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The Japanese nuclear disaster would never have happened, were it not for gross engineering negligence.  (Source: 4shared)

In some ways Fukushima is like Chernobyl. But unlike Chernobyl, no one has directly died of radiation poisoning, yet.  (Source: Wordpress)

Many modern reactor types, like thorium-based designs, are incapable of melting down. Thus the chances of "meltdown" would be a moot point if these clean, safe, high-energy reactors were built.  (Source: Thorium TV)
MODERN nuclear power is cheap, reliable, and safe

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Japanese people in the wake of Fukushima Plant and its difficult cleanup and containment process.  The disaster was yesterday upgraded from a Level 5 to a Level 7 disaster.  That formally puts it in a tie for the worst ranked disaster with Russia's 1986 Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine.

It is important to exercise caution when assessing this upgrade.  Many are already declaring that the disaster may be worse than Chernobyl, given food and seawater contamination.  However, the extent of the environmental impact and contamination of the food supply remains to be fully seen.

As bad as the Japanese nuclear disaster is, it may create far worse fallout of an economic and political variety, internationally.  It may effectively kill, or at least seriously cripple in the short term, new nuclear development in the U.S. and abroad via both negative public sentiment and political posturing.

And that's a shame.  

I.  The Death of New Nuclear?

The Japanese disaster, much like Chernobyl, was due to gross negligence.  The plant's designers built a reactor in a region prone to flooding by monsoons and tsunamis, yet failed to waterproof the plant's backup generators.  As they say, hindsight is 20-20, but the plant's backup systems were an exercise in shortsightedness.

The quake did show that even ancient reactors are virtually impervious to significant damage from the most powerful of earthquakes.  The plant received extremely little damage due to the quake and was able to complete normal shutdown operations.  

The only serious problem -- the one that caused this mess -- was the flooding.

Much of the focus of the sensationalist media has been on the "risk" of earthquake damage to the U.S.  But the real lesson of Fukushima is that quakes aren't likely catastrophic in and of themselves -- but loss of backup power can be.

Rather than reassessing all nuclear power plants in the U.S. for direct quake damage, the government should be focusing its review on backup systems in quake, mudslide, or flood-prone regions like Louisiana, California, etc.

II. Aging Reactors vs. New Reactors

Even given the Japanese public's new fear of nuclear power, it's unlikely that they'll shut down the nation's other plants like the Monju or Tokai Nuclear Power Plants.  Likewise, the U.S. is unlikely to take its nuclear power plants offline.

What will happen is plans for new plants will likely be shelved in both regions.  In this regard, public fear is creating an unsafe situation. 

Many modern reactor designs are physically incapable of a traditional meltdown/partial-meltdown like occurred at Fukushima and Chernobyl.  Examples of such meltdown-proof designs include pebble-bed reactors and Thorium fuel reactor designs.

The damaged Fukushima plant was scheduled to begin decommissioning just a month after when the quake hit.  One of the reactors had been in operation for over 40 years. 

You could tear down every legacy nuclear power plant in the U.S. and Japan and then rebuild brand new plants.  Not only would you get much more energy; you'd also dramatically improve your safety.

By delaying the deployment of modern reactors, the life of legacy plants is prolonged far past when it should be.  In short, public fear may ultimately be creating a self-fulfilling prophecy by impeding the advent of disaster-proof designs.

III.  Nuclear v. Fossil Fuels

People tend to quickly brush aside the cost of life and environmental contamination of fossil fuels.  Fukushima may seem bad, but the Deepwater Horizon spill of last year did at least a comparable level of environmental damage.  And like the Fukushima spill it contaminated food products (seafood) harvested in the vicinity.

But unlike the Fukushima plant, which has thus far only injured people, it actually killed workers.

Now nuclear power is by no means safe.  But neither is the life cycle of fossil fuels.  Oil prospecting is still a risky business.  BP's executives compared deep sea oil drilling to executing a space mission -- one wrong move and you're in a terrible situation.

Every year miners lose their lives to cancer and accidents in coal mines in order to provide America's primary source of electrical power.  And every decade there has been a major coal mining accident that led to numerous deaths.  Yes, uranium mining is also dangerous, but people tend to forget how dangerous fossil fuels are, far more often than they forget the dangers associated with nuclear energy

Nuclear power offers an alternative to coal power.  And if electric vehicles see sufficient deployment, it may one day be able to greatly reduce oil dependence as well.

While both fossil fuels and nuclear have their risks, nuclear power -- except in cases of gross negligence -- has virtually no emissions.  By contrast the burning of fossil fuels produces carcinogenic hydrocarbons, sulfides, and nitrides, which damage both human health and the environment.

Nuclear waste is certainly a problem, but again this was a far greater problem with legacy designs like those in Japan.  With modern reactors spent nuclear fuel can be applied to rebreeding reactions, reducing waste to a negligible amount.  Better yet, some of these modern reactors can reduce spent fuel from legacy designs, easing the transition process, as well.

Negative views on nuclear power largely come from a handful of incidents in which engineers ignored glaring design flaws and suffered the consequences of their negligence.  Overall nuclear is attractive versus fossil fuels.

It also stacks up favorably versus other forms of alternative energy.  Geothermal, tidal, and wave power all seem promising, but they are highly location specific and, in the case of the latter two sources, the devices to harvest them are still in their infancy.

Hydroelectric sounds great, but it creates immense environmental damage and a huge safety risk.  The failure of the Banqiao Dam in southern China killed 26,000 people.  Another 145,000 died of epidemics as a result of the dam burst.  And millions were left homeless.  That's far worse than any nuclear accident -- Chernobyl or Fukushima.  Numerous smaller hydroelectric accidents have occurred in the U.S. and other nations.

Solar and wind are both relatively "safe" power sources, but they're far more expensive than nuclear and they're intermittent.  The sun doesn't always shine and the wind doesn't always blow, but people are using power 24-7.  Thus clearly society cannot solely rely on these power sources.

At the end of the day, nuclear seems like a viable option -- perhaps the best power option --- when surveyed with an objective, rational, scientific mindset.  Of course if you buy into media sensationalism, you might perceive the picture far differently.

IV. Nuclear Disaster Classification -- a Flawed Scale

The Fukushima Disaster was upgraded [press release] to a "Level 7" disaster on the International Nuclear Event Scale (INES) by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).  As only one other event of this scale has occurred -- Chernobyl -- people automatically assume these two events are comparable.

In a way they are.

