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  (Source: Miramax)

The oil spill in the U.S. Gullf may become the largest in U.S. history. It threatens the multitude of rich wildlife in the Gulf of Mexico.  (Source: Audobon Society)

BP and rig operator Transocean have turned to finger pointing. Meanwhile 11 workers are lost, likely dead, and local economies are losing millions of dollars.  (Source: AP)
BP blames rig operator, meanwhile disastrous mess continues to grow

The recent tragic loss of life at the Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia highlighted the dangerous cost of our nation's reliance on fossil fuels, and offered cause to consider emerging energy sources like clean nuclear power.  Now yet another fossil fuel disaster has rocked the U.S., and it's unlikely to settle down any time soon.

On April 20 Deepwater Horizon, a massive oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico was rocked by a series of explosions that literally blew workers out of their beds.  Two days later the rig sank and the broken well began pouring 1,000 to 5,000 barrels of oil out into the ocean daily.

Attempts to perform controlled burns on the spill have been largely unsuccessful and the oil has spread out across close to 4,000 miles as of Friday.  It is currently on the shores of Louisiana.

In terms of ecological damage the spill is a nightmare.  As the spill bears down on Louisiana, hundreds of species of fish, birds and other wildlife along the Gulf Coast are considered at high risk.  Louisiana is home to some of the richest coastal wildlife in the U.S., including four species of endangered sea turtle, dolphins, porpoises and whales.   That life is able to survive in the face of mighty hurricanes, but it's uncertain whether it will be able to fully recover from the folly of man.

Even if you care little about the environmental impact, the spill is an economic disaster as well.  The fishing industry, so vital to the Gulf Coast economy, is reeling from the spill, which threatens its stocks.  And the tourism business is also suffering.

Tony Hayward, CEO of BP, the company that leased the rig and used its oil blames the rig owners, "The responsibility for safety on the drilling rig is Transocean. It is their rig, their equipment, their people, their systems, their safety processes.  We will deal with these issues in the fullness of time. today we’re focusing on the response. But as I’ve said, the systems’ processes on a drilling rig are the accountability of the drilling rig company."

The question of responsibility may become a serious one as over 11 workers from the rig are missing, and likely dead.  The family members who suffered this tragic loss and the rig survivors, many of whom were injured, are reportedly preparing suits against both BP and Transocean.

BP is already paying $6M USD a day to try to contain the spill and will have to spend $100M USD to drill a relief well to stop the flow of oil.  Estimates are that it will cost $700M USD to replace the rig.

The spill is the worst oil disaster in the gulf since the blowout and oil spill of the Ixtoc I in 1979.  It is estimated that within 50 days it will pass the worst oil spill in U.S. history — the 11 million gallons that leaked from the grounded tanker Exxon Valdez in Alaska's Prince William Sound in 1989.  And the relief valve may not be finished for as long 90 days -- roughly three months.

Earlier this month President Obama called for new oil exploration and drilling in the Gulf Coast.  The enormous cost in life, money, and ecological damage of the Deepwater Horizon disaster begs the question -- is it really wise for our nation to continue to pursue the dangerous strategy of oil expansion, when nuclear could give us an affordable, clean, safe, and environmentally friendly solution to all our nation's energy problems?


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BP better have deep pockets
By ValorMorghulis on 5/1/2010 11:35:10 PM , Rating: 4
I wish that the media would not lump these tragic deaths in with the environmental cause. Sure Oil drilling and coal drilling are dangerous, but thats a workplace safety issue not an environmental one and I feel like they are and should be considered separately.

In reference to the environmental impact of this incident, I wonder when we will know exactly how bad this spill will be. Already I have seen the estimates for how many gallons are spilling a day changed several times.

I also hope and expect that no government money will be spent cleaning up this spill. Oil companies have been lobbying for years to open up more offshore drilling. Given the obscene profit they frequently make, handing the liability to the government would be complete and total bull****. And they had better do a good job of cleaning it up, so the spill doesn't wreck the livelihood of the local people or the local environment.




RE: BP better have deep pockets
By smitty3268 on 5/2/2010 12:24:23 AM , Rating: 5
By law BP is responsible for reimbursing the government every single dollar that it might spend in response to this disaster. So luckily that isn't a concern.

I'm also all in favor of going nuclear, but somehow i doubt this is going to help the cause. People aren't going to suddenly realize how much safer it is than oil - they're going to say, people said oil spills like this were impossible, so why should we believe you when you say the same about nuclear accidents? It's just the way people's minds work, they aren't going to trust the stuff coming out of the energy companies mouths for a while now.


RE: BP better have deep pockets
By MadMan007 on 5/2/2010 12:39:26 AM , Rating: 5
Well, no, oil people don't say these accidents are 'impossible' just 'highly unlikely.' In some cases with nuclear, depending upon the reactor design, accidents are literally impossible by the laws of physics.

Anyway wehat we really need is fusion :)


RE: BP better have deep pockets
By heffeque on 5/2/10, Rating: -1
RE: BP better have deep pockets
By AnnihilatorX on 5/2/2010 2:29:26 PM , Rating: 5
Anandtech 2070: "Fusion Plant Accident Likely to be Worst Disaster in World History, Raises Call For Stone Age Lifestyle"


RE: BP better have deep pockets
By saiga6360 on 5/2/2010 2:35:00 PM , Rating: 5
Anandtech 2010: Stone Age Lifestyle not working out, man leaps back in time to prevent oil spill. Raises call for new Quantum Leap episodes for better awareness.


By ImJustSaying on 5/7/2010 5:53:06 PM , Rating: 2
Brilliant.


RE: BP better have deep pockets
By Reclaimer77 on 5/2/2010 3:53:51 AM , Rating: 5
Oil and nuclear aren't interchangeable anyway. We need both. Unless someone has developed a car sized Mr. Fusion that I'm not aware of. Also petroleum is used in thousands of other products that have nothing to do with energy production.

I'm in favor of more nuclear power too. But this article isn't the way to do it. Trying to lump together coal and oil accidents to make a case for Nuclear doesn't change the fact that both nuclear AND petroleum products fill a unique role. And both are equally needed.

quote:
they're going to say, people said oil spills like this were impossible, so why should we believe you when you say the same about nuclear accidents?


Well they are stupid in the first place for expecting accidents to never happen. I mean, honestly, let's be real here. Given the right set of circumstances and situation, they can and will happen. It's a fact of life.

Instead of criminalizing the entire industry and sensationalizing everything (I'm looking at you media), let's back off and remember people are dead. Let's figure out what went wrong so men working on other rigs and the environment will be safer once it's prevented as much as possible.


RE: BP better have deep pockets
By Solandri on 5/2/2010 4:18:39 AM , Rating: 5
The cap directly above an oil well has a shutoff value put there specifically to prevent this sort of incident from happening. Even if the entire rig explodes and burns (which is what happened in this case), you can still flip this valve and shut off the flow of oil.

Unfortunately in this case, the valve seems to be stuck in the open position. The post-accident analysis of why this valve isn't working is going to be crucial. I suspect we're going to see new federal regulations mandating multiple redundant valves on well caps in potentially environmentally sensitive areas. If it turns out not to be working due to improper installation or poor maintenance, I suspect there are going to be some huge fines.


RE: BP better have deep pockets
By Reclaimer77 on 5/2/2010 10:38:14 AM , Rating: 2
Very interesting. I didn't know about this safety valve. Does it activate automatically? Could it have been damaged by the rig sinking on top of it?


RE: BP better have deep pockets
By Kosh401 on 5/3/2010 12:50:30 AM , Rating: 2
They way I heard it explained on the news was that the 'valve' failed either because of the force of the explosion resonating back down the shaft into the platform on the sea bed, or it was a result of the way in which the rig sank that deformed the shaft/valve system. The guy said it was more likely from the way the rig sank, but that they wouldn't know for sure for a while.

I heard today they may be dropping a huge metal and concrete "box" over top of the 3 leaking pipes to try and help contain/slow it down since the valve system is pooched.


RE: BP better have deep pockets
By gamerk2 on 5/3/2010 11:30:22 AM , Rating: 1
The saddest part, is that there has been a second shutoff mechanism that was NOT included when the rig was built, because it was deemed "too expensive" ($500k).

Of course, BP and others will complain that forcing them to include these mechanisms will ultimatlly hurt the consumer, as the extra cost of building rigs would lead to an increase in the price of gas...


By ZachDontScare on 5/3/2010 2:57:49 PM , Rating: 1
Thats the current meme making rounds in left-wing/enviro-nut blogs. What they dont tell you is that those devices have never actually been used to shut off a leak. And that the well *did* have an automatic, not remote controlled, shutoff. And since the explosion on this one probably blew apart the valve that is supposed to close off the spill, the remote control'd version probably wouldnt have worked in any event.


RE: BP better have deep pockets
By FreeTard on 5/3/2010 9:08:04 AM , Rating: 3
There are already multiple components to the BOP, which is the cap they're talking about. BOP = Blow Out Preventer.

You've got the annular ram which seals off the annulus. Blind rams which seal the hole if nothing is in the way (like pipe). Cut-offs which cut through the pipe and seal it off. Pipe-rams which just crush whatever is in the hole at the time. Just to give you an idea of the size of this valve, I have seen them 6 stories tall on a deep, high pressure well.

Problem is these are typically controlled by the driller, and they are typically hydraulic.

A rig blows up and 1. The driller may not have time to activate the BOP. 2. May not have had hydraulic power to activate the BOP. 3. May have closed the wrong "valve", as each would be appropriate in different situations.

When you take a kick... you may or may not have time to activate the BOP. I've seen a drilling rig go from drilling to blow torch in a matter of seconds.

BOPs are also extremely regulated already, requiring 12-16 hours of pressure testing for land rigs.


