUPS bringing affordable, reliable, non-polluting power to the Average Joes?
    F*uck those who insist on driving the price of energy EVER UPWARDS out of some perverted campaign to starve/freeze the proles out of existence (genocide to the benefit of the Privileged and their silver-spooned descendants???)

  41. I feel this article is misleading with respect to TVA’s Bellefonte Nuclear plant. While it is true the TVA withdrew the withdraw its application for a combined operating license for the reactors at Bellefonte in Feb of 2016. The author fails to observe that TVA sold the facility at auction to Nuclear Development LLC in September of 2016 and that the new owner plans to spend $13 billion to put the nuclear facility into production. (See http://www.al.com/news/huntsville/index.ssf/2016/11/an_unfinished_alabama_nuclear.html )
    As a matter of ethical full discloser please be aware that I was a member of the TVA capacity planning team that dealt with decisions regarding Bellefonte. (I retired in 2014). Further be aware my observations reflect my personal views and are not to be confused with, or reflect, the views of the TVA.

      • I know what you mean, if you hung around TVA long enough you’d end up working on some aspect of the project. The difference, I suppose, is I was one of the people who recommended it’s permanent closure. Of course the darned thing hung around so long I suppose someone had to put it our of it’s misery. 🙂

  42. I hope this site allows arguing points passionately. I can see people here are mostly in harmony with the idea that nuclear power is the answer to the need for energy and it can…to a point. But minimizing the downside of this isn’t good tactics, it makes people withdraw and look at you all in a way that isn’t flattering.
    That is, it is not making your position credible if you act as if nothing bad has happened with nuclear power in the past or that it is a small matter.

    • Yes, there is a fair amount of agreement by the proprietor and main contributors, as well as most commenters, on a good many issues. What you are getting trashed for is accepting what are very weak to disproven claims about the health risks of nuclear power. The only theme of the anti-nuclear activists you seem to have missed is an old claim from the 1970’s that the backround rate of cancer is caused by the backround level of radiation, and the risk curve is dished in shape.
      Nuclear war would be a horror, but much of the agitprop is suspected of being KGB sponsored from the Cold War.

      • What? The KGB and Soviets told everyone, their Tsar Bomb for example, was perfectly safe! I lived through those years and remember it very, very well. Stopping the above ground nukes was a hard battle.

    • emsnews
      You’re getting push-back from a pretty educated & senior group of people who are used to dealing with chicken-littles. You come in here with a highly emotional argument and you won’t have much effect.
      A bottom, we’re dealing with probabilities: you say we’re all going to suffer horrible nuclear deaths tomorrow; many of the rest of us are saying we do not believe you. You’ve responded with no reasonable evidence.
      What do you expect? Infinite respect for your undocumented opinion just because you are you?

      • Exaggerating what my warnings are about doesn’t change what I am saying: the RISKS inherent in nuclear power plants when something goes terribly wrong is huge, not small. There is obvious proof of this. If you all want to persuade outsiders, that is, people not in your immediate circle, making light of this is not going to work.
        Think! If you claim the problems are small, people will disregard all other information coming from you all! The concept that nuclear messes are terrible to fis, nearly impossible to fix in the case of Fukushima, for example, and that was due to a bad flood event, no less.
        Now imagine a Fukushima event caused by terrorists. If you think there is zero chance of that happening, think a bit longer, I would propose it is quite likely to happen some year because it is a prime candidate for attack. See?

    • ems, This site gets hit by trolls like you quite frequently. Spew on until you cross the threshold and trigger the moderators to intervene.

    • If bad things that happened with nuclear power are small matters, the position remains credible. It’s that you define “small matter” much differently than others and seem to apply it exclusively to nuclear power.
      As far as I can tell right now, if an omniscient being arrived and declared nuclear power was sufficiently safe, you would still reject the idea. There is NOTHING that can change your mind—meaning the belief is based on feelings and faith. Only you can ever change your mind and you don’t seem so inclined. I suspect you’re going to “look at us in a way that isn’t flattering” unless we jump on board your fear wagon, so there’s no winning with you in any possible way. Complete capitulation is the only way we can look “nice”.

    • See my post below on Thorcon for an entirely different kind of nuclear power based on thorium and molten salt as a coolant. Vastly different from uranium water cooled reactors. The criticisms of uranium light water reactors have virtually no application to thorium molten salt reactors. None. The systems are that radically different.

  43. Andy, you have been taken in by “fake news”. 4000 of your deaths are estimates made by UN experts (at the time) “likely to happen” because of Chernobyl. So far there have been 79 deaths – this was the figure in Wikipedia up until less than a year ago because I’ve commented on this at WUWT in the past. They’ve changed it because of the growing interest in nuclear, I’m sure). Still, look at the country list they still have and you will see that most of the deaths were caused by steam explosions. The most nuclear electrified country in the world – France had only one (now not shown by Wiki) and this was at a spent fuel plant (it could even have been a forklift accident – they don’t say nuclear). US had 3 deaths and this was from a steam explosion in a National testing plant at Idaho Falls. A number of accidents in Japan were steam explosions (bad engineering that could happen at a gas fired or coal fired plant). Please go to this Wiki and count the deaths and revise your post.

  44. Andy, while your are at it, check the deaths from coal mining until recent years there were over 4000 deaths a year in China alone. There have been hundreds of thousands of coal mine deaths. I don’t think report has been lazily researched – not up to your standards. Check out windmill and solar deaths – quite a few of the latter in California.

    • This is true of all energy systems: no one wants to live near any of these. They want them far away while enjoying the fruits of the systems. The question always is, when things go very wrong, how long does it take to recover to NORMAL.
      And if the harm goes on and on and on. So far, every major nuke disaster is never ending. This is a gigantic problem that can’t be papered over with statistics. Almost all other accidents come to a close and can be fixed.
      The two major examples of never ending nuke disasters are outstanding.

      • Any accident and/or power source can be made never-ending. Coal plants spewing pollutants years ago killing with cancer now. Make the time needed for the bad outcome last years. Asbestos comes to mind—never ending fear of mesothelioma that takes 30 or more years to show up. Explosion of a natural gas plant—make downstream pollution responsible for tainting water supplies and causing cancer 10 years later. Obviously, a dam that washes out an entire valley and miles of surrounding territory takes years to go away and may never be “fixed”, just worked around. Renewables using rare earths have reportedly resulted in the radioactive poisoning of areas of China—can’t clean that one up, but it wasn’t widely reported. There was no huge outcry to stop building wind turbines because the manufacture thereof irradiated an area. Seems radiation is mostly a problem when you can make huge political gains out of it. China and the people therein are apparently not in that category.
        If by NORMAL you mean “like it was before the accident” I would argue that many accidents create areas that never return to normal. Also, Chernobyl and Fukushima are very small areas which might actually be habitable, but it will never be allowed to keep FEAR alive. There are people living inside the Chernobyl “no-go” zone. Eventually, there may be in Fukushima.
        If by NORMAL you mean ZERO radiation, that exists virtually no where. Yet that is often the standard for judging “normal”, even with no pre-accident measurements made. All of this involved defining variables to make sure your conclusion is supported. I would say that is mostly a circular argument—it’s bad because I say it is and I say it is because it’s bad.

      • The difference between that all possibilities is nothing compared to Fukushima. Even when terrible pollution events happen, once the event is over, then there is a clean up or clear up. But Fukushima is quite different: it continues today. And will tomorrow. And so far, next year! And the years after that, as far as I can see since no robot or human can spend more than one minute near the source of the dangerous pollution.
        It cooks away relentlessly…worse than a nuclear bomb which dissipates relatively quickly. This pollution also changes genetic life forms. No trivial matter. Quite the opposite.

      • I disagree. The difference is FEAR. Nothing more. You can’t go near a live volcano any more than you can Fukushima, nor can robots survive inside said volcano, but there’s no hysterics over not being able to live near a live volcano. People aren’t terrified of the volcanoes. Plus, every so often, areas get buried under tons of molten lava. The landscape changes for centuries. Again, there’s no terror of volcanoes, generally speaking. There are many places on earth that are not inhabitable. There are also places where radiation is naturally high, yet people do live there.
        Mining in the early 1900’s dumped tons of arsenic and other toxic chemicals into streams, killed wildlife, and left a legacy that is still being cleaned up. I don’t see any difference here. A mess is a mess. The area with the mess is marked and people stay away.