As outlined, both events resulted from gross negligence.  Both required evacuations.  And both will require substantial cleanup and removal of contaminated food.

But on the other hand the classification totally fails to assess the true damage to human health. 

Fukushima has led to three direct worker injuries due to radiation exposure.  These workers were inside the plant.  Thus far there have been no reported deaths from the accident.

By contrast Chernobyl reportedly resulted in 64 direct deaths, including 31 direct deaths of workers (to put this in comparison, the Deepwater Horizon explosion killed 11 people).  Hundreds of workers were hospitalized.

By all indications the direct damage in the Chernobyl situation was far worse due to sloppy handling.  There was a significant loss of life, compared to no loss of life in the current situation.  But the ranking system utterly fails to capture this information.  The INES is a system designed by some very smart people.  But in its inability to relay this critical information, it is quite a "dumb" system.

Now it's worth pointing out that levels of atmospheric radioactive iodine-131 and caesium-137 internationally have risen to levels [source] not seen since Chernobyl.  While this does not indicate ANY substantial risk to most of the world, it does likely indicate a major localized radiation release in Japan.  This release, like the release at Chernobyl, will likely elevate cancer rates -- and in some cases cause potentially fatal cancers.

But again this event is still significantly different from Chernobyl in overall impact and it would be highly desirably for the scale to reflect this, which it currently does not.

V. Conclusions

At the end of the day the Fukushima situation is an unsavory one.  But Americans should not let the mistakes of corner cutting Japanese engineers cripple American innovation.

It's important to remember the facts here. 

There has been a significant release of radiation.  The blame for that rest jointly on tsunami flooding (note there was NO significant damage from the earthquake) and on gross negligence on the part of the Japanese nuclear engineers who designed the plant's safety systems.  But thus far no one has died.

No form of power is safe.  But to criticize nuclear power due a bungle at an ancient "dirty" legacy reactor is insanity.  Many modern nuclear reactor designs are utterly incapable of nuclear meltdown, produce virtually no waste, and output much more power.  

Modern nuclear reactors offer one of the most affordable, safe, and reliable alternative energy sources that America has access to today.  To turn our backs on that energy source due to incompetence of a handful of Japanese designers would be selling our children -- and our nation -- short.



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Nuclear power is the future
By rpsgc on 4/13/2011 8:57:16 AM , Rating: 4
Nice article.

Too bad all rationality is thrown out the window when it comes to nuclear power...

Fear mongering has worked well. It's too late to change the people's minds.




RE: Nuclear power is the future
By bug77 on 4/13/2011 9:07:52 AM , Rating: 1
Correction.

Not all reason is thrown out the window. It's just replaced with "other" reason.


RE: Nuclear power is the future
By hughlle on 4/13/2011 9:21:29 AM , Rating: 2
Being rational would be to stand here and say that ther may have been mistakes, but you can't build against mother nature and the idea that we can beuild structures imune to her, well that is just laughable. It doesn't matter how many safety rpoceeedures you have, you cannot beat nature.


RE: Nuclear power is the future
By bug77 on 4/13/2011 9:51:33 AM , Rating: 2
What's that got to do with anything?


RE: Nuclear power is the future
By nafhan on 4/13/2011 10:19:06 AM , Rating: 5
I get the feeling you watched too much Captain Planet as a kid... :)


RE: Nuclear power is the future
By deputc26 on 4/14/2011 12:09:26 AM , Rating: 4
This is probably the best Jason Mick article I've read, and I've read a lot of them, usually I'm not so impressed.


RE: Nuclear power is the future
By Azethoth on 4/14/2011 12:34:16 AM , Rating: 2
Yes, excellent article. You should do one on proposed pebble and thorium reactors themselves. I know about the pebble ones but thorium not so much.


RE: Nuclear power is the future
By Hieyeck on 4/13/2011 1:20:04 PM , Rating: 3
I agree. Let's start by turning off that computer and tearing down your house. ONE WITH THE EARTH.


RE: Nuclear power is the future
By Paj on 4/14/2011 8:19:21 AM , Rating: 2
Youre right. If a meteor hit one of these new reactors, the safety systems would come under equally damning scrutiny.


RE: Nuclear power is the future
By VahnTitrio on 4/13/2011 9:42:47 AM , Rating: 4
Part of the problem is the general public thinks that if we build enough solar and wind energy all our problems will be solved, which simply isn't the case. Really, we cannot generate more than ~30% of our power by such sources before the grid becomes unreliable. Really, we should use nuclear and hydro to cover a high percentage of the base load. Solar and wind can cover the remaining base and some of the live load. But for stability purposes we will always need some fossil fuel generation, at least while the grid is what goes in must come out.


RE: Nuclear power is the future
By Jedi2155 on 4/13/2011 10:39:53 AM , Rating: 2
There is a lot of efforts in grid-scale energy storage projects aimed at rectifying the issue of variability in renewable generation. A 32 MWh storage system is being built at the Tehachapi Wind Farm that provides LA with its main renewable resource. Depending on the success of that project greater than 30% renewable generation may be possible.


RE: Nuclear power is the future
By bug77 on 4/13/2011 11:11:52 AM , Rating: 1
Storage is the skeleton in the closet of renewable energy sources. It is both inefficient and highly toxic. Great strides need to be done in this field before we can start thinking of oil independence.


RE: Nuclear power is the future
By Solandri on 4/13/2011 1:58:25 PM , Rating: 4
You do realize that 32 MWh would represent about 27 seconds worth of power generation from the Fukushima Daiichi plant?

I did some comparison calcs for replacing a power plant the size of Fukushima Daiichi with wind power. Using the current biggest wind farms in the U.S. as a baseline, the equivalent wind farm I came up with would be over 16,000 wind turbines covering an area bigger than the state of Delaware and costing $25-$50 billion.

Right now I see wind power as the most viable of the renewable technologies for new construction (my favorite is geothermal, unfortunately the earthquakes in Switzerland pretty much killed off all R&D in it - ironically the same type of fear that is threatening to shutter nuclear). But it still has a long, long way to go before it has any hope of replacing nuclear power.


RE: Nuclear power is the future
By raddude9 on 4/13/2011 1:17:10 PM , Rating: 2
Not all solar plants use photovoltaics, some of the larger solar towers (although not google's new one though) use a molten salt design which can continue generating power long after the sun has gone down.


