Shut Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant which is near to two fault lines. Around Town, posted by Annie, a resident of the Charleston Meadows neighborhood, on Mar 15, 2011 at 9:57 am
I am pro-nuclear except when the plant is in seismically active areas.
Diablo Canyon Power Plant is an electricity-generating nuclear power plant at Avila Beach in San Luis Obispo County, California
We are all going to be in a similar position to Japan should a big enough earthquake strke here. If the maintenance of gas lines is anything to go buy when an earthquake of 7.5 or above strikes we would all be in a bad way. We should lobby our state gov to get this nuclear power plant closed down.
Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Mar 15, 2011 at 10:58 am
Do your homework before popping off with unnecessary and unsubstantiated "sky is falling" yapping.
Both Diablo and San Ofore have automatic shut down systems that are superior to what the Japanese had in their plant. The systems are set to shut down for 7.5 --- whereas the Japanese had no such contingency plan/process whatsoever.
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Mar 15, 2011 at 11:18 am Walter_E_Wallis is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
As Japan has demonstrated, auto shut down may not be the way to go. Primary systems should remain active until it is demonstrated that deactivation is better.
As for Diablo being on two fault lines, EVERYWHERE is on or near a fault line. Diablo was designed to withstand a 7.5 Richter. As of today, the San Bruno gas line explosion has killed more people than the Japanese meltdowns.
Posted by Anon., a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Mar 15, 2011 at 12:52 pm
There is no such thing as auto-shutdown on this reactor design. The smartest people in the world were working on this and it is brain-dead from the get-go with one cursory examination. This is just incredible negligence and stupidity with millions of people's lives at stake, not to mention the world economy.
We have many reactors so close that a major failure in one can make others forever inoperable, and even induce the same failures in them, not to mention the high-level radioactive waste that must be actively water cooked and is exposed to the air. This is absolutely idiotic. This thing looks as if there is a high probability of ending worse than Chernobyl, and it it does not it will be an absolutely miracle.
If there cannot be an automatic immediate shutdown and deactivation of nuclear reactors then at this point we need to get out of nuclear ASAP. We also need to look at our whole system of how we rely on untrustworthy experts so much that we have virtually put the world's head in to a noose.
I may not understand all the design specs but it does not seem impossible to build a reactor that has a mechanical deadman method that will separate the fuel rod assembly far enough apart to make the whole thing capable of being air cooled without building up heat to the point of explosion or meltdown. This would allow all the people to walk away confidently knowing that the plant is idle and would not be a threat.
Posted by Anon., a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Mar 15, 2011 at 1:03 pm
By the way, check my posts if you want in the past, I have been pro-nuclear, and I still am, I am just ant - trusting the judgement of anyone whose future and fortune is tied into decisions like this that can put the world at risk. That is the question now.
I don't think there is any doubt that Diablo Canyon or San Onofre would fail catastrophically given circumstances similar to Fukushima ... the root problem is that these reactors need active power, water and management to keep from blowing up, and no one can predict how they will fail or know in advance how to repair the systems to keep supplying the power, water and people.
Technicians in the case of Japan are likely now giving their lives to save the local people and land from a huge disaster. Disaster is almost too small a word here.
Constantly decisions are made for people that put them at risk that are not explained to them and where their rights and safety are not considered (?airport?).
Posted by Anon, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Mar 15, 2011 at 4:07 pm
There is a lot of misinformation in the above. There is no indication that the Japanese plants were badly-operated, or, even that any of the problems were caused by the shaking of the earthquake. All the information points to the fact that the plants were not designed to withstand a tsunami of this size. I'm sure at the time, the accountants would have resisted spending the money on designing a facility that would have been undamaged by such a "low probability" event. Same thing at Diablo Canyon - I remember it well. All the debates about how big an earthquake the facility needed to resist. There were certain assumptions -- about the San Andreas fault, about the size and duration of local shaking. As folks in Christchurch discovered, you can have a lot of destructive shaking from a relatively small quake. Some of the assumptions about Diablo Canyon geology have since proven optimistic. The lesson I take from this is that if you are going to use Light Water Reactors, you had better greatly overdesign. There are other designs that are safer.
Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Mar 15, 2011 at 4:20 pm
First we have to at least be on the same page and agree that the Japanese problem was due to the tsunami, not the earthquake itself.
Second, the tsunami flood of water is what specifically incapacitated the redundant power sources (generators) that drove the cooling process.
Bottom line: there was a simple but obviously overlooked design flaw of the nuclear plant. Just like the problems that were introduced during the Katrina floods in New Orleans, all of the generators were installed below flood levels.
If the Japanese plant designers had placed the generators at, say, 20-30 feet above sea level - they would not have been swamped.
Both Diablo and San Ofore have 30' seawalls to protect their facilities from water. This is according to the San Onofre supervisor who was interviewed on KPIX last night.
BTW - San Onofre is not managed by PG&E, it is run by SoCal Edison.
Posted by Anon, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Mar 15, 2011 at 4:45 pm
Crescent Park Dad -- as I have watched the news on NHK, the tsunami height description has consistently been revised upwards, and is now usually described as 10m in the worst-hit locations, not the 7m originally described. It all depends on the location. Also, it was stated on NHK that the possibility of a tsunami was considered in the original design, but, not one of this magnitude. The problem with LWRs is that they are so unforgiving -- a shutdown may be perfectly executed, but, the fuel will continue to emit large amounts of heat for a long time, and if you can't keep it cool, you may get a meltdown-- which may result in spreading fallout over all the nearby farmland, rendering it unusable for agriculture or habitation. We will *all* be paying for the economic loss for decades to come.
We can easily design nuclear power plants to withstand these and many more disasters, but, to do so will require raising the cost so high they generally won't look economically beneficial. Conservation is usually cheaper than any electric generation plant.
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Mar 15, 2011 at 5:20 pm Walter_E_Wallis is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
anon - Scramming on shake is a mistake. A scram should have been initiated only if something went bust. A precautionary scram immediately cuts off the primary pumps, leaving only the secondary pumps available.
Also, anon, if you are worried about the high cost of nukes, just cut off the barratry.
Posted by ten18, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Mar 15, 2011 at 7:59 pm
"Conservation is usually cheaper than any electric generation plant.". What the . . . ? Is that a point? I suppose we can live in the dark (and perhaps put on another sweater) but I choose to accept that there is risk inherent to any means of energy production.
Posted by Anon., a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Mar 15, 2011 at 8:36 pm
> anon - Scramming on shake is a mistake. A scram should have been initiated only if something went bust.
Tell it to the Japanese Walter, what is really the mistake is expecting people not to make mistakes and to engineer fixes that have no been considered or planned for while multi-reactor incidents are proceeding.
The latest I have heard is they gave up and pulled everyone out. Now, we have a potential for a 5 times Chernobyl disaster. The estimate from the AEC was that one meltdown could make uninhabitable an area the size of the state of Pennsylvania, There could be 5 times that or even more, meaning that a sizable portion of Japan might be covered.
This is truly awful and I don't really get a lot from the sarcasm and jokes.
This event and the cavalier way some pro-nuke supporters are talking really makes it much harder for nuclear to be developed rationally, and supports those who would talk dramatically instead of solving real engineering problems, and for the public to trust the people who have over and over made bad decisions and blown off safety for profitability.
Posted by ten18, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Mar 15, 2011 at 8:45 pm
Anon - you're parroting the extreme media hype. Nobody knows what's really going on, so any discussion here is purely speculative. This is an extreme situation. 9.0 earthquake, 30' tsunami, - how do you engineer against that?
Posted by Anon., a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Mar 15, 2011 at 9:18 pm
> Anon - you're parroting the extreme media hype. Nobody knows what's really going on, so any discussion here is purely speculative.
Everything is speculation until it happens, I never claimed to be an expert, but I am explaining what I know and have read as objectively and factually as I can. Anything you can add besides calling me a parrot? I strongly hope they find a way to stop this thing ... maybe they can ... but the built in design flaws seem to be working against that. We already have Americans saying how superior our plants are ... that is speculation as well but I wonder if you would be so quick to point that out ... take a look at the Diablo Valley nuclear plant here ....
Posted by Anon, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Mar 15, 2011 at 10:42 pm
ten18, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, replies (to a different Anon):
"Anon - you're parroting the extreme media hype. Nobody knows what's really going on, so any discussion here is purely speculative. This is an extreme situation. 9.0 earthquake, 30' tsunami, - how do you engineer against that?"
Yes, a 9.0 earthquake and 30' tsunami are extreme-- but, not unprecedented. Maybe you forgot about the 2004 Sumatra quake, or, the 1964 Alaska quake (Tsunami hit Crescent City), or, the 1960 Chile quake, or, the 2010 Chile quake. Perhaps you have heard of the term "Ring of Fire". So, yes, anyone building a nuclear plant in a location such as exposed coastal Japan should be prepared for a 9.0 quake over the lifetime of the reactor, and anyone building a nuclear plant anywhere around the Pacific Rim should be prepared for a large tsunami-- given the number that have occurred in my lifetime, I'm inclined to consider it a significant risk.
And yes, you can usually engineer around such things-- it just raises the cost to the point where the alternatives are much more attractive. For example, you could locate such a plant in the U.S. in a seismically stable desert area and use dry cooling towers -- costs a lot more, though, not to mention transmission losses because it is further away. Would you pay, say, three times more for a plant protected against such dangers? What if that meant $0.50/KWH? Maybe you would prefer to heavily insulate your house for an extra $10K than pay $1K/month utility bill.
I'm not sure what "extreme media hype" you are referring to. This situation, since it developed fairly slowly, has injured "only" some tens of workers already and killed two I believe. The public has been evacuated from immediate danger. If it develops into a large-scale contamination disaster, the economic damage will be enormous-- yes, I guess this is "speculation", but, it is a very real possibility.
Posted by Anon, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Mar 16, 2011 at 12:33 am
I mentioned above about the possibility of 2 workers killed in the explosion on Tuesday at Fukushima #4. Although I have seen online headlines stating two dead, going back to the sources, as far as I know, the workers were confirmed missing, but, not confirmed dead. I have not seen any confirmation either way.
Posted by Anon, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Mar 16, 2011 at 12:49 am
Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, states:
"anon - Scramming on shake is a mistake. A scram should have been initiated only if something went bust. A precautionary scram immediately cuts off the primary pumps, leaving only the secondary pumps available."