      • Sheri, there are things you better fear. A nuclear reactor blowing up should be near the top of the list along with volcanic eruptions if you are nearby or standing below a dam as it breaks, etc.

      • emsnews,
        Risk = severity x probability.
        Nuclear accidents are low in severity, as they tend not to kill many people. Chernobyl used a design that would never be allowed in the US and was inherently prone to runaway. Fukushima has been emitting low-level contaminated water, and is hard to clean up. We are talking small potatoes in the realm of industrial accidents here.
        They are also low in probability. The safety culture in nuclear power is better than any other major industry. Reactor operators train heavily and are held to exacting standards. The plants are designed with inherently safe systems and defense in depth that would be the envy of nearly any other industry.

      • These ‘inherently safe systems’ are not operational. There is obvious proof of this: Fukushima. There was no way to stop the events that happened once the wave came in. This is only one example of what can go wrong and how bad it is.

      • emsnews: There are things I fear—such as people who think nuclear power plants are sooooo dangerous and radiation is going to kill everyone no matter what the level. Those people will keep third world countries in dire poverty, killing millions to save themselves from dealing with reality. Those people SHOULD be feared.
        “There was no way to stop the events that happened once the wave came in.” This is an extremely rare event. You are asking human beings to create completely fail-safe devices—an impossibility. You seem to care nothing about people dying from “normal” events, however, so your concern seems based on phobia, not rational thought. You don’t scream we should outlaw cars, or alcohol, or pain killers or…….These kill MILLIONS yet you’re okay with that. Your phobia is not a reason to abandon a useful source of power.

  45. ..Would it not be feasible to build Nuclear power plants deep underground, thus increasing the safety margin..?

    • There is tremendous power and energy in the core of the planet, so much, it periodically explodes to the surface via what we call ‘volcanoes.’ 🙂

      • EMS
        Do you have an actual job with all the normal cares & concerns, or do you just fixate on nuclear plants melting down, blowing up, whatever?

      • The desire to not worry about possible future events similar to Fukushima is causing you to attack me for telling the truth about reality. This is called ‘being doctrinaire.’ It is how humans react to incoming information: they dislike this if it clashes with ideology which is why humans tend to get in trouble due to refusal to see what is happening.
        People living in very dangerous places like California which has happy sunshine much of the time, are prone to this, for example. People living on the flanks of volcanoes or very, very close by like the many millions in Tokyo or Seattle, or Mt. Versuvius, live in denial, too. It is easy to fall into denial.

      • emsnews: Is there anything you know that is actually true?
        Compare the total amount of energy in a nuclear power plant to the amount of energy released by a volcano. The power plant is so low that it won’t even show up in the rounding error.
        We used to set off nuclear explosions underground on a regular basis, and not a single one of them ended up erupting like a volcanoe.
        You are further discrediting yourself every time you post.

      • emsnews. Of course, you are the only person in the whole world who sees the truth and is capable of dealing with reality as it is.
        The mere fact that so few people agree with you is just more proof of how smart and precious you are.
        It’s what gives your life meaning and the only reason you have for getting up in the morning.

  46. If nuclear power was invented today it would be celebrated as the saviour of the world .
    Funny how the earth has a fever cult is anti nuclear too .
    It is only when you realize global warming fear mongering isn’t actually about the environment that
    the eco-activists hypocrisy makes sense .

  47. I’m with you on this one, Andy. My position is and has always been that the catastrophic potential downside of nuclear power production as we have employed it in commercial electric power plants is not worth the upside, so long as we have reasonably priced conventional alternatives. The Fukashima units some commenters are writing were “flawed” are almost exact copies of TVA’s Browns Ferry boiling water reactors that continue to operate today. The fundamental “flaw” was loss of coolant and no matter how many redundant cooling water means are installed, the finite possibility of a loss of coolant meltdown is shared by every pressurized-water (G.E. design) or boiling-water (Westinghouse design) reactor in operation anywhere in the world today.
    note: I designed portions of all the TVA nuclear plants mention in this piece when I worked for that federal agency back on the 1970’s.

    • the finite possibility of a loss of coolant meltdown is shared by every pressurized-water (G.E. design) or boiling-water (Westinghouse design) reactor in operation anywhere in the world today.

      If only there were designs that had already been built and tested which weren’t PWR’s or BWR’s…

    • Thank you for the information. I have zero training in nuclear power plant technology beyond reading and figuring it out but I grew up inside the nuclear bomb research systems after WWII. I got to listen to the scientists discuss everything because my father took us all over the place with him and didn’t hide anything from us kids.

      • ems
        With all due respect, being dragged around by your dad (?) is not how you learn about nuclear power plants (and bombs, for gods sake). How about starting with a degree in physics?

      • I build houses and other structures. I have a lot of training in that field. When discussing safety issues about any sort of structure, I have the information at hand and I have a lot of experience in this area.
        Years and years ago, I got in a fight with the Port Authority over the design of the World Trade Center buildings. This was due to the ‘revolutionary new way’ of making a structure by not using the ‘honeycomb’ method but having it all hooked up to the elevator shafts with the floors ‘open’.

      • emsnews: You are the poster child for nuclear paranoia based on seeing nuclear as a BOMB and nothing else. That’s what happens when a parent fails to properly educate his child, showing only ONE side of an issue and creating a phobic adult. (Seems he hid a lot of things from you.)

    • Saying there is a finite probability does not tell you much. There is a finite probability of a gas turbine plant turning into a fireball as well, but we generally do not consider that because gas turbine plants are designed with safety systems to prevent that, and thus the finite probability is small to the point of insignificance. There is a finite probability that the elevator you take will fall as well – do you always use the stairs?
      The flaw was the siting of the backup generators that were unable to power the cooling pumps. That has been corrected at all US nuclear facilities, and INPO / NRC inspectors will shut down plants that are not up to spec. There has also been discussion of natural circulation reactors, where there are no pumps needed.

    • One chance in a billion of an accident who’s only consequence is the loss of the core, completely contained within the containment vessel, is too much for some people to contemplate.
      A worst case scenario happened at 3-mile Island, and the result was that a small amount of radioactive hydrogen was released and the containment vessel is now closed to the public for a couple hundred years.
      Big freaking deal.

    • But the molten salt reactor at Oak Ridge operated at ambient atmosphere. See thorcon link below. As long as you use water as a coolant you are right. But not if you use molten salt as they did in the MRSE project at Oak Ridge.

  48. like the loss of a Cobalt-60 source in Ikitelli, Turkey.

    Like claiming that a steam locomotive that derailed from hitting a herd of buffalo is a ‘Coal Power Plant Disaster’
    Do I really need to say that I don’t find this articles arguments very convincing?

    • People die of many things. But even when that happens, they do live for some time on the planet. On the other hand, anyone approaching the core of the Fukushima reactors would die instantly. This is a huge difference.
      I can breathe bad air for years and have some health problems. But being wiped out before one breath…well…none of the pro-nuclear power people really address what Fukushima means.
      Not only cannot anyone live in the power plant itself or even work for several years there…no one can live in a broad swath of ground for a very big perimeter from the still-gushing pollution plant.
      True, animals and plants try this and they show a high level of genetic destruction and mutations and this can’t be minimized, it must be face squarely.
      Be honest: no one here wants to live within 5 miles of Fukushima.

      • I would live within 5 miles of Fukushima. Radiation in the core is incredible – much like heat inside a gas turbine or coal boiler is incredible. Going inside one of those machines while they are working is a fast track to death. That’s why people do not work inside the reactor core or inside a combustion chamber! You say you could breathe bad air for years, but what you are referencing is equivalent to being INSIDE THE SMOKESTACK of a coal plant. You’d die just as fast as strolling into the reactor core.
        Radiation is absorbed by water and concrete shielding, and drops off very rapidly with distance. If my radiation source is emitting a very dangerous 100R/hr 1ft away, it is emitting about 11 R/hr a yard away, 111 mR/hr 10 yards away, and only 1.1 mR/hr a football field away. And that is with no shielding whatsoever!
        Where is your reference for the dose rate for the workers at Fukushima? Not inside the core, in the working spaces designed for people to occupy them. I want numbers determined by dosimetry.
        Where are the references for the genetic destruction or mutations you claim?

