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Glom
2004-Nov-01, 09:31 PM
Sequestration (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3667979.stm)

More sequestration (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3971307.stm)

Waste of perfectly good natural fertiliser. I guess we'll have to go back to huge amounts of ammonium nitrate.

Surprise surprise that environmental groups don't like it. We can't have a solution to a non-existent problem that doesn't involve dismantling society. [-X

Swift
2004-Nov-01, 10:02 PM
Glom, for the most part I have not gotten involved in the various threads on global warming. I know enough to know that I am not an expert on climate and I don't have enough time to research the topic to debate with you and others about it.

My position is that if a large percentage of the climate experts state that humans are causing a change in the global climate, and as best as I can undertand it their reasoning sounds reasonable, I tend to believe them. Similarly, if most of the experts in astronomy and physics on this board (and elsewhere) state that General Relativity is the best explanation for gravity, I tend to believe them. I don't have time to personally
examine every piece of evidence about everything. But don't let me stop you folks from debating it.


Surprise surprise that environmental groups don't like it. We can't have a solution to a non-existent problem that doesn't involve dismantling society. [-X

I didn't understand where this statement came from, particularly since neither article mentioned the position of any environmental group.

I am hurt by your continuing attacks on "environmental groups". I have been involved in environmental issues for 25 years and have been active in various groups. None of the groups I've been involved with have wanted to dismantle society. For example, the professor mentioned in one of the articles talks about three pence (five cents) per liter of fuel as the cost. I don't think this is dismantling society.

It is incorrect to lump all the environmental groups together, particularly when you talk about the means to achieve some particular end. There are environmental groups that not much better than terrorists or woo-woos (IMHO) and there are ones that base their positions on sound science and good political insights (Union of Concerned Scientists, for one).

I infer from other statements you have made that your beef is most particularly with the Green Party (sorry if I misinterpreted that). I am not familiar with the situation in Europe, but in the US the Green Party is basically non-existent and so I can't say what their position is on anything. But I feel pretty comfortable in stating that it does not represent the position of all environmental groups or individuals. For example, you may be pleased to learn that this environmentalist is a supporter of nuclear power.

CJSF
2004-Nov-01, 10:43 PM
Glom, for the most part I have not gotten involved in the various threads on global warming. I know enough to know that I am not an expert on climate and I don't have enough time to research the topic to debate with you and others about it.

My position is that if a large percentage of the climate experts state that humans are causing a change in the global climate, and as best as I can undertand it their reasoning sounds reasonable, I tend to believe them. Similarly, if most of the experts in astronomy and physics on this board (and elsewhere) state that General Relativity is the best explanation for gravity, I tend to believe them. I don't have time to personally
examine every piece of evidence about everything. But don't let me stop you folks from debating it.


Surprise surprise that environmental groups don't like it. We can't have a solution to a non-existent problem that doesn't involve dismantling society. [-X

I didn't understand where this statement came from, particularly since neither article mentioned the position of any environmental group.

I am hurt by your continuing attacks on "environmental groups". I have been involved in environmental issues for 25 years and have been active in various groups. None of the groups I've been involved with have wanted to dismantle society. For example, the professor mentioned in one of the articles talks about three pence (five cents) per liter of fuel as the cost. I don't think this is dismantling society.

It is incorrect to lump all the environmental groups together, particularly when you talk about the means to achieve some particular end. There are environmental groups that not much better than terrorists or woo-woos (IMHO) and there are ones that base their positions on sound science and good political insights (Union of Concerned Scientists, for one).

I infer from other statements you have made that your beef is most particularly with the Green Party (sorry if I misinterpreted that). I am not familiar with the situation in Europe, but in the US the Green Party is basically non-existent and so I can't say what their position is on anything. But I feel pretty comfortable in stating that it does not represent the position of all environmental groups or individuals. For example, you may be pleased to learn that this environmentalist is a supporter of nuclear power.

DITTO, on all counts ('cept the 25 years involved in environmental groups... more like a dozen or so).

CJSF

Evan
2004-Nov-01, 11:22 PM
I consider myself a small "e" environmentalist. A hobby of mine is wilderness canoeing, I have paddled over a thousand miles over the years. I most enjoy going into truly remote areas where you are days away from the nearest streetlight. I do not belong to any groups of any kind other than the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. The problem with the enviromental movements is the heavy infiltration by professional protesters and #$%^ disturbers. They give everyone a bad name. I see the same faces time after time at various protests here in BC regardless of what is being protested. Add to that utterly irresponsible and potentially deadly activities like tree spiking and you can see why many don't hear the real message from the true environmentalists. Also, many of the Environmentalist groups spew complete nonsense as if it were proven scientific truth. I also continually see examples of selective reporting. A good example is the reports of the Bowron Lake clearcut. It is the largest clearcut in British Columbia and does not look pretty. What is usually not reported is that the clearcut was undertaken because of a massive blowdown caused by entirely natural events, thunderstorms.

I am also a BC Parks Branch volunteer. I ocassionally sit in on meetings with the local Parks managment and other volunteer wardens. Up until several years ago BC had a left wing government, The New Democratic Party. Throughout the 1990's The NDP was committed to increasing the percentage of park land in BC to at least 12%. Through a series of extremely ill considered actions that government created hundreds of ecological preserves throughout the Province. It has created a totally impossible management problem for the Parks Branch. These ecological preserves are off limits to all activity including logging or any other development. In many cases they are 500 meter wide strips of land around a lake. The problem that has been created is that these preserves make control of pine bark beatle and spruce budworm impossible. These preserves serve as a constant source of re-infection for the surrounding forest. The end result now from this legacy of mismanagement is hundreds of thousands of acres of dead and dying trees.

