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Poll - are you still for nuke power?

Post in 'The Green Room' started by webbie, Sep 4, 2013.

?

Are you still interested in building up the US and world Nuclear generating capacity?

Poll closed Sep 14, 2013.
  1. Yes

    33 vote(s)
    73.3%
  2. No

    12 vote(s)
    26.7%
  1. Huntindog1

    Huntindog1 Minister of Fire

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    I think the Gov. could do more on this subject , but I think the Gov. is broke helping rebuild other countries and giving money to them. One country the other day they said receives like a billion dollars a year from the US Gov.

    I think the cost of energy has caused issues. The last big economic down turn was yes the housing bubble but was pushed over the edge by gas going over $4 a gallon back then.I dont think we have yet recovered and its gonna be some time before we do. The costs of goods and services are out of control and the people who put out those stats are fudging numbers to make them look better than they are. But I wasnt born yesterday and I have been around the barn a few times, inflation is out of control.
    Wildo likes this.

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  2. vinny11950

    vinny11950 Minister of Fire

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    A good friend of mine lives in a nice building built in the 70s that has all electric heating and cooling. 14 floors. I think back then they believed nuclear power plants would supply plenty of cheap electricity. That was then.

    Like everyone here has said already, new nuclear power plants have better designs, especially in emergencies, so we should have a good chunk of our energy come from them. Then some renewable, and then fossil.

    But conservation is it.
    StihlHead likes this.
  3. Treacherous

    Treacherous Minister of Fire

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    Last edited: Sep 5, 2013
  4. StihlHead

    StihlHead Guest

    Agreed to all, though I was involved in politics 10 years ago and any (and I mean ANY) discussion of controlled growth was dismissed outright. No one will touch that topic in any way, shape or form. Improving efficiency and insulation are low hanging fruit, and have the fastest ROI by far. We could double the energy output from existing resources rather easy. No pipe dream needed there. Its just a matter of implementation, and not dependent on new exotic technology (though it can certainly gain from it). Renewables are failing in many ways, from failed investments like Solara to quality control issues in products from China, to existing monopolistic corporations like Edison fighting PV expansion using their grid in SoCal. It is also highly dependent on new and unproven exotic technology, and they have their downfalls. Windmills are limited to windy areas and they are noisy and they kill a lot of birds. PV relies on a wide and variable distribution grid. Hydro required damming rivers. Tidal/wave is expensive and limited to coastal areas with high wave activity. Most of these require an alternative power sources for downtime. New storage/battery technology is required, but henceforth not available at the scale needed.

    Humans are greedy and inefficient by nature. We are also horny and hungry. It is very hard to go against nature. We need a new religion to overcome these issues and current trends.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 5, 2013
    Wildo, h2ochild, vinny11950 and 3 others like this.
  5. save$

    save$ Minister of Fire

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    What would it take to convert our trucking industry to Natural gas vs gasoline or diesel? It is practical? If that petrol use was off the table, then what would be our world demand from foreign nations and how would it impact pollution?
  6. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    IIRC long haul trucks are a small fraction of gasoline+diesel use in the US
  7. StihlHead

    StihlHead Guest

    good questions...

    Natural gas is currently expanding as a fuel for trucking (because its cheap):

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/23/b...cks-expected-to-rise.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

    If gasoline was off the table the economy would be stopped cold. If it were replaced with something else, the pollution impact would depend on the energy source used. Coal would be worse, NG would be better. 70% of oil used in the US is for transportation. As for world demand, 57% of oil used in the US is imported. You can read more about it here:

    http://www.americanenergyindependence.com/fuels.aspx
  8. btuser

    btuser Minister of Fire

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    Older nuke plants were never that good. They're all custom jobs, put in bad locations, and the reactor design isn't even that great. Still, for 40 years they've been an awesome source of reliable and clean power for America. As far as cost goes, if other forms of generation were regulated like the nuclear industry the margins wouldn't be that far out of whack. If natural gas had to pay decommissioning fees, and realistic insurance rates in case a well casing contaminates ground water then it wouldn't be so cheap. All this is paid up front with nuclear power. No other industry is required to do this. As of right now there are billions of dollars sitting in funds, but there would be more if government hadn't changed the rules so they could get their hands on it to balance their budgets.

    Why isn't a wind farm required to pay for every bird that might be killed in the next 30 years? There are 14,000 abandoned turbines across the USA. Who's gonna clean that up? (Yeah, I know it's not the same thing.) You can build a nuke plant with less steel, less concrete and a hell of a lot less land than a comparable wind farm, AND you can put it where you need it vs long-distance power lines. Wind is free but even a really good wind farm will get only get you 30% capacity from your steel and concrete investment, regardless of when you need it. No storage yet, but even cheap storage will be more expensive than nuclear fuel. Even with older reactors fuel was cheap. With newer ones we can use the waste as seed material, essentially solving the waste problem and even creating value from it.
    The nuclear industry has paid over 35 billion dollars into a trust fund for long-term waste disposal. Yucca Mountain construction costs are at about 15 billion dollars but, thanks to Senator Reed Yucca Mountain is over. It wasn't the nuclear industry that failed it was NIMBY congress.
    Huntindog1, Wildo and StihlHead like this.
  9. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Equating birds with millions of potential cases of cancer is not exactly equality in my book.