RE: Nuclear power is the future
By Solandri on 4/13/2011 2:12:54 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, one of the most effective forms of solar power is a solar water heater. It's just a box painted black. You fill it with water, and let the sun heat the water up. Then you send the water to your hot water tank, where its heated up the rest of the way using electricity or gas. The energy savings/generation happens because the water starts off at a higher initial temperature, so the electric/gas heater has to do less work to bring it up to final hot water temperature.

Because it's thermal solar, it captures 80%-90% of the solar energy (c.f. 15% for most commercial PV panels). And it's dirt cheap to build - a few hundred dollars, $1k max. So why isn't it done more? Fear. Homeowners' insurance doesn't like it when you have a bunch of water mounted on your roof, ready to flood the house should it spring a leak. Like with nuclear power, the rationality of the fear doesn't matter, people just think in terms of worst-case scenarios and write it off as a bad idea without even trying to evaluate the actual risks.


RE: Nuclear power is the future
By fic2 on 4/13/2011 5:17:51 PM , Rating: 2
Friend of mine had a solar water tank installed for free at his house (some group did it). He said after that his water heater rarely comes on in the winter and never in the summer. This is in Denver.

I was looking at a "green" house for sale. Solar electric and other things. Except solar water. I kept thinking - the easiest and best thing to do and they don't even do that.

I saw a program on the green channel that a French inventor came up with something obvious - he made a solar water heater using hollow tubes that make up a porch shade/awning system. You can't even tell that it is a solar hot water system. Very cool.

I have tried to get my sister to install a solar hot water system at her house. She lives in TX. It is usually hot there. Free hot water. Will she do it? No.


RE: Nuclear power is the future
By MrTeal on 4/13/2011 5:21:46 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not sure what the opposition to it is, other than perhaps aesthetics. If nothing else, they could be used for heating a pool in a cooler climate.


RE: Nuclear power is the future
By surt on 4/13/2011 7:52:42 PM , Rating: 2
If insurance is the issue, how hard could it possibly be to suspend the tank a foot away from the body of the house? I guess maybe then it's a fall hazard? But it must be a similar level of hazard if it falls from the roof.


RE: Nuclear power is the future
By cfaalm on 4/14/2011 6:48:39 AM , Rating: 2
You're leaving out geothermal. We're not using nearly enough of that.

On the article.

What makes nuclear "clean"? We can all witness how clean it is in Japan. Sure, under normal conditions there is no obvious air pollution, but that is where it stops, doesn't it? How about the efforts to obtain/enrich uranium or whatever it is they use in those facilities? I'm asking because I don't know. And then there's still no real solution for the nuclear waste. It's a shame we can't put the residual radioactivity to use.


RE: Nuclear power is the future
By bingbong on 4/17/2011 9:11:14 AM , Rating: 2
Nuclear power is not cheaper!
It's not clearner !
It creates 6 times more co2 than Wind for same kw and 3 times more than solar.
It alls good until 30 years into the 40 years of lifespan the companies start hiring cheap workers (Homers)
I suggest you do some reading on
http://www.nirs.org/factsheets/fctsht.htm

The waste problem has not yet been solved
It's not worth solving the problem as a hydrogen based economy using catalytic water splitting or bacterial garbage/biomass to hydrogen.
Renewables can convert to h2 for use at low production times.


RE: Nuclear power is the future
By TechIsGr8 on 4/13/2011 12:04:08 PM , Rating: 1
You want to bury the nuclear waste in your back yard?


RE: Nuclear power is the future
By MrTeal on 4/13/2011 12:44:55 PM , Rating: 4
Depends what you mean by bury, of course, but if they pay me land access fees, sign me up.


RE: Nuclear power is the future
By Solandri on 4/13/2011 6:45:18 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
You want to bury the nuclear waste in your back yard?

As opposed to pumping it into the air like our coal plants do? Heck yeah. You realize the coal we burn contains more uranium (which ends up in the air and the ash) than our nuclear plants use? And that's in addition to all the other nasty stuff that comes from burning coal.

Also, you have to understand the minuscule size of the nuclear waste "problem". The entire U.S. generates about 2000 tons of spent fuel per year despite not reprocessing. Per volume, that's a little less than what it would take to fill two tractor trailers. 20% of the country's electricity needs for a year for the mere cost of two tractor trailers full of "waste". To generate the same amount of electricity would take about half a billion tons of coal. Two tractor trailers of nuclear waste vs. a thousand supertankers full of coal ash. Nuclear is a helluva bargain if you ask me.

That's the reason we've been able to put off a nuclear waste disposal solution for 60 years. There's just so little waste generated that our nuclear plants are doing fine just storing it on-site. Each plant generates a couple bathtubs worth of spent fuel per year.


RE: Nuclear power is the future
By Paj on 4/14/2011 8:22:21 AM , Rating: 2
Problem is, it lasts for hundreds and thousands of years.


RE: Nuclear power is the future
By fteoath64 on 4/14/2011 12:26:44 AM , Rating: 1
Just watch "Battle for Chernobyl" on Youtube and you can see how deadly the radiation actually is. The number of lives cost by Chernobyl is more likely 150K dead within 3 years and 1M suffering from long-term radiation illness. The problem is that the land that was destroyed continues to poison for thousands of years. This radiation fall-out has no remedy in our technology. It kills for generations to come, so how can you say it is safe until another fallout situation occurs again. I say mankind, you CANNOT handle this technology!. Try a helium3 reactor instead.


RE: Nuclear power is the future
By Sunner on 4/14/2011 2:05:43 AM , Rating: 3
You do realize while The Battle for Chernobyl certainly is both entertaining and at times educational, it's not exactly a movie made with science in mind? It's more of a Michael Moore "edutainment" movie.

And no, the are surrounding Chernobyl will not be inhabitable for thousands of years or anything even remotely close to that. Thousands of people work there even today, granted they work 14 day shifts and this keeps them well out of harms way, but they don't exactly live on the other side of the planet for those other 14 days.

You really should visit it if you're interested, it's an awesome place to visit for many reasons, it's educational as well as fascinating.


RE: Nuclear power is the future
By Sunner on 4/14/2011 2:25:44 AM , Rating: 2
Oh and Jason, that third picture is from the LHC CMS, not a thorium reactor.


RE: Nuclear power is the future
By rburnham on 4/15/2011 3:57:00 PM , Rating: 2
It pains me the way some people let fear run their lives. Much like anything else, done right, nuclear power remains a viable option.