      • I hope you call Tokyo and tell them you want to demonstrate how safe it is by moving there and showing the population, they are stupid to be afraid.

      • I have no interest in moving. Especially to a country where I don’t speak the language.
        However, if you want to move Fukushima to my town, feel free.

  49. 233U is NOT a waste product of Thorium MSR’s. 232Th is fertile meaning it can be bred into a fissile daughter species and that species is… 233U (for the most part). Yes, Thorium MSR’s can have more proliferation risk than U and Pu burning MSR’s but that can be designed out. The problem comes with the chemical processing stage to maintain adequate neutron economy.
    Thorium generally works by accepting a neutron and beta decaying to 233Pa which further decays into 233U. If the 233Pa absorbs another neutron it goes down another chain but has consumed two neutrons in the process which makes it more difficult (read inefficient) to maintain a chain reaction. You can solve this one of two ways: separate the 233Pa so that it is not exposed to neutron flux and can beta decay into 233U, or maintain a higher inventory of fissile material in the reactor to make up for the inefficient 2N absorption by some of the material. If you do the latter there is minimal proliferation risk because there is no reprocessing of the fuel. It’s only the former that has additional risk which could be partially mitigating by denaturing upon extraction.
    Regardless, tying MSR’s to Thorium is stupid. Only zealots like Sorenson are so obsessed with that. We have plenty of safe, usable U and Pu that we can burn for hundreds of years before we need to worry about breeding/converting Thorium. And all of the other advantages of MSR’s are there with none of the reprocessing cost/risk.

    • Knowing what you know now, if you were required to specify a power plant for the first Mars colony, what would you send them?

    • Tsk Tsk,
      You said, without qualification, “We have plenty of safe, usable U and Pu that we can burn for hundreds of years before we need to worry about breeding/converting Thorium.”
      The longevity of any resource is a function of the rate of usage. If we banned nuclear reactors, then what we have would last forever. If we ramped up construction, then it might well be used up in much less than “hundreds of years,” depending on how much was consumed annually. A statement such as you made is meaningless unless you also state the assumptions about the rate of consumption.

    • U232 is an extreme gamma radiation risk and it will contaminate all U products as isotopic separation is very difficult an expensive. So thorium is not a proliferation concern at all. It was rejected as a source for bombs precisely because of the high gamma radiation risk from it.

  50. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/04/13/national/radiation-measured-at-deadly-9-7-sieverts-in-fukushima-reactor/#.WKuwVLGZNsY
    Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Monday that radiation in the primary containment vessel of the No. 1 reactor of the Fukushima No. 1 power station gets as high as 9.7 sieverts per hour — enough to kill a human within an hour.
    The radiation levels at six locations in the western section of the first floor of the PCV ranged from 7.0 to 9.7 sieverts per hour, the beleaguered utility said in disclosing data collected by a remote-controlled robot on Friday.
    By contrast, the temperatures at the six locations monitored were cool, ranging from 17.8 to 20.2 degrees.
    Tepco sent the robot into the primary containment vessel on Friday, expecting it to stay alive for 10 hours. But the robot failed within three hours after completing about two-thirds of its planned route. Tepco has given up on recovering the robot.

    • Just a few minutes ago, you were proclaiming that the radiation was so high it would kill you instantly.
      The robot failed because one of the drive belts broke. They never planned on recovering any of the robots because they would be too radioactive to handle after spending time inside the reactor building.
      The fascinating thing is that you actually seem to think that you are telling something that none of us already knew.
      The fate of those robots was discussed on this site back when it happened.
      That the inside of the reactor is highly radioactive is not a surprise to anyone.

  51. Light Water Reactors (LWR) are inherently dangerous because there are 70~100 atmospheres of steam pressure ready to explode radioactive waste over huge areas, and the possibility of a core meltdown always exists.
    Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors (LFTRs) operate at 1 atmosphere of pressure and the nuclear core is already in a molten state during operation. There is only one passive fail-safe system using the force of gravity, and as long as gravity exists, LFTRs’ fail-safe system will always work. Always…
    Since LFTRs heat gas through heat exchangers to run gas turbines, there is no need for huge and expensive cooling towers, or huge and expensive containment rooms, so LFTRs could even be built very cheaply occupying minuscule land areas and operated in remote unpopulated desert regions.
    LFTRs also convert 99% of thorium to energy (as opposed to just 0.5% of nuclear fuel pellets used in LWRs), so there is 200 TIMES less nuclear waste that needs to processed/stored compared to LWRs.
    Thorium is also dirt cheap with 10’s of thousands of years of easily accessible deposits located all around the world, so we’ll never run out of the stuff..
    LFTRs elegantly solve all the inherent dangers and expensive costs of LWRs, so the question isn’t, “is nuclear energy safe?”, but rather, “what type of nuclear energy is safe and inexpensive?”, and answer is LFTRs..

  52. http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/03/five-years-after-meltdown-it-safe-live-near-fukushima
    Back to Fukushima: the more recent information is not so good. According to the article, it is 10% complete! What? Only 90% of the decommissioning work left? Wow.
    They finally removed the spent fuel rods. Great. But no one can touch the actual reactor cores at all. From the article:
    The biggest challenge at present, Ono says, is contaminated water. Cooling water is continuously poured over the melted cores of units 1, 2, and 3 to keep the fuel from overheating and melting again. The water drains into building basements, where it mixes with groundwater. To reduce the amount of contaminated water seeping into the ocean, TEPCO collects and stores it in 10-meter-tall steel tanks. They now fill nearly every corner of the grounds, holding some 750,000 tons of water. The government is evaluating experimental techniques for cleansing the water of a key radioisotope, tritium. Ono says a solution is sorely needed before the plant runs out of room for more tanks.

    • Translation: All of the problems are currently being handled.
      Contaminated water is contained and purified before being released.
      Decommissioning is proceeding on schedule.
      Yet another big nothing from the master of irrational fear.

  53. The argument about molten salt reactors being proliferation threats is pretty silly. The highly radioactive spent salts would have to be intercepted and refined. Nations could manage this, but nations are pretty good at making nuclear weapons already. Terrorists trying to do something with highly radioactive salt waste would most likely just kill themselves in the process.
    Molten salt reactors can also be designed to be passively safe. As in, the operators could cause damage to the reactor, but there would be no possible way for them to cause a meltdown short of personally going to the reactor drain valve and intentionally plugging it. The radiation would kill them. After being brought back to life, they would then have to somehow drain the water from the waste heat removal system. Then they would have to remove the moderator. This still wouldn’t create a Chernobyl or even Fukushima scale event. It would be more like a Three Mile Island. Lots of fuss, no measurable harm.

  54. An interesting reactor design I’d read about awhile back was ThorCon, thorconpower.com. The thorium cores for the reactor are sealed units produced in a factory using ship building type techniques. A power generator facility would have four+ power “cans”. Two operated at a time. After four years a switch is made to the second set, and the first set was allowed to cool until they could be shipped back to the factory for refurb, fuel reprocessing, and refueling. It seems to allow for a standardized design that lead to efficiencies in manufacture, and does require any handling of fuel at the power generator facility which should cut down on proliferation. I would think QA would be easier to accomplish at a central facility. A prefeasibility study was being done in Indonesia for a 500MW facility. http://thorconpower.com/itc-pre-feasibility-study
    With this approach I would think it would lead to rapid deployment once adopted.

  55. We do have a permanent nuclear waste storage facility, it’s already been built and it’s in Nevada. If it wasn’t for Harry Reid and the Casino Industry, it would have been in operation for 10 years already.

