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Latest Posts


Is Nuclear Energy the Answer?

Posted on 13 June 2019 by scaddenp

Abbott 2011  and Abbott 2012 doesn’t think so but perhaps there are better analyses? For discussions of economics, levelized cost estimates of various electricity technologies can be found here and here.

Nuclear energy is quite commonly proposed as the solution to reducing GHG emissions. As soon as this gets raised on an article's comment thread, there has been a bad tendency for on-topic discussion to be completely derailed by proponents for and against.

We have repeatedly asked for nuclear proponents to provide an article for this site which puts the case based on published science but so far we haven't had a taker. The proposal would need to be reviewed by Sks volunteers. In lieu of such an article, this topic has been created where such discussions can take place.

However, in the absence of a proper article summarizing the science, stricter than normal moderation will be applied to ensure that all assertions made for or against are backed by references to published studies, preferably in peer-reviewed journals.

Update - October 2020

This post has been up for a little over a year now, and has received over 200 comments. Now seems like a good time to add some clarification.

First of all, the challenge to "nuclear proponents" to provide an article requires that the article "summarize the science". It is not the desire of Skeptical Science to provide a one-sided, pro-nuclear assertion. The expectation is that an article would provide a balanced review of all aspects of nuclear energy as a practical, affordable, realistic source of low-carbon energy.

If you think of yourself as a "nuclear advocate", then writing a balanced article will be difficult for you. This is not a place for "lawyers' science", where the role is to pick a side and pretend there is no other reasonable argument. This is not about winning an argument - it is about coming to a common understanding based on all the available evidence.

If you think that criticism of your position represents an "anti-nuclear bias", then writing a balanced article will be difficult for you.

If you think that you are the only one that truly understands nuclear energy, then you are probably wrong.

Review of any submitted article will not be at the level of a review of a professional journal article, but anyone submitting an article needs to be prepared to have their positions examined in detail for weaknesses, missing information, lack of support in the peer-reviewed literature, etc. If you find it tough to accept criticism in the comments thread, then you will not find review any gentler.

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Comments 51 to 100 out of 337:

  1. Richieb 1234,

    They are now much more water stressed in Arizona than they were in 1988 when the Pao Verde plant was built. From your reference:

    "Palo Verde is the only nuclear generating facility in the world that is not located adjacent to a large body of above-ground water."

    As water is running low in most locations I doubt that many plants like Palo Verde will be built in the future. They would repurify the water and drink it today.

    There is a small nuclear plant in Siberia that is completely air cooled. It is cold in Siberia.

    I cannot imagine building 12,000 small nuclear plants in the USA. Most would have to be built on ocean front property that is not threatened by sea level rise. Even with 20 reactors per site it would be hard to find enough locations.

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  2. Richieb1234,

    In your first post you said the current fleet of nuclear reactors has an accident rate of 1 per 10,000 reactor-years. Abbott claims 11 accidents (before Fukushima) in 14,000 commercial reactor years so his rate is about ten times yours.  How many reactor years do you use for your calculation?  It must be much higher than Abbott's number.  Just Fukushima, Chernobyl and Three Mile Island is 5 accidents.

    If you built out 50,000 modular reactors with an accident rate of 1 in 100,000 reactor years, you would have a big accident every other year somewhere.  That would be 100 times safer than Abbott claims.  How safe are those modular reactor designs?

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  3. Halfnium is  neutron absorber, it says so in Abbott

    Beryllium is a reflector likewise.


    There are well over a dozen other neutron absorbers available boron is probably the commonst used.


    There i hardly any shortage of boron and it can be readily extracted from the sea water

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  4. Michael Sweet

    "If you could comment on one more section of Abbott each week we eventually would have discussed them all."

    I have enjoyed the dialogue with you, and I will be happy to take a stab a some of the other topics. 

    "Does Nuscale have more data that was not available to the French in 2015? Does the US NRC differ from the French analysis?"

    I retired from NRC in 2007, so I am not in on the most recent thinking.  However, I know that NuScale Power has submitted its application for Design Certification.  The application covers every aspect of reactor safety and comprises multiple volumes of information.  The contents of the application are specifically mandated in NRC documents RG 1.71 and RG 1.205. The NRC has nearly completed its technical review of the NuScale application in accordance with the agency's Standard Review Plan (SRP).  The SRP is an exhaustive procedure for reviewing a design, comprising thousands of pages of guidance and covering nearly 300 distinct technical topics from reactor physics to materials effects to radiation protection.  The safety review takes three and a half years and involves dozens of technical experts.  I will see if I can get my hands on the NRC's preliminary safety evaluation report (SER).

    I have worked with IRSN during my NRC tenure, and it is a very credible organization.  But I cannot speak to which design they were discussing.

    "The Union of Concerned Scientists was concerned that safety is not much better in modular reactors. The savings in manufacture and operations came mainly from leaving out current safety mechanisms"

    Some of the savings in small modular designs are probably from eliminating safety systems that are designed to respond to specific accidents.  But if those accidents are precluded by the design, it makes sense not to design for them.  For example, the most challenging accident in a GEN III plant is the postulated rupture of one of the 30" diameter reactor coolant pipes, and the provisions to mitigate this accident are a major part of the safety design.  The NuScale design has no reactor coolant pipes.  I think it is safer to eliminate a challenging accident than to have a system to mitigate it. 

    Best regards

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  5. Michael Sweet

    "In your first post you said the current fleet of nuclear reactors has an accident rate of 1 per 10,000 reactor-years."

    I believe there are two tiers of operating Gen III plants: those where the operating company has a strong safety culture, and the regulatory body is independent and competent; and those where these two criteria are not met.  In round numbers, I think operating experience justifies a core damage frequency in the range of 1 in 10,000 reactor years for the former group and 1 in 1,000 reactor years for the latter group.  The historical data includes full and partial core melt accidents, as well as precursor events; i.e. close calls.  The TMI, Fukushima and Chernobyl accidents fall into the second category.  So, I am in general agreement with Abbott.  I believe that most nuclear countries today fall into my first catagory, but I cannot provide evidence to support that claim.  I am pretty confident that the curent situation in the US is favorable, and there is good reason to believe the US Gen III plants can complete their life cycles wihout another core damage accident.  [But I have been wrong before. :-)]

    "If you built out 50,000 modular reactors with an accident rate of 1 in 100,000 reactor years, you would have a big accident every other year somewhere. That would be 100 times safer than Abbott claims. How safe are those modular reactor designs?"

    My basis for believing that [at least some] small modular reactors are qualitatively safer than GEN III plants is outlined in previous posts; i.e., elimination of the most challenging accident sequences, much slower accident progression and heat removal by natural processes.