RE: BP better have deep pockets
By Shining Arcanine on 5/2/2010 5:58:53 PM , Rating: 2
Well, it seems like it is possible to eliminate the need for oil drilling:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithium_air_battery
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fischer%E2%80%93Trops...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_aircraft
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synthetic_oil
http://inhabitat.com/2010/04/30/japanese-researche...

New cars could be electric using Lithium Air batteries. Old cars could be run on diesel and gasoline produced via the Fisher-Tropsch process. Commercial air travel could switch from jet engines to propeller-based designs, without much of a loss in performance because the typical 747s that commercial airlines use fly so slowly anyway. That would allow the planes to either use a nuclear power source, lithium air batteries like their ground based counter parts or fuel produced via the Fischer-Tropsch process. Military jets could also use JP4 from the Fischer-Tropsch process. Lubricants such as motor oil can be synthesized. Lastly, plastics can be produced either from oil made via the Fischer-Tropsch process or as the recent breakthrough has shown, water.

There really is no need to drill for oil. Nuclear power plants can be used to provide energy for the Fischer-Tropsch process, so all energy could come from a mix of nuclear power and coal. Assuming someone devises a clever way to efficiently extract CO2 from the atmosphere, which will likely kill all flora in the surrounding area, it should be possible to bypass the need for coal as well by using some sort of metallic catalyst to convert water, CO2 and heat into hydrocarbons and oxygen. This would result in the only source of energy necessary being nuclear power.


RE: BP better have deep pockets
By JediJeb on 5/3/2010 10:16:00 AM , Rating: 2
Fischer-Tropsch currently is not something that would replace oil in an economic manner. If it was we would already be using it. South Africa used it when they could not import oil because of trade restrictions and Germany used it for the same reason during WW2. Neither was because it was better or more economic but because or necessity. Using it to fuel planes would double the cost of the fuel at a minimum, and I don't think people are ready to start paying that much more for air travel or the products that are shipped by air.

Also the idea of electric motors for planes is not likely to happen any time soon. Just to have enough power to get off the ground would require batteries that took up most of the space inside the plane. I also imagine electric planes would not have a very long flight time, though I haven't kept up with that specific tech in awhile.

For lubrication, refined plant oils would probably be a better source than trying to make so much synthetic oils from non petroleum sources. Many would cite the problem of using up too much crop land for oils instead of food, but right now there are many thousands of acres of land that the government pays farmers to not grow crops on that could be used for that purpose.


RE: BP better have deep pockets
By cmdrdredd on 5/2/2010 7:44:04 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Oil and nuclear aren't interchangeable anyway. We need both. Unless someone has developed a car sized Mr. Fusion that I'm not aware of. Also petroleum is used in thousands of other products that have nothing to do with energy production. I'm in favor of more nuclear power too. But this article isn't the way to do it. Trying to lump together coal and oil accidents to make a case for Nuclear doesn't change the fact that both nuclear AND petroleum products fill a unique role. And both are equally needed.


That's what I was thinking exactly. My Car runs on gas which is refined from oil and my engine needs motor oil. There's no reason to say Nuclear options for the power grid are going to make people need oil less. Sometimes it baffles me how the media and such is able to forget the fact that their car, their airplanes, the trucking and shipping industry, and the boats and ships that do fishing and freight need oil to function and keep those very people going day to day.


RE: BP better have deep pockets
By porkpie on 5/2/2010 10:08:12 PM , Rating: 2
"There's no reason to say Nuclear options for the power grid are going to make people need oil less."

His point was that, using nuclear power, you can synthesize hydrocarbons directly from raw constituents, rather than drilling for them in the ocean floor.


RE: BP better have deep pockets
By JediJeb on 5/3/2010 11:39:55 AM , Rating: 2
Problem is he doesn't mention the cost difference for supplying those hydrocarbons by the synthetic route. If our economy can handle a doubling or tripling or more of the cost of everything based on hydrocarbons they his idea would be feasible, but I doubt it could.

I would be all for this solution, since it is what my degree is in (coal chemistry and associated technologies)but right now it is not feasible to make the switch unless oil prices go much higher than they did a couple years ago.


By MrBlastman on 5/3/2010 3:01:02 PM , Rating: 3
You are looking at it all wrong. We can afford to make our own hydrocarbons NOW, and, quite affordably might I add.

For the low price of a single glass of milk, you can set off a whole room of lactose intolerant people for at least eight hours. That is eight FULL hours of natural gas production, for the cost of a single glass of milk. At an average cost of $3.72 per gallon, that means for a small investment of $0.23, not even two bits, you can produce an astonishing amount of gas.

No nuclear power required.

None, and it is all natural. It even solves the problem of using our national farmland to produce fuel. We can now produce the food, which enables us, the people, to produce our OWN fuel. Best of all, it will save on heating costs--something Mr. Hugo Chavez will not be happy about all.

I forgot to mention one other benefit as well. All of this milk production (which will only be a bit more at first) will lead to expanded CO2 production. Since the latest data shows our world in a cooling cycle, the extra carbon dioxide will come in handy, helping us to warm the planet back up and avoid another ice age.

Beans, yes, beans and milk can help us produce all the gas we need. Go green--Go beans!

Try it now, in a local restaurant near you! :)


RE: BP better have deep pockets
By Targon on 5/3/2010 5:05:22 AM , Rating: 2
The problem with the idea of electric cars is that you need to have enough electricity production to handle charging all these cars, in addition to the problems with increased electricity production being needed in most major cities already without any extra burden. So, even if we had batteries the size of a single AA battery that could power our cars for 400+ miles on a charge, we would still need to be able to provide that charge at an acceptable price($30 to charge the car battery isn't any better for us than $30 worth of gas).

So, the call for nuclear power is really to get extra power into the electric grid so that electric charging stations can be set up for all electric vehicles. No matter if you are looking at all-electric, hydrogen fuel cells, or some other way to power our cars, trucks, and other vehicles, we need the ability to charge at an affordable rate. Really, we need a number of MASSIVE nuclear power plants set up underground where severe weather can't cause problems and where it would be more secure just to handle the electric requirements for the next century.


RE: BP better have deep pockets
By FITCamaro on 5/3/2010 12:08:38 AM , Rating: 2
Why do smart posts never get a 6 and only joking ones do?


RE: BP better have deep pockets
By tallcool1 on 5/3/2010 12:10:58 PM , Rating: 2
I agree, that post is definately worth a 6!


RE: BP better have deep pockets
By Anoxanmore on 5/3/2010 4:12:35 PM , Rating: 2
Reclaimer never deserves a 6, duh.


RE: BP better have deep pockets
By Kurz on 5/5/2010 11:10:02 AM , Rating: 2
He has his moments.


RE: BP better have deep pockets
By frobizzle on 5/3/2010 8:11:14 AM , Rating: 1
More than deep pockets should be called for here! In addition to bearing total responsibility for the costs of containing (which might not be possible) and cleaning up, we should take a page from the way they do things in China.

While I do not care for many of the Chinese policies,I think we should take the CEO of BP and shoot him. This would send a message to the CEOs of other oil (and other industries) companies as well that they need to take their responsibilities seriously!


RE: BP better have deep pockets
By nafhan on 5/3/2010 10:11:28 AM , Rating: 2
They don't shoot people for making mistakes. They shoot people for making the government look bad and not having enough connections to cover it up. Plus, BP is BRITISH Petroleum. We'd need to extridite the guy, which likely wouldn't be allowed if the British government knew he was going to be executed.


By whiskerwill on 5/3/2010 12:16:25 PM , Rating: 2
The US should execute a British citizen, for an accident in international waters, due to a mechanical failure on a rig his company didn't even own?

Are you stupid or just pretending for the camera?


RE: BP better have deep pockets
By Iaiken on 5/3/2010 11:08:14 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Mr. Fusion


Well played!


RE: BP better have deep pockets
By fic2 on 5/3/2010 1:20:50 PM , Rating: 2
While I am in favor of nuclear this isn't really an article, it is a blog. And except for one line in the last paragraph it doesn't even mention nuclear much less say anything about "raises call for nuclear". Other than Jason Mick, who is raising a call for nuclear?


RE: BP better have deep pockets
By clovell on 5/4/2010 12:51:25 PM , Rating: 2
Well said, Reclaimer, but if the electorate could be compelled to action by something less than sensationalism, I think we'd have far fewer problems in this country.


RE: BP better have deep pockets
By crleap on 5/3/2010 8:44:09 AM , Rating: 2
They are responsible for reimbursing the govt by TODAY's law. What's tomorrow's law going to say when big oil's lobbyists turn their attention to that issue? Big media is slowly but surely taking over the internet by changing law with their money... and the oil industry has a lot deeper pockets.


RE: BP better have deep pockets
By SPOOFE on 5/3/2010 12:48:57 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
What's tomorrow's law going to say when big oil's lobbyists turn their attention to that issue?

We already know what tomorrow's law is going to say: Do a search for "Global Warming Final Solutions Act". The reference to the Nazi plan for exterminating the Jews is NOT mine.


RE: BP better have deep pockets
By armagedon on 5/2/2010 12:44:24 AM , Rating: 3
The question is how can you cleanup a mess of that size ? You may hire a bunch of guys to rub all the rocks, No way you're going to return this area the way it was before. No amount of money will do it. As the Exxon Valdez accident has showed, there is still oil everywhere underneath the rocks over there. Nature may take 50 years to remove that oil. That is, if we let it do it before the next spill. Or ... we just try live in the stuff and wait until nature adapt and produce oil resistant birds and fishes. I kind of like the iridescent colors produced by floating oil !


RE: BP better have deep pockets
By Solandri on 5/2/2010 4:52:49 AM , Rating: 5
While the impact of this spill on the local environment is going to be devastating due to the high concentration, oil in the environment is quite natural. Those underwater oil fields we're pumping oil out from are not static. They leak oil naturally, and in quite large amounts. Roughly two Exxon Valdezes worth a year in the Gulf of Mexico. It gets eaten and broken down by bacteria.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/01/00012...
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/09051...

