The Beginning of the Nuclear Renaissance Has Not Been Televised

Posted on December 13, 2012
Posted By: Ferdinand E. Banks
Topic: Nuclear
 
According to the United Nations energy organization (IAEA), statistics indicate that for 2009 and 2010, nuclear reactors in Sweden and Germany managed by the Swedish firm Vattenfall had the lowest capacity factors in the (nuclear) world. Fifty-five percent was the figure given by that organization for the average availability of Swedish equipment, which is very different from the up-beat impression I have attempted to provide regarding the Swedish nuclear sector in my forthcoming energy economics textbook (2012).

'My goodness, but how the mighty have fallen", to paraphrase an observation by a high ranking German officer in Theodor Plievier's brilliant war novel Stalingrad (1949). You said it brother, because the construction of the Swedish nuclear sector was nothing less than a minor miracle, almost in the class of the construction of the American Navy and Air Force during WW2, and it achieved for the Swedish macro economy what the American navy achieved for our war effort at and after the battle of Midway.

It should be noted though, that the availability cited above may not be true. That in reality it is nonsense. "Figures never lie, but liars sometimes figure," I seem to remember one of my teachers in engineering school informing me. In fact so many lies have been put into circulation about nuclear and its proposed replacement by wind and solar, that I am forced to ask the following question: Whom do you believe -- Swedish engineers or Parasites or Charlatans employed by Greenpeace, the IAEA, and Swedish anti-nuclear dunces?

That brings us to Germany, and the intentions of the government of that country to liquidate their nuclear assets. Many years ago I read a publication of some sort called 'Wir Werden Wiedermal Marschieren', in which a gentleman from the part of Czechoslovakia known at the Sudetenland was doing some heavy duty publicity (or promotion) for the Third World War. He argued for a more or less immediate return of German 'properties' in the 'East' to their former West German owners, and he claimed that this could be easily brought about by a full-scale military commitment by NATO, which would include a resuscitated German army and Luftwaffe.

On what I remember as the last day of the longest military exercise of its kind held in Germany up to that time, which was called *Apple Harvest', and about the hour of the evening when a wonderful jazz program called 'Munich at Midnight' was aired, a colonel or general or something entered the operations van of the 35th Field Artillery Group, and ordered me to plot a simulated fire mission -- employing tactical nuclear ammunition -- that was supposed to deal with 'enemy forces' that had broken through the Fulda Gap. As a result, instead of listening to Miles or 'Bird' or Bill Evans, I made use of my extensive knowledge of addition and subtraction to complete this assignment.

Had that been a real instead of a simulated mission, the eastern suburbs of Nuremberg would have been blown off the face of the earth! As I have made it my business to point out on numerous occasions, when that goofy option reached German journalists, officers, politicians, hustlers, hippies, know-it-alls etc, the Wir Werden Wiedermal Marschieren fantasy came to a screeching halt. I don't know who leaked that information, nor did I inquire, nor did I care, but it wasn't me, although a few weeks later my military career was informally brought to an end. I spent my remaining year in Europe enjoying the great night presence of those cities that provided deserving American soldiers like myself with some of the best R&R (Rest and Relaxation) in the world, although we had a slightly different way of describing those...advantages.

Now for a short explanation of what this note is all about. To my way of thinking it is about the day when German voters discover the cost of the nuclear foolishness launched by Ms Merkel and her government. For Germany, as well as the countries of Europe that are dependent on the optimal functioning of the German economy, it might be a good thing if the former physics student Angela Merkel decided to follow those two great German-speaking scientists Marlene Dietrich and Romy Schneider to Hollywood, because the German voters of today are as enthusiastic about a lower standard of living as they were about nuclear war in their midst during those lovely days when my beautiful military career was coming to an end.

As I once informed delegates at a large conference in Stockholm -- most of whom were not happy to hear my opinion -- the German nuclear retreat is a short-term burlesque, designed to return the present German government to office. In the long run, Germans who can add and subtract will get the cost-benefit message, the real deal, and hopefully pass it to journalists, officers, politicians, hustlers, hippies, rappers, break dancers and maybe even their political masters. By the way, globally there are 434 reactors in operation today, 68 are under construction and approximately 160 are ordered or planned. These numbers may not have any significance for you, but they tell me that the attack on the standard of living of countries like Sweden that is being carried out or promoted by certain parasites and charlatans, will not reach the extremes that many pseudo-intellectuals want to see imposed on the industrial world.

References

(2011). Banks, Ferdinand E. 'Energy and Economic Theory'. Singapore, London and New York: World Scientific.

(1949). Plievier, Theodor 'Stalingrad'. Berlin: Aufbau Verlag.

 
 
Authored By:
Ferdinand E. Banks (Uppsala University, Sweden), performed his undergraduate studies at Illinois Institute of Technology (electrical engineering) and Roosevelt University (Chicago), graduating with honors in economics. He also attended the University of Maryland and UCLA. He has the MSc from Stockholm University and the PhD from Uppsala University. He has been visiting professor at 5 universities in Australia, 2 universities in France, The Czech University (Prague), Stockholm University, Nanyang Technical
 

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Comments

December, 17 2012

Len Gould says

"the attack on the standard of living of countries like Sweden that is being carried out or promoted by certain parasites and charlatans, will not reach the extremes that many pseudo-intellectuals want to see imposed on the industrial world." -- You really nailed it there Fred. I have a lot of empathy with many environmental issues and projects, but have found it necessary to spend a lot of time evaluating the real motives of many of the public promoters. An example is the anti-whaling campaign of Greenpeace in the northern islands of (Norway or Sweden?). My position is that such activities should be monitored and regulated to ensure long-term viability of the whales being hunted and minimal suffering of the quarry, but the only conclusion I could logically reach after watching a long BBC documentary on the issue is that Greenpeace is dedicated to turning all of human society to vegetarianism, a motive which they carefully conceal in all discussions.

December, 18 2012

Harry Valentine says

Perhaps European nations will be more comfortable using thorium-based nuclear power rather than uranium-based nuclear power. With a series of modifications, the CANDU reactor may operate on thorium fuel. Scientists and engineers in China are involved in research into thorium-based nuclear power. One of the main drawbacks of thorium is its commercial viability . . . . 1-kg of thorium is estimated as being able to generate as much electric power as 33-kg of uranium.

Canada could convert the Gentilly nuclear power plant near the St Lawrence River in Quebec into a thorium-fuel demonstration power station. The energy world urgently needs a functional thorium-fuel power station. Except the question begs to be asked as to whether players in Canada could "rise to the occasion".