    Yes, with a postulated 50,000 plants spread around the world, it is easy to imagine core damage accidents occurring on a more regular basis, although I would be reluctant to assign a frequency number.  As I have said elsewhere, I believe the greatest threat to SMRs is deliberate sabotage.  Great pains will have to be taken to assure security.

    Best regards

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  6. Richied1234,

    I look forward to your responses to Abbott's paper.   I have grave doubts that NuScale can deliver on their claims.  It will be interesting to see what the response is to Abbotts remaining issues.

    As you can see from Barry and Dpeppigrass's posts on this thread, the normal level of discussion of nuclear on line is very low.  In my mind it makes nuclear look bad when the only people who favor nuclear are so uninformed.  If the nuclear industry wants to start over they need to address people like SkS who want to make informed decisions.

    I have only read a handful of academic renewable all power plans (like Jacobson 2018, Connelly 2016 and  Aghahosseai et al 2019 (Connelly and Aghahosseai use electrofuels).  My impression is that all of those plans incorporate zero nuclear power.  If all the long range plans by skilled engineers omit nuclear it is hard for me to see a path where significant nuclear is used.  An industry that can lose $2 billion on the cancelled Wales plant Barry references and $1.5 billlion on a plant at Crystal River, Florida (near where I live) where they never even applied for a permit to build, should be able to find a few million to produce academic papers that show it is a real option for the future.

    Many newspaper articles I see make nuclear builds look like a giant scam to rip off utility customers (for example Crystal River and large numbers of generals selling nuclear plans to Saudi Arabia).  

    I think the logarithmic relationship of CO2 concentration to temperature comes from Beers Law.  Concentration = k[-log(transmission of light)].  There are some different formulations of Beers law, the key is log transmission is proportional to concentration.  (Absorbance is directly proportional to concentration).

    One important point to recognize is the concentration of CO2 at the surface is not as important as the concentration at the escape altitude of radiation (about 10 km up in the atmosphere).  The escape altitude is very important. 

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  7. Michael Sweet

    I am on a steep learning curve.  I started out to create a simple course on climate change for my 12 year old granddaughter, but I keep getting more deeply interested in the science.

    Since my retirement from NRC, I have done extensive consulting and training in developing countries and at the IAEA.  The perspective I have is that the interests of climate change activists, and those of reactor vendors and those of countries looking for future energy do not necessarily line up.  I don't see any of these countries buying a Gen IV reactor until it has been successfully operated in a country with real nuclear experience.  Each country has its own decision process, its own regulatory process and its own financial challenges.  As you know, there is no global authority empowered to deal with global warming.   

    Call me a pessimist, but global warming is not going to be on a fast track to resolution in the next decade.  It would not surprise me to see CO2 emissions rising every year from now until then.  In the meantime, the vendors and the potential customers will pursue their own interests, not  solution to warming.  If nuclear can be added to plans like the Green New Deal, I would suggest the most productive area of emphasis would be aggressive regulatory reform; i.e. to develop a regulatory framework designed for a climate change strategy for nuclear rather than an electicity grid strategy for nuclear.  By a climate change strategy I mean large numbers of nuclear plants sited in remote locations for the express purpose of producing synthetic fuels from CO2 in the atmosphere.

    I need to sign off now.  I would be interested in your view of that perspective.

    Best regards

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  8. Mr sweet,

    "As you can see from Barry and Dpeppigrass's posts on this thread, the normal level of discussion of nuclear on line is very low. In my mind it makes nuclear look bad when the only people who favor nuclear are so uninformed. If the nuclear industry wants to start over they need to address people like SkS who want to make informed decisions."


    Mr sweet , I am a nuclear engineer with over 35 years experience as an advisor in the industry in 5 countries, yet your great experience seems to be in holding a yttrium source in the hand and distorting any viewpoint  that you do not like.


    I am afraid that your continued insulting and misepresentationhas not had any  usefull ness in raising the tone of this what you would loosely call a discussion, but seems to be a platform for your prejudiced views.

    Richie has not yet referenced a singe Peer reviewd 

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    My considered comment

    "as for hafnium in civilian reactors I stand by it that it is currently not used to any significant extent"

    Barry 6:25 11 June 2019


    Yet Mr sweets comment were

    "Your primary objeciton to Abbott and here 2011 is your claim that hafnium is not used in civilian reactors.

    michael sweet at 21:28 PM on 14 June 2019"


    A compete distortion of my post which was to point out that halfnium was just one element that can be used as a control or scram rod and there were pleanty of other materials available and boron was cheap cheerful and abundant, and readily obtainable, and so there was no restraint on the availbilty of absorber materials, which seemd to go agaist the preconceptions that if it was mentioned in Abbott, peer review paper then it must be essential!


    "The high cost and low availability of hafnium limit its use in civilian reactors, although it is used in some US Navy reactors."




    Indeed we may well regard ourselves  be in asituation, now in where Halfnium being limited simply by the military having the first pick and deeper pockets than the civilians


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  10. Ritchieb1234,

    Ten years ago I had little hope for change.  The situation has completely changed because wind and solar energy are now the cheapest energy on the planet.  Very few new coal plants are being started.  Unfortunately, coal plants planned 5-10 years ago are being fiished.

    Even with Trump trying to support coal, more coal plants have shut down in Trumps first two years than Obama's first 4 years.  Gas is only cheaper because of fracking.  I think fracking is a Ponzi scheme, they have never made a profit.  Once fracking crashes, renewable will be by far the cheapest energy.

    As you know, energy planing is generally long range.  It takes 5-10 years to build baseload fossil and nuclear plants.  That means it takes 5-10 years to stop the train and get renewable energy on board.  Renewable has only been cheapest for 3 or 4 years. No-one anticipated the phenominal drop in wind and solar power.

    Over 50% of all new electricity in the world in 2017 was renewable energy IEA report for 2018.  10 years ago that looked impossible.  Plans like Jacobson 2018 and Connelly 2016 linked above show that it is possible to generate all power using renewables.  It saves money compared to BAU!!  More heat and industry is being converted to electricity.  The IEA  report linked describes large increases in bioenergy which Jacobson does not use at all (he thinks it is too polluting).  I like the idea of electrofuels to store excess power long term and power industries like airplanes and ships.  

    Renewable energy also avoids much of  the pollution we are exposed to every day. That is especially important in developing countries and is a great reason by itself to convert to renewables.

    I think that if we go all in with renewable energy we can reduce the damage caused by fossil fuel use.  The sooner we start the more damage we dodge.  Unfortunately, the Republicans stand in the way.  Every record hot day in summer or record flood more people are convinced we need to do something.  Will it be enough by 2020??