  56. There is bunk and there is bunk, depending on which side of a fence one chooses to sit, but this is pure bunk and deserves to be corrected by the author, on this list, in capitals:
    “…or the 4.3 million who die every year due to indoor air pollution from burning biomass or coal indoors.”
    This alarmist misrepresentation is repeated at the end of the article.
    It is not that 4.3 m people die from indoor air pollution, it is that the lives of 4.3m people who recently died have had attributed to them a shorter life than they otherwise would have had if they had not been exposed to PM2.5 ‘pollution’.
    To say that coal and wood smoke ‘kills 4.3m people per year’ is a bald-faced lie.
    Further, this is an estimate based on ‘attribution’ not epidemiology. In other words these are not actual deaths but statistically attributed contributors to shortened lives. It is killing by numbers, death by attribution, and is based on the dubious assumption that all particles, whatever their source, are equally toxic.
    When one starts digging into the layers of assumptions that underlie claims for the Global Burden of Disease (GBD, the root of that number) one finds more hocus pocus than a Houdini show. If you think climate models are bad, wait till you see the fundraising claims that underlie the health modeling industry. One of the originators of the GBD industry said, ‘We are getting away with murder.’ And the loot, of course.

  57. Andy May,
    You remarked, “like the loss of a Cobalt-60 source in Ikitelli, Turkey.” That is really a non sequitur because the production of cobalt 60 is not an intrinsic part of producing power. There are small amounts produced by irradiation of the iron in the reactor, but I’m sure that the lost cobalt 60 was purposely created by irradiation of Cobalt 59. It was and is a decision to use reactors to produce something that has numerous uses in medicine and food sterilization. If society decides that the risk of Cobalt 60 outweighs the benefits, society can simply ban its production and we can look for other ways to treat cancer.
    :You also stated, “Some countries, including the UK, France, Germany and Japan, reprocess their high-level waste and recycle the remaining uranium and plutonium which decreases the volume of waste.” That is true, but it is probably more important that it significantly reduces the amount of time that the remaining waste products have to be isolated from the biosphere. Thanks to an executive decision made by Jimmy Carter, the US is not allowed to extract the remaining fissile material in the waste and this seriously exacerbates the problem of disposing of the material.

    • You are correct most nuclear incidents that involve mishandled radioactive materials are due to medical waste and not nuclear power fuel. But, the public and the governments don’t care – they fear anything with “nuclear” in the name. The lists they see rarely distinguish between the two. To address the public fear, overall nuclear safety needs to be improved worldwide. I don’t apologize for discussing both nuclear power accidents and medical accidents, I did clearly label which was which. The pubic conflates them, government statistics conflate them, so I did as well.

      • Radiation has probably saved many more lives by delivering a knock-out punch to cancer, than deaths ever due to radiation exposure. Like global warming, the benefits are often ignored. The benefits of the useful energy delivery outweigh any of the measured risk. GK

      • I’ve read several reports claiming that there is a homeopathic response to low levels of radiation.
        Something to do with kick starting the cells DNA repair mechanisms.
        The evidence to support such a belief is weak. At least it was the last time I looked, years ago.

  58. 2 years after ‘Fukushima’ an american expert on radiation induced cancer said
    in 20 years maybe 2,000 to 20,000 more radiation induced cancer deaths in Japan;
    statistical noise with 1,020,000 cancer induced deaths annually:
    Small wonder with 127,3 mill. inhabitants:

  59. An excellent article. I comment here to pay tribute to the late great Petr Beckmann whose pink A4 newsletter Access to Energy fought against the misrepresentation of science in general and nuclear energy in particular. Beckmann, an ex Spitfire pilot, and PhD and MSc, saw the hand of totalitarian activism in the so called green anti-nuclear movement as far back as 1975.
    I received his monthly newsletter for many years, asking for it to cease once when I couldn’t afford it. He responded simply to me – it’s your gratis – and airmailed it here to NZ from Boulder Colorado until my finances improved.
    A very good man. RIP Sir.

  60. This article was disgraceful. I understand being critical of nuclear power, but the amount of incredibly ignorant claims here is amazing. Take the discussion of nuclear incidents. The author mentions a cobalt-60 source, which is telling. These are *all* of the incidents world-wide which involve *radiation / radioactive materials* As far as major nuclear reactor accidents, you have SL-1, Windscale, Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima Daichi. Only SL-1 and Chernobyl had radiation casualties (Fukushima had some people killed by the initial earthquake on site IIRC) All of the rest are either nuclear fuel and weapons processing accidents, or commercial radioactive materials sources getting into the wrong hands. Cobalt-60 sources are used in medicine for treating cancer and industrial radiography, not nuclear power.
    This is like counting coal mine disasters as a safety issue for coal power, residential gas explosions for gas turbine power, and all floods against hydropower.
    As far as nuclear waste goes, every utility in the US has been contributing toward building a repository for spent fuel. However, Sen. Harry Reid blocked its construction. We could also start recycling nuclear fuel again, like France and Britain. Waste disposal is actually a fairly simple problem, which was solved in principle during the 60s. You can convert nuclear waste to a glassy material that is insoluble in water, and store it in a dry location. After that, it is no different from any other hazardous waste. (most of which never decays)
    Also, your comment on the Thorium fuel cycle shows that you do not understand how it works. Thorium does indeed produce U-233 – that is much of what drives the nuclear reaction. However, the U-233 is contaminated with U-232, which is difficult to remove and produces large amounts of radiation. It is just as hard to hard to purify U-233 from U-232 as it is to extract U-235 from natural uranium.
    Anthony should get someone with more knowledge of the issues to write about nuclear power. The public perception and long start up time are major issues for nuclear power, and criticism there is certainly possible once the person is able to talk about it reasonably.

    • UK fuel recycling has not been a success… not sure how French have done.
      Note also there is concern about safety issues and flaws identified in reactors before they actually caused an accident. That contributed to the German distrust of nuclear.

    • Let me explain: the reason why many people didn’t die due to the nuclear power plants blowing up is because they were immediately evacuated. So fast, they had virtually no time to pack any bags! The are all far, far away from their homes and these homes are still mostly empty.
      This is what has to be focused on: no one can go back home. Does anyone here want to have that fate? This week, the Japanese government announced they are ceasing support for people who lost their homes due to this event! They are being cut off now. Talk to them. See how they feel about all this.

      • So we are reduced to “feelings” now. As important as feeling may be to you, they have very little to do with actual risk. A good dose of realism needs to be sprinkled over your fear sundae. GK

      • People are removed via eminent domain, tornado hits (towns aren’t rebuilt nearly as fast as they used to be—people seem to just move elsewhere), freeways being run through one’s front yard. My mother had to move as a child because the state decided to move a river channel. A sister-in-law had a freeway run near the first house she had. We moved in high school when a liquor store was built next to our house and my parents did not want to deal with the traffic. The store went in in spite of protests against it—forcing people to learn to love it or move. A lot of people “can never go back home”. That’s part of life. Most people used to realistically deal with it. Now there’s a lot of moaning and the irrational belief that nothing should ever, ever, ever change. The only cure is the re-introduction of reality to life.
        The major question here is: How much of the evacuation was scientifically necessary and how much was political? Did science or politics cause the damage?

      • emsnews says, “the reason why many people didn’t die due to the nuclear power plants blowing up is because they were immediately evacuated.”
        So, none of that is true. The explosions were hydrogen explosions in units 1, 3 and 4, which would not have impacted the local population at all. The population out to 2 kilometers was evacuated relatively quickly in anticipation of a potential meltdown. They were evacuated before they were ever in any danger from the nuclear units. Evacuations further out were ordered as the accident progressed, but no one was ever in any imminent danger of death (except those that died because they were evacuated to evade a small increased risk of future cancer). The inability to repopulate most of the evacuated areas are (in my personal and professional opinion) due to 1) unrealistic clean-up goals (i.e., existing contamination levels in many areas do not pose measurable risks), 2) people have established lives and livelihoods elsewhere, and 3) irrational fear.

