Expanding Nuclear Power to Fight Climate Change Would Be Insanity

by on May 17, 2022 · 22 comments

in Energy, Environment, San Diego

by Sarah Mosko/ Times of San Diego / May 17, 2022

Former nuclear regulatory top dogs from the United States, France, Germany and Great Britain recently issued a joint statement opposing expansion of nuclear power as a strategy to combat climate change. Why? There’s not a single good reason to build new nuclear plants.

Here are ten solid reasons not to.

1. Nuclear is too slow. The new generation of proposed commercial nuclear plants, so called Advanced and Small Modular Reactors, is decades away in designing and building. The latest report from the International Panel on Climate Change informs that limiting global warming to 1.5°C (2.7°F) means “achieving net zero carbon dioxide emissions globally in the early 2050s.” Wind and solar farms can be up and running in just a few months or years.

2. Nuclear energy is too costly. Renewables like wind and solar are already the world’s cheapest form of energy. By 2019, utility-scale renewable energy prices had already fallen to less than half that of nuclear. Expanding nuclear power would translate into higher energy costs for consumers.

3. Nuclear is neither carbon-free nor non-polluting. While operating nuclear plants don’t emit carbon dioxide, mining and enrichment of uranium are carbon intensive and pollute the air with chlorofluorocarbons. Nuclear plants routinely release radioactivity into air and water. The United States already has 85,000 metric tons of highly radioactive commercial spent fuel waste, the most dangerous pollutant known to man.

4. The problem of permanent disposal of nuclear waste remains technically unsolvable. Though the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 mandated construction of a permanent deep geologic repository to isolate nuclear waste for a million-plus years, there’s still no progress. Commercial nuclear plants have become, for the foreseeable future, de facto nuclear waste dumps.

5. Nuclear is non-renewable. Like coal, oil and natural gas, uranium is a finite resource. The United States still imports nearly half its uranium from Russia and its two close allies, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.

6. Proposed “temporary” storage solutions — so-called consolidated interim storage sites —are a diversion. A proven geologic repository for spent nuclear fuel doesn’t exist anywhere on earth. Governors of Texas and New Mexico are fighting against interim facilities in their states for fear of becoming permanent dumps.

7. Nuclear waste dry storage canisters used throughout most of the United States are thin-walled (1/2 to 5/8 inch) and unsafe for storage and off-site transport. They’re susceptible to short-term cracking but can’t be inspected for cracks or monitored to prevent radiation releases. Other countries use thick-walled (10 to 19 inch) metal casks which are designed to prevent cracking, can be monitored, and survived the 9.0 Fukushima earthquake.

8. There is no room for human error or natural disaster when it comes to nuclear, as shown by the disasters at Chernobyl, Fukushima, and Three Mile Island. Humanity can’t guarantee the safety of current nuclear reactors let alone ensure that future societies will stay clear of nuclear waste dumps for a million-plus years.

9. Nuclear plants are sitting ducks for terrorist attacks, whether still operating or storing nuclear waste. Dry storage canisters sit in the wide open. Vulnerability to malfeasance was demonstrated by the ease with which Russia captured both the Chernobyl site and the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in the invasion of Ukraine.

10. The idea that Small Modula Reactors can save the day is magical thinking. Roughly ten thousand SMRs would be needed to impact climate change in time, creating thousands more radioactive dump sites and opportunities for both nuclear accidents and weapons proliferation.

Tackling the climate crisis requires cutting carbon emissions in the shortest time and at the lowest cost. That nuclear can’t deliver on this and should be banned is the outspoken position of the former head of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Gregory Jazcko.

The “all hands on deck” logic of politicians who support expanding nuclear energy is faulty. Every dollar misspent on nuclear is a dollar not invested in energy efficiency and faster, cheaper renewables. Expanding nuclear will retard progress on solving the climate crisis.

Editordude: Please go to the original for any links.

Sarah Mosko is a licensed psychologist, sleep disorders specialist, and freelance environmental writer who grew up in San Diego but currently lives in Orange County.

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Frank Gormlie May 17, 2022 at 12:01 pm

I would have thought one of the first reasons was that nuclear power is unsafe. Oh, well, who am I?

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Sorry not Sorry May 17, 2022 at 12:18 pm

It’s fine. Just watch that Netflix special on Three Mile Island of which I grew up fairly close to. I had no idea at the time how close I was to melting…..

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Roy Mitchell May 17, 2022 at 6:55 pm

Frank, it’s my understanding that nuclear power is responsible for far less death than traditional coal fired power plants. The most recent example of nuclear folly, Fukushima, required both an earthquake and tsunami to cause to melt down. It resulted in very few deaths. I do not think safety is among the valid arguments against nuclear power. You will live longer next to a nuclear power plant than you will next to a coal fired plant.