Many experts disagree. Better to shut it down while you can -- severe shaking may stress the core such that it won't be controllable. And, you can't always count on the grid being there -- remember the blackout of 2003? Better to have multiple redundant safety systems on-site. However, they could have had better redundancy, but, if not protected from tsunamis, it might not have helped anyway-- the proximate cause of the failures was the tsunami.
BTW, I wouldn't consider it "barratry" if property owners seek to recover the value of their property if it is contaminated and rendered unusable. We can only hope at this point that there will not be widespread contamination.
Posted by maguro_01, a resident of Mountain View, on Mar 16, 2011 at 5:09 am
This has been a good thread.
The reactors in Japan are being discussed as though they are contemporary. Weren't they designed around 50 years ago? I recall reading that they were to be shut down next year. Is that true? If they were designed 50 years ago CAD (computer aided design) tools and simulation were rudimentary. Presumably many advances in reactor design have been made in 50 years as well.
The only places in the US with the subduction zone offshore as an earthquake/tsunami generator is Alaska and Washington state if memory serves.
If the Japanese reactors are contained, the most cancer, damage to the ecology, and so on over years will be done by the burning oil refineries and spills though they aren't much noticed here compared to the reactors. They seem more vulnerable than the reactors. We have refineries here too, old ones.
It could be that our environmentalists and Nimbys are achieving the opposite of their goals by blocking the construction or replacement of anything and everything whatever for up to decades. That way we end up with an increasing population and physical plant undevelopment, obsolescence, and decay - the worst combination for safety, a lighter footprint, and economic viability. This many people cannot live incorporated into nature's cycles. We must have closed cycles outside those of the rest of nature whenever possible.
Posted by Anon, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Mar 16, 2011 at 8:29 am
maguro_01, a resident of Mountain View, writes:
"This has been a good thread.
"The reactors in Japan are being discussed as though they are contemporary. Weren't they designed around 50 years ago? I recall reading that they were to be shut down next year. Is that true? If they were designed 50 years ago CAD (computer aided design) tools and simulation were rudimentary. Presumably many advances in reactor design have been made in 50 years as well."
I'm not convinced that there is such a thing as a good LWR. However, you are correct -- there are other designs that have lower risk:
Posted by Too early to bury Nuclear Energy, a resident of the Meadow Park neighborhood, on Mar 16, 2011 at 9:23 am
I was wondering how long before someone tried to convert this tragedy into "shut down nukes'.
My only surprise is it took a couple days longer than I expected.
We should shut down everything made by mankind which can go wrong and cause human deaths. Start with cars ( remember the Pinto?), move into Windmills ( Web Link), continue on into battery deaths ( Web Link), don't forget house deaths ( how many have died from houses going up in flames or collapsing? Ban all houses), go into coal deaths, and hydro-electric power deaths (Web Link)
No deaths from Japan's nuclear power ( perhaps yet..don't know what will happen in the future). No deaths from 50 years of nuclear powered ships/subs or nuclear power built well ( Chernobyl was not built well) since the beginning of nuclear energy. No other energy choice can say that.
good grief. a little early to start the cry to shut down nuclear power, isn't it?
Love the lead America is taking in this latest world issue, don't you?
Posted by Reddy Kilowatt, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Mar 16, 2011 at 1:25 pm
The exposed fuel rods and boiling water create H2, this is a known known.
Why did this design and for that matter various other designs (French) not have provided a safe, slow venting system with a source of ignition at the vent to properly burn the H2 in an orderly manner. This would have eliminated the explosive mix of H2 in an enclosed space. That is why these pictures look this way, an enclosed building explosion caused this: Web Link
The H2 built up and found it's own ignition source. K-Boom, Now there are 3 of 6 buildings destroyed and leaking radioactive steam and burning (on fire) MOX and LEU. Does anyone in Japan own even a single chemistry book? This design was foolish from the start.
Now for the good news. The best part is you all now see the bare naked truth. The home of the Prius, and solar cells, really runs on Nuclear power. How come they don't have big solar arrays, giant windmills & clean hydro power? To hear the enviro-mafia tell it Japan is clean & neat. Everything runs on unicorn farts.
Now the enviro-mafia is pushing to shut down all of the US nuke plants. The empty suit in the white house has already made moves to kill coal. Welcome to the dark ages.
Well, now everybody knows the emperor has no clothes.
Posted by Nucular, a resident of Menlo Park, on Mar 16, 2011 at 2:10 pm
- "To hear the enviro-mafia tell it Japan is clean & neat"
- "Now the enviro-mafia is pushing to shut down all of the US nuke plants"
Straw Man fallacy argument.
If you insist those are true statements, then please supply your numerous cites as evidence. Not whack job DFH's, but serious mainstream folk that want to "shut down all". Otherwise, your "enviro-mafia" just a straw man.
I also do not recall greenpeace or others calling Japan environmentally clean and neat, but willing to review your cites there as well.
Ya did get me with one point though: am interested in your alternative energy plan running on unicorn by-products.
Posted by Iodinet_know, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Mar 16, 2011 at 4:39 pm
Uh, I'm just asking, I don't know, but I though the radioactive iodine isotope was comparatively short-lived ... so ... how would it get into our bodies?
If there was enough iodine in the environment and it got on or in agricultural products and we ate the relevant parts of the agricultural products and it was absorbed into our bodies, then it could be a threat - but is there really medical evidence that happens. Am I wrong on or missing something?
But if I'm getting the theory right, any iodine that goes into the body "might" be absorbed into the body, but while we have these iodine pills in our systems the pill's iodine might be being absorbed and blocking the competing radioactive iodine from being absorbed.
How much protection is that really? It at any particular time we are absorbing some amount of iodine, wouldn't we have to contantly keep the iodine level up in our digestive systems to make sure it the outside iodine does not get absorbed, and how much iodine can a person take and stay healthy?
If there is an effect would it be greatest for children and pregnant women perhaps since they are processing iodine differently from adults and non-pregnant women or men? Anyone?
Posted by Iodinet_know, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Mar 16, 2011 at 5:11 pm
> 1/2 after 8 days 1/4 after 16 days 1/16 after 32 days-- very scary considering the consequences
So, if the iodine lands one something, and then gets incorporated into something we eat, and then gets incorporated into us, all within say 9 months, then there is some chance that a person would get cancer.
So ... what is the efficacy of taking these pills ... it seems like you would never know when the radioactive iodine is going to hit your system.
Do they know that the thyroid cancers were caused by radioactive iodine, and are they sure that eating iodine was the way it was delivered? If so, then do they know any particular food that tranferred the iodine to the sufferers? Maybe milk and dairy? Meat ... dust settling on plates, or iodine in the water?
I guess I'm skeptical about the pills and what they can do beside make people feel like they are doing something, and making money for iodine pill producers?
Posted by Anon., a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Mar 16, 2011 at 9:00 pm
> Nuclear energy is safer than any other energy source by many orders or magnitude.
Risk is a little like radiation, in the sense that it is additive. Talking about risks from smoking, which most sensible people do not do anymore, and trying to apply it to nuclear power to make some logical point that way is foolish.
Also, nuclear is such that if these plants did melt-down and cause major problems in Japan or internationally, one incident can wipe out your claim, and nuclear is something that we would be committed to for the long-term future.
The arguments as expressed my most pro or even anti-nuclear advocates here are way too simplistic, and there are many levels to evaluating nuclear.
We don't know how safe these plants are until something happens, or doesn't happen over a very long term. The Japanese were told how good the safeguards in place at their reactors were, and were apparently flat-out lied to. There is a lot of evidence that American reactor corporations are no difference.
I happen to be a nuclear advocate, but i would never make blanket statements, and after this mess up there needs to be verification of everything these companies claim and action and consequences when they lie. There is so much money and power behind nuclear I am not at all sure that can happen.
I am not sure that safeguards have been described or tested adequately.
It would have been a lot better for nuclear companies to not BS and not strongarm the public and instead tell everyone the truth and spend the money necessary for safety. You just have to look at the picture link I posted above of the Diablo Valley nuclear plant sitting just yards away from the ocean to know that unless it is a virtual submarine, it had better be absolutely perfect in the case of a large tidal way because it will be underwater.
I don't see any reason why these plants cannot be virtually 100% safe ... except for the profit motive and human incompetence. I've heard estimates that we would need about 300 plants in the US to supply all of our electricity needs from nuclear and after this screwup in Japan I think that is going to be a tough goal to get to.
To make the waste management possible I think we need re-processing plants, something we have not really vetted, and the ability to safely transport waste around the country, which no ones wants, and no one can say is safe.
Just waving your hands and making claims or ignoring questions is not going to cut it. There is just a certain mindset on the part of the authorities who are always saying trust us, you don't know what you are talking about, is repugnant to more people.
Posted by Anon., a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Mar 16, 2011 at 9:28 pm
There is no way you can claim stats about nuclear energy because you cannot factor in the ever increasing cost and amount of nuclear waste in the present or the cost of damage due to radiation effects or accidents that have yet to happen, not to mention the lasting effects of radiation in the environment. It is a completely dishonest statement to say that and it does not add any value or help get a handle on the management of nuclear power.
Posted by Donald, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Mar 17, 2011 at 7:11 am
Risk analyzers try to sum up the risks to the public from various sources in a single number, but people's emotional reactions are not the same to various risks. We happily accept a continuous stream of distributed deaths, such as the 40,000 a year from car crashes, but react very strongly to single catastrophic events, such as 9/11 and its 4,000 deaths. This is not entirely rational but you can't ignore this emotional difference if you want to make policy that is acceptable to the public.
Posted by Anon., a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Mar 17, 2011 at 10:08 am
The arguments about risk by Walter and Sharon is exactly what they are claiming it is not - emotional. If you wanted to measure risk you would have to consider the possible risk from catastrophic events such at this one that that have huge negative effects but that are ignored or underestimated. The emotional and misleading part to compare the risk from nuclear reactions to driving, or AIDS that most people are used to ignoring or have come to terms with in some personal way.
just as when they say the cost of nuclear power is known or low compared with other forms of power those estimations are not taking into account the cost of something like what could happen in Japan. Many people could well die or get sick and a large chunk of Japan could end up being poisoned here as well as other nations and the ocean. The irresponsibility of ignoring the risk and then comparing it to known risks or a completely different nature or threat is not risk intelligence.
Another side of this is that we're hearing talk like the know that Diablo Canyon is safer or better prepared that japan, but in Japan authorities told the people the same thing. How emotional is the risk intelligence of taking the word of experts who have been proven not to be trustworthy and factoring their numbers in where other people's lives may depend on that?