RE: Nuclear power is the future
By Phoque on 4/16/2011 11:55:48 AM , Rating: 2
I agree, especially with next generation power plant which, by design, cannot meltdown, even if cooling has stopped (doppler broadening effect), even if an earthquake flattens the plant, with little or no dispersion of radioactive material, especially if the coolant is helium, which only becomes lightly radioactive during use and which is anyway lighter than air, so would go up the sky and not down towards population.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pebble_bed_reactor


+++
By xpax on 4/13/2011 9:05:04 AM , Rating: 4
This is what I've been saying since this whole thing started. Good job, Jason. The problem is that most people are too blinded by fear to listen, either that or they're those granola people who've been against nuclear from day one and just see it as a justification of their belief.

Sadly, the thing these people aren't taking into account is the lack of viable alternatives. To replace the power that reactors supply, we'd have to build tons of coal-fired plants which would be far worse for the environment than new reactor designs (thorium, MSR, etc). Either that, or litter our landscape with pointless wind turbines which kill birds en masse, or solar panels which are notoriously inefficient. The carbon and pollutants released building all those turbines/panels alone would be devastating.




RE: +++
By superPC on 4/13/2011 9:22:07 AM , Rating: 5
Sadly nuclear would never be our main source of energy in the near future. let's face it: humans are still animal and we respond to our primal instinct: fear and greed.

in case of nuclear fear is the reason regular people like us still not yet reach post scarcity status. and greed is the reason people in power prevent the regular people to reach a post scarcity society (when everything is scarce people in power always have more things). because if nuclear become our main source of energy than nothing would be scarce anymore. everything can be infinitely recyclable. food can be grown 24/7 all year round in hermetically sealed climate controlled green houses. with nuclear we can be that kind of society. unfortunately the regular people are to afraid of it and people in power are to greedy to let nuclear be our main source of energy.


RE: +++
By safcman84 on 4/13/2011 9:37:20 AM , Rating: 2
Fear is a primal/base instinct but greed is a purely human condition as a result of our "rational" way of thinking.

most animals, with a few exceptions (mainly domesticated animals), will not eat more than they need. Domesticated animals are greedy, but they have had hundreds of years to learn from us.


RE: +++
By sviola on 4/13/11, Rating: 0
RE: +++
By nafhan on 4/13/2011 10:04:14 AM , Rating: 3
Just want to argue with your "surpass it" point.
Every single item you listed is tied to a specific region AND will generate less power than most nuclear plants - with the exception of IGNITOR. The fusion plant falls into a different category altogether. It is an experiment into what will hopefully be the future of power; not something that will actually be used on a commercial scale anytime soon.


RE: +++
By Iaiken on 4/13/2011 10:50:14 AM , Rating: 5
I really have to ask where you are getting your information.

quote:
The Chinese Solar Power Plant in Gobi desert that will produce 1 billion Watts


As far as I can find, this is a wind plant. Also, that 10 GW figure is it's total installed capacity when every turbine is running at 100% yield. Actual yields will be closer to 12% of that figure based on studies of the weather at the location.

quote:
The European Solar Power Plant project in North Sahara that will power North Africa and Europe


This hasn't even started yet despite having giants like Siemens and Deutsche Bank on board. They are still in the preliminary phase of raising the €400 billion that they need in order to get started. Please don't oversell something that exists only on paper as having surpassed existing installations. It will have only surpassed them when it is real and producing power.

quote:
The Fusion Power Plant under construction in Italy


I'm sorry... I was under the impression that ITER will be in Cadarache, France and that only the English have drawn up a concrete alternative design. Where did you get this information? Even searching the web turns up nothing.

quote:
Wind Power Plants in north of Brazil


This was the only one of your claims with any substance behind it and it is still only viable because the government is subsidizing over half the cost of installation from tax on ethanol. This seems a touch silly to me since they only produce enough to power only 0.5% of the homes in Brazil.


RE: +++
By Iaiken on 4/13/2011 10:58:06 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
The Fusion Power Plant under construction in Italy (it will be finished around 2015)


Found it! Hoever, every article I have found related to it as included this caveat: "neither Italy nor Russia have yet officially committed any funds to the project." As such, I have a really hard time believing your assertion that it could possibly be completed in 4 years.


RE: +++
By Arsynic on 4/13/11, Rating: 0
RE: +++
By Iaiken on 4/13/2011 2:41:43 PM , Rating: 2
I am a solid proponent of Nuclear as a replacement for the base installation of power. However, this doesn't mean that we have to rely exclusively on the base installation.

Intermittent supplies from solar, wind, etc can be extremely useful to help offset load, add localized flexibility/survivability to a grid and to stretch out supplies of coal and uranium. However, this should only be done as an ancillary capacity and only where financially viable.

In the Ontario power grid, if a solar/wind plant cannot be scheduled and so therefor cannot participate in the bidding to set the price. However, if they are producing energy, they will be paid market price that was set by the bids from the generators that they offset. If the generators that were offset want to run, they need to put in lower bids so that someone other than them is offset.

To get around this, most nuclear and hydro plants will bid negative $9999 (saying they will pay to run) and simply accept the market price that was set by the natural gas and coal-fire generators in the bidding. This means that the only generators that are offset by these renewable energies are also the generators of most of the pollution.


RE: +++
By fbrdphreak on 4/13/2011 9:37:24 AM , Rating: 2
Perfectly good article, but wasn't the nuclear industry on a downslope anyway? High costs and regulatory hurdles meant new plant plans were few and far between, and whatever additional regulatory fall-out occurs from this mess has killed the potential for more plants?


RE: +++
By JasonMick (blog) on 4/13/2011 9:45:17 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
Perfectly good article, but wasn't the nuclear industry on a downslope anyway? High costs and regulatory hurdles meant new plant plans were few and far between, and whatever additional regulatory fall-out occurs from this mess has killed the potential for more plants?


Actually, over the last 5 years nuclear had been on an upswing. Plants proposals began floating around and the first new plant proposal in 30 years was filed.

George W. Bush started talking about how great nuclear power would be. And surprisingly his successor President Obama voiced similar thoughts, breaking with his party's traditional line to the chagrin of many of his party peers.

Things were looking good for nuclear... Obama had guaranteed federal loans for new development. And the hurdles facing prospective plants were beginning to clear.

Now the situation, sadly, is dramatically different.

Obama is talking about "rethinking" energy -- which seems to clearly indicate he now feels nuclear is off the table. And due to all the FUD regarding the Japanese screw-up, the majority of the public probably will think that's a good thing.