December, 18 2012

Len Gould says

Agreed Harry, but with Atomic Energy Canada Ltd. now sold by the conservative governenment to SNC Lavalin, I doubt if there is any hope for any project without a short-term profit.

December, 18 2012

bill payne says

Again Fred,

Correct or not?

Five new generators are on track for completion this decade, including two reactors approved just a few weeks ago (the first new reactor approvals in the US in over 30 years). Those will add to the 104 reactors that are already in operation around the country and already produce 20% of the nation’s power. Those reactors will eat up 19,724 tonnes of U3O8 this year, which represents 29% of global uranium demand. If that seems like a large amount, it is! The US produces more nuclear power than any other country on earth, which means it consumes more uranium that any other nation. However, decades of declining domestic production have left the US producing only 4% of the world’s uranium.

With so little homegrown uranium, the United States has to import more than 80% of the uranium it needs to fuel its reactors. Thankfully, for 18 years a deal with Russia has filled that gap. The “Megatons to Megawatts” agreement, whereby Russia downblends highly enriched uranium from nuclear warheads to create reactor fuel, has provided the US with a steady, inexpensive source of uranium since 1993. The problem is that the program is coming to an end next year.

The Upside to a Natural Gas Downturn Marin Katusa, for The Daily Reckoning Monday April 2, 2012

Regards, :) 422 Ohm 9 V NiMH discharge page

December, 18 2012

Malcolm Rawlingson says

Harry, You are correct that a Thorium fuel cycle is possible using the excellent neutron economics of the CANDU reactor but what is the financial incentive to do so.

Firstly, despite all the nonsense written here and elsewhere in the media the world has plenty of Uranium - it is not running out and will not run out. The world Nuclear association website has an excellent article on the availability of Uranium in the earth's crust and you should all read it as a source of reliable facts on the real situation with Uranium.

You also must consider that the cost of fueling a reactor is a tiny fraction of the operating costs. So operating a uranium fueled reactor from a fuel perspective is not an issue.

It is NOT the availability of Uranium that is of concern it is the economics of exploration and development of mines. With U3O8 selling at around $42.50 on the spot market exploring for and developing new mines is not attractive for most investors and exploration is drying up. Since it takes well over 10 years to go from discovery of a viable deposit to extraction of the yellowcake you can see that there is a built in 10 year lag between low prices (which we have now) and the ability of the miners to supply the need.

The point Bill Payne makes is that Uranium mines only produce about 75-80% of the current world Uranium demand and the rest is coming from warhead material and some recycling from used fuel - mainly in France. So as more reactors come on stream and demand increases the already existing shortfall is going to be exacerbated by the loss of the Russian Warhead material and the increase in the number of reactors. Of course as natural gas prices increase Japan and Germany (who are relying on that to power their economies) are going to realise that shutting down their nuclear programs will send them on a collision course for the economic doldrums and poverty which - as Fred eloquently explains above - is not going to win many votes.

I know it likely seems foolish to say so but people really DO like their flat screen Televisions and brightly lit nice warm houses with all the modern electrical conveniences. They are not going to give that up despite the likes of Green Peace.

So there is no shortage of Uranium, the price will inevitably go up (buy CAMECO stock my friends), and even if it does it will make no difference to the operating costs of a nuclear power plant.

Bottom line - there is no need for Thorium reactors and there will not be for many years hence.

The Chinese are developing this technology because they do not want to be dependent on the West (Australia and Canada) for their supply of Uranium and they have lots of Thorium. The inscrutible Chinese are not stupid. They think into the future.

Unlike the not very inscrutible Canadian government who are about as thick as 10 Timmy Hortons Donuts and think at least two weeks ahead to the next political barbecue.

Malcolm

December, 18 2012

Malcolm Rawlingson says

On the matter of German nuclear reactors Fred is exactly correct - this is all political bafflegab to win Ms Merkel another term in office so she can go gallyvanting around Europe with the German cheque book buying European political integration (read Germany control of the European banking system and therefore all the European economies). Once she has what she wants then all of her grave environmental concerns will suddenly vapourize and Germany will start them all up again and build some more - as if by magic.

We should call her Merkel the Magician.

And of course there will be great encouragement to shutdown all the remaining Swedish reactors if the Swedes are dumb enough to go for it. The Swedes of course are the top quality competitors for the German auto industry so if you want to eliminate it - go for increased costs and price Volvo and Saab off the market....Oh that already happened didn't it - what a coincidence.

Unfortunately I fear the Swedes will wake up too late and find themselves governed from Berlin - just like a certain individual named Adolf wanted.

So as Fred says - the German nuclear shutdown is temporary as it is in Japan.

Malcolm

December, 18 2012

bill payne says

Fred,

Object should be to get your message across with the fewest mumber of words?

What is Fred tying to say?

When is Fred going to arrive at a conclusion? And why? And eliminate unnecessary words.

Fred, 'It's not bad writing, That's the way they think.'

Google 'scorpion silhouette named james' for my hopefully next wriitng project.

... With 5 digit advance, Albert Gore willing, of course. Otheriwise I don't write. :(

http://www.prosefights.org/mailbox/mailbox.htm#dedication

)

December, 18 2012

Don Hirschberg says

When I was a private in the army the likes of professor Banks were called Guard House or stockade lawyers.

But he is clever and it would take full-time efforts to fully expose him. I will not so spend my time.

Here is a small example, avery small example:

“...a gentleman from the part of Czechoslovakia known at the Sudetenland was doing some heavy duty publicity (or promotion) for the Third World War. He argued for a more or less immediate return of German 'properties' in the 'East' to their former West German owners, and he claimed that this could be easily brought about by a full-scale military commitment by NATO, which would include a resuscitated German army and Luftwaffe.” He never states a year. When he wrote this there was no German Army and there was none since before D-day of the Luftwaffe. He writes:

“ ...a colonel or general or something entered the operations van of the 35th Field Artillery Group, and ordered me to plot a simulated fire mission -- employing tactical nuclear ammunition -- that was supposed to deal with 'enemy forces' that had broken through the Fulda Gap. As a result, instead of listening to Miles or 'Bird' or Bill Evans, I made use of my extensive knowledge of addition and subtraction to complete this assignment.”

“A colonel or general or something...” These were were very unlikely to order an EM to do anything. Bank's orders, if any, would have come from a Sgt. or his officer, quite likely a lieutenant.

I was an officer in the Chemical Corps in the Korean War. While we never used ABC (atomic, biological or chemical agents) we were prepared. It carried some trauma as Chemical Corps officers were to be summarily shot as war criminals.

Professor Banks would have you believe his calculations were unique. Far, far from it.

