Nuclear Power

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I am puzzled even more that while these people are aginst nuclear power, they would most likely not want to give up the benefits of nuclear technology.
 

Morbius

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theCandyman said:
I am puzzled even more that while these people are aginst nuclear power, they would most likely not want to give up the benefits of nuclear technology.
Candyman,

I think they would forego the benefits of nuclear technology.

As the good Dr. DuPont states in his interview linked above; the anti-nuclear
crowd is really an anti-technology crowd.

For them, technology is a scourge upon the planet. Many of them look to
the lifestyles of the Native Americans of a few hundred years ago. They
believe that theirs is/was the one true way that humankind should exist
in harmony with Nature.

They believe that Man should eeke out a primitive agrarian existence -
and not have all the technology that you and I, and many others want.

Frequently, the lifestyles of Native Americans is portrayed in a
"romantic" fashion; without the downsides. People tend to forget that
without our technology; we humans are just another animal on the face
of the planet - and subject to all the harsh realities of life as an animal -
disease, hunger from crop failure, ...

I think we live a much better and longer life today that would be the
envy of any peoples of the past. That's why people developed all this
technology that we have today - to rid us of the strife of the past.

However, in order to continue the lifestyles that the advanced countries
enjoy, and to spread the benefits to those that live in the more primitive
areas of the world; is going to take energy. Energy fuels our modern
technological lifestyle - and it will take more energy for the spread
of a modern lifestyle to the poorer nations of the world.

Nuclear energy holds the promise of being able to deliver the energy
needed. Those that want to turn back the clock and have us live a more
primitive life; know that by opposing nuclear power - they can put a
monkey wrench into the engine that drives the expansion of advanced
technological lifestyles.

By strangling nuclear power, they hope to win the war against technology
and leave us no choice but to pursue their dreams of a primitive culture.

Dr. Gregory Greenman
Physicist
 
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Morbius said:
As the good Dr. DuPont states in his interview linked above; the anti-nuclear crowd is really an anti-technology crowd.

For them, technology is a scourge upon the planet. Many of them look to
the lifestyles of the Native Americans of a few hundred years ago. They
believe that theirs is/was the one true way that humankind should exist
in harmony with Nature.

They believe that Man should eeke out a primitive agrarian existence -
and not have all the technology that you and I, and many others want.

Frequently, the lifestyles of Native Americans is portrayed in a
"romantic" fashion; without the downsides....
Indeed so. The first paragraph of http://www.mech.gla.ac.uk/~rthomson/teaching/lecnotes/ch01.htm might strike a chord.
 

russ_watters

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Morbius said:
rdt2,

Yes - it always amazes me that people can be so phobic about nuclear
power; claiming that they are afraid of some fantasy accident concocted
by the anti-nuclear crowd; yet they still fly on airliners!
It does not amaze me (am I too young to be that cynical?). People are afraid of the unknown and most people know little to nothing about the real risk. Ask people how many people died in Chernobyl and the answers you get are in the hundreds of thousands. A lot of the blame goes to the media - they can't pass up a good scare story.
Several years ago, the PBS show "Frontline" did a show about nuclear
power entitled "Nuclear Reaction" hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning
author Richard Rhodes. At on point, Frontline interviewed a psychiatrist
concerning the anti-nukes. He states that they are not so much
anti-nuclear; but anti-technology and anti-business.
Those would be the so-called "environmentalists". I don't know how big of a group they really are, but they are the ones who are actively anti-nuclear. They are neo-hippies and they are pretty much anti-everything modern. This is the dangerous group as they are able to convince the larger ignorant and impressionable group (described above) of things like 100,000 people died as a result of Chernobyl.