Sure, they may pop off in this forum and seem to be right even for a long time until something happens and millions of people are sitting together in emergency shelters taking iodine pills and thinking about what they should have done and who they should have trusted.
Posted by Stef, a resident of Menlo Park, on Mar 17, 2011 at 10:37 am
I object to building nuclear power plants when we humans have not figured out how to safely dispose of the waste products. I think the waste is radioactive for about 1000 years -- regardless, the waste is a long-term source of danger to everything living on this planet.
You might listen to the Kingston Trio's Merry Minute. It could have been written today.
Posted by but, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Mar 17, 2011 at 4:33 pm
its not over yet and the assumption that Diablo == Fukushima is not necessarily valid. Seems to me the question that started this thread is about 6 months premature. It bears revisiting when more is known and not speculated about unless the intent is to just play politics with this, and if it is then the time is now while emotions are the prevailing driving force
Posted by anon 2, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Mar 17, 2011 at 5:04 pm
"Nuclear is the future" - excuse me?? Why can't we divert the huge costs and resources that have been invested in nuclear energy to solar and wind energy? Instead of using this money to build more nuclear plants, why can it not be used to develop new green energies?
With respect to the French using nuclear plants to produce over 75% of their electrical needs, this is correct. However, it does not mean that they are safer than the plants in Japan or in the U.S. Just Google "nuclear accidents France" and you will find plenty of worrisome accidents that show that even in France, nuclear energy is far from "safe".
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Mar 17, 2011 at 5:39 pm Walter_E_Wallis is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
The proper response to the two fault finding is "so what?". It is immaterial because the design essentially uncouples the structures from ground motion. The proper response to the waste disposal "question" is Yucca Mountain, a facility that enemies of nuclear power have kept from opening.
Posted by Anon., a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Mar 17, 2011 at 5:49 pm
>> Posted by but, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, 1 hour ago
>> its not over yet and the assumption that Diablo == Fukushima is not necessarily valid.
I don't think that is the assumption, I think the assumption is that until proof to the contrary, and the bar is not very f-ing high thanks to this, the "POTENTIAL" for national or international disaster is there between Fukushima and any other nuclear plant.
How do these plants prove to the public concretely that they are safe without the neverending "trust us" refrain that I think billions are tired of without a very wide informed review?
Posted by but , a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Mar 17, 2011 at 6:15 pm
was iot the earthquake that killed Fukushima or the tsunami? Whats the chance of a tsunami at Diablo. Pretty low.
Now about the cooling failure Diable gravity feeds water, so it can take a power hit for a bit. And it has an offsite generator which has been tested unlike Fukushima which did not bother to pretest the compatibility of their off site generator and discovered during the crisis that they could not hook it up.
Not clear a nuke, is a nuke, is a nuke. Or that all power providers are the same. I think the industry needs real oversite. I agree that profit is too an incentive to cut corners, aka BP, Massey Energy, etc.
Posted by Stef, a resident of Menlo Park, on Mar 17, 2011 at 7:52 pm
Response to the following: "do you object to coal fired plants, they are dirtier than waste products from nuclear. The more modern nukes like they have in france can greatly reduce the waste."
I think that you have missed the point. Radioactive waste is in a different catagory than dirty air; however, neither is acceptable. As a society, we need to figure out how to prevent and solve these problems.
Posted by Anon., a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Mar 17, 2011 at 8:03 pm
> but , a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Hey "but", hindsight is 20/20, what do you think will be different about the next disaster?
What can anyone think of to make that different?
Do you think that this scenario was hard to think of? Do you think Japan did not consider it? I'll bet there are experts out there right now who could tell us what DCs weakpoints are, and other experts that could think of new ones in a pretty short time and even so what kind of confidence can we have in an industry that has the negative potential as nuclear power?
Posted by maguro_01, a resident of Mountain View, on Mar 17, 2011 at 8:30 pm
I ask people's indulgence in bringing up the concept of the Black Swan Event, Web Link containing refs, etc. The reactor problems in Japan certainly count for such an event in Japan but with outcomes no one can now predict. It might even cause cultural and generational changes especially in the area of safer nuclear power but many others too in thinking out of the box.
One striking thing about reading up in this area is how the safety problems in those old reactors are so often covered in discussions of reactor modeling and testing for example for Canada's CANDU reactors. Not being zapped with a thirty foot tsunami, but things like coolant loss, hydrogen venting, and so on. It appears that there really has been much progress in reactors and materials in the last 50+ years.
Also, IMO, progress to safer, less polluting reactors has been stifled in the US for some time giving us the worst outcome of running ever older equipment. Older designs never modeled and simulated on computers probably shouldn't be running. Models can be regarded too highly, of course. The article above mentions the "structured randomness" of a game vs the "unstructured randomness" of life; simulations are closer to the former.
Problems in safety, waste generation, reprocessing, disposal, and so on have a political dimension that has exposed us to more risk instead of mitigating it since we continue with nuclear power anyway and the US gets 20% of its electricity from it. It seems that the only thing preventing more nukes here now is that the US has so much cheap natural gas and global warming is no longer science but politics. We have to squander that gas before turning to other things. We can't even do solar in the desert without the usual 10-15 year process through the courts.
Nuclear power generation along the US west coast seems unnecessary since we live on the Pacific Ring of Fire and, unlike Japan, can choose. The US has many inherently safer places than, say, the west or gulf coasts. Here in the Bay Area the oil refineries near the earthquake faults are the biggest danger and Japan's current experience needs to be studied (was it the earthquake, was it the tsunami, or did someone just cross their fingers and hope to retire again).
Posted by maguro_01, a resident of Mountain View, on Mar 17, 2011 at 9:45 pm
A Wiki article on another nuclear power plant in Japan on the Sea of Japan shoreline near an earthquake in 2007. It was shutdown for some time after for seismic upgrades. Since the recent plant in trouble was old and due to shut down was it upgraded too? Of course it seems established that it was the tsunami that swamped the generators and killed the plant's ability to shutdown the reactors properly. There was apparently no releases to the surrounding area from the large plant.
"The Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant is a large, modern (housing the world's first ABWR) nuclear power plant on a 4.2-square-kilometer site including land in the towns of Kashiwazaki and Kariwa in Niigata Prefecture, Japan on the coast of the Sea of Japan, from where it gets cooling water. The plant is owned and operated by The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO).
It is the largest nuclear generating station in the world by net electrical power rating. It was near the epicenter of the second strongest earthquake to ever occur at a nuclear plant, the Mw 6.6 July 2007 Chūetsu offshore earthquake. ... "
Posted by Anon., a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Mar 17, 2011 at 11:47 pm
The magnitude of our energy problem is growing and is moving towards critical in the next decades that nuclear power is probably going to need to have a place in there.
I am sure our plants are better than Japans if only because that is our current best experience of reality, but the question is - one unforeseen mistake has the potential to turn all the huge investment into nuclear into a gigantic net negative disaster. Blindly moving ahead and trusting the authorities without clear proof is like gambling for our future ... could be Russian roulette for some Americans.
I am concerned that there are people on this board who think this is some kind of gambling game, like their egos are more important to seem authoritative or right rather than to really look at what we and the world face on this subject.
Even if our reactors proved perfect, what about China, Japan, and the rest of the world who can have a catastrophe and send enough radiation and poison over here to ruin our food harvest. What happens when the cost of food goes up to the point where people cannot afford it or are forced to eat irradiated food. In a country where people are dropping out of the health case system this is not acceptable.
Let's say for the sake of argument that modern reactors were 1000 times safer. If the United States if we ramped up to fully nuclear ... we have about 100 plants now that produce about 20% of our energy ... that means 500 plants in the future for electricity at current demand. Then if we go to electric cars to reduce oil imports, lets just estimate another 500 or more ... that is around 1000 reactors. At 1000 times safer that means statistically ... very roughly, we stay about the same in terms of risk as we are today, and we know that is not good enough.
The investment would be huge, and if there was a catastrophe close to the size of this, and it could be worse depending on where it was - we would be in a discontinuity, in fact we most likely already are in it and we don't realize it.
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Mar 18, 2011 at 7:48 am Walter_E_Wallis is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
Anon, it is obvious you cannot understand what I am saying. Your ignorance has been fully displayed in this forum. When the smoke has died down, and the toll has been totaled, the true magnitude of danger will have been exposed. If I have been wrong I will freely admit it. If you were wrong, you will fade into the sunset, safe in your anonymity.
Posted by but, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Mar 18, 2011 at 7:52 am
The thread is titled "Shut Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant which is near to two fault lines"
All my comments are about that premise, should Diablo be shutdown, not should we build more, I think both those topics are premature, if one is trying to use this event as evidence for or against nuclear. Most of the calls for shutting diablo down come from what people speculate will happen. I say in about 6 months we will know.
But lets say its up to you and you get to decide whether of not to shutdown Diablo, but as part of that, you must replace the power generated with something else. What proven scalable energy technology does one choose to replace it that does not have its own downside? hydro, coal, natural gas, petroleum, forced conservation? I think there is an argument against all of these. What is the lesser of all the possible evils to address our energy appetites? Maybe thats the real question to answer. If in 6 months it is decided to end of life Diablo, what does one replace Diablo with?
Posted by Bruce Davis, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Mar 18, 2011 at 9:57 am
Diablo Canyon was a bad idea 35 years ago and its even worse now that California's coastal population has increased as much as it has. PG&E tried to build their first nuclear plant at Bodega Bay 40 years ago but the locals then were able to stop it. We weren't as fortunate with Diablo. Most of all, there's still no way to safely store nuclear waste. DUH! Shut 'em all down.
Posted by maguro_01, a resident of Mountain View, on Mar 18, 2011 at 2:36 pm
""For 18 months, operators at the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant near San Luis Obispo didn't realize that a system to pump water into one of their reactors during an emergency wasn't working.""
On reading the story "near miss" in our present context is not warranted. But not having a backup in operation is a problem that recurs in reliable systems. In this one, of course, it can't be allowed. What happened, according to the story, was that local staff made an engineering change in the reactor system which is something they should never be allowed to do unilaterally. Reactors of a given design should not be unique in detail, they should be alike including changes/updates over time. If someone local thinks a change is in order there should be a timely process to apply for the change for that reactor type even if it's a new one.