December, 19 2012

Finley Shapiro says

Ferdinand E. Banks weakens his point by the way he presents it. He wrote "it might be a good thing if the former physics student Angela Merkel decided to follow those two great German-speaking scientists Marlene Dietrich and Romy Schneider to Hollywood." Angela Merkel received her doctorate with a thesis on quantum chemistry, at least according to biographies on Wikipedia and elsewhere. Does he really consider actresses Marlene Dietrich and Romy Schneider as scientists of similar scientific knowledge? Of course not. Does Prof. Banks like to be referred to simply as a former engineering student? Probably not. Such statements make me devalue other statements he makes.

A Google search for "Figures don't lie, but liars figure" suggests several possible sources for similar phrases, but they go back at least to the late 1800s. Probably well before it was said by one of his teachers in engineering school.

A better reference for "How have the mighty fallen" is the Bible, II Samuel 1:19.

It is not surprising that the public often dismisses statements by the nuclear industry as both self-serving and made without looking into and considering all facts and aspects of the topic.

For some information on solar energy in Germany, I recommend the article at http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/05/26/us-climate-germany-solar-idUSBRE84P0FI20120526.

December, 19 2012

Fred Linn says

So, professor Banks-----exactly how much of all this burgeoning nuclear power capacity has come online in the last year----or 5 years----or 10 years?

December, 19 2012

John OSullivan says

Isn't one of the key benefits to a Thorium Fuel Cycle the minimizing of waste management.? I understood from past research that those who promoted Thorium were leveraging that factor over most others as one of the more aggressive areas of protest from environmental activists has shifted from the doomsday prediction of nuclear power cycle failures to the societal and economic issues surrounding waste. Of course, in the U.S. it has become a self-fulfilling prophecy, of sorts, in that those same activists have managed to affect the complete idling of the Yucca Mountain effort.

I also wonder how the nuclear power industry in either the U.S. or Germany, if not Japan, Sweden, etc., all survive in the current economic/financial struggle common to almost every nation or union. It seems nuclear is a universal target. Those who are jealous in defense of nat gas/fossil resent the subsidies (loan guarantees mostly?), just as those who somehow see a 100% renewable future in their lifetimes. Either side wants that taxpayer swag for themselves, or if not for them, then for no one.

December, 20 2012

Len Gould says

According to the WNA, "Total support for nuclear power over the 56 years was $65 billion, 9% of the total incentives. This compared with $50 billion (7%) for non-hydro renewables (wind and solar) plus geothermal."

non-hydro renewables (wind and solar) plus geothermal. had better get on the stick soon if they hope to pay society back in any for comparable to the way nuclear power does worldwide.

December, 20 2012

Malcolm Rawlingson says

Dear Fred Linn, Chinese have 27 under construction as we speak and they are starting one up about every 3 months or so. They have another 52 financed and ready to start building. Canada has completely rebuilt 5 reactors in the last 10 years which will last another 40 years. TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority) has started up three unfinished reactors (Browns Ferry and Watts Bar).

As I said earlier all this activity is well catalogued on the World Nuclear Association website if you care to look and it fully supports the Professors view that nuclear is growing quickly. Of course if you want to get your technical data from the evening news you would be forgiven for thinking the opposite. But the facts speak for themselves.

December, 20 2012

Malcolm Rawlingson says

There is such nonsense talked about nuclear waste. Firstly it is not waste at all (a complete misnomer) since there is significant fissile material remaining which makes it a very valuable resource. And of course it is radioactive (dangerously so) immediately after it comes out of the reactor but - unlike chemical wastes it gets safer as time goes by. After 100 years a fuel bundle can be in one corner of your living room and give you no more radiation exposure than a chest X-Ray. However the media likes to portray the material as dangerous for millennia - which is completely false. It is not. Storing it in Yucca mountain is a daft idea and one I am pleased the USA has dropped. That would have rendered all the fissile material still in the used fuel as useless which is a terrible waste of a resource. The material is perfectly safe where it is inside the protected areas of NPP's.

Thorium is more about non-proliferation than waste. It does not produce Plutonium.

Malcolm

December, 20 2012

Malcolm Rawlingson says

John - you raise an interesting point regarding investment in nuclear in the current economics of the world. But your focus appears to be on the doldrums that the WESTERN world is experiencing. That is not at all evident in China, or Brazil or India or Russia whose economies are still growing at two to four times those of the west.

Regarding loan Guarantees, these are not at all confined to the nuclear industry and are used by governments to secure private investment funds for very large projects. The Lower Churchill Falls hydroelectric plant in Newfoundland and Labrador is a good recent example. The Canadian Government has entirely underwritten it and I fully support that initiative. It is always wise to use available hydroelectric capacity before building nuclear or coal plants. But such sites are very limited around the world and insufficient to meet demand. They are also affected by rainfall patterns which puts a measure of unreliability on their planned output.

Regarding German Solar, it produces and will only ever produce a tiny fraction of German energy supply. Most of the power is being imported from France who are only too pleased to sell it to them. Now of course if the great socialist bonehead Mr. Hollande shuts down all the French nuclear capacity then France, Germany, the UK and several other parts of Europe will be in the cold and dark. Even Hollande is not THAT stupid....,or is he?

And no-one has yet answered the question what one does when it is dark out and the wind is not blowing. With no coal no gas and no nuclear all those lovely flat screen TV's will be dead as a door knob.

Malcolm

December, 20 2012

Malcolm Rawlingson says

Finley, Your statement

"It is not surprising that the public often dismisses statements by the nuclear industry as both self-serving and made without looking into and considering all facts and aspects of the topic"

seems unsupported by any facts. If by the "public" you mean Green Peace the possibly you are right. The nuclear industry is automatically portrayed in the media as the bad guy even when the industry performance - especially in the USA has been nothing short of stellar with most plants achieving capacity factors in the high 90's many many times better than any other industrial facility. You surely cannot blame the nuclear industry for being cautious with its words when every syllable is deliberately and blatantly misused and misinterpreted by the media.

As I have said many times here, despite the Fukushima incident not a single person has died or been injured as a result of radiation exposure. Indeed the SAFEST place to be in the tragedy that struck Japan was inside the Fukushima fence where all the employees but one (a crane operator whose machine toppled over) survived. Very few outside the plant lived to tell the tale.

The media spouted tons of misinformation regarding the state of the reactor vessel and that it had "fractured" leaking radioactive materials. Recent inspections have shown the reactor vessel even after such incredible trauma to have survived intact.....the radiation release having come from a relief valve doing its design function to relieve the pressure in the reactor.

I find it is the media that is self serving and does not research all the facts before going on air and frightening the heck out of people for no reason whatsoever.

