Chernobyl Legacy

Discussion in 'Earth Science' started by lightgigantic, Oct 20, 2007.


How much are you in favour of Nuclear Power

  1. All for it - no problems with buying real estate next door

  2. Not ideal, but better with it than without it

  3. undecided

  4. uneasy about it - concerned about long term impact

  5. Its a human disaster just waiting to happen

  1. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    It's me sceintific bent that has me comparing what the nuke experts are saying now with what they were saying then, and the symptoms of reality now with the symptoms of reality then, and concluding that the results of now are most likely going to resemble the results of then.

    The results of then have been a damn mess.

    What do you think about that solar power calculation up there, eh? Do you suppose the claims of nuclear necessity and superiority are based on stuff like that ? My suspicion is they are.
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  3. Grantywanty Registered Senior Member

    we could consider consuming less.
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  5. Grantywanty Registered Senior Member

    Nuclear accidents take thousands of years to go away. But I will keep in mind your philosophy when you get upset about something.
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  7. Grantywanty Registered Senior Member

    Why not develop the safe process first.
    and we are still talking about thousands of years and expensive security, future moves due to geological, political changes and small to large accidents along the way. Accidents that are not local.
  8. Grantywanty Registered Senior Member

    What's with the immature 'cry baby' baiting? Your ideas too weak to stand on their own?

    Corporations will always cut corners. It is not a matter of what can be done. It is a matter of how much money can be saved. Even if you support Nuke power, you should be scared about how Bush has gutted every regulatory agency. he puts people from industry in the positions to oversee the industries. When they are done they go back to industry.
  9. Baron Max Registered Senior Member

    And how many thousands of years will it take for all of the fossil-fuel pollution to go away?

    Baron Max
  10. Nickelodeon Banned Banned

    It takes thousands of years?
  11. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

    No baiting involved or intended, simply telling it like it is. You are vaguely on the right track in that I certainly intended to point out the immature thinking on the part of some. The "cry-babies" are deathly afraid of many things that were resolved long ago. The main thrust of what I've been saying is that they have NOT kept themselves current on the technologies involved and their thinking is rooted - and stopped - at the way things were decades ago.

    That fear is also largely unfounded. Can you imagine ANY power generating company that would cut enough corners to possibly expose themselves to billions and billions of dollars worth of neglegence suits by both the govermental agencies AND the affected public?

    As to the background and future of of members of the regulatory agencies, would you rather those people be retired elementary school teachers and taxi drivers? Where else BUT inside the industry are you going to find those who are qualified to understand it????
  12. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Imagine? I can name a half dozen doing exactly that right now.

    My local one ran casks of waste across the biggest river on the continent and through the center of the biggest city in the state, on open flatbeds not even chained down, and dismissed even the terrorist risk by saying they were too heavy to move by hand. They weighed less than 500 pounds.

    But their exposure to lawsuit is not as great as a stranger with common sense would guess: the US government has carefully, by various law, limited their liability and their financial risk, they have stacked the oversight agencies with friendly faces, and of course the profits made are easily sequestered: watch how the management of the companies putting up these new nukes makes sure the money made is not vulnerable to any problems later.

    You can sue them, if you have hundreds of millions of dollars and a high level security clearance allowing you to see the relevant documents. If you win, you get their assets: the nukes.

    Try this: try to make a requirement that the companies building and running these plants, managing the waste, and decommissioning them afterwards, purchase insurance covering that risk you say they would never run. See if you can get an insurance company to agree with you that they would never do such a thing.

    If the operators of nuclear power plants had to purchase the same liability insurance the operators of any ordinary business had to buy, there wouldn't be a single nuclear power plant running in the US today. Nobody will cover that risk. They'd be fools to.

    If that held, it would be an excellent argument against the whole business. Obviously a stupid position to put oneself in: no one qualified to guard the supersophisticated henhouse except the fox? Don't build that henhouse.

    I would use it, except it doesn't hold: there are plenty of people capable of understanding the relevant features of the situation. It isn't deep nuclear physics and engineering that obtain legal indemnity from accidents, for example - it's plain old chicanery and greed.

    Last edited: Oct 24, 2007
  13. Echo3Romeo One man wolfpack Registered Senior Member

    Read posts 1, 2, and 18 in order.