    I do not think nuclear will be able to help out.  It is too costly and takes too long to build.  Even if NuScale works out it will be 2030 before they are in limited production, and I doubt it will be as cheap as solar and wind.  That is too late.  I think Abbott is correct that enough materials to build the plants do not exist.  If nuclear provides less than 5% of all power it is simply a distraction. (currently nuclear is about 2-3% of all power).

    We should put all our money on the cheapest energy today: wind and solar PV.  Using existing gas peaker plants 90% of electricity can be generated using wind and solar.  Then we convert all cars, industry and heat to electric.  Once we have 90% of the economy renewable we will have to figure out the last 10%.  Perhaps some electrofuels.

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  11. The reference to the quote seem to have dropped off

    "The high cost and low availability of hafnium limit its use in civilian reactors, although it is used in some US Navy reactors."


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  12. “Since 2000, the world has doubled its coal-fired power capacity to around 2,000 gigawatts (GW) after explosive growth in China and India. A further 236GW is being built and 336GW is planned.”

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    Moderator Response:

    [DB] Shortened link breaking page formatting.  In your link, the question mark and everything to the right of it were extraneous.

  13. Michael Sweet

    "Ten years ago I had little hope for change. The situation has completely changed because wind and solar energy are now the cheapest energy on the planet."

    I hope you are right.

    "If you could comment on one more section of Abbott each week we eventually would have discussed them all."

    Here are my views on Abott's issues VII "The Prolifieration Problem" and XI "Fast Breeder Reactors."

    In the late 1970s at Los Alamos, a group of us did a comparative analysis of nuclear fuel cycles including the current light- water once-through; the plutonium breeder; the Uranium-Plutonium-Thorium hybrid; and the fusion-fission hybrid.  We looked at technical feasibiity, economics, environmental factors, proliferation and societal issues such as public acceptance.  Unfortunately the reports are not publically available and some of the analyses are out of date now.  However, there are two conclusions that have held up. 

    Regarding proliferation, we concluded that reactors would not be the preferred route to proliferation in the coming decades.  Although proliferating countries had used reactors combined with reprocessing in the previous decades, we felt that the coming availability of centrifuge enrichment technology would give proliferators an equally attractive option of enriching Uranium.  That seems to be borne out by experience since then.  In today's world, I believe proliferation is now a political problem, not a technical one.  So I do not consider proliferation a convincing argument against nuclear power.

    Regarding breeder cycles in general, we noted that they all require a sustained national commitment to assure the high degree of coordination required among breeder reactor, burner reactor and reprocessing plant construction, including regultory approval for all facilities.  A high degree of national commitment is not the hallmark of democratic governments except in time of war.  The Clinch River demonstration breeder reactor was cancelled in 1983.  So I agree with Abbott that implementing a breeder cycle to capture the benefits of U-238 fissionable material is not a likely outcome.

    Best regards

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  14. Postkey:

    Your link is a really good reference for coal plants.  An OP on SkS would be worthwhile.  Even just a simple OP like this one.

    You quoted the first paragraph of the article.  The second is:

    "More recently, 227GW has closed due to a wave of retirements across the EU and US. Combined with a rapid slowdown in the number of new plants being built, this means the number of coal units operating around the world fell for the first time in 2018, Carbon Brief analysis suggests." my emphasis.

    There are too many items for me to copy them all, I urge anyone interested in coal plants to read the article, it is easy to read.

    There are discouraging builds of new plants.  There are many more encouraging instances of plants closing or planned plants being cancelled,  even a few finished plants not opening.  I prefer to see the glass as mostly full.

    I stand behind my statement:

    "energy planing is generally long range. It takes 5-10 years to build baseload fossil and nuclear plants. That means it takes 5-10 years to stop the train and get renewable energy on board. Renewable has only been cheapest for 3 or 4 years. No-one anticipated the phenominal drop [in price] in wind and solar power." in price added.

    While we would all prefer for all fossil to be replaced today with renewable, it takes time to make such a change.  Since building and operating a new renewable plant is cheaper than simply running a coal plant in many areas (in a short time it will be everywhere) it is only a matter of time.  Pray it is sooner rather than later.

    If the USA takes a lead in changing to renewables instead of dragging everyone else backwards we have a chance.  The technology exists, nothing needs to be invented.  

    Encourage everyone you know to VOTE CLIMATE!

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  15. Michael Sweet

    Thanks for the link to the IEA executive summary on renewable energy.

    You concluded, "We should put all our money on the cheapest energy today: wind and solar PV. Using existing gas peaker plants 90% of electricity can be generated using wind and solar. Then we convert all cars, industry and heat to electric. Once we have 90% of the economy renewable we will have to figure out the last 10%. Perhaps some electrofuels."

    My reading of the IEA report and similar projections is not as optimistic as yours.  IEA projects a 20% growth in renewables' share of global energy usage in the five year period from 2018 - 2023, which would then total 12.4% of global energy.  That is equivalent to doubling renewables' share every 18 or so years; i.e. a 25% share of global energy usage by 2040.  One might speculate that renewables will grow more quickly in the years  after 2023.  But renewables are already subsidized and/or mandated in developed countries like Germany, and even in the US, where federal and state incentives have been important drivers for renewables. 

    There is a sculpture in Berlin that depicts politicians debating climate change in water up to their ears.  This summarizes my confidence that we will solve global warming through international commitment to conservation, efficiency, and converting our energy infrastructure to renewables.  I am beginning to lean towards those who think we should aggressively pursue carbon-negative technology powered by an energy-intensive, carbon-neutral electricity source like nuclear.

    Best regards

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  16. Richieb1234,

    In answer to your post 63:

    Re: proliferation. I think most opponents of Nuclear think proliferation is an important point while supporters think it is not a problem.  We will have to disagree.   Any nuclear facilities make proliferation easier. It is extremely difficult to justify building a centrifuge facility if you do not have any civilian reactors.   I agree with you that it is not one of the most important reasons to not build nuclear.

    I think the point is that there are a lot of problems with nuclear. Do we really want to deal with the hassel?  Look at current problems in Iran.

    Your comments on breeder reactors seem simiilar to my feelings.  I have noticed that all estimates of the cost of breeder reactors do not include the reprocessing plant.  I have heard that the process of repurification is not complete.  It would be a lot of radiation to work with.

    I think Thorium reactors are all breeder reactors.  Does that mean you think thorium is unlikely to be widely used?

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  17. Richieb1234,

    From your post 65:

    I have to be optomistic or it is hopeless.  There is no question that the situation is much less hopeless today than it was ten years ago.

    I am not very familiar with the IEA.  The US Energy Information Administration outlook 2019, linked in the OP, is even worse.  The USEIA has consistently been years behind the curve on the adoption of renewable energy and the collapse of coal.  They think the fracking scam will go on forever.  I hope the IEA is also too conservative.