Malcolm

December, 20 2012

John OSullivan says

Malcolm, the realities of spent fuel are not as trivial as you suggest. While anti-nuclear activists exaggerate the issues, especially safety, there are still problems associated with storage and total waste management costs. Sure, activists always play what I call the "Andromeda card" when it comes to anything associated with nuclear power. But, for example, there were real concerns with spent fuel storage at Fukushima that added complexity to their existing (and I note significantly man-made) critical matters. And with the trend of extending the life of many nuclear facilities beyond their original planned lifecycles, spent fuel pool capacities are not imagined. Yucca Mountain storage is not necessarily optimum or ideal. It simply is/was one solution in which the taxpayer had already invested tens of billions. But the anti-nuclear crowd was successful in idling it and returning the issues of space, cost, and to them, safety worries they leverage with the general public. Saying "it ain't so" will not be a counterargument with a public already fearful of so many things.

Hence the thorium supporters have willing shifted their public benefits discussion to the fuel cycle advantages as their primary selling point. It includes weapons issues, but from what I have seen focuses heavily on spent fuel. My assumption is they intend to take power/leverage away from the "Andromeda" crowd.

December, 20 2012

John OSullivan says

Malcolm, Russia and China excepted given their economic structures, most of the non-West nations toying with increasing nuclear power installations are not yet moving so quickly into commissioning and building new facilities. Financing and total costs are one large factor.

But my point even there is still valid. Because nuclear power in the West is perfectly unfeasible WITHOUT loan guarantees at a minimum (and special regulatory leniency in some cases for cost recouping), the competing baseload technologies are pushing the "me too" story. And often the renewable advocates are joining in that chorus, even though they cannot successfully argue they are a baseload match (but they try). Their lever is the taxpayer (overall) and ratepayer (localized) exposure per kilowatt for nuclear power. Especially the renewable lobby has been publicizing how the equivalent cost or exposure per unit of power generated should be allowed for all, and would make renewable projects explode and cost effective. In a way, they are making the same "too cheap to meter" argument made in the 50s and 60s for nuclear. Wrongly, but they still make it.

While Canada may have made a decision to fully (??) underwrite a single hydro project, I don't think it proves that fully underwriting one or a number of nuclear projects will happen. After all, there is a reason that pre-Fukushima and post-Fukushima, alike, new nuclear activity has been so slight. I'm not advocating any one position, only highlighting the challenges that this article ignored, to me. The time required and all the non-safety related risks in commissioning plants makes them much less favorable to all parties, even politicians, than nearly every other option. Thorium may be one small part of a solution to accelerate renewed interest and activity. Small modular systems might be another. Even in more centralized, state run power sectors like China nuclear activity is dwarfed by conventional technology, especially coal, and to a lesser degree by renewable. There IS a reason beyond the technology.

I do agree the path to very high penetration from renewable sources isn't there yet. But it doesn't stop the lobbying effort.

December, 20 2012

Fred Linn says

Malcolm:

So, professor Banks-----exactly how much of all this burgeoning nuclear power capacity has come online in the last year----or 5 years----or 10 years?

You didn't answer the question----how much electrical generation with nuclear power has come online in the last ten years?

December, 20 2012

Fred Linn says

Malcolm-------------" After 100 years a fuel bundle can be in one corner of your living room and give you no more radiation exposure than a chest X-Ray. "------

Good----we'll bring all the used fuel rods to your house. I hope you have a very big living room.

December, 20 2012

Len Gould says

It's a sorry bunch that can be influenced by the (absence of) logic of the likes of Fred Linn.

December, 20 2012

Malcolm Rawlingson says

Fred Linn, Yes the question you asked is fully answered by going to the WNA website as I advised you to do. But of course you will not go to a place where FACTS about nuclear power are clearly spelled out because all of your idiotic notions about nuclear power go out the window when you see what is really going on. This week the Chinese announced the construction of another FIVE nuclear power plants bringing the total now under construction to 29. They take 5 years to build. Five years is 60 months. 29 divided by 60 is about 0.5. so one reactor every TWO MONTHS. If you want the names of all the plants and their expected completion dates (The Chinese DO build them on schedule and on time and below budget) go to the WNA website - they are all listed there. With the election of a pro nuclear party in Japan this week you can expect all the Japanese plants to be back in action in a year or so. The Chinese also have 52 reactors in the late design stages which means construction of them will begin in the next year or two.

I think that data supports Professor Fred's claim of a nuclear renaissance don't you? Well of course you don't like most other people that use rhetoric in place of actual data the real information could never possibly sway you from your ideology.

So you can never be persuaded by facts.

Malcolm

December, 20 2012

Malcolm Rawlingson says

Yes Fred my living room is very spacious but the nuclear regulatory organisations of both the USA and Canada would not allow me to store radioactive materials in my house however safe. The point (which you try to override by rhetoric) is that nuclear fuel bundles are not at all unsafe for millions of years and are quite innocuous after a century. At that point they are safe to handle and the reclamation of the large quantity of fissile material that still remains in them becomes very practical. I know of no other hazardous material that becomes safer with time. And if you are so concerned about radiation exposure from used fuel I suggest you rid your body of potassium since the radioisotope K-40 that occurs naturally in your skeleton is irradiating you from the inside as we speak. Unfortunately ridding your body of potassium will likely result in your demise so I suggest not trying that.

But do not spend too much time in your basement as Radon gas is coming out of the walls of your house and decaying to Radon daughters inside your lungs. And all that thanks to good old mother nature. You seem to tolerate those risks well yet large populations in Japan were evacuated for possible radiation exposures not much greater than that. More Japanese will likely die from worry over radiation exposure than anything that came out of Fukushima. And THAT is entirely caused by people like you who know nothing and what is worse do not want to learn anything because their ideology gets in the way.

But I am delighted to say that India, Russia, United Kingdom, China, United Arab Emirates, South Korea, Argentina and dozens of other countries will free their populations from energy slavery by building nuclear power plants.

All that information is also on the WNA website and you can verify every single fact yourself. But you will not. Being an anti-nuke is a religion and if you believe it facts will never get in your way.

Malcolm

December, 20 2012

Malcolm Rawlingson says

John, You make some valid points but are missing some important information. One of the reasons for loan guarantees for any large project whether it is nuclear or hydro or anything else is to avoid the possibility of deliberate delays to projects caused by activists who don't like any project of any sort. I am quite sure that the Hoover Dam could not be built today without such loan guarantees. It has nothing to do with the economics of the project because activists know that if they can stall and delay in the courts long enough the costs of borrowing the large sums of money required will THEN make an economic project - uneconomic. So this is not at all a nuclear issue. Similarly I doubt that the Saint Lawrence Seaway which has done so much for the prosperity of the States and Provinces that surround the Great Lakes Region could ever be built today without massive government loan guarantees. But the economics of nuclear power are so powerful that once the loan guarantees are in place and the "Green Freak" risks are mitigated many utilities will be building new plants. As I noted earlier TVA quietly started up 2 units at Watts Bar and another one at Browns Ferry and are about to complete another unfinished plant (cannot recall the name right now) all with no loan guarantees. A new plant is now under construction at the Plant Vogtle site in Georgia and there will be many more to come.