So while it will take the environment a long time to deal with the high concentration from this spill, it will deal with it.


RE: BP better have deep pockets
By armagedon on 5/2/2010 10:29:40 AM , Rating: 1
Yes I agree, like I said before nature will take care of it eventually. Funny that people always come up with the same rhetoric as oil is naturally seeping in the environment, the same way the oil sands defenders argue that it was seeping in the Athabasca river before, so it's a normal process. Of course oil is after all, a natural substance. The fact is that nature can easily deal with those small amount/relative concentration as you see abundant pristine and flourishing wildlife in those areas. But the amount of pollution produce by man overwhelm nature clean up capacity ten fold. That's why you can still see oil laying around for years and years after in oil spill region. Btw if you google oil spills, there's hundred of them every year that the media will gladly not mention to us. They rather show you hours of pubs every day trying to sell you huge GM suvs.


RE: BP better have deep pockets
By porkpie on 5/2/2010 12:05:59 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
But the amount of pollution produce by man overwhelm nature clean up capacity ten fold. That's why you can still see oil laying around for years and years after in oil spill region
Funny, environmentalists said that about the Exxon Valdez spill. They even said it could take "more than a century" for the region to recover. Yet fishing resumed in just a couple years, and in less than five years, you needed very sensitive tests to even detect that a spill had ever occurred.


RE: BP better have deep pockets
By PhilM on 5/2/2010 1:22:54 PM , Rating: 1
See http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34908872/ns/us_news-en... regarding the oil still remaining from the Exxon Valdez spill.


RE: BP better have deep pockets
By porkpie on 5/2/2010 2:19:37 PM , Rating: 2
And? A $1.3 study detected traces of oil left. Here's what Prince William Sound looks like today, though:

http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://media-c...

The region is back to normal, and has been for a long time.


RE: BP better have deep pockets
By PhilM on 5/2/2010 11:35:32 PM , Rating: 5
And...

I thought the picture at the top of the MSN article would have caused you to at least think a moment about your "very sensitive tests to even detect that a spill had ever occurred" comment. Judging by that picture, the "very sensitive tests" are digging a pit!

Nice picture of Prince William Sound on what appears to be a dead calm day (no wave action to agitate any residual oil) shot at an angle where no oil sheen would be apparent in any case. And where exactly is that in Prince William Sound? You can use http://www.evostc.state.ak.us/facts/spillmap.cfm as the basis for your location information if you don't have anything else.

The bad news is that quite a bit of oil remains; the good news is it fairly well locked up (think of it as man made oil shale!) as long as that layer isn't disturbed. I wonder what will happen if there is a major earthquake in the area with attendant tsunamis and landslides, or careless construction or dredging, or another misguided ship gouges the shoreline.


RE: BP better have deep pockets
By porkpie on 5/3/2010 6:06:14 AM , Rating: 2
"Judging by that picture, the "very sensitive tests" are digging a pit!"

It was a well, actually. And dig a deep enough well in most spots in Alaska (as well as many other places), and you'll see some oil seepage. So there's some oil still trapped underground. Hardly a catastrophe, now is it?

THINK before you post, man.

Your own link claims that 20,000 gallons (about 475 barrels) are trapped under the surface. That's far less than many oil-bearing sites leak naturally each year. In Santa Barbara (site of the 1969 spill that caused California to ban offshore drilling) there are over two thousand natural seeps. In total, they leak more than 11 tons of oil each day, to foul Santa Barbara beaches. Even more ironic is the fact that, if we resumed drilling there, it would actually reduce the amount of oil spilled each year, due to subterranean pressure reduction.

Your map of the Valdez spill covers an area roughly 300m square ... or 90,000 square miles. The leaks in the Santa Barbara area cover an area about 1/100 the size, making the total much more concentrated. Where's your outrage over this natural disaster? Why aren't you advocating legal action against Mother Nature for her crimes against the planet?


RE: BP better have deep pockets
By Iaiken on 5/3/10, Rating: 0
RE: BP better have deep pockets
By porkpie on 5/3/2010 11:50:37 AM , Rating: 3
Did you like intentionally, or you just couldn't read plain English? Your photo was taken a few days after the Valdez spill, not "last July". Here's the link to the actual article you pulled the photo from to prove it:

http://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/2010/0125/Ala...


RE: BP better have deep pockets
By Iaiken on 5/3/10, Rating: -1
RE: BP better have deep pockets
By porkpie on 5/3/2010 12:42:13 PM , Rating: 3
Irony <> dishonesty.


RE: BP better have deep pockets
By Steele on 5/3/2010 1:08:13 PM , Rating: 1
No, Porkpie, it's not "back to normal." It's getting there, slowly, but not yet. There aren't nearly as many fish, birds, seals, or otters. And there is still oil there, in the water, and on the rocks and sand on shore. The region is certainly beautiful, but it's still recovering environmentally and economically.

Trust me on this--I fish there.


RE: BP better have deep pockets
By porkpie on 5/3/2010 1:34:11 PM , Rating: 3
Sorry, but I'll trust actual research and news reports over some random poster who begs people to "trust me". Of the thousands of species in the region, all but seven are long since officially fully recovered...and at least one of those species (herring) is being affected by some problem other than the spill itself, possibly simple overfishing in the years following the accident. As for the others (sea otters, killer whales) I don't think you do much fishing for them.

There are still tiny amounts of oil trapped under rocks in some areas. That's a good thing. Oil trapped underground is where we want it...not floating about on top of the water.


RE: BP better have deep pockets
By Steele on 5/3/2010 8:00:04 PM , Rating: 2
Believe me or not--doesn't bother me. But I spend a lot of time there, before and after the spill.

And sportfishing may be up, but that doesn't reflect on the actual health of the population.


By sigilscience on 5/3/2010 1:40:07 PM , Rating: 3
Sport fishing is way up in Prince William Sound:

quote:
Spill-related or not, tourism in the Sound has increased significantly over the past 10 years, according to Lisa VonBargen, executive director of the Valdez Convention and Visitors Bureau. Tourists stopping by the visitor center in Valdez alone has practically doubled, from around 26,000 in 1989 to nearly 50,000 last year. Sportfishing is up around 65 percent.


RE: BP better have deep pockets
By clovell on 5/4/2010 12:54:36 PM , Rating: 2
That's a decent reference point, but the ecosystems in the Gulf of Mexico an the Alaskan Pacific coast are quite different. Expect different species to react in different ways.

I'm hoping you're right, though.


RE: BP better have deep pockets
By shin0bi272 on 5/2/10, Rating: -1
RE: BP better have deep pockets
By Reclaimer77 on 5/2/2010 10:57:05 AM , Rating: 4
quote:
I fail to see why we should keep bases in Germany, s.Korea, Okinawa, and Bimini open for decades after we've left the area otherwise. The US military is supposed to be a defense force not an occupying force.


Because a funny thing happens when we engage in isolationism; We get pulled into World Wars. And they are peacekeeping forces, not occupying. If they asked us to leave, we would have to leave. Our troops aren't there forcefully. If we pulled out of South Korea for example, how long do you think it would be before Kim Jong-il invaded them?

quote:
We wouldn't like it if the Russians left a base or two in our neck of the woods


Are you being serious? This is serious? I hope you know how completely flawed and backwards this is deep down inside. We AREN'T Russia.

quote:
Then there's the billions in R&D that we are all funding at a time when such funding is not really warranted. Yes they make cool new toys but at a time when we are the biggest bad ass military on the planet with the best trained, best fed, and best equipped people... why do we need to research new missiles, and new planes, and new gear for them? I don't have the exact figure but I'll bet its over 200bil we spend on R&D each year. That's YOUR tax dollars going to fund projects that may never see the light of day.


Peace through overwhelming force. The goal isn't to match other countries if hostilities break out. The point is to present such a massive and powerful combined forces, that hostilities don't break out in the first place.

Your statement is a paradox. Without those billions in R&D, we wouldn't have the most "bad ass" military on the planet. You can't just decide one day to stop funding and expect us to remain status-quo.

You make some good points, but your anti-military rant is off base. If you want to cut spending look no further than social programs, "stimulus" plans, and the new Health Care "reform". At least the military is something our government is SUPPOSED to provide for. Where does it say they are supposed to buy failing car companies ??


RE: BP better have deep pockets
By porkpie on 5/2/2010 12:26:24 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
"I don't have the exact figure but I'll bet its over 200bil we spend on R&D each year"
Do you believe that they pile $200B into a large stack, apply gasoline, and burn it? It's used to pay the salaries and budgets of researchers. In terms of secondary economic benefit, its no different than the same amount of money government spends on any ill-conceived "stimulus" measures.

And, unlike those stimulus measures, it generates enormous spinoff benefits. Let's not forget the Internet itself sprang from military research into ditributed, redundant communication networks.

But the primary benefit is, of course, insurance. As long as the US military is stronger than any two other nations on earth, we'll never have another world war. When a time comes that two or three nations can potentially band together and believe they can easily beat the US, then we'll return to the same cycle of warfare we saw in the first half of the 20th century.


By MrBlastman on 5/3/2010 9:03:32 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
When a time comes that two or three nations can potentially band together and believe they can easily beat the US, then we'll return to the same cycle of warfare we saw in the first half of the 20th century.


This is precisely why we need more F-22's, JDAM's, GPS-guided bombs, tank anti-missile systems and supercarriers. :)

There's nothing like deterring force by stockpiling plenty of it.