There are 2 nuclear powered cities floating in the bay right now and we’re all still here.

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sealintheselkirks May 18, 2022 at 2:36 am

Roy: the trouble with radiation poisoning is that, just like smoking tobacco, the cancers caused by it doesn’t necessarily kill you right away unless you internalize a large dose. The numbers are not reported and always downplayed just like the tobacco industry did with cigarettes.

Like what happened after Chernobyl which, last I read, that melt-down is now responsible for over a million deaths and enormous numbers of next generation Ukraine birth defect babies that still fill hospitals there.

Did you know that in the forests of NW Europe, the downwinders, deer and pig hunters still have to get their kills tested to see if the meat is in the ‘acceptable’ human consumption levels? Of course there is no acceptable level to eat radiation!

From what has come out recently there are Russian soldiers in the last month that have died from bivouacking in the ‘Red Forest’ surrounding Chernobyl. Oops.

As for Fukushima, the Japanese government and TEPCO have and still are seriously trying to hide what has happened (and is still going on) to Fukushima Prefecture by making it a crime against the state to report on the radiation levels. 10 year prison sentences!

And as for those awful ‘outside agitators’ like Greenpeace who were measuring the alarming numbers and finding extremely elevated levels everywhere. Plutonium even in Tokyo playgrounds! They were kicked out of the country and banned for publicly releasing the information.

Now TEPCO is going to dump millions of tons of radioactive water into the ocean. That’s a real smart thing to do, yes? But hey, they scraped the valley topsoil clean as they could but nobody wants to come back to a poisoned radioactive hellhole that when every time it rains the hot isotopes washes off the mountains into the valley. It’s like Chernobyl but at least the Russians had the sense to build a huge dome and make it off limits to humans, eh? Not so smart the neoliberal Japanese Government I guess.

sealintheSelkirks

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Tyler May 17, 2022 at 7:58 pm

You could listen to the opinion of a majority of AAAS scientists who believe we should build more nuclear plants to fight climate change, or you could listen to the.. [checks notes]…sleep disorder specialist who apparently moonlights as an expert in nuclear energy.

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sealintheselkirks May 18, 2022 at 10:29 am

Couple links for you, Tyler. Don’t you find it funny that not a single privately-owned insurance company would insure nuclear power plants? There wouldn’t be any at all if it wasn’t for Big Government picking up the tab with YOUR taxes! Maybe you should quit listening to those that profit from bad ideas? Tobacco companies and fossil fuel profiteers also come to mind…

US Reactors Dangerously Operating Using Counterfeit Parts

The lead paragraph from Reuters was originally correct: “Most, if not all, U.S. nuclear power plants contain counterfeit or fraudulent parts, potentially increasing the risk of a safety failure…”

…just one of the shocking findings in a set of seven reports released February 10 by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) Office of Inspector General (OIG), now headed by Robert J. Feitel.

https://www.counterpunch.org/2022/02/18/us-reactors-dangerously-operating-using-counterfeit-parts
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Voices from Fukushima
https://youtu.be/K8njLkMigH4
“The nuclear plant robbed us of everything. We still can’t go into the forests. Families with children used to go into the forest to gather wild plants and teach many things. That was a common practice, taken for granted. But today we can’t do anything like that. We can no longer eat anything foraged from the forest.
“In Japan, a community like ours affected by radiation is seen as an inconvenience,” Hasegawa told Muto. “They would like us to disappear and be forgotten.”
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Yet, even immediately after the still on-going nuclear disaster began, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary said repeatedly: “There is no immediate effect on the human body or health”. The phrase was all too reminiscent of the ironic and prescient warning give to us by radiation researcher, Rosalie Bertell, in her 1985 book, “No Immediate Danger”.

NOTE: you might want to pick up a used copy to read. Warning: It was NOT a fun book.
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As for people who are night owls, it’s biological according to MIT:

First Evidence That Night Owls Have Bigger Social Networks than Early Risers
If you stay up late, your social network is likely to be bigger than those of morning people, say researchers. And they think they know why.

https://www.technologyreview.com/2017/09/28/148895/first-evidence-that-night-owls-have-bigger-social-networks-than-early-risers/

sealintheSelkirks

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Roy Mitchell May 21, 2022 at 2:24 pm

Even if your numbers are correct, it’s still objectively safer to live inside a nuclear power plant than it is to live in the same city as a coal fired plant.

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sealintheselkirks May 21, 2022 at 5:09 pm

Well, being ‘objective’ as you call it; if somebody asks which arm I want cut off of course I’m going to say my left since I’m right handed.
But then I’d never be able to open ketchup bottles again or zip up my coat.