Again, if simulations of the complex system had been available, what the local engineers proposed to do would have been immediately flagged. If the old reactor doesn't have simulations available then any change is a much bigger deal and may require complete bring up and retest of everything in sight. If the station only has cabinet after cabinet of paper blueprints, inevitably out of phase in some details with changes over the years, that's a problem also. Remote simulation of problems couldn't be done in dealing with a disaster. Modular reactors, just put up on site, are one possible answer.
Once again I'm saying that our activists who hope to roll back development in general, solar as well as nukes, have just frozen this old stuff in place while the population of California continues to grow. Instead of mitigating hazard, they are adding to it.
Posted by Donald, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Mar 18, 2011 at 3:51 pm
Simulations of reactors designed in the 60s? Not likely. These are built by companies like Westinghouse and run by Homer Simpson. If they were built and run by NASA they would be very safe (and you would have trainers and simulators available), but they would be way too expensive to compete with cheap gas and coal.
Posted by Anon., a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Mar 18, 2011 at 4:15 pm
Homer Simpson is not a name that belongs in this discussion! ;-)
The true costs of all our sources of energy as as unknown as the real GDP, inflation or unemployment rate. These numbers are constantly manipulated by those who can for their own purposes. One real win for everyone in terms of being able to generate a more factual discussion might be to review ALL these kinds of public numbers in order to compare costs, risks, benefits, etc. The method of calculation and justification ought to be public and posted openly.
Nuclear energy is problematic in that reactors are so complicated that it is hard to build, test, change, improve. If there was one basic model of reactor, one school where personnel were trained, one source of fuel, waste paste, reprocessing, etc ... nuclear would be much safer and cheaper ... but the public perception is what drives so much of this and so as maguro says we have fallen behind and been stuck with these old reactors. And now even more so, people are repulsed by nuclear and the reasoning is all mixed up and hard to put right.
I think long term nuclear is the best form of energy by far ... but we have to come to some kind of terms with the way we make these big international decisions and in that regard I'd have to sadly come down on the side of public opinion because to do otherwise leads away from democratic systems and towards corruption and problems. Until people feel confortable and understand nuclear we should cool it ... no pun intended. One big argument that used to compelling was that there were many reactors that have been running without incident for decades now without an accident - nuclear is safe. Now that trust is shot to hell. We cannot have well-meaning groups of elite experts who make decisions bypassing public and develop the kind of arrogance exhibited with the nuclear and energy industry now for a long time. It is very counter-productive for nuclear power and thought process of the public as well.
Japan is most likely going to replaces these reactors with more nuclear reactors as soon as possible, because they basically have no choice. Much as I would like to have a solar system in my home wind and solar are not going to cut it for an energy-driven industrial society, especially in the near future.
Posted by Local Observer, a resident of Los Altos, on Mar 18, 2011 at 7:28 pm
Donald wrote "... If they [reactors] were built and run by NASA they would be very safe ...".
Today's NASA is not the same organization that took humankind to the Moon in 1969 -- NASA changed dramatically in the late 1980s and it still reeks of incompetence.
I look back with abhorrence to 1995 at Discovery Shuttle mission STS-70 which was nicknamed the "Woodpecker Shuttle".
Why "Woodpecker Shuttle"? Simple. In 1995 NASA discovered that the new foam they were forced to use by the EPA on the external fuel tank no longer dissuaded woodpeckers, who would now poke into the foam searching for food as you can see in the pictures and video here:
There's a lot more to the story than what's on the (above) NASA website. There are two parts of the story.
Part 1 is the woodpecker holes completely penetrated the foam down to the metal fuel tank. Florida weather is rainy and cold. The holes would fill with water. When the tank is filled with the supercooled fuel (liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen), the tank's metal becomes supercooled and freezes the water. When water freezes, it expands. The expanding ice pushes the foam away from the tank leaving the foam flopping in the breeze and later to whack shuttle tiles thus breaking them.
Part 2 is sort of funny. NASA purchased purple plastic owls and noisemakers from Walmart to scare-away the woodpeckers from the tank. They did that for a number of missions after STS-70. The NASA teams soon felt humiliated performing this "act" and stopped doing it.
Thus, the Columbia disaster was preventable but the NASA rocket scientists chose to do nothing. At the minimum, they should have told the EPA to bugger-off and resume using the original foam or come up with a better woodpecker shoo-system -- they did neither.
NASA is the same today, and you want them to build and run nuclear reactors? I wouldn't let NASA anywhere near one.
Off topic, but I recall results from their European Battlefield Simulator highlighted a very interesting fact of life: battlefield commanders were very quick to go nuclear during a war. We're speaking tactical nukes (10-20 kt) fired from a tank's cannon -- yes, nukes are that small (cannon barrel diameter is 155mm).
What's amazing (to me) is that yield is equivalent to what was used on Hiroshima and Nagasaki; Little Boy was 13-18 KT and Fat Man was 21 kt.
Posted by Anon., a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Mar 19, 2011 at 1:38 am
There has been extensive work on simulating nuclear reactors since at least the mid 80's on supercomputers. That work has been progressing for 25 years now and ought to be fairly good. My familiarity was with a Spanish group doing this.
The root issue I think is the total lack of review in putting so many reactors together with waste containment pools, and then of course not reviewing the coolant pumping system for every kind of failure. There issues are absolutely brain dead. To rely on there not being a problem at one reactor that is major enough to affect neighboring reactors is a major stupid move.
If the Japanese did not do this, and there have been cases in the US that we were blindsided by problems, what can possibly be the confidence in the competence of the decisions made by the people in charge of these reactor complexes.
The people who argue that we have no choice and must spin the wheel and toss the dice sentencing unknown people and unknown lands in our own and other people's countries to possible threats are insane.
The flip side of this is that all of the failures Chernobyl, 3-Mile-Island and Fukushima were easily avoidable - it can be done, and is not really even that hard ... it just need the enough of the right eyes critiquing the system and for those criticisms to be taken seriously and not disregarded by the abuse of gibberish statistics and handwaving as we have seen in all these cases.
And they will complain if people demand the systems be open for review that there is a terrorist threat to that. We have let these people seduce us with shiny new gee-whiz technology that has painted us into a corner of dependency on more and more of same. It seriously looks like at least for a while the southern hemisphere is the only place to escape the "fallout" of this idiocy.
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Mar 19, 2011 at 10:07 am Walter_E_Wallis is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
Sally,the spent fuel rods are placed into shipping containers strong enough to withstand a locomotive hit, taken to Yucca Mountain and placed in long term burial vaults. Even worst case failure of he vaults, a climate change to very wet, would not return measurable radiation to the biosphere.
Posted by Nucular, a resident of Menlo Park, on Mar 20, 2011 at 11:16 am
"TOKYO ó As Japan edged forward in its battle to contain the damage at its ravaged nuclear power plants on Saturday, the government said it had found higher than normal levels of radioactivity in spinach and milk at farms up to 90 miles away from the plants, the first confirmation that the unfolding nuclear crisis has affected the nationís food supply. "
Posted by Nucular, a resident of Menlo Park, on Mar 20, 2011 at 12:00 pm
Even the Japanese SDF doesn't trust private enterprise:
"The Self-Defense Forces (SDF) pulled units back from the stricken Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant as distrust of the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO)'s management of the nuclear crisis reached critical levels."
Posted by Anon., a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Mar 20, 2011 at 1:09 pm
I guess what we need to understand is that some people think they are so smart that they can determine the severity of this disaster before the disaster is over, before the information is out or has been analyzed, and before the next disaster even happens.
Anyone who says they can characterize the lessons learned from this disaster before it is over is someone whose judgement is questionable not only about nuclear power but about their processing of information in general.
Posted by Greg, a resident of the Southgate neighborhood, on Mar 20, 2011 at 4:03 pm
The greatest tragedy, out of this Japanese disaster, would be that nuclear power be diminished. Nukes currently provide about one-third of Japan's electricity. They provide about one-fifth of our own electricity.
Alarmists never really address this issue. All we hear is nonsense about wind and solar and conservation (back to Luddite ideals of poverty and massive death). Neither solar nor wind is a bad thing, but they don't, and cannot, provide base load electrical generation.
There are only three fundamental sources of energy: Nuclear fusion, nuclear fission and gravity. All the other stuff, like wind, geothermal, photovoltaics, coal, oil, tides, etc., are derivatives.
There is only one fundamental energy source that we can exploit directly, and that is nuclear fission. We can hope to control nuclear fusion, but we have not yet achieved that...thus we rely on the sun to do that for us.
Nuclear fission ("nukes") is abundant to exploit for our own benefit. It provides clean (no CO2) electrical generation, and it drives modern economies. Without it, we face massive economic decline as well as wars to garner fossil fuel resources.
Japan will not abandon nukes, becasue it would be economic suicide for them to do so. One of the big issues in Japan is that they concentrated centralized nukes into one place...on a coastal plain, which was susceptible to major earthquakes and tidal waves. They did this, because it was easier, politically, to give in to the alarmists who did not want a nuke in their own backyard. This was a big mistake, and they are now the price.
There is another approach, one that President Obama appears to support: Modular nukes. These are smaller, compared to centralized plants, and they do not require active cooling, because they release their heat load into the concrete that surrounds them. They are immune to earthquake shaking. They do not require massive transmssion lines (like photovoltaic and wind do).
On example is Hyperion (nuclear battery)... Web Link
There other examples, but the bottom line is that nukes are indispensable. There is no other realistic solution.
Posted by Anon, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Mar 20, 2011 at 7:10 pm
"The food was monitored and will not enter the food chain."
No one can say with any certainty, but, there is a strong possibility that a significant amount of farmland will have to be condemned and not returned to agriculture indefinitely. This is always a risk with light water reactors near farmland, and the risk should be factored into the cost. Who will pay for this? Taxpayers, ratepayers, bondholders.
Posted by Sharon, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Mar 20, 2011 at 7:42 pm
The radioactive particles spread by decades of above ground nuke tests by USSR, USA, UK, France and Israel/South Africa--we have been eating and breathing the toxic particles from those tests for decades.
Those nukes put millions of times more toxic particles in the air and on to the land than the recent tiny Japan event.
The future of nuclear power will be thorium reactors Web Link
Safe, cheap and abundant with no nuke weapons products
Posted by Anon, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Mar 21, 2011 at 7:20 am
"The radioactive particles spread by decades of above ground nuke tests by USSR, USA, UK, France and Israel/South Africa--we have been eating and breathing the toxic particles from those tests for decades.
