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The floating nuclear reactors would provide power and heat to Arctic regions

Russia's Atomic Power Agency and an Arctic military shipbuilding plant have both agreed to build the world's first commercial floating nuclear fission reactor, which should be in use in as early as 2010.  The first floating reactor that Rosenergoatom and Sevmash build is estimated to cost around $336 million -- it will be deployed in a remote, sparsely-populated region on Siberia's northern coast, where electric and thermal supply is very limited.  Russian president Vladimir Putin hopes to bump the nation's electricity generated by nuclear reactors from 17 percent to 25 percent.   

Although Russian authorities believe floating nuclear plants are safe, not everyone is as supportive.  Environmentalists like Charles Digges, editor of a Norwegian and Russian arctic nuclear publication, believes that floating nuclear plants are "absolutely unsafe - inherently so."  However, the head of Russia's Federal Atomic Power Agency has dismissed all criticism while saying that there will not be a floating Chernobyl incident.

Nuclear fission isn't the only game in town anymore.  ITER, JT-60 and EAST are all racing to increase the world's knowledge on nuclear fusion as well.


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RE: good idea
By patentman on 6/19/2006 7:40:01 AM , Rating: 2
"No, I dont have a more efficient solution handy, but to say nuclear energy is safe is just naive."

Nuclear energy is more safe then most other readily available sources of energy (solar probably being the safest, but hardest to obtain). There are at least two failsafes in modern reactors designs, coolant and control. Most modern reactors are water cooled and built around a system employing control rods which, in very simplified terms, control whether or not the fission reaction is allowed to proceed. The water is used to cool the reactor, and, in most power stations, is converted to steam to drive a turbine that generates electricity. Further, in most modern designs, the control rods can be dropped in a matter of seconds (either by computer or a manual override), shutting the reaction down.

Further, while I'm not making light of the accident at three mile island (the only real "modern" facility to have a nuclear incident), the average human being in the surrounding area received an increased radiation dosage of ~100 millirem, which is equivalent to about 12 chest x-rays or a 33% increase in background exposure over an entire year.

Finally, I wonder if people would feel differently about nuclear power if it didn;t have the word "nuclear" in it. A number of devices that are basee don the same fundamental technologies have been renamed to avoid public outcry because they had the word "nuclear" in their title. I.e. the Magnetic Resonance Imaging Machine used to be called the "Nuclear" Magnetic Resonance Imaging Machine until someone noticed that a lot of people wouldn't get in them for fear of being irradiated because the machine was "nuclear."

I sum, I'm all for nuclear power, so long as appropriate precautions are taken and a modern design is used. Are they 100% safe? No. Is anything 100% safe? No. And as someone said before, better to die quickly then to choke ourselves slowly to death by filling the air with the sulfate and carbon monoxide produced in coal fire power plants. That stuff is every bit as deadly as radiation, it just takes long to have an effect.



RE: good idea
By peternelson on 6/19/2006 8:43:08 AM , Rating: 2

Be aware that Chernobyl had BOTH failsafes for cooling and control rods.

An accident still occured because the fool in charge of the plant decided to disable them so he could run a test and impress his colleagues.

The most dangerous part of a nuclear plant is the people (or the terrorists outside).


RE: good idea
By The Cheeba on 6/19/2006 9:12:04 AM , Rating: 2
quote:

Be aware that Chernobyl had BOTH failsafes for cooling and control rods.

Chernobyl was a first generation design, and there were still dozens of cascading errors that occurred (same with 3MI). No facility built today even has the ability to disable the failsafes.


RE: good idea
By masher2 (blog) on 6/19/2006 9:55:05 AM , Rating: 1
> "Chernobyl was a first generation design..."

Chernobyl was a first-generation Soviet design. The Western world wisely never once built a single graphite-moderated, water-cooled reactor. Such designs are inherently dangerous.


RE: good idea
By nightdagger on 6/20/2006 1:59:07 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, the accident was caused because some idiot operators were seeing how long it would still produce power without cooling. They overrode the safety precautions.


RE: good idea
By masher2 (blog) on 6/19/2006 9:51:49 AM , Rating: 2
> "the average human being [at Three Mile Island] in the surrounding area received an increased radiation dosage of ~100 millirem"

In other words, he received a SMALLER dose than a person receives simply by working in Grand Central Station in NYC, naturally radioactive by virtue of the granite used in its construction. So much for scare tactics.

> "solar probably being the safest, but hardest to obtain). "

Solar power generation is far from safe, especially on a large commercial basis. Not when you look at the full picture.