RE: BP better have deep pockets
By Steele on 5/3/2010 1:16:09 PM , Rating: 2
Because a funny thing happens when we engage in isolationism; We get pulled into World Wars. And they are peacekeeping forces, not occupying. If they asked us to leave, we would have to leave. Our troops aren't there forcefully. If we pulled out of South Korea for example, how long do you think it would be before Kim Jong-il invaded them?


Reclaimer, do you really think we need "peacekeeping forces" in Germany? I can see maintaining a sizable army on the ground in Korea, sure, but Germany? This isn't 1932, and the Weimar Republic isn't about to collapse under overwhelming inflation. Germany is a stable state, part of NATO (!) and the EU. They're not going to start WW3! And Russia is sure as hell not going to invade Europe any time soon. And even if they did, we've got all the deterrent we need mounted atop our Polaris and Minuteman missiles.

Other than South Korea (and currently Iraq&Afghanistan) we should NOT maintain military forces on foreign soil!


RE: BP better have deep pockets
By porkpie on 5/3/2010 2:03:07 PM , Rating: 2
"do you really think we need "peacekeeping forces" in Germany"

a) The strongest proponent of our keeping forces in Germany is Germany itself. In the past, they have repeatedly protested our force reduction efforts there.

b) Germany may not start WW3 (though predicting the future more than 20 years in advance is essentially impossible), but some other nation in Europe or in the Middle East might. And if our closest base to that trouble spot is the US itself, its going to be essentially impossible for us to respond in any reasonable amount of time. For instance, when Iraq invaded Kuwait and threatened to do the same to Saudi Arabia, much of the "rapid response" came from our NATO bases in Germany and Italy.

"And even if they did, we've got all the deterrent we need mounted atop our Polaris and Minuteman missiles."

This is very dangerous thinking. When nuclear is your only deterrent, it forces you to seriously think about using it in response to conventional attacks. That means a small conventional conflict can quickly escalate into all-out nuclear warfare.

Trust the Joint Chiefs on this one. They know far more about geopolitical strategy than you do.


RE: BP better have deep pockets
By Steele on 5/3/2010 3:37:38 PM , Rating: 1
Ok, I'll grant that if the Germans actually do want us there, leaving a force stationed there would be acceptable to me. It was my understanding, however, that the Germans wanted us gone. Evidently this is incorrect.

However, the Japanese do seem to want us gone, and if that is true, then whether we like it or not, their sovereignty trumps our perceived need to prevent WW3.


RE: BP better have deep pockets
By porkpie on 5/3/2010 3:50:22 PM , Rating: 2
Once again-- Japan wants us there...though many local Okinawa residents do not. If Japan wishes the US to leave, they merely need to stop granting us additional leases on our base sites there. We're not an occupying force.

There's a deadline coming up end of this month on whether or not some of our bases in Okinawa will be relocated elsewhere in Japan. It's a Japanese decision, though.


RE: BP better have deep pockets
By Reclaimer77 on 5/3/2010 4:23:06 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Reclaimer, do you really think we need "peacekeeping forces" in Germany?


Uhh the Germans seem to think so. Hello ??

quote:
I can see maintaining a sizable army on the ground in Korea, sure, but Germany? This isn't 1932, and the Weimar Republic isn't about to collapse under overwhelming inflation. Germany is a stable state, part of NATO (!) and the EU.


Ah the flaw in your logic. You seem to think having those troops in Germany means we are somehow making sure Germany itself doesn't start something. I think they are there more because Germany is strategically well placed, has modern well maintained bases and runways, is a trusted ally, etc etc ?? In fact go look at a map in Europe, notice something?

quote:
And Russia is sure as hell not going to invade Europe any time soon.


Define "Europe". Hell they just invaded Georgia last year didn't they?

quote:
Other than South Korea (and currently Iraq&Afghanistan) we should NOT maintain military forces on foreign soil!


Wrong. Foolish idiotic thinking of the WORSE kind. First off our forces are NOT there against the will of those governments. Secondly, pulling our forces out would constitute a MAJOR destabilization of those regions.

I see you have the same problem most Americans have. You assume the United States way of life and diplomacy is the norm around the world, NOT the extreme opposite. Well I hate to tell you this, but the world is actually not made up of peaceful democratic peoples. Their leaders don't believe in the rights of others. Your problem is you actually probably believe those people calling the US warmongering and aggressors.

The simple fact is that the United States has to do it because nobody else will. Who else stands up for others when they cry for freedom? Who else sends their own halfway around the world to die for someone else's injustices?

So you can go stupidly believe that if America turtle-shelled inside our own borders and just watched, that everything would be fine. But we KNOW for a fact that it won't be.


RE: BP better have deep pockets
By Steele on 5/3/2010 8:04:13 PM , Rating: 1
Reclaimer, tell me WHY we should send our "own halfway around the world to die for someone else's injustices?"

If America or American interests are threatened, then sure. But why should our men and women be asked to risk their lives to protect, say, Georgian interests?

I guess maybe the difference is that I do not want the US to be the world's Policeman. First, we don't have the right, and second, we have bigger problems closer to home.


By Reclaimer77 on 5/3/2010 8:32:26 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
If America or American interests are threatened, then sure. But why should our men and women be asked to risk their lives to protect, say, Georgian interests?


I thought I made that clear. American interests WILL eventually be threatened if we do nothing. Just like WWI and WWII were "Europe's problem", but it soon became ours.

This isn't the 1800's. Isolationism is NOT a strategy, at least, not one that any sane person would suggest.

A great man once said "all that is required for evil to flourish, is for good men to do nothing." Or something like that.

quote:
I guess maybe the difference is that I do not want the US to be the world's Policeman.


Neither do I. But someone has to do it. Until that sack of crap called the "UN" can get off it's duff and over it's pretty squabbles and actually start fulfilling it's charter, it's on us.

Would you rather China or Russia to be the dominant global power and exercise their brand of "policing"? Because, like it or not, there will always be one or two nations on Earth that have the most global influence. And I don't know about you, but I hope we remain one of them.

quote:
First, we don't have the right


As a leadership member of the UN, we absolutely DO have that right. Within reason, of course.

quote:
But why should our men and women be asked to risk their lives to protect, say, Georgian interests?


They aren't asked. They volunteered to. Which is the difference between people like you and those like them. They get it.

I think it's lovely that you sit on your fat ass here enjoying the freedoms and liberties provided to you by the same behavior you apparently abhor, but people in other places that don't have the same luxury can just screw off and die. Really, nice morals there. What amazing forward vision...

quote:
we have bigger problems closer to home.


More irony. If we followed your course of action, buddy, we would damn well have MUCH bigger problems closer to home.


RE: BP better have deep pockets
By porkpie on 5/3/2010 8:45:00 PM , Rating: 2
If you believe the US doesn't have a moral and legal right to help its allies fend off an enemy attack, you don't understand ethics or international law.

If you believe the US doesn't have a rational self-interest in helping its allies fend off an enemy attack, you don't understand geopolitique, either


RE: BP better have deep pockets
By Steele on 5/4/2010 3:39:34 PM , Rating: 2
I absolutely believe we should help defend our allies, just as I think they should come to our defence.

However, I think we can do this without stationing a peacetime army in their sovereign territory.

I mean, Britain is our ally, right? Americans would be up in arms, and rightly so, if the British wanted to station a few regiments here.

I'm not arguing for isolation here, nor am I advocating we ignore our allies and obligations. I just want to keep the troops at home when possible.


RE: BP better have deep pockets
By porkpie on 5/4/2010 9:43:24 PM , Rating: 2
"Americans would be up in arms, and rightly so, if the British wanted to station a few regiments here."

Had Britain just helped us fend off an imminent invasion on US soil, an invasion that would have led to the toppling of our government and subsequent control by a dictatorial regime, and with yet another regime still threatening the same, I doubt we'd mind them leaving a few troops behind to help out.

A sense of historical reference is essential, here.


RE: BP better have deep pockets
By clovell on 5/4/2010 1:54:18 PM , Rating: 1
> If it comes out of the ground and then ends up back on the ground its really not a "disaster".

Does this logic also apply to your body?


RE: BP better have deep pockets
By Iaiken on 5/3/2010 11:03:51 AM , Rating: 2
The current administration has already specified that BP will have no choice to foot the bill if they wish to continue doing business in the American market. They have also offered the coast guard, navy and national guard to help provide manpower at cost and to help expedite the cleanup. Thus far, BP has not taken the aforementioned US forces up on this generous offer.

BP is pretty much hooped, the payout to the dead crews families is going to be a paltry sum compared to the class action damage suits that will follow from the fisheries and tourism sectors and punitive suits from environmental groups and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

That being said, BP will likely get off practically Scot free in the same manor that Exxon did in 89-90 once the pro-oil favoritism of the supreme court judges comes into play.

Oh wells, time to drill more wells...


RE: BP better have deep pockets
By porkpie on 5/3/2010 11:41:36 AM , Rating: 2
"BP will likely get off practically Scot free in the same manor that Exxon did in 89-90 "

$2.1B in cleanup costs, $900M in civic fines, $400M in direct damages, and a final $500M payout for punitive damages is "scot free"? What planet do you hail from?


RE: BP better have deep pockets
By Iaiken on 5/3/10, Rating: 0
RE: BP better have deep pockets
By porkpie on 5/3/2010 1:56:21 PM , Rating: 2
Punitive damages: $500M.

Source: from your own link.

Settlement of civil charges: $900M
Settlement of criminal charges: $250M
Source: http://explorenorth.com/library/weekly/aa032499.ht...