    It boils down to operational risk management making nuclear fission a safe and viable solution to a real problem. You can play the golden BB scenario out indefinitely until the "unacceptable risk" goalpost finally becomes evident. However, if that is what you really want to do, there is no arguing with that. The fact is that nothing is risk free, and where the line is on that risk is up to you. It is apparent from simple observation that the risks of nuclear power are both small and manageable; smaller than living in certain neighborhoods, smaller than getting on an aircraft, smaller still than driving a car. And much smaller still than other sources of electricity. A cursory read of this document provides a little perspective.

    My numbers are valid, based on current levels of efficiency (by your request) and deployable technology. If you wanted to deploy a solar farm next week, that would be the technology you would use. You're trying to change the conditions of your argument because the logical conclusion ended up disagreeing with you. It isn't a particularly impressive way to debate.

    Not cheap, cheapest!
  14. Echo3Romeo One man wolfpack Registered Senior Member

    The popular perception of nuclear power is very complex, and a significant part of that is the legacy of the Cold War arms control debates, the prolific misunderstanding and deliberate misrepresentation of radiation and radioactivity, and a number of less coherent political factors that have nothing to do with the technology at all. In a purely technologic sense, the light water reactor has been a rousing success. From a regulatory standpoint, the concept in general has been a dismal failure for a lot of artificial reasons. And then, there is perhaps no deeper abyss than the public misunderstanding of an issue so complex.

    All of that, however, is changing. There have been profound regulatory changes from within the NRC, such that now the agency favors nuclear reactors rather than stalls them. The Westinghouse AP-1000 and General Electric ESBWR (which you've already referred to) have both been certified by the NRC for, what amounts to, unlimited construction in the US. Four other reactors are in the process of being reviewed. Formal declaration for three Early Site Permites are on file, meaning that a variety of companies intend to build new plants. At least six others are being drafted. On the international front, a similar re-awakening is occurring in South Korea, Japan, and Canada. Likewise, developing nations like China and India have correctly identified nuclear fission as the only currently available generating technology that can address their needs demographically. And this is happeneing not because of a change in perception of nuclear power, but because we are out of time. Infrastructures are built and improved on the resolution of decades, not months or years. From than standpoint, the disaster of when the reserve capacity falls below 10% (projected to be in 2025 or so in the US) is already here. We have to do something about it night now; today. The sum total of the nuclear power debate defeated nothing; it only delayed it. For a lot of reasons (some of them good, and some of the bad) fossils are falling out of favor. Accepting that as axiomatic, there are no other options that are deployable, viable, and scalable on the level necessary to meet national demand.

    The younger generations have been spared the steady and concerted propaganda campaigns that surrounded Diablo Canyon and Three Mile Island (examples include movies like Silkwood and the China Syndrome). However, there is still a deep seated public perception that anything radioactive is an absolute danger; a perception that was forged on the anvil of the Cold War. Over the last 60 years such an extensive mythology has been constructed to where nearly no one has retained a holistic view. The vast majority of people who oppose things like WIPP and Yucca Mountain cannot speak intelligently to the details of the materials to be stored. Ask the opponents of nuclear power that bring it up: what actually happened at TMI and who was at risk? What were the lasting effects? See if they can even draw the steam cycle of a pressurized water reactor, or tell you how long a spent fuel rod stays dangerously radioactive before it decays into common metals. Or if you really want to dive into it, look at the local impact of Chernobyl, and isolate the impacts that were strictly radiological from those that would have occurred at during any similarly large industrial accident. It doesn't take a tremendous effort to quickly discover that the entireity of the public perception bears little or no relation to the facts. Even more to the point, find a reactor operator as ask what the term "meltdown" actually means. The word itself is an expression of fear rather than a useful description founded in the technology. And that is a very good framework for viewing the entire "nuclear debate" in. The people who speak the loudest understand it the least, either for or against. It is easy to say that radiation causes cancer and leave it at that; sound bites are powerful tools with the average voter. It is a lot more difficult to make people understand the truth because it is so far removed from familiar experience and the necessarily lengthy technical explanation doesn't fit neatly onto a bumper sticker. Therein lie the core reasons why nuclear power has been hounded by popular myths and mired in politics for the past 30 years.
  15. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

    Very true, well put and I agree completely.