    The IEA report clearly states that current efforts are too little.  10 years ago I do not think they would have made such a strong claim.  Authorities now recognize there is a problem although they have not taken serious action.

    The Lazard 2018 report (also from the OP) has a better reputation for accuracy and forecasting future trends.  This graph

    lazard graph

    Shows that in the USA total renewable energy costs less than most coal and nuclear operation and maintenance costs with no mortgage.  Coal and nuclear also receive very large subsidies so I think comparing subsidized renewable to the coal and nuclear is fair.

    Worldwide numbers are harder to glean from Lazard but renewable is cheapest in most locations world wide.  It seems to me that a carbon tax or similar regulations are very likely to be implemented in many locations in the next 10-20 years.  That makes renewable the clear choice for future energy builds.  Fossil plants planned 10 years ago are being finished but few new builds are starting that are not renewable.

    Here is Lazard's cost comparison for all technologies:

    lazard graph

    The fact that renewable energy is the cheapest makes me hope the market will start to help correct the problem.  When renewable energy was more expensive it looked hopeless.

    Every year for the past 10 years I am amazed at the decline in renewable energy costs.  The IEA report thinks renewable can continue to decline for more years.  The lower renewable energy gets the faster it will replace fossil fuels.

    I agree that we need agressive regulation to adress this emergency.  Vote Climate.  Carbon negative actions may make sense after all carbon generating activities have been superceded.  I think wind and solar will be much cheaper to use for those activities.  The problem with removing carbon is the immensity of the task and you do not make any money sequestering carbon.

    I have seen a picture of the sculpture you describe.  It is only too true.

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  18. Michael Sweet

    I cannot keep up with all the traffic.  I have lost the thread completely. :-)  Nevertheless, I am getting great insights from everything I see on this site.

    "The problem with removing carbon is the immensity of the task and you do not make any money sequestering carbon."

    I have seen papers that claim fuels from recovered CO2 can make money by competing with fossil fuels.  But I have not seen any analysis to back that up.

    "They think the fracking scam will go on forever."

    Why do you say fracking is a scam?

    Best regards

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  19. Richieb1234,

    If you use CO2 from the air to make electrofuels (this could be methane, methanol, gasoline or diesel) when the fuel is burned the CO2 returns to the atmosphere.  That is called "carbon neutral" because you do not add or remove CO2 from the aiir.  If you capture CO2 from the air and then pump it into the ground, intending the CO2 to stay there forever, that is "removal" of CO2.  Removal is often called "sequestering" the CO2.  

    I misunderstood you when you said "removal" of carbon from the air.  Carbon neutral electrofuels seem like a good idea to me although they are not very efficient.  (electric motors are over 90% efficient while internal combustion motors are often less than 25% efficient).  It is also very cheap to store massive amounts of power as liquid electrofuels.

    If you just pump the CO2 into the ground you have no product to sell (except cleaner air) so a tax wuld be necessary to fund the project.  Most scenarios that limit warming to 2C or less include massive amounts of sequestering of carbon.  


    The fracking industry has never turned a profit!!!  and here and Wharton. They have borrowed hundreds of billions of dollars and make no money.  They will never be able to pay back their loans, the wells rapidly go down in production.  They must drill more and more wells to keep up production.  The entire industry is a big Ponzi scheme.  I Googled "how much money has been invested in fracking".  Half the articles describe frackig as a scam.

    If the money wasted in fracking had been invested in renewable energy we would currently generate most of our electricity with renewable energy.  Obviously there is enough money to invest in renewable energy since all the fracking money will be written off in the end.

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  20. Here is a former chair of NRC (Nuclear Regulatory Commission, USA) until 2012 : nukes should be banned


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  21. Safety standards for nukes relaxed:

    Tell me again about strong safety culture ?


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  22. sidd

    Great article by Bloomberg.  I have been retired from NRC for 12 years.  This makes me want to get reengaged. 


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  23. The safety culture in the US civilian nuclear industry is very high, they have had only one fatality ( 2013) in the last 30 years. Please compare this to any other industry. 

    (the previous fatality was in 1988)

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  24. Here is an extract regarding Wind turbine fatalities for comparison(world wide i'm afraid)


    Of the 192 fatalities:  120 were wind industry and direct support workers (divers, construction, maintenance, engineers, etc), or small turbine owner /operators.  72 were public fatalities, including workers not directly dependent on the wind industry (e.g. transport workers). 17 bus passengers were killed in one single incident in Brazil in March 2012; 4 members of the public were killed in an aircraft crash in May 2014 and a further three members of the public killed in a transport accident in September 2014. This includes several suicides from those living close to wind turbines.

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    Moderator Response:

    [DB] Comparing global supposed wind turbine fatalities to supposed similar numbers in just the US is disingenuous. 

    Please note that posting comments here at SkS is a privilege, not a right.  This privilege can and will be rescinded if the posting individual continues to treat adherence to the Comments Policy as optional, rather than the mandatory condition of participating in this online forum.

    Moderating this site is a tiresome chore, particularly when commentators repeatedly submit posts with inflammatory tone and fallacious rhetoric. We really appreciate people's cooperation in abiding by the Comments Policy, which is largely responsible for the quality of this site. 
    Finally, please understand that moderation policies are not open for discussion.  If you find yourself incapable of abiding by these common set of rules that everyone else observes, then a change of venues is in the offing.

    Please take the time to review the policy and ensure future comments are in full compliance with it.  Thanks for your understanding and compliance in this matter.

    Non sequitur snipped.

  25. Here are the death rates with an USA viewpoint, please moderator do not try and hide the death rates from wind

    Energy Source Mortality Rate (deaths/trillionkWhr)

    Biofuel/Biomass 24,000 (21% global energy)

    Solar (rooftop) 440 (< 1% global electricity)

    Wind 150 (2% global electricity)
    Hydro – global average 1,400 (16% global electricity)
    Hydro – U.S. 5 (6% U.S. electricity)
    Nuclear – global average 90 (11% global electricity w/Chern&Fukush)
    Nuclear – U.S. 0.1 (19% U.S. electricity)

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    Moderator Response:

    [DB] If you're to present a fair-balanced argument, it needs to be a global one, for ALL forms of energy production.  More than the US is involved in the replacement of the usage of fossil fuels.

    Moderation complaints again snipped.

  26. Barry,

    A bit of advice from someone who has posted at SkS for a long time:

    If you continue to complain about the moderation they will ban you forever.  It is a very hard job to moderate and they get little in return for their hard work.  If you limit your comments to what you think is important you will be more effective in the end. 

    The facts speak for themselves.   Adding moderation complaints detracts from your posts.