  61. Last post, need to go to bed. Failure to identify the all stupid here should not be an indication of anything except too much stupid.
    Maybe someone should write an essay about car accidents before seat belt or polio deaths before a vaccine. [\sarc]
    My point is that the current fleet of LWR built to US standards have a perfect safety record. They produce affordable power. If you claim to have cheap natural gas for 60 years, lock up that in a contract but do not expect delivery.
    All power plants have to be safe and protect the environment.

  62. Fusion is coming rapidly now. It may be 20-30 years before commercial Fusion plants are operating, but any other large scale Fission plant would take as long or longer to license and to construct like an MSR Thorium plant.

    • The ITER fusion research reactor is now scheduled for first run (not break-even, just *run*) in 2035. Even if it works, it would most optimistically lead to a prototype reactor that would take another 10 years to build. Plus, hot fusion reactors generate a lot of high speed neutrons that would turn the reactor walls into high level waste.

  63. The windfarm accidents, if accurate, are in construction and maintenance. The nuclear deaths are from accidents/plant failure.
    The two sets of figures are not related: it is an apples and pears comparison.

    • Griff: Do you understand what an apples and pears comparison really is? Or are you labelling fruit in a way designed to prove your point? I can never really tell with you.

    • So tell me young griff, what part of construction and maintenance was a german parachutist doing when she was killed by a wind turbine?
      Can you name any other industry where seriously powerful rotating machinery is not covered by H & S legislation that insists on guards around all rotating blades, and absolutely limits public access to sites where such is?
      Or any other industry where noisy dangerous industrial machinery is given planning permission in quiet rural areas?
      There is nothing more sickening than a wind farm apologist is there? It’s almost as bad as a holocaust denier…

  64. Can I ask a question about FLONUPS (I hate all these acronyms) – how do you get the power they. Produce to where you need it? undersea cables I presume, but that won’t be trouble free.

    • HVDC undersea cables can suffer from anchor damage – UK/France one damaged last year… but latest tech as being used on Norway/UK interconnector has a device follow cable track once laid and ‘blow’ a channel into the silt, then cable topples in and gets safely buried.

  65. 4.3 million who die every year due to indoor air pollution from burning biomass or coal indoors
    Read that then stopped. These are all the magic numbers created by statistician from zero evidence..

  66. I object to the categorisation of things like the loss of a Cobalt-60 source as a nuclear accident. It did not involve a nuclear power station. Yes, nuclear radiation sources (used in nuclear medicine and industrial applications) have been lost and caused many deaths. But they caused by nuclear POWER.
    If you restrict the deaths claimed from nuclear sources to just those actually involving nuclear power, I think you will find that it is pretty much just Chernobyl. Nobody died at Three Mile Island and the deaths at Fukushima were from blunt force trauma and drowning, not radiation.

  67. I’ve updated the post to address some of the concerns in the comments. To me it says the same thing it did before, but I’ve tried to be more clear. To me, the problem with nuclear power is the time to permit and build a power station, that is why the private sector is not in the business. Whether 31 or 4200 people died due to Chernobyl is not really a factor. The public and governments are afraid of nuclear, causing huge delays and the delays are too expensive. Plus, obviously, the safety statistics are all over the map depending upon the person compiling them and what they want to “prove.” My point is that does not really matter, other sources are more dangerous regardless of which fatality number you use. Arguing whether 31 or 4200 is correct simply doesn’t matter. I’ve suggested some changes that might help based on my experience in oil and gas, which has had some of the same problems. Standard parts could help a lot. I hope this new version is better.

    • The UK illustrates your points about build and permitting:
      The new EDF design at Hinkley Point will take at least 10 years to build…
      The design intended for Wylfa in Wales could be constructed in 4 years and seemingly has had quicker approval for its UK ABWR design.
      One design of a type proven elsewhere would certainly be better for the UK… seems unlikely to happen.

  68. Does anyone remember the incredible death toll from the coal-fired global warming heat waves of 2010?
    The heat waves had caused around 17,905,000 deaths globally, with 3,000+ direct, 17,821,672+ indirect, and 21+ unconfirmed deaths, through factors including famines and heat strokes.
    Someone just deleted that quote from the wikipedia page, so I checked the revisions and found this…
    “18M deaths and a precision of “21+” unconfirmed – dodgy” – William M Connolley. Feb 21, 2017
    Deleted today. It only took William 7 years to act. 🙂

  69. Perhaps small, modular, fail safe, factory manufactured nukes are the answer the world needs for a nearly boundless energy supply. Babcock & Wilcox, among others, has such a design which languishes in the present environment while we waste billions on greeniac fantasies such as the idiotic windmills. Since our political system has become distorted by too much government power, funds are misdirected ala Lysenkoism to inane uses. If industry was stronger the government would need to listen to industry voices but the government has two strangle holds on business;n taxation and regulation. So the CEOs cower and publish platitudes while the great ship of state sails into a sea of icebergs. The several hundred electric utilities in our country would be wise to organize behind a modular uclear generation program; but they will not. The USA acts only when crisis demands a reaction.

    • “small, modular, fail safe, factory manufactured nukes ”
      Marketing BS. Small is the key word. If you want small put up some solar panels.
      Nuclear has great economy of scale. Coal and gas require huge amounts of fuel daily. Unless the fossil fuel source is local, there us a huge drain of capital.

      • emsnews on February 21, 2017 at 5:28 am
        The entire discussion here hinges on trying to prove points via ‘how many died’
        emsnews move along till YOU dare answere.

  70. The entire discussion here hinges on trying to prove points via ‘how many died’ rather than ‘how many years/centuries/eons must pass’ before one can go near a nuclear disaster like Fukushima. Right now, we have no idea. We do know that nuclear power plants can fail. We know these failures last a very long time. And we know that we have no idea of all the other possible ways this can happen again.
    Ignoring the unknown is not wise. And it doesn’t persuade people to not worry about nuclear power plants because they feel the real fear after what happened in Japan. This cannot be ignored or taunted. It must be realistically faced.
    I do not see that here.

    • see also Chernobyl, where a vast area remains abandoned and restrictions on eating livestock from affected areas in europe lasted decades…

      • The only restriction on eating game caught in the Chernobyl region are that they have to be checked by geiger counter before processing. There is no livestock in the area since nobody lives there at present.
        Regardless, the only reason why the radiation is so widespread is because Chernobyl was built without a containment vessel. No western plant was ever built without such a vessel.
        BTW, the other reactor at Chernobyl is still in operation.

      • Mark, you seem unaware that livestock (sheep) in upland areas of the UK were banned from the food chain for years after chernobyl, thanks to the fall out persisting in the vegetation
        so also reindeer in parts of Scandinavia… and those weren’t the only bans.

      • As always, Griffie takes panic as proof that the panic was necessary.
        Even if the event it claims to remember actually did happen, there was no reason for it beyond the irrational fear of people such as itself.

    • Fake news.
      There was no nuclear disaster at Fukushima. People did not need to leave and they can go back anytime without being hurt.

    • The entire discussion hinges on what is reality and what is phobia. An entire continent was not made uninhabitable by Chernobyl. Only a TINY area of Russia. You are obssessing over a TINY area of the planet and making it a HUGE monster that we must cry and run from. It’s not realistic.

    • Again. Not true. I’ve been to Fukushima Daiichi. Stood on the roof of Unit 4, over the loaded spent fuel pool in November 2012. Flora and fauna around Chernobyl are flourishing, and many don’t know this, but there are locals that refused to evacuate still living in the exclusion zone. Also, no one is “ignoring the unknown.” We can detect incredibly low levels of radioactive material and radiation. There is nothing “unknown” about the potential risks, except to the extent that calculate risks are quite likely much lower than those predicted by strict application of the linear no-threshold hypothesis.

  71. “Retired Kit P — the six deaths are Fukushima are still attributed to the use of nuclear power. Not one died from radiation exposure. However, the point I was making is that 1600 people died due to the stress of the evacuation. That’s when you have to wonder about our priorities.”
    It would appear the priority of most posters here is to make up stuff to support their agenda, pro and con.
    If you are producing electricity your #1 priority is not exposing children to I-131. The evil empire, USSR, was a case of failure because they learned nothing from TMI.
    In Japan, as measured, no children were exposed to I-131. Zero risk of thyroid cancer. In hindsight maybe evacuation was unnecessary but with three reactor cores heading to core damage and containment pressure increasing, I think evacuation was the correct call.
    It was my job in the navy to recommend to the captain when to abandon the ship in case of a reactor accident. It was the captains responsibility to decide if the risk from radiation exposure was greater than the risk of drowning.
    I have participated in emergency drills at US nuke plants. Exposure wise, there is a huge difference between a small ship and a 5 miles.