So my most sensible choice would be…NEITHER which is one you must have forgotten as those two options are absolutely not viable to a living planet ecosystem. Not for much longer anyway.

And since we do have a choice here with power generation, and we absolutely know we are killing the biosphere that keeps us alive with all the bad choices that keeps the cash flowing to a select few that profit from these decisions, and that it is happening so much faster than even the scariest climate scientist predicted even ten years ago much less 4 decades ago…nuclear power isn’t the cure.

Somehow I’ll bet you aren’t willing to go live in Fukushima Prefecture or build a house in the 1 million sq mile exclusion zone around Chernobyl…or reside downwind or downstream from one of those lovely coal plants. Or how about up here in a lovely riverside cottage on the banks of the Columbia River. At Hanford. Great view, good fishing (if you like 3-eyed fish s/), and after a while you might not even need a flashlight at night. Another s/ but not very funny at all.
Cold War, Hot Mess
After decades of mismanaging its nuclear waste, the US Department of Energy wrestles with its toxic legacy.
https://www.vqronline.org/reporting-articles/2021/09/cold-war-hot-mess
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I didn’t post more articles figuring I had given enough links to read. But maybe you need to delve deeper so this will also give you a new perspective to think about choices, and it leads to more links you can read that will hopefully give you fresh insight.

Objectively we should not be using either…but then what will the wealthy do with all those defunct stock certificates? They don’t even make good butt wipe!

And those plants will stay hot for thousands of years as will the piles of waste like what San Onofre has buried in the freaking sand next to it waiting for the next tsuamni. That was insanely mind-boggling. All I could do is splutter ineffectually when I read that…

From Wasserman who’s been dealing with this concept for decades. And do pick up the Bertell book I recommended above. $5 used at Powell’s online, cheaper than your morning coffee and worth the knowledge it imparts.

Say No to Nuclear Power

Our energy future should consist of modern solar, wind, battery and LED/efficiency technologies, not nuclear reactors. Let’s work to guarantee that none of them explode before we get there.

https://progressive.org/op-eds/say-no-to-nuclear-power-wasserman-220518/
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And aside: In March 2011 I was boarding and teaching kids to ride on my local hill in radioactive snow from Japan’s plume. The little kids were eating it like little kids do. I can get out my old calendar and see exactly who I was teaching that day. Will it affect them in the future? Keep in mind that there is NO ‘safe’ amount of radioactivity exposure especially consumed. None, zero, niche. Inside the body it bounces around like a superball… so the answer to that is yes. It has and will affect them in some way. That’s what radiation does.

I have a picture of the plume taken by satellite that day completely covering these mountains…

sealintheSelkirks

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Nicholas Geary May 21, 2022 at 10:48 pm

“I have a picture of the plume taken by satellite that day completely covering these mountains…”

I don’t think so. There are no satellites that could have detected that plume.

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Roy Mitchell May 21, 2022 at 7:20 pm

I’d just like once again to point out that we are currently living right next to two nuclear reactors (those Nimitz class carriers) and we’re surfing waters right off San-o. My argument here is that nuclear reactors are safer for humans than coal, and I would argue more environmentally sound than natural gas. I hope we can go to 100% renewable too, but I am currently perfectly happy living near a nuclear reactor. Nobody is melting from a modern nuke plant. The San-o waste is a dumb travesty, but it hasnt killed anyone, it isnt causing acid rain and giving everyone asthma and worse. It’s literally better than a coal ash pit. I’m just being real here man. If you want the lights to stay on and not have every month be the hottest on record, we could phase out combustible right now with a switch to nuclear and renewable.

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sealintheselkirks May 22, 2022 at 12:28 pm

Roy, have you ever read the non-fiction book about Karen Silkwood the nuclear power worker turned whistleblower? A very good expose of exactly what you seem to be defending. Maybe you watched the 1983 movie (Maryl Streep/Kurt Russel)? Which was pretty good though of course not as detailed as the book laid out.

You might want to at least pull the movie up if you don’t have time to read the book. About the constant leaks and accidents, cover-ups, faked documentation and skewed studies, how the nuclear power corporation most likely spread radioactive particles in her house to discredit her accusations, about how she was going to a meeting with documented proof and ‘had a fatal car accident’ where the package of documents mysteriously disappeared.

When it comes to profit, there is nothing these jackals won’t do or say or claim to keep the money flowing in. Nothing. Just like the oil barons, the tobacco barons, the asbestos mining barons and so many other wealthy elite whose only care is always about one thing, profits. People kill people over it. Are these corporations any different than Drug Cartels? I make the case that the essential behavior is exactly the same.

