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Requiem for Nuclear Power

Post in 'The Green Room' started by webbie, Aug 27, 2013.

  1. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Well, maybe another "we were right and they were wrong" wake is about to be held?

    Etergy decided to close the nuke plant near here in VT. Formerly they fought tooth and nail to keep it open.

    Fukishima is leaking badly and, at this point, the electricity needs of some people in Japan is likely to poison people worldwide and cause cancers and DNA mutation throughout the ocean.

    As recently as a few years ago, it was claimed that nukes would save us. This was not a left-right issue as thinkers such as Stewart Brand (whole earth catalog) and the founder of Greenpeace were very much for it.

    IMHO, the problem was/is hubris. At some time in the future, nuclear power may be viable. However, the current technology frankly sucks and the fact they have not solved waste and other problems and that they cannot even be insured (Congress passed a law to make taxpayers cover them)....makes it less than perfect.

    Most of my contemporaries has a visceral opposition to it - using the simple idea "you should not have to irradiate future generations to heat your home", etc.

    I think it's over for a couple generations. Your opinion?

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  2. DevilsBrew

    DevilsBrew Minister of Fire

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    Nuclear power plants, coal fired plants, strip mining, and fracking should be stopped - today.
    webbie likes this.
  3. Grisu

    Grisu Minister of Fire

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    Oh man, I am so glad. That thing was a disaster waiting to happen. They had several safety incidences in the last years, from leaking radiation to breakdown of a cooling tower. Plus, they are/were running it at 125% of the designed output (with approval) which made an accident even more likely. It is 40+ years old and it was time to shut it down.
  4. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Average age of us nuke plants is 33 years. Design life is typically 30-40 years.
  5. Chain

    Chain Feeling the Heat

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    All the issues mentioned could be mostly eliminated with the construction and use of mini Thorium powered nuclear plants. But they don't produce weapons grade by-products, which some suggest is why the US and other nations never invested in the technology. If only we had we might be in a far better place in terms of energy generation and safety worldwide.
    BrianK likes this.
  6. peakbagger

    peakbagger Minister of Fire

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    Their stated plan for decommissioning is to mothball it for 30 to 40 years until there is enough money in the decommissioning fund. Of course they have already tried to dump the liabilities in a junk company and I expect they will try again and let VT do the clean up.
  7. Augie

    Augie Feeling the Heat

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    What you suggest without viable alternatives would put the US, and the whole world into an economic collapse that would make WWI, WWII, the great depression, and the latest economic collapse look like a Sunday picnic...

    It is easy to shout there are problems while providing no solutions,. What do you suggest we do for replacement, Remember you cannot change the economic situation of 90 of the world, so cost must be similar(within 1%-3% of current fuels)
    BrianK, BoilerMan, jackatc1 and 2 others like this.
  8. DevilsBrew

    DevilsBrew Minister of Fire

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    In my search for the best place to live off grid, I have visited the many disaster and nuclear map sites online. It is pretty scary stuff.
  9. DevilsBrew

    DevilsBrew Minister of Fire

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    I have always been a big fan of solar power. The state and federal governments do not share my same enthusiasm. The same goes for small wind turbines.
  10. btuser

    btuser Minister of Fire

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    Glad its going away, it was time to go regardless of the economics. I have a feeling this is what NH's Northen Pass project is really all about.

    I'm a big fan of nuclear power, but these plant's primary use was never electric power per se. In 1950's the light water reactor using U235 fuel rods for was favored by the Dept of Defense because the fuel cycle makes a lot of plutonium. There are much safer, cheaper ways to use nuclear power to generate power. Solar and wind and unicorn rainbows are all well and good but here in the Northeast we have to be realistic about local options.
  11. btuser

    btuser Minister of Fire

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    We would make it 3 days before we turned them back on. Roving hoards of zombies don't scare me near as much as my girls not being able to take a hot shower.
    BrianK and Frozen Canuck like this.
  12. DevilsBrew

    DevilsBrew Minister of Fire

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    That is the problem. To many Americans want the status quo. They don't want to change...until a major nuclear disaster happens here.
  13. btuser

    btuser Minister of Fire

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    The sun causes more cancer and kills more people every year that nuclear accidents. In fact, its turned entire regions of this planet into vast wastelands, and could blow up at any moment destroying the entire solar system. Do we really want to encourage investment in solar power?
    Bret Chase and BrianK like this.
  14. DevilsBrew

    DevilsBrew Minister of Fire

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    The majority of wastelands are man made. We are the ones that destroy habitats and wipe out species.
  15. Chain