RE: +++
By FITCamaro on 4/13/2011 9:55:05 AM , Rating: 2
Until that nuclear power plant opens, I'm not holding my breath. It wouldn't be the first plant to get filed, approved, or even built and still never produce a watt of electricity.


RE: +++
By therealnickdanger on 4/13/2011 10:26:23 AM , Rating: 2
Meanwhile, millions - even billions - lost in the process. If I were a conspiracy guy, I might think that all the red tape is just part of plot to keep nuclear costs artificially high and restrictive. However, the longer we avoid drilling our known resources and continue wasting time and money subsidizing corn-based ethanol, nuclear will only get more attractive.

The more I listen to people talk about nuclear - everyday folks, not pundits - the more I think that they only people holding us back are democrats with economic ties to environmentalist groups. Up until this disaster, public perception seemed really positive. Even now, I think most people realize that the media is just hyping up the incident... but I have nothing more than my own anecdotal evidence to back up such a claim. Maybe I just want it to be true.


RE: +++
By brshoemak on 4/13/2011 2:24:20 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
the more I think that they only people holding us back are democrats with economic ties to environmentalist groups.


Really? We're really going to go there? It's not a dem/repub issue at all - everyone wants nuclear power (or power in general) - they just don't want a nuclear plant anywhere near them or their family. 'Near' meaning 2000 miles or more. It's a public sentiment that crosses party lines but each side still plays to their own constituents for further monetary and political support. Fear is the reason we haven't had a new nuclear plant built and in a functioning state for ages.

Build a new nuclear plant in my backyard - give me some cheap ass power due to low transit costs, I'll plug in an electric car for short trips and keep my SUV for traveling any decent distance with my family. If the government is going to spend money (and you know they are, a good portion on stupid stuff) at least use it to investment in something with long term returns.

It saddens me to the degree to which the FUD created by the Japan incident is reversing years of progress in the development of actual functioning nuclear plants.


RE: +++
By Reclaimer77 on 4/13/2011 6:29:52 PM , Rating: 2
LOL Jason. Like Obama ever did anything besides TALK about doing something?

Yeah I'm sure the most Socialist leader since Stalin was really going to pave the way for cheap abundant energy. You realize that goes against everything he stands for, right?

quote:
Obama is talking about "rethinking" energy -- which seems to clearly indicate he now feels nuclear is off the table


Duh, that's the popular thing to say now, so of course he's shifting that way.

Obama isn't a leader. Because everything he does is based on PR, opinion, and popularity. That is NOT leadership.


RE: +++
By Arsynic on 4/13/2011 1:29:47 PM , Rating: 2
The high costs are from fear mongering that the oil companies and the envirowhackos (not to be confused with true environmentalists) have perpetuated.


RE: +++
By Paj on 4/14/2011 8:37:29 AM , Rating: 2
What this article fails to take into account is that uranium is yet another resource. It requires *massive* amounts of power to mine, extract and refine fissile uranium. Water is another issue - if water supply is limited, the reactor cannot function. Fukushima is situated next to an ocean, yet water is a critical problem in the current crisis.

Now, there are alternatives, yes. Thorium/MSR reactors in particular look amazingly promising. This is one avenue of research that should be pushed far more heavily.


F*** YEAH!!
By Ticholo on 4/13/2011 9:03:06 AM , Rating: 2
In the midst of all the crazy, bat-shit insane reactions around the world to what happened because of a natural disaster of an unusual and gigantic proportion, it's about time someone takes this point of view (taking into account it should have happened from the start).
Unless people all over, say, Europe are expecting 9.0 earthquakes and tsunamis that devastate whole regions.
Every time I hear someone talk about Japan's earthquake or the subsequent nuclear plant problems I just point out that, were it probably any other country, the dead would be counted in millions.

What happened IS bad and it is good to review nuclear safety, especially in older plants, but let's not run around in a panic like headless chickens.




RE: F*** YEAH!!
By dowen777 on 4/13/2011 10:52:00 AM , Rating: 2
An unexpectedly severe combination of earthquake and tsunami resulted in the loss of power to back up generators and damaged the final line of defense, the batteries. This severely damaged three nuclear reactors and left too little water in the depleted fuel storage pool or a fourth reactor.

It was both unexpected and unforeseen. Other unexpected events can occur to other reactors. If this doesn't lead to a review of disaster preparedness procedures at other reactors internationally, then we're ostriches willfully keeping our heads in the sand to deny the possibility of other future severe reactor problems.

Your name-calling is self-defeating and only discredits your position.


RE: F*** YEAH!!
By MrTeal on 4/13/2011 12:10:28 PM , Rating: 2
The OP didn't really seem to be calling anyone names. A little over excited maybe, but he's not calling everyone opposed to nuclear power an eco-nut or anything.

This disaster has highlighted a couple problems with the older BWR designs that were already known, as well showing just how dependent emergency planning scenarios are on having infrastructure available to solve the problems. Fukushima wouldn't have been nearly as severe if it had happened in isolation without the massive damage to the rest of the country.

Ultimately though, those aren't problems that can be solved. New reactors can be built that address the issues with the current generation of reactors, but they will have their own failure modes. As long as lessons are learned and overall safety improves that's progress. There will still always be the danger of a major release at a nuclear plant in the event of a major natural disaster, but you have to keep the damage caused by the nuclear release in context of the disaster that precipitated it.

I'm not saying you're advocating this position, but maybe people are claiming that nuclear has to be off the table because it's impossible to guarantee that a huge natural disaster won't cause a Chernobyl or Fukushima. That's no more sensible that constructing multistory buildings should be not allowed unless it can be shown they can survive a once in 10,000 year earthquake.


RE: F*** YEAH!!
By dowen777 on 4/13/2011 12:27:38 PM , Rating: 2
Reports indicate that the US has 24 nuclear reactors of the same type as those at Fukushima. It is also widely reported that the backup systems, including generators and batteries are similarly vulnerable. If backup cooling systems were disabled for whatever reason apparently most battery backup systems are only required to last from 8 to 16 hours.

This seems to be a vulnerability that could be dramatically improved by engineers qualified for the job. It seems like a wise precaution and I hope the Fukushima events will make such an improvement more likely.


RE: F*** YEAH!!
By Solandri on 4/13/2011 2:22:37 PM , Rating: 2
The batteries aren't meant to sustain you for a long time - only long enough for you to get another generator/fuel trucked in and hooked up. Understandably, this did not happen in time at Fukushima due to the tsunami damage and the government's disaster response being completely overwhelmed. Also probably due to TEPCO trying to handle it themselves at first and not telling anyone they needed new generators - they should have made a decision that it was safer to request them and not need them, than to not request them and end up needing them.


