Grist: Bernie Sanders, Sierra Club Impeding CO2 Reductions

Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant

Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant. By marya from San Luis Obispo, USAFlickr, CC BY 2.0, Link

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Meteorologist and Grist author Eric Holthaus thinks the only way to save the planet from rising CO2 emissions is to embrace nuclear power.

It’s time to go nuclear in the fight against climate change

By Eric Holthaus on Jan 12, 2018

After holding steady for the past three years, global carbon emissions rose in 2017by an estimated 2 percent. That increase comes amid the largest renewable energy boom in world history.

That irony points to what I see as an inescapable conclusion: The world probably can’t solve climate change without nuclear power.

Something big has to change, and fast, in order to prevent us from going over the climate cliff. Increasingly, that something appears to be a shift in our attitudes toward nuclear energy.

By nearly all accounts, nuclear is the most rapidly scalable form of carbon-free power invented. And, the technology is rapidly improving. But lingering concerns about waste and safety have kept nuclear power from staying competitive.

Solar power has grown at a whopping 68 percent average rate over the past 10 years, but still accounts for less than 2 percent of total U.S. electricity generation. The 99 reactors in the U.S. generate about 10 times that amount. Roughly 30 nuclear facilities are set to retire in the next few years because those plants have become economically infeasible. (California regulators voted unanimously Thursday to shutter Diablo Canyon, the state’s last remaining plant, in 2025.) That’s despite these facilities producing more than double the amount of electricity than all the solar panels in the United States combined.

The sheer urgency of climate change demands an all-of-the-above approach to making carbon-free energy.

“If we discovered nuclear power today, we would be working like mad to make it as safe and cheap as possible,” Stanford University climate scientist Ken Caldeira tweeted last summer.

But resistance by mainstream environmental organizations has helped stymie that progress. And the most ardent supporter of climate change legislation in last year’s presidential election, Bernie Sanders, ran on an anti-nuclear platform. (In December, Shellenberger announced he is running for California governor as an explicitly pro-environment, pro-nuclear independent.)

If we were smart, we’d see nuclear power for what it is: A good bet to save the world.

Read more:

Note the quote “resistance by mainstream environmental organizations” above links to the anti-nuclear policy of the Sierra Club.

I always find it encouraging when greens advance rational arguments for embracing nuclear power, even if those arguments are based on misconceptions about climate change. Reason is the keystone of climate skepticism.

222 thoughts on “Grist: Bernie Sanders, Sierra Club Impeding CO2 Reductions

      • Exactly! Nothing more truthful can be said than “The (“Climate Change”) (non-)”cure” is worse than the (non-existent) (“Climate Change”) “disease.”

    • I support the assertion that there is no global warming problem to solve.

      It would however be ‘handy’ to have a couple of tested, de-bugged (say 7 years of operation for the first commercial test), advanced fission reactor designs, that are failsafe, minimize waste products, and that are cost effective.

      • I agree, and the technology that is already being considered and tested in other nations may provide this, but as along as a misguided push towards solar and wind with exclusion of everything else is the only a acceptable soloution to environmentalists, there may be no economic support for nuclear research and development.

      • William

        The latest CANDU reactor is designed to run on nuclear power station waste. The design exercise is now complete. I guess this qualifies as ‘new and improved’.

      • Crispin, Candu has had this capability from the start (perhaps they’ve improved it?) but there has always been a bullying international industry of US and European which in ordinary trade would be illegal. Candu has been the quietly most reliable tech – and can burn waste from LWR reactors and unrefined U and plutonium. It even burns Thorium! That only a hand full of Canadians even know this is most telling.

        Buy this remarkable technology that has been produced for over half a century and stop wasting billions on international consortiums trying to invent Candu all over again!! China will come up with the new tech Thorium on this because they bought Candu years ago and they are partners as constructors with the Canadian engineering company Lavalin who now owns the technology.

        Incidentally, following an accident at Chalk River, Ontario, the nuclear design and test facility (1952 NRX accident), US Navy officer Jimmy Carter was sent to assist w/o the the cleanup. Chalk River was fully engaged in the Manhattan Project as well. Yeah, we got game!

      • William Astley

        Did we have 7 years of wind turbine and solar panel testing before they were declared safe and suitable?

        No, they just slung the creations up, irrespective of their performance.

      • We should be building nuclear reactors regardless of the facts regarding climate change.
        It is a waste of materials to use fossil fuels for a task that can be accomplished more efficiently using some readily available metals.
        Producing electric power is not the best use for coal or for natural gas.
        And it just might prevent all of the migratory birds in the world from being chopped up or incinerated.

      • The CANDU is a different type of fast breeder reactor, analogous to reactors used decades ago to breed plutonium-239 from uranium-238 to make nuclear weapons. It is the Pu-239 that fissions, not U-238 (even mass nuclides (including thorium-232) basically do not fission). The use of deuterium water, rather than ordinary water, increases the efficiency of the Pu-239 breeding and enables less-enriched uranium (here referred to “waste”) to be used. But the CANDU retains some of the concerns of most reactors — radioactive, long-lived plutonium and fission products, which must be safely stored for very long times. In this regard, the Thorium reactors (which actually use breed U-233 as fission fuel) have an advantage.
        But I agree that more attention and effort should be given to fission reactor design and operation.

      • CANDU is not a fast breeder reactor. The heavy water moderator thermalizes the neutrons.

      • Fast reactors always had trouble breeding because the cross section is way to small. Thermal has a cross section 25 times as large as a fast cross section and thorium breeds well in thermal, when U and Pu do not. We developed both breeding of Thorium and molten salt reactors for thorium in the 60’s and 70’s. We should do what they did at Oak ridge. Thorcon wants to do exactly that making them in a shipyard assembly line. Believes that they can turn out 100 plants of 1GWe each in a few years with that shipbuilding model.

    • Right, as the assumed warming is nothing but propaganda and altered data, there is nothing to save us from.

      Wait, yes, there is. COLD. Cold kills and cheap energy is the cure. Thus, we do need to adapt to climate change as we cool and, along the way, install the greenest, smallest footprint, safest energy there is, nuclear. Thorium molten salt reactors would be wonderful, and we have a lot of easy to process thorium. These reactors can be fully automated, taking human error out of the equation. They can be scaled to any size, which means each major building or factory could have its own energy source. The grid would be gone, along with higher level control of energy. We can recycle the millions of tones of iron and copper that make up the transmission lines that crisscross the country. Imagine all of those towers and lines all gone. How nice. Oh, no blackouts, no rolling brown outs, no large scale power failure is possible. People living far from the beaten path could have their own high quality energy source and not have to beg (and pay) to have electrical lines installed.

      Ah, molten salt reactors can also return old nuclear waste, releasing the other 50% of the energy that was not used the first time around, reducing the waste to a much more manageable and even useful form, and is inherently immune to xenon-poisoning problems that plague solid-state nuclear reactors.

      There is no downside to nuclear. But, it would be adult of us to admit that it has nothing to do with emissions. CO2 is not a pollutant, does not warm the planet (in fact, CO2 and water vapor are radiative gases that cool the planet at night and have no effect during daylight, being saturated in sunlight), and is PLANT FOOD.

      With our coming planetary cooling for 70 to 120 years, we need more food, which means more CO2, and cheap, reliable electricity, which means no wind and solar to make it more expensive and unreliable. There is no upside to wind and solar, except to those benefitting from the subsidies and tax breaks.

      • Do old tech nuclear reactors extract 50% of the energy ? I read somewhere that they only extracted 1% of the energy, hence the reason why the waste had to kept safe for thousands of years.

      • With our coming planetary cooling for 70 to 120 years

        You have the same type of faith as warmunists, just in the opposite direction. You believe you know how climate is going to be 100 years from now. What makes you different? The sign before the number of degrees?

      • Javier

        there are some with evidence who predict the planet may have started cooling already. That cooling may go on for 70 to 120 years, it may not. It might go on for 1,000 years, it may not.

        The point is, I think, that the objective is to anticipate and adapt to change, not use the event (either cooling or warming) as an excuse to overturn capitalism. That’s what the alarmists are doing.