    • Just to clarify, some children in Japan were exposed to iodine 131, but to much less than those children affected by the Chernobyl accident. In part, this was because Japan ordered evacuations early; in prefectures close to the plant, potassium iodide (KI) was distributed (although rather erratically); Japan ordered interdiction of milk and limitations on water very early (compared to the interdictions following Chernobyl), and (though fortuitous) the Japanese diet is iodine rich (unlike the Ukainian diet), which dampens the uptake of radioactive iodine in the thyroid.

  72. “I grew up in Arizona and lived next to the Papago reservation”
    So ems was not a downwinder. During weapons testing, I was a downwinder when we lived in Ohio but not when lived in Seattle.
    I have looked at the science of releases from US weapons programs. My conclusion is that we have to much exposure to lawyers and journalists who make up stuff for their own profit.

    • Agreed a 100 times over. Lawyers seem to be the greatest threat to persons in the USA. Personal injury lawyers.

  73. “Yucca Mountain was stopped by Obama.”
    The courts ordered Obama to continue. Also a OMB report trashed DOE’s economic analysis. Since Yucca Mountain is next to the Nevada test site for underground testing, it is nobodies back yard.
    I have no reason to think ems or American tribes would fair any better under the Nazis, Japanese , or the USSR. Those folks exterminated people for fun.

  74. “Coal plants generate more radiation than nuclear plants do.”
    That is a stupid statement Leo. Coal plants do not generated any radiation. There is trace amounts of naturally occurring uranium which is not a radiological hazard. Furthermore no one is exposed to measurable levels of radiation. You can hold uranium in your hand. I have.
    Nuke plant fission uranium generating huge amounts of radiation. If you are accidentally exposed to a criticality, you will die. When uranium fission, the fission product atoms generating huge amounts of radiation. If you are accidentally exposed to spent fuel, you will die.
    If your body absorbs too much energy suddenly, you will die. You can also die by absorbing energy slowly or loosing energy slowly.
    No one dies from my power plants, they get hit by cars , too much exposure to the sun, or freeze to death.

    • Leo’s statement is not stupid. Emissions from coal plants contain much more radioactive material than emissions from nuclear power plants. It is naturally occurring radioactive material, but the alpha, beta and gamma particles emitted are no different than those emitted from fission or activation products. It is not even sensible to bring in a discussion of exposure to spent fuel, since the public exposure is only to air and water effluents, and coal emissions trounce emissions from nuclear power plants in terms of radiation and radioactive material in that regard.

  75. I have a lot of opinions on nuclear power, but I’ll spare you folks most of them. One thing though that I think could be both true and important. There are about 500 serious power reactors in the world (give or take a bit) and about 50 years of operating experience. That’s at most 25000 operating years. And we’ve had two significant failures — one due to blatantly irresponsible design and operation and one despite a reasonable attempt to do things right. We also had a near miss at TMI. That suggests that the catastrophic failure rate for nuclear power might be .5 per 10000 operating years or maybe even higher.
    Problem is that were we to try to power to world with mostly nuclear power. And were we to try to provide every human being who wants a decent standard of living (almost all of them I should think) with enough energy to live comfortably, we’re probably looking at something like 10000-20000 nuclear power plants.
    The question then is, are our political systems up to dealing with a bona fide nuclear power plant disaster every year or so? I’m inclined to think not.

    • From every incident, we learn and improve.
      Modern designs are leaps and bounds better than what was being built in the 60’s.
      Chernobyl was a design that was rejected completely in the west because it was inherently unsafe.
      TMI was primarily caused by operator overload. They were presented with too much information and were unable to make the proper decision in time to save the reactor. As a result of that , information systems have been re-worked to better present the critical information to the operators in a more timely fashion.
      Fukushima was not the result of a design flaw in the reactor, but rather a stupid decision about where to place the back up generator. One that the regulatory agency in charge had already told the operators to fix. Regardless, only plants in areas prone to tsunamis need to worry about that particular flaw.

    • @Don K
      “The question then is, are our political systems up to dealing with a bona fide nuclear power plant disaster every year or so? I’m inclined to think not.”
      The US fleet of LWRs power reactors for the navy and commercial power plants is the largest in the world with about 200 reactors operating at a time. TMI was an example of a severe accident or catastrophic failure.
      Clearly the US has the political systems to handle it. Lesson learned from TMI were incorporated around the world. If you read reports about other industrial accidents they often cite how the navy and also the US nuclear industry prevented recurrence of such problems.
      I am skeptical of a failure rate based on one event 30 years ago can be used to predict a trend.
      If you look at the USSR, there political system failed on the issue of nuclear safety. Of course the evil empire failed in just about every aspect of safety.
      Japan was a epic natural disaster. The world political system handled the disaster including catastrophic failure at three reactors at the same time just fine.
      The only issue was the nut case Obama put in charge of the NRC. Local organization call for help when they did it. Idiots not trained in emergency response should bud out.

      • There have only been two serious accidents in the nuclear power industry. Windscale and Chernobyl.
        3MI and Fukushima were, in terms or danger to the public, very minor.

    • 20,279,640 GWh/y is what wiki says is the current electrical generation, of which 10% is currently nuclear
      That’s around a total capacity of 2315 GW.
      For redundancy, lets say 2500GW of capacity to replace every single fossil and renewable power station.
      A typical nuclear power station is 3.2-5GW these days, so worst case 730 nuclear power plants will generate all the electricity mankind needs right now.
      Or around 2000 to replace gas oil and coal in all energy applications including transport.
      says there are 400 or so reactors currently operating, but many of these are much much smaller than genIII -IV types would be.
      IN short its not a lot of reactors.
      And they do get better.
      And there has never been, nor in fact could there be, serious loss of life. Even chernobyl style radiation release is impossible with newer type reactors.

  76. MarkW writes
    “Kit P, make it a chemical processing plant, or any of the hundreds of types of commercial facilities that handle toxic materials.”
    I have done about 3 years work applying nuclear safety system methodology to chemical processing plants. I was doing some background reading and did not understand when it said the probability of failure was one. I asked the manager and he explained the life of the plant was until it blew up. He then show me a video of an explosion in Henderson, Nevada (where I am currently visiting).
    What was disturbing to me was that outside of the nuclear industry killing people used to be an acceptable risk of doing business. If you look at immediate deaths, nuclear would not make the top 100 list for industrial accidents. It took 50 years before industry was forced by OSHA regulations to adopt practices in the nuclear industry for not killing people.

    • It’s not that killing people was an acceptable risk, it’s more that the only option that would eliminate all chance of killing people was to shut the entire plant down and for the consumers to completely do without whatever you were creating.
      You can be like emsnews and demand that only 100% safe is acceptable, or you can realize that in the real world, accidents happen. You do everything in your power to decrease the likelihood of an accident, but it is impossible to drive that risk all the way to zero.

      • To refine what I stated earlier.
        Safety costs money. More safety costs more money.
        At some point you have added so much safety that it is no longer possible to create a product that people can afford to buy.
        So there always a trade off between safety and cost. In the real world working with real people and real problems, that will always be the case.
        Nuclear, being in a highly regulated business, it’s easier to pass costs to the customers than it is in other industries.

  77. 21 February 2017
    Small amounts of iodine-131, well below levels likely to have any effect on human health, were detected in outdoor air last month in a number of European countries. The source of the release has yet to be identified.
    British tabloid :”The high levels of Iodine-131 has led some to suggest Putin is testing nuclear weapons in Novaya Zemlya near the Arctic.
    However, the CTBTO (Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organisation) ruled out a nuclear test had recently taken place.”