(great link, btw)
 
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Morbius

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russ_watters said:
It does not amaze me (am I too young to be that cynical?). People are afraid of the unknown and most people know little to nothing about the real risk. Ask people how many people died in Chernobyl and the answers you get are in the hundreds of thousands. A lot of the blame goes to the media - they can't pass up a good scare story. Those would be the so-called "environmentalists". I don't know how big of a group they really are, but they are the ones who are actively anti-nuclear. They are neo-hippies and they are pretty much anti-everything modern. This is the dangerous group as they are able to convince the larger ignorant and impressionable group (described above) of things like 100,000 people died as a result of Chernobyl.

(great link, btw)
russ,

One problem seems to be that a lot of the entertainers fall into this
group - hence we have the "No Nukes" concert, etc.

The problem is, as you state above; that the small group can convince
the larger "ignorant and impressionable" group.

For me - the answer to ignorance is education. There too we have a
problem - the quality of education in our schools.

A little anecdote; each year I help out at our local "Expanding Your
Horizons" conference - an annual one day workshop for junior and
senior high girls that showcases women scientists and engineers as role
models.

One of the health physicists at the Lab [ they're the people that ensure
that radiation and radioactivity are handled properly ] had a display
of items that you would find around the house that are radioactive -
smoke detector, fossils, pottery... [ One of the largest radioactive
sources in your house is probably that 50mm lens on the front of your
Nikon, Minolta, or Canon SLR camera as I learned from his display.
Optical glass has thorium in it.]

He told me he also took his little show "on the road" to local [ Bay area ]
schools. At one high school, he was demonstrating the radioactivity in
a fossil shark's tooth. The science teacher asked him what he did to
make the shark's tooth radioactive.

He replied, "Nothing!" and explained that 100 years ago when the shark
was alive and swimming in the ocean, it was injesting the sea water,
removing the minerals from the water, and those minerals were used to
grow the shark's teeth. Some of those minerals are salts of uranium and
thorium - hence they are radioactive.

The high school science teacher asked, "You say that shark's tooth is
100 years old?" He told her, "That's right!". To which she responded,
"Well if that shark's tooth is 100 years old, how could it be radioactive;
since Man didn't invent radioactivity until 1945?"

I was aghast. Somewhere in the Bay Area is a high school science teacher
that is teaching her high school students that Man invent radioactivity
in 1945!!!

What we need are good teachers that can give our students a good
education. When a well educated person hears one of these "scare
stories"; they will be educated enough to see the inconsistencies and the
untruths of the "scare story" and not believe it.

That's how you immunize people against "scare story" propaganda.

I might also add that online forums like this one are also a part of the
education process - so keep up the good work!!

Dr. Gregory Greenman
Physicist
 

Morbius

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russ_watters

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Morbius said:
The high school science teacher asked, "You say that shark's tooth is
100 years old?" He told her, "That's right!". To which she responded,
"Well if that shark's tooth is 100 years old, how could it be radioactive;
since Man didn't invent radioactivity until 1945?"

I was aghast. Somewhere in the Bay Area is a high school science teacher
that is teaching her high school students that Man invent radioactivity
in 1945!!!
I think I'm going to vomit.

I visited Limerick when I was a cub scout (I still live about 15 miles away). I think it should be a part of the curriculum in whatever grade a child is first exposed (pun intented) to radiation (8th or 9th?) that they visit a plant if one is within field-trip range.
 
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How does someone like that come into a teaching job!?

Yes, education at an early age is probably the best way to prevent them from actually listening to the propaganda about nuclear power and the like, but for that there is a need for people who would want to teach younger children and know sufficient material.
 

Astronuc

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theCandyman said:
How does someone like that come into a teaching job!?
Because primary or public school teachers are not necessarily trained (or at least rigorously that is) in the the subject that they teach. Instead they get a degree in education, and consequently many (most?) math/science teachers get little experience in rigorous math, science and engineering courses.

There are exceptions. My chemistry teacher in HS (30+ years ago) had a Master of Science Degree in Chemistry. One of the Physics teachers had a PhD from Caltech, but he only stayed for two years, then went to work for Shell R&D.