Why do you think San O buried nuclear waste in the freaking sand on the freaking beach? Because it would have cost more to do it correctly.

Though admittedly there is no ‘right way’ because nobody knows what to do with the waste. For sure nobody wants it in their back yard as it’s the gift that will keep on giving for thousands and thousands of years of damaged chromosomes and death by cancer. So put it in containers rated for a hundred years on a public beach in a known tsunami zone is somehow the smart thing to do? That’s like building schools and hospitals on earthquake faultlines or toxic chemical and refinery plants at the mouth of the Mississippi in a serious hurricane flood zone…

Oh wait, got that covered! Notice that ALL the nuclear plants are on rivers and coastlines vulnerable to flooding and, cough cough, earthquakes and tsunamis? But hey, they need the water for cooling and don’t have to pay for it! Bonus! If and when they get washed away the federal gov carries the insurance…hoo-hoo on the taxpayers who ain’t the wealthy we’ve come to find out.

And they all, including waste storage ponds, absolutely require electricity and cooling water for…ummm, well longer than our species has had agriculture and began building villages. Without it they all will do a Chernobyl/Fukushima. Think about that for a minute.

Northern Europe is scared spitless of Chernobyl. By the way, it’s not doing well. A million dead, cancer, along with the birth defects and it’s ongoing and already on the second monster containment dome after the first one was failing so quickly.

Long term thinking. Radioactive waste in the long term is far more dangerous than coal plants. That 7 generations look-ahead from native american lore should apply here. San O will be hot for thousands of years long after our civilization is as dead as Ancient Greece and coal ash ponds have washed away…

Here’s another old book on the shelf you might read: We Almost Lost Detroit by John Fuller. It came out before Silkwood… same lies different state.

As for the ‘melting’ from a ‘modern’ nuke plants, dude you’ve really sucked up the industry propaganda. Most of the plants in the US are past their original ‘operating’ life, crumbling concrete and frying metal piping, just like what the OB Pier is doing. And you did notice the links in previous replies about cheap counterfeit parts in all of them etc etc? Did you by chance even follow the links I posted? You should. There’s a lot of good information there. They definitely don’t read like a power company brochure.

sealintheSelkirks

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Roy Mitchell May 23, 2022 at 4:42 pm

I don’t think we’re going to come to any kind of agreement here. Do you think things would be better if san-o had been a coal fired plant, with a coal ash pit now in the place of the nuclear waste. You have to pick one because our society requires electricity.

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Nicholas Geary May 23, 2022 at 6:27 pm

“how the nuclear power corporation most likely spread radioactive particles in her house”

Kerr-McGee was not a nuclear power corporation, and the Cimarron Fuel Fabrication Site had no connection to nuclear power.

“nobody knows what to do with the waste.”

The California Deep Isolation team has already demonstrated how spent fuel could be sequestered very deep using existing oil and gas drilling technology. It will take a change in Federal law to make that a legal option, but it’s technically viable right now.

“For sure nobody wants it in their back yard”

I would have no problem at all living directly over spent fuel that was a mile deep. It would be even better if we consumed the spent fuel in molten salt fast reactors, extracted the usable fission products, and then buried whatever we didn’t want. That would only take around 300 years to drop to background radiation levels. And yes, I would also be fine with living next door to an underground molten-salt fast reactor power plant.

“Northern Europe is scared spitless of Chernobyl. By the way, it’s not doing well. A million dead, cancer, along with the birth defects”

Nobody is proposing building more Soviet-era reactors. That is not the future of nuclear power. Even so, the WHO estimate is that it may eventually cause between 4,000 and 9.000 excess cancer deaths, though the detectable toll so far appears to be less than 100 (from thyroid cancer). The rate of birth defects from descendants appears to be the same as in the general population. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33888597/

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sealintheselkirks May 24, 2022 at 1:27 pm

Nicholas: Excuse me?

I just pulled up the color-coded NOAA plume maps showing the 3-day toxic ‘balloon’ movement captioned with 3,000 Rads hitting the Aleutian Islands; to 6 days down to 1,000 Rads over the southern coast of Alaska and at the Canadian coastline. And 10 days at 750 Rads falling on our heads in yellow stretching from southern Alaska to bulging into Saskatchewan, Montana, WY, CO, NM to inland northern Mexico. all of Baja. The entire West Coast was under that one including San Diego!

A later NOAA map shows the entire Pacific Basin to the tip of South America covered in yellow with red lines (higher levels) radiating throughout it.

Another shows “max cesium emissions Northern Hemisphere” taken in April 2011. Another is the updated March 2012 “radioactive seawater impact map” that was dang close to Hawai’i by the following year labeled ‘US Dept. of State Geographer Image 2012′.