Think about it - a few bundles of Uranium eliminates trainloads a day of coal. What is not to like about that.

Solar and wind will never ever meet base-load requirements unless someone develops large scale electricity storage. This is of course because the wind does not always blow and often it blows too strongly and the Sun only shines during the day. They are not and never will be contenders for base load generation - certainly not in most of North America.

Coal and gas of course are contenders but do not think that the construction of those plants is any easier than nuclear plants. A recent about-turn on a gas fired power plant in both Oakville and Mississauga Ontario are testament to that. Both were cancelled due to political pressure. And of course gas plants are only viable with dirt cheap natural gas. Once the USA starts exporting massive volumes of LNG through the new terminals it is building the price of the product on this continent will rapidly increase causing gas plants to become suddenly very expensive to operate at base load.

So it boils down to which technology you dislike the least.

Coal - Good for base load - fuel is plentiful and cheap but makes CO2, SOX and NOX. Oil - too valuable to burn at base load or even peaking load. MAkes CO2, NOX and lots of SOX if you burn the crappy waste oil. Gas - Good for base load if the gas is cheap. An economic disaster if the price of gas goes up. Also produces CO2 but few other gases. Nuclear - Expensive to build but very very cheap to run. No CO2. No other gases produced. Wind and solar - no good for base load without some kind of storage. Biomass - produces CO2 but supposedly captured later. Likely uses more energy than it produces which makes it a stupid choice. So a good solution is Nuclear with cheap natural gas for peaks.

Malcolm

December, 20 2012

Malcolm Rawlingson says

John, I say it ain't so that nuclear used fuel is unsafe for the lengths of time touted in the media because it is a fact and it is not so. The public is constantly fed absolute nonsense concerning used fuel and while it may not be accepted by the public - saying it is highly dangerous when it is not is lying and I will never accept that as the way to do business.

The risks posed by used fuel are minute and they get even smaller with time. I will state yet again that not a single person - not one - has died or been injured as a result of radiation exposure from Fukushima. So even when a nuclear plant is battered by the worst earthquake in recorded Japanese history then hammered by the largest tidal wave ever seen in Japan the number of lost lives from the plant is -NIL.

Since the release of radiation from the used fuel did not hurt anyone I would stronglysuggest that used fuel is not particularly dangerous. Of course the killing of over 4000 - let me spell that out FOUR THOUSAND PEOPLE - in Bhopal from chemical release from the Union Carbide plant dod not cause any chemical plants to be shutdown in the world I would suggest to you that the public - whose opinions are totally shaped by the ignorant media - over exaggerate the risks from nuclear by orders of magnitude. It is demonstrably the safest industry in the world bar none.

The media and the activists have educated the public to the exact opposite of the facts.

But through this website and others we will correct that despite crackpots like Freddy L above.

Malcolm

December, 20 2012

Don Hirschberg says

I'd like to ask this nuclear knowledgeable bunch about fusion.

Suppose tomorrow morning we knew how to build fusion plants at say three(?) times the cost of a fission plant. Would some be built? Would any more fission plants be built?

December, 21 2012

John OSullivan says

Malcolm, you should provide your evidence of the absolute security of storing spent fuel in your spacious living room immediately after replacement and for the duration of the term "touted" by the media, assuming all of your comments on that aspect are not cynical or just in jest. Have you ever been present during radiation level measurment in a spent fuel storage facility (I have)? Have you ever witnessed the temperature measurement in fuel pools years after some assemblies were deposited (I have)? There are real risks in that buidling, I assure you.

My point is not a reinforcement of the specifics from any cabal that hyperinflates the dangers in your view. Rather, I'm simply pointing out there are real risks associated with spent fuel and its management. Those lead to real costs. Hyperinflated risks perhaps add more cost, and that might be a fair argument. And due to both the real risks and the perhaps hyperinflated risks, there are opportunities within the market - e.g. promotion of thorium - that arise.

I agree that China only momentarily paused their nuclear plans post-Fukushima (but they DID delay). And they are investing in a broad mix which forecasts MORE hydropower than nuclear. However, given their political structure, it is difficult to compare them to the West or for that matter to the remainder of the industrial nations/world. Nearly every investment of size and public impact is made top down, with semi-private parties or companies brought in under conditions far from open market. Yes, they are progressively becoming more open. But it would be difficult to make a full comparison to the West, still. Japan has also begun to reverse direction in rhetoric but not yet in action. Time will tell.

Most forecasts that I see (granted from international energy concerns such as IEA), show the most optimistic projections for nuclear power in the West - specifically excluding China - are basically flat. This is due to the balance of new and old, meaning the amount to be decommissioned contrasted against the most optimistic projections of new builds given time and money (time = horrendous length of time from application to commissisoning - 8 to 10 years on average). I have never suggested that "nuclear is dead", simply that it faces many challenges, real and imagined, that are not faced by most every competitive technology.

If I follow your comments, it seems I can only conclude that all of those obstacles are purely imagined and the 'cabal' has won over the public's mind, the mind of the political class, and for that matter the mind of the academic and scientific community. Is that really the case? If only they would listen......

December, 21 2012

Len Gould says

Anyone who understands nuclear energy at all would never have begun their post with that dumb bit about "Have you ever witnessed the temperature measurement in fuel pools years after some assemblies were deposited (I have)?". It's sad to see the sort of fools promoting themselves as opinion leaders these days.

December, 23 2012

John OSullivan says

Len, you are not very convincing at all. Is it your plan to just insult and not offer anything intelligent or factual yourself? I suspect you don't have any first hand or even second hand knowledge. But you have a sharp pen, indeed.

December, 23 2012

Len Gould says

Mr OSullivan. We get one of the likes of you one here about once a month, and I've grown weary of providing more than an abrupt put-down, sorry. Recommend you take it to where your fans are more gullible.

December, 23 2012

Malcolm Rawlingson says

John, Whilst I will not engage in throwing barbs I will say that your comments indicate a severe lack of knowledge concerning how used fuel is stored. I will also point out why what you said makes makes no sense whatever. I believe you have misread or misinterpreted what I said in my "living room post".