Currently, one of the Chemistry (Science) teachers at my daughter's high school is a retired chemist/chemical engineer from one of the development labs of a large oil company.

The American Nuclear Society and DOE/National Labs have outreach programs.
 

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Astronuc said:
Because primary or public school teachers are not necessarily trained (or at least rigorously that is) in the the subject that they teach. Instead they get a degree in education, and consequently many (most?) math/science teachers get little experience in rigorous math, science and engineering courses.
Astronuc,

Yes - several years ago, a colleague of mine took an early retirement and
wanted to teach high school Algebra.

He was a Ph.D. in Physics - and could have taught at the University level.

However, he couldn't teach high school Algebra until he went back to
school and studied education in order to get his teacher's certification.

Dr. Gregory Greenman
Physicist
 
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Morbius said:
Astronuc,

Yes - several years ago, a colleague of mine took an early retirement and
wanted to teach high school Algebra.

He was a Ph.D. in Physics - and could have taught at the University level.

However, he couldn't teach high school Algebra until he went back to
school and studied education in order to get his teacher's certification.

Dr. Gregory Greenman
Physicist
And quite right too! Having a PhD is no guarantee of being a good schoolteacher. In fact, having a PhD and being a hotshot researcher is no guarantee of being a good university teacher.
 

ohwilleke

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russ_watters said:
I think I'm going to vomit.
I second that thought. One reason people like this get their jobs is that there is a shortage of math and science teachers. Often they get people who aren't certified in the area.

Now, I agree with the point about certification being a problem that Mobius pointed out. There is a problem with people who have the content knowledge being unable to teacher due to lack of teacher's education courses, which are often dismal in quality. Professors teaching undergrads do just fine without them (although a happy medium between throwing people into teaching with no instruction about teaching, and throwing people into teaching with huge numbers of useless education courses, seems possible).

But, too often, certification of some kind overtakes subject area knowledge. It is easier to be an English teacher and get reassigned to teaching science when there is a shortage, than to be a scientist or engineer and get assigned to teaching science when there is a shortage.
 

ohwilleke

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theCandyman said:
I am puzzled even more that while these people are aginst nuclear power, they would most likely not want to give up the benefits of nuclear technology.
I disagree with the notion that most people who are anti-nuclear are anti-technology. There is a group that is, but there is a far larger group that is not.

Also, while there is definitely an exaggerated fear of the risks of nuclear technology, the bigger problem in my mind is a lack of knowledge of the risks of non-nuclear technology to compare the risks of nuclear technology to.

Chernobyle is exaggerated. But, I don't think that there is anyone who would disagree that it was a bad thing that killed people. Likewise, while the actual harm caused by Three Mile Island was modest, I don't think anyone would disagree that the world would have been a better place if it hadn't happened. Nuclear engineers exist primarily to make sure that things like that don't happen.

The problem comes in when people analyze risk. They say, hmmm. . . there is bad stuff that happened when people used nuclear power, better stay with the status quo, instead of saying: There is bad stuff that happens with every kind of power, how bad is each?

If people had a better grasp of just how horribly dangerous coal fired power generation was on a life cycle basis, from mining accidents and black lung to environmental damage to habits and communities caused by coal mining, to transportation accidents caused when a much larger volume of fuel is moved, to accidents within coal fired plants, to illnesses caused by coal fired plant waste and emissions (and the talley isn't much better for the rare oil based plant, although natural gas is significantly better than either coal or oil, but quite expensive), I think a lot more people would appreciate the benefits of nuclear power and be less afraid.

But, most proponents of nuclear power don't really grasp that they need to educate people about coal even more than they do about nuclear power, if they want to make their point clear. They are busy educating people about nuclear power and then don't understand why people don't reach the same conclusion that they do.
 
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Moonbear

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russ_watters said:
I think I'm going to vomit.