We are paying the price in a big way. Last year and this year huge forest fires swept through our forests. Dead standing trees burn like blowtorches. The ground is sterilized and nothing regrows for decades. I drove through the area north of Kamloops a month ago and saw first hand the scope of the fire there. It goes on mile after mile. The images on the television were remarkable with flames leaping up to 500 feet in the air. Unfortunately it is too late to undo much of the damage that has been caused by these misguided environmental efforts.

On the subject of nuclear powerplants until there is a safe and secure method of disposing of "spent" fuel nuclear power is off the list of things to do. The fuels disposal issue is all important and is not being dealt with at all. IF Yucca Mtn. is opened in 2010, which is highly unlikely then it will take 25 to 30 years to entomb the nuclear waste already existing at locations around North America. It will require transporting extremely hot spent fuel by rail and truck through major population centers. The chance of a serious accident in that time period is nearly certain and could make Chernobyl look like a picnic. Adding more spent fuel to the total would be very stupid.

Glom
2004-Nov-02, 12:06 AM
For Swift,


However, many environmental groups are opposed to the scheme, viewing sequestration as a diversion from the real task of tackling greenhouse emissions from the burning of fossil fuels.

Maybe the Greens are small in your part of town, but here, they constantly get represented by groups like Greenpeace and sympathisers. I think we agreed a while back that they are examples of bad environmentalists. So the likes of Greenpeace often seem to be the image of the environmentalist. You're right that there are many environmentalists that do want genuinely want to see civilisation develop in a benign way, but we don't hear much from them round these parts. The radicals get more attention, which, as you can see through me, damages the moderates' cause.

3p/l? :o How does he manage that? That would be cool. I think 82.9p was the latest for unleaded 80.


On the subject of nuclear powerplants until there is a safe and secure method of disposing of "spent" fuel nuclear power is off the list of things to do. The fuels disposal issue is all important and is not being dealt with at all. IF Yucca Mtn. is opened in 2010, which is highly unlikely then it will take 25 to 30 years to entomb the nuclear waste already existing at locations around North America. It will require transporting extremely hot spent fuel by rail and truck through major population centers. The chance of a serious accident in that time period is nearly certain and could make Chernobyl look like a picnic. Adding more spent fuel to the total would be very stupid.

Have you seen the video showing what happens when a train collides head on with a nuclear transport container? It's frightening... if you consider that you might be on the train. The transport container on the other hand is undamaged. Spent fuel has been handled safely and manageably for fifty years. It is only a catastrophe waiting to happen in the minds of the fuddites. If you're that worried, then urge that the fission products be vitrified. They're what make spent fuel so hot. That will make the waste safer. Pebble bed reactors and accelerator driven systems are the long term solution to the problem that doesn't really exist.

Incidentally, if anyone tries to tell you that some nuclear accident will "make Chernobyl look like a picnic" be sure that they're flat out lying. Nothing could be much worse than Chernobyl. Chernobyl was the worst it gets. A total core meltdown followed by ten days unrestricted release of the core inventory of radionuclides including easily absorbed I-131 and the consequences were not especially severe compared to other major accidents.

Evan
2004-Nov-02, 12:25 AM
Impact of the transport containers isn't the problem. Fire is. They fail fairly quickly in a fire as the lead shielding melts.

I am very familiar with nuclear power generation and the details of how various systems work. I worked with my father for two summers at the Lawrence Berkeley Radiation Laboratory (now the Lawrence National Lab at Berkeley). We worked on the first project to attempt to quantify the plasma instability modes of a coaxial reactor model with with a theta pinch machine. I also audited quite a few Physics lecture for something to do on slow days.

Here is a quote from a report by the government of Nevada:


None of the spent fuel casks currently in use have been tested full-scale.
The casks to be used in a repository shipping campaign are currently being designed, and none have yet been built. All of the new designs would hold more fuel assemblies, be less heavily shielded, and pose greater risks in the event of a severe accident that results in a loss of containment.
The spectacular crash and burn films shown by DOE and the nuclear industry actually depict obsolete casks (withdrawn from service) being tested in the 1970's to validate computer models. Those tests were successful for that purpose, and also provided valuable insights into the importance of cask tie-down systems and other issues. The tests also demonstrated the vulnerability of lead gamma shielding to long duration fires and to multiple impacts. However, the tests were not intended to simulate worst-case accidents or to prove the overall safety of spent fuel shipments. DOE's misuse of these tests films can be fairly labeled as propaganda.

Full text here.

http://www.state.nv.us/nucwaste/trans/trfact03.htm

A Thousand Pardons
2004-Nov-02, 04:27 AM
which, as you can see through me,
thanks to my optometrist!

Glom
2004-Nov-02, 12:04 PM
Well this thread has derailed quicker than a shipment of spent fuel. Oh well, since no-one is interested in discussing carbon sequestration, we might as well get something out of it. The contest is who can get the last word before BA locks this thread.