What I said in my living room post earlier is that after about 100 years a used fuel bundle placed in one corner of my living room poses no more risk than a chest X-ray. I did NOT say that spent fuel bays were not hazardous. You have read more into my comments than were intended. It is absolutely true that if you were to remove a fuel bundle from a fuel bay 100 years after it came out of the reactor it would pose no more risk to you at a distance of about 20 feet than a chest X-Ray and and there is plenty of data to support it. The reason (and I thought you would know this) is that all radioactive materials decay exponentially. The very long lived isotopes are almost ALL alpha particle emitters. Alpha particles are helium nucleii and are easily stopped by the used fuel itself and the fuel can that contains it. The same goes for beta emitters. Beta particles are electrons and are also easily stopped by the fuel can. Therefore there is only ONE type of radiation that can pass through the can and out into the living room and that is Gamma Rays which are electromagnetic waves with a wavelength shorter than X-rays. The high energy gamma rays that can do damage to the human body have all decayed away in 100 years leaving low energy gamma rays and alpha emitters. Thus after 100 years the only radiation left is low energy gamma rays of an intensity about the same as Chest X-Rays.

If you are interested I can direct you to many papers written on the subject to prove that I am quite correct in my assertion. But I do reiterate I did NOT say that used fuel bays containing fuel just out of the reactor are not hazardous places. Of course they are. But so are the petrochemical plants that make the fuel for the car you drive every day and the plastics for your everyday household items made of polyethylene and polypropylene.

Part Two to follow

December, 23 2012

Malcolm Rawlingson says

Sorry I had to split this but there must be a word limit and I got a database error when I tried to upload it. Anyway. Here is Part Two.

What I am trying to point out to you John is that there is an irrational fear of nuclear energy that is going to be the down fall of the western nations. While it is demonstrably the safest form of electrical generation ever devised it is PERCEIVED as the most dangerous and deliberately portrayed that way by the media and "Green" peace. I placed the green in italics because nobody who declares themselves as "green" could possibly be opposed to nuclear energy.

As Len has noted, the temperature does NOT rise in spent fuel bays and if that is what you witnessed it should have been reported to the USNRC or other regulatory body since that is a failure of the fuel cooling system and is a serious reportable event. As you will no doubt understand fuel bays are cooled by circulating water through heat exchangers to remove the heat from the radioactive decay of the spent fuel. There are two completely independent circuits (at least). If additional spent fuel was added to the bay you are correct this would add heat to the water. However where your knowledge is clearly deficient is that when the temperature of the fuel bay water starts to increase an automatic valve opens on the cooling water side of the heat-exchanger to increase cooling flow to the fuel bay water. Therefore there is no possible way for you to have witnessed an increase in the fuel bay water temperature without a concurrent failure of both cooling water circuits - which I find very very hard to believe. Also, the quantity of used fuel coming out of the reactor is very small compared to the very large volume of water in the fuel bay therefore large amounts of used fuel would need to be deposited into the bay for the temperature to go up. This is also very closely regulated. So neither scenario fits your observations and therefore your observations of fuel bay temperature increases appear very far fetched to me.

Where did you get the idea I was speaking only about the West? Of course western politicians think they can run a modern economy on windmills and have deluded the public into thinking that. Ms Merkel is an outstanding example of that although she knows full well that here economy is operating on imported French nuclear power and if that is not deluding the German public I don't know what is. Take a look at a map of French nuclear plants and you will observe that quite a significant portion of them are situated on the large rivers marking the border between France and Germany. Of course Ms Merkel could shutdown her nuclear stations and convince the public that she was being green. A quick call to the French Prime Minister Sarkozy at the time and a quick call from him to the President of EDF and all is well in Germany. Lights stay on as if by magic. French are happy (German Euros flow into France) Merkel is happy - French nuclear powered electrons flow into Germany and the lights stay on and Merkel owes the French a political favour. All is well in the world. Until Mr Hollande shows up and wants to shutdown French nuclear plants too. Then the lights really will go out in Germany AND France. Good luck to them I say. Go do it and see how long either of them stay in power.

I think I need a Part Three.

December, 23 2012

Malcolm Rawlingson says

So here is part three. Looks like I wrote a trilogy like the Lord of the Rings :)

You seem to arbitrarily discount China - unbelievably so - since by 2030 they will have more operating nuclear power plants than the USA. They will build a nuclear plant every TWO MONTHS from now until the foreseeable future. Seventeen years at 6 per year is 102 plants to add to the 15 or so already operating makes 117 and THAT assumes they do not speed up construction. The Chinese are masters at mass production and I fully envisage China bringing one nuclear plant per month on stream. I forecast that by 2030 they will have well in excess of 200 plants operating.

Once China has access to cheap reliable nuclear power in vast amounts it will cease to be dependent on the west for coal and its energy input costs will plummet. China will not be the second largest economy it will be THE world economy.

It is also very short sighted to state that other forms of electrical energy production do not face similar headwinds. They very much do. There is very hostile and growing opposition to wind farms in every rural community that I am aware of. If you cannot get farmers to install them on their land then they will go out to sea....a much more expensive proposition. Big headwinds there for wind. Natural gas is plentiful and cheap in North America and that makes natural gas fired power plants cost effective - may be even cheaper than nuclear power. As soon as the LNG plants now under construction on the coasts of the US and Canada are completed and enormous volumes of gas can be liquefied and exported then the price will change to the upside and all of a sudden natural gas is no longer dirt cheap. That is a VERY big head wind for gas fired generation. So we have coal. The headwind there is that no-one wants to build coal fired plants in case they have to fit them with CO2 capture devices. That is a big head wind too.

So to assert that only nuclear faces head winds is a completely false assertion with no basis in fact.

Nuclear faces no headwinds in China (27 under construction) or the United Arab Emirates (4 under construction), or Russia (10 under construction) and in many western nations nuclear plants are being planned - albeit at a slower pace than those other countries mentioned but nonetheless they will be built.

I refer you once again to the World Nuclear Association website that shows, based on actual data, the NET number of reactors including those that have reached the end of life and are removed from service. That number is increasing - not decreasing.

I forecast in the range 600 - 1000 by 2030.

Malcolm

December, 23 2012

Malcolm Rawlingson says

Don,

The simple answer to your question is No. Not a single fusion plant would be built at that price - at least not by any commercial enterprise. The laws of economics will prevail. Of course if the price of other forms or electrical generation were to increase by a factor of three or four - then maybe.