"Those nukes put millions of times more toxic particles in the air and on to the land than the recent tiny Japan event."
*We*, in Palo Alto, are in no danger from the Fukushima incident, although, it could indeed result in the closure of a significant area nearby to agriculture. Farmers in the Fukushima area are already seeing the impact. No big deal to us, but, a big deal to them. A similar incident at, say, Diablo Canyon, could result in closures nearby. If you happened to be an affected avocado grower near Santa Barbara, it would be a big deal to you. It is too early to tell, but, there may be substantial economic damage to Japanese agriculture. I don't understand why people are so quick to dismiss this issue and declare "nuclear is safe". If you mean that the reactors won't explode like atomic bombs -- of course. But, the economic damage in the surrounding area can be huge all the same.
"The future of nuclear power will be thorium reactors <Web Link>
"Safe, cheap and abundant with no nuke weapons products"
I agree that this is an interesting technology and worth studying. The true cost is still a question, though, so my enthusiasm is still muted until we really understand just how much per KWH we are going to get with a large-scale deployment. LWRs' true cost has taken some time to realize.
Posted by Anon., a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Mar 21, 2011 at 11:47 am
> . I don't understand why people are so quick to dismiss this issue and declare "nuclear is safe".
That is just the unthinking bias on all subjects of some of the Palo Alto Online regulars.
I think nuclear power can be safe, the problem is people, specifically the people making the decisions about design specs, the people who operate the reactors, the management, etc.
To really survive into the future with 6+ billion people on the planet we are going to need some new very large sources of energy, or we are going to degrade the environment and destroy nature. Even if we decide to destroy nature that can only happen temporarily. Globally we are behaving like energy addicts, throwing everything else aside like drug addicts to get our fix and not worrying about tomorrow. All our natural support structures are overstressed and collapsing, meaning to reverse that we need ever more energy.
In the long run we are going to need a system of breeder reactors because uranium is already becoming scarce. We either figure out how to stop this incompetent use of technology and get rid of bad decision makers or we are in for world of trouble.
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Mar 22, 2011 at 6:10 pm Walter_E_Wallis is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
Perhaps people declare nuclear safe because so few have been killed in nuclear accidents compared to any other energy source. In either initial or long term deaths nuclear ranks far down the scale. Chernobyl killed 30, mostly in the initial building explosion. Hardly a good weekend's toll on the highways.
Posted by Nucular, a resident of Menlo Park, on Mar 22, 2011 at 7:08 pm
"Chernobyl killed 30"
Walter: Seriously - you sticking with that number?
I'd ask, but I think I already know where you retrieved that number from...
The common number from the blast is around 55 in the plant, with thousands afterward. Those estimates run from a low of 4,000 up over 100,000 plus. Most these numbers don't count the documented rise in birth defect, etc..
I know you will deny, deny, deny it all as some sort of enviro-commie-hippie thing, so go ahead, we expect it of you. Your next action will be to falsely equate it with driving deaths. After that, I'm guessing Sharon will chime back in with her tobacco rant.
Here's a pic of a local animal birth defect (not bloody or gross): Web Link
"A deformed animal shown at the Ukrainian National Chernobyl Museum. Mutations in both animals and humans increased as a result of the disaster."
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Mar 23, 2011 at 8:59 am Walter_E_Wallis is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
"Most these numbers don't count the documented rise in birth defect, etc.."
They don't count the documented rise in birth defects because there isn't any. The domestic and wild animals around Chernobyl have survived and prospered. There have been no observed increase in birth defects among those animals. No one wants to take the responsibility of opening up Chernobyl to reentry, but it is only squeamishness that prevents it right now.
Posted by Anon., a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Mar 23, 2011 at 11:55 am
Walter makes the following comments:
>> They don't count the documented rise in birth defects because there isn't any.
>> The domestic and wild animals around Chernobyl have survived and prospered.
>> No one wants to take the responsibility of opening up Chernobyl to reentry, but it is only squeamishness that prevents it right now.
There was a story on Chernobyl a few years back on 60 Minutes.
> CBS News was on the site less than 10 minutes when one
> member of the group went over his exposure limit.
> radiation levels in the air are not longer a problem, but they do persist in the ground.
It would be completely irresponsible to open Chernobyl up for re-population at this point, and equating caution and care for squeamishness is just the kind of useless thinking that causing these kinds of disasters in the first place and puts a pall on the objective discussion of nuclear power.
We'd have less irresponsible comments though if those who talked so much about how great it is would move there and show us.
Posted by Nucular, a resident of Menlo Park, on Mar 23, 2011 at 12:31 pm
Disingenuous, or blatant misrepresentation?
My comment about birth defects was about humans, please don't degrade the tragedy by switching the conversation to animals.
My link (oddly, you never link to your "claims",) was to an animal, only because most folks with a heart seem to have a hard time viewing images of suffering children.
Your claim: "They don't count the documented rise in birth defects because there isn't any."
Bull. An absurd claim, on the face of it, patently FALSE when one does even a modicum of investigation. From Reuters, 2010, on recent studies:
"Wertelecki found that among all 96,438 babies born in Rivne between 2000 and 2006, the rate of neural tube defects -- serious anomalies of the brain and spine, including spina bifida -- were higher than the average for Europe. In Rivne, 22 of every 10,000 babies were born with a neural tube defect, compared with a European average of 9 per 10,000.
What's more, the rate was particularly elevated in the Polissia area -- where 27 of every 10,000 babies were born with a neural tube defect, compared with 18 per 10,000 in the rest of Rivne.
Rivne also appeared to have elevated rates of conjoined twins -- 0.6 percent, compared with the roughly 0.2 percent average estimated for Europe -- and sacrococcygeal teratomas, which are congenital tumors on the tailbone. The teratoma rate was 0.7 percent in Rivne, whereas the published rates of the condition range from 0.25 to 0.5 percent." Web Link
You can refer to old UN reports that were incomplete. Because we know ol' Walter LOVES the UN, don't ya?
Posted by Nucular, a resident of Menlo Park, on Mar 24, 2011 at 11:23 am
Isn't it grand that the internet lets Flat Earthers just ignore science, ignore facts, and just hide behind the claim of "cherry picked" data, when presented with reality?
From the journal Pediatrics, referenced above: "(Reuters Health) - Rates of certain birth defects appear higher than normal in one of the Ukraine regions most affected by the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster, according to a new study."
I don't think if your daughter had a miscarriage in Berlin in 1987, you'd be spouting your line: "What is the natural variation in those selected deformities?"
Go back to comparing highway tragedies or tobacco deaths with Sharon.
Posted by Nucular, a resident of Menlo Park, on Mar 24, 2011 at 11:44 am
Everything's still hunky dory in Japan, right?
"Fears over Japan's food and water supply escalated Wednesday after authorities announced they had discovered radioactive material above the legal limit in 11 types of vegetables and radioactive substances in water produced at a Tokyo purifying station.
Officials warned residents not to eat the vegetables produced in several prefectures near the badly damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear facility and recommended that infants not ingest tap water in Tokyo. Web Link "
Just some more liberal, commie, hippy scare tactics.
Posted by Karl E. Yetter, a member of the Addison School community, on Mar 26, 2011 at 2:15 pm
My suggestion would be gigantic and costly, but what choice do we have if we need to build nuclear reactors. To me it`s simple as this.
Build a circular sea wall around the whole reactor facility at least 75 feet high or greater if need be . At the back build a bowl like structure. That could channel the massive amount of sea water back 180
degrees back to the sea. Guided by a massively slopping channel that would send all or most of the surging waters back to the sea. You would need this on both sides of the structure. For this to take place in guiding the water back towards the ocean. At ware the channel starts at the oceans beaches you would need two massive sea wall gates in place as to preventing the tsunami from running up the channels. I hope you will consider this idea. Won`t be cheap, but it is my solution. For solving the problem into the future designs`s of nuclear reactors. Also give your structure plenty of room to have extra space for all ancillary items for additional safety and back up systems.
Posted by Nucular, a resident of Menlo Park, on Mar 26, 2011 at 4:11 pm
"Come on, nuclear, how many deaths?"
Five, so far. That enough for you, Walter? I note you ignored: "I don't think if your daughter had a miscarriage in Berlin in 1987, you'd be spouting your line: "What is the natural variation in those selected deformities?"
Now they're stuck in Japan with tens of thousands of pounds of salt crusted around fuel rods. No one knows what to do, or what will happen, having put millions of gallons of sea water on the reactors and storage ponds. Boiled away, leaving salt.
As a scientist put it: when you open the book on nuclear energy and go to the last chapter on accidents and what can go wrong and how to fix it, there are no entries for rods coated in salt.
But Walter, "everything's still hunky dory in Japan, right?"
The contamination damage, and health risk, are real. I would not say that nuclear power is not an option. However, I would say that the cost/benefit ratio for Light Water Reactors is poor. There are alternatives.
Note on the map areas, approximately coinciding with the plant boundaries, with cumulative doses of 1000 to 10000 mSv, and, areas with dwellings, of 100-1000 mSv. If people actually lived in those areas (I can't tell from the map if there are any houses in that area) and if they refused to be evacuated, some of them would be very sick right now.
I assume that any such houses have been evacuated. The point is that these are not trivial levels a few percent above background, but, life threatening levels that have to be managed to -- not something that anyone should take lightly.
Some "pro-nuclear" comments have made light of the radiation releases, but, they are significant. When I first read about the US government suggested evacuation zone, it sounded overly conservative, but, I understand the basis of the recommendation now.
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Mar 27, 2011 at 4:21 am Walter_E_Wallis is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
"Some "pro-nuclear" comments have made light of the radiation releases, but, they are significant"
Kinda like you make light of the radiation releases of coal fire plants. Kinda like you make light of every non-nuclear energy source hazard. Kinda like you make light of asbestosis, Black Lung and silicosis. Kinda like you make light of that ultimate energy hazard, wood smoke. Wood smoke kills up to a million a year.
Posted by Nucular, a resident of Menlo Park, on Mar 27, 2011 at 10:19 am
"Wood smoke kills up to a million a year"
Straw man. Anyone here in favor of powering the world with wood fires?
Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?
Meanwhile, back in the real world:
"TOKYO - Workers were withdrawn from a reactor building at Japanís earthquake-wrecked nuclear plant on Sunday after potentially lethal levels of radiation were detected in water there, a major setback for the effort to avert a catastrophic meltdown." Web Link
Posted by Anon., a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Mar 27, 2011 at 11:48 am
If anyone is interested in facts and real logic read the relevant chapters in a book called "Physics For Future Presidents" by Richard A. Muller.