Solar power requires massive arrays of batteries for power storage. Batteries made from toxic materials and which are-- in the high power densities required-- quite dangerous. A little too much heat, a failure of an overcharge regulator, or some similar accident, and the entire bank explodes...releasing all its stored energy when it does. Not a lnuclear explosion of course...but one large enough to decimate a facility, and kill any nearby workers.

Nuclear, coal, and hydroelectric plants are small. To generate the same amount of power with solar would require covering hundreds of millions of acres with solar cells. At least some of those would be rooftop mounted...and that means thousands of people scrambling around to clean and maintain those cells. If you don't think that's dangerous, look up the insurance rates on roofers, antenna and mini-dish installers, and similar professions.

You can make cells more efficient by using concentrative mirrors or other devices, but they carry a risk as well-- a worker in the '80s was killed by accidently passing through the focus of just such a device.

The result? With solar power, you don't risk a single large accident, but you guarantee yourself a steady stream of yearly fatalities. A couple here, a couple there...once in a while a major accident that might kill ten or twenty. Similar to the death rates in the coal or oil industry. But stil far more dangerous than nuclear power based on western-style reactors...an industry that has never caused a single fatality.

I won't even point out that solar power is far too diffuse to ever solve our energy needs...not unless we have a major breakthrough, or we begin collecting solar power from orbit.



RE: good idea
By patentman on 6/19/2006 3:17:30 PM , Rating: 2
"Solar power requires massive arrays of batteries for power storage. Batteries made from toxic materials and which are-- in the high power densities required-- quite dangerous. A little too much heat, a failure of an overcharge regulator, or some similar accident, and the entire bank explodes...releasing all its stored energy when it does. Not a lnuclear explosion of course...but one large enough to decimate a facility, and kill any nearby workers."

While I acknowledge the issue you are trying to bring up, it should be noted that large scale batteries are currently employed in most power grids today, including those supplied by Nuclear, Coal-Fire, Hydroelectric, and Solar Power.

Also, I never said solar was the most efficient way to obtain power, just probably the safest. Even if a solar plant blows, only a few people are killed. If a nuclear plant blows, potentially millions are killed (however unlikely that may be). Coal-fire in my opinion is the most dangerous, because it pollutes indiscriminately.


RE: good idea
By masher2 (blog) on 6/19/2006 3:35:13 PM , Rating: 2
> "it should be noted that large scale batteries are currently employed in most power grids today, including those supplied by Nuclear, Coal-Fire, Hydroelectric, and Solar Power. "

Incorrect. The current power grid operates by matching supply exactly to demand. There is some experimentation going on for large-scale power storage, but such a thing is well in the future.


RE: good idea
By masher2 (blog) on 6/19/2006 3:35:49 PM , Rating: 2
> "Also, I never said solar was the most efficient way to obtain power, just probably the safest"

If you define safety as the lowest number of expected fatalities-- it isn't. Each risk is minor...but when summed across the vast scale required for commercial generation of solar power, its the least safe of all.

The notion that a nuclear accident-- no matter how serious-- could result in "millions of deaths" is fallacious as well. Look at Chernobyl. A dangerous reactor design rejected by the US industry half a century ago....a accident involving multiple failures and breakdowns on several levels...and, worst of all, a government that refuses to even issue an evecuation order for several days after the accident. There were people FISHING in Chernobyl's cooling pond three days AFTER the meltdown, for god's sake. And what was the fatality count from that? 30-odd deaths immediately...all plant workers. If you count increased cancer risks and factor in every possible death since the accident...nearly 1000 more fatalities. All of which could have been saved by fast evacuation and remedial iodine treatments after the incident.

Even if you built a Chernobyl-style reactor in the middle of downtown Manhattan, operated it with a team of chimpanzees, and gave al Qaeda all the access codes, you wouldn't get "millions dead" from an accident.


RE: good idea
By Pirks on 6/19/06, Rating: 0
RE: good idea
By patentman on 6/21/2006 12:54:30 PM , Rating: 2
"Wow, I couldn't stomp on and smash patentman's lies about "millions dead" better than you. I just wanted to comment a little on his stupid remark about millions of dead, from my Kiev experience (I was theer in 1986) but I'm late - you shot patentman's BS lies like Carlos Hathcock."

Did I ever say millions would die as a result of an accident at a nuclear plant? NO DUMBASS, I DIDN'T. I said that there is a POTENTIAL for millions to die as a result of a nuclear accident. Further, if you knew your ass from your mouth you would realize that people are STILL being affected by Chernoble...... And if you don't believe me, go talk to some kids over there who have thyroid cancer, three fingers (or some other birth defect), there are in fact thousands upon thousands of them (See http://environmentalchemistry.com/yogi/hazmat/arti...).

Glad to know this forum attracts some real geniuses... And yes, although I do not have first hand knowledge, I have a pretty clear understanding of what it is like to live in a communist country as my Father grew up in Czechoslovakia when it was still communist.