    Chain Feeling the Heat

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    Exactly....Much safer Thorium powered technology was available but didn't produce the by products necessary to build a gargantuan nuclear weapons arsenal. The military/industrial/congressional complex was already entrenched and this Thorium fueled process was in a sense one of the first casualties of the Cold War. Imagine where we'd be right now had we build hundreds of Thorium fueled reactors rather than the relatively unstable Uranium reactors now nearing the end of their life span.
  16. Bster13

    Bster13 Minister of Fire

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    A side problem of smaller reactors is security. The more sites you have the more security problems you have. I'm all for renewables though.
  17. Delta-T

    Delta-T Minister of Fire

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    if any of you have seen Jim Henson's The Dark Crystal, you'll be familiar with the techmology I'm working on...harnessing the life force and converting it to electicity. FOr those interested...it's time now to line up your respective mothers in laws, freeloading cousins, and neighborhood slime. Energy crisis averted. you are welcome.
    woodgeek likes this.
  18. Ehouse

    Ehouse Minister of Fire

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    One approach to solutions is decentralization of power production. Individual and community based setups should be encouraged/subsidized. Point of use setups make a lot of sense for wind/solar/hydro/ng and even future nuc.. If it's safe enough to but in my back yard it's safe enough for yours.
  19. arbutus

    arbutus Feeling the Heat

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    The mainstream way of life is dependent on inexpensive energy.
    Remove nuclear, coal, and gas power plants, and the technology to fuel them, and we find ourselves with no way to power it, or compete for the limited amount of solar or wind generated electricity.
    This does not mean static status quo is the desired outcome.

    The desired outcome should be more kwh delivered to the end user, with increased reliability and safety, at less expense.
    If that means building a new nuke, with modern engineering and safety technology, let's do it.
    If it is small scale thorium reactors, let's do it.
    If it is a back yard natural gas generator fed by a fracked well 6 miles deep and prevalent in most backyards, similar to water wells, let's develop the technology and do it.

    If you are proposing a return to rural America ca 1910 ... no thank you.
    Electricity is a wonderful convenience for me, and a necessity for most.




    Decentralized production is being encouraged through subsidies, something I wholeheartedly agree with. I'm not sure a net production gain is possible over the equipment's lifespan ... yet.???
    Small scale thorium reactors are something I have heard about but haven't studied the drawbacks.


    We have destroyed habitat, landscape, and species with hydropower, wind power, and solar farms also.
    We need to be wise stewards of what we have, but we should use our resources and current technology for our benefit.
    BrianK, BoilerMan and jackatc1 like this.
  20. peakbagger

    peakbagger Minister of Fire

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    NRG is pushing a hybrid gas generator/solar option. Basically if the sun isn't shining, the generator kicks on and runs on natural gas. I am not a fan until some long term reliable storage batteries get reasonable to buy.
  21. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Maybe not dead yet. Has anyone been following progress on the Traveling Wave Reactor? Developed locally it makes some pretty bold claims. Runs on spent fuel, of which we have a lot. Produces 1/7th the waste of current light water reactors while making 50 times the power. Bill Gates is helping fund this project.

    "Advanced Traveling-wave reactors offer a path to zero-emissions, proliferation-resistant energy that would reduce nuclear waste volumes. Exploiting new physics that has only recently been fully explored with 21st-century computational tools, traveling-wave reactors run on depleted uranium, a waste byproduct of the enrichment process. Huge amounts of depleted uranium already exist in stockpiles around the world, with more being made each year as the fleet of conventional reactors is refueled. Burned in traveling-wave reactors, this inexpensive but energy-rich fuel source could provide a global electricity supply that is, for all practical purposes, inexhaustible.

    A traveling-wave reactor can sustain fission in a nonfissile fuel such as depleted uranium because it sets up a slow-moving wave in which neutrons produced by fission reactions in one small part of the core convert adjacent fuel pellets from fertile isotopes (such as U238) into fissile isotopes (such as Pu239).

    The traveling-wave reactor creates the simplest nuclear energy fuel cycle. A TWR breeds its own nuclear fuel, where it needs it, when it needs it. Exhausted fuel can be left in the core. So unlike conventional nuclear plants that take in new fuel and expel high-level waste every 18 months or so, a TWR can in principle be fueled once, sealed up, and run without refueling for 60 years or more."

    http://terrapower.com/pages/traveling-wave-reactor
    http://www.power-eng.com/articles/npi/print/volume-6/issue-3/nucleus/generation-next.html
    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/25/business/energy-environment/atomic-goal-800-years-of-power-from-waste.html?pagewanted=all
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2013

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