In it he talks about the underpinnings of why we see radiation the way we do, and how we err on the safe side because the numbers are so bad. There are very few studies of radiation and some hypotheses that may or may not be true and we just do not know.
So, the claims by some that radiation is harmless or the poisoning of the whole discussion by the tactic on one side of shoving people in the debate like Ann Coulter that, well-known scientist - NOT (who recently said radiation is good for you) ... are blatant propaganda attempts to destroy discussion and allow more exploitation of the environment and the people who live on resources the economic interests want to dominate.
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Mar 27, 2011 at 11:48 am Walter_E_Wallis is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
Nukie, in some parts of the world wood fires are the only source of energy. It is natural and, like much of nature, deadly. As much as ten percent of deaths in those areas are from respiratory failure because of the open cook fires. Still waiting for the first death from that radiation, Buckie.
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Mar 27, 2011 at 12:14 pm Walter_E_Wallis is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
Anon, here is as much support for hormesis as for the dire predictions of the anti-nukers. The zero dose theory is so lost in the dirt as to be undecipherable except with chicken entrails. Very few studies of radiation? I get nineteen million cites on Google. Ann Coulter cited physicists by name in her article. Ionizing radiation has to be one of the most studies phenomena in science; The morbidity from I/R as well. That is why the ignorance of the general public is unfathomable. That is why thousands of deaths a year from coal is more acceptable than a dozen deaths every 20 years from nuclear.
Posted by Nucular, a resident of Menlo Park, on Mar 27, 2011 at 12:17 pm
to Wally, from buckie:
Bringing "wood fires in the third world" into this IS a straw man argument, which we suppose you are using to ignore the real issues, because your opinions can't compete with facts.
The thread is about Diablo Canyon, up for re-licensing, which is a:
* 30 year old plant from old designs, not much different than the Japanese designs
* with massive costs, like the billion they spent to retrofit
* on the ocean
* with two faults right next to it
* that is subject to human errors, like just finding out some of the back up systems weren't functioning for 18 months, noted above
Please show me the links to your straw man, or anyone that wants to put in a wood fired plant.
But seriously, folks:
"UTILITY APOLOGIZES FOR ERROR IN RADIATION DATA. The operator of Japan's stricken nuclear plant reports that radioactivity in water in the Unit 2 reactor tested 10 million times higher than normal, forcing the evacuation of workers and delaying efforts to bring the complex under control. But hours later Tokyo Electric Power Co. apologizes and says the number should be 100,000 times..."
Whew, that was close. It's ONLY 100,000 times higher.
Good thing it's not in danger of leaking, or anything.
No worries though, Wally will continue to pull the Sharon tactic of bringing up wood fires or tobacco deaths to obfuscate.
Posted by Anon., a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Mar 27, 2011 at 12:32 pm
Walter, you know much more about the image you want to project that the actual facts. It's useless to try to converse or argue with you when you make up your own facts or spin them your own way. I trust a physicist more than I trust you, and only when that physicist lays out the facts objectively.
There are not a lot of controlled studies on what are toxic doses of radiation in people because you cannot kill people to study them. Also, radiation is a statistical phenomenon, hard to track and differentiate all the factors that human beings experience. This is not my opinion, it's just the facts. You want to force your own interpretation and conclusions on others, which is where I most often find fault with your posts. You are entitled to make decisions like this for yourself - go ahead and go live in the middle of Chernobyl if you want to, but I don't like it that you demand that others take you seriously.
I put the reference out for people who want to learn the facts ... however since you are somehow magically being able to predict the end result of the Fukushima reactor disaster before it was over, almost on the day it happened before anyone else on the planet obviously you know it all already and feel qualified to berate, attack and abused anyone you like.
Posted by Greg, a resident of the Southgate neighborhood, on Mar 27, 2011 at 1:56 pm
I'm still waiting to hear from you alarmist guys about the effects of eliminating nukes. You can arugue linear vs. threshold effects all you want, but there is always a cost/benefit analysis in modern economies.
My question for you: How would Japan replace one-third of their electrical base load, if they abandon nukes? Poverty is not a good thing for young children, nor for their parents.
Posted by Anon., a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Mar 27, 2011 at 2:19 pm
Greg ... address your comments appropriately, are you talking to me? I am Anon (dot) resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood. If you are pointing that last comment towards me you better re-read my posts and quit confusing your anons.
Posted by Nucular, a resident of Menlo Park, on Mar 27, 2011 at 2:35 pm
I'll take a stab at it, even though you addressed one of the Anon's.
Your: "How would Japan replace one-third of their electrical base load, if they abandon nukes? "
My guess is they will do it, if they decide to, they'll do it similarly to how it is being done by the 4th largest economy in the world. Despite what Walter says, Germany WAS effected by Chernobyl, and is in the process of swearing off expensive, safety-questionable nuclear energy.
They're obviously ahead of Japan, having already decided to put money into renewable that costs less than new nukes and does not have the potential for liability that runs into the billions.
By the way, how does questioning the wisdom in extending Diablo's license, make folks in your mind, into "alarmists"?
What do you make of this:
"The thread is about Diablo Canyon, up for re-licensing, which is a:
* 30 year old plant from old designs, not much different than the Japanese designs
* with massive costs, like the billion they spent to retrofit
* on the ocean
* with two faults right next to it
* that is subject to human errors, like just finding out some of the back up systems weren't functioning for 18 months, noted above"
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Mar 27, 2011 at 3:18 pm Walter_E_Wallis is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
"There are not a lot of controlled studies on what are toxic doses of radiation in people because you cannot kill people to study them."
On the contrary; you can indeed kill people to study them. We did at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The fatalities and survivors of those attacks have been studied for 66 years. For most of them we knew exactly where they were at time zero, and thus the dosage. There is no mystery in radiation.
", Germany WAS effected by Chernobyl, and is in the process of swearing off expensive, safety-questionable nuclear energy."
Of course they will retain their inter-tie with France and her nuclear plants. No one ever accused Germany of being smart.
"By the way, how does questioning the wisdom in extending Diablo's license, make folks in your mind, into "alarmists"?"
Posted by Greg, a resident of the Southgate neighborhood, on Mar 27, 2011 at 4:56 pm
I think re-licensing at Diablo Canyon should be based on rationality, not alarmism. For example, is Diablo susceptible to tsunamis? Are the pipe anchors up to a 7.5 earthquake? Are the backup systems robust?
Germany is part of a continent that can pipe in fossil fuels, primarily from Russia. Germany also has coal. Germany also sucks electrical power from France (nuclear-based).
Japan is an island. Are you suggesting that they try to get by on solar panels and wind or tides? Please tell me what your vision is for the Japanese. Then tell me how it all fits into the global warming model.
Nuclear power is here to stay, and it will increase, not decrease. Why? Because the alternative is world-wide economic depression. This means poverty...which means a lot of death for the poor.
I don't know what the basis of the 46 foot estimate is-- I suspect it is the local "slosh" as opposed to the underlying tidal-like surge, which I believe might have been somewhat lower. The height of historical and potential tsunamis has been revised upwards in recent decades as people have learned more. 50 years ago the series of tsunamis that we have seen in the last decade would have been considered "not credible". Now, we see that they do indeed happen frequently enough.
It does call to mind the question of why nuclear plants are often built near the seashore to begin with. The answer is simple: cost/efficiency. It costs less to achieve a given level of thermodynamic efficiency with a large reservoir of seawater as the heat sink. Today, we are reminded again that the efficiency is achieved through considerable risk-- and, there are costs that have not been properly accounted for if you only include the initial capital outlay.
Posted by Anon, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Mar 27, 2011 at 5:11 pm
"I think re-licensing at Diablo Canyon should be based on rationality, not alarmism."
You are entitled to your opinion, but, there are reasonable people who disagree.
"For example, is Diablo susceptible to tsunamis? Are the pipe anchors up to a 7.5 earthquake? Are the backup systems robust?"
-Possibly yes, yes but -- not necessarily, if the earth movement comes from a closer earthquake such as in Christchurch -- and, maybe -- hard to tell, unless you perform the experiment. We all hope the backup systems will not be accidentally disabled during the next large quake.
Regarding the tsunami risk: Look at Diablo Canyon on Google Earth. The setting does have a lot in common with Fukushima, although the effect will depend greatly on what direction the wave comes from-- I personally have not read a tsunami risk assessment. But, some people now rate these risks as much higher than they did prior to 2004.
Posted by Anon, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Mar 27, 2011 at 5:23 pm
Interesting story from the Washington Post:
"One subcontracted worker who laid cables for new electrical lines March 19 described chaotic conditions and lax supervision that made him nervous. Masataka Hishida said neither he nor the workers around him were given a dosimeter, a device used to measure oneís exposure to radiation. He was surprised that workers were not given special shoes; rather, they were told to put plastic bags over their street shoes. When he was trying on the gas mask for the first time, he said the supervisor told him and other subcontractors, ďListen carefully, Iím only going to say this one timeĒ while explaining how to use it.
"When Hishida finished his work shift, an official scanned his whole body for radiation. He came up clean, except for the very tip of his beard. He was sent into a shower where he lathered up and scrubbed his beard. He was tested again and passed.
"A few days later, still worried about the extent of his radiation exposure, he trimmed his beard.
This story, if it means what it sounds like, indicates that radiation discipline may be breaking down. Anyone in similar circumstances should be given a radiation "badge"-- unless conditions are so dire that people are ready to risk their lives.
Posted by Anon., a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Mar 27, 2011 at 6:12 pm
> My question for you: How would Japan replace one-third of their electrical base load
If I were the energy czar of Japan I would remain nuclear. It is a major tough sell to the people right now thanks to the idiocy, greed and stupidity of the power companies. The Japanese have every right to riot and be mad as hell.
These disasters are not about nuclear power, they are about human greed and cost cutting - laziness and stuidity. There is nothing that happened in this disaster that says nuclear cannot work ... but it does need extreme transparency. These plants are very old, and the plants block diagrams ought to be made public so people know, can see, and can discuss problems they see.
The managers and designers of this plant ought to be out on the steps of the plant committing seppuku from pure shame and duty to their people.
If possible I would put them in jail, but mostly see to it that the energy infrastructure was run as not-for-profit. The same thing I would do in the US as well. Every human being on this planet should be outraged and infuriated at this mess - it is something that needs a global solution because on goof on the part of Iran or North Korea or whoever and we have radiation in all of our food.