I visited Limerick when I was a cub scout (I still live about 15 miles away). I think it should be a part of the curriculum in whatever grade a child is first exposed (pun intented) to radiation (8th or 9th?) that they visit a plant if one is within field-trip range.
I agree, as a teen I visited the Oyster Creek plant. Though, I was disappointed we didn't really get to see much of the actual plant, but it remained a valuable opportunity to learn a little from the experts.

One problem I recall from when I was young is that the one environmental hazard of the Oyster Creek plant was the water being dumped back into the river there that had been used to cool the reactor wound up warming the river temperature such that it changed the ecosystem. My parents used to have a boat docked along that river and all the boat owners had to move their boats to another location because some sort of worms or something were proliferating in the warmer water and destroying the hulls of the boats (back in the days of wooden boats). I really don't know much about it, just what my parents told me of having to move their boat (I was too young, though do remember vaguely moving to a new marina and being excited it had showers because it meant not having to bathe out of a bucket of cold water when we spent the night on the boat).

Anyway, just wondering if this is still an issue, or if plants have been modified to allow that water to cool more before being dumped back into rivers?
 

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ohwilleke said:
I disagree with the notion that most people who are anti-nuclear are anti-technology. There is a group that is, but there is a far larger group that is not.

Also, while there is definitely an exaggerated fear of the risks of nuclear technology, the bigger problem in my mind is a lack of knowledge of the risks of non-nuclear technology to compare the risks of nuclear technology to.

Chernobyle is exaggerated. But, I don't think that there is anyone who would disagree that it was a bad thing that killed people. Likewise, while the actual harm caused by Three Mile Island was modest, I don't think anyone would disagree that the world would have been a better place if it hadn't happened. Nuclear engineers exist primarily to make sure that things like that don't happen.

The problem comes in when people analyze risk. They say, hmmm. . . there is bad stuff that happened when people used nuclear power, better stay with the status quo, instead of saying: There is bad stuff that happens with every kind of power, how bad is each?
ohwilleke,

Look at the comparison between nuclear power and airline travel.

Nuclear power has had one major accident in the USA, in nearly half
a century of using nuclear power. That one accident didn't kill anyone,
exposed the public to a minimal amount of radiation [ less than flying
in an airliner ]. The impact on the public was minimal; although the
utility took a substantial financial hit.

Now compare that to airline travel. In the last half century, there have
been quite a few major airliner crashes. These crashes have killed on
the order of a hundred people per crash, or there abouts. Flying in an
airliner subjects one to more radiation in a few hours than one gets
all year due to nuclear power.

Are there people protesting at airports? Do people want to shutdown
an industry that kills a couple hundred people every 2 to 3 years?

Of course airline travel is comparitively safe - especially when compared
with automobiles. The use of automobiles in the USA kills almost
50,000 people annually.

Where are the people protesting cars? Where are the people protesting
airlines? There aren't any. People are not afraid of travel in either
cars nor airliners [ some are, but not in general ].

However, they are scared by the nebulous fantasies of nuclear accidents.
The anti-nukes have somehow scared the public into believing that there
is a some catastrophe out there ready to strike. It will be a calamity
when it does - but it just hasn't happened yet - but when it does it will
be really, really BAD!!

Somehow people buy into the scare-monger's vision over what the
actual history of the industry is. That's what I don't understand.

But, most proponents of nuclear power don't really grasp that they need to educate people about coal even more than they do about nuclear power, if they want to make their point clear. They are busy educating people about nuclear power and then don't understand why people don't reach the same conclusion that they do.
I quite frequently point out to those that are so phobic about the
radiation from nuclear power plants - that it PALES compared to what
the coal plants are putting out:

http://www.ornl.gov/info/ornlreview/rev26-34/text/colmain.html [Broken]

Dr. Gregory Greenman
Physicist
 
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Moonbear said:
One problem I recall from when I was young is that the one environmental hazard of the Oyster Creek plant was the water being dumped back into the river there that had been used to cool the reactor wound up warming the river temperature such that it changed the ecosystem.