Folks are much more concerned about the price they pay for electricity than anything else. The specific technology is not a consideration. I would like to think that you were right but alas human nature will never change and price will always prevail over the technology used. If people had even the slightest interest in safety of course no-one would use coal generated electricity since the number of people killed annually producing and distributing coal is horrifying....but acceptable as long as it is not your kin that are dying. Same logic applies to car transportation. Thousands and thousands of people killed annually but that is OK as long as we can get ourselves from A to B.

I would say that even if fusion plants were viable tomorrow economics would prevent them from being built if that resulted in a large increase in electricity costs for consumers.

Nice thought though.

Malcolm

December, 29 2012

Ferdinand E. Banks says

I knew that it would happen. I take a short vacation and scholars like Finley Shapiro and John OSullivan show up to rain on my parade. But listen, I'm going to overlook their ignorance of the present subject, since the optimal outcome is that they think me a _____ and show up at one of my lectures.

Look, Finley and John, I want to welcome you to this site, but you've got to leave Malcolm and Len alone. Those gentlemen take no prisoners. Let me suggest that you concentrate your wisdom on Freddy Linn. And by the way, I am NOT an enemy of people who are against nuclear. What bothers me is thinking that nuclear can be replaced by renewables. Sure, there is a place for some renewables, and I wish them and their financiers well, but replacing nuclear is out of the question, although the ignorant Swedish energy minister doesn't get the message.

Somebody mentioned something about the financing of nuclear. THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD FINANCE NUCLEAR. They were elected to do this, although neither the voters nor the government nor the tax payers nor the dumb academic energy experts are aware of this fact, and I strongly doubt whether they will be able to figure this out during the present century. Incidentally, that lecture where John and Finley come to put me in my place will include my thoughts on this subject. I should perhaps add that contrary opinions will not be solicited.

December, 29 2012

Ferdinand E. Banks says

And before I forget, I dont give a ____ what kind of degree the lovely Angela has. I studied physics too, although I failed it twice during my first year, and since I had also failed math twice, I was expelled from Illinois Institute of Technology. But I was accepted for further instruction by the US Army. And Finley and John, when you come to that...lecture, bring Angela with you, because her physics and chemistry, multiplied by ten, does not give her the ability to deal with the kind of energy economics that we are talking about here.

December, 29 2012

Malcolm Rawlingson says

I agree Fred. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and should feel free to express them here and I have no problem at all with that...but they are not entitled to their own facts. Those that believe that the energy needs of Germany or the world for that matter can be met with solar and wind are delusional and are ignoring facts and allowing their human desires and emotions to get in the way of reality.

I too have no problem with renewable energy - although I do assure you that many people in rural Ontario, Canada are vehemently opposed to having gigantic windmill structures in their backyards. Wolfe Island - a once very picturesque part of Ontario in the Saint Lawrence Seaway has all but been destroyed by them. They are a hideous sight and for the damage they are doing to peoples lives for the output they provide to the grid in my view are a complete waste of time. Give me a nuclear plant that can power 25% of Ontario any time. Of course many farmers are realizing that they cannot sell their farms with windmills on them and the value of their land is falling as a result....a side effect not often talked about by proponents but a very real catastrophe for those who have them installed on their land. The Amish for example will not touch farms with windmills on them with a 10 foot barge pole.

But to those who maintain that solar panels and windmills can provide sufficient electricity for a modern economy I say - do the math. No way can it. If you need any proof of that, yesterday on a very snowy and cloudy day in Ontario when the solar panels are buried in the white stuff and producing nothing the total output out of an installed wind capacity of about 1700 MW for several key hours of the day was 3 (yes that is THREE) megawatts. So please tell me how you would operate this province on just 3 megawatts.

The facts do not lie but I know many politicians who do (or conveniently do not tell the truth). Ms Angela is one of them.

I heard over the last few days that the new prime minister of Japan said all the shutdown reactors will be started up....so much for nuclear phase out in Japan.

When Merkel gets ditched after the German economy hits the rocks expect the same to occur in that country.

Malcolm

December, 31 2012

Ferdinand E. Banks says

Malcolm, we dont want her ditched after the German economy hits the rocks. We want her ditched now, because the plans of Ms Merkel and her foot soldiers are not to replace nuclear with solar and wind, but to buy electricity from surrounding countries. That is very bad news for yours truly and the voters and the decision makers in this country and their advisers, although they - unlike this guy - are too dumb to realize it.

December, 31 2012

Michael Keller says

Hate to disagree with you Dr. Banks, but the government should not finance nuclear energy, ditto for renewable energy. Let the marketplace prevail.

However, not to worry! Affordable nuclear energy is going to appear. Trust me on this.

Regards, Mike

December, 31 2012

Malcolm Rawlingson says

Affordable nuclear energy has been powering your lifestyle for a long time Mike. It is already here and doing very nicely thank you - no need to wait.

Most of the 100 or so US nuclear reactors have been churning out electricity for you for well over 40 years in some cases. They were amortized over 25 years so for the last 15 or more years they have been keeping your electricity bills down and the shareholders of the power companies that own them supplied with plenty of profit.

Worth every penny of investment.

Perhaps the marketplace should have prevailed when the big banks wanted handouts. If it did. GM would be gone. Chrysler would be gone, AIG would be gone and most of the US financial industry along with it. Unfortunately the marketplace often does not operate in the best interests of US citizens. I would be REALLY careful what you wish for. If the market place prevailed and China was to stop buying US government securities you and every American would be right up the creek.

Malcolm

December, 31 2012

Malcolm Rawlingson says

Fred, It would be so nice to see her go now except that she would just be replaced by some equally inept bozo with the same equally stupid concepts. Of course you are right the real plan is not to replace nuclear with solar and wind but to make it APPEAR as though that is what they are doing when the real intent is to buy power from those who have it available in neighbouring countries. That of course will mean power price increases in those countries and I am presuming Sweden is one of those Merkel is asking to provide power to fill the gap.

Over here in North America we hear very little about what is going on there in Scandinavia so forgive me if my knowledge of the area is less than adequate.

Since it is still New Years Eve here may I take the opportunity to wish you a very happy New Year for 2013 and please keep your wonderful writings coming. I enjoy them all.

Malcolm

December, 31 2012

Michael Keller says

Malcolm, A new nuclear power plant is NOT AFFORDABLE in the US, or anywhere else that has reasonably priced natural gas or coal.

As to government financing of the GM & Chrysler, that was nothing more than bailing out the unions. The companies would have been re-organized through the bankruptcy courts, just like any number of large firms, and continued. The unions, however, would have had to take a haircut, along with the investors.

January, 01 2013

Len Gould says

I second Malcolm (in all), and happy new year to everyone.