Posted by Anon., a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Mar 27, 2011 at 6:17 pm
> On the contrary; you can indeed kill people to study them. We did at Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Walter, you are talking about what you do not know about. There is no baseline for how much the people in those cities might have been exposed to radiation carcinogens or their base cancer rate. Very little data about what the people died of blast, heat, radiation, cancer, etc. It also does not answer to the linearity hypothesis. Your arrogant jaw-flapping that goes on for columns of baseless
Read the book I cited to realize how ashamed you ought to feel and how quiet you should be in the future. What gripes me about you is that you are competing, not discussing, but you are competing in a BS contest. I could understand having opinions that disagree with other people, but you just like waste your time and others stirring up arguments.
Posted by Greg, a resident of the Southgate neighborhood, on Mar 27, 2011 at 6:41 pm
Anon and Anon.,
I understand that you two are not the same person, but both of you are overreacting, IMO.
California faults are slip faults not subduction faults. Slip faults do not produce major tsunamis. On the other hand, there is a subduction fault in Japan and in the northwest of the USA. Diablo Canyon is not at risk of a major tsunami. Neither is San Onofre. Both of them are under earthquake threats, but those can be controlled for. The Japan nukes survived the quake (9.0), but not the tsunami.
I do not find the argument about non-profit (apparently meaning government owned) vs. for-profit, very persuasive. There have been a number of publicly owned dams which have failed, with major loss of life. If the State of California owned Diablo Canyon, instead of PG&E, would that make it safer?
I still have not seen a realistic answer to my question: How would Japan replace one-third of their electrical base load, if they abandon nukes?
Posted by Nucular, a resident of Menlo Park, on Mar 27, 2011 at 6:57 pm
your response to the above questions is "I think re-licensing at Diablo Canyon should be based on rationality, not alarmism. "
How is looking at the following points irrational? I think you just like to imply name calling, as all you can answer is a variation on "we need to be rational".
Well, no spit, sherlock...
- - - - - - -
"The thread is about Diablo Canyon, up for re-licensing, which is a:
* 30 year old plant from old designs, not much different than the Japanese designs
* with massive costs, like the billion they spent to retrofit
* on the ocean
* with two faults right next to it
* that is subject to human errors, like just finding out some of the back up systems weren't functioning for 18 months, noted above
Waht do YOU think the best choice for Diablo is?"
So far, your answer is: be rational, not alarmist.
- - - - - - -
Don't know. Looks to me like they gambled that old nuke plants would last, through another round of licensing, and be safe enough until either a new generation of nukes, or alternative energy sources were available.
At this point, that gamble looks like their point was ten, and they just tossed a seven. Pay the come line and don't pass, sweep up the rest of the bets.
Again, my question to you is: should re re-license, or gamble on, DC?
Can you answer without using words like "rational" or "alarmist"?
IDK is an okay answer. Heck, I just said the same about Japan.
Posted by Nucular, a resident of Menlo Park, on Mar 27, 2011 at 7:04 pm
"The Japan nukes survived the quake... "
On that point, imho, I think we need to wait to see what sort of shape it was really in before the wave hit. We've been told, and can probably agree on the fact the tsunami swamped the backup power generators, but again, I suspect that there is a lot of misinformation in the media, as well as untold, even unknown facts.
Seriously: how close a look can anyone get, when the whole plant is being evacuated every few days?
That's going to take a lot of investigations AND disclosure by both the government and TEPCO.
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Mar 27, 2011 at 8:37 pm Walter_E_Wallis is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
At Hiroshima and Nagasaki, there were exhaustive studies of casualties, with the dosage calculated as a function of the distance from the blast center. These studies have continued until the present day.
Posted by Nucular, a resident of Menlo Park, on Mar 29, 2011 at 12:47 pm
"Nearly 30% of U.S. nuclear-power plants fail to report equipment defects that could pose substantial safety risks, a flaw in federal oversight that could make it harder for regulators to spot troublesome trends across the industry, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's inspector general said Thursday." from WSJ Web Link
Nukes don't fail and aren't dangerous. Uh-huh. They have redundancies that will survive any ONE of the following. Mix up a couple and imagine what can happen.
Unless the design is flawed.
There are equipment defects.
Mother nature conspires against the plant, by keeping a couple faults "hidden" until after construction.
Mother nature decides to mix in a couple events, such as a quake AND a tsunami.
Or people make the inevitable human error. See the above report on DC's backup being out for 18 months.
Or they don't understand the rules.
Or regulators make a mistake.
Or corporate entities believe the profit motive requires necessary "cutting corners"
Want a longer list?
DC is an old plant, an old design. Re-licensing should not be rubber-stamped without a serious investigation. Taht investigation should include an in-depth study of the TEPCO disasters.
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Mar 29, 2011 at 5:28 pm Walter_E_Wallis is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
Nucular, the safety record of nuclear is head and shoulders above any other energy source even when Chernobyl and Japan are factored in. Relicensing is never a routine, and the oldest of designs are not far from the newest because of mandatory upgrades at every turnaround. As a parallel, if you buy a licensed aircraft built 50 years ago you can be sure that every essential safety upgrade has been accomplished. If you buy a ten year old car, all bets are off.
With your impressive list, isn't it amazing that nuclear is STILL the safest energy source around?
Posted by Greg, a resident of the Southgate neighborhood, on Mar 29, 2011 at 6:16 pm
Still waiting for the nuclear almarmists to tell me how Japan will survive, economically, should they abandon nukes. Just blank stares, thus far.
Japanese companies are already cutting back on production, due to limited electrical generation. This is also affecting American production of Japanase-dependent products, in this country (e.g cars and computers).
There is no energy free lunch. Nuclear is here to stay because there is no realistic alternative, unless one wants to accept massive poverty. Poverty is bad for children. Nuclear energy saves children, by the tens-of-millions, every year.
Posted by Nucular, a resident of Menlo Park, on Mar 30, 2011 at 10:43 am
to the three pro-nukes: Sharon Walter Greg
I offered you an answer ("see Germany") but you had a snit and said the question was directed at the anon's. Your post Mar 27, 2011 at 2:46 pm, and my response above it)
You continue with the title "alarmists" which is about as flattering as my referring to you and Walter as "flat-earthers" when it comes to renewables, I suppose. Well, anyway, what's to be alarmed about? Just because when nukes go bad, is it any worse than a solar plant blowing up? Golly:
"As workers at Japanís crippled nuclear plant piled up sandbags and readied emergency storage tanks on Tuesday to stop a fresh leak of highly contaminated water from reaching the ocean..."
Yeah. Great planning. Fire trucks used to spray sea water on reactor cores and holding ponds. Poking holes in buildings to vent hydrogen. 90,000 lbs of dried salt they can't remove.
Now, they're down to sandbags. SANDBAGS?!?!?!?
Sure, sweetheart, that was ALL in the safety manual! Nothing to see here, just move on. Nothing to be afraid of.
"Poverty is bad for children. Nuclear energy saves children, by the tens-of-millions, every year."
Again: is the fourth largest economy in the world committing their kids to poverty? Germany is phasing out nukes, has tripled their renewables, etc..
Greg: this thread is about DC, yet you keep making it global. Do you support the rubber stamping of Diablo Canyon re-licensing?
"As a parallel, if you buy a licensed aircraft built 50 years ago you can be sure that every essential safety upgrade has been accomplished. If you buy a ten year old car, all bets are off."
Nice parallel <snark>: we spent a billion to upgrade DC after finding the faults. DC is old technology that even the pro-nukes above do not support. Given all the other factors, a back up that didn't work for 18 months, located on multiple faults, on the ocean, WHY ON EARTH would you consider re-licensing it, given what we know now, as opposed to looking at alternatives?
In your scaremongering, you forgot your usual "deaths by HIV" part of the rant.
You're absolutely bat**** crazy about claims about Germany. Prove it. Links, please.
Your FALSEHOOD: "Solar power in UK and Germany has been a disaster and a tax boondoggle --- because it rains and is overcast most of the year in N Europe."
Wrong. Again, prove it.
Amazingly, Sharon, YOU actually stumbled on something. If cloudy Germany can make solar work, and they HAVE made it work - see below, why can't sunny California? Is it that the "conservatives" are too afraid of ticking off GE? I don't get it. GE is such a patriotic American company. Except for the occasional nuke blowing up.
And moving jobs overseas.
And not paying any US taxes on billions in profits.
But other than that, a great American company, eh?
Anyway, Sharon, you might be on to another thing: Solar has been TOO successful in cloudy Germany, according to one cynic...
"Relying too heavily on solar power could overload the power grid, a German energy expert has warned.
The move to push people into installing rooftop solar panels has been hugely successful in Germany with citizens encouraged to fit the panels and then sell any surplus power back to the national grid. Web Link"
Sharon: you post blatantly false claims without any attempt at proof.
Again: "...installing rooftop solar panels has been hugely successful in Germany..."
Sharon, Walter and Greg: What are you afraid of? Why do you think America can't compete in new energy production and ideas? Why don't you believe that our great country can do better than other countries?
Why have you lost faith in American technology and ingenuity?
Sail forward, flat earthers! I swear, you won't fall off the edge. Believe in this great country!
Let's invest in new energy, build great infrastructure that serves our kids AND grandchildren, and powers America forward! Let's build our way out of the Great Recession, much the way we built our way out of the Great Depression, with projects like the phenomenal Hoover Dam, the TVA, and more.
I believe America is better than Germany. Why don't you?
Posted by Nucular, a resident of Menlo Park, on Mar 30, 2011 at 10:56 am
Gotta love this part of "disaster capitalism" (bless you, Naomi K., at least you gave it a name,) buried in the manual on "privatizing profits, socializing losses."
Make all the money cutting corners on safety, bad design, re-licensing old reactors that should be closed, outsource to the cheapest contractors, etc.. Grab the money and run. Then turn it over to "big, bad, mean ol' government" for a bail out.
From the Economist:
"To be fair to TEPCO, which has been getting all the bad press lately, it at least appears to be aware of how serious the threats are. When asked when the cooling systems might be brought under control, a spokesman says: ďWe just donít know how long it will take.Ē That sounds like an honest assessment.