...

Anyway, just wondering if this is still an issue, or if plants have been modified to allow that water to cool more before being dumped back into rivers?
I know that the warm water coming from the nuclear plant at Crystal River is used by the local endangered manatees during the winter in Florida. It is helping them in a sense, so im not sure that such a rule could apply to all reactors.
 

Astronuc

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Moonbear said:
Anyway, just wondering if this is still an issue, or if plants have been modified to allow that water to cool more before being dumped back into rivers?
The problem is thermal pollution.

The Rankine thermodynamic cycle is approximately 33% efficient at the operating conditions of commercial nuclear reactors. This means that one has to eliminate 66% (2/3's) of the heat to the environment (the ultimate heat sink). The waste heat can be rejected to the air via cooling towers or into a body of water such as a lake or river.

The problem with the latter, is that the lake or river water can become much warmer than Nature would allow without the presence of a power plant.

Thermal pollution is an environmental issue with the Indian Point Nuclear Plant on the Hudson River, approximately 35 miles north of NY City. HOWEVER, thermal pollution of a lake or river is a problem regardless of the primary source of heat, be it fossil, e.g. coal, oil or gas, or nuclear. So, i.e. it is not a problem exclusive to nuclear energy. In parts of the country, as in the south, much of the energy is provide by coal burning plants.

To combat the thermal pollution, cooling towers may be built to reject more heat to the air (atmosphere). However, cooling towers add to the capital cost of the plant (i.e. less profit in a mature plant).

BTW - At Crystal River, unit 3 is nuclear, but units 1, 2 and 4, 5 are coal-burning.
 
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Morbius

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Moonbear said:
I agree, as a teen I visited the Oyster Creek plant. Though, I was disappointed we didn't really get to see much of the actual plant, but it remained a valuable opportunity to learn a little from the experts.

One problem I recall from when I was young is that the one environmental hazard of the Oyster Creek plant was the water being dumped back into the river there that had been used to cool the reactor wound up warming the river temperature such that it changed the ecosystem.

Anyway, just wondering if this is still an issue, or if plants have been modified to allow that water to cool more before being dumped back into rivers?
Moonbear,

For one thing - the fossil-fueled power plants also produce thermal
pollution - although to a somewhat smaller extent.

As Astronuc pointed out, the Rankine cycle of a nuclear power plant
is about 33% efficient. That means 67% of the heat energy produced
by the reactor is dumped into the water as heat, when the river or
lake water is used to cool the plant's condensors.

The same thing happens in a fossil plant. However, the boiler in a
fossil plant operates at a higher outlet temperature than the reactor.
The fossil plant is about 40% efficient - so you only have to dump 60%
of the heat energy produced by the boiler into the lake or river.

So the thermal pollution is 67% for the nuclear power plant and 60%
for the fossil-fuel plant. So the nuclear power plant produces a little
less than 12% more thermal pollution than a fossil plant of equivalent
size.

The way to eliminate the thermal pollution of the lake or river is by
the use of cooling towers - those great big hyperbolic towers that seem
to be the uniquely associated with nuclear power plants [ like Three
Mile Island ]. The cooling towers dump the waste heat directly into the
atmosphere.

Although the cooling towers are seen as a symbol of nuclear power -
they don't have anything to do with the reactor - just the steam cycle.
One could put these same cooling towers on a fossil-fueled boiler plant
as well.

So whenerver you see those big towers - like at Three Mile Island - you
know that the plant is NOT thermally polluting the river or lake.

Dr. Gregory Greenman
Physicist
 

ohwilleke

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Morbius said:
ohwilleke,

Look at the comparison between nuclear power and airline travel.

Nuclear power has had one major accident in the USA, in nearly half
a century of using nuclear power. That one accident didn't kill anyone,
exposed the public to a minimal amount of radiation [ less than flying
in an airliner ]. The impact on the public was minimal; although the
utility took a substantial financial hit.

