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Current price of oil

Post in 'The Green Room' started by elkimmeg, Jul 17, 2007.

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  1. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    It's hard for me to grasp that there is some sort of diposal issue with nuclear power since I have walked on and helped cut up nuclear powered ships and submarines. Even had a part in setting up the disposal of the reactors. We are now using nuclear power to play war with, the reactors are hot and running. Maybe park one of the ships (most have more than one reactor) and attach the prop shaft (s) to a generator head.

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  2. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Uh, Highbeam - so you work in the industry and don't know that they promised (like Telco above) that, by the time the waste built up, they would have the solution?

    And you don't know that since they have not come up with the solution, they store the waste in swimming pools outside the reactors? And that they have now received permits to expand this on-site storage because they still (50 year later) are NO CLOSER to a solution?

    So, pray tell, since you think there is no disposal issue, why can't they ship that stuff somewhere safe?

    As to breeders and rocketing it to the sun - fine - let me know the cost of sending the stuff into the Sun, figure it into the price - take away government guarantees and build 'em if feasible. But after having a couple exploding rockets out of the last couple dozen, I'm not certain about those rockets either.
  3. Telco

    Telco New Member

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    No idea what the future would hold, but I doubt any real money's been spent on dealing with the waste beyond figuring out that you can encase it in glass, then stick it in a swimming pool. The breeders are currently in use in France though, so we do know that it works. No idea how well it works without government money though, since the French government pays for just about everything in France. The rockets going up lately, no comment on that. I'm with you, I don't want to see 20 tons of nuke waste crashing anywhere, or worse yet exploding 20 miles up. Would also need a secure means of controlling the rocket too, don't need any Mini-Me wannabe hijacking a rocket after launch. Don't think we could manage a million billion dollars.
  4. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Is a million billion what mini-me wants?

    The waste problem is a perfect example of the problem with planning which says "by then we will have figured it out". This would be like making murder legal, with the caveat that someday we will figure out how to bring the dead back alive. Maybe.....the cost might be high.

    We have been given so much in terms of nature, and we have so many great minds who have brought us this far....there are real solutions existing right here, and right now. Solar is still being slammed for being 3x the price of other electric - but without subsidies, the other electric might cost as much! According to the CSX commercial, trains can move a ton of freight 400 miles plus on one gallon of fuel....and trains are nowhere near 100% efficient....and yet we brag about 30 MPG? We should discuss 30 Miles per Liter!
  5. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    I'm not in the nuclear industry exactly, but I am an engineer so I know how to move things. How to weld reactors to barges, how to drag the barges in the ocean and up rivers, how to move the reactors onto land vehicles, and then how to set them down in the desert to sit forever among hundreds of other spent reactors. Among the navy reactors are old powerplant reactors. This is one place where they are shipping the stuff. Is it safe? I don't know. They've been doing it for a long time and only improving their methods.

    Build up? Just how much build up of waste do you think there is? Our country is huge. So much uninhabited area that a tiny little gem of waste is nearly meaningless.

    There are no swimming pools at the shipyards. I think there is this perception of a monstrous heap of green goo when there is no such thing. I've stood next to reactors. I just don't see any big heap or mass of anything. Just lots of clean power being produced.

    At least the very small amount of waste is contained unlike the current methods of coal and NG combustion.
  6. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Uh, a long time? Like what, 50 years?

    "Certain radioactive elements (such as plutonium-239) in “spent” fuel will remain hazardous to humans and other living beings for hundreds of thousands of years. Other radioisotopes will remain hazardous for millions of years. Thus, these wastes must be shielded for centuries and isolated from the living environment for hundreds of millennia"

    No, there is no green goo. It's worse. There are invisible rays which enter our cells and cause mutations, most notably cancer.

    As to the "tiny" amount, if we are talking about High Level Wastes (the bad stuff) -
    "High level waste (HLW) is produced by nuclear reactors. The amount of HLW worldwide is currently increasing by about 12,000 metric tons every year, which is the equival to about 100 double-decker busses or a two-story structure built on top of a basketball court"

    So we are not talking a couple 55 gal. barrels here - more accurately, we are talking about enough to cause hundreds of millions of cases of cancer if let out into the environment. And right now it is protected by - sitting in a swimming pool. Not exactly the solution I was looking for.
  7. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    You're not supposed to eat it. The spent fuel indeed takes essentially forever to be safe. Things like reactors cool off in a few decades to safe levels. I think the figure was 97% gone in 27 years.