The transport of spent nuclear fuel (SNF) and high-level radioactive wastes (HLW) to the proposed Yucca Mountain repository site in Southern Nevada has the potential to impact communities across the nation. Studies by the State of Nevada and the Department of Energy (DOE) indicate that 43 states would be directly impacted by thousands of SNF and HLW shipments to the proposed Yucca Mountain repository. At least 109 cities with populations over 100,000 plus thousands of smaller communities could be affected by such shipments.

Yes, obviously it is a traumatising experience have a lead canister shipped through your state. Nevada is the decadence state. Suck it up. The energy you consume comes at a cost.


a load of economic arguments about railways that I don't care about and some vague boogey man threats


more vague boogey man fuddy threats about highways


Nevertheless, repeated and long-term exposure to these low levels of radiation can have health consequences that need to be monitored and managed.

Such as stimulating your immune system and making you healthy.


Even after ten years of cooling, spent nuclear fuel emits dangerous levels of gamma and neutron radiation.

Gamma, not neutron. Neutron flux is small, especially given the neutron absorbing U-238 that dominates the spent fuel.


A person standing one yard away from an unshielded spent fuel assembly could receive a lethal dose of radiation (about 500 rems) in less than three minutes.

What a stupid comment! And a person jumping into the sea with lead weights around his feet could drown. Logically, one would not do such a thing.


Federal regulations allow shipping casks to emit 10 millirems/hour at 2 meters from the cask surface, equivalent to about one chest x-ray per hour of exposure.

Do you know how deadly concentrated sulphuric acid is? As long as you're not standing near to the fuel without protection, you'll be fine. The fuel isn't going on a motorcade ride through Dallas so we have little to worry about.


Routine exposures become especially problematic in situations where the transport vehicle is caught in heavy traffic with cars and other vehicles in close proximity for extended periods. Routine exposures also are of concern when the cask vehicle is stopped for repair, fueling, inspections, etc.

Yes, because they're obviously going to transport spent fuel during the morning rush hour.


The health effects of low level radiation are poorly understood. There is evidence that even small amounts of radiation can have long-term health implications. The potential effects of repeated exposures to large numbers of nuclear waste shipments along highways or railroads during the 25-year repository emplacement phase have not been adequately addressed and could have adverse health consequences for certain segments of the public.

FUD and scare tactics. Low level radiation has been shown to be beneficial to health. If that were not the case, we'd all be dead by now from natural exposure. The long-term health implications are to improve it. (Shock, horror that politicians should mislead the public!)


Between 1957 and 1964, there were 11 transportation incidents and accidents involving spent fuel shipments by the US Atomic Energy Commission and its contractors.

Irrelevant. There were heavy casualties among certain ethnic groups in Germany sixty years ago. That doesn't mean Germany is unsafe for them today.


Three accidents (two truck, one rail) involved casks loaded with spent fuel. No radioactivity was released in these accidents.

So the casks did their job. Why don't you politicians do yours and tackle some real social problems?


While accidents severe enough to cause a failure of the transport cask and a resulting release of radioactive material are likely to be rare, the potential exists for serious accidents to occur.

So after a long bit of statistical babble, we get to the point that not everyone will cause widespread contamination. Now the argument has been reduced to FUD.


The strontium-90 in just one spent PWR assembly would be sufficient to contaminate twice the volume of water in Lake Mead (23 trillion gallons).

Contaminate it by how much? This is stupid statement since it doesn't actually say anything but hints that something is trying to be said.


According to the study, release of only a small fraction (1380 curies) of the cask's contents would be sufficient to contaminate a 42 square mile area.

Again by how much?


How these casks will perform in real world accident situations is uncertain. NRC regulations do not require casks to be physically tested.

FUD FUD FUD your boat, gently down the stream. You wouldn't want each individual cast to be tested because testing is designed to be destructive.


New, larger transportation casks (100-125 tons) being considered for future spent fuel shipments have the potential, if not properly loaded, to allow the fuel assemblies to go critical under certain conditions - i.e., start a nuclear chain reaction that would cause a catastrophic temperature rise in the canister.

Ridiculous. Not only is this dependent on an improbable sequence of events, but the prescence of neutron absorbing U-238 would poison any chain reaction. Besides, if you don't like these particular shipping containers, then get them to use others.

Swift
2004-Nov-02, 03:35 PM
Well this thread has derailed quicker than a shipment of spent fuel. Oh well, since no-one is interested in discussing carbon sequestration, we might as well get something out of it.
Sorry, I was one of the derailers.
I am no expert, but sequestration always seemed like a silly idea to me. I think the money would be better spent increasing the fuel efficiency of stationary and mobile power sources, on improvements such as insulation and motor efficiency, and developing non-carbon based power sources, including solar, wind, tide, and nuclear. It seems to me that it makes more sense to generate less CO2 than to suck up what you've already made. I personally think sequestration is a politically motivated ploy to appear to be doing something, without actually directly attaching the problem (ie, putting a dent in energy company profits by decreasing the use of fossil fuels). All IMHO.

papageno
2004-Nov-02, 04:14 PM
How these casks will perform in real world accident situations is uncertain. NRC regulations do not require casks to be physically tested.


FUD FUD FUD your boat, gently down the stream. You wouldn't want each individual cast to be tested because testing is designed to be destructive.