You never saw these? I also have a flower photo of Fukushima Daisys taken 70 miles from the reactors but it’s undated. The deformation reminds me of what Depleted Uranium has done to human fetus’ in Iraq….and what Chernobyl has done to humans and animals in the articles linked below.

Juvenile tuna off the San Diego coast tested for signature radiation as they spawn off Japan and move to feed in the cold deepwater current off San Diego…every single one caught tested positive for Fukushima radiation.
___

Roy, nope we’re not. When it comes to radiation vs coal…the former is definitely far worse in terms of extremely long-terms multi-generational danger. If nuclear power is so safe, why are they still completely unable to be insured by private corporations? Isn’t the current neoliberal group-think all about the will of the market? The market decided decades ago it isn’t safe enough to insure so they certainly aren’t safe enough to exist.

Nicholas Geary: These two articles below are also for you.

Warning! Nobody is going to like the pictures in the second article of what the results of irradiating humans with nuclear power creates. Like Agent Orange in Viet Nam, radiation is the ‘gift’ that keeps on giving. Think of YOUR CHILDREN looking like this:

Chernobyl Mutations in Humans and Animals
https://chernobylguide.com/chernobyl_mutations/
_
Chernobyl children, nowadays and at that date (from 2018)
http://chernobylplace.com/chernobyl-children/

NOTE: If you can look at these pictures and not be horrified…I don’t know what to say.

cut: ‘Accordingly, such Chernobyl people – mutants are not capable of procreation and, as a consequence, do not live long. Worst of all, these “mutant people” are born today.

According to official statistics, the number of newborns with physical or mental disabilities increased by 250%, some sources say up to 300%.’
___
Anti-nuclear activist Mimi German was 15 when she asked her father the Doctor why use an energy source that has the potential to kill everyone on the planet.? He had no answer for her and she’s been an activist ever since…

Remember, the AEC and NRC were commissioned to promote nuclear energy. They are NOT credible due to serious conflicts of interest. It’s like asking RJ Reynold Tobacco if cigarettes are safe.

Last gasp:

Our planet missed being blasted by a solar storm by 9 days in 2012. NINE DAYS! That would have shut off the electricity in line-of-sight. A monster EMP blast.

POOF! Everything goes black as all electrical fried. Every nuclear power plant it affected along with every ‘cooling pond’ storage area would have gone critical with this instant and long-term loss of electricity. This is an unaccepable risk.

Devastating Magnetic Storm Misses Earth By 9 Days
https://www.voanews.com/a/magnetic-storm-missed-the-earth-by-9-days/1875779.html
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We toy with god-like powers that we obviously have no power to truly control when crap goes south, and a hundred & twenty years ago most people were still using horses to get around? WE HAVE ALTERNATIVES but we’d rather put the money into war…which definitely proves we are not such a smart species after all, eh?

sealintheSelkirks

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Roy Mitchell May 24, 2022 at 3:26 pm

Would you build a coal power plant in OB to cover what renewables cant currently generate?

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Nicholas Geary May 24, 2022 at 4:24 pm

“I just pulled up the color-coded NOAA plume maps showing the 3-day toxic ‘balloon’ movement captioned with 3,000 Rads … to 6 days down to 1,000 Rads … And 10 days at 750 Rads … The entire West Coast was under that one including San Diego!”

1) That wasn’t a satellite image. 2) That wasn’t a NOAA map 3) That map was debunked as a hoax less than 3 days after it was released. The human survival rate at 750 rads is basically 0%.

“A later NOAA map shows the entire Pacific Basin to the tip of South America covered in yellow with red lines (higher levels) radiating throughout it.”

You mean this map? https://nctr.pmel.noaa.gov/honshu20110311/honshu2011-globalmaxplot_ok.jpg
Check the legend in the upper left. That’s a wave amplitude map. Nothing to do with contaminants or radiation. And that’s also not a satellite image.

“Another shows “max cesium emissions Northern Hemisphere” taken in April 2011.”

Putting that quote into Google returns no results.

“Another is the updated March 2012 “radioactive seawater impact map” that was dang close to Hawai’i by the following year labeled ‘US Dept. of State Geographer Image 2012?.

Also not a satellite image. That’s a graph of a Lagrangian particles dispersal projection. The statement released with the map included “THIS IS NOT A REPRESENTATION OF THE RADIOACTIVE PLUME CONCENTRATION. Since we do not know exactly how much contaminated water and at what concentration was released into the ocean, it is impossible to estimate the extent and dilution of the plume.”

“You never saw these?”

You didn’t realize that not a single one of them was a “picture of the plume taken by satellite”?