        I don’t think there’s anything wrong in hypothesising future climate events, that’s the nature of man, even if one defines a time frame that’s likely to be wrong.

        We only have a few decades of accurate climate data, badly maintained stephenson screens, boys throwing buckets overboard from ships, and all the other data, including ice cores and tree rings etc. are nothing more than possibilities. Scientists have always been cock sure about their studies, until someone comes along and overturns their research, and climate science is probably the shonkiest of all sciences. An old wife with a bit of seaweed is as likely to predict future climate as innumerable scientists with the best kit available.

        It’s notable that higley7 didn’t demand political change with his statement of the next century or so, he just stated a belief. So he’s nothing like the alarmists.

    • Exactly. Of all the reasons I support LFTR (and other next gen nuclear) research and deployment CO2 and/or climate change are not on the list.

    • Belief that CO2 drives the climate is getting more like a religious cult..However, greatly expanding nuclear power is a great compromise . Let them have their fact free alarmism. It serves them well at the election polls and they are not about to let it go… But we can all agree on nuclear power because it works and works well..

  1. Most environmental organizations started out with antinuclear advocacy. It’s no accident solar and wind are replacing nuclear and natural gas is replacing coal. Only the latter Is reducing CO2 emissions. Only the latter is reducing the price of electricity while increasing economic growth.

    • Except they’re now campaigning against natural gas, under the guise of ‘fracking.’

      Go figure. Money talks.

    • Yes and remember those crack scientists—Jack Lemmon, Martin Sheen and Jane Fonda— if crack was available then I would have concluded that was what they were on—I guess it was Mary Jane?

      • Theiretically speaking solar could replace nuclear if the Earth were flat and we could keep the sun hanging overhead fulltime while making clouds transparent to visible light.

      • The areas with the highest population density and power usage could never supply their needs with the solar power available in those areas, even with a nonexistent way to store it overnight and for weeks of cloudy weather and months of low sun conditions in Winter.

  2. “The world probably can’t solve climate change without nuclear power.”

    Need to reconsider the goals. If the goal is to “solve climate change”, then changing CO2 is shown by many not to have much impact and could be a waste of resources while increasing the risk to civilisation. If the goal is to provide a reliable source of power (with capacity to grow) to sustain a modern civilisation, then maybe the idea has merit.

      • TANSTAFE. Making use of energy requires knowledge/information (including of thermodynamics, entropy…), energy gradients, machines, tools… all of which are costly.

      • “Free energy”=”perpetual motion machine”=”alchemy” People never grow out of the fantasy, do they?

      • Can Government Electric make the most bucks from this or from 40 million turbines that must be serviced and replaced with regularity? Or from the huge number of megabatteries nered to make it work? Sustainable profit / sustainable subsidy.

    • If the goal is to “solve (CAGW) climate change”, then ….

      Then the only possible way it can be done is for the “conservatives” to take back control of the Public School Systems and their teaching curriculum content.

      Get the teaching of Political Correctness and “junk science” out of the schools.

      Otherwise, one is just fighting a losing battle for control of the “minds” of the adolescent populace.

    • rms the goal has been to destroy western civilization and have us under a global fiefdom of Champagne Elites. That has been the goal it was all designed for!

    • If some people want to do the right thing for the wrong reason, it would be senseless and counterproductive to do anything but let them proceed.
      The facts will emerge over time in ways that no one can fudge or paper over or adjust out of existence.

    • Global Warming/Climate Change is a welfare scam paid to the high class in poor nations; and financed and supported by the middle class in the rich nations.

      It seems quite possible that the gallows constructed for the President will serve to hang the very people who invested so much effort to design and build it.

      When a true genius appears in this world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.

      “The first principle of data collection and analysis is that you must not fool yourself, for you are the easiest person to fool.” “Science is the belief in the Ignorance of Experts.” Richard Feynman

      “Good decisions are often the result of wisdom.” Wisdom is usually the result of many bad decisions.
      Albert Einstien

    • That incoming missile alert was good training.

      People need to think about these things. That’s the kind of world Clinton, Bush and Obama left us. We have irrational leaders in several countries that have been allowed to acquire weapons of mass destruction, and they may just use them on the U.S. if given a chance.

      We should not give them that chance. But just in case we are too late, we should be prepared for whatever comes our way.

      The people of Hawaii have a whole new perspective on this issue now. The entire United States needs to get the same perspective.

      • Surely Trump is the one who has started a new round of nuclear escalation?

        not least in his determination to override the Iran agreement?

      • Surely Kim Jong Un, his father, and grandfather, have been preparing for these days since WW-II. North Korea has been working to get nuclear weapons for decades.

      • Griff,
        Even you must realize that a nuclear capability and ICBM technology cannot be developed in the first year of Trump’s presidency; they are the fruits of continuous research over decades. The nuclear escalation was permitted by previous presidents from Clinton onward who gave bribes of food and fuel to North Korea and let North Korea continue weapons research as any capability would not be created inside their term of office. The Iran deal was similar and did nothing to prevent Iranian research, as there is no formal monitoring. Indeed it is probable that the North Korean and Iranian research are one and the same.
        Trump has now been given the bag of bolts from the previous administrations. Rolling over and letting the Iran deal continue and ignoring North Korea, like hiding under your desk is not an option.

      • Griff, surely even you are dumb enough to actually believe that Iran’s agreement with Obama did anything other than speed up their nuclear weapons program.

      • Griff wrote: “Surely Trump is the one who has started a new round of nuclear escalation?”

        Trump isn’t doing anything the previous three U.S. presidents haven’t done. All of them have threatened North Korea with military action if North Korea doesn’t give up its nuclear weapons program.

        The difference with Trump is he is serious about taking military action against Kim Jung-un.

        Kum Jung-un is the one starting a new round of escalation by continuing to defy the world over the nuclear weapons issue. If he stops, then there is no more problem. If he doesn’t, the he is dead.

        Trump has a “red-line” in his head and if Kim Jung-un isn’t careful he is going to cross that line and then all the rhetoric and Elitist/Leftwing handwringing in the world isn’t going to prevent Kim from being removed from this Earth.

        The U.S. is not going to put itself at the mercy of a madman like Kim Jung-un, or the Mad Mullahs of Iran. At least not while Trump is in Office.

        If they push too far, they are going to burn.

        China and Russia will NOT intervene to stop Kim’s demise. There is no reason for them to commit suicide over Kim Jung-un, and that’s what they would be doing if they got involved militarily. There won’t be any short, limited nuclear wars with China and Russia. The U.S. has enough nuclear weapons to destroy all of them if that becomes necessary.

        Trump has given them fair warning. Trump has given everyone fair warning. People better listen.

      • Griff

        Trump is either a genius or a fool, only time will tell.

        What he seems to be doing, is saying what the man in the street is saying, the western world is of being held to ransom by tin pot dictatorships like N. Korea. He’s also saying America first, which is his sworn duty, and if the Paris Accord is bad for America, then he would be negligent not to withdraw from it.

        In the same way Britain has been forced to feel guilty about Colonialism, which in my opinion did more good than harm, America has been made to feel guilty about weaponising nuclear technology, which brought WW2 to and end before millions of others were killed. I’m sorry for the victims, but that’s just the way life is.

        Meanwhile, nuclear technology has progressed to not only save millions of lives, it’s enhance them.

        America and the UK have watched the world wash over them, simply because they did something liberals said was wrong, without which, those liberals wouldn’t exist. But neither the UK nor the US did anything wrong, they simply took a path in life that was good at the time, but which didn’t suit liberal opinions several decades, or hundreds of years later.

        Does America or the UK owe the world something? No, I rather think it’s the other way round. Nothing worthwhile on this planet would exist without Capitalism. Perhaps consumerism has gone too far, but that may be the negative aspect to a wholly good concept that the world remembers, as with the foregoing examples.

        Not that liberals will ever surrender the good stuff they have accumulated, they’ll just condemn everything that’s been accomplished in the past as some Capitalistic movement to dominate the world. But Capitalism does dominate the world. It has done for thousands of years, and the communities that have flourished have been the ones to embrace it.