It would be like asking to crash-test each car coming out of a factory. #-o

Evan
2004-Nov-02, 05:14 PM
It would be like asking to crash-test each car coming out of a factory.
No, it would be like crash testing just one. They haven't done that with current fuel transport cannisters.

Glom,

The record of the nuclear industry, both civil and government, is abysmal. There have been numerous uncontrolled releases since the 1940's. Not just minor low level waste either. I have a lab grade ratemeter scaler at home and have been monitoring the average background count for nearly thirty years, sixteen of them in exactly the same location and using the same equipment. The count has steadily increased by around 25% over that time. I am careful to avoid measurements during possible solar caused ground level events. The Chernobyl event did not have a statistically significant impact on the background here. What do you suppose is responsible for this increase? There are many incidents that are not publicly reported as they are classified.

Belittling the Nevada report does not change the validity of the concerns expressed. Waste will be transported through towns and cities and it will happen at rush hour as well as any other time of day. The trains run where the tracks go and that is usually close to the city.

The real problem is the incredibly severe consequences that could arise from a single containment failure. I also don't have much confidence in the nuclear industry and their ability to conduct such operations in a failsafe manner. I worked in the nuclear industry for a time and saw just how lax the company I worked for was with sources and the lack of accounting for same. Some of those sources were very high activity cobalt 60 and could have been carried off the property by anyone who didn't mind an internal suntan. That was a long time ago and I know that security has been stepped up but accidents continue to happen. Take for example the Tokaimura accident in Japan in 1999. That accident resulted in a "prompt criticality" event and may have come close to a low yield nuclear explosion.

Something must be done with the waste currently being stored around North America but adding to the problem doesn't make sense. There are a lot of other ways to reduce demand for power instead of just building more plants. When I was in Germany for the first time in 1995 I was invited for dinner to a friends house. On the way there I noticed yield and stop signs on the standards that held the traffic lights. I wondered what they were for. On my way back late that night it became obvious. At ten pm each night the traffic lights are turned completely off, you then follow the signs. We need to take some lessons from the Europeans, they are years ahead of us in conservation and recycling.

Glom
2004-Nov-02, 06:13 PM
The record of the nuclear industry, both civil and government, is abysmal. There have been numerous uncontrolled releases since the 1940's. Not just minor low level waste either.

According to the report you cited, there haven't been any in the last forty years. You're living in the past. Places like Hanford have caused problems but I don't deem them relevant because they are munitions facilities. What about all the toxic chemicals from the non-nuclear industry that get released all the time? The complaint is based on the concept that no release is acceptable. If a small amount gets inadvertently release, who cares? You got a dose of radiation from reading this. As long as no major harm came from a release of radioactive materials, then what does it matter? In fact, it is the fuddites who make things worse like they did at Chernobyl where hypochondria and dependency culture have caused more suffering than the fallout itself.


I have a lab grade ratemeter scaler at home and have been monitoring the average background count for nearly thirty years, sixteen of them in exactly the same location and using the same equipment. The count has steadily increased by around 25% over that time. I am careful to avoid measurements during possible solar caused ground level events. What do you suppose is responsible for this increase?

Why don't you tell me rather than using innuendo and affirming the consequent? Radioactivity isn't limited to the nuclear industry.


There are many incidents that are not publicly reported as they are classified.

Those classified incidents are military and therefore irrelevant.


Belittling the Nevada report does not change the validity of the concerns expressed.

I wasn't belittling it, I was refuting it in a slightly playful manner.


Waste will be transported through towns and cities and it will happen at rush hour as well as any other time of day. The trains run where the tracks go and that is usually close to the city.

Big deal. If catastrophe was imminent everytime hazardous materials were transported near to urban areas, we'd all be dead by now.


The real problem is the incredibly severe consequences that could arise from a single containment failure. I also don't have much confidence in the nuclear industry and their ability to conduct such operations in a failsafe manner.

Apparently, the LPG storage facility in Southampton could take out southern England it went up. How much confidence do you have in Exxon Mobil? Why is it that the bar is raised so much higher for the nuclear industry? The report even stressed concerns for borosilicate blocks, which is unbelievable. They're hardly going to contaminate a water supply or soil, which is the real concern.


I worked in the nuclear industry for a time and saw just how lax the company I worked for was with sources and the lack of accounting for same. Some of those sources were very high activity cobalt 60 and could have been carried off the property by anyone who didn't mind an internal suntan. That was a long time ago and I know that security has been stepped up but accidents continue to happen.

There ya go. A long time ago. These days, the nuclear industry is the most heavily and intrusively regulated industry in the world. Accidents happen in any industry, but the death count from nuclear power is amazingly low. It is one of the safest industries in the world.


Take for example the Tokaimura accident in Japan in 1999. That accident resulted in a "prompt criticality" event and may have come close to a low yield nuclear explosion.

No it didn't. The fuel wasn't packed properly for a flash cascade reaction to occur. When the material heated up, it expanded and went subcritical. The result was oscillations about the point of criticality.


Something must be done with the waste currently being stored around North America but adding to the problem doesn't make sense.

We're not swamped in the stuff. Adding a bit more isn't going to add to the problem significantly. Most of the nasty stuff is from nuclear weapons. Besides, the principle of dumping spent fuel in Yucca Mountain is inefficient and wasteful anyway. America should restart its MOX facilities. That would be much better than spending billions of a repository that will be dug up in a couple of generations when humanity gets over its irrationality.