    I was immediately reminded of the old saying "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing." It is also a very misleading thing. Thus my frequent statements that the anti-nuclear power people are relying on old, outdated information and a fair amount of it is distorted as well.

    I grow very weary of uninformed individuals who have not bothered to keep up with technical advances AND are practically unaware of the urgency facing us in keeping electrical generation capacity adequate to meet our increasing needs. They almost always have a near-sickening belief that alternate energy sources will meet the demands while understanding neither the actual COSTS involved in such systems nor their operational limitations. "Green" is indeed good - but it's also expensive and very puny.

    It's certainly a good thing that the undereducated, fearful and idealists do not have full control of everything. If they had had they way all along, we would never have advanced and might well still be living in caves.

    Whether they like it or not, the nukes ARE the future - first fission and eventually fusion. For all of their misguided efforts, they will not be able to stop it - it's our ONLY option.
  16. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Your numbers are some years behind current deployable technology, and while pretending to respond to my posts ignore - intentionally? - the plain question posed in in my posts. Unimpressive, as you say. Your use of the 150 W/m^2 average is particularly symptomatic, as long as we are slinging personal shit - it's hard to credit you with that degree of honest obliviousness, as some kind of educated engineer type. Why did you use that number?

    Nobody (except maybe a nuclear engineer) who wanted to deploy a solar farm next week would use 6% solar panels. They might use something like this:, or modern solar panels, or another of the many designs that have better efficiency at lower cost.

    The langauge of the sales pitch.

    We have several other options.

    The fastest response would be conservation and efficiency improvements - immediate payoff, low cost, buying lots of time, and without serious side effects.

    Solar and wind are immediately deployable.

    The "disaster" of running short is completely manageable.

    And so forth.

    Down the road, the huge expense of an immediate crash building of untried nuke designs locks us into them - whether they work well or not, whether or not they prove to be the mess they have always been, whether the proliferation problem or uranium mining and refinement continues to destabilize politics worldwide, we'll be stuck with them. Just getting rid of a nuke costs two or three times as much as builiding them in the first place (even supposing we figure out a good way to do it), the waste handling will be an unavoidable cost, and so forth. A nuke is like borrowed money: the bills come due, and they are wide reaching - meanwhile, one serious accident wipes out all the benefits.

    Those bills will exclude other options, the most obvious being heat engine solar (which is deployable now in preliminary setups, and is still in the steep part of the research gain curve), other possibilities being step improvements in PV tech, salt gradient exploitation, etc.

    And meanwhile, we get this from the nuclear experts:
    Just to point to the most obvious delusion here: Chernobyl is still "melting down"; there have been no other "similarly large" industrial accidents. And the next time there is one, it will involve a nuke.
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2007
  17. Echo3Romeo One man wolfpack Registered Senior Member

    It wouldn't be such a mystery if you'd have bothered to do your own homework. Go to the Wikipedia page (which uses figures from the NREL) and you'll see that the average solar flux across North America is anywhere from 125-375W/m^2. I used a lowball estimate because the vast majority of the US is closer to 125 with only a tiny segment of isolated Arizona/New Mexico area desert in the 375W/m^2 region, giving an overall average of (surprise!) 150 W/m^2. To be more accurate, we should integrate the regional flux weighted by energy use, but to be honest, I think the bottom line pretty much precludes having to go to that degree of detail. If the conservative general calcs that ignore distribution and conversion losses already show it is completely infeasible from an energy production standpoint alone, I see no sense doing the more detailed ones. If you'd like to run that ball, I'd be curious to see what you come up with.

    You're more than welcome to adjust my calcs accordingly, but the reason I stuck with a-Si PV panels is because they're the only collection devices that can scale as large as we'd need to power the entire US. There are more efficient PV panels out there, but once you start accounting for the cost of mining Gallium and Selenium, the increased production effort, and handling the enormous amounts of toxic waste produced in the manufacture of a GaAs PV panel, a-Si ends up being more cost-effective for such a huge application. Remember to include manufacturing and disposal costs in your model if you choose to go this route.