“I also have a flower photo of Fukushima Daisys taken 70 miles from the reactors but it’s undated. The deformation reminds me of…”

This? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fasciation I have a field of wildflowers which have produced some with deformities of various kinds every year for the 40 years I’ve lived here.

“tuna off the San Diego coast tested for signature radiation as they spawn off Japan and move to feed in the cold deepwater current off San Diego… every single one caught tested positive for Fukushima radiation.”

Yes but how much? “The answer is: A trivial amount. In fact, radiation from the cesium is 30 times less than the radiation that’s already in the fish naturally in the form of potassium-40, according to the research paper. And the natural polonium-210 packs a radiation dose 200 times larger than the dose from the cesium.”
https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2012/05/30/153925233/nuclear-tuna-is-hot-news-but-not-because-its-going-to-make-you-sick

“Nicholas Geary: These two articles below are also for you.
Chernobyl Mutations…”

The deformities due to mutations today are about the same as in the general population of the region. Deformities from birth defects have a base rate that is generally in the range of 3 to 8% in most populations. But again, Soviet Era reactors are not the future of nuclear power.

“Anti-nuclear activist Mimi German was 15 when she asked her father the Doctor why use an energy source that has the potential to kill everyone on the planet.?”

And at age 15, how did she establish that it had that potential?

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sealintheselkirks May 24, 2022 at 5:42 pm

How about yanking, at a minimum, $600 billion out of the Pentagon budget and applying it to renewables instead. Yearly!

Wouldn’t need a coal plant in OB much less nuclear if we would only start acting like an intelligent species.

Why is it that the politicians of this country always seem to find the money for anything connected to war but whine incessantly about being too broke to fund anything that would make life better?

Austerity should start with military budgets. Period.

Trillions to lose wars they started in the last 20 years, trillions for weapons makers, and GOP & DEM just voted together to fund even more for the proxy War Against Russia (WWIII lite-so far) that is five hundred percent more than the entire EPA budget for 2022.

The false promise of nuclear power in an age of climate change

https://thebulletin.org/2019/08/the-false-promise-of-nuclear-power-in-an-age-of-climate-change/#

sealintheSelkirks

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Nicholas Geary May 25, 2022 at 3:31 am

“How about yanking, at a minimum, $600 billion out of the Pentagon budget and applying it to renewables instead. Yearly!”

Okay, interesting. So what’s the plan for how to make that happen?

“The false promise of nuclear power in an age of climate change”

The IPCC doesn’t think it’s a false promise. Dozens of advanced nuclear development teams don’t think it’s a false promise. China–world leader in cheap renewables–is making a huge investment in their nuclear program. So which seems more likely? That a historian and a psychiatrist maybe aren’t the foremost authorities on future nuclear technology, or that they have insight about every possible form of future nuclear which all the world’s nuclear experts, development teams, and labs have somehow missed?

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Roy Mitchell May 25, 2022 at 4:26 am

Propaganda goes both ways. Nicholas already commented on the distorted conclusions being drawn from the figures you posted. The fact is we are here living with nuclear power in OB and it’s fine.

What sparked my desire to enter this argument is to push back against the idea that living with nuclear power is any more dangerous than driving on the 5 every day.

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sealintheselkirks June 10, 2022 at 2:36 pm

What sparked my desire to reply after pulling up more older research by plugging in my old HP XP-OS computer to access files, and talking with a long-time New Zealand anti-nuclear activist friend since my last posting, is to refute the bogus claim that ‘living’ with nuclear power is like driving I-5 every day.

Yeah, if you think juggling a live hand grenade with the pin pulled out of it is a good idea because it hasn’t gone off yet. Driving I-5 do cause bad accidents and dead people but it doesn’t turn the landscape into a poisoned toxic with painful death and multi-generational disease suffering.

Then there is that ‘Soviet-era’ plants comment…the same age as the ones in the US that are also way past their supposed ‘lifetime’ but the NRC keep extending the decommission dates on those rickety plants… that are full of counterfeit parts as I’ve already posted a link to. Our Capitalist leaders lie to us just like the Soviet leaders did. Chernobyl was too big to hid, Three Miles Island wasn’t. More on that below.

As for all those nuclear ‘teams’ pushing, and the politically-controlled and edited IPCC whom, after all, doesn’t have a very good track record for accuracy having been ridiculously far behind reality in their climate predictions (read Profs Glickson, Wadhams, Shakova and a raft full of other climate scientists that never make it on the evening news). It seems that the ‘alarmist’ scientific community who have been excluded from 26 years of COP banquets and partying that has produced absolutely no measurable effect on CO2/other GHGs emissions rather the opposite seeing as we are now breathing an atmosphere that hasn’t had this much CO2 since 4.5 million years ago.