Spent fuel is small in quantity and easily managed. If proper back end methods were used, rather than being obstructed by opponents, then this "problem" wouldn't exist in the first place.

Evan
2004-Nov-02, 06:57 PM
The Tokaimura accident has been recently reviewed and the incident severity upped from a 4 to a 5 rating. It was determined that the uranium did flash in a prompt criticality event with neutrons detected as far as 100 meters away.

DOE quote:

At about 10:35 September 30th, the solution went prompt critical with about 40 or 45L in the tank.

Report here:

http://www.bazley.net/jco/990930sum.htm#accident

I'm not insinuating anything when I ask what might account for the significant increase in background. I have no idea what is causing it. Do you?

You say we are not "swamped in the stuff". Estimates are that there is currently around 60,000 tons of spent fuel from commercial reactor operations only in the USA. That is expected to increase to around 75,000 tons by 2015. If plans go ahead to build new reactors Yucca Mtn. will not be sufficient to contain it. This does not include any military waste.

Swift
2004-Nov-02, 07:06 PM
I think I take a middle ground position on nuclear safety. At least in the US, it seems to me, the industry has had a mixed safety record, even in recent years. It seems most of the plants are well run, but there have been some significant exceptions. One in Ohio, Davis-Besse, had corrosion problems of the their primary pressure vessel that were close to a breach (one article) (http://www.newsnet5.com/news/2004072/detail.html)

A month after being shut down for maintenance, inspectors found that leaking boric acid had eaten a six-inch hole in the lid of the reactor vessel.
This reactor is also owned by the company that was primarily responsible for the major power failure in the US last year (First Energy).

But I think the solutions to these problems and the issues with waste disposal (and I prefer waste reuse, for which people have proposed reactor designs) are solvable.

I think the issues with nuclear power do get blown out of proportion, compared to other industries. More people are killed in chemical industry accidents each year than nuclear accidents (and I'm a chemist). And the long term consequences of exposure to certain chemicals can be just as deadly. That doesn't mean that the nuclear industry gets carte blanche, they need to be regulated too. But I personally worry more about the health consequences of breathing the brown smog that comes out of the coal-fired powerplant near my house, than the nuclear powerplant an equal distance away in the other direction.

Glom
2004-Nov-02, 11:56 PM
The Tokaimura accident has been recently reviewed and the incident severity upped from a 4 to a 5 rating. It was determined that the uranium did flash in a prompt criticality event with neutrons detected as far as 100 meters away.

It went critical, but it couldn't have cascaded for the same reason you can't use plutonium in a gun-type device. The thing won't hold together long enough to allow a cascade.


I'm not insinuating anything when I ask what might account for the significant increase in background. I have no idea what is causing it. Do you?

Then why are we discussing this? If you want to make a point out of it, then it's your burden of proof.


You say we are not "swamped in the stuff". Estimates are that there is currently around 60,000 tons of spent fuel from commercial reactor operations only in the USA. That is expected to increase to around 75,000 tons by 2015. If plans go ahead to build new reactors Yucca Mtn. will not be sufficient to contain it. This does not include any military waste.

Cool. That's not bad for fifty years worth of commercial generation providing 20% of the country's energy. 60,000 tonnes may sound like a lot, but in industrial terms, it's miniscule. That's the benefit of nuclear waste. It's so tiny in quantity that it is highly manageable.

Based on the substance of your complaints, I assume you have no objection to the PBMR.

Evan
2004-Nov-03, 12:16 AM
The PBMR is certainly a more attractive design than BWR.

As to the background count, as I said I have no idea why it is steadily increasing. There aren't many possible explanations other than unreported releases. It's likely that China's use of coal is contributing to some degree but to raise it that much requires a lot. Other possibilities exist but they border on the verge of conspiracy theories.

If the waste is so tiny and easy to manage then why is it still being held in "temporary" storage? The problem is that there never was a plan for dealing with it. If new reactors are to be built they must also incorporate a plan for the eventual disposal of the waste. The PBMR plan is to store it onsite for up to eighty years, then move it to a repository. What repository? This is exactly like the "plan" we have had all along, no plan. It just hands off the problem to a future generation.

60,000 tons of high level radionuclides is no small amount. Add in the military waste and it is far larger.

Van Rijn
2004-Nov-03, 01:11 AM
If the waste is so tiny and easy to manage then why is it still being held in "temporary" storage? The problem is that there never was a plan for dealing with it. If new reactors are to be built they must also incorporate a plan for the eventual disposal of the waste. The PBMR plan is to store it onsite for up to eighty years, then move it to a repository. What repository? This is exactly like the "plan" we have had all along, no plan. It just hands off the problem to a future generation.


In the U.S. there are two key reasons: One, we can. That is, the volume of waste is small enough that it can be stored onsite for years, without burying the power plant - unlike, for example, coal power plants.

But the most important reason is that this is a political fight, not a technical one. Technically, there are a number of very low-risk methods for dealing with nuclear waste. However, political arguments on the subject are conspicuously lacking in technical rigor.



60,000 tons of high level radionucleotides is no small amount. Add in the military waste and it is far larger.