        China and Russia didn’t do too well without Capitalism, but somehow, we’re meant to feel guilty about that. I’m sorry, but they should feel guilty about depriving their comrades of the Capitalist benefits we have enjoyed for generations.

        Trump tweets. Kim tests ballistic missiles. Trump objects and say’s “try it little man” and Kim announces he’s going to talk to South Korea. How strange. How long has Obama been trying for that result?

        Trump tweets, and everyone deludes themselves into believing he does it without consulting his advisers. So far, Trump’s tweets have forced Kim to the negotiating table. less than 18 months, a dozen tweets, and Trump has done what no country leader has done in the 21st Century. But of course, Donald Trump is insane.

        Trump tweets he’s moving an embassy to Jerusalem, Palestinians object and say they’ll not negotiate peace, so Trump says he’ll withdraw US funding if they don’t. I wonder if something will change now?

        Iranians are rioting in the streets, not about Trump, but about their own oppressive government, but at least Trump offers them some hope. Go and read Melanie Phillips on that subject.

        What was it Einstein said about insanity? Doing the same thing over again and expecting a different result. Thankfully, it seems, according to Einstein’s definition, after generations of Middle Eastern impasse,Trump isn’t insane, he’s doing something different.

        But liberals declare he is. So do liberals consider Einstein insane as well?

        If not, they condemn themselves to their own definition of insanity.

      • “Surely Trump is the one who has started a new round of nuclear escalation?”

        More ignorant drivel posted purely to provoke…

        Now, what was it you posted on Guardian CIF about ‘tweaking the tails of the den1alists”?

  3. Instead of joining the debate about the necessity of reducing CO2 and therefore, by implication accepting the “science”, we should concentrate on disproving the fallacy that mankind’s contribution to the total atmospheric concentration of CO2 of 0.0003% is somehow changing the climate. The only way of dealing with this myth is to discuss how much CO2 emissions are curtailed by wind turbines, solar panels etc when emissions for their construction and maintenance are also taken into account. Likewise for wood powered power stations. We also need to disprove the myth that contemporary extremes of weather (not climate), have occurred historically too.
    The science is not settled, if it was we would have a “Law” about CO2 induced climate change, the same as the Laws of Gravity (of which the Newtonian version has been recently disproved with the discovery of gravity waves) and the Laws of Thermodynamics and of Motion.

      • Re “…mankind’s contribution to the total atmospheric concentration of CO2 of 0.0003% is somehow changing the climate…” I believe Mr Harding was pointing out that Man’s contribution to that ~0.04% was less than one-tenth of that 0.04% total, i.e., 0.0003%.

      • R. Shearer,
        The concentration of CO2 in our atmosphere – to the nearest one-tenth of one percent – is Zero.

        Not a lot of watermelons will recognise that fact – let alone acknowledge that.


    • To andrewmharding The CO2 concentration is (approx) 0.04% or 0.0004 or 400 parts per million or 4 parts in 10,000.

      • It is considered that 95% of the CO2 in the air that we breathe. If we take mankind’s contribution to that 0.04% as 5%, the total contribution by man is 0.002% or 0.00002 or 20 ppM or 2 parts in 1000.

    • Sorry Andrew, you can’t “disprove” something. Why did you stop beating your wife? Prove you didn’t beat her.

      Science disproves the null hypothesis, in this case the possibility that increasing CO2 has no effect major on the earth and normal climate flucutations are the cause of changes we see.
      What can be easily proved is that human-caused CO2 was a basic assumption, made with no systematic proof. The UNFCCC and the conferences leading up to it assumed it was, because it was an ideal sock puppet, along with the precautionary principle.

      The precautionary principle only makes a modicum of sense if it is limited to doing things that are shown to be strong causes of the possible future problems, relatively cheap and easy, and also have other useful side effects, such as building dams to control floods or store water.

      • Currently there is no energy crisis, nor with fracking is there likely to be one within the next century. Wind turbines, solar panels, electric cars save very little, if any, CO2 in their construction, deployment,maintenance and their use. The future has to be nuclear, ideally with Thorium Reactors.

  4. The issue here is that same as with CFL lightbulbs – A poor product rushed in under panic climate change legislation, when by waiting a few years the problem of inefficient lighting would have solved itself naturally anyway.

    Likewise a push to proliferate the primitive and non-ideal BWR/PWR reactor designs would be crazy when LFTR is probably only a few years away, and fusion now in sight.

      • Ian Macdonald January 14, 2018 at 1:59 pm
        “Wind power has been 10 years away since pre-Roman times.”

        Yet wind power started the industrial revolution – with increasing contributions from steam, and later the IC Engine.
        Look at windmills into the 19th century – and sailing ships [like the Cutty Sark, and HMS Victory – then HMS Warrior] into the mid-19th Century.

        Today, their intermittency [and I note that, as I write this, per Wind and Nuclear are both producing about 29% of UK Demand. Gas about 22%] makes wind and solar silly choices for dispatchable power.
        I want my kettle to boil when I switch it on – not at 3-54 a.m. . . . .


      • Pressurized water reactors are very dangerous and aren’t good enough. They also are very inefficient, and require extreme care in construction and operation.

        The primary reason we were stuck with them is that they produce plutonium, way more than was ever needed for bombs, they’d already been run, and the preliminary design work was done. At the time there was no great need for them. Pollutants from coal and other fossil fuels hadn’t been realized as a problem, and when they were, scrubbers and other add ons were relatively cheap and easy. Same goes for auto pollutants.

    • Yes, well said. CFLs were a disaster—considered toxic waste, never really worked quit right, nasty yellowish light…..Then we got LEds. I just gave all my CFLs to Goodwill. LEDs are the way to go!

      I see this everywhere on the net. People believe, because of slick advertising I guess, that LFTR and other nuclear power ideas are just behind the gate, waiting for the gate to open and dash out to save humanity. Except they aren’t. It explains why EVs are always going to save the planet—just right around the corner, you know. Sure.

      We need to keep up the research, but we are not yet there on many of these ideas and may never arrive there at all.

      • Don’t be so sure. Alvin Weinberg was a pretty smart guy. He holds the patent on the light water reactor and didn’t like it for very good reason. He knew that molten salt reactors were much better. He never thought light water reactors would be around for long.

        I keep hearing the same old crap all the time on this site and it always seems to come from the fossil fuel people. They don’t seem to want to understand because understanding could affect their wallet.

        All they want to do is disprove that CO2 is not going to cause global warming. They seem totally disinterested in what the world might look like once we run out of fossil fuels.

        • “They seem totally disinterested in what the world might look like once we run out of fossil fuels.”

          Which isn’t going to happen for hundreds – possibly thousands – of years yet, taking into account the shale reserves and the trillions of tons of coal in the North Sea alone that are now accessible using the new in-situ gasification technology which uses the steerable drilling gear as shale extraction, not to mention the unimaginable amounts of methane hydrate in the oceans.

          “Peak Oil” is so twentieth century…

          There are certainly way more fossil fuel reserves in the World than necessary to ensure us the leisure to develop something far cleaner, more convenient and more efficient than any of today’s solutions, remember the Stone Age didn’t end because we ran out of stones.


    George Monbiot is a classic study of one who champions warming theory, and the Assad must go message. One must ask who is he working for? Writing for the U.K. Guardian in 2011, he headlines a piece: “Why Fukushima made me stop worrying and love nuclear power” – an absurd position, given the catastrophe that culminated in radioactive pollution leaking into the Pacific Ocean from the reactors, with a half-life of 30 years.

    “You will not be surprised to hear that the events in Japan have changed my view of nuclear power. You will be surprised to hear how they have changed it. As a result of the disaster at Fukushima, I am no longer nuclear-neutral. I now support the technology.”

    He also wrote: “Monbiot’s royal flush: Top 10 climate change deniers. My shortlist of people who have done most for the denialist cause – in playing card form”.