RE: F*** YEAH!!
By 3DoubleD on 4/13/2011 2:50:45 PM , Rating: 2
Far too much emphasis is being placed on "negligence" on the part of the engineers at Fukushima.

I recently attended a talk given by two Nuclear Physics professors at McMaster University, which has it's own research reactor on campus and largely contributes to the development of CANDU reactors. When asked "would you have predicted such an outcome at Fukushima if someone had hypothesized this scenario?", a very interesting answer was given.

Risk analysis is a huge part of nuclear reactor design. They calculate the risk of everything going wrong. As those familiar with engineering will tell you, you can't plan for every contingency. When nuclear power plants are designed, they design such that only the smallest, absurdly improbable failure pathways are left - whereby engineering solutions to these problems is would make costs restrictively high.

As a result, NO nuclear power plant is immune to what happened at Fukushima - do not believe anyone who tells you differently. If you have a common event that knocks out all cooling power (eg. a massive tsunami, terrorist attack, meteor strike, [insert improbable event here]), the same situation will develop.

What is the answer then? Obviously nuclear power plants should be built based on the best knowledge of risk factors available at that time, but this was true when Fukushima was built. No one expected a 13 meter tsunami, even based on the data from the larger magnitude 9.5 earthquake under the ocean near Chili.

So then nuclear power plants should be updated when new risk information becomes available right? In fact, the "tsunami barrier" at Fukushima was increased in height during the lifetime of the plant. Also, the risk of hydrogen explosions prompted the installation of special release towers at the site. In both cases, these measures failed to fulfill their intended purpose.

So then what do you do to prevent failure from the most improbable mechanisms without driving up costs to prohibitive levels? You design a plan to restore cooling to a site that has lost cooling power, something the Fukushima plant did not have in place. The source of their failure was their inability to restore cooling before their battery power ran out. If emergency pumping equipment had been located in a safe-off site location, then their miscalculation of the size of the tsunami would not have been so catastrophic. This approach to plant safety applies to every nuclear reactor - plan for the extremely unlikely event that a loss of cooling event happens.

I'd like to close this ridiculously long post repeating what many have pointed out. Even in this worse case event, there have been NO deaths. Exposure to the public is extremely limited. Even the most highly exposed workers in the plant have received doses below that which can be related to increased cancer fatality rates. The radiation levels found in food are well below safety limits, and these are based on YEARLY consumption (eg. you could drink the most contaminated milk for a YEAR and be safe). Furthermore, since no major releases have occurred recently, radiation levels in food (including milk and vegetables exposed to precipitation) will drop quickly as iodine decays, making food contamination even less worrisome. This entire "catastrophe" is absolutely nothing compared to the devastation caused by the actual earthquake and tsunami and it is unfair to the Japanese people that the rest of the world is more concerned with Fukushima.


RE: F*** YEAH!!
By drycrust3 on 4/13/2011 3:02:24 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
An unexpectedly severe combination of earthquake and tsunami resulted in the loss of power to back up generators and damaged the final line of defense, the batteries.

Does anyone know how other designs of nuclear plant would have faired if this happened to them?


RE: F*** YEAH!!
By 3DoubleD on 4/13/2011 4:44:08 PM , Rating: 2
Likely the same thing if cooling was not restored before the fuel rods became exposed.

All reactors are designed to prevent a loss of cooling accident, but if a common event wipes out all reactor cooling then the core will build heat in the same manner as the Fukushima reactors. However, the events following loss of cooling will unfold differently in newer designs.

What differs in newer reactors are the design of cooling systems, the number/type of backup cooling systems, and the ease of attaching emergence power or pumps. For example, the torus steam suppression tank was a source of problems. This type of system was engineered out in later reactor designs in favor of more effective emergency cooling methods.

Also, the build-up of hydrogen in the reactor buildings is something that would be extremely unlikely in newer reactor designs. There were exhaust towers installed at Fukushima to safely release hydrogen outside of the buildings. Unfortunately, they did not work as designed and hydrogen leaked into the building instead. This hydrogen ignited greatly increased the level of difficulty for workers at the site. Such hydrogen removal systems are outdated and have been designed out in newer reactors. For instance, some newer reactor designs have almost no chance of dangerous hydrogen ignitions by mixing large amounts of steam with hydrogen, which prevents any reaction from taking place.

So the short answer: losing reactor cooling is very very bad. The solution is 1) prevent that from happening, 2) have a reactor design that gives you enough time to repair or install emergency cooling before the fuel rods are damaged, 3) have off-site emergency cooling capabilities available so you are covered for unforeseen/improbable loss of cooling scenarios.


RE: F*** YEAH!!
By fic2 on 4/13/2011 5:04:29 PM , Rating: 2
You keep on using "common event" - I don't think you know what common means.


RE: F*** YEAH!!
By Solandri on 4/13/2011 10:42:39 PM , Rating: 2
By "common" he means a single event which affects all your contingencies. Not that the event is more likely to happen.

That's another common mistake in safety engineering. A lot of times, the engineer's thinking goes: A diesel generator is 90% likely to start after a prolonged time unused. We need these generators to work 99.9997% of the time to qualify as six-sigma rated. How do we do this?

Just install 6 generators. The odds of all 6 failing is 0.1^6 = 0.0001%, so the odds that at least 1 generator will start is 99.9999%. Thus qualifying us for a six-sigma reliability rating.

Unfortunately, that assumes each generator failure is an independent event. It completely ignores the possibility of a single common event (like a tsunami) causing the simultaneous failure of all 6 of your generators.


A reason this may happen again
By nafhan on 4/13/2011 9:52:59 AM , Rating: 2
I think the anti-nuclear fear and lobbying actually makes another nuclear disaster on this scale MORE likely.

Here's why: nuclear power's tremendous energy density (relative to other power sources) is great. However, that energy density means it would be very difficult to replace nuclear with another power source. In other words, old nuclear plants really need to be replaced with new, safer nuclear plants, and if we aren't building new nuclear plants, the old, (relatively) unsafe plants we have now are going to stick around for quite a while. Of course, older plants, as noted in the article, are the only ones that can actually have problems on this scale - even if it is tremendously unlikely.

Good job anti-nuclear activists! You're making a nuclear disaster more likely! It's about what you'd expect from groups that are against something without really understanding why.