Quite small, compared to the 200,000 or so tons of solid waste from a single 1000 MW coal power plant produced in one year - and that ignores the stuff put in the air. We simply cannot deal with the massive amount of coal waste as safely as we can nuclear waste. It would be too expensive, as there is too much of it. Pound for pound, it isn't as dangerous as high level nuclear waste is initially, but (in the solid waste) there are plenty of heavy metals and other nasties that will never become less dangerous, and there is just so MUCH of it. Any fossil fuel power plant produces far more waste than a nuclear power plant.

But that doesn't include reprocessing, which would dramatically cut the volume. I don't think unprocessed nuclear waste should be buried - it is just too wasteful.


If plans go ahead to build new reactors Yucca Mtn. will not be sufficient to contain it.

What's your source for this? I could imagine that in the current space, there might be such a limitation, but the answer is to dig more tunnels. Nuclear waste is pretty dense stuff, the volume just isn't that great.

Evan
2004-Nov-03, 05:16 AM
Yucca Mtn. capacity is 70,000 tonnes per EPA.


When an estimated 70,000 metric tons of waste have been disposed, the repository would be closed.

http://www.epa.gov/radiation/yucca/faqs.htm

The waste itself is dense but takes up a lot more space when it is contained in storage casks. It also cannot be stored close together because of the waste heat generated.

Sorry, comparing coal ash to high level nuclear waste isn't valid. Clinker can be used to pave roads. Try that with fuel rods.

Have any comments on the non-plan?


I don't think unprocessed nuclear waste should be buried - it is just too wasteful.

Sort of leaves out the PBMR design, doesn't it?


In the U.S. there are two key reasons: One, we can. ...

Not any more. Many storage ponds are full. Dry storage is being used but is also only a very temporary solution.

Glom
2004-Nov-03, 09:59 AM
Sort of leaves out the PBMR design, doesn't it?

No it doesn't. The PBMR has a high burnup. There is little useful material to be extracted.


Sorry, comparing coal ash to high level nuclear waste isn't valid. Clinker can be used to pave roads. Try that with fuel rods.

And there are loads of useful things that can be done with spent fuel. Most of it can be manufactured into DU which has a multitude of uses such as counterbalances in aircraft. The actinides can be bred and burnt. The fission products even have their uses in small quantities for various applications where radionuclides are used.

The point is that you're going after the wrong target. Coal, as well as many other industries, produce highly hazardous waste in quantities that would dwarf the fifty year stockpile of spent fuel. Nuclear waste is small and recyclable and highly manageable.


Not any more. Many storage ponds are full. Dry storage is being used but is also only a very temporary solution.

After fifty years of continuous operation. If those storage pools were used to store solid waste from coal, they would fill up within a few days.

frogesque
2004-Nov-03, 11:35 AM
WHO fact sheet (http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs257/en/[/url) on depleted uranium (DU)

Evan
2004-Nov-03, 03:49 PM
net problems...

Evan
2004-Nov-03, 03:51 PM
Sheesh, still problems

Evan
2004-Nov-03, 04:30 PM
frogesque,

That page doesn't work right now. Regardless, depleted uranium and spent uranium reactor fuel are not the same thing. Depleted uranium is uranium 238 that has been depleted of uranium 235 through processing. It has nothing to do with reactor fuel. It is a waste byproduct of the manufacture of enriched uranium and is nearly harmless. It is less toxic than lead and the half life is so long that the radioactivity level is almost nil.

So called "spent" reactor fuel is an entirely different matter. It is the highest level of high level radioactive waste. It is extremely hot and "hot". It contains a sequence of transuranic elements some with very high activity emitting radiation across the entire spectrum. Some of the isotopes are short lived, some are medium and some are long, very long. Many of the isotopes and transuranides are highly toxic regardless of radiation. Some are highly biologically active such as iodine and strontium. It is very, very nasty stuff.

I'm certainly not arguing in favor of coal plants over nuclear. Both are bad. The real solution is to reduce waste of all kinds. This especially means reducing the waste of electricity which is extreme. Here in BC our main power company is BC Hydro and 95% of our power is generated hydroelectrically. I know that dams have issues too but in my opinion not nearly as bad as coal or nuclear. Also, the approach taken in the last decade by BC Hydro is not to increase capacity but to actively decrease demand. They have been handing out free compact fluorecent light bulbs and LED Christmas lights. They will provide free energy use assessments and free hot water heater jackets. It turns out that you can "build a dam" by reducing demand much cheaper than actually building a dam. They encourage small private cogeneration hydro projects. One of my customers produces 120 KW of power.

http://www.smallhydropower.com/more.html

Here in Williams Lake we have several major sawmills that used to burn their wood waste in beehive burners. Not any more. A 90 megawatt cogeneration plant was built some years ago that burns all the wood waste. It uses super clean electrostatic precipitators so the only emissions are water and CO2. No more dirty air and the power runs the town and mills with left over to sell. Wood leaves very low volume low toxicity residue so ash disposal is easy.

These are the real solutions. Time to stop wasting so much.

Glom
2004-Nov-03, 05:53 PM
Ooh! Aren't you flash living in your happy hydro powered British Columbia. Not all of us have that luxury. What would you have us do instead? Bang rocks together? We need nuclear power if we are to not be dependent on coal or Russian gas.

