Nuclear Power Usage: Hear What Others Know.

In summary, nuclear power is a very important source of energy that has many benefits, but there are some risks involved. It is important to be aware of these risks so that the right decision can be made about whether or not to use nuclear power.
  • #36
russ_watters said:
Thorium reactors seem interesting and I agree we should put some effort into researching them. But near-term climate change mitigation is not a research project, it is a construction project. We need to be building the clean power plants now that will come online over the next 30 years (gradually phasing out coal, old nuclear plants and baseload natural gas plants). If a research reactor comes online in 10 years that provides a commercially viable solution in 20 years, it's nice for the later future, but it doesn't factor into a 30 year transition timeline.
Can I just clarify that you are talking there about phasing out slow fission reactors using old, fault-intolerant fuels?

But OK with improved fission?

The thing I don't quite understand with some folks who want to discuss our climate emergency is that they then say 'Oh, but not nuclear' as if there isn't an emergency and actually we still have choices.

Sometimes with emergencies one needs to take a step that is negative in some other, less harmful way.

It seems that, to some people, killing the planet off is preferable to burying some nuclear waste for a few 100k years.

Likewise for cost. People say 'ah, but the cost'. Yup. Let's calculate the $/gallon of water used to put out a fire before we send the fire engines in?
 
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  • #37
cmb said:
Can I just clarify that you are talking there about phasing out slow fission reactors using old, fault-intolerant fuels?

But OK with improved fission?
No -- "phasing out" may have been a poor word choice by me. You "phase out" something that can still work because you don't like it (coal). For old nuclear plants we will need to replace them soon simply because they are old. By my count, roughly half of the US's operating reactors are over 40 years old. Pretty much all of those will need to be replaced in the next 30 years while we try to beat climate change by 2050.
The thing I don't quite understand with some folks who want to discuss our climate emergency is that they then say 'Oh, but not nuclear' as if there isn't an emergency and actually we still have choices.

Sometimes with emergencies one needs to take a step that is negative in some other, less harmful way.

It seems that, to some people, killing the planet off is preferable to...
Yup. My go-to question is: "Is this an emergency or not?" Pretty much by definition an emergency is a serious enough problem that you should relax/discard some safety margins to solve it, otherwise the outcome of the emergency is likely to exceed the potential downside of the relaxed safety protocol. In this case, the scale has tipped so far it's fallen over.
... killing the planet off is preferable to burying some nuclear waste for a few 100k years.
A few 100k years? How about a few decades? Again, if we really believe climate change to be a calamity by 2100 that we need to fix by 2050 to avoid, then why even bother doing anything with our nuclear waste until after we've solved climate change? I live 5 miles from a nuclear plant that might still be operating by 2050. It has high level waste stored on site. I don't care, not even a little bit.
[I realize we're on the same side on this.]

Oh, gawd, I didn't even know about this when I typed the above, I was just double-checking to make sure I was right that they had on-site storage:
Despite a recent federal court ruling invalidating a rule that would allow storage of radioactive spent nuclear fuel rods at nuclear power plants for 60 years after they've closed, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has no plans to consider the issue when deciding on whether to re-license Exelon Nuclear's Limerick Generating Station for an additional 20 years.

The National Resources Defense Council disagrees with that position and filed papers July 9 seeking to amend its challenge to Exelon's re-licensing application on the grounds that the court decision should be another reason to require a site-specific environmental impact statement.

Currently, the operating licenses on the plant's two nuclear reactors expire Oct. 26, 2024, for Unit 1, and June 22, 2029, for Unit 2.

Exelon has submitted a request for a 20-year extension on both licenses. The NRDC has petitioned the Atomic Licensing and Safety Board, arguing, among other things, that the reactors should not be re-licensed without a new, site-specific environmental impact review.
https://www.pottsmerc.com/news/grou...cle_9e1080d5-058f-5917-9972-ca911fe1cdd8.html
[was this article really updated after 9 years?]

What are these people thinking? Scuse me, I need to go buy some poster board, stencils and spray paint.
 
Last edited:
  • #38
russ_watters said:
No -- "phasing out" may have been a poor word choice by me. You "phase out" something that can still work because you don't like it (coal). For old nuclear plants we will need to replace them soon simply because they are old. By my count, roughly half of the US's operating reactors are over 40 years old. Pretty much all of those will need to be replaced in the next 30 years while we try to beat climate change by 2050.

Yup. My go-to question is: "Is this an emergency or not?" Pretty much by definition an emergency is a serious enough problem that you should relax/discard some safety margins to solve it, otherwise the outcome of the emergency is likely to exceed the potential downside of the relaxed safety protocol. In this case, the scale has tipped so far it's fallen over.