  78. Dear Retired Kit P:
    I am very ‘taken’ by yr experience and level-headed commentary on matters nuclear, esp’lly in the marine envt.
    In my FLONUPS proposal (Floating Nuclear Power Plant) (see multiple postings in various threads) I propose pre-packaged, marine-style reactor units, one each located in its own ‘cell’ in a multi-cellular floating caisson constructed using reinforced concrete (for which WW2 Mulberry Harbours were the very successful, long-lasting prototypes).
    R_K_P ….. what advice wd you give as to the best pre-pack’ed nuc. unit to use in each of — say — 6-8 cells in a FLONUP caisson? Obv’sly, the bigger the better (economies of scale?) MWe? Russian units perhaps?
    P.S. To repeat myself (endlesly!) FLONUPS (aggregating sequentially into FLONUP-FLOTILLAS of — say — 6 FLONUPS encircling [radius = 3 km??] a Mother FLONUP as Command & Control Unit) are moored far enough offshore (out-of-sight, out-of-mind; remote from pop. centres) to satisfy the NIMBYs, and in deep enough water to be immune from tsunamis & e’quakes.
    P.P.S. Nota bene that most Regulatory hurdles associated with Land-Based NNPs are circumvented by the FLONUP concept, WHICH IS PERHAPS BY FAR ITS MAJOR ADVANTAGE.
    P.P.P.S. with someone sensible like Trump in power, I wd imagine it to be far easier to get FLONUPS certificated as marine units, thereby allowing the use of enriched Uranium fule rods. Nota bene that RN’s nuc.subs. sail in and out of PLymouth Harbour with nary a squeak, so locating a FLUNUP Flotilla 30 km(??) offshore ought to obviate their being ensnared in the Land-Based NPP Regulatory web.
    R_K_P_ …. I look fwd to yr considered response, for which I thank you in anticipation.

    • R_K_P_ I forgot to remind you that any ‘rogue’ reactor can be instantaneously gravity-flooded within its respective cell, so overall containment risk is vastly enhanced. All r.c. walls are projected yo be 1m. th., and the caisson hull ditto, with massive sealing ‘lids’ that are occasionally removable for servicing. Thus secondary containment is assured.

    • Ross
      Floating Nuclear Power Plants are are a bad idea. I know this because the navy would doing at navy bases around the world. Nuclear propulsion provides a huge tactical advantage.
      Stationary power plants produce huge amounts of power and nuclear power has huge economies of scale. There may be a location where a small nuke power has an advantage but there is not a market for mass production.

      • R_K_P:
        Thks yr reply ….. makes sense ….. had it been a good idead the USN wd have been all over it!
        As a final kick at the cat, Kit, one element I omitted is the production cycle for a land-based behemoth, requiring a succession of trades like dinners moving down a python’s body.
        today’s shortage of — say — steel-fixers is tomorrow’s redundancy slips ….. pending the next behemoth 2,000 miles away(???) in 5 years time.
        As an Indusgtrial Strategy for a country the size of UK, my production-line process may be ‘short’ on economies of scale of the finished plant, but ‘long’ on stable, steady, across-the-board employment of tradespeople in one or two histroically relevant ship-building areas and N.Sea Oil Production facilities).
        In short, FLONUPS will have its own economies of scale …. as Henry Ford discovered!

  79. In regards to cost due to illness, it reminds me of the irrational focus by some on preventative medicine as a cost saving strategy.
    Everyone will die, and more than half of all lifetime medical expenses are billed in the last 6 months of life. So whether that last 6 months happens when you’re 65 or 90 is almost irrelevant as far as cost is concerned. Preventative medicine may lengthen life, it may improve quality of life, but if anything it almost certainly increases the cost of health care for society, because you will consume more health care before expiring.
    There is certainly a human cost to Chernobyl, no question. But as far as how to calculate the monetary impact of cancer that might be linked to Chernobyl, the only proper way to account for it would be to subtract the lifetime health care expense the person would otherwise have incurred, including end of life care.

    • I remember years ago debating how to make such calculations regarding various smoking bans.
      The banners wanted to take most of the money being spent on caring for those with lung cancer and just declare that if we banned cigarettes altogether, society would save all of this money.
      Others pointed out (as you do) that everyone dies of something, and that it wasn’t fair to merely subtract the cost of lung cancer care without adding back in the cost of whatever they were going to die from later on. Plus the additional cost of health care for all the years in between. It was also pointed out that lung cancer tended to kill people rather quickly, so over all it cost less than many other things you might die from.
      Another group pointed out that the only reason why SS security hadn’t gone bankrupt already was due to all the people who died early and as a result were taking less out of the system.
      This is not to say that we should encourage people to do things that will cause them to die earlier. Just to point out that the whole topic is a lot more complex than many do-gooders want you to believe.

  80. As with any attempt at building some new power source, any cost/benefit analysis has to include dealing with those who will stand in the way of it’s construction/implementation.
    There are those that are dedicated to little else. Doesn’t really matter what it is.

  81. Dr. James Conca, an expert in nuclear waste management issues and an opinion columnist for Forbes magazine, has written two recent Forbes articles which are pertinent to this topic:
    SMR Smart: Small Modular Reactors Are Nuclear’s Future
    A Nuclear Waste: Why Congress Shouldn’t Bother Reviving Yucca Mountain
    Regarding the latter Forbes article, spent nuclear fuel still has 90% of its energy content left in it. If the economics become favorable at some point in the future, SNF could be reburned in 4th-generation reactors or become feedstock for molten salt reactors.
    Using a deep geologic repository as temporary interim storage space for spent nuclear fuel buys us very little additional risk reduction for the huge amount of money that must be spent to store and maintain that material underground in retrievable status.
    The supposed dangers of storing spent nuclear fuel on the surface are greatly overblown, and monitoring the condition of SNF being stored on the surface is simply not that difficult or expensive.
    If two hundred years from now, or even fifty years from now, some portion of the spent nuclear fuel now stored on the surface must be repackaged, so what? Environmental law and common sense consider active waste management as a normal cost of doing business.
    A decision to restart Yucca Mountain would be a decision to restart a project that was nothing but a massive government boondoggle from the very get-go. We could spend more billions on Yucca Mountain if we want to, but the hard truth is that it will never open regardless of how much money we might spend.
    Nevada doesn’t want the project, and the citizens of Nevada can throw up any number of roadblocks in its way that will keep final completion of the project in the hands of the courts for decades to come.
    Why bother with Yucca Mountain when two other states, Texas and New Mexico, are giving serious consideration to hosting interim surface-based SNF management sites which will be much less expensive to construct and to operate than Yucca; and which will allow for easy retrievability if reprocessing or reburning of SNF eventually becomes economic.
    If or when a future generation has clear evidence that reprocessing or reburning of SNF will never become economic, then they will have WIPP in New Mexico to use as their permanent geologic repository, one that is much better suited to the task of permanent SNF disposal than is Yucca Mountain.

    • Dr. James Conca is not an expert on making electricity with nuclear power or handling spent nuclear fuel.
      How so I know? First of all, I am an expert and my BS meter went off. Second I checked his resume. He is a geologist.
      If there was ever a boondoggle for geologist it is putting spent nuclear fuel. If fact we worked on Yucca Mountain at the same time. I spent a lot of time saying BS to Phd types. Too much education and not enough commons sense.
      Now that the work for geologist is done on Yucca Mountain what does Conca want to do, put is someplace so we can spend billions more. What ever we do, we still have to store the fission products from making weapons.
      We need a long term repository.

      • Dear R_K_P
        Apropos underground storage of radioacative waste, a criterion you raise is to make it unavailable to ‘Tomb Raiders’. Surely this is easy: store it in standardized containment modules; stack ’em up tidily in underground bunker, build r.c. retaining walls, floor to ceiling to sub-compartmrnt the bunker into — what? — 5,000 sqm. areas, and grout the whole lot in, sub-compartment by sub-compartment to restore the geology to the solid integrity it once was.
        Grout-pipes pre-installed of course.
        As discussed multiply in these blogs, the geiger counter will barely twitch 10 m. away
        In the grand scheme of things, this is merely returning the stuff whence it came …. deep in the Earth.