    That 35 billion seems short when the cost of decommissioning is taken into account. Once again, if things were OK, then insurance companies would be jumping at the chance to insure them. But it had to be be done by the same MIMBY Congress. In other words, you....

    What do you think the honest to goodness cost of the Japan meltdown is going to be - over time? Including cancers caused in 1,000 years?

    Sure, every type of energy has it's problems, but when they are shorter term we can accept and understand them. For instance, we understand and accept the carnage in our cars on the highway. But we are not making decisions for people in 10 or 20 centuries. That's a different calculation, IMHO.
  10. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    BTW, I'm seeing 250-500 Billion for the Fukishima plant total cleanup. That was before the current mess happening now and likely does not include future cancers. I think we all know that such things usually go way over budget. The money will have to be borrowed. Let's take a nice round number of a trillion to include at least one or two generations of cancers, lack of fish being able to be used, etc.

    So, if ONE plant can cost 10X to 20X the (USA) cleanup fund created over decades, that doesn't look too good! And, again, the fact that one country can pollute a lot of the globe for hundreds or thousands of years make it different than wind turbines.
  11. semipro

    semipro Minister of Fire

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  12. btuser

    btuser Minister of Fire

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    I was kidding about the bird thing.
  13. DevilsBrew

    DevilsBrew Minister of Fire

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    There are many US nuclear power plants that are susceptible to earthquakes and other natural disasters. The builders saw plentiful water and threw all common sense out the window.
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2013
  14. btuser

    btuser Minister of Fire

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    It wasn't the earthquakes. There were nuke plants closer to the epicenter than Fukushima but they did not suffer a meltdown. It was poor design and execution.

    1.) They noted on the original design that the generators would be prone to flooding but chose not to relocate them
    2.) They made design changes to the cooling system that defeated safety systems and made them inoperable in an emergency
    3.) After installing additional emergency generation on higher ground (per new regulation) they left the switchgear in the flood prone area making it essentially useless.

    There's like a dozen things that happened in cascade to cause this. Same with 3 mile, same with Chernobyl. Nuke power can be extremely safe but these 40yr old plants are not idiot proof. Broken dams kill many more people than nuclear power.
  15. DevilsBrew

    DevilsBrew Minister of Fire

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    Maybe it comes down to whether or not you want to take the gamble. I would rather not.
  16. StihlHead

    StihlHead Guest

    Well, for one we do not make decisions about what Japan uses for energy. They do. NIMBY all you want. The reality is that Japan does not have an affordable feasible alternative to nuclear energy at this time, short of our shipping them billions of tons of subsidized fossil fuel. And then you have to figure out what to do with the non-CO2 pollution generated. Then you have to figure what the consequences are of this species surviving extinction in the next 2,000 years with the continued pumping of billions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere? I would say that nuclear is far better option, even with the risks involved. It comes down to comparing the quality of life of individuals (suffering from cancer), vs. survival of the species (avoiding extinction from the effects of global warming).
  17. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    In a day and age when renewables are "only" double the cost (approx) of nuclear, my thinking is that we'd be better having a "war on inefficiency" worldwide and putting those trillions it would cost to mitigate nukes into gubment subsidies for solar, wind, tidal and other similar technologies.

    I don't think we were that far from being correct in the 70's when we said "no need to have a nuclear reactor to hear you home to 70 degrees".

    At this point I think all we lack is the will and the vision. This could not be said even 20 years ago, but it can be said today (IMHO).
  18. mustash29

    mustash29 Feeling the Heat

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    Totally for nuke power, when it's implimented properly.....

    Lots of interesting ideas here, lots of good info from some smart folks.

    Some thoughts from a former reactor operator. 10 yrs 2 months 28 days as an electronics technician in the Navy's nuke power field. 2 years of non-stop school, 5 years building, testing, starting up and operating 2 reactors on an aircraft carrier, 3 years as a radiological controls technician doing sub maintenance.

    The Enterprise, the Navy's first nuke carrier, had 8 reactors. It was Admiral Rickover's wet dream. They were essentially sub plants all linked together with multiple ways of cross-connecting systems, the ultimate setup for multiple redundancy.