We know all about spent fuel on this board. It is hazardous, but that doesn't make it an insurmountable obstacle. The fact that after fifty years of commercial power generation, we are only now beginning to worry about waste disposal shows just how manageable the problem is and just how much time we have to think about things. It's only because opponents keep on opposing every attempt to do things that there is a problem at all.

Transuranics are toxic but not that toxic. There are plenty of chemicals that are far more toxic.

Evan
2004-Nov-03, 06:07 PM
Ooh! Aren't you flash living in your happy hydro powered British Columbia. Not all of us have that luxury. What would you have us do instead? Bang rocks together? We need nuclear power if we are to not be dependent on coal or Russian gas.

You have the option of reducing consumption. It does not mean reducing your standard of living.

Reprocessing doesn't exactly have a stellar safety record. Take Sellafield (http://www.corecumbria.co.uk/tour/sellafield.htm) for an example.


Transuranics are toxic but not that toxic. There are plenty of chemicals that are far more toxic.

So? No one is carting around truckloads of ricin.

CJSF
2004-Nov-03, 06:15 PM
Also, the approach taken in the last decade by BC Hydro is not to increase capacity but to actively decrease demand.

Which is the problem I have with privatizing power in the US. What incentive is there to decrease demand?

This is getting way off topic, IMO. Time to lock it down, BA.

CJSF

Evan
2004-Nov-03, 06:29 PM
Although the discussion of nuclear power is not directly on topic Glom has been actively participating in it and this is his thread. The concept of reducing consumption is very on topic as that is what Kyoto and the idea of sequestering CO2 is all about. I haven't seen any flames around here yet and I see no reason to end a debate as long as it remains civil.

As far as sequestering CO2 goes, one of the links mention a cost of $50 per tonne. Ridiculously expensive, never happen.

Van Rijn
2004-Nov-03, 10:21 PM
When an estimated 70,000 metric tons of waste have been disposed, the repository would be closed.

http://www.epa.gov/radiation/yucca/faqs.htm


From http://www.ocrwm.doe.gov/factsheets/doeymp0402.shtml:




The additional cost to license, construct, operate, monitor, and close a repository is estimated to be $18.7 billion in constant 1998 dollars. This cost estimate includes monitoring a repository for 100 years and disposing of 70,000 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel and high-level waste at Yucca Mountain, currently the legal limit that can be disposed of.

A monitored geologic repository is only one component of the total life cycle cost for the waste management system, however. Other components include the following: (1) transporting waste to, then storing it at the repository, (2) payments-equal-to-taxes and other benefits to the State of Nevada and affected units of local government, (3) expansion of the repository beyond the 70,000 metric-ton statutory limit, if authorized, and (4) overall system management.
[bolding added]


This is not a physical limitation, it is a political one. This is a very low risk method of storing waste. If anything, it is overengineered.



Sorry, comparing coal ash to high level nuclear waste isn't valid. Clinker can be used to pave roads. Try that with fuel rods.

I was comparing risk. The total risk of high level nuclear waste, properly handled (as is planned with Yucca mountain) is far lower than with economically feasible handling of the vast amounts of coal waste.

Here is a good discussion of comparative risk:

http://www.phyast.pitt.edu/~blc/book/chapter8.html

And a detailed discussion of nuclear waste risk:

http://www.phyast.pitt.edu/~blc/book/chapter11.html

http://www.phyast.pitt.edu/~blc/book/chapter12.html





I don't think unprocessed nuclear waste should be buried - it is just too wasteful.

Sort of leaves out the PBMR design, doesn't it?


I was speaking of existing waste from existing reactors. When we expand nuclear capacity, I am certainly in favor of high-burnup passively safe reactor designs.



The concept of reducing consumption is very on topic as that is what Kyoto and the idea of sequestering CO2 is all about.


Making efficient use of electricity is fine within reason, but it doesn't change the fact that we need more electricity. Keep in mind that there is a big difference between forcing people to make do with less and efficient energy use. And considering the vast amount of CO2 produced, sequestration is far from trivial.

CJSF
2004-Nov-03, 10:40 PM
Although the discussion of nuclear power is not directly on topic Glom has been actively participating in it and this is his thread. The concept of reducing consumption is very on topic as that is what Kyoto and the idea of sequestering CO2 is all about. I haven't seen any flames around here yet and I see no reason to end a debate as long as it remains civil.

As far as sequestering CO2 goes, one of the links mention a cost of $50 per tonne. Ridiculously expensive, never happen.

The forum topic is General Astronomy. We are off topic.

CJSF

Evan
2004-Nov-03, 10:58 PM
This is not a physical limitation, it is a political one. This is a very low risk method of storing waste. If anything, it is overengineered.

I agree. It's getting it there that is the problem.


When I speak of reducing consumption I am not talking about forcing people to live a poorer life. I have replaced nearly all the lights in my house with super efficient compact fluorecent bulbs and like them. As a night light in my living room I have a string of white LED christmas lights on a Ficus Benjamina that draws only two watts of power. My wife and I have electric heated chair blankets that draw only 60 watts of power and allow us to remain very comfortable when sitting in the living room with the heat in the house turned down to 60 degrees F. We sleep under Danish eiderdown comforters that allow us to turn the heat down even further.