    To some folks, any amount of pollution is unacceptable and I can appreciate that viewpoint only if those people will also consider how much waste that the alternatives produce. How many tons of pollution a coal stack produces for example which is uncontained and allowed to fly. A few of these little basketball huts are very tiny when looked at against the big picture, very much a drop in the bucket.

    You've seen those huge strip mines? Those pits for diamonds or whatever on the discovery channel? I've never actually seen one in real life, I wouldn't miss that amount of storage if filled up with nuclear waste. I wonder how many basketball huts you could fit in one of those. Look at landfills. Huge volumes of our earth are occupied by bad stuff already. Essentially off limits. Why not have a similar system for the nuclear waste.

    I don't need technology to be able to make the waste disappear. If the technology only was good enough to simply contain the waste.


    PS, not trying to ruffle feathers. I just don't see the problem.
  8. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    I agree that things must be weighed. But putting them under the rug (so to speak) is not a scientific process whereby we can guess at the true cost. There is no formation on the earth stable enough to contain the waste until it is not deadly. That pretty much leaves either somehow processing it - because based on that weight we're not going to rocket it anywhere!

    Yes, everything has problems....and I don't believe in taking the tops off of mountains either, although the western pits seem relatively benign (take some dirt off, remove the coal and put dirt back)....

    What's done is done - we can't put the tops back on the mountains, but I would rather have a "arms race" based on tidal, wind, solar and other renewable resources than make decisions for thousands of future generations (decisions which will cost them in lives and treasure).

    As you know, the technology is not good enough to contain the waste. That is the problem.
  9. iceman

    iceman Minister of Fire

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    could you point me in the right direction for a 2001 expedition???
  10. raybonz

    raybonz Minister of Fire

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  11. Mike Wilson

    Mike Wilson New Member

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  12. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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  13. BrownianHeatingTech

    BrownianHeatingTech Minister of Fire

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    Actually, most radiation is particles.

    Gamma is rays. It can travel one thousand feet in air. That's almost a quarter of a mile! Why, if there were some gamma-emitting waste nearby, you could be not exactly sitting on top of it and still be in danger!

    Beta radiation more damaging than gamma, since it is composed of high-energy particles (electrons or positrons) instead of mere rays. Being exposed to beta radiation is like being blasted with a shotgun.. if a shotgun shot tiny particles that could be stopped by thick paper, that is.

    Alpha radiation is the most damaging sort. It consists of two protons and two neutrons, so it can punch a much bigger hole in your cells. Of course, being big and slow, alpha particles can be stopped by almost anything, such as the layer of dead skin cells on your body. It is only dangerous when ingested.

    All of these are ionizing radiation, which describes their ability to ionize atoms, causing damage if that happens within your body. Some other examples of ionizing radiation...

    X-rays (chase your doctor down with a baseball bat!)
    Ultraviolet light (that's how it causes skin cancer)
    Visible light (yup, your lightbulb is sleeting ionizing radiation at you - that's how photographic film works)
    Potassium (stop eating those dangerous bananas!)

    Oh, by the way, burning wood releases radiation, as well. Just figured you should know, so you can avoid such dangerous, environmentally-unsound activities...

    Joe
  14. Telco

    Telco New Member

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    There was a TV news story recently about a University of Oklahoma cancer researcher that claims to have discovered a cancer cure. They are in the preliminary testing phase, but they said it's looking pretty good. No details beyond they do this and the cancer dies, but surrounding cells do not. It doesn't matter what sort of cancer either, any cancer they try it on dies without harming nearby cells. Hopefully this will turn up in the next 3-5 years.

    One way you can look at pollution is: nuclear waste is exactly the same as coal/petroleum waste, except nuclear waste is concentrated. Both will kill you, but one can be completely isolated. Is it better to have tons of a pollutant everywhere killing you slowly, or tons of it in one place where if you go where it is it kills you instantly, but if you don't go where it is, it doesn't affect you? Think I'd rather have it concentrated and stored somewhere nobody else is, with heavy security.