    Monbiot’s work brings two themes to converge: the dream of nuclear clean green energy replacing coal and Syria being stage set for the same fate as Iraq. However, these two political agendas are in trouble; the nuclear lobby has failed, and those who want to invade Syria have seen their proxy armies defeated, for the time being. ‘The Murky Future of Nuclear Power in the United States’ (Diane Cardwell 2017) tells how the United States government earmarked billions of dollars for atomic energy research and development, “in part to help tame a warming global climate”. Certainly, the nuclear energy industry stood to greatly benefit from catastrophic predictions by the warming climate lobby, that coal is a more dangerous source of energy than nuclear, but Fukushima changed all that. Jonathan Cook on January 12, 2018, writes: ‘Monbiot is not only a hypocrite, but a bully too’.

    “Turning a blind eye to his behaviour, or worse excusing it, as too often happens, has only encouraged him to intensify his attacks on dissident writers, those who – whether right or wrong on any specific issue – are slowly helping us all to develop more critical perspectives on western foreign policy goals than has been possible ever before.” Jonathan Cook on January 12, 2018

    • an absurd position, given the catastrophe that culminated in radioactive pollution leaking into the Pacific Ocean from the reactors, with a half-life of 30 years.

      An absurd position given that’s there is 4 billion tonnes of uranium of which about 280 million tonnes is fissile U235 in there already with a half life of 703.8 million years.

      I mean really, the world oceans are a huge place and already radioactive.

    • The amount of radioactive material leaking into the Pacific is literally drops in a bucket. It’s diluted so heavily by the ocean that you will likely find a higher concentration of the active ingredient in a glass of homeopathic remedy than the concentration of radioactive contaminant in a glass of pacific ocean water.

      Like Three Mile Island, Fukushima demonstrated that the design of modern nuclear power plants makes them unlikely to kill anyone, even when a design flaw coupled with poor operational response initiates and exacerbates a significant accident. In both cases you had release of fission products into the primary coolant system and that system leaking into the environment. In both cases the danger was confined to a very small area within the perimeter of the plant.

  6. I believe that the reason that many of the scientists that warn us of catastrophic anthrapogenic global warming (CAGW) are doing it to stop the resistance to nuclear power. I think their noble lies have backfired and they have only succeeded in damaging the world’s economy and the reputation of all scientist. My reading of history is that result of heavily damaged economys lead to war.

      • That is why I said many scientists and not all scientist. Sure some are self serving. The other good question is why does the mainstream news media (MSM) support only the CAGW scientist.

    • So what? As for damaging the economy, if we had developed nuclear power like we should have the economy would be fine and we wouldn’t be fighting these ridiculous wars for oil. You seem to worry about the economy far more than you do wars.

  7. To his credit, Hansen has been advocating Nuclear for years, so the thought is a little late coming to these guys. The problem is they have been using the same people who hate nuclear as shock troops in their war against carbon dioxide. Their hypocrisy of convenience is now biting them in the butt.

  8. … the technology is rapidly improving.

    There are a number of technologies that will provide safe economical nuclear power. link

    The greenies don’t want to solve global warming per se. They want to demolish capitalism. Cheap, safe, plentiful, nuclear power would not produce a crisis. Trying to rely on wind and solar would provoke a crisis. They need a crisis to get people to agree to overthrow capitalism. Overthrowing capitalism would lead to the collapse of civilization and (supposedly) nature would reign supreme again. The greenies are the enemies of humanity.

    Freeman Dyson has written a wonderful essay. In it he points out that the human mediated environment of England is, by almost any measure, superior to the boring and non-diverse forests that would otherwise prevail. Mother Nature does not always know best. The greenies are wrong, the humanists are right.

    CAGW is a false flag operation. It will not succeed in collapsing civilization. The Chinese and Indians are not deceived. What it will do is hasten the descent of America and Europe.

  9. Aside from the fact that AGW advocates should never be encouraged, nuclear power produces deadly waste and deadly risk. How is that a viable option?

    • Linda,
      Maybe you should schedule a trip to Lac-Mégantic, Quebec to talk the folks there about how dangerous nuclear is.

      • Fukushima would be better. The consequences of the Lac-Mégantic disaster were localized and non-persistent (personal grieving from death losses excluded). Fukushima spread fallout everywhere, and it will never be cleaned up. That’s the difference.

      • How many people die everyday across the world for lack of access to clean, safe water and sanitary sewer systems?

        Without affordable electricity there is no such thing as affordable, clean municipal water supplies and sanitary sewer systems to deal with the human waste, far deadlier by historical standards than radioactivity.
        Properly sequestered, Nuclear can power clean water systems across the globe to lessen mankind’s impacts and deaths due to water-borne disease.

      • “How many people have died from Fukushima fall-out?”

        Lots according to unofficial reports. The problem is if you’re a doctor in Japan and list a person’s death being due to radiation, you will loose your ability to practice.

      • icisil, are you going to tell how Fukushima has killed all the whales in the Pacific again?
        The amount of radiation that leaked from Fukushima is small and has been diluted way past the point of harmlessness.

      • Why is it that when activists can’t find the data to support their delusions, they always start screaming about official cover ups.
        Who was that arctic “researcher” who claimed that the CIA was killing his colleagues?

      • MarkW, I don’t recall that I ever said that all whales have been killed. That info is not part of my dataset. And FWIW, radiation in the Pacific follows currents in plumes. It takes years for it to become fully diluted. We don’t know enough about the matter to say what damage it does or doesn’t do.

      • Icisil
        The real story about Fukushima is the Tohoku tsunami which really killed a lot (over 15,000) of real people (around 2500 are still ‘missing’). All the anti-nuclear nuts just forget about them.

        The only recorded injuries from Fukushima were a couple of clean-up workers who stood in some radioactive water and were off work for a few days with burns (like sunburn) on their feet.
        Otherwise, exposure to radiation was about equivalent to taking a long haul flight somewhere.
        Lots of deaths? Bullsh1t.

      • “icisil January 14, 2018 at 7:42 am”

        More people have died from mercury poisoning from contaminated fish than the atomic bombs in WW2 and Fukushima disaster and any other nuclear power station incident anywhere!

      • How do you define “fully diluted”?
        The radiation from Fukusima was diluted way, way below dangerous levels long before it left the bay.
        It is measurable, but only by using the most sensitive of instruments made by man, and even then, only barely.

    • “nuclear power produces deadly waste and deadly risk”. Correct me if I am wrong but I don’t recall hearing about a nuclear disaster in France, which produces much nuclear power. How do they manage that? Chernobyl was using old technology. Three Mile Island had a problem when humans over-rode the automatic controls. IMHO, nuclear power is being strangled by over-regulation. Just for reference, I recall the 50’s when we were told to sit at least 6 feet away from the TV due to radiation exposure. Evidently the harmful effects were not from radiation but content!!!

      • Chernobyl still used technology analogous to the brakes of a Ford T in a Porsche 911. The technology continues and so does the technology of nuclear fission. It is even possible, if it is wanted, to turn all the old waste of old nuclear power plants into energy. With the right formats like the Molten Salt reactor. The leafy greens will have to learn a lot in order to become adults.

      • Chernobyl used a technology that was specifically rejected by the west as being unstable. It was used by the USSR because it was cheap. They also saved money by not building a containment vessel around it. Something that is required in the west.
        Finally they disabled most of the safety systems that did exist in order to run a test and failed to react properly when the test got out of control.
        Even so, only a few dozen brave volunteers died when they manually poured concrete onto the remains of the pile in order to contain the radiation.
        The other reactors at Chernobyl are still running to this day, and the wildlife in the areas around the reactor are thriving.

      • Most of the waste from fission reactors isn’t waste. Only a couple of percent of the uranium in a fuel rod is consumed. Reprocessing can recover the remaining uranium as well as the useful reaction products.
        Most of the stuff that isn’t useful for producing power has short half lives and is pretty much gone in a couple of decades.

    • Well Linda, No, it doesn’t.

      Like AGW. the more you know about nuclear power the more you realises how much you have been lied to.

      It is in fact the safest form of energy on the planet.

    • Deadly waste can be handled and is. Lots of things produce deadly waste.
      Lots of things produce deadly risks as well. Nuclear power kills way fewer people per megawatt generated than does any other source of power.