Cleanup costs: $2.1B
Settlement costs to private individuals (non-punitive:) $303M

Source (appellate court fact-finding): http://www.bdlaw.com/news-351.html

As for the idiotic remark that Exxon "never paid" the civil settlement, what do you think funded the $900M Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Fund? You can read about that here:

http://www.evostc.state.ak.us/people/tc.cfm


By ctgottapee on 5/6/2010 8:51:20 PM , Rating: 2
congressional law limits the damanges to $75 million (a nice bit of money lobbying i'm sure bought that law)

so yes, we will pay for it, as the oil rig company files bankruptcy, and many of the costs will be difficult to prove, and more costly to litigate than just eating them

the valdeez spill provides great insight into how the process will go

and the health effects upon the cleanup workers will saddle medicare and medicaid eventually


We're not generating radioactive material ...
By todda7 on 5/2/2010 6:29:32 AM , Rating: 2
I does not seem like people here have considered that we're only using the natural occurring radioactive material found here on earth, and speeding up the process of making it less radioactive (and getting quite a lot of energy from it). So, nuclear power-plants is actually reducing the amounts of radioactive materials on earth.

Surely on the larger scale it doesn't really matter, but it certainly disproves many of the claims of the anti-nuclear environmentalists that in essence; nuclear power plants creates more radioactive material than it uses.

And when it comes to storage this isn't really a problem either as you can just dump the radioactive products where you found the uranium/whatever and so the radioactivity levels of an area would decrease (as the products always are less radioactive than the reactants).




By MadMan007 on 5/2/2010 7:28:20 AM , Rating: 3
The first paragraph is a funny (in a good way) of looking at it...call it an interesting alternative view. However it falls short because it's not about overall quantity but concentration. There is no question that high concentrations of radiation emitting materials are dangerous and nuclear reactor fuels and byproducts are far more concentrated than what occurs natuirally. To 'just dump it where you found it' and be equivalent to 'natural' amounts it would have to be processed backwards to the state found in nature.


RE: We're not generating radioactive material ...
By todda7 on 5/2/2010 7:50:45 AM , Rating: 1
The quantity is a little bit lower and the overall radioactivity is lower. The concentration is much much higher yes, since you have refined it and extracted the radioactive material, but there is no reason why can't reverse the process after you have used the uranium/whatever, and just dilute the radioactive material in rock or whatever you found it in over the same area, and tada, the concentration is lower.

Or for that matter, just grind the radioactive products to fine grain and make fertilizer with 0,01% radioactive products ...
No harm done.

An even more cool way to do it would be to just dump the radioactive material in active volcanoes with an open crater far from settlement and nature, this would essentially put the radioactive material back into the rocks again, and the radioactive material would therefore be processed back to the state found in nature, but less radioactive, higher concentration though but no one would care or be affected.

Anyone want to give me a diploma and a doctors' degree in practical nuclear physics?


By SomewhatRandom on 5/2/2010 9:43:09 AM , Rating: 3
Yes, I for one vote for the volcano solution. Not because it is effective or intelligent, but because I believe radioactive volcanic ash clouds would generate some interesting colors as they spready across the globe. As to your Dimploma - you're better off looking in a cracker jack box. Wait that's it! - Let's dump radioactive waste in cracker jack boxes - nobody eats that stuff anyway.


By todda7 on 5/2/2010 12:22:07 PM , Rating: 2
Yes we could essentially make peanut butter with trace amounts of radio material.

As to spreading radioactive material around the globe - yes! This is of course the hole point. You do not want it gathered in one place causing a high concentration of radioactive material. We're better off spreading it around the globe using fertilizing airplanes and putting it in bananas.

Besides, radioactive materials speeds up evolution. We should harvest the uranium and use it in high concentration in mobile phones, cars and computers.

As to my diploma - a guy who called himself Robert Gentry already showed up at my door giving it to me.


RE: We're not generating radioactive material ...
By Solandri on 5/2/2010 1:10:22 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
Surely on the larger scale it doesn't really matter, but it certainly disproves many of the claims of the anti-nuclear environmentalists that in essence; nuclear power plants creates more radioactive material than it uses.

The byproducts of nuclear fission of uranium are more radioactive. The natural decay chain of uranium runs through a variety of radioactive elements before reaching its final stable form of lead. However, uranium takes a very, very long time to decay naturally, meaning the amount of radiation released over time is rather low.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radioactive_decay#Dec...

When you use uranium as fuel in a fission reactor, you're sending it down a different path. You are literally splitting the uranium atom to make two smaller elements, which typically are radioactive and have their own decay chains. Some uranium isotopes are not fissile, and absorb a neutron instead of being split by it. This creates a new isotope, which has a different natural decay chain and can yield other radioactive elements.

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

The entire range of fissile products is lengthy, and beyond what I've learned on the topic. But the different byproducts and their natural decay chains are the reason people have been coming up with different reactor types and fuels (e.g. thorium reactors) - to try to minimize the amount of residual radiation after the initial fission.

There's a catch there too. The more radioactive byproducts are more dangerous, but they also have shorter half-lives (sometimes as short as a fraction of a second), meaning they disappear more quickly. Stuff that is less radioactive typically has a half life of >1 million years. Its decay chain can yield more radioactive materials, but their creation is spread over millions of years, the overall level of radioactivity over time is small. The more problematic materials tend to have half-lives ranging from a few years to tens of thousands of years. They release enough radiation to be dangerous, yet stick around long enough so they're dangerous for a long time.

The type of uranium fission reactor we use right now produces a lot of these. You can get rid of many of them by reprocessing in a breeder reactor (which also converts large amounts of the "waste" into material which can be used as more fuel). But unfortunately those produce weapons-grade plutonium as a byproduct. Consequently the U.S. has banned breeder reactors for commercial use, leaving us with a rather large nuclear waste problem. France happily reprocesses, and has a much smaller nuclear waste problem.

So the radioactivity of the "waste" we currently generate is a problem and higher than what would have naturally occurred. However, it's important to keep in mind the amount of waste produced for the energy extracted is very, very small. On the order of a million to 10 million times less than conventional fuels. With our current light water reactors, the total amount of spent fuel generated to power an American household for a year is about one tablespoon. See my post below comparing it to solar - it produces a lot less waste material than even solar.

The anti-nuclear lobby plays a little loose with the facts here, and cites the radioactivity of the spent fuel as a concern (since it's the most radioactive), but uses the tonnage of the surrounding structure which gets irradiated when talking about amount of waste. When a reactor is decommissioned, the structure is slightly radioactive from years of neutron bombardment, and it needs to be disposed of (buried) safely. However, it is low-level radioactivity and does not need to be sent to Yucca Mountain. It's why people in the industry like to distinguish between "spent fuel" and "waste", while anti-nuclear activists like to just call all of it "waste".


By todda7 on 5/2/2010 1:33:39 PM , Rating: 1
K thx learned quite a lot here.

Still, I vote for dumping it in volcanoes. Thank god science is not a democracy.


By porkpie on 5/2/2010 2:02:55 PM , Rating: 2
". But unfortunately those [breeder reactors] produce weapons-grade plutonium as a byproduct."

To correct, a breeder only produces weapons-grade Pu if you extract the material early. Normally you wouldn't do this: you'd leave it as long as possible to increase burnup, thus producing nothing but reactor-grade material highly poisoned with Pu-241, useless for weapons.


Bad Math
By SuperFly03 on 5/2/2010 10:12:02 PM , Rating: 1
Daily Tech clearly cannot do math. If you go to a site more reputable than these bunch of yahoos then you will see it will take 292 days at 5000 barrels of oil per day to eclipse the Exxon Valez incident.

I'm not sure the general public realizes just how dangerous it is to drill in the ocean under a mile of water. Kicks due to minute bubbles in the flow stream can result in significant pressure changes. These kicks are handled with BOP's which if they fail results in the disaster we saw on Horizon.

This was a semi submersible rig which means the son of a B was literally just floating in the ocean anchored to nothing. So you are looking at a metal pipe over 5000ft long stuck in the ground in the Gulf and you are shocked that an accident happened? The fact that this is the first major accident in nearly 40 years is utterly impressive. People need to chill the hell out.




RE: Bad Math
By porkpie on 5/2/2010 10:19:48 PM , Rating: 3
Your math is fine, but your common sense a bit lacking. The scale of a disaster is not simply the size of the spill, but the location as well. I'm sure you understand that a Class 3 hurricane that strikes a major city is a worse disaster than a Class 5 that hits an unpopulated coast. Similarly, the Gulf Coast is a worse location for an oil spill than Prince William Sound.

But yes, the 'disaster' is being overplayed by the media. What else is new?


RE: Bad Math
By SuperFly03 on 5/3/2010 8:36:25 AM , Rating: 2
Where on earth did I say it wasn't a disaster or a big problem? I simply said that it won't eclipse the Exxon Valdez incident for nearly 300 days meaning which insinuates that it isn't as bad as it is being made out to be here. Now, having said that it is a disaster for the economy, politics of off shore drilling, oil prices, sea food supply, etc.

Take your condescending tone somewhere useful.

I hear Dr. Seuss is giving reading comprehension classes.


RE: Bad Math
By porkpie on 5/3/2010 10:11:31 AM , Rating: 2
"I simply said that it won't eclipse the Exxon Valdez incident for nearly 300 days "

Since you've forgotten your own post, allow me to quote: "Daily Tech clearly cannot do math".

Since the article did no math on the amount of oil spilled, you were clearly referring to the statement that this disaster may "eclipse" the Valdez spill. That is certainly likely, whether or not the magnitude of the spill itself does. Ergo, your statement was wrong.

Lesson to the class: if you're going to make snide, pretentious remarks, at least make sure they're correct first.

"I hear Dr. Seuss is giving reading comprehension classes"

Oh, what irony...


RE: Bad Math
By Taft12 on 5/3/2010 11:30:46 AM , Rating: 2
Your original post was OK, but you don't react well when you get defensive. Why are you so focused on the quantity of oil? We are a long way from knowing the quantity of oil spilling from the wells accurately which is why there are so many wildly varying estimates. What can't be argued is the disastrous impact to Louisiana and the Gulf Coast.