    Iceman - Unfortunately, no. The program I used on my dad's truck is called EFI Live, and is only for General Motors products. To use it you'd have to trade your Ford for a GM, or if you don't mind making heavy modifications you can locate a 411 processor from a GM truck, and rewire your Ford to use it. It should be a matter of just figuring out what all the wiring on your Ford does, and connecting the appropriate wires to the computer ports on the new computer, then changing all sensors to GM specific ones. A third alternative would be to change the Ford engine for a Chevy engine. Local salvage yards in my area will sell complete takeout 5.3L engines for 1000 dollars with all accessories, wiring harness and computer. Any of these options would allow you to use the same software. If this is too much, the next step would be to visit some Ford high performance boards, if there is such a thing as a high performance Ford, to see if they have any programming software similar to EFI Live. The software would need to allow you to change the timing and fuel maps, O2 sensitivity, airflow maps, ect. If it's just a plug in programmer where you push a button, then it won't do it. EFI Live is a program that requires a laptop to operate and allows you to change everything as though you were a GM programmer, right down to remodeling the fuel gauge operation. For hard parts, the only thing I can suggest for an SUV would be to add a set of electric fans, open up the intake, change tires and change the exhaust. For electric fans, Ford Taurus fans are very popular on the GM V8 trucks. And, GM now installs electrics on their trucks from the factory. You will also need some sort of control method for the fans, which may be possible through the computer. On GM computers, there is an option for electrics on the trucks without them because the same computer is used on cars that do have fans. Be warned, if you go with the electric fans you'll need to monitor the temps closely when towing, AND there is the possibility of a jerky double shift on a wide open throttle 1-2 shift. Without the drag of the mechanical fan you might hit the RPM cutoff before the trans can shift, which makes the 1-2 shift feel like it's bucking. If you have the 4.6L Ford engine, then a set of long tube headers with 2 inch duals or a single 2.5 inch pipe, along with a low restriction muffler, will improve flow and make it easier for the engine to operate. Muffler selection is very important as you drive a big box, which will have resonance issues. My Tahoe ran with Walker Quiet Flow mufflers, along with 18 inch glasspacks right at the rear bumper. The mufflers by themselves were quiet but resonated, the glasspacks knocked off almost all the resonance. Next thing to do would be to open up the air intake path, try for a straight airpath by removing factory plastic. Don't descreen the MAF if you have one though, it can do funny things to the computer. Lastly, increasing tire diameter will allow you to travel further by increasing the rear end ratio (lower numerically) without an expensive gear change. Remember that a 10 percent larger tire will mean the speedo is off by 10 percent, so going 60MPH will really be 66MPH and could mean a ticket, unless you reprogram to take this into account.

    Hope all this helps.
  15. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    As Joe states, there are many sources of ionizing radiation. You get a LOT when you fly at high altitudes or even live at them! Living in certain areas (radon) also gives you larger doses. Every x-ray that you get increases your chance of mutation (usually cancer). A CAT scan - just one - gives you a 1 in 1000 chance of getting cancer (from it).

    So the kicker is this - every bit of radiation which you are exposed to OVER AND ABOVE background and "normal" increases the incidence of cancer and mutations. I don't get X-Rays just as a normal course of action...if I really need them, I get them. I would never agree to a CAT scan unless there was a life threatening reason.

    http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2007/09/07/3674/

    Dr. Goffman worked on the first A-Bomb, discovered isotopes of Uranium and was the chief medical researcher for the Atomic Energy Commission....that is, until he decided to tell the truth and they forced him out. So I guess it is a question of whether one believes him or wants their research done by GE and Westinghouse (who build plants).

    I'm not saying that other sources of power don't kill people - they do! But we have to weigh the entire life cycle. If, after careful weighing, nuclear comes out as relatively benign, then it deserves to be considered. But shipping the waste around the world and dumping it in poor countries or swimming pools on the reactor site is not the solution.
  16. BrownianHeatingTech

    BrownianHeatingTech Minister of Fire

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    Do you watch TV? The average American gets a chest x-ray each year, just from the emissions of the TV (CRT computer monitors count, too).