    • Linda: your body creates deadly waste via bacteria. Controlling the deadly effect of this waste is done by engineering, such as human waste management facilities. The same is true for nuclear wastes. Both waste management technologies have challenges, but both have been largely resolved.

  10. Another desperate ploy by the Warmunists. They want to join forces with those who favor nuclear energy for other reasons; that nuclear can provide reliable baseload power, albeit at a higher cost (currently) than coal or gas. The hope is that they will go all Maggie Thatcher on Climate Skeptics/Realists.
    Sorry Charlie; ain’t gonna happen. Nice try though.

  11. It’s not “lingering concerns about waste and safety have kept nuclear power from staying competitive”. It’s over-regulation and various bureaucratic obstacles.

  12. It is happening anyhow, regardless of what any think-tank considers. China is now finishing 5-10 nuclear reactors every year, and the pace is likely going to increase. They could use like 300+, even 500 of which.

    • Where are they getting their expertise from I’d like to know; a few years ago under chairman Mao ‘steelmaking’ was a cottage industry with smelting furnaces in the back kitchen. Now the chinese are technology world beaters.

  13. I have nothing against nuclear. Butbit makes little sense to build gen 3 wherever there is coal, natural gas, or reasonably priced LNG. Better to thoroughly evaluate all the gen 4 options (there are several, all discussed in essay Going Nuclear in ebook Blowing Smoke),select a couple of the ‘best’, build one of each to shake out the engineering detIls, then make a decision on how to roll out the chosen gen 4 (s). At last in the US we have a couple of decades to accomplish that while building CCGT. Just got to get started.

    • To the Church of CAGW True Believers in the evil powers of The MagicMolecule™, what you say as “makes little sense” …is blasphemy.

    • I’m 100% for nuclear if they can develop a technology that can’t melt down and irradiate the environment. I wish they would take all of the subsidies for renewables and plow them into gen 4 research.

      • “I’m 100% for nuclear if they can develop a technology that can’t melt down and irradiate the environment. I wish they would take all of the subsidies for renewables and plow them into gen 4 research.” They are already design that do that, the US had a pilot plant it was called a fast reactor it was safe and produced little waste, you could shutdown the cooling system and the reactor was design so as it heated the fission process shutdown. The fuel would expand to far apart to keep the reaction going due to the fact the fuel was already in a liquid state. You can thank Bill Clinton for killing it off.

      • Not an accurate characterization. I believe that man-made radioactive isotopes that mimic elements like calcium, potassium and iodine don’t belong in the human body, which invariably happens when there are catastrophic meltdowns. There’s no question that such can be deadly.

      • Good thing most of those things aren’t released in any major quantities by modern reactors.
        Beyond that, there are medicines that can drastically reduce the ability of the body to take up these chemicals.
        Thirdly, dose makes the poison.

    • That’s the way we try to do it in the airplane business Robert. By the way thanks for all your inputs. I read all of yours and believe them to be most useful and correct.

  14. I thought the article quite sensible. The greens have rejected nuclear for decades but now they believe there is a bigger threat, a few are trying to embrace the technology that will help their climate cause. However the sentiments expressed in the article are totally rejected by numerous green activists.

    From the twitter thread Eric references above, comes this comment which is pretty typical of many deep green activists

    “Jon Reynolds

    Please do not conflate “civilization” and electricity. Humans have lived in manners we call “civilized” for millennia without electricity. And all the other cultures we somehow deem as “uncivilized” have likewise survived without ‘

    With that sort of attitude, that putting us back to the dark ages is the preferred option, I think that the author of the original article will have a hard job persuading his fellow environmentalists of the desirability of looking elsewhere for electricity generation options in order to ‘save the planet’


    • “I thought the article quite sensible. The greens have rejected nuclear for decades but now they believe there is a bigger threat, a few are trying to embrace the technology that will help their climate cause.”

      I think the threat Eric Holthaus sees is it is becoming obvious that “renewables” are not going to be able to replace other electrical generating technology, so he is looking at nuclear as a CO2-free alternative.

    • What is considered “civilized” changes with each generation.
      What was considered the heights of civilization during the middle ages, would be considered barbaric today.

    • Civilization without electricity. Yep, but would you want it?

      We need folks like “Jon” to read “One Second After”. Wouldn’t hurt all of us here to read few of the “disaster” novels and get past the societal breakdown issues. As they point out many things that would go away we have not thought of besides the obvious high tech phones, puters, auto engines, jet planes, etc.

      Sure, we could live, and die, as our ancestors – few, if any anti-biotics or insulin, no xray or CAT scan devices, no laser dental or eye surgery, many shovel ready jobs for the “proles” to scoop the horse manure in our streets, maybe a few steam powered autos and more likely some trains to replace Boeings, no power from windmills other than pumps and pulley-driven doofers, telephones? huh? and the beat goes on.


  15. Once you realise that AGW and anti-nuclear greenery are simply ways that Big Gas has kept coal and nuclear out of their market, whilst foisting expensive renewables that haven’t reduced gas or coal or oil usage one iota, on us, you realise that actually what we probably need is more nuclear and more coal, and less money into cronies’ pockets..

  16. After coming close to a site where nuclear waste is being stored, I am of the opinion that nuclear is not good and safe. Please keep it out of my backyard. There is also some kind of Russian mafia that bribed our president to get nuclear from Russia.
    In any case, the belief that nuclear energy produces no GH gases is incorrect. In comparison to gas powered stations, the nuclear power stations need enormous amounts of cooling water, which, YOU GUESSED IT, produces more warm water. This ultimately affects the amount of H2O (g) being produced in the environment [as the sun will shine on the warmer water during the day]. I am also concerned finding that the maritime life here in the area around the Koeberg power station was severely affected by the warm water output of the station.

    • Hydro outputs warm water, too. So we shut down all the hydro? Let’s just live in caves and scrounge for worms and berries. Can’t hurt much that way, right?

      They can put the nuclear power plant in my backyard or store waste there any time. I’m fine with it.

      • How does hydro output warm water? Penstock entrances are located at the bottom of reservoir dams where it is much colder. I used to kayak on a river that was fed by a hydro facility. In the middle of summer the water temp was about 45*F and the fog was so thick sometimes you couldn’t see 50′ in front of you.

      • You must be clueless as to the rules on storing nuclear waste. Go have a look at a site and tell me at how many km away you were told to stay away?

      • You can safely camp outside a nuclear waste dump.
        The only reason why nuclear dumps exist is because the paranoids banned reprocessing.

      • You could safely camp right outside a nuclear waste dump. The stuff isn’t that radioactive, and it is shielded.
        Regardless, the only reason those dumps exist is because people such as yourself demanded that reprocessing be banned.

      • Using Bernoulli’s theorem an energy balance between top and bottom shows the potential energy heads in ft or m of water are converted into pressure, velocity and turbine heads:

        Xt +ut^2/2gc+Pt/pt-F-w=Xb+ub^2/2gc+Pb/pb

        This balance can be applied at any point in the circuit. F is the friction loss which shows up as heat.

    • “There is also some kind of Russian mafia that bribed our president to get nuclear from Russia.”

      Henry, what happened is the Russian mafia bribed the Obama/Clinton mafia into selling Russia 20 percent of the U.S. uranium supply.

      It was reported this morning that the Clinton/Russian Uranium One scandal has now produced the first indictment of a person involved in this illegal deal. Many more indictments to come, including some who you may know by name. 🙂

      • TA

        no, no, no.
        I am talking about our president (in South Africa)
        This was told to me by a reliable (black) friend of mine. Various subsequent actions during his downfall, e.g. desperately trying to get his ex-wife into power, makes me thinking that it could be true and that if he does “not deliver” he will have to pay the money back…..

    • HenryP – Here in Florida the warm water output of the nuclear power stations is saving the lives of manatees and other warm water marine life that go there for the warmth. Perhaps we need to build more.