As the other poster pointed out, the localization of the spill is terrible. Your downplaying of the seriousness of this incident based on "less total oil spilled than Exxon Valdez" (which can't even yet be known) is deplorable.


RE: Bad Math
By FITCamaro on 5/3/2010 12:05:24 AM , Rating: 2
Exactly. Accidents are bound to happen. Unfortunately this one happened now. If we live in a world of fear we'll never have anything worthwhile. Everything involves risk.

Focus on ways to clean up the spill and get back to work. Not who's fault it is. To use this as an excuse not to drill is deplorable. And if we were allowed to use our resources on land, maybe we wouldn't need to push for offshore drilling as much. But the Obama administration is just as adamant about not letting us drill on land as they are offshore.


RE: Bad Math
By siuol11 on 5/3/2010 10:55:58 AM , Rating: 1
Call me ignorant, but it seems to me what most people are riled about is not the fact that we are drilling, but the fact that reasonable safety measures were not enforced.
I'm one of them.
And BTW, that's why people (like me) are concerned about nuclear reactors in the US- will the same thing happen with them? Will big companies not follow reasonable safety measures in order to maximize profits and then say, "oh well, shit happens. We shouldn't worry about why it happened, because the benefits outweigh the costs"? and will people like you believe them?


Who's footing the bill? not BP!
By siuol11 on 5/3/2010 10:44:06 AM , Rating: 2
Actually, BP will get off fairly well. There is a rainy-day, tax-funded escrow account that has 1.8 billion currently to pay for anything over the 75 million that BP is on the hook for (75 million is their maximum liability). In other words,
we're paying.
And wow... another poorly researched article from Jason. Who would have thought it possible?





RE: Who's footing the bill? not BP!
By porkpie on 5/3/2010 10:50:36 AM , Rating: 2
Another poorly researched post by Siuol, actually. Let me count your mistakes:

a) BP has no maximum liability for the cleanup itself. They'll pay every penny. The escrow account is for secondary damages only.

b) That escrow account isn't funded by our own tax dollars, but by a special tax specifically on oil companies. In other words, its their own money, meant to be used for a purpose like this.

c) The federal government has the right to go after firms to recover substantial withdrawals from the fund, which means BP will likely bear the entire cost anyway ... in addition to funding the account themselves.


By siuol11 on 5/3/2010 11:02:16 AM , Rating: 2
gah. I was half right.

Here's what I was referencing.

http://emptysuit.wordpress.com/2010/04/30/obama-br...


Gulf Oil Spill
By knaraya936 on 5/2/2010 12:37:02 AM , Rating: 2
i dont understand why nobody is talking about using biological agents to combat the oil spill - these agents eat up the oil at very rapid rates...this technology has been around a long time. Are the responsible parties considering this technology...if not then why not?




RE: Gulf Oil Spill
By Kosh401 on 5/3/2010 12:56:21 AM , Rating: 2
Umm they have been doing this pretty much from the beginning of the spill? When you hear them on the news talking about the "detergents" (or some say 'chemicals') in the same sentence as trying to burn off some of it as things they've been doing to try and slow it down, those are the agents you're looking for :)

Some of the agents they're using though are also meant to sink the 'older' oil rather than break it down, since it's easier to sink at that point. The sea floor can naturally break it down from there much easier than the coast line can at least.


By sleepeeg3 on 5/2/2010 7:14:02 PM , Rating: 4
I am so glad I have DailyTech to bring me unbiased tech news... oops!

At least I agree with your conclusion - we need more nuclear. Until wind & solar efficiencies improve, they will still be economically untenable. Currently, they cost over 3x as much as alternatives when efficiencies and lifetimes are factored in.

However, whatever your opinion of fossil fuel use is, they are still the most economically viable option we have and we are going to continue to use them. Additionally, you may also be against offshore drilling, but this oil leak was in international waters! There is not a thing we could have done to prevent this!

I would also like to point out that this was the first major leak of an oil rig in the US - ever. It coincidentally happened on EARTH DAY, just weeks after Obama allowed offshore drilling and he sent in S.W.A.T. teams to protect the other oil rigs in the gulf!
http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2010/04/29/...
It sounds crazy, but ecoterrorism is a very real possibility.




Compensation to consumers...
By Targon on 5/3/2010 4:56:27 AM , Rating: 2
So, BP is spending all this money to deal with the issue, as well it should. But, what about the impact on the economy due to increased oil and gas prices? Will we as consumers get compensated? Of course not, because the idiocy that is the commodity market just lets the "market rate" set the cost, rather than shopping for the lowest bidder.

So, due to this mess down in the Gulf, my gas prices at the pump have been going up, and up, and up. Will BP, or whoever is at fault be paying compensation for these increases in price? When the cost of gas goes back up to over $4/gallon regular(yes, I know, it's more expensive in Europe) can we send BP a bill for the extra fees they have cost us?

I really am sick of seeing the mistakes of others cost EVERYONE extra, and that extra cost not being addressed. How about BP giving ALL of their profits for the next year or two as payment for the increased financial pain they have caused?




RE: Compensation to consumers...
By JediJeb on 5/3/2010 11:35:10 AM , Rating: 2
Not sure where you live, but gas prices here haven't risen a penny since this accident happened. This one well isn't going to affect the overall supply of oil in a measurable way. Only scare factor and gouging will cause the price to rise from this if it does.


Spill, baby, Spill
By Shig on 5/1/2010 11:42:45 PM , Rating: 2
An Open Question
By tech329 on 5/2/2010 9:00:16 AM , Rating: 2
This reveals yet again whether risk assessment and risk abatement can ever cover all contingencies. We don't know why this happened. It may be due to something unforseen which can't be accounted for or a safety infraction or an engineering oversight.

It's been proven that over time such things will occur. So that leaves us to decide if we are willing to accept the consequences.

Given our dependency upon the oceans for so much we might want to at least entertain the alternatives.

It's worth noting that our oceans are our most unforgiving environment where we have the least amount of control. I've been on fishing vessels in the North Atlantic in storms with green water washing over the wheel house 50 feet above the waterline. It's those times where the ocean is in complete command where you have zero chances to screw up that makes you think about the ease with which we make bad choices. And believe it or not when I was young I reveled in the excitement of this. I'm sure it's the most free you can ever feel without dying.




Yes... nuclear, please.
By Jeff7181 on 5/2/2010 1:28:57 PM , Rating: 2
There will always be accidents whether we're using coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear or even "renewable" sources such as wind and solar.

All of these sources involve harvesting raw materials, which leaves the potential for accidents during the mining and manufacturing processes.

That being said, nuclear has some distinct advantages, the first being the energy density of the fuel with U-238 having about 2.5 million times the energy density of coal, which is where the majority of the electricity in the US comes from.

What we need is not to replace fossil fuels, but supplement them where possible. We also need to encourage research in this area to produce safer (not that I think they're currently unsafe), cheaper, longer lasting and more efficient reactors as well as increasing the ability to recycle and reuse nuclear fuel.




By sapiens74 on 5/3/2010 2:21:04 AM , Rating: 2
Who cares about the environment?

I'll tell you Apple does and that idiot Steve Jobs

DROID DOES!!!

Apple Sucks!!!

Bunch of sheep!!

DROID DOES!!!

Google > Steve

MACS are expensive!!!

There are just as many Viruses on the MAC!!!

DROID DOES!!!!

Ipad is a big Iphone!!

I won't buy it until it has Cut and Paste!

I still won't buy it

DROID Does!!

Did I cover all the DT talking points?




Hmmm
By room200 on 5/4/2010 12:11:28 AM , Rating: 2
I still say, uhhhhh....drill baby, drill.




Save wildlife....
By blueeyesm on 5/4/2010 1:37:38 PM , Rating: 2
Forgetting something?
By BoFox on 5/7/2010 8:05:05 PM , Rating: 2
What we are forgetting here is the amount of oil it takes to mine for coal or uranium. Without the abundance of cheap oil, electricity would be way more expensive. It also takes oil to separate uranium from earth. It takes oil to transport stuff, to construct roads, buildings, and factories. It takes a considerable amount of oil to create solar panels (acquiring precious material for these panels, etc..).

We will just have to keep on working harder on figuring out how to obtain "cleaner" energy without having to be so dependent on oil as the primary resource.

95% of total energy in the United States is directly from oil itself. Even driving a car to work each day uses up more energy than a typical household uses in a week.




By dadzt on 5/11/2010 2:18:47 PM , Rating: 2
We can use nuclear energy to solve this problem.

A small 10 kiloton nuke could seal off the oil leak. Or let it all out at once. Either way, the problem would be dealt with!




NO NUCLEAR
By eonsnocrtnarrongi on 5/12/2010 10:26:05 PM , Rating: 2
Oil spill means we need nuKlear?
LMAO and crying.........
The same people that bring you spills will bring us nuKlear mishaps.
WE DONT NEED NO STINKING NUCLEAR.




Milkshake!
By thekdub on 5/2/2010 1:18:23 AM , Rating: 1
If only BP or Transocean had a straw that reached aaaaalllllllll the way across the Gulf, they could drink the oil spill. They could drink it up!




Hmmmmm
By room200 on 5/2/2010 1:54:45 AM , Rating: 1
Uhhhhhh, drill, baby, drill?




Idiotic headline!
By holymaniac on 5/3/10, Rating: -1
RE: Idiotic headline!
By porkpie on 5/3/2010 2:53:16 PM , Rating: 4
I wondered when some idiot would get around to mentioning Chernobyl. We can't possibly have an accident like that in the US for many reasons. First, the reactor design was of a type never built in the US, as it was too dangerous. For US reactors, a cooling system failure causes reactor power to automatically decrease. This isn't a safety mechanism tacked on-- its a failsafe part of the design itself.