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  27. Ritchieb1234:

    This headline in my local paper today gives me hope:

    "Climate change expected to take center stage during this week’s Democratic debates
    Recent polls show that the issue is a litmus test for many Democratic voters, and the party’s candidates have responded with more detailed and aggressive proposals than were imagined even four years ago."

    If we all work hard the damage can be limited.  Vote Climate

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  28. Thank you for those (up-thread) death figures, Barry.

    (Anecdote) A relative of mine worked for many years in tunnel construction, in various countries.  He said the death rate always averaged out to "a man a mile" (for well-regulated worksites).  These are deaths closely connected with the tunnel itself (not for transport crashes off-site).

    I guess it's a matter of the aim (and the cost/benefits), as to what you consider "acceptable".  And what we are accustomed to consider acceptable.  Compare for instance the death rate (crashes) for motor vehicle transport ~ about 1.3 million deaths annually, worldwide.  Not to mention the larger rate of ruined lives from permanent disability and consequent poverty.

    btw, I must say the 440 figure (worldwide annual deaths from "solar rooftop" does sound rather low, in view of the dangers of working on roofs . . . I should imagine (without substantiation) that a similar or greater figure would come from elderly householders up ladders, simply cleaning leaves out of their roof-gutters.

    All-in-all, Barry, the figures you quote should probably bear a greater degree of fine analysis, to separate the deaths (and severe disabilities) resulting directly & inherently from the energy production . . . away from those deaths which are more truly at arm's length (i.e. "distantly incidental").

    Costs, benefits, and risks.

    As you are well aware, there is always a groundswell of concern about risks with "nuclear".  Risks of long-term pollution (soil and groundwater), and risks of terrorist actions (small . . . or horrifically large).  As one says about the stockmarket ~ past performance is no guide to future events.

    Then there are the long-term risks of mass-migration of refugees fleeing the tropical regions where more frequent & intense heat waves make life unlivable for part of each year, as global temperatures rise.  Droughts, floods, urban water shortages.  Social and political "unrest" (a bland euphemism indeed).

    How do we stack those uncertain risks, up against the relatively low risks of nuclear power generation?  But as has been much discussed previously ~ can a nuclear power solution be carried out quickly, in a timely manner to forestall those geo-political risks? . . . and without the enormous opportunity cost, for money/resources diverted from more immediate renewables usage?

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  29. Eclectic,

    I thought it was interesting that utility scale solar, which is most of the solar industry, was left off the list from James Conca.  He also does not count all the people killed in the evacuation of Fukushima as killed by nuclear.

    If you don't count the people you kill, you can get any result you want.  From people who care about how many people die: Accounting for long-term doses in “worldwide health effects of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident” "the mid-range estimate for the number of future mortalities is probably closer to 1000" from radiation released in the accident.  James Conca says none.

    James Conca never addresses the fact that nuclear power has priced itself out of the market.

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  30. Michael Sweet

    ""the mid-range estimate for the number of future mortalities is probably closer to 1000" from radiation released in the accident."

    The estimates of future mortalities stated in the article you cite, and those by Ten Hoeve and Jacobson which are discussed in the cited article, are based on the assumption that deaths from cancer will result if large numbers of people are exposed to de minimus amounts of radiation.  This is the so-called Linear-No-Threshold (LNT) model of radiation health effects.  This model is questionable at best; and realistically not credible.  It has greatly overestimated cancers from Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Chernobyl.  The WHO and other credible organizations have warned against making estimates based on this model.  It appears that the dominant health effects from Fukushima were the deaths as a result of the evacuation, which you rightly state should be counted as nuclear deaths.  These include suicides due to the stress and other factors.

    Best regards

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  31. richie, 

    you quote suicide and stress as a death from the nuclear incedent, but surely these should be attributed to the alarmist who spread these roumours that nuclear energy is dangerous. As we can see from the statistics it is far safer than wind energy.

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  32. Riecieb11234,

    I recognize that you are an expert at nuclear safety.  I do not like to debate safety because no-one ever changes their minds so it is a waste of time.  Barry has started citing James Conca who is a lying nuclear shill.  I will state my position.

    I have seen the data you describe against the Linear-no-threshold model.   While your position that LNT overestimates deaths can be strongly defended, I think that claiming that the radiation released at Fukushima willl cause no damage to anyone, as widely claimed by James Conca and the Breakthrough Institute, is transparently false.  Lack of accuracy of LNT does not mean no damage is caused.  The radiation will do some damage.  The claim that no-one was or will be harmed is false and shows that the nuclear industry does not care how many people they kill.

    The claim of 1000 deaths is more accurate than Conca's claim of zero.

    I have seen reports recently (sorry no cite) that the combination of many small exposures to different materials, each too small to have a measurable effect, can have a large affect on health.  This claim makes sense to me.  Why add more radioactivity to the pile?

    In 1975 I was a nuclear supporter and thought the plants were engineered to be safe.  After the Three Mile Island disaster I began to question the safety culture of Nuclear plants.  I realized the plants are extraordinarily complex and operate with a small safety margin.  The Chernobyl disaster enforced those questions.  We are talkiig world power, don't limit to the USA.

    The nuclear industry claims they design to 1in 10,000 year events.  The actual tsunami danger in Fukushima was:

    "Three tsunami deposits have been identified within the Holocene sequence of the plain, all formed within the last 3,000 years, suggesting an 800 to 1,100 year recurrence interval for large tsunamigenic earthquakes. In 2001 it was reckoned that there was a high likelihood of a large tsunami hitting the Sendai plain as more than 1,100 years had then elapsed.[71] In 2007, the probability of an earthquake with a magnitude of Mw 8.1–8.3 was estimated as 99% within the following 30 years"

    Where is the safety culture?  This data was ignored to make more money.

    When Conca says nuclear waste is no problem, no-one was killed at Fukushima and massive releases of radiation do not hurt anyone I think the nuclear industry executives are a pack of liars (that does not apply to safety professionals).

    Sidds article says 90% of US nuclear plants are underdesigned for flooding by their own reckoning!!   What would an independant study find!!  And the NRC overrules safety experts (like you) and says do nothing.  Tell me again why NuScale is so safe when the IRSN says they see no benefit.

    Every atomic armed nation in the world has civilian power plants.  More nuclear in the world will lead to more bombs.  Iran is a perfect example.

    The nuclear industry has a long, poor record on safety.


    I always argue that nuclear is too expensive and takes too long to build to contribute to a solution to Global Warming.  Abbott makes the case that there are many technical reasons why nuclear cannot be widely adopted.  I would like to continue the discussion on those arguments.

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    Moderator Response:

    [PS] Over the top.

  33. Michael Sweet

    It has been a pleasure to correspond with you.  I think there are many things we agree on; most importantly that we all need to VOTE CLIMATE.