      • Ian
        I guess that is correct. Other lifeforms jump in when others have to let go.. Still here around the coast of South Africa the life forms noted around the coast are pretty unique and I think we should preserve it. Putting nuclear in will make lifeforms disappear.
        Anyway, with nuclear we also still sit with the waste, the hairline cracks in the reactor vessels (Belgium) and what happens when there is another earthquake near a reactor?
        Let us not go that route.
        Gas is best.

    • Every single practical form of power generation produces warm water. Your belief that nuclear is somehow unique in this just shows how deeply your paranoia regarding nuclear has become.
      BTW, why does coming close (whatever that means) to a place that stores nuclear waste convince you that nuclear is bad?
      Furthermore, the only reason why we store nuclear waste is because the paranoids banned the reprocessing of those same wastes which would get rid of them.

      • No. Not all power generation produces warm water and nuclear produces the most warm water of any process. To control the process…
        I have given some hints as to how hydro and wind can work together with great safety.
        Nuclear is not safe. As explained elsewhere.
        Gas is probably the best option.

      • Oh
        and coming close to the nuclear waste site I noticed all these warning signs….
        Must be some truth to the danger or else there would be no danger signs…??

      • The amount of warm water produced is directly proportional to the amount of electricity being produced.
        The government puts warnings on lawn mowers telling people not to put their fingers under them.
        Are you really crazy enough to determine what is and isn’t dangerous based on what the government decides to warm people about?

      • Henryp: there are warning labels on Superman capes (sold for children) saying said capes do not confer the ability to fly. Most warning labels are not because something is particularly dangerous, but because some people are extremely stupid.
        Without such warnings, some fool would break into the facility for some idiotic, illegal purpose, then sue for damages when exposed to radiation, because an adequate warning was not posted.

    • Warm water flushed into rivers from numclar isn’t material to the overall picture. A similar argument is the heat of combustion which also is not material to the GMST, meaning it contributes less than about 1% to it.

  17. Geologic evidence shows that the world does not need saving nor does it care about humans or even saving them for that fact.

    Ha ha

  18. The other reason for the CAGW fanatics to consider nuclear power is renewable energy does not work if ‘work’ is defined to be the goal of reducing CO2 emissions by more than around 30%.

    Germany has led the effort to determine the absolute limit of green energy. German CO2 emissions have reached a plateau.

    To reduce CO2 emissions below about 30% with wind and solar requires battery systems. Ignoring astronomical costs to install battery systems, the energy required to construct the battery systems exceeds the energy ‘savings’ to use wind and solar. The green scams do not include the cost and energy to build and then replace the worn-out wind turbines and battery systems.

    The key problem appears to be that the cost of manufacturing the components of the renewable power facilities is far too close to the total recoverable energy – the facilities never, or just barely, produce enough energy to balance the budget of what was consumed in their construction. This leads to a runaway cycle of constructing more and more renewable plants simply to produce the energy required to manufacture and maintain renewable energy plants – an obvious practical absurdity.

    A research effort by Google corporation to make renewable energy viable has been a complete failure, according to the scientists who led the program. After 4 years of effort, their conclusion is that renewable energy “simply won’t work”.

    Recently Bill Gates explained in an interview with the Financial Times why current renewables are dead-end technologies. They are unreliable. Battery storage is inadequate. Wind and solar output depends on the weather. The cost of decarbonization using today’s technology (William: Solar and wind power rather than nuclear) is “beyond astronomical,” Mr. Gates concluded.

      the link above showing the electrical power generation for Germany is interesting. It looks like intermittent renewables will soon be over 50% for electrical power. BUT . Dont forget that electrical power generation is only part of the total energy usage. Total solar wind and biomass = 30% of total energy supply. That has been achievable with massive subsidies which in the long run are not sustainable. Who knows what the eventual % will be when the subsidies come off. As previous posters have pointed out the economics of intermittent renewables without subsidies dont justify the investment. Even the economics of nuclear dont justify it in the western world. The only reason nuclear works in China is that the safety regulations are ignored and thus nuclear is a an economic alternative and the Chinese are going nuclear like crazy. That could never happen in North America unless the newer nuclear technologies are game changers but that will take awhile. In the meantime we are all struggling with much higher electrical pricing because of paying for these massive intermittent renewable subsidies. Intermittent renewables for large public power generation are a scam in the long run because without storage the utilities practically give the extra power away when too much is generated. They only make economic sense for individuals with lots of land and who want off the grid. Hydro and biomass are viable options but not everywhere has lots of elevation change with fast flowing rivers. I cant understand why coal plants cannot have scrubbers on them to eliminate 99.9% of the pollution. I am not worried about CO2 production

  19. Geology has had a very implacable history.
    And then there is the irony of those with advanced degrees in Climatology, Meteorology, Physics and even Biology who have the audacity and ego to claim that modern society can materially alter climate history. The belief includes that the ignorant can involuntarily destroy the climate. The other delusion is that only a committee of “experts” can create the perfect climate.
    History knows what happened when the Communists set out to create the “Perfect Man”.
    And with the Nazis when they attempted to create the “perfect” land-space and race.
    Throughout our history, authoritarians have been motivated by power and money. Only the story changes.
    As Rome was corrupted into a police state the banner was the “Genius of the Emperor”. In the 1500s, when the Church was corrupted to a vehicle of brutal power, it was the “Infallibility of the Pope”. Now, it is “The Science is Settled”.
    In each case, any opposition was repressed.
    Geological history is setting a Solar Minimum, that with natural cooling will soon instruct the public on real science. Wow, it may even be taught at schools.

    Bob Hoye

  20. Sheri
    please explain to us how hydro energy produces warm water…
    The water falls down into a turbine which then starts rotating which gives electricity?
    Where, in this process, do you need anything to cool anything at all?
    Hydro is good!
    In fact, wind is also good but you have to do it differently to how it is done now.
    Just use the wind to pump up water from the bottom to the top of the reservoir where you are getting the hydro from.
    That way you can synchronize your power output with demand, even if there is no wind…..

  21. Must say also,
    I had some solar up here on the office and it did not work out, i.e.
    too many hassles with batteries and dust on the panels.
    I know Anthon(Y) put some solar up on his house.
    I wonder how that worked out for him?

  22. I am a safety expert. Let me put ‘safer’ in a context that will help some of you understand.

    If Bill Gates finds a quarter in the seat cushions, he is ‘richer’.

    I am specifically a safety expert on US designed BWRs and PWRs. US commercial and naval reactors have a perfect safety record. No one has been hurt by radiation. Even when the core is damaged.

    Exposure to radiation is the mechanism for causing harm. The hazard is mitigated by time, distance, and shielding. The first weapons reactors at Hanford were out in the desert. Distance was used in case of an accident.

    Safety criteria for making weapons in time of war is much lower.
    Safety criteria is based on existing best practices. Nuclear power had to be safer than a coal plant built in 1950 which would not kill neighbors if there was an accident. The risk from nuclear power had to be less than getting hit by a coal train.

    This achieved for LWRs by putting the reactor in a containment building. The next major passive design improvement was to make containment building bigger and build a shield building around the containment building. Shielding prevents exposure.

    The interesting thing about the nuclear safety record is that other industries have adopted similar methodologies. For some like oil, gas, and chemical it was forced by regulations.

    So maybe safety concerns were valid in 1970 but the 40 year record invalidates those concerns.

    • Kit
      I am impressed with your credentials.
      I am sure that you must be aware of a number of reactor vessels in the US showing the same fault as the ones in Belgium, i.e. hairline cracks in the reactor vessels.
      Please tell me the reason for these cracks and why were the reactors for repairs and if you know, how they repaired the faults?

      • Henry
        I am not a metallurgist but I am trained in the fundamentals. As I understand the lattice structure of any piece metal has numerous imperfection. After initial forging and during outages, the vessel is inspected and evaluated to check that the imperfections are not growing.

        One factor is the number of thermal cycles during the life of the plant. For one plant I did the calculation for input to the metallurgist. Another factor is fast neutron embrittlement, reactor engineers would provide this information to metallurgist.