    All Nimitz class carriers have 2 plants, which is plenty of redundancy as they can go well over 1/2 speed and still launch plenty of lethal aircraft. Full bore with both plants running is only about 60% power on each plant. You are talking about nearly 100,000 tons of steel going > 30 knots and leaving a wake that is > 1.5 miles long. It's like a trail of bread crumbs for the pilots to follow. ;lol

    As said earlier, the nuke guided missle cruisers are long gone. They are all gas turbine powered now, variable pitch screws (propellers), fast Mo-Fo's for sure. I about crapped my pants the first time I saw one of them pull away from us after finishing taking on a fuel load at sea. After an UnRep or underway replenishment at sea, they typlically do "emergency breakaway" drills. Impressive acceleration would be an understatement.

    I grew up with 3 Mile Island 35 miles from my back yard. I was in 3rd grade when the accident happened. While the unit was damaged, the off site ramifications of the accident were relatively minor. There were several issues that led up to the accident. Operators (ex Navy Nukes) ignored a few indications in regards to the pressure relief valves and lines. The pressure relief line had a pilot light indicating that the controls were telling it to open. It should have had a positive feedback position indicator from the valve itself to PROVE that the valve was open. That requirement has been retrofitted to all plants in the US. Operators failed to have a proper valve line up on the safety injection and core cooling equipment after a maintenance outage, valves were left shut. When the accident happened , folks just did not want to believe that it was really happening, they second guessed themselves and drew some wrong conclusions from the indications they had in front of them.

    Chernobel was bad. Poor reactor design with a positive coefficient of reactivity, so when power goes up it causes a further exponential increase in power. Think of this as turbo charging your acceleration of power. Very bad design. They were also "playing" with the plant, running drills about how much of a power spike would happen when the turbine tripped off line. It simply got away from them and blew up.

    Fukushima, IMO was a pure accident, with MANY contributing factors that have and are still rearing their ugly heads.

    My navy training probably has me biased, but IMO any training or experience gleaned from military or defense related industry tends to be far superior to what can be accomplished by the private sector when the allmighty dollar is the bottom line.

    Look at the U-2, A-12 and SR-71 spy planes. To know that we built that kind of technology in those days with paper and slide rules vs. the "shoddy" workmanship that the current "throw away" society produces nowadays.....It just makes you want to throw up. While everyone was running around sporting their polaroid cameras, the military had cameras that could read a liscense plate from 85,000 feet while traveling at > mach 3.

    :mad:
  19. dougstove

    dougstove Member

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    Mustash29..."Some thoughts from a former reactor operator... in the Navy's nuke power field"

    In a well run military discipline situation, reactors might work.
    But in a civilian profit situation, people get bored. Even ex-military personnel get bored watching gauges.
    I fear that as a species we lack the attention span to safely run nukes.

    I wonder about much smaller scale, more distributed reactor systems, rather than the giant central plants. Standard design would help, and disasters would be smaller scale.
    Ehouse likes this.
  20. Gary_602z

    Gary_602z Minister of Fire

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    Are you dissing Homer Simpson?:)

    Gary
  21. Huntindog1

    Huntindog1 Minister of Fire

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    We have the knowledge and technology to use nuclear power safely. They just have to educate the public to get them over their fears.

    But dont put it in my backyard ;)
  22. Frozen Canuck

    Frozen Canuck Minister of Fire

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    I would be against them if we had a viable alternative. We don't, sure lot's "in the works hopeful to become" but nothing ready to roll out on any kind of scale that would make a difference.

    I am pretty sure our hand will be forced if the economy picks up again & China & India start to consume like North Americans. I just don't think that fossil can keep up to 2-3 billion people trying to live like we do. Even if fossil could keep up pretty sure we would wreck the joint burning that much hydrocarbon to generate power, provide transportation etc.
    jharkin, StihlHead and Huntindog1 like this.
  23. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    Might make more sense to put all that nuke money into solar power subsidies, NOT?
  24. simple.serf

    simple.serf Feeling the Heat

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    Yes, but...

    I think we need to be doing research on molten salt reactors. They can use waste materials from the current generations of reactors. The fuel is reprocessed on site every few days. The burnup rate is much much better than old type reactors. While the GE BWR's are pretty good (Fukishima has been the first catastrophic failure other than those during testing in the 50's), the design is old. The hotter a molten salt reactor gets, the more it self moderates. Combine that with a fusible plug to drain the fuel/coolant into a bulk tank in case of an overhat condition, and you ahve a pretty safe design.

    Now, what really scares me is that there are still several RBMK reactors in operation in Russia and old soviet countries (breeder reactors that are unsafe by design).
  25. btuser

    btuser Minister of Fire

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    The rbmk reactors fatal flaw was a positive void coefficient (yes, I'm quoting Wikipedia) of 4.7. After Chernobyl they were reconfigured for .7 to be a lot safer. If you read the timeline of what happened it will convince you of the safety of nuclear power.

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