    On the subject of nuclear energy, we will probably continue to disagree on some important issues.  That's ok.  My bottom lines are: new nuclear is far better than old nuclear; the problems raised by Abbott can all be addressed if nuclear is to be of use; solar and wind do not have the energy density to solve climate change by themselves; and we need to use every tool at our disposal.  But I respect your viewpoint.

    I am going back to the question that originally got me onto this site; namely the scientific basis for climate predictions.

    Good luck to you.  Best regards.

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  34. Re: new nukes are better

    1) Stipulated for the moment that the technology is superior. But in light of the abysmal track record shown in the Bloomberg article and Jaczko's skepticism together with huge cost overruns on existing new construction, why should we trust the industry to build them safely or within budget ?

    2) Name a bank or a utility willing to finance a new nuke in the USA absent taxpayer guarantees or Price- Anderson. What is the guarantee that cost of build and cleanup is not gonna come out of my hide ?

    3)What is the need for nuclear given

    doi:10.1016/j.jpowsour.2012.09.054 , Journal of Power Sources, Budischak et al. 2012 “99.9% of hours of load can be met by renewables with only 9-72 h of storage."

    doi:10.1038/NCLIMATE2921 , MacDonald et al. Nature Climate Change 2016

    “Our results show that when using future anticipated costs for wind and solar, carbon dioxide emissions from the US electricity sector can be reduced by up to 80% relative to 1990 levels, without an increase in the levelized cost of electricity. The reductions are possible with current technologies and without electrical storage.”

    See discussion at et seq.


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    Moderator Response:

    [PS] Fixed link. Please learn how to do this yourself with the link button on the tool editor.

  35. Ritchieb1234,

    I think you will be surprised by what you find if you read the All Power plans by 2050 using renewable energy.  Read a couple quickly just to get the idea.

    Jacobson 2018 describes in detail how many wind turbines, solar panels and what storage is needed to generate All Power (the entire economy, electricity, transportation, industry, farming etc, not just electricity) for the world.  It has previously been shown that regional grids (like all North America) is cheaper than individual grids for each country.  Jacobson has 20 regions for the world.  Jacobson has no bioenergy or electrofuels, he dislikes the pollution from burning.  In spite of this handicap, he generates all power for the world at a reasonable cost.  His paper will give you an idea of how to achieve the hardest target using only renewable (mostly solar and wind).

    Connolly 2016 Smart Energy Europe    Connelly generates all power for Europe. He describes the steps to follow to achieve 100% renewable All Power.  Step 1 is close all nuclear plants.  Connelly uses electrofuel methane for storage and peak power.  Cost is reasonable.

     Aghahosseai et al 2019  Optomizes a grid for all power in North and South America.  He cites at least 21 All Power references.  He uses no nuclear.  He does not describe generating units like Jaobson, he refers to a previous paper that showed renewable energy can generate all power needed.

    Current energy researchers describe continental grids powered by renewable energy.  They have no problems with low energy density.  They use technology that exists today.  As costs cotinue to decline their costs have to be revised downward.  They have shown that all the materials exist to build their generators.

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  36. I am trying to find a scientific basis for the logarithmic model of the impact of CO2 on global temperature.  What I found instead was this seemingly credible article from UC Santa Cruz and University of Colorado Environmental Studies Institute,


    Temperature_for_the_Last_425_Million_Years. , which calls  into question the cause-effect relationship between CO2 and global temperature, and concludes that "limiting anthropogenic emissions of CO2 may not be helpful in preventing harmful global warming, but may be essential to conserving biodiversity."  If this conclusion is correct, much of what is being done today about climate change may br fruitless.

    Can someone recommend a good article that scientifically establishes the cause-effect relationship and justifies the logarithmic model?


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  37. Ritchieb1234,
    Sorry about the rant concerning safety. Obviously I have strong feelings about safety.

    In this article James Conca says:

    "There is no, and never will be, a Fukushima Death Toll. No one received enough radiation to change the background cancer rates that normally exist in Japan."

    My citation stated (Beyea) in the abstract: 

    "The purpose of their article [Hoeve and Jacobson) was to evaluate the contention that the accident would have no health effects."

    Hoeve and Jacobson reported 600 deaths in the evacuation plus 1000 (center of range) from Beyea.

    Do you agree with Conca that there is no and never will be a death toll from Fukushima or is the estimate of Beyea closer to the true, worldwide death toll?

    Conca states here

    “ We need to ask the more general question: did anybody die because of Fukushima? Yes they did. Why? The Japanese government introduced a forced evacuation of thousands of people living up to a couple of dozen kilometres from the power station. The stress of moving to collection areas induced heart attacks and other medical problems in many people. So people died because of Fukushima hysteria not because of Fukushima radiation.”

    The Breakthrough Institute and Conca say

    “ Instead of requiring people to leave, it could make more sense to give them the information they need on radiation exposures and likely health risks, and let them make their own decisions.”

    And “despite the fact that the radiological impacts of Fukushima will have effectively zero impact on human health.” 

    And "is the Fukushima exclusion zone doing more harm than radiation?"
    "In my opinion yes it has," radiation expert Dr. Geraldine Thomas ibid

    Conca says

    "Except for a relatively small region around the reactors, the risk of evacuees moving back to their homes are the same as driving a car"

    Do you agree with Conca and the Breakthrough Institute that the safety officers who ordered the evacuation of Fukushima are responsible for all the deaths or is the Nuclear Industry responsible?

    Would you clear the area around Fukushima for people to return and allow farmed products to be sold in Tokyo without regard to radioactive contamination?

    Would you dump all the tritium they have stored in the ocean and say there is no pollution since it is diluted so much?

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  38. Richieb1234, I have tried to address your question on CO2 logarithmic relation here. Such questions are offtopic here.

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  39. I don't have peer-reviewed articles but this video has some food for thought

    James Hansen & Michael Shellenberger: Nuclear Power? Are Renewables Enough?

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  40. Letchim,

    The video you link would be deleted as a post at SkS because they make many unsupported claims that are transparently false.  They dismiss the peer reviewed literature in favor of their unsupported personal opinions.

    Schillenberger states at the end that nuclear waste is not a problem because no-one is killed by it.  He does not mention the widespread problems of nuclear waste like the Hanford site in Washington state and dismisses the concern that the waste must be stored for longer than civilization has existed.

    Hansen and Schillenberger suggest that new designs manufactured in factories will make nuclear "cheaper than coal".  Big deal.  They answer none of Abbotts questions.  If their new designs work out as planned, a first for the nuclear industry, the manufactured units will not be available until 2040.  That is too late to help.

    Hansen damages his credibility with obviously false claims about nuclear.