      • A seldom mentioned challenge is transport of spent fuel and other waste. This led to the need for cooling ponds in Japan, due to the no-nuke inspired ban on transport over public infrastructure. Take it to the mountain, no need for long-term ponds and their potential problems.

      • RKP, the approach the Nuclear Waste Policy Act (NWPA) enforces for managing civilian spent nuclear fuel and for disposal of defense nuclear wastes is massive overkill relative to the true environmental risks posed by these radioactive materials.
        The NWPA is a government boondoggle of considerable proportions, and it has been just as unsuccessful at managing the politics of nuclear waste as it has been in managing the actual nuclear waste itself.
        We already have a functioning geologic repository at WIPP in New Mexico, and its geology is much better suited for permanent disposal of nuclear waste than is Yucca Mountain’s.
        There is no technical reason why WIPP and the Salado Formation couldn’t be used for permanent disposal of all our nuclear wastes, and at less total lifecycle cost than Yucca Mountain.
        If you want SNF to be moved off of currently operating plant sites, the only way that will happen is if the material is either reburned in 4th generation reactors; or else it is reprocessed; or else if it is moved into centralized interim storage awaiting a decision on its long-term final disposition.
        Yucca Mountain has never been anything more than an excuse to spend money. The nuclear industry does itself no favors by continuing to support it.

  82. A standardized design is a bad idea. Think about it like this: if we standardized the car design in 1990, what would we be driving today? Like any other field there are continuous advancements in design. The first reactor I operated had absolutely no computer what so ever and the only motors drove valves shut. They are better now. Secondly, when you talk of waste, there has to be a common sense approach. Currently they talk about areas that are stable for 15,000 years. That is longer than recorded history. They picked that date because they knew you could never show it would be safe so you could never store fuel. Fuel is fine at the plant. Why not reprocess? Because Jimmy Carter wrote an executive order out of fear we would make more nuclear weapons, that’s why. Anyway, nuclear is the best way to go.

    • “Donald Hanson February 21, 2017 at 4:53 pm
      A standardized design is a bad idea.”
      Absolutely not a bad idea. And you car analogy is a bad one for example the Ford Telsta uses the same floor pan as the Mazda 6, same engines, same gearboxes, same axles and is made in the exact same way. They look different because of outer panels/cosmetics and internal fittings but are fundamentally the same underneath. It’s how car makers can introduce “new” models at lower prices.
      The same can be said for French nuclear installations, they are all fundamentally the same.

  83. …if a standardized power plant design can be agreed upon by the government and industry, a permanent storage facility built for the waste and permitting and construction streamlined; nuclear would be a success.

    Nuclear plants should not be site-specific monstrosities requiring oversight of every step of construction. They should be standardized like batteries, with disposal cost factored in. More capacity? More batteries. Got a more efficient process? Design a better battery.
    The current process has hindered technological progress.

  84. Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors are coming. Thorcon has an agreement with the Indonesian government to begin work on a pilot project. Thorcon claims to be able to have one operational in four years based on a reproduction of the MSRE experiment at Oak Ridge in the sixties. They will build them in shipyards similar to ships, as no mausoleum is necessary since the reactor operates at normal atmospheric pressure. Look at the basic design here. Interesting stuff.
    Information about the MRSE at Oak Ridge is here:
    Advantages: Molten salt as a coolant with a 1000C liquid state needing no high pressure containment. Contamination of fuel with U232 makes bombs highly implausible due to gamma radiation. Meltdowns are impossible with fuel in a liquid state that can only freeze up once criticality stops which it does immediately in a safe drain tank. Transuranics (long lived waste) are infinitesimally small since the absorption of 7 neutrons are required to get there (232 to 239). Enough thorium to last 5,000 years. Can make hydrocarbon fuels if desired from CO2 in the air.

  85. “…only a government would be foolish enough to put their money into building a nuclear power plant.”
    Governments don’t have their own money, so there’s nothing foolish about it. The politicians and top bureaucrats invest nothing of their own, but get big rewards up front for relieving this industry of practically all liability. They bet the country and the health of its population and its ecosystem while stocking their lifeboats and distant hideaways.
    If the nuclear power industry had to get liability insurance on the insurance market like everybody else in private business there would be no nuclear power industry.
    Japan has the highest liability requirements for nuclear power providers of any country in the world, but it’s not even enough to cover this one incident at Fukushima that most posters here consider trivial.

    • Perhaps that is the same as saying building a reactor is a political decision and not one entirely based on power requirements?
      The UK govt decided to build Hinkley Point, when pretty much everyone was againsat it, from climate skeptics like Christopher booker to Greenpeace and the Daily Telegraph and the Guardian newspapers…
      Keeping reactors running is also a political decision: Germany scrapped nearly half of its reactors overnight in 2011: the French govt is frantically trying to shore up EDF/Areva…

      • Well griff, its more that the best way to stop someone building a reactor is to invoke a political process as Big Oil cant compete on cost grounds.
        And in fact your example of Germany shows this clearly. The reactors were making profits in a free market. They needed politics to shut them down.
        Not to keep them running.

  86. “I suspect that if a standardized power plant design can be agreed upon by the government and industry” Special interest groups have owned the government for many years concerning nuclear power. Natural gas is a popular altertaive

  87. Anybody here to help me with
    Alexander, bitte langsam. Wenn ich’s versteh werd’ ich antworten.
    Zitierten Text ausblenden
    Am 19.02.2017 16:15 schrieb Alexander Steinböck :
    Servus Hans
    Mich nerft es das die Liste weil sie SLST Loc. auswertet so langsam ist, kann ich alle durch STSHT ersetzen ?
    Bis bald Alexander

    • Here’s what Google Translate gives:
      Alexander, please [go]slow. If I understand it, I’ll answer.
      Hide cited text
      On 19.02.2017 16:15 wrote Alexander Steinböck:
      Servus [Hi] Hans
      This is the list because they SLST Loc. Is so slow, can I replace all by STSHT?
      [I’m frustrated(?) because the list is so slow because it uses(?) SLST loc., can I replace it all with STSHT?]
      See you soon Alexander
      [PS. Still Greek to me, too, since I’m not familiar with the acronyms or the abbreviation.]

  88. Regulatory Fortresses designed by sinecure-seeking b’crats:
    In pursuit of support for my FLONUPS proposal (Floating Nuclear Power Plants) in the halls of power in UK, I was referred to some Institute in Leicester. I commented that if Winston Churchill were in power, and if he agreed with the proposal, Regulatory Approvals wd be granted in short order. The gist of the reply was: “Not these days. I reckon it wd take until about 2030 [repeat 2030] to establish the Regulatory Regime within which FLONUPS could start being construed.”
    How long did it take to get Man on the Moon? With this lot, they’d still be arguing whether to use horses or elastic bands, both proven technology.
    As Donald wd Tweet: “Very sad!”

  89. Hollywood (Jane Fonda and Jack Lemmon) destroyed nuclear power. One anti-business, alarmist movie was enough to place deep distrust and fear in the public, which in turn created an environment of overregulation. Emotions won the day over reason and logic.

  90. “Then I suggest you take advantage of the really cheap property there, then…”
    Do you think Griff ever reads what he post?
    “The magnitude 9.0 earthquake that struck northeastern Japan on 11 March 2011 and the 40-meter tsunami that followed left 15,893 dead and 2572 missing, destroyed 127,290 buildings, and damaged more than a million more.”
    Since we like to live dangerously, we did the next best thing. Bought land in a tsunami evacuation zone in Washington State. Ocean on one side volcanoes on the other. I only wish it was cheap.
    Griff, being an idiot, does not understand risk. For old retired people who can pick beautiful places to live, too hot and too cold is a huge risk factor. We need electricity that is reliable. About 10 years ago we were boat camping when there was a heat advisory. On the way to an air conditioned hotel, we made as far as the ER. She had three stents put.
    This hospital was close to the nuke plant I used work at and we lived. My point here is that living close to a nuke plant is not some hypothetical thing. They are safer places than the cesspool where Griff lives.

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