Further, Chernobyl didn't have any containment structure around the reactor. US reactors do...and Three Mile Island showed how well that structure worked. A reactor meltdown resulted in a radiation release so small that, even if you lived right next door to the plant, you received less of a dose than you'd get from eating three bananas.

Still further, the Chernobyl "disaster" has been extremely overblown. It killed all of 50 people, most of them first responders or workers on site...and gave another few hundred thousand people a slightly elevated risk of cancer -- about the same increase they would receive from eating two extra Big Macs a week, from the extra fat in the diet. And even that could have been prevented had the Soviet government evacuated people immediately, instead of trying to hush up the accident. Wind power alone has already killed more than 50 people worldwide...and we generate a negligible fraction of our power from wind.

But all that is moot. We cannot have a Chernobyl style accident here in the US. Not until the laws of physics get repealed.


RE: Idiotic headline!
By eddieroolz on 5/5/2010 5:57:55 PM , Rating: 1
Protip: More people die yearly from auto accidents than nuclear power plants.


RE: Idiotic headline!
By porkpie on 5/5/2010 9:19:51 PM , Rating: 3
"Protip: More people die yearly from auto accidents than nuclear power plants."

No one dies from nuclear power plants -- not in the US. No one ever has, not in the 50+ years (and 5,000+ reactor-years) of commercial nuclear power history.

The only thing that comes close is four workers who died from a burst steam pipe...but that wasn't a radiological accident.


RE: Followed soon after by the following headline:
By Shig on 5/1/2010 11:47:13 PM , Rating: 5
Please do some research on traveling wave reactors guys.

Yes there is some pollution, but the fuel is radioactive material. In effect REDUCING the net amount of nuclear waste that the US spends tons of money to store properly.

Nuclear is the by far the best baseload option (besides hydro and geothermal, which are very hard to find locations for) to compliment wind and solar.


By Samus on 5/2/2010 2:20:42 AM , Rating: 4
Energy production concerning emissions and environmental friendliness, nothing currently known to man is cleaner than nuclear.

As ironic as it sounds, modern reactors are substantially safer. The problem with oil is the same problem that plagues anything that's been around a long time; the process of mining it hasn't changed and is just as dangerous as it always has been. The difference is it takes like a trillionth the amount of mined uranium to produce the same power as fossil fuels.

BP can also stop being childish and admit fault here. Whoever they're buying oil from should conform to SOME sort of corporate safety standards and mandatory rig inspections. If they are so quick to blame the rig operators, it hints that they knew of a problem before this disaster. I'm not buying it, something's fishy.


By Camikazi on 5/2/2010 12:01:15 AM , Rating: 3
But those solar panels will kill native species, they are evil, and those wind turbines will kill birds, so much for saving your environment :P


By ekv on 5/2/2010 12:44:49 AM , Rating: 2
some links to TWR ... just in case

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

http://www.technologyreview.com/energy/22114/

http://nuclearstreet.com/blogs/nuclear_power_news/...

http://earth2tech.com/2010/02/15/terrapower-how-th...

Also see
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generation_IV_reactor

Btw, "free solar" is not free. It's very expensive and Solar's energy density pales in comparison to nuclear. Hence nuclear is easier on the environment and cheaper to produce. Etc.


By Solandri on 5/2/2010 1:12:43 AM , Rating: 5
quote:
Nuclear power is NOT clean. I'm sorry Jason, but you're crazy to think that!! Sure we need to get away from oil, but we need to embrace free solar energy, not damage our environment even more with radioactivity.

1. Radioactivity is completely natural to the environment. Aside from medical x-rays, the main sources of radiation exposure for people are airline flights (natural cosmic radiation), exposure to trace amounts of natural radioactive materials in rock (most notably, granite), and food. Yes, food. Bananas, chocolate, and a host of other foodstuffs are radioactive enough to trigger the radiation sensors used by DHS to detect potential nukes and dirty bombs being smuggled across the border. This is stuff that we eat, stuff our bodies need to function (potassium) which is naturally radioactive.

This isn't like burning coal where we're dispersing large quantities of pollutants into the atmosphere. The vast majority of radioactivity in a nuclear plant is confined to the core, where water, shielding, and distance prevent it from escaping. Really, the only avenue out is through the cooling water, which is usually a double or triple loop (one loop cools the reactor, another loop cools the water in that loop, and another loop cools that water and dumps the heat into a river or an evaporative cooling tower that nuclear plants are famous for). The federal regulations government radiation levels in released water require it to be less radioactive than natural groundwater.

2. How much "free solar energy" do you think you need to power a house? Average household electricity use in the U.S. is about 1100 kWh per month, or about 37 kWh per day. It tends to be used mostly in the evening (when the sun is down), but let's be generous and ignore the storage problem, and just come up with a figure for how many solar panels you need to generate that much electricity.

Sunlight hits the earth with approximately 700 W/m^2. Most cost-effective mass-produced panels are about 15% efficient. The sun only shines half the day. Figure half of the days in a year are cloudy or rainy. The sun moves across the sky reducing the exposure for any patch of surface area to pi/4 if you do the calculus. And the U.S. sits at approximately 40 degrees latitude. So on average, a square meter of ground area covered by solar panels will generate an average of 15 W or 360 Wh per day. To generate 37 kWh/day for one house, you need just about 100 m^2 of land covered by solar panels.

Remember, this is an idealized best-case scenario. We've ignored the seasons (people tend to use more power in winter, when there's less sunlight). We've ignored the rather considerable battery storage requirements needed to time-shift the electricity from daytime to nighttime and the efficiency losses that imposes. Figure the panels will last you 30 years, after which the panels have dropped enough in efficiency, cracked, become weathered, etc. that they're destined for the landfill.

Now, how much uranium do you think is needed to generate the same amount of electricity? Well, a ton of natural uranium yields about 44 million kWh of electricity. In 30 years, a household using 1100 kWh/month will use 396,000 kWh. So to power a household for 30 years with nuclear power, you need a bit less than 9 kg of uranium. By volume, that's a little less than 500 mL of uranium, about the size of a small water bottle.

http://web.ead.anl.gov/uranium/guide/facts/

So, to power a house for 30 years, you can build 100 m^2 of solar panels (along with the enormous banks of batteries needed to time shift the electricity into night). Or you can "burn" a water bottle-sized volume of uranium converting it into "radioactive waste" in the process. And this isn't even considering reprocessing which allows you to use the "waste" as fuel yielding 10-30x more energy than the initial use.

So with that real-world practical-use comparison of materials needed in mind, does solar really seem "free"? Does it make more sense to produce 100 m^2 of panels which will become trash in 30 years, just to avoid generating a water bottle-sized amount of nuclear "waste" after 30 years which could be reprocessed into more nuclear fuel if we changed our laws?


By Treckin on 5/2/2010 1:44:11 AM , Rating: 3
http://www.astro.sunysb.edu/lattimer/AST248/coal.p...

Dont forget that coal fired plants emit far higher radiation levels in the soot they produce than nuclear plants.

Also, cigarettes are a source of radiation (polonium-210) http://www.epa.gov/radtown/tobacco.html just interesting, anyway.


By themaster08 on 5/2/2010 2:02:45 AM , Rating: 2
Thanks for the interesting read. Someone's done their homework!


By smitty3268 on 5/2/2010 4:01:50 AM , Rating: 2
I do think solar has it's place. If someone can create cheap and efficient solar shingles, and we then stick them on top of every house in the country that could make a significant dent in energy use. Maybe just enough to power the AC and lights, but that's not bad considering it will likely help most during peak usage hours.

But obviously relying on that as the primary energy supply would be silly. You can stick wind farms in Texas and off the east coast to further cut into demand where they can be placed near population centers - i think they also make sense where you can keep the transmission lines short. Then if we just replace the current coal power plants with nuclear ones I think we would be doing pretty well.


By Solandri on 5/2/2010 4:40:09 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
I do think solar has it's place. If someone can create cheap and efficient solar shingles, and we then stick them on top of every house in the country that could make a significant dent in energy use. Maybe just enough to power the AC and lights, but that's not bad considering it will likely help most during peak usage hours.

Yes, the feasibility of solar is highly dependent on the cost of the collector array and its efficiency. So unless there's some huge breakthrough in the cost to manufacture photovoltaics, I don't think they're ever going to become economically feasible compared to nuclear. Solar concentrators using (cheap) mirrors or some of the newfangled ideas like (cheap) glass which shunts light to the edges are probably where the technology is going to improve.

Solar heating OTOH is very feasible right now. Solar water heaters are basically a pool painted black. Dirt cheap, and very efficient at capturing solar energy (easily over 50%, some over 75%). Their only drawback is that they store the energy in the form of heat, which limits its usefulness.


By MadMan007 on 5/2/2010 7:31:19 AM , Rating: 2
This is a very nice post. I would point out one thing though that you seem to put as a negative and that is the area for solar panels. 100m^2 is not a *huge* area...it's just 10mx10m. The many good points about power availability aside, when put that way the area does not sound so bad. While it might not work in cities it would certainly be feasible in suburbs. Hopefully new materials and production methods can drop solar panel price/W a lot.


By Enoch2001 on 5/2/2010 9:39:27 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
I would point out one thing though that you seem to put as a negative and that is the area for solar panels. 100m^2 is not a *huge* area...it's just 10mx10m. The many good points about power availability aside, when put that way the area does not sound so bad. While it might not work in cities it would certainly be feasible in suburbs. Hopefully new materials and production methods can drop solar panel price/W a lot.


Even with that knowledge, this does not solve the problems of time shifting the energy for night time use as well as massive amounts of the country which use the majority of energy in winter months, nor the landfill waste of panel disposal. Simply put, nuclear energy is a much more efficient way to solve this.