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2022/06/03/racing-top-speed-towards-global-catastrophe-noaa-says-co2-levels-highest-human

So replacing one horrible industry with another that spews radiocative contaminant for thousands of years just doesn’t seem all that bright a choice.
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So here are links you probably have missed. And there are many links in these articles to follow up with. Hopefully you two will read and re-think about the long-term consequences listed. As the residents of the million sq permanently exclusion zone around Chernobyl, it wasn’t like driving I-5 every day…

sealintheSelkirks
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Residents around TMI exposed to far more radiation than officials claimed.

Researchers under gag order couldn’t investigate true health impacts after Three Mile Island nuclear disaster

https://beyondnuclearinternational.org/2019/03/24/residents-around-tmi-exposed-to-far-more-radiation-than-officials-claimed/
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The false promise of nuclear power in an age of climate change
https://thebulletin.org/2019/08/the-false-promise-of-nuclear-power-in-an-age-of-climate-change/#

A cut:
1. Those studying the health impact of Three Mile Island radiation emissions were prohibited from assessing “worst case estimates” of radiation releases unless such estimates would lead to a conclusion of insignificant amount of harm — that being “less than 0.01 health effects”.
2. If a researcher wanted to claim more harm or investigate a worst-case scenario, an expert selected by nuclear industry insurers would have to “concur on the nature and scope of the [dosimetry] projects.”

Can we say corrupted cover-up?
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Nuclear energy isn’t a safe bet in a warming world – here’s why.
https://theconversation.com/nuclear-energy-isnt-a-safe-bet-in-a-warming-world-heres-why-163371
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After the Meltdown: the Health Risks of Nuclear Reactors in War Zones
https://www.counterpunch.org/2022/06/01/after-the-meltdown-the-health-risks-of-nuclear-reactors-in-war-zones/
A cut:
Explosions, as happened at both Chornobyl and Fukushima (NOTE: and 3 Mile Island by the way), eject radioactive nuclides high into the atmosphere, so that they travel long distances downwind via weather patterns, such as winds and rain. The result is radioactive fallout over large areas, as occurred at Chornobyl and Fukushima. The map below, from the European Environment Agency, shows that the dispersion and deposition of caesium-137 (Cs-137) from the Chornobyl catastrophe in Ukraine in 1986 was far-reaching — covering 40% of the land area of Europe, as it followed weather patterns over the 10-day period of the accident.

Dispersion and deposition of caesium-137 (Cs-137) from the Chornobyl catastrophe in Ukraine in 1986.

Contrary to what many people think, the radioactive fallout from Chornobyl reached the UK (2,500 km away) in 1986 as also shown in the above map.

In Japan, radiation deposition from Fukushima in 2011 also fell in selective areas of Japan, with some radioactive particles traveling as far as 400 km. It is estimated that about 7% of Japan was seriously contaminated.

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Small nuclear power projects may have big waste problems -study
https://www.reuters.com/business/environment/small-nuclear-power-projects-may-have-big-waste-problems-study-2022-05-31/
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Say No to Nuclear Power
https://progressive.org/op-eds/say-no-to-nuclear-power-wasserman-220518/

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Nicholas Geary June 16, 2022 at 12:48 pm

“there is that ‘Soviet-era’ plants comment…the same age as the ones in the US that are also way past their supposed ‘lifetime’”

Which is why those, too, do not represent the future of nuclear power.

“As for all those nuclear ‘teams’ pushing, and the politically-controlled and edited IPCC whom, after all, doesn’t have a very good track record for accuracy having been ridiculously far behind reality in their climate predictions”

Just as some of their estimates for the rate of change appear to have been too conservative, some of their estimates for the future contribution from nuclear may also wind up being too conservative.

“So replacing one horrible industry with another that spews radiocative contaminant for thousands of years just doesn’t seem all that bright a choice.”

Old tech nuclear, for all its shortcomings, mostly displaced coal. And in places where hydropower wasn’t feasible, it was about the only non-fossil alternative which could do so. So it likely saved many hundreds of thousands of lives (findings of a James Hansen study), avoided millions sickened, and avoided many hundreds of billions in medical costs. Given the options we had available back then, that was a pretty successful choice.

Now, old-tech nuclear is probably not going to be competitive against our future options, and if that had been the thesis of the article here, I would simply have thought they were stating the obvious. But their thesis was that expanding nuclear in any possible form would be insanity–even including forms which cannot ‘spew radioactive contaminant for thousands of years’.

“Hopefully you two will read and re-think about the long-term consequences listed.”

I know I’m capable of changing my position when I see a good reason to. (I’ve done so before.) How about you?