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  41. Thanks for clarifying this for me it is good to get a more critical view as I just don't have the knowledge, I suppose Hansen distracted me without spending the time to look into things more deeply

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  42. Michael Sweet

    I am late to this conversation, as I just found it today.  There is much I would like to respond to, but I'll start with your comment #90.  Specifically the claim that "the waste must be stored for longer than civilization has existed."

    I will not initially cite peer-reviewed articles.  I will present facts, and if one of those facts is disputed, I will work to provide the support needed to establish the fact.  For background, I have a Master's Degree in nuclear engineering.

    The nuclear fission process produces something radioactive from something already radioactive.  The splitting of U-235 after absorbing a neutron produces two different particles, each with it's own half-life.  Most of these half-lives are measured in terms of seconds, minutes or hours.  As a result, the radioactivity level drops rather quickly the first few days after fission stops, and then much more slowly.

    So, a pertinent question is "how slowly?"  Well, the answer is mostly the result of two isotopes that can be produced by fission (or the decay of another fission product with a shorter half-life.)  These two are Sr-90 and Cs-137, both with a half-life of about 30 years.  At the time they are discharged from the reactor, they are incredibly more radioactive than the Uranium they started as.  But if you do the math, at the 1000 year point, they've dropped in intensity by about 10 factors of 10, or to 1 out of 10,000,000,000.  

    At that point, the radioactivity level of everything that remains is on the order of the natural uranium that started.  WIll it be stored anyway?  Yes, of course.  But will it present a greater hazard to a person 1000 years from now than natural uranium left unmined?  

    No.  If the source term is lower, the consequence of a leak, if one were to occur, can be no worse than leaving the natural uranium buried.  

    My quibble is with your use of the word "must."  The waste "must" be stored until it is about the same radioactivity level as natural uranium.  At that point, further storage is optional, at least from a risk perspective. We may establish a higher storage period, without technical merit, but we should recognize that a chosen period beyond about 1000 years lacks that merit.

    And the Egyptians stored wheat in clay pots buried in pyramids for 1000 years.  I think technology has advanced a tad since then. 

    One further comment, directly at the Abbott papers you cite in #90.  The "limited available locations."  Abbott was writing about the requirements for the locations of large light water reactors.  Recently the NRC has reviewed a request for an Early Site Permit for Clinch River near Oak Ridge TN.  They, after reviewing all of the technical data for a proposed Small Modular Reactor at the site, have concluded that the site is suitable for a SMR facility with a site-boundary sized Emergency Planning Zone.  This one fact opens up the number of suitable locations by several orders of magnitude.  I can easily meet Abbott's challenge to find 10 sites that would be suitable in just a few moments.  I could find hundreds.  

    I am not claiming that Abbott was wrong.  Simply that he did not have the precognition to apply the requirements of the future technology to the paper he was writing in 2012. 

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  43. Msmith,

    In general I do not discuss radioactive waste or problems that radioactivity causes because nuclear supporters do not care how many people they kill with radioactivity.  Nuclear is uneconomic and takes too long to build.

    You have neglected to consider all the transuranic elements in the waste.  They have much longer half-live than cesium and strontium.  The typical time needed for them to decay is 100,000 to 1,000,000 years. 

    If you want to use breeder reactors to burn the trans-uranics you must first wait for the technology to be developed.  Nuclear supporters hope to have breeder reactors in 2050 which is too late. Nuclear never makes its timelines. The cost of reprocessing the fuel, and the procedure to reprocess it, are unknown.  I note that Ritchieb1234, who is a nuclear supporter, suggests that breeder reactors are not practical.

    I doubt that you could find hundreds of suitable locations for reactors in the USA.   It is easy to say a location is suitable without considering the suppy of cooling water, local population, availabiity of land, issues of flooding (90% of current reactors face serious flooding issues which they have not addressed)  and  other required issues.  Multiple reactors at a single location require even more water. You need to place 4,000 1,000 MW reactors or 14,000 small reactors for the USA alone.  Your claim of hundreds of suitable sites is simply false.

    I note that you have provided no citatioins even  to nucear industry propaganda.

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  44. It seems to me that nuclear proponents heavily push for technologies that have not really been proven and would take a long time to deploy. The enhanced geothermal plant at Soult sous Foret is a more proven solution, it is producing commercial electricity as we speak.

    Nuclear also costs enormous amounts of money, too much for anything but a large public investment, but the public tends to end up with the short end of the stick in these ventures. In most instances I have heard of, the deal amounts to "your taxpayer's money builds us a plant, then we, the company with the know-how, operate it as if we owned it, raking in the profits." Sounds like a really good deal for one side.

    The other problem is this: right now there are about 450 nuclear plants in the world, mostly in countries where a strong safety culture can be maintained. If this was scaled up to 10,000 or 50,000 plants in a wide variety of countries, it would be inevitable that some individual driven by a crazy ideology would at some point do something really stupid and criminal.

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  45. Philippe Chantreau @84,

    Surely, the big problem with scaling up nuclear power generation from 400-odd power plants to thousands is the fuel supply. According to the World Nuclear Association, today's power plants are chewing their way through 65,000 tons of uranium a year. World-wide reserves as of 2017 were 6 million tons with perhaps double that if expected reserves are added. That would power today's level of nuclear power for perhaps 200 years. But increase that level of nuclear power ten-fold and you only have the fuel for 20 years of operation.

    The industry response to this limitation of fuel supply is not much more than hand-waving at the potential for new reserves that could be found if there is a need. But this is in the context of far less than a ten-fold increase in nuclear power.

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  46. Michael Sweet:

    I need to respond immediately to one thing:  "In general I do not discuss radioactive waste or problems that radioactivity causes because nuclear supporters do not care how many people they kill with radioactivity."

    I care very much that the death rate from nuclear power, at all levels of the process, from mining to final disposal is much less than that of other technologies.  This has been mentioned early.  But I would never accuse you of not caring (for example) about the number of people killed during erection of a wind turbine, nor would I accuse you of not caring about the number of people who die falling off a roof maintaining a solar panel.

    I therefore consider it a misrepresentation of my position.  You imply by your statement the following:

    1.) The death rate from nuclear is higher than all other sources of power.

    2.) Nuclear supporters know this.

    3.) Nuclear supporters choose nuclear anyway, for some other reason.

    Number 1 is demonstrably false.  Number 2 are therefore rendered irrelevant. 

    "Personally attacking other users gets us no closer to understanding the science."

    You are, however, correct that I did not mention transuranics.  But my statement did say "on the order of natural uranium."  Yes, transuranics are there, but as there has been no study that has detected any increase in death rates due to radiation exposure on the order of natural background radiation 

    From the  Radiation in Everyday LIfe by the IAEA:

    "There are many high natural background radiation areas around the world where the annual radiation dose received by members of the general public is several times higher than the ICRP dose limit for radiation workers. The numbers of people exposed are too small to expect to detect any increases in health effects epidemiologically."