        The point is that safety issues are evaluated and reviewed by regulators. In the US, this is a public record. If safety requirements are not met, the plant will not operate,

        • Retired Kit P
          Thanks for the info. But it adds no confidence in nuclear. Neutron embrittlement? Do you think a developing country [like South Africa} has the capable guys fixing a problem like that here? Do you get why I don’t want it in my backyard?
          I was merely observing that the cracks in the Belgium reactors caused a considerable shortage in power there and nobody could tell what caused it…Now all reactors are up running again and everyone is quiet about the repairs…
          Watch the next disaster coming up. Could be either in France or Belgium.

      • I read a number of years back that they were working on ways to anneal the metal in place in order to help with these problems. Did this ever work out?

      • henryp,

        IIRC, I don’t think the flaws in the vessel base material were significant in terms of safety. The base carbon steel is 8″ thick, with a stainless cladding ( 3/16″) over it. The flaws or inclusions in the base material weren’t on welds or heat affected zones, and neither were they through-wall type indications. Thus, they were evaluated as ok (again, as I recall). They are not cracks in the sense that they formed due to hydrogen embrittlement or IGSCC (intergranular stress corrosion cracking). These were most likely just flaws from the forming process.

        As for Koeberg, SA may not maintain the expertise…but that’s why they contract with Westinghouse and AREVA (now Framatome again). There’s plenty of expertise out there, and believe it or not, people working in the industry are, by and large, highly dedicated and motivated to keep things safe. They understand that their whole industry depends on it. That’s why you see diehard competitors helping each other.


    • Adding to RK’s comment:
      The four pillars of radiation safety are taught at the earliest ages when we teach our children about fire.

      1) Time: do not stick around in a fire. The longer you stay in a fire the more you get burned. The same principle applies for ionizing radiation.
      2) Distance: move away from the fire to prevent getting burned. The same principle applies for ionizing radiation.
      3) Shielding: putting a shield, such as your brother, between you and the fire which will lessen the heating effect if it is too hot. The same principles apply for ionizing radiation.
      4) Contamination control: get upwind of the smoke or wear a bandana;watch out for embers; and for goodness sake do not track any soot in the house or your mother will kill you. The same principles apply for ionizing radiation.

      Protecting oneself and others from radiation is surprisingly simple and intuitive when one uses the campfire analogy. However, the protection engineering for large sources can be complex principally due to damaging effects that radiation in large quantity can have on materials. Nevertheless, engineering has largely resolved the time, distance and shielding problems – which is why nuclear power plants have been amazingly safe and provide great protection for not only workers but for those who live nearby.

      The issue of contamination control and the effects of contamination on a biological entity is more complex and requires a solid understanding of how radiation is created, the (very important) chemistry of the radioactive material, the biological pathways for ingestion and egestion of the radioactive material, and of course the biological effects of the radiation at the cellular level. This is the area where many opposed to nuclear power and all things emitting radiation fail to understand the science or deliberately confuse people with bogus science. Good folks have been taught by the anti-nuclear leaders that any amount of radiation will kill you, give you cancer, and turn your sister into a monster, et cetera ad nauseum. The truth, the science is a far different thing.

      Having taught radiation safety as a career, I can go all day but I’ll happily entertain any comments with further thoughts.

      • In addition to the above I would also like to correct misperceptions about the Fukishima accident’s contamination of the ocean.

        Dilution is a solution when it comes to long lived radionuclides. Here is why.
        1. When a single radioactive atom has a long half life, it has a 50-50 chance it will emits its radiation during the half-life. For example, a 50,000 year half life atom may or may not emit its radiation during that period. What is it doing the rest of the time? Nothing, certainly not emitting radiation, other than behaving as its chemical composition will normally behave.
        2. If you ingest that atom and it remains in your body, the odds are very high that it will not emit its radiation in your life time. 50,000 divided by the average lifespan is a simplistic odds ratio but gets the picture across. If the atom does not emit its radiation in your lifetime, then no harm-no foul unless there are some chemical properties that may be harmful.
        3. Dilution is the solution for long-lived radionuclides because dilution reduces the odds of large quantities of atoms getting into your body. In the example of Fukishima, there is some valid evidence that within 50 miles, IIRC, of the accident there was concentration of radionuclides in fish, but past that point dilution took over in a big way and there is zero evidence of higher than normal radioactive materials in fish outside this area. Anti-nuclear types claim there is concentration in fish beyond the area, but their so-called science is junk science. Regarding the reported and highly suspect activities that supposedly reached the US shores, it would require a person to drink or ingest a huge quantity of salt water to potentially get any kind of appreciable radiation exposure. The salt water would kill them long before the ingested radioactive materials would kill them.

  23. These days “nuclear power” is an imprecise term. The differences between a light water reactor and a molten salt reactor are so vast that knowing something about one means you may not know much about the other. Molten salt reactors come in a varierty of designs, all of them approaching prototype phases. While conventional nuclear power is the safest form of power generation, molten salt power is intrinsically, walk away safe.It also is cheap to build, cheap to operate and can be built in factories , can be located virtually anywhere, does not require water for cooling, The nuclear core cannot melt down because it is already melted , and under no significant pressure – even a gaping hole in the reactor would not be of much concern. Requires very little concrete on site,
    and sites can be prepared easilly. Cost to build roughly $2 billion per gigawatt – cost of power – roughly 3 to 4 cents per kWhr. As for nuclear waste, one has proclaimed that spent nuclear fuel is far from being a waste rather than burying it underground, it should be retained in concrete vessels and its residual thermal heat used to do many things – desalinating enormous quantities of Pacific Ocean water would be one. These reactors can ramp up and ramp down power quickly and thus be used as both base and mid level generators. China and India are rushing to get these reactors to market.

    • There is as much BS talked about Chernobyl and Fukushima as there is about climate change. There are likewise the two sides, one trying to play the incidents down, the other to exaggerate them.

      Chernobyl was bad. Make no mistake about that. What is more alarming is that it was not as bad as it could have been. Had the entire core been ejected, the whole of Europe could have been exposed to radiation levels above internationally agreed limits.

      Fukushima, it seems, was not as bad as was originally thought in terms of radiation release. However it WAS bad in that four buildings, all designed to comply with relatively modern safety standards, all suffered explosions which breached their containment. This in itself ought to be enough to force a rethink on such designs.

      The safety issues at Fukushima were not nuclear, either. They were the use of pressurised water as a coolant and, and the use of zirconium metal in fuel rod cladding. Together with overheating fuel, these give rise to two mechanisms whereby hydrogen gas can be liberated. It was this which caused the explosions.

      The only way to eliminate these hazards is to eliminate the water and the zirconium. Molten salt is the known and tested way to do this.

      Zirconium was the metal used in pre-electronic camera flashbulbs. It is chemically similar to magnesium. Putting that in a reactor is functionally about as wise as giving tap-dancing lessons to EOD operatives.

      • It’s not just the melted cores that are a problem. Between reactors 1, 2 and 3 there are approximately 1500 spent fuel rods immersed in spent fuel pools perched 100′ in the air atop those structurally compromised buildings. If those buildings collapsed, or spent fuel pools cracked and lost water, let’s say due to an earthquake, the zirconium cladding would catch fire. “Uncontrolled spent fuel rod fires could pour enough radioactive waste into the atmosphere to cause what a nuclear engineer (at a Vermont plant identical to Fukushima reactors) calls “Chernobyl on steroids”.” –

        To complicate things, they built an ice wall around the facility to try to contain radioactive groundwater from flowing into the sea. It didn’t work, but it did cause the ground water to rise underneath the plant and destabilize the ground beneath the reactor buildings.

        It took several years to remove 1535 MOX fuel rods from reactor 4, which would have caused a very very ugly fire if it had collapsed. I don’t know if they’ve started removing the other rods yet.

        So we’re not out of the woods yet…

        Similar risks exist in the US

      • My bad again. I thought it was 1500 fuel rods. Not so. 1500 fuel rod assemblies. Each assembly contains 63 fuel rods.

  24. “That irony points to what I see as an inescapable conclusion: The world probably can’t solve climate change without nuclear power.”