RE: A reason this may happen again
By chromal on 4/13/2011 10:57:39 PM , Rating: 2
They're not just extending the lifespan licenses of the Gen II reactors, you know. They're also uprating them. Because new plants aren't being built, they're increasing the power output of old ones to meet electrical and economic demand. There's likely more automation and active safety systems than the plants started with 40 years ago, but in an extended station blackout, it's coming down to very old engineering, design margins, and engineering assumptions in a recently-scrammed 1+GW(e) plant.


Worst Case Scenario
By dowen777 on 4/13/2011 10:13:30 AM , Rating: 2
What is a worst case scenario? Its definition is critical to the actual design constraints of any engineering project. Were the Fukushima Plants designed to withstand the combined effects of a 9.0 earthquake with its concomitant severe tsunami? Definitely not. Should or could they have been? It is easy to say they should have been, but it might have made the power too expensive to have justified building them to begin with.

More importantly, now that a 9.0 earthquake and tsunami have happened, shouldn't the worst case scenario be twice or ten times as bad as what has already happened? Just because the worst earthquake that hit Japan in 1200 years has occurred doesn't mean that a much worse combination disaster couldn't occur in 1 or 5 or 10 or 20 years, which is well within the life of a nuclear plant.

What is a worst case scenario? We have seen the effects of severely underestimating this at the Fukushima Plants. It is an extremely important question that should not be defined or answered by those with a direct conflict of interest in the answer. The cost or building the Fukushima Plants was, in part, minimized by use of an unrealistically weak worst case scenario. Now the horrible tragedy of the combined earthquake and tsunami is being made much more expensive, difficult and traumatic as a direct result.




RE: Worst Case Scenario
By Solandri on 4/13/2011 2:40:46 PM , Rating: 2
Chernobyl was pretty much the worst case scenario. You had an active pile exposed to the environment via an explosion, combined with a fire sending radioactive ash into the atmosphere. About the only way for it to be worse would be if the pile were still fissioning, but that would imply no explosion (in Chernobyl, the explosion dispersed the uranium, dropping it below criticality and stopping the fissioning), which means primary and secondary containment are much more likely to succeed (Chernobyl didn't have any secondary containment).

By U.N. estimates, Chernobyl resulted in 50-60 immediate deaths, and about 4000 long-term cancer deaths. Even Greenpeace puts the tally at ~60,000 cancer deaths. So the worst-case scenario for nuclear is really not that bad compared to some other power generation technologies:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banqiao_Dam#1975_Floo...

Also note that the 2nd-worst nuclear accident in history (this one) and 3rd-worst (Three Mile Island) haven't killed anyone yet via irradiation. Due to the relative success of the containment, radioactive release was/has been limited to primarily iodine (gaseous, decays quickly) and cesium (water-soluble, 30-year half-life). We're not seeing most of the nasty fission products that Chernobyl dispersed into the atmosphere in the subsequent fire, primarily strontium-90 (which can end up in bones and lead to leukemia). Those have successfully been contained.


Look ahead for once
By RuudW on 4/13/11, Rating: 0
RE: Look ahead for once
By ZachDontScare on 4/13/2011 3:29:10 PM , Rating: 2
Wind is incredibly dangerous. Lots of people get injured in the production, transport, construction, and maintenence of windfarms. Its just that people with short attention spans dont notice it unless Katie Couric spoonfeeds it to them in easy to digest segments.

But I can tell you with no uncertainty that more people have died from wind power in the US than have died from this so called 'major' Fukishima accident.


RE: Look ahead for once
By fic2 on 4/13/2011 5:02:26 PM , Rating: 2
Do you think that wind and solar power systems just magically appear? The materials for each has to be mined from somewhere. Do you think nobody has been killed installing or maintaining these systems?

See my post on here about deaths per TWh. Nuclear is the safest. 4x safer than wind and 10x safer than solar.


Gross Negligence
By Urkis on 4/13/2011 8:01:24 PM , Rating: 2
Gross negligence... The article repeats that over and over as if only the Russian and Japanese operators are capable of it. I'm sorry but EVERYONE is capable of making mistakes!

If you could somehow remove the human element and replace it with an infallible being, I'm sure there would be zero opposition to nuclear power whatsoever.

I agree with your points about pursuing new designs physically incapable of meltdown... I can only guess that not all new proposed plants use these safer technologies, hence the continued opposition. Either that or these new designs also have their own kinds of hazards.




RE: Gross Negligence
By chromal on 4/13/2011 10:40:12 PM , Rating: 2
New designs pose *economic risk* in the minds of investors who aren't sure what they're really going to get for their money if there isn't a prior example to point to. This is at least a factor in the US government's nuclear power incentives and loan guarantees program.

There's a lot about the gross negligence argument I find compelling, but it's still an incomplete picture. Check out:

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/T110411004893...
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/T110412006319...
and
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/T110413004031...

For a pretty hard look. Worth your time, even if you've kept your ears to the ground, I think you'll hear some new details you didn't know about, particularly in the first article.


Interesting article
By edfcmc on 4/13/2011 11:36:58 PM , Rating: 2
Although i would say that it is a little on the fan boy side, mostly because all the facts of what has transpired at fukishima have not come out, and the disaster has not ended. Second the article assumes most current generation comes from coal and ignores that some portions are supplied by Hydro and Natural Gas and attempts to compare Fukishima nuclear disaster to the deepwater horizon disaster. Even if we had a current nuclear powered grid, we still would have fossil fuel drilling.

Furthermore, no pro-nuclear reactor article written has addressed the fuel supply issue. see: http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2007/fuel-supply.htm...

while i agree with the general premise of the article (i.e., lets learn from Fukishima so we can avoid these accidents in future development), i disagree with the statement that it would be shame to discontinue Nuclear reactor because our current tech is so much cheaper, reliable and would solve the worlds energy problems despite fuel supply issues. In any event at a minimum the US should consider upgrading some legacy plants to current state of the art. which of course begs the question, of who will pay for this upgrade in light of the U.S. current budget/economic situation.




RE: Interesting article
By futrtrubl on 4/14/2011 1:30:20 AM , Rating: 2
Deepwater Horizons aside (which indeed could have been avoided with lower dependace on oil. Yes we would still have to drill for oil but perhaps not such risky deposits) you could compare it the Banqiao disaster instead.