    So, if we have been unable to detect the health effects from doses several times higher than the limit for people working in the nuclear power industry, does it not stand to reason that health effects from doses of about 10% of that limit would also be undetectable? 

    "Nuclear supporters hope to have breeder reactors in 2050 which is too late."

    No it's not.  For the first 700 - 900 years or so, the radioactivity in spent fuel is dominated by the Sr-90 and Cs-137 I mentioned earlier.  If somebody was worried about the dose due to transuranics, storage for even 100 years, followed by reprocessing at that point, provides adequate protection from that portion of the dose that comes from transuranics.  

    "I note that you have provided no citatioins even to nucear industry propaganda."

    As stated in the beginning of my first post, I would establish facts and then support those that you did not agree with.  As much of what I said comes from many years of study, from textbooks and in-depth coursework, and from references, it would be useless to go to great lengths to provide adequate references to something that you acknowledged openly.

    But now that it's been questioned, I will respond to specifics:

    "(90% of current reactors face serious flooding issues which they have not addressed)"

    As we are talking about expansion of nuclear power, it makes sense to talk about new designs, not current designs.  And specifically, since I did in fact mention SMR in reference to the Clinch River site, we'll simply mention that the flooding issue for the NuScale SMR is simply n/a.  The reactor sits in a below-grade pool of water, and requires no power to remain in a safe condition.  Flooding is literally not a concern. 

    And that's not my position.  It's the NRCs position.  They have accepted that the NuScale reactor needs no AC or DC power to remain safe, which of course is what killed Fukushima, and which all of the flooding concerns ultimately hinge upon.

    "It is easy to say a location is suitable without considering the suppy of cooling water,"

    A nuclear plant needs about as much cooling water as a coal plant.  Replacing a coal plant with a nuclear plant uses the same water a coal plant was using.

    "local population, availabiity of land,"

    Site boundary sized Emergency Planning Zone.  Those words mean something.  They literally mean that I could place an SMR facility to replace of a coal plant and not need to worry about evacuations, or off-site dose, and not even worry about zoning, as it stays zoned for industrial.

    Again, as reference,  Here is  the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Clinch River site.


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  47. I am sorry for the broken links.  I will try once more, with just the links to see if I can fix them:

    Radiation in Everyday LIfe by the IAEA

    NRC position on NuScale AC and DC Power

    Final Environmental Impact Statement for Clinch River site

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  48. MSMITH @97 & prior ,

    thank you for your useful contribution (of ideas and informations) to this thread.

    While (IMO) an expansion of nuclear power generation is incapable of making a significant abatement of the global warming problem (during the next say, 30 years) ~ due to the projected slow-build times and the poor economics of "nuclear"

    . . . . nevertheless, on the general principle of it being prudent to add diversity to our energy system, I hope that there will be some progress in the development of NuScale and similar power systems.

    It all comes down to exactly how much resource allocation is reasonable, and at what opportunity cost.  And whether the needed money would be entirely privately-funded or (largely) governmental.  Still, it could be that the societal groups who are ideologically opposed to wind/solar generation . . . might be willing to contribute resources to "nuclear".  Which would be something positive at least (even while they are denying that the AGW problem exists ! )

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  49. Eclectic:

    "expansion of nuclear power generation is incapable of making a significant abatement of the global warming problem (during the next say, 30 years) "

    I would say "next 20 years."  But that's a quibble.  It is true that people don't want to take the economic risk.  

    And they should not.  

    But companies can, subject to approval of their shareholders and board of directors.

    As for "build times" the only way NuScale is successful is if they actually build on schedule.  And for that plant, it's a 5 year proposed time-line. 

    "ideologically opposed to wind/solar generation"

    I think you might be misrepresenting some opinions.  Very few people I know are "opposed" to wind or solar.  They may be realists and recongnize that since both wind and solar have capacity factors in the 25% range that substantial additional costs will need to be paid to allow them to be baseload plants.  

    Can it be done?  Sure.  Will it be cheap?  No.  Having the mix of generation, diversity of fuels and technologies, allows for better resource allocation.  It doesn't make sense to make the grid entirely nuclear powered.  

    But for me, the most promising use of something like the SMRs is the "Joint Use Modular Project" (JUMP) that the INL plans to run with one of the modules.  

    When not making electricity, they can keep the module at full power and use the steam for something else, like production of natural gas, which they can then store.  

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  50. Msmith,

    I have worked professionally with large amounts of radiation, I have held a Curie of high energy beta in my unshielded hand, and saw all the information you cite on radiation during my workplace training.

    Barry at 75 cites James Conca who writes at Forbes to claim nuclear has the lowest death rate.  Doing background reading I found Conca claims only 51 total deaths from Chernobyl including long term cancers.  The Union of Concerned Scientists states that 54 people are known to be killed immediately from radiation poisoning.  A further 4,000 cancers are expected among the highly exposed gneeral population and 27.000 total cancers are exected worldwide.  Conca's estimates are a factor of approximately 500 too low.  He is widely cited by nuclear supporters.   MIchael Schillenberger uses the same numbers as Conca. 

    Conca and Schillenberger claim Fukushima killed zero people while peer reviewed studies estimate 1000 killed by radiation, in addition to 600 killed during the required evacuation. 

    These numbers from spokesmen of the nuclear industry and claims from you and the nuclear industry that the linear response no threshold model overestimates cancers means that no-one will ever get cancer demonstrate you do not care how many people they kill.  It has been widley repoorted in the newspaper that exposure to low levels of the many chemicals we have in everyday life result in increased death rates.  More radiation has to be bad for a population even if it is not statistically significant.

    If we multiply Conca's estimates of deaths from nuclear by 500 to account for his deliberate low balling we see that nuclear actually has a very high death rate compared to other utility generation sources.  I note that utility solar generation is deliberately left off Conca's chart since it has such low death rates.

    As I have posted already upthread, The French Nuclear Regulatory Agency sees no inherent safety improvements in Generation IV reactors and the Union of Concerned Scienitsts show that claims of greater safety are a scam to get safety standards lowered.  I do not buy your improved safety claims.

    All of this has been argued upthread already.  I suggest you move on to other topics.  My experience is that few people will shift their position on safety.

    If you want to argue we should only consider new designs I respond that it will be much too late to implement them if they ever get approved.  Dittmar 2012  a nuclear Physicist claims that any money spent on nuclear is wasted because nuclear cannot supply more than a small fraction of world energy.  Nuclear currently supplies less than 2% of world energy.  As MA Rodger points they are already short of uranium.

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