    Or the research done by every other credible source (even ones that don't get money from GE or Westinghouse), which don't support Goffman's findings...

    Point of order: civil disobedience involves "disobedience," not willful destruction of property. Gandhi would roll over in his grave if he knew what sort of evil was being defended by twisting his words.

    Okay, since nuclear does come out as "relatively benign" in any unbiased examination, I guess we should build more nuke plants...

    Joe
  17. DriftWood

    DriftWood Minister of Fire

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  18. Redox

    Redox Minister of Fire

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    Not to "fuel" this fire any further, but here it is:

    http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/...el-building-construction-union_563303_11.html

    Constellation is poised to break ground this year on the first new nuclear reactor in decades here in MD. They are the parent company of Baltimore Gas and Electric. Calvert Cliffs was the first nuke plant in the country to be recertified. The state of Maryland just settled a lawsuit with them over deregulation and now it looks like we are closer to a green light on the project than ever before. CEO Mayo Shattuck is apparently buds with Bush; they had a press conference together here some time back. Don't know where this is headed, but one thing's for sure; our electric isn't going to get any cheaper.

    We can't even agree on the proposed LNG terminal in Sparrows Point...

    Oh, well!
  19. fraxinus

    fraxinus Feeling the Heat

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    A couple of points missing from the nuclear power discussion: First, it's not really meaningful to talk about radiation in general. The particular radioisotope is very important. For example, the human body cannot distinguish between regular iodine and its radioactive form. This is why the radioactive iodine is stored in the thyroid causing serious damage, especially in children. In a similar way, radioactive cesium is "mistaken" for calcium and is stored in bone and becomes a part of mammalian milk.
    Long term storage of nuclear waste remains an intractable problem in part because of our Federal system. Every Preseidential candidate over the past 20 years has assured the people of Nevada and other western states that they will not host a waste depository. Numerous state laws have also been passed to prevent such an eventuality. High level waste from decommissioned nuclear plants is currently stored (dry cask storage is one method) on site with little prospect for any change despite a massive suit intended to force Federal action slowly making its way through the courts.
    The money people have yet to re-embrace nuclear power. All plants have a finite life and are so expensive to build it's very difficult to make them profitable over their useful life.
    We may yet build new nuclear plants, but siting them, financing them and gaining public acceptance will be a monumental task.
  20. Ken45

    Ken45 Minister of Fire

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    You are right. We just don't want any power plants of any kind, no coal or oil. We might allow gas fired plants, but the supply of gas is limited and we won't allow import terminals. People think they can say "no" to everything (including new oil fields in the US), and then complain that prices are going skyhigh!

    I agree our government has done a terrible job of managing nuclear energy. For one thing, we won't allow fast breeder reactors, which tremendously reduces the waste problem.

    I've heard proposals about dumping sequestered nuclear waste at the deep ocean subduction zones, where it will be carried to the molten core of the earth, from where it came. I've never heard anyone mention problems with that approach, so what's wrong with it? Or do we just insist on sticking our heads in the sand (and fighting wars) and ignore doing anything to solve our energy problems?

    Ken
  21. blackgooseJT

    blackgooseJT New Member

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    What really freaks us out is the "unknown". Humans have never been able to deal with things in the LONG term without screwing up. SL-1, Three mile island, and Chernobyl all served to illustrate just how fragile and short lived our technologies and our memories are. The difference between traditional power generation and nuclear is that the consequences of predictable failure last longer than recorded human history.The half-life of some of the isotopes involved is hundreds of thousands of years. Who's going to be around to make sure this stuff is still contained ? I worked in radiological controls in the 1970's and I know how careful everyone was, but people still made mistakes. I like the idea of nuclear power. I'm just not too sure about the human factor.

    J.T. Black Goose
  22. BrownianHeatingTech

    BrownianHeatingTech Minister of Fire

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    The "accidents" you mention are all related to designs that were used in order to comply with government regulations and government-sponsored limitation of liability.

    If the companies were free to use proper designs, and were actually liable for damages if they had a leak, then you'd see inherently-safe designs being used. For example, pebble bed reactors, which simply cannot melt down, as a matter of physics. No external safety intervention is required - the coolant is an integral part of the reaction, and any coolant loss shuts down the reactor. Proper reactor designs eliminate the human element.