“As the residents of the million sq permanently exclusion zone around Chernobyl, it wasn’t like driving I-5 every day…”

The final catastrophe at Chernobyl was the culmination of 30 or so other major accidents at Chernobyl in the six years prior, including a meltdown at Unit 1 (all covered up by the KGB). It was a crazy design that had a serious deficiency of instrumentation (including anything that could show how many control rods had been pulled out) and there were many dangerous operational conditions or procedures which the KGB kept out of the manuals out of fear that saboteurs might exploit them. And the design had bizarre design elements, like control rods that increased power before turning it down, and routing return cooling water through the steam separator unit so that if you increased the flow of coolant water to increase cooling, the water going into the reactor would actually get hotter. The reactor vessel was held together by gravity, it had no containment, it had a flammable graphite core, and then for added fun, they coated the roof with flammable bitumen. It was a design just bristling with disaster potential. But the existence of an exceptionally-dangerous nuclear design does not establish that all designs would have to be similarly dangerous. There have also been exceptionally dangerous hydropower projects, but that doesn’t mean all hydropower designs are therefore just as dangerous.

“Residents around TMI exposed to far more radiation than officials claimed.”

Still nowhere near as damaging to the health of people nearby as a coal power plant would have been. And just as TMI was a vastly safer design than the Soviet RBMK reactor, new designs could likewise be much safer than TMI–including designs which cannot have a core meltdown in the first place.

“Nuclear energy isn’t a safe bet in a warming world – here’s why.”

The part of that article that pertains to future nuclear is basically arguing that future designs should include consideration of how weather is likely to affect them. I agree. That doesn’t establish that building any form of future nuclear would be insane.

“After the Meltdown: the Health Risks of Nuclear Reactors in War Zones”

Some reactor designs would not be capable of having meltdowns.

“Dispersion and deposition of caesium-137 (Cs-137) from the Chornobyl catastrophe in Ukraine in 1986.”

If you bind cesium in salts, it ceases to be a volatile dispersal hazard.

“Small nuclear power projects may have big waste problems -study”

“May have” always implicitly means “or may not have”, and even this would only apply to some designs. Some designs could actually shrink the already-existing amount of waste.

“Say No to Nuclear Power”

He’s writing about old-style nuclear. His assessment for the future is “no more big, old-style light water reactors are likely to be built in the United States”. I agree. But that doesn’t establish that there would necessarily be anything insane about developing and building better forms of nuclear power.

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Nicholas Geary June 18, 2022 at 7:03 am

Re: 1) Old-tech nuclear was about as slow to build as large hydropower projects. New kinds could be much faster. China has already reached demo phase for their high temp gas reactor and thorium molten salt reactor. Other teams think they could reach that point quickly with some rationalization of regulations. The IPCC endorses building new nuclear.

Re: 2) Several new kinds of nuclear are targeting build costs in the $1 – $2 per watt capacity range, and several could have more revenue streams than just electricity. We invested in wind and solar when they were very expensive and not competitive because we saw they had good prospects for eventually becoming cheap, and some kinds of nuclear in development have even better prospects.

Re: 3) Old-tech nuclear is already as low-carbon as wind and solar on a life-cycle basis. New kinds have excellent potential to be even better. And “pollutants” aren’t pollutants if they are contained.

Re: 4) The Deep Isolation team has already done a demonstration of their borehold sequester technology. It’s a viable technical solution, but it will require a change in federal law in the U.S. to become a legal solution. Several teams are also developing molten salt fast breeder reactors which could consume spent fuel.

Re: 5) Whether it is renewable doesn’t matter. It can be sustained for however long we need it–whether that be just for the present crisis or for many thousands of years.

Re: 6) Borehold sequesters could work for both temporary and permanent storage.

Re: 7) This is an argument against a particular kind of cask, not against nuclear power itself.

Re: 8) There are definitely bad ways to do nuclear power. (Same for hydropower, which has killed and displaced far more people than nuclear power.) The existence of bad ways to do something doesn’t mean there can never be any good ways.

Re: 9) Terrorists have found it much easier, cheaper, and more effective to attack airplanes, passenger trains, tall buildings, government buildings, ships, hotels, schools, concerts, restaurants, and night clubs, but nobody thinks we should therefore do without those. Future nuclear plants and waste storage could go underground, making them even less attractive targets.

Re: 10) Old tech nuclear, with just a few hundred reactors, has already displaced tens of billions of tonnes of CO2. That has definitely had a beneficial impact. If the development teams succeed in making nuclear power cheaper, safer, cleaner, and more flexible, the benefits of future nuclear could be even greater. Old-tech plants have also consumed and destroyed the pit fuel from 20,000 nuclear warheads. New kinds of nuclear could be even more effective destroyers of bomb fuel.

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