As for Batteries not being used in modern power grids, I disagree. While they are not widely used, they are used.


RE: good idea
By huges84 on 6/19/2006 6:16:09 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
If you define safety as the lowest number of expected fatalities-- it isn't. Each risk is minor...but when summed across the vast scale required for commercial generation of solar power, its the least safe of all.


That is a completely retarted definition!!! You define safety based on the HIGHEST number of POSSIBLE INJURIES. You also have to wiegh in the severity of the injuries and the likelihood of them happening. More people probably choke to death on food each year then die from radiation. However you are retarted if you say that food is more dangerous than concentrated radiation. It is just that the number of times people eat food is much greater than the number of times someone is exposed to concentrated radiation.

<qoute>The notion that a nuclear accident-- no matter how serious-- could result in "millions of deaths" is fallacious as well.

You obviously do not fully understand logic because you are contradicting yourself there.

quote:
Even if you built a Chernobyl-style reactor in the middle of downtown Manhattan, operated it with a team of chimpanzees, and gave al Qaeda all the access codes, you wouldn't get "millions dead" from an accident.


You have got to be kidding! While it may be difficult to destroy a well designed, built, and maintained nuclear plant, it is still very possible. It is not like they are made of some totally indestructable material. And don't start quoting the explosive forces they are built to withstand. There is nothing that you can't use chemical reactions to eat right through, nothing.


RE: good idea
By masher2 (blog) on 6/19/2006 6:29:59 PM , Rating: 2
> "You define safety based on the HIGHEST number of POSSIBLE INJURIES."

I got a nice chuckle out of this one. Lets quickly disprove this little gem before we go any further. Let's imagine two different machines. One kills one person a day, each and every day. Guaranteed. The other one has a one-in-a billion chance of killing two people on any given day.

By your notions, the first machine is inherently safer. After all, it can never kill more than one person. So what if it kills 365 people each and every year.

Solar power is like this. The deaths come in ones and twos...possibly 20 or 30 for that rare larger accident. But-- if we actually ever tried to generate large-scale solar power, they'd come in a daily stream.

Compare that to the Western nuclear power industry, which has racked up 10,000+ reactor YEARS of operation, all without a single fatality. Impressive, to say the least.

> "While it may be difficult to destroy a well designed, built, and maintained nuclear plant, it is still very possible"

Of course. But it wouldn't kill "millions" of people if you did, even if it was in the middle of Manhattan. If you built the plant somewhere outside of a urban area, it wouldn't even kill hundreds of people, assuming the government took proper steps to evacuate and decontam.


RE: good idea
By Eris23007 on 6/19/2006 6:56:24 PM , Rating: 2
The problem in your reasoning is that you assume any destruction of a nuclear facility will result in a critical reaction akin to an atomic bomb exploding.

This is not true.

Nuclear power reactors place uranium or plutonium in such a configuration that, even if unregulated, they will not result in a critical reaction - instead they react in a very slow growth toward criticality that results in the heat they generate being sufficient to melt through the container holding them, the concrete beneath, the earth, etc. This the notion commonly referred to as a "meltdown": the reactants melt through the surface of the earth.

In fact, Chernobyl was a case of a meltdown - what happened was that when the molten core material had melted through the innermost vessel, it actually mixed with some of the material it has melted through, making the molten material less concentrated and therefore easing the nuclear reaction. In the case of Three Mile Island, the core melted, but was unable to penetrate the innermost vessel.

However, at no point does a thermonuclear explosion take place. For that to happen, not only would the core have to melt down - but it would have to be highly compressed to the point where it achieved sufficient density as to go critical. This is one of the parts that makes nuclear weapons so hard to build - you really have to compress it down to extraordinarily high densities, and it will not do so itself.

Look at the first two nukes that the US built: "Fat Man" used a very carefully-designed array of high explosives assembled into a shell configuration that would create extraordinary implosive force inside the shell. Then a critical mass (approx 50lbs if I recall correctly) of highly-purified (much more highly purified than is used in commercial reactors, incidentally) plutonium was placed at the center. When the reaction was desired, the implosion took place, compressing the plutonium to the degree necessary to create a critical reaction.

With uranium, on the other hand, the density required is much lower, but the purity of the fissionables must be much higher - and the purity of the fissionables used in commercial reactors is nowhere near enough.

Long story short, the Chernobyl meltdown was just about as bad of a scenario as is realistic - and did not kill anywhere near the "millions" you so breathlessly imagine.

All in all, the evidence supports masher's conclusions: the notion that a nuclear accident at a commercial power reactor could result in "millions of deaths" is fallacious.

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

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

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


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