    In any case, coal plants release more radioactive material into the atmosphere than a nuke plant. And they do that during "normal operation," not in the extremely-unlikely event of a radiation leak.

    Joe
  23. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Well, Yeah.....but isn't that like saying "if we lived on the moon"?

    Even if the government stopped insuring nuclear plants, wouldn't there just be levels of "shell" corporations and LLCs who owned or ran them? And, even if not, what does "liable" mean? So what if you sue the corporation out of business? That is not real liability.

    So maybe a real question would be "Give ANY situation of normal business which could or would happen....."

    And I think the answer to that is clear. We (the taxpayers) end up footing the bill. If that is the case, it might as well stay just like it is now.

    Ok, so would we say "all the boards of directors and CEOs of a nuclear energy company ....if they cause death and disease as a result of shoddy designs or practice...could be executed and all their assets and those of their heirs siezed?". Sound silly? Well, that is exactly what happens when everything defaults back to the tax and rate payers - we die from the leaks, pay the bills and so do our kids.

    There is no such thing as real "liability", it is only limited liability.
  24. BrownianHeatingTech

    BrownianHeatingTech Minister of Fire

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    Corporations are part of the government, Craig. They do not exist in the real world. They are not people. You can't go and wave your finger at "Exxon." They are legal fictions, created by the government.

    The actual people involved should be held liable. Which cannot happen under the current "regulatory" system. As long as they "comply with regulations," they are free to do absolutely any amount of damage imaginable, and can never be legally accountable for it.

    Uh, I think there's a logical disconnect there. If the CEOs were held personally liable for their actions, then the debt wouldn't default to the taxpayers, like it currently does.

    Joe
  25. Telco

    Telco New Member

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    I like this thread, both sides of the nuke issue are discussing the issue without resorting to namecalling.

    The taxpayers actually would wind up footing the bill of a nuke accident as the CEO is unlikely to have enough personally to cover the costs of a cleanup. However, that picks the story up at the end of the book, not the beginning. If a CEO were told that he is allowed to build a nuclear power plant using whatever design he wants, but has to meet a specific limit on radioactive emissions and would go to real jail where he'd room with Bubba, and not the Martha Stewart Minimum Security Facility and Spa outside Kennebunkport, ME, then the cost of the plant would be far less and the plant would be far safer from the getgo. With this sort of incentive (unless the CEO happens to like being a "hood ornament") it's far less likely that unsafe designs or practices would be allowed. Triply so if the responsibility and jail time were to roll downhill to the actual responsible person, ie cause a nuclear meltdown and the state grabs all assets and makes a chain gang out of the chain of command all the way down to the guy that threw the wrong lever. Course the only way anyone would accept such a job is if they had the right to refuse an order from a superior if they thought it would cause a meltdown.

    All in all though, something is going to HAVE to be done, and people are going to have to get over their NIMBY complex. Personally I wouldn't mind seeing a nuclear reactor going in on the Arkansas River in Tulsa, and that's with me living 20 miles upwind of where any radioactive cloud would head in the event of an accident. I'd not protest the plant going in unless they were using some unsafe design like was used in one of the nuclear failures listed before. But, either we need more refineries, more hydro plants, and more wind/solar facilities, or we need more efficient stuff, or we need to get used to higher and higher prices.

    Another thing I'd like to see: The end of the boutique fuel formulation. There should be one federal standard for all fuel, split into five regions (divide the nation in 4, 5th region would be all high altitude areas) and only two octane ratings made, 87 and 93. If a station wants to offer a midrange, 87 and 93 will mix to make a 90 octane. Doing this, even if we went with the strictest standards of fuel, would mean cheaper fuel for everyone since the refineries would not have to retool for each formulation, and one refinery going down would not be such a hardship. I wouldn't mind seeing more refineries going in either, I know the US government was offering to allow retired military bases to be converted. Right now they oil companies have too few refineries as one going down puts a major crimp in supplies. Seems like every time I hear an economist say "Fuel prices are expected to drop unless a refinery has problems" is followed by a refinery fire within 2 days.
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