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Old 05-19-2011, 03:20 PM   #241
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I agree with Tigger and s/he didn't even mention that spent fuel continues to be a risk for centuries with no safe place for storage.
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Old 05-19-2011, 03:41 PM   #242
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I agree with Tigger and s/he didn't even mention that spent fuel continues to be a risk for centuries with no safe place for storage.
I guess it depends what one means by "safe". After a relatively short time the fuel rods can encased in a ceramic or glass cask and sit there without any risk. Or are we talking about "but, in a thousand years a someone could open the cask and get hurt?" True, but not very relevant. There's plenty of stuff that stays hazardous for a long time. Spent fuel is easy to watch--it's conveniently contained in a compact package. The mercury spewed out by coal-burning plants remains a hazard as long as it exists--and stable elements like mercury stay around a lot longer than radioactive elements.

I admit I don't understand why anyone frets over the long term storage of nuclear waste. As long as we are a civilization it's easy to safeguard it. If we're not a civilization anymore, then these few sites with entombed nuclear fuel will be the very least of our concerns.
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Old 05-19-2011, 03:56 PM   #243
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As a raving environmentalist conservationist, I'm all for expanding nuclear plants in the US. I'd also like to see more solar and wind at the consumption point (I'll likely put a solar array on the house in the next few years even if it doesn't make immediate economic sense).... aside from some regional projects, though, I don't see solar or wind being viable centralized distribution options.

I'd prefer that we start building now. Designs continue to get safer and I'm quite interested in pebble bed reactor designs. If Exxon is on TV telling me that oil sands make a lot of sense then that tells me they believe oil won't see $80/barrel again and likely has a base closer to $100. So, even if I'm not a peak oil guy, that tells me that this finite, fungible resource we rely on so much of our life for is getting at least somewhat scarcer. Let's get on the ball now rather than when we're scrambling (reactors take forever to come online, wells take a considerable amount of time plus it's fungible and will just go to the highest bidding country unless we get very protectionist).

I'm aware of the risks, but let's face it, we have a viable long-term storage option for spent fuel now and it's time we act. We also have the means to re-process spent fuel. Let's act.

So, yes, in my back yard please.

edit to add stuff:

I run an energy-lean household. I don't like subsidies for things that seem like they should be market-driven. Admittedly, that does put me at a quandary with things like building nuclear when coal is so cheap and putting in solar panels when the payback only makes sense with the addition of subsidies. For example, we're pricing out a new furnace and also considering a geothermal heat pump. Payback on the heat pump is about 10 years as we're on natural gas and not only is nat gas cheap but we don't use a lot of it. Still, I'm interested, even if I don't end up in the house long enough to recoup my investment, because I'm betting on increasing natural gas prices (we're seeing it in fertilizer prices now).

So, where I end up is that, with something as far-reaching as building pebble bed reactors across the country, in a market that's already quite regulated, I'd like to see government involvement in making this the Manhattan Project of my generation.
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Old 05-19-2011, 04:41 PM   #244
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After a relatively short time the fuel rods can encased in a ceramic or glass cask and sit there without any risk.
That probably costs money and the plants don't seem to have an incentive do it: see this video from 2:10 (the rest of the video is also worthwhile)



During the years before Fukushima the trend was towards deregulation in the nuclear sector. That trend may change now, until people forget again.

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I admit I don't understand why anyone frets over the long term storage of nuclear waste. As long as we are a civilization it's easy to safeguard it. If we're not a civilization anymore, then these few sites with entombed nuclear fuel will be the very least of our concerns.
Civilisations have come and gone. But descendents of those people have formed new civilisations.
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Old 05-19-2011, 09:54 PM   #245
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Maybe we can continue the discussion on nuclear being good / bad in the existing thread:
Were the Nuclear Protesters Right?
Maybe that's best, but they keep overlapping, so I respond to what I see posted.

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As you know, I don't agree with your repeated statement that nuclear is the safest source of energy.
It seems that you don't agree (and it's not "my" statement, it is a fact). But your reasons seem fabricated.

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The comparison you're talking about is flawed:

We don't have reliable data about the dangers involved with nuclear energy. We probably never will. The nuclear industry has a history of misleading claims. (paper by Dr. Sue Wareham)
And I can say the same about coal.