January, 01 2013

Ferdinand E. Banks says

Mike, I have nothing against the market solving the energy problem, if they do it. But I don't want some of the stupid things that have happened in Sweden to continue, and these things resulted because it might be true that the market cannot provide the optimal solution.

As for the nuclear business, nobody can convince me that the US cannot provide nuclear reactors at the lowest price in the world. One way to get this done is for the president to tell to Department of Energy to inform the private sector how to do this - with the assistance of the governernment - and then to fire the Energy Secretary if his foot soldiers cannot provide this service. I think that we can find somebody to replace Dr Chu.

January, 01 2013

Michael Keller says

Fred, I am baffled as to why you think the Department of Energy is the repository of knowledge on low-cost manufacturing and construction. The DOE is populated primarily by bureaucrats and intellectuals who haven't built much of anything, particularly power plants.

The DOE needs to be completely overhauled (and made significantly smaller) to concentrate on the original mission of the agency - namely support for energy research.

Deployment of energy projects is best done by private industry where the profit motive cultivates innovation. The government generally stifles innovation.

If nuclear power is to compete, then it must move past the current technology state, which is more or less confined by low energy efficiencies and the high costs attendant with active measures to protect the public.

January, 02 2013

Ferdinand E. Banks says

Michael, in theory - though obviously not in fact - the DOE would be unbeatable where research on the economics of things like oil, gas, nuclear and coal are concerned. Note the word economics. Where the engineering side of it and things like hydrogen, batteries etc are concerned, I dont know or care.

The reason they are not unbeatable on the economics of those items is that the wrong man is at the top, and he has probably appointed the wrong people to assist him. About nuclear: the US can construct reactors that cost less than any in the world IF the US government understood how important this is going to be for the future.

As far as I am concerned they are just wasting time, energy and money at the USDOE. but I dont have any solutions for them. They have just hired Adam Sieminski for an important position there, and that is good. But as far as I can tell there are more dumb energy economists in the universities in the DC region than any other place in North America, and some of them might end up using the executives toilet at the DOE.

January, 02 2013

John OSullivan says

To F.E. Banks and Len Gould - thank you for the clarity of exactly what this forum is. A fraternity will a comfy lounge of leather bound chairs and a wide selection of premium cigars, perhaps?

Somehow the topic is off track. From my perspective, none of my posts suggest or imply nuclear power is either impractical (for technical or economic reasons) or unacceptable as a key component in the supply mix. Rather, my intent was to highlight that there are real risks to be managed. Not a single reply has offered anything but the suggestion that most risks are fabricated in some way, for some ends.

I have worked in the industry. In the U.S., I had been a part of design, construction, and testing of facilities, obviously in years long since past. I am neither ignorant nor inexperienced, but clearly there are those whose methods to react to my postings are to paint me that way.

Perhaps this forum truly doesn't welcome any other 'members' but those already comfortably swallowed in your chairs, talking amongst yourselves.

Even though my purpose was never to refute the basic premises about nuclear power, clearly I now carry the 'uninformed idiot' label. I understand fully about the fuel life cycle and decay heat, for example. Oddly, pointing that out as a real risk to be managed makes me a heretic here.

Rest assured I will continue to read your posts, even though they strike me as pure armchair chatter between 'chums' in total agreement on energy matters. Somewhere along the way, I might actually find that one of you has stumbled upon a fact or morsel of information that informs me. Until then, my impression stays solid. And surely, if or until I could ever acquire the 'collective' and 'commonly held' knowledge of this fraternity, I would equally expect your impression of me shall remain. Unusual and quirky, for a site that doesn't require some appropriate pedigree.

January, 02 2013

Malcolm Rawlingson says

Michael,

I would prefer to leave the decision as to whether nuclear plants are affordable or not to those responsible for the investment who have the dollars to spend and the investment decision to make. Clearly the evidence does not support what you say since a new plant is being constructed at Plant Vogtle in Georgia and the Tennessee Valley Authority has completed both Watts Bar Units, two Browns Ferry Units and at least one Unit at Bellefonte. While YOU may not think they are affordable the proof of the pudding is in the FACT that they are being built.

The Bruce Nuclear Power Development in Ontario has recently completed the refurbishment of four nuclear units to extend their useful life for many years to come. Clearly the investors in those plants think otherwise.

So I can only conclude your statement is incorrect.

Malcolm

January, 02 2013

Malcolm Rawlingson says

John,

The point of my posts here is certainly not to criticize you but to inform you of the actual facts which (despite your time in the industry) it is apparent that there are some things you appear not to understand so well.

I have done many jobs in my 40+ years in this industry one of which was to operate a nuclear reactor and to manage spent fuel bays. So when you make the statement

"Have you ever witnessed the temperature measurement in fuel pools years after some assemblies were deposited (I have)? There are real risks in that buidling, I assure you."

My response John is really what are you talking about? Fuel bay temperature measurements are monitored continuously and the alarm feeds directly into the main control room. Any increase in temperature above the set-point is automatically controlled by increasing cold water flow to bay heat exchangers and if temperature continues to increase alarms will sound locally and in the control room. well before there are any risks to the workers. Water temperature is automatically controlled to maintain the temperature constant. Of course fuel bundles are radioactive and cause some heating of the water (that is why they are stored underwater of course and to provide shielding). When you say there are "real risks" please quantify - otherwise I can say there are "real risks" to you walking along the road with equal conviction. The "real risks" from spent fuel bays are very very low.

I do agree with you on many matters regarding the storage of spent fuel from a PWR or BWR design since to avoid criticality the geometry of the storage is important. When the geometry is destroyed as in the case of Fukushima there becomes a potential for criticality - although it is not so easy as some imagine. These fuel bundles can become critical and create a chain reaction if stored in the wrong geometric pattern which is why I would encourage the world to build CANDU reactors not PWR or BWR plants. Spent fuel from a CANDU reactor cannot become critical in any geometry in a light water fuel bay....hence perfectly safe.

I thought I had provided a good deal of useful information regarding the actual as opposed to the perceived hazards of used nuclear fuel. One of the obstacles to nuclear power is the propensity of the media to alarm the public over risks that are almost too small to measure while ignoring the real everyday risks to which we are all exposed. A poll done some years ago by the insurance industry identified that the perception of the public was that nuclear power was one of the riskiest human endeavours while the actual data identifies that it is safer than almost any other human activity and THE safest and THE greenest means of generating electricity.

I assure you John that by far the riskiest thing I have ever had to do in any nuclear plant I have worked at is driving there to start work. Thousands of times more dangerous.

So as I said the magnitude of the risks posed by a nuclear plant are mostly perceived. Building Thorium reactors to make an already ultra safe technology even safer seems like a complete waste of time to me.

Malcolm

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