As to the fuel argument. No ones really replied to it because it's not really much of an issue. What the article is talking about is not a lack of fuel it's just a lack of installed base for extracting that fuel. This is something that can be fixed cheaper and faster than constructing the reactors to use the fuel. Also when the article talks about fuel needing to be enriched this is mainly for old designs that, while still in operation, are not planned for construction. Those reactors that need enriched fuel can use the waste fuel from the reactors that don't.
Even if in the end we don't have enough fuel to be mined we can just extract all the Uranium or Thorium we need from the coal ash from coal fired power plants .In 1982 the US alone created ash containing 801 tons of uranium (containing 11,371 pounds of uranium-235) and 1971 tons of thorium. Compared to 504 tons of fuel (almost exclusively Uranium though) consumed by US nuclear power plants that year.
The problem with upgrading legacy plants is that such an upgrade is essentially tearing it down and building a new design anyway.
Regarding funding, a large portion of the price of nuclear plants is due to public sentiment and not basic construction costs and previously due to risks of getting permission to build the reactor and once built not getting permission to run it. Can you imagine the boost to the economy if the bailout money had been spent on building power plants? You could have build almost 1000 reactors for 1/2 of the money spent. Once built they have really low running costs. There's a lot you can do with such abundant cheap energy.


Another good article
By ranran on 4/14/2011 9:44:25 AM , Rating: 2
Jason,

I need to congratulate you a 2nd time - well written article! That's two in the past several weeks.
Keep up the better journalism, grammar/spelling corrrections, and lack of sensationalism!




RE: Another good article
By wired00 on 4/16/2011 4:08:18 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
The blame ... rest jointly on tsunami flooding and on gross negligence on the part of the Japanese nuclear engineers who designed the plant's safety systems.


thats not sensational?

Also just to clarify, the reactors are General Electric Mark 1 reactors. They are American designed. They are manufactured by G.E., Hitachi (GE is major owner of Hitachi) and Toshiba. So, the problem with not waterproofing the backup generators was G.E's gross negligence.


Excellent piece
By Hulk on 4/13/2011 9:31:02 AM , Rating: 2
Thanks for taking the time to write this. If the people that are paralyzed by fear at the word "nuclear" can calm down enough to read and absorb it that would be great. We've gotta keep trying to get the actual facts out there though.




Meanwhile...
By aegisofrime on 4/13/2011 9:45:30 AM , Rating: 2
China pushes ahead with nuclear power, because they don't have eco-mentalists to contend with. While China achieves energy independence (and with 4th Generation Nuclear Reactors, don't have to contend with so much nuclear waste), the USA finds itself in a maze of red tape and fear driven, irrational protest groups.

Rate me down if you want, but then you will just be one of the irrational people. Because this is what's going to happen.




Who is really scared?
By KentState on 4/13/2011 9:48:16 AM , Rating: 2
Besides those that never supported nuclear power, who are these scared masses. Almost anyone I've talked to recently, both liberal and conservative, are in favor of nuclear power as long as we improve upon our mistakes. The national media is not really our voice and the fear mongering should not be mistaken for the mindset of the rational majority. If we went by what CNN, NBC, FOX and the rest broadcasted nightly, no one would be swimming in the ocean, flying on planes, driving cars, eating food or venturing into the sunlight.




inevitable outcomes
By Shadowmaster625 on 4/13/2011 9:54:57 AM , Rating: 2
There is just no useful education in this country, so it should be no surprise to see the ignorance about modern nuclear power options. Even most of the pro-nuke people dont have a clue what a LFTR is. And now there appears to be major breakthroughs in LENR, and I suspect that that progress will be stonewalled by what is going on at Fukushima, even though LENR designs, like most thorium designs, cannot melt down.




Deaths per TWh by energy source
By fic2 on 4/13/2011 1:00:56 PM , Rating: 2
According to http://nextbigfuture.com/2008/03/deaths-per-twh-fo...

Coal – USA 15
Oil 36 (36% of world energy)
Natural Gas 4 (21% of world energy)
Biofuel/Biomass 12
Peat 12
Solar (rooftop) 0.44 (less than 0.1% of world energy)
Wind 0.15 (less than 1% of world energy)
Hydro 0.10 (europe death rate, 2.2% of world energy)
Hydro - world including Banqiao) 1.4 (about 2500 TWh/yr and 171,000 Banqiao dead)
Nuclear 0.04 (5.9% of world energy)

every form of energy has a higher death rate than nuclear




Sensationalism from Jason
By rvd2008 on 4/13/2011 4:31:33 PM , Rating: 2
"impact and contamination of the food supply remains to be fully seen" -- fully, hmmm?
"far worse fallout of an economic and political variety, internationally" -- so talking is not cheap anymore, but actually "far worse fallout" than 500,000 terabecquerels - really, Jason?
"virtually impervious to significant damage from the most powerful of earthquakes" -- year, right
"extremely little damage due to the quake" -- more of the above
"the only serious problem ... was the flooding" -- more of the above
"sensationalist media" -- e.g. dailytech and Jason?
""risk" of earthquake damage" -- "risk" in quotes = no risk?
"buy into media sensationalism" -- like Jason articles
"does not indicate ANY substantial risk" -- problem with CapsLock?
"major localized radiation release" -- major, but localized, so not so major... I am confused
"the Fukushima situation is an unsavory one" -- now that was put mildly
"bungle at an ancient "dirty" legacy reactor is insanity" -- "dirty" no so much ... again
"Many modern nuclear reactor designs are utterly incapable of nuclear meltdown" -- so they said 50 or so years ago, nasty "corner-cutters"
"produce virtually no waste" -- of course no waste - in Jason dreams, as thorium reactors do not even exist yet
"rebreeding reactions" -- thorium reactions are highly energetic and emit powerful and deadly gamma rays, much more than U235-based, but Jason knows how to handle that
"incompetence of a handful of Japanese designers" -- inglorious ba$tards, or wait, didn't GE (Americans) designed and built those "ancient dirty legacy reactors" and sold them to poor Japs?
--
"The Radium Water Worked Fine Until His Jaw Came Off"




thanks for the article
By zodiacfml on 4/14/2011 4:42:19 AM , Rating: 2
additionally, there is no choice. civilizations need more power as they grow and we could not depend on fossil fuels anymore.




Good Article
By William Gaatjes on 4/15/2011 7:35:46 AM , Rating: 2
Good article.

I am bothered as much as any sane person by the way the media use false information to get high view rates and thus fat commercial contracts.




By wired00 on 4/16/2011 3:51:11 AM , Rating: 2
I lost track of the amount of slandering of Japanese engineers and references to old japanese dirty reactors...

Fukushima plant was designed by GE NOT japanese.




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