    Welcome to 1988. You have wasted a trillion dollars doing nothing when a solution was in front of you. Welcome to the Denier club. Enjoy your stay.

  25. henryp, the water turbine isn’t 100% efficient. The water gives up potential energy some of which is used in the turbine and converted to electricity. What happens to the rest of the PE? Figure it out.

    As for nuclear waste heat from a reactor you can air cool it or better go to a high temperature design like the LFTR which also operates at essentially atmospheric pressure and because of the high temperature the thermo efficiency is higher. The LFTR type was first developed for nuclear powered airplanes (bad idea) but can even be made load following.

  26. The problem with embracing ANY ‘environmentally acceptable’ is, they are never satisfied. At its heart the more aggressive segment of the environmental movement is basically anti-human, i.e., humans, especially a bunch of them, are responsible for all of the worlds woes.

    If you build nuclear power plants, they want them shut down due to their inherent risks.

    If you build wind farms, they are shut down due to their negative impact on birds.

    If you want to build solar farms, permits will be denied because they require too much acreage and are an eyesore.

    The fact is, the only acceptable solution, if they have their way, is far fewer people, living in more primitive and difficult circumstances to discourage reproduction.

  27. Terrapower and Toshiba had agreements back in 2010 for building traveling wave reactors (TWRs), which is relatively mature technology. In 2015, Terrapower signed an agreement to build a prototype 600 MWe reactor unit at Xiapu in Fujian province, China, beginning this year.

    TWRs can generate electricity from the “nuclear waste” some activists use as reason to abandon nuclear power entirely. You might think such activists would be enthused about neutralizing that waste through additional power generation. That doesn’t seem to be the case.

  28. “Thanks for the info. But it adds no confidence in nuclear. …
    I was merely observing that the cracks in the Belgium reactors caused a considerable shortage in power there and nobody could tell what caused it…Now all reactors are up running again and everyone is quiet about the repairs…”

    Henry’s comment is very contradictory. There is a potential problem at a nuke plant. The plant stays off line while it is resolved. I would be worried if the plant continued to operate without resolving the issue.

    Henry wants someone to spoon feed him information that is readily available from regulators.

    Ever notice that those with concerns are not concerned enough to research the answer. They say things like there are too many unanswered questions. Yet I know every question has been answered. I even answered some of them and the NRC accepted the answer and it was placed in the federal registrar as public record.

    We live in a motor home. I have concerns about fires and tires. I have done hundreds of hour research. There is plenty of smoking gun videos. I have a plan to get to the side of the road and be safely away in less than 2 minutes. I have extra smoke detectors ect.

    In the 60+ year history of US navy nuclear propulsion and US commercial plants has anyone even been hurt by radiation. No smoking gun.

    • retired kit
      poor choice to go ad hominem on me.
      I respect your expertise and I would be less worried if you were here supervising maintenance here [in South Africa}
      unfortunately you are not here and I hear of stupid mistakes here at Koeberg during maintenance.

  29. “I read a number of years back that they were working on ways to anneal the metal in place in order to help with these problems. Did this ever work out?”

    Yes but not for something as large as a reactor vessel. They warped large pipes with cables to induce a current to heat the welds.

    One of the design basis for the 40 year life of a nuke plant is the reactor vessel. Experience has shown that this was very conservative. To my knowledge no reactor vessel has reached the end of its life.

    Again, metallurgy is not my wheelhouse.

    A typical forced could down rate limit is 100 degrees F per hour to limit thermal stress. Been there and done that!

    One of the important design consideration is a crack is going leak before it breaks. Also certain failure only occur at lower temperatures. There is an lower operating limit of +40 degrees F.

    • not sure what caused the Chernobyl disaster but I heard the problem is not over yet…
      They say it must be re-encapsulated but the Ukraine government does not have enough money for it….
      So they asked the EU for the money (via the AEC)
      now I hear another story, turning it into a solar plant?
      Must be to camouflage the cost of ‘solving’ the problem…

      No more nuclear, please, everyone?

      We really don’t need it.

      • henryp
        January 15, 2018 at 11:20 am

        not sure what caused the Chernobyl disaster but I heard the problem is not over yet…
        They say it must be re-encapsulated but the Ukraine government does not have enough money for it….

        The re-encapsulating has been done, I watched a UK documentary of the process carried out by a huge team of (mostly) European engineers.
        Absolutely fascinating. The new housing includes a massive gantry system in the roof which will enable remote controlled cranes to demolish and remove the old building from within and seal up the contaminated parts for removal.

        The massive new housing was built in two halves, joined together and slid into position by computer controlled jacks all pushing simultaneously. Apparently it was too heavy to use wheels because axles could not manage the weight.
        The new housing was estimated to be good for 100 years, by which time they expect to have dealt with the old reactor building and removed the radioactive debris.


      • Steve,
        Thx. I noticed from the link here given by someone that the job had been done. Must have cost a fortune… and now somebody suggested to put solar up on top….to get some money back from this investment in the safety of Europe?

        Guys don’t make a mistake. The more ‘safety’ regulations the more expensive the energy gets.

        Nuclear is the last on my list for producing cheap energy.

        Go Hydro, Go Hydro with wind. Gas is best.

  30. Whether or not one believes that CO2 in the atmosphere could cause significant global warming, it makes sense to use nuclear fission to generate electricity. While coal and natural gas are relatively cheap right now, neither of them has the energy density (energy available per mass of fuel) of nuclear fuel. Nuclear power plants are more expensive to build than coal or gas-fired power plants, but the operating cost per kWh is much less. The known reserves of fossil fuels will probably last a few centuries, but the known reserves of nuclear fuel will last much longer.

    In an idealized world where common sense ruled, most electricity would be generated from nuclear fission, and oil and gas would be used for transportation fuel and home heating, because it is impractical to build a small nuclear reactor to power a truck or bus, or heat a home.

    But nuclear power plants have gotten an undeserved reputation as being too dangerous, due to a few incidents whose adverse effects have been overblown. Three Mile Island was a relatively minor hiccup whose
    effects were hyped in the media, to coincide with Jane Fonda’s “China Syndrome” scaremonger film. Chernobyl was more dangerous, due to the lack of containment in Soviet-designed nuclear plants, but it was fortunately in a sparsely populated area.

    The Fukushima plant in Japan was relatively well-designed, but nobody had planned for the possibility of a tsunami, or allowed for the starting of the water pumps from a remote location on high ground (there were two hills around the Fukushima plant which basically channeled the tsunami water over it). The same mistake was made near the levees protecting New Orleans, which prevented the pumps from being started after Hurricane Katrina broke the levees and flooded New Orleans.

    In the United States, politics got in the way of common sense, as it usually does. It had been decided that the safest place to store nuclear waste was under Yucca Mountain in the Nevada desert, but since Harry Reid of Nevada was the Senate Democrat Leader (sometimes in the majority, sometimes in the minority with filibuster power), he single-handedly nixed any possibility of storing nuclear waste, bringing the U.S. nuclear power industry to a standstill.

    With Dirty Harry now out of the Senate, now is the time to give the US nuclear power industry a new start, as part of an all-of-the-above energy policy. Not to reduce CO2 emissions or “save” the planet from “global warming”, but because it could provide abundant energy for many centuries into the future.

    • Like I said. Uranium is really not that easy to mine. Same problems as mining gold.
      I have given some hints here on how to use wind and hydro together.
      Gas is best. I.e the cheapest

      • Thorium is ridiculously easy to mine. In fact, it is a waste product for rare earth mining and since it is radioactive, it prevents the US being competitive in the rare earth market since we have regulations that prevent disturbing it or require costly disposal of it.

  31. I’d be happy to embrace nuclear.
    But does anyone actually think there is a chance in Hell of progressive eco-activists allowing it?

  32. Henry writes
    “poor choice to go ad hominem on me”

    Is it an attack or a description?

    A few minutes later Henry writes, “No more nuclear, please, everyone?
    We really don’t need it.”

    Apparently Henry does not understand the difference between a LWR with a pressure vessel and containment building; and a hot dog stand.

    I sure Henry will think I am comparing him to a fence post but a fence post has a purpose.

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