I have a heliostat placed in front of the house that reflects about 500 watts of light into the house on sunny days so I don't need to turn on lighting to keep the indoor plants alive during the very dark winters we have. I built my own garage doors and they have 2" of foam insulation in them. My house has no north facing windows and the north side is shielded by trees to cut down on night sky radiation cooling. The south side has open space directly to the south that allows reflection from the snow to assist with solar gain in winter. I have metal vertical blinds on the windows inside made of aluminum that greatly reduce the heat loss at night through my double glazed windows.

In summer I have roll down bamboo shades on the south windows and the shades are painted aluminum on the outside to reduce heat gain. I have no air conditioning and don't need it even when the temp hits in the 90's like it did this summer. I have a low wattage fan that blows up cool air from the full basement to cool the main floor in summer.

I heat my house with a free standing high efficiency natural gas convection heater in the basement which uses no electricity at all. It self generates electricity for the thermostat circuit. I have several low watt ceiling fans to circulate heat down from the ceiling to reduce heat loss and increase comfort. My house is heavily insulated. Unused rooms are kept closed and not heated.

My hot water heater is set to 120F and we use no more than 10 to 30 gallons of water per day for both of us. My wife recycles the wash rinse water when doing laundry. I have my own septic system and treatment pond.

Most of this is very inexpensive to do. It improves our lifestyle, not reduces it. I find it very comfortable.

Glom
2004-Nov-04, 11:55 AM
I agree. It's getting it there that is the problem.

That's a bit of horsechanging. You were complaining about the storability problem earlier.

Evan
2004-Nov-04, 03:48 PM
Best reread my posts. I never said anything about Yucca Mtn. being an unsuitable site (other than capacity). Transportation is the issue.

Glom
2004-Nov-04, 05:52 PM
Ah yes. I see. I retract that statement.

So it's just about transport. We seem to be going round in circles. You say it is unnecessarily unsafe. I say it is safe enough. What are we to do?

The problem is that your main criticism seems to be with the containers specially designed to ship large amounts of fuel to the repository. If you don't like them then fine. But as your own link pointed out, the traditional containers have done the job safely for forty years. So you may not like the way they're going about it, but don't throw the baby out with the bathwater, as I'm often myself told.

Swift
2004-Nov-04, 05:57 PM
IMHO the transportation issue comes down to a choice of is the stuff safer sitting around at the powerplant (and most plants were not designed to store the amounts they already have on hand, IIRC) or safer transporting it to a location designed to store it. I vote for the second choice.

Evan
2004-Nov-04, 06:06 PM
We have never transported anything like the quantity that needs to be transported. I agree that it needs to be done. My objection is to adding to that quantity as that only increases the odds of an accident. Perhaps the answer if new nuclear plants are to be built is to site them on top of a safe repository like Yucca Mtn. Power can be transmitted efficiently for thousands of miles. I'm not against nuclear power. I'm against incomplete solutions and needless waste that endanger us and especially my children and grandchildren. At this time I see no need for new nuclear plants since addressing the the issue through conservation of resources is easily possible.

Van Rijn
2004-Nov-06, 01:59 AM
We have never transported anything like the quantity that needs to be transported. I agree that it needs to be done. My objection is to adding to that quantity as that only increases the odds of an accident.


Well, sure, accidents. But you seem to assume that an accident implies the waste would be spread about the countryside in the worst possible way. What is your evidence for extreme risk? I just don't see the issue.

And the volume doesn't begin to compare to that of other regularly transported harzardous materials, all done with, by comparison, almost no safeguards.



I'm not against nuclear power. I'm against incomplete solutions and needless waste that endanger us and especially my children and grandchildren.


Of course, there is no such thing as complete safety. The problem is that *ANY* choice carries risk. I'm not aware of another practical choice that carries less risk for you, your children and grandchildren.



At this time I see no need for new nuclear plants since addressing the the issue through conservation of resources is easily possible.

This gets back into the conservation issue. Where I live, most of the reasonable cost efficiency improvements have been done. As things stand, we are right at the edge of capacity for existing home and industry needs. The only really effective way to radically reduce consumption is to force prices much higher. That would result in a worse economy and lower standard of living which would cause a substantially higher risk to life (not to mention comfort). So we increase capacity, and since nuclear is out for political reasons, it is done with dangerous and C02 producing fossil fuels, mostly in highly inefficient "peaker" plants.

Evan
2004-Nov-06, 05:43 AM
Hazmat cargo carriers crash about 500 times per year in the US. IIRC according to DOT about 50 of those are serious petroleum tanker fires. Recall the Caldecott tunnel fire?

As I stated, I am not against nuclear power in and of itself. But why site the plants near population centers? It's no feat to transmit power efficiently long distances. California buys power from BC over a distance of 2000 miles. Make a nuke farm in Nevada on the old test site. Get the waste out of the existing plants and decomission them as soon as possible. Trucking the waste around the country will very likely result in a nasty accident. We have no test or proof that such an exercise can be carried out safely in the long term for the quantities involved. All the previous experience adds up to probably one or two years equivalent of what will be a 30 year campaign just to move the current waste. The shuttle flew for years with no serious incident. Everyone grew complacent. It's really safe they said. We then found out otherwise.

There is a lot of room for improvement when it comes to saving energy. No way should it look like this from space. This is no longer a sign of progress. It is a clear sign of extreme waste.

http://vts.bc.ca/pics/night1.jpg

pghnative
2004-Nov-08, 02:20 PM
Isn't that an extended exposure? If so, then it's a bit disingenuous to use it as