A few 100k years? How about a few decades? Again, if we really believe climate change to be a calamity by 2100 that we need to fix by 2050 to avoid, then why even bother doing anything with our nuclear waste until after we've solved climate change? I live 5 miles from a nuclear plant that might still be operating by 2050. It has high level waste stored on site. I don't care, not even a little bit.
[I realize we're on the same side on this.]

Oh, gawd, I didn't even know about this when I typed the above, I was just double-checking to make sure I was right that they had on-site storage:

https://www.pottsmerc.com/news/grou...cle_9e1080d5-058f-5917-9972-ca911fe1cdd8.html
[was this article really updated after 9 years?]

What are these people thinking? Scuse me, I need to go buy some poster board, stencils and spray paint.
Yes, we are wholly agreeing.

"A few 100k years? How about a few decades? " yes that was my point, no point worrying about storage over 1000's years if it's 'game over' in 100's. If we revert back to being coastal/arboreal apes (pick your theory) then our 100x grand children aren't going to have the wherewithal to figure out how to dig it up and accidentally kill themselves off. By the time some wily cockroach type thing evolves into the next sentient species to dominate the planet, all that actinide and long life stuff will no longer be activated.
 
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  • #39
Stanoje said:
...Fukushima ... many people died...
You mean, due the evacuation?
As I recall, the direct victims won't make up for a half-decent traffic accident. And it took a lot of statistics to push up the supposed number of long term radiation related deaths.
 
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  • #40
Likewise, Chernobyl, few have died but the mental health consequences of being moved from the area is the actual health story.

There are various communities in the exclusion zone that have simply gone back and ignore the evacuation demands, prefering to get on with their lives in their own homes and home areas, which are regarded as hazardous. No reports of anyone suffering yet. Some residents never moved out and are living to ripe old ages, so I have seen on video documentaries.

Nuclear is a very mixed bag, it is the fear of the unknown. Fear of the unknown creates a hysteria which is legitimate in some cases but irrational in most others. SARS CoV2 has had similar effect. No-one can deny actual mortality outcomes, but the fear of not knowing if you are one who might suffer such mortality creates adverse attitudes.
 
  • #41
Rive said:
You mean, due the evacuation?
As I recall, the direct victims won't make up for a half-decent traffic accident. And it took a lot of statistics to push up the supposed number of long term radiation related deaths.
There were no deaths attributed to the reactors. Deaths were due to the earthquake and tsunami. Also no sign of long term health or environmental impact due to radiation exposure so far. Cancer and other radiation related disease is tracking pervious levels according to the UN studies I've seen. Radiation releases were not large and were highly diluted and quickly fall off to background levels. We are constantly bathed in ionizing radiation from "natural" sources so we have evolved to tolerate a certain amount. No place on or in the Earth has zero radiation levels.
 
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  • #42
luptonma said:
There were no deaths attributed to the reactors.
As I recall, there was a crane accident or something like that. So it's more accurate to say that there was no nuclear related death there.

Also, there was a worker who died of lung cancer. That's made to be a fishy matter, mostly due the government response. So at least the account may vary depending on the standpoint.

Regarding the long term health impact: due the very nature of LNT methodology it's entirely possible to calculate a number of casualties. Whether it is accurate or not is a very different question and does not really belongs to this topic.
 
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  • #43
Stanoje said:
Hello Andrew! First of all,nuclear power plants do not create any active pollution.Only problem is where to dump all the nuclear waste they produce. Also,they are one of the most efficient ways of making energy. In fact,1 kg of uranium fuel is equivalent to 1 ton of coal. And yes,we had two major nuclear incidents,Chernobyl and Fukushima.Of course,many people died in those disasters,but still more people die from air pollution!
There really is not a problem with nuclear waste from power plants. In the US waste has been safely stored on site at the reactor facilities for the past 50+ years. There has never been a issue with power plant waste. The issues with high level radioactive waste all stem from nuclear weapon production. Spent fuel quickly decays and in 40 years the radiation level drops to 1/1000th the original level and it keeps dropping from there. After 1000 years the radiation level is about what natural uranium ore produces. While there are isotopes that persist for 10's or 100's of thousands of years they are found in very small quantities and decay very slowly so their health and environmental impact is minimal even if "deep storage" is not used. If fuel were reprocessed in the US we could burn up most of this waste and reduce the time to get to background levels significantly. For now we just let it dump heat into the environment rather than trying to use the fuel more efficiently.

A huge advantage nuclear power has is that the waste material volume is very low so decades of waste is easy to stored on site until radiation levels drop.

https://www.osti.gov/etdeweb/servlets/purl/587853
https://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/fact-sheets/radwaste.html
https://www.world-nuclear.org/infor...s/radioactive-wastes-myths-and-realities.aspx
 
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