Now compare that to airline travel. In the last half century, there have
been quite a few major airliner crashes. These crashes have killed on
the order of a hundred people per crash, or there abouts. Flying in an
airliner subjects one to more radiation in a few hours than one gets
all year due to nuclear power.

Are there people protesting at airports? Do people want to shutdown
an industry that kills a couple hundred people every 2 to 3 years?

Of course airline travel is comparitively safe - especially when compared
with automobiles. The use of automobiles in the USA kills almost
50,000 people annually.

Where are the people protesting cars? Where are the people protesting
airlines? There aren't any. People are not afraid of travel in either
cars nor airliners [ some are, but not in general ].

However, they are scared by the nebulous fantasies of nuclear accidents.
The anti-nukes have somehow scared the public into believing that there
is a some catastrophe out there ready to strike. It will be a calamity
when it does - but it just hasn't happened yet - but when it does it will
be really, really BAD!!

Somehow people buy into the scare-monger's vision over what the
actual history of the industry is. That's what I don't understand.
I would dispute your characterization of how people view the airline industry. In fact, the public does insist on far greater regulation of the airline industry than it does have any other form of transportation. For example, if we had the equivalent of air traffic control for boats, there would be hundreds of lives saved every year. Every airline accident is routinely investigated by the federal government, and airlines are much more likely to be held liable for trivial negligence than someone driving a car.

Indeed, concern about airline safety expressed in lawsuits, has pretty much wiped out the general aviation industry. When, as in that case, the danger level was roughly equivalent to cars, juries, who are just members of the public after all, wiped out the manufacturers and everyone else in sight. The more familiar and better understood the risks are (and the more that people are personally taking the risks rather than entrusting someone else to take them for them) the more people are willing to tolerate the risk, even if the actual risk is higher.

Also, there is a piece of Murphy's law asserting itself. Anything that can go wrong will. The question in the eyes of the public is what can go wrong, and what the worst case scenario is. The largest number of people killed in an airplane also lags just a few years behind the capacity of the largest airplane in service. Ditto ships. People are more afraid of events that kill lots of people at once, than of events that kills small numbers of people frequently.

Coal kills lots of people, but rarely kills as many in one incident as Cherynoble did. Likewise car accidents kill lots of people, but rarely in one incident.

People, maybe down to a hard wiring point, tend to evaluate danger in inaccurate ways such as maximum rather than average number of people killed.
 

Moonbear

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Astronuc said:
HOWEVER, thermal pollution of a lake or river is a problem regardless of the primary source of heat, be it fossil, e.g. coal, oil or gas, or nuclear. So, i.e. it is not a problem exclusive to nuclear energy.
Okay, I guess I only heard of it in the context of nuclear power plants because it was something new that changed a river in my lifetime, and affected people I know, so I actually heard the stories about it. And from yours and Morbius' posts, it sounds like nuclear plants have actually found other ways to deal with it, whereas fossil fuel plants haven't. I'm not crazy enough to think there is any way to provide all the energy we demand without some environmental impact, I just like being aware of what that impact is.
 

Astronuc

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Morbius brought up a good point.

Coal and oil plants can obtain efficiencies of up to 40% with Rankine cycle, because they can operate with superheated steam at higher temperatures and pressures. The temperatures and pressure are restricted in nuclear plants primarily for 'safety' reasons.

On the other hand, high temperature gas cooled reactors were expected to get up to 39-42% thermal efficiency. Four plants representing 8 units were planned, but none built, due to the collapse of the nuclear industry - post TMI. I say collapse, because according to the original plans of the industry, over 200 nuclear units had been planned for the US market prior to 1979. Orders were quickly cancelled in the wake of TMI-2's accident.

Furthermore, combined cycle plants based on aero-derivative gas turbines (based on jet engines) which dump their waste heat into steam cycle can get up to 60-62% thermal efficiency, so they waste only 38-40% of the heat. These plants generally tend to be peaking units and use natural gas which has become more expensive as demand for it increases.
 