Massey ‘Profoundly Reckless’ in Mine Blast: Report

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“A company that was a towering presence in the Appalachian coalfields operated its mines in a profoundly reckless manner, and 29 coal miners paid with their lives for the corporate risk- taking,”
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While coal and dams can and do indeed cause many casualties, I think the potential damage of nuclear incidents is much bigger, but is not being seriously considered because instead of looking at the potential catastrophes, it is often assumed future catastrophes will never be worse than those we've had so far.
How much worse can it get beyond Chernobyl? And yes, I'll argue that it should not even be included as a nuclear power plant accident anyhow, that was a nuclear weapons plant. Yet, even with Chernobyl included the stats favor nuclear.

And we hear that global warming is going to doom us. Isn't that potential damage tied to coal? If you believe that CO2 leads to global warming, then we don't need to fabricate any doomsday scenario - burning coal produces CO2 every hour of every day as a normal part of it's operation. We don't need some failure for it to happen. Plus the environmental damage of mining coal. So we could weigh those potential risks of normal operation of coal against the potential nuclear risks that require an accident scenario.

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I know you don't see things that way and I can live with that. But it doesn't keep me from feeling sad about the damage that's being done and the risks that are being taken.
And I feel sad about the damage done and the risks from coal. And the data agrees, even if your heart does not.

-ERD50
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Old 05-19-2011, 11:17 PM   #246
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Civilisations have come and gone. But descendents of those people have formed new civilisations.
But the descendants didn't say "Hey, let's go play in the xxxxxx" (lime pits, lead mines, toxic waste pond, etc)
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Old 05-20-2011, 07:55 AM   #247
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While coal and dams can and do indeed cause many casualties, I think the potential damage of nuclear incidents is much bigger, but is not being seriously considered because instead of looking at the potential catastrophes...
Potentially the heating of the artic, led to a massive loss of ice, and therefore mass, from that region of the earth. The redistribution of that mass caused extra strain on the fault. This led to a 8.9 earthquake instead of a smaller earthquake. Leading to this catastrophy.

So POTENTIALLY coal and oil led to this disaster. Yet the insurance for oil refineries and coal plants doesn't include scenarios such as this.

Everything you state about what you THINK is fine. But when you look at what has already happened, coal is more damaging.

I am fine with the idea of improving nuclear power. But we should take care of the bigger threat which is already damaging us first, then take care of the making the safer sources of power safer yet.
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Old 05-27-2011, 08:18 AM   #248
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Super typhoon projected to pass over Fukushima power plant


EDIT: no longer true, projection has changed. Also, will have weakened to "tropical storm" by the time it reaches that area.
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Old 05-27-2011, 08:56 AM   #249
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I think that is stretching things. Isn't the plant along the northern coast?
So according to the forcast, the storm is predicted to be of tropical storm strength as it approaches, and I NOT forecast to pass over the plant.
No need to exaggerate things, they are bad enough as it is.
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Old 05-27-2011, 09:02 AM   #250
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I think that is stretching things. Isn't the plant along the northern coast?
So according to the forcast, the storm is predicted to be of tropical storm strength as it approaches, and I NOT forecast to pass over the plant.
No need to exaggerate things, they are bad enough as it is.
You're right. Sorry, I didn't notice the projection had changed in the meanwhile. Sometime earlier it looked like this:



Also, by the time it gets in that region, it will have weakend to a "tropical storm" which may still be far from ideal, but is better than a taifun.
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Old 08-01-2011, 06:02 PM   #251
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Some news about Fukushima radiation readings: Bogleheads :: View topic - Fukushima referring to Tepco Says Highest Radiation Yet Is Detected at Fukushima Dai-Ichi - Bloomberg.
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Old 09-30-2011, 08:49 AM   #252
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PBS aired a NOVA program about the quake and tsunami a few days ago that they have made available online: NOVA | Japan's Killer Quake

(apologies if this link has been posted previously, I could not find it)
A followup to this one from a few months ago. Last night I viewed another NOVA special about the Japan earthquake/tsunami:

NOVA | Surviving the Tsunami
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