By MadMan007 on 5/2/2010 11:19:27 AM , Rating: 2
By 'power availability' I meant 'time shifting' as you put it, yes that is obviously an issue so no argument there. I just wanted to specifically point out that an area of 100m^2=10m*10m is not much of a hindrance in many situations.


RE: Followed soon after by the following headline:
By Starcub on 5/2/10, Rating: -1
RE: Followed soon after by the following headline:
By porkpie on 5/3/2010 6:12:48 AM , Rating: 3
Actually, nuclear waste is highly recyclable in a breeder reactor. Or even better, a Rubbiatron type design would allow us to burn nuclear waste for energy, without creating plutonium, and with a total radiologic profile as low as that from fusion.

The problem with PV panels is (beside their gargantuan cost, of course...10X higher than conventional sources) is simply that they don't generate power all the time, and we don't have the technology to store the massive amounts of power needed to run a city all night long.


RE: Followed soon after by the following headline:
By gamerk2 on 5/3/2010 11:34:29 AM , Rating: 2
Except the US hasn't built any breeder reactors (that I know of) due to cost.

Solar works provided there is enough local supply to offset a reduction in power generated by the solar panels. As such, unless we find a way to store the excess, Solar can not be a stand-alone solution.

That being said, there are a few experiments going on with putting the panels in space, then transferring the energy down in the form of microwaves...(Microwave Beam Miss, anyone? Sim City 2000 DID predict 2020 for microwave power... :D)


By porkpie on 5/3/2010 12:00:10 PM , Rating: 3
"Except the US hasn't built any breeder reactors (that I know of) due to cost."

No. President Carter signed executive orders making such reactors illegal . Reagan removed those, but the reprocessing industry never recovered...nuclear was by then too politically unpopular to invest new funds in.

Reagan also funded the IFR project, a highly advanced breeder reactor that would have cut nuclear waste by more than 99%, as well as giving roughly 100X the energy per unit fuel. President Clinton defunded that, however, soon after taking office.


By Solandri on 5/2/2010 1:35:36 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I would point out one thing though that you seem to put as a negative and that is the area for solar panels. 100m^2 is not a *huge* area...it's just 10mx10m.

Right. And that's ground area. If you can mount your panels at a favorable angle, you don't even need 100 m^2 of panels. And for areas like the desert southwest which are at a lower latitude and have a larger fraction of days with sunshine, the requirements are even less. I don't have anything against solar. Its current price point and up-front cost is a huge negative at the moment. Those can be mitigated by rolling the cost into the price of a new home if you build it with the panels.

I just wanted to dispose of the notion that it was free. It most definitely is not, both in terms of financial cost and waste generated.


By Enoch2001 on 5/2/2010 9:35:28 AM , Rating: 2
+10.


By marsbound2024 on 5/2/2010 4:03:32 PM , Rating: 2
-1 for you! jk?


By Solandri on 5/2/2010 1:19:08 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The sun moves across the sky reducing the exposure for any patch of surface area to pi/4 if you do the calculus.

Small correction. I did the integral backwards. It's 2/pi, not pi/4. 0.6366 instead of 0.7854. Just say that 60% of the days are sunny instead of half, and the final numbers stay the same. :D


RE: Followed soon after by the following headline:
By Starcub on 5/2/2010 1:27:00 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Sunlight hits the earth with approximately 700 W/m^2.

In the US I believe the standard used is 1000W/m^2, but globally I think the avg. is closer to 1.4KW/m^2. In any case, I think you're basing your calculations off bad figures and/or assumptions. Run the figures yourself at NREL's site and I think you will find a good average of about 450KWh/mo from a 35M^2 array, or about 15KWh/day in practice. Based on this I'm going to guestimate that you could get 37KWh/day out of a 50m^2 array. Keep in mind this is a practical estimate I arrived at for a location of average insolance in the US.


RE: Followed soon after by the following headline:
By Starcub on 5/2/2010 1:35:15 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Based on this I'm going to guestimate that you could get 37KWh/day out of a 50m^2 array.

Sorry, you would need about an 86m^2 array which would be about 9-10 meters a side. In other words, it should easily fit on the roof of your average house.


RE: Followed soon after by the following headline:
By porkpie on 5/2/2010 3:39:02 PM , Rating: 2
"In other words, it should easily fit on the roof of your average house."

The problem is that the average household energy use in the US includes usage from every "household" -- in other words, the (much lower) usage of the typical apartment dweller is factored into that. A suburban standalone home has a substantially higher usage figure than the household average.

A second problem is that few roofs are situated ideally in terms of facing, angle, and shading from trees and nearby structures. That further reduces efficiency, and increases the size of the array needed.

The largest problem of all though (other than the sheer cost of the ceels) is that the power generated is nondispatchable. An array that size will generate much more than you need at noon, but none at all at night. A battery array capable of powering your home for 12 hours is going to cost more than the array itself, and bring with it safety and space concerns.


RE: Followed soon after by the following headline:
By JediJeb on 5/3/2010 12:18:16 PM , Rating: 2
With apartments figured into the average another problem arises, where to put the solar arrays for apartment dwellers? If you figure even a three story apartment building, that is three apartments for every unit of surface area on the roof. You can't stack the solar cells on top of each other so you have to expand them outwards, taking up more roof space. Solar will only work effectively in suburban and rural areas as a primary power source and that probably would not get more than half of all residences nationwide.

Nuclear is still the best option, just need to figure out if large plants or the small local plants from some of the newest designs will be the best choice, or a mixture of the two. The small local units would not require as much upgrading of the power distribution system as the larger ones would.


By porkpie on 5/3/2010 12:41:46 PM , Rating: 2
To power NYC from solar would require an area substantially larger than the city itself. Not just covering rooftops, but streets, sidewalks, parks, everything....placing the entire city in a permanent, subterranean gloom.

I'll stick with nuclear myself.


By Solandri on 5/2/2010 1:55:09 PM , Rating: 2
1.4 kW/m^2 is the energy density of sunlight in space.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_constant#Solar_...

About half of it gets absorbed by the atmosphere before it reaches the earth. The figures I've seen on the surface of the earth is about 700-800 W/m^2 average perpendicular to the direction of sunlight. 700 W/m^2 * 15% efficiency is 105 W/m^2, 800 W/m^2 * 15% efficiency is 120 W/m^2.

Most PV panels are marketed as 100-120 W/m^2, so 700-800 W/m^2 seems about right. I went with the lower figure to compensate for gradual loss in efficiency over the 30 year lifespan.


By Solandri on 5/2/2010 2:27:00 PM , Rating: 2
Hey, thanks for the tip on the NREL site. They've got a nifty web-based map-based calculator which gives you kWh/m^2 per year based on the factors I outlined above and average weather data.

http://mapserve3.nrel.gov/PVWatts_Viewer/index.htm...

Clicking on random areas in the continental U.S., I get a range of 3.6 kWh/m^2/yr (Seattle) to 6.4 kWh/m^2/yr (Southern California desert). Looking at the help, the number actually seems to be kWh/m^2 per day, averaged over a year. Multiply it by a 15% efficiency and you get 540-960 Wh/m^2 per day vs. the 360 Wh/m^2 per day I derived. I guess there are more sunnier days than I estimated. :D

The bulk of the U.S. seems to be in the 4-4.5 range, which would generate 600-675 Wh/m^2 per day. I think I remembered the average electricity use by household wrong, and it's 11,000 kWh/yr, not 1100 kWh/month. It doesn't change the comparison to nuclear since they're both based on the same electricity usage (the amount of nuclear fuel needed shrinks by the same amount). But it does impact the size of the solar array you'd need if you're thinking of putting one on your house. At 11,000 kWh/yr, that's 30 kWh/day. At ~640 Wh/m^2 from panels, you're looking at about 47 m^2 of panels to satisfy the daily household electricity use.

http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/ask/electricity_faqs.asp


Tall tale is taaaaaaaall
By OneArmedScissorB on 5/2/10, Rating: -1
RE: Tall tale is taaaaaaaall
By Solandri on 5/2/2010 4:11:24 AM , Rating: 2
This is the reason I'm generally for R&D into electric cars. Battery capacity is woefully inadequate for the type of range you can get from a gasoline tank, but we're getting to the point where it can be sufficient for a large fraction of people's driving needs. Combine it with electricity from a cheap power source like nuclear and you've got a roadmap to breaking our dependence on foreign oil.

The other frontrunner solution I see is biodiesel using waste plant matter like corn stalks. Biodiesel is essentially solar power, only instead of building solar panels using expensive technology, you let plants grow them naturally for free (leaves). The plants collect the solar energy, store it as cellulose, we convert it to biodiesel, and use it to power our cars.


RE: Tall tale is taaaaaaaall
By bobny1 on 5/2/10, Rating: -1
RE: Tall tale is taaaaaaaall
By porkpie on 5/2/2010 10:06:54 PM , Rating: 2
A mind is a terrible thing to waste. How on earth do you think a box is going to get energy from sand? The Bloom box uses natural gas as an energy source. The "sand" is simply what they make the cells from.


Nuclear energy and CO2: the real numbers
By elukac on 5/3/10, Rating: -1
By porkpie on 5/3/2010 10:18:33 AM , Rating: 4
Jacobson fails to understand that wind turbines require much more mining and transport than do nuclear power plants. Dr. Per Peterson of Berkeley has shown that, per MH-h generated, wind turbines require 5X the concrete and 10X the steel that nuclear reactors do...and when you factor in that reactors last at least twice as long as as turbines, those figures double again.

http://www.energy.wisc.edu/wp-content/uploads/2006...

Even worse is the fact that both Peterson and Jacobson are looking at 1970s vintage nuclear reactors. Modern designs can reuse the fuel many dozens of times, reducing mining requirements to 1/100 of current needs. In fact, some designs can use the depleted uranium we already have on hand, giving us enough power for the next several centuries, without mining another ounce of uranium.


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