    I want to see a detailed breakout of the numbers that support these claims. What science supports the notions that wind and solar will scale to meet the looming power crunch? Supporting that, what is the total delivered energy to the surface of the earth from the sun? And how much of that is recoverable? What about the energy bound up in harvestable wind energy? How do we transmit it from high flux collection areas to distant load centers without crippling line losses? What do these numbers mean and and how do they scale against geography and the investment of resources? And here's the $10,000 question: what is a decreasing reserve capacity and how do we fix it?

    Certainly we can recover enough energy for small domestic uses, but it isn't enough to make a dent in much else. When solar is fully mature, it can make a dent in long-term, low-consumption applications like water heaters and light bulbs. Which is all well and good, but these aren't the consumption problems we need to solve. It is moderate sustained consumption and high demand/high flux things like cities, telecommunications, factories, airports, hospitals, and the internet.

    I don't understand why you feel the need to get all ad-hommy with me, as it does nothing but hurt your own credibility with the intelligent observer. I'm trained as an engineer. The truth is always in the numbers. I don't care how people "feel" about it. In the bigger picture, the power crunch is already here. It is a problem that we need to sit up and address in the next 5 to 7 years. That is why the US, Japan, Canada, and about ten other countries are refining the nuclear plant designs in the Gen IV program. Japan and South Korea have already started construciton. The US has already funded Nuclear Power 2010, and within two months of that no less than six companies started site-scouting in five states. Nuclear power outside of Europe is far from done, it is just now being taken seriously. And that is because they stacked up all viable power production means and nuclear flat-out won on the technology scale. The Strong Force >> Climate Power. There's no changing that. We went with NP2010 and the new Gen IV reactors for that reason.

    I have already shown that nuclear energy can account for both current and projected demand increases, while at the same time supplementing much dirtier and more dangerous forms of power generation that have long outlived their usefulness (pronounced coal) and being immediately deployable this week. At the same time, you have yet to back up any of your assetions in this thread thus far with numbers or with facts. From Yucca Mountain, to Three Mile Island, to relative cost versus other sources, to proliferation and terrorism, you haven't provided any evidence to support your claims. You already backpedaled from making a cogent, factually supportable argument in favor of solar earlier in this thread (post #21) so I'll just assume we both agree that it is impossible. At the most all you've argued effectively are a few vague indictments of industry, which isn't really relevant to this discussion anyway (excepting the fact that it is preventing you from contributing to it meaningfully).

    The US Navy has steamed over 150 million miles on nuclear power without so much as a single casualty related to it. France has received 80% of their electrical power from fission since the early 1970s, and their waste management program is the best in the world because they also reprocess spent fuel. The technology as a whole is an unmitigated success. I'm an engineer. I'm inclined to go with the numbers I can prove rather than the ones that make people happy.

    Will you stop making shit up? Please? There were 57 deaths directly attributable to the Chernobyl fire, and the highball estimate of latent effects on the population was another 4,000 cancer-related deaths. The Bhopal chemical disaster of 1984 killed 3,000 people initially, and another 15,000 (up to 22,000) later from related illnesses. How the fuck was Chernobyl worse? Because it involved OMG radiation?

    The most noteable thing happening within the exclusion zone today, aside from the plan to build a new sarcophagus, is the explosion of local wildlife in the absence of people.
  18. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    Here's some more personal testimonies that make you wonder about the statistics collected

    We got to the place. Got our equipment. “Just an accident,” the captain tells us. “Happened a long time ago. Three months. It’s not dangerous anymore.” “It’s fine,” says the sergeant. “Just wash your hands before you eat.”

    I got home, I’d go dancing. I’d meet a girl I like and say, “Let’s get to know one another.”

    “What for? You’re a Chernobylite now. I’d be scared to have your kids.”


    Marat Filippovich Kokhanov
    Former Chief Engineer of the Institute for Nuclear Energy of the Belarussian Academy of Sciences

    Already by the end of May, about a month after the accident, we began receiving, for testing, products from the thirty-kilometer zone. They brought us the insides of domestic and undomesticated animals. After the first tests it became clear that what we were getting wasn’t meat, but radioactive by-products. We checked the milk. It wasn’t milk, it was a radioactive by-product.