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Moonbear said:
it sounds like nuclear plants have actually found other ways to deal with it, whereas fossil fuel plants haven't.
No. Both coal power plants and nuclear power plants can use cooling towers. This is the Ferrybridge (coal) Power Station:
http://www.freefoto.com/browse.jsp?id=13-32-0

As you can see, it is equipped with cooling towers.
 
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Morbius

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ohwilleke said:
Coal kills lots of people, but rarely kills as many in one incident as Cherynoble did. Likewise car accidents kill lots of people, but rarely in one incident.
ohwilleke,

A single airliner crash kills more people than Chernobyl did.

Dr. Gregory Greenman
Physicist
 

ohwilleke

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Morbius said:
ohwilleke,

A single airliner crash kills more people than Chernobyl did.

Dr. Gregory Greenman
Physicist
It depends on how you count. If you count only the 31 people who died in the first few weeks, and you have a pretty large airliner, yes. If you make some reasonable inferences about life time effects from the pollution impact of the disaster, I think this is a hard proposition to support.

It noted also that in addition to the immediate deaths from radiation about 209 people suffered acute radiation syndrome. http://www.nea.fr/html/rp/chernobyl/c05.html This will likely have a strong long term impact on these acutely affected individuals. Eleven of them have died since then.

The OECD report ( www.nea.fr/html/rp/chernobyl/welcome.html[/url] )notes the increase in cancer incidence among people who lived in the former Soviet Union (i.e. fairly close to the site) a group of people who numbered in the hundreds of thousands in the "highly contaminated territories." Overall its estimate of deaths from late cancer effects, as well as more immediate effects, is in the vincinity of 700-900 deaths at the conservative end of the scale, with non-fatal illnesses affecting thousands of people, and hundreds of thousands of people experiencing forced relocation and/or serious psychological traumas. [url]http://www.nea.fr/html/rp/chernobyl/c05.html[/URL]

A UN report ( [PLAIN]www.chernobyl.info/resources/undpReport10_2_02.pdf[/URL] ) puts the increase in thyroid cancer deaths at about 2,000 and estimates that could grow to 8,000-10,000, while stating that there is not a consensus on the cancer impact in other types of cancers.

The Chernobyl accident will probably end up killing more people than the worst ever airplane crash (a collision of two 747s on a runway on March 27, 1977 in the Canary Islands that killed 583 people), and certainly more than an average one which kills 75-230 people, and will have an overall impact many times as severe. It isn't killing tens of thousands of people, but its significant health and human impact shouldn't be understated either. The only single incident industrial accident in recent history which comes close in terms of mortality and overall impact is the worse Bhopal chemical plant disaster in India.

By comparison, the worst ever mine disaster in the U.S. (in Monongah, West Virginia on December 6, 1907) killed 361 people. In direct deaths an oil pipeline explosion in Nigeria on October 17, 1998 that killed more than 700, a gas pipeline explosion in Ufa, Asha, USSR on June 3, 1989 that killed more than 650 people, the Salang Tunnel explosion in Afghanistan on November 2, 1982 that killed more than 1,000, an accidental dynamite exposion in Cali, Columbia on August 7, 1956 that killed 1,100 people, and an explosion in the Bombay, India harbor on April 14, 1944 that killed 700 people, come close, but none of these accidents had comparable collateral effects.

Chernobyl will end up killing as many people as some of the worst industrial accidents in history, while having the non-deadly environmental impacts of a major oil spill.

The fact that there have been dozens of major oil spills and numerous major industrial accidents in the history of the fossil fuel industry, at gas pipelines, oil pipelines, coal mines and more, still supports the conclusion that nuclear energy is safer by comparison. But, to reduce the harm caused by Chernobyl to the 31 people who died in short order, is to drastically understate the mortality effects of that disaster.
 
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