But candour at this stage will only get TEPCO so far. Its relationship with the government, which is directing disaster efforts from within the utilityís darkened headquarters in Tokyo, is about as tainted as Fukushimaís turbine water. On Tuesday Koichiri Gemba, the minister for national strategy, left open the possibility of nationalising TEPCO (or at least its nuclear arm). "
Posted by Anon., a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Mar 30, 2011 at 11:18 am
The debate here is mostly spurious and unproductive.
The problem with Japan is not a failure of nuclear power, per se, it is a failure of the Japanese system. A failure that the US cannot afford to overlook, ignore or be arrogant about. We came pretty close to some of these problems and there is no reason why we could not run into unforeseen problems in the future.
Japan's situation is tragic, but I daresay even Japan is not going to give up nuclear power. These plants are old and badly designed and run. The power companies have a history of abuses and failures.
Education and involvement is the key, but industry is so anti-citizen, anti-consume, anti-people they would rather push bad solutions on the country than compromise and reach an acceptable solution to energy - which we badly need.
There is no good solution that does not include nuclear, so what we need to do is to education people and ensure that the strictest enforceable standards are met. There is simply no room for error or complacency by saying that radiation standards should be ignored or that we are OK as long as we fill up the world with radiation right up the threshold of the standards we have. The complexity of radiation standards we written well about in the book I cited above, "Physics for Future Presidents" and it should just how much we do not know about the health effects of radiation. Rather than think - out of sight out of mind as we do with many other industries, we would be better off be leaders again in the world and enforce the highest standards, this is what America can do, not pander to the extreme on either either side who both are equally misinformed and do not have the best interests of the country and the world in mind.
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Mar 30, 2011 at 1:34 pm Walter_E_Wallis is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
Nucular, I do not fear alternate energy schemes, I merely don't believe they are relevant. We can, of course, by force of law compel utilities to go to 33% renewables, but not without another massive increase in energy costs. Of course, if we demanded that the 33% be base load capable, we would never meet the goal. Wind and solar are boutique energy.
Posted by Nucular, a resident of Menlo Park, on Mar 31, 2011 at 10:37 am
"I merely don't believe they are relevant. "
Walter, thanks for sharing your opinion. Facts state otherwise. As stated, the 4th largest economy in the world is phasing out nukes, and is almost at 20% renewables already. Why can Germany do it and you have so little faith in American ingenuity technology and ability?
Don't you believe America is exceptional, that we can do it better than Germany?
They've got a lot of solar panels installed, and they don't need holding pools or emergency safety plans, like TEPCO's, for instance. From WSJ: Web Link
"Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s disaster plans greatly underestimated the scope of a potential accident at its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, calling for only one stretcher, one satellite phone and 50 protective suits in case of emergencies." ...
The main disaster-readiness manual, updated annually, envisions the fax machine as a principal means of communication with the outside world and includes detailed forms for Tepco managers when faxing government officials. One form offers a multiple-choice list of disasters, including "loss of AC power," "inability to use the control room" and "probable nuclear chain reaction outside the reactor."
A FAX machine?!?
Let me guess, Walter, you still have a fax machine around the house?
Well, then, you're all prepared for a nuclear emergency!
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Mar 31, 2011 at 1:43 pm Walter_E_Wallis is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
Fax long gone. I do have a couple of scanners and photographic equipment so I can make my opinion heard.
I understand that many hazardous chemicals are used to make solar panels. What assurance have we that those hazardous chemicals have been disposed of safely?
And what will Germany do when the sun don't shine?
We can, if willing to pay the price, do marvelous things. What we can not do is overcome basic laws. Boutique power plants make nice science fair exhibits, but they don't cut the mustard for real. You can, by law, force utilities to pay ten times as much for power than they can sell it for, but that ain't smart.
Posted by Nucular, a resident of Menlo Park, on Mar 31, 2011 at 3:09 pm
"Boutique power plants make nice science fair exhibits, but they don't cut the mustard for real."
Facts aside, eh, Walter? Why let facts get in the way of your opinion? Germany is closing in on 20% of their supply from renewables. When they're getting a third or near half, will you still spout the same inane "boutique" comments?
Imagine not having to import as much oil. Imagine how much we $AVE by not having to keep multiple carrier battle groups around the Mideast and other oil supplies. Imagine oil going back towards the price during Clinton's booming economy, in the teens, or anywhere below $50 a barrel.
Imagine the savings in military costs alone.
I KNOW we can do better than other countries. I KNOW America can do better than Germany. We have far greater resources than they do - wind, brighter sun, water.
Unless Walter is saying they're smarter or more motivated.
Posted by Nucular, a resident of Menlo Park, on Mar 31, 2011 at 9:14 pm
"What WILL Germany do when the sun don't shine?"
Ignoring the fact that it doesn't shine that much and it STILL is a great investment for Germany...
Golly Walter, that's a tough one. Quite the engineering challenge. Thought you'd be up for solving that one, but I guess not. Ya think they might use multiple sources of renewable and multiple traditional sources while they move towards their ultimate goals?
Somewhere a decade or two down the road, France will be stuck with a huge bill trying to decommission their plants, looking to finance new ones, with oil at several hundred a barrel, and Germany will be far ahead of their counterparts with an installed and ongoing supply of cheap, renewable energy.
They've a ways to go. Why don't you care that America is falling behind on this key infrastructure issue?
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Apr 1, 2011 at 2:59 am Walter_E_Wallis is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
I believe it is fool's folly. The heavy subsidization of alternate energy and the negative [supersidy?] of conventional energy can only increase energy cost. If alternate was viable we would not need laws to bring them on line. Utilities would embrace them voluntarily. Already utilities have gone from a minor expense to a major one. Every new demand is a new cost.
Posted by Anon, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Apr 2, 2011 at 11:18 am
"I believe it is fool's folly. The heavy subsidization of alternate energy and the negative [supersidy?] of conventional energy can only increase energy cost. If alternate was viable we would not need laws to bring them on line. Utilities would embrace them voluntarily. Already utilities have gone from a minor expense to a major one. Every new demand is a new cost."
The only energy sources that don't need a subsidy are coal and natural gas. And, even you don't like coal. Nuclear energy has always relied on captive consumers, government subsidies, and government-imposed liability limits.
Regardless, the most cost-effective source of new energy is *still* conservation.
Posted by Nucular, a resident of Menlo Park, on Apr 2, 2011 at 5:33 pm
"Try conservation as 100% of your energy."
The systematic dismantling of your positions has left you a bit short on responses, apparently.
* Nuclear is safe, except when it isn't. And when it isn't, things can go terribly wrong.
* It's cheap, except it's not, and requires massive government subsidies to plan, construct and decommission. And huge bailouts if something goes wrong (see TEPCO, soon to be nationalized, at immense cost.)
* Re-licensing a nuke that sits on the water, right on a couple earthquake faults, that has a history of human-error issues, is questionable, but Walter and Sharon want to compare apples and oranges rather than address the issue ("hey! whaddabout coal deaths, tobacco deaths, etc...")
* Many countries have taken the long view, with great study, and decided to diversify and build an energy infrastructure that will support them no matter what the outcome of oil prices, natural gas prices, CO2 emmission decisions in the future and without the cost and potential liability of nukes. These progressive, well thought out positions will make them energy leaders in the future.
But since Walter proclaims them "fools", well, golly, I guess he's right!
And since Walter can't conserve 100%, why bother conserving at all?!?!
Well, Walter, you do apparently conserve 100% of something.
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Apr 3, 2011 at 4:33 am Walter_E_Wallis is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
By the time a nuclear plant is due for commissioning, that decommissioning has been fully self-funded.
Rather than government subsidies, planning and construction carries a tremendous overhead of second, third, fourth guessing.
Dead is dead, Bucky.
Not one of those "progressive" nations has a viable energy policy. They all sneak in outsider energy to complement their own boutique energy.
Only using less energy TO ACCOMPLISH THE SAME GOAL is true conservation. The laws of thermodynamics determine that. Just deciding not to DO something, as in turning down the thermostat, is NOT conservation.
Nucular, your dismissal of energy deaths may suit your "argument', but dead is dead no matter the cause.
Posted by Rwolf, a resident of the Palo Alto Hills neighborhood, on Apr 13, 2011 at 7:05 am
Nuclear Reactor Risks
If Japanís damaged nuclear reactors continue to leak radiation into the air and oceans, many exporting industries may be damaged by radiation contamination. For example fishing industries. How far will millions of gallons of radioactive water travel dumped from damaged Japanese reactors? Will Radioactive Fish migrate to other nationís waters affecting other countries? One can foresee grocery store and seafood restaurant customers checking purchased seafood with a Geiger counter. If Japanís damaged nuclear reactors continue leaking radiation into the air, could over a period of time that cause dangerous levels of radiation to be absorbed by U.S. farm crops and cattle, making U.S. farm products unmarketable; cause U.S. food shortages and high prices. Could several of Japanís industrial products become too radioactive to export? So much for clean nuclear energy.
In the U.S. most nuclear reactors have to be subsidized by taxpayers. When nuclear reactors leak as shown in Japan, it can be hugely expensive; unaffordable when damaged reactors melt down spreading high levels of radiation. In the U.S. too many nuclear reactors are close to large U.S. populations; 500 miles may be too close when communities are downwind. In addition to catastrophic health costs, a leaking reactor can contaminate for decades and longer large geographic areas, destroying real estate values of entire cities, shutdown industries. The potential risks of operating or building more nuclear reactors in the U.S. canít be justified considering their catastrophic downside. The U.S. has approximately 104 nuclear reactors. From a military standpoint, U.S. enemies would only need target several U.S. nuclear reactors to spread deadly radiation to large cities crippling America. Nuclear reactors are a losing bet.
Posted by Nukes R. Expensive, a resident of the Green Acres neighborhood, on Jul 11, 2012 at 4:31 pm
Walter claims Nukes and Oil aren't subsidized, only "alternative" forms of energy: "The heavy subsidization of alternate energy and the negative [supersidy?] of conventional energy can only increase energy cost."
"The American Chemical Society cites a report by Double Bottom Line Venture Capital that explains how the oil industry has reaped benefits from subsidies. From 1918 to 2009, the average annual subsidy was $4.86 billion. By comparison, the nuclear energy industry gets around $3.5 billion per year. [...]
The American Coalition for Ethanol estimates that when combined with state and local government aid to large oil companies, subsidies amount to anywhere from $133.8 billion to $280.8 billion annually from all sources of taxpayer aid that goes to the oil and gas industry."
What's a couple hundred billion when there are profits to be privatized and risk to be socialized?