    High doses were everywhere. In a few villages we measured the thyroid activity for adults and children. It was one hundred, sometimes two and three hundred times the allowable dosage. The tractors were running, the farmers were digging on their plots. Children were sitting in a sandbox and playing. We’d see a woman on a bench near her house, breast-feeding her child—her milk has cesium in it—she’s the Chernobyl Madonna.

    We asked our bosses: “What do we do? How should we act?” They said: “Take your measurements. Watch television.” On television Gorbachev was calming people: “We’ve taken immediate measures.” I believed it. I’d worked as an engineer for twenty years, I was well acquainted with the laws of physics. I knew that everything living should leave that place, if only for a while. But we conscientiously took our measurements and watched the television. We were used to believing.


    Zoya Danilovna Bruk
    Environmental Inspector

    They had protocols written up for burying radioactive earth. We buried earth in earth—such a strange human activity. According to the instructions, we were supposed to conduct a geological survey before burying anything to determine that there was no groundwater within four to six meters of the burial site. We also had to ensure that the depth of the pit wasn’t very great, and that the walls and bottom of the pit were lined with polyethylene film. That’s what the instructions said. In real life it was, of course, different. As always. There was no geological survey. They’d point their fingers and say, “Dig here.” The excavator digs. “How deep did you go?” “Who the hell knows? I stopped when I hit water.” They were digging right into the water.

    My longest assignment was in the Krasnopolsk region, which was just the worst. In order to keep the radionuclides from washing off the fields into the rivers, we needed to follow the instructions again. You had to plow double furrows, leave a gap, put in more double furrows, and so on. You had to drive along all the small rivers and check. Obviously I needed a car. So I go to the chairman of the regional executive. He’s sitting in his office with his head in his hands: No one changed the plan, no one changed the harvesting operations; just as they’d planted the peas, so they were harvesting them, even though everyone knows that peas take in radiation the most, as do all beans. And there are places out there with forty curies or more. So he has no time for me at all. All the cooks and nurses have run off from the kindergartens. The kids are hungry. In order to take someone’s appendix out, you need to drive them in an ambulance to the next region, sixty kilometers on a road that’s as bumpy as a washboard—all the surgeons have taken off. What car? What double furrows? He has no time for me.

    We run into an old lady.

    “Children, tell me, can I drink milk from my cow?”

    We look down at the ground, we have our orders—collect data, but don’t interact with the local population.

    Finally the driver speaks up. “Grandma, how old are you?”

    “Oh, more than eighty. Maybe more than that, my documents got burned during the war.”

    “Then drink all you want.”


    Vladimir Matveevich Ivanov
    Former First Secretary of the Stavgorod Regional Party Committee

    Others keep quiet, but I’ll tell you. The papers write that the Communists fooled the people, hid the truth from them. But we had to. We got telegrams from the Central Committee, from the Regional Committee, telling us: You have to prevent a panic. And it’s true, a panic is a frightening thing. There was fear, and there were rumors. People weren’t killed by the radiation, but by the events. We had to prevent a panic.

  19. Grantywanty Registered Senior Member

    If I say that AIDs is a terrible disease and I hope they will find a cure, will you come back and tell me that malaria kills more people. Nuclear power and all that is associated with it is people who don't really care about the long term potentially making large areas of the planet unlivable. I'm not fond of the combustion engine either.

    But one difference, one I think you actually have some respect for, is choice. Statistics for driving deaths are readily available. I think most people have heard it is much more dangerous to drive than to travel by bus, train or air. If you are out on the road you chose to be. If you get caught in the plume of a meltdown, or nuclear waste has been dumped into your water tabtle, you did not choose to take this risk and you may never even know that it is why you got cancer or your kid was born with certain problems. Tell me that difference doesn't matter to you Baron.
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2007
  20. Grantywanty Registered Senior Member

    Jeremy Bernstein, physicist, says:

    The same Russian roulette is being played with us with 'peaceful' nuclear waste products.
  21. Non-Logical-Idea-Guy Fat people can't smile. Registered Senior Member

    better than us flooding them all tbh
  22. Grantywanty Registered Senior Member

    I am not exactly sure what you mean.
    We seem well on the way to doing that also.
  23. Non-Logical-Idea-Guy Fat people can't smile. Registered Senior Member

    if we went nuclear co2 emissions stop, no / less flooding but we have nuclear waste, alternatively no nuclear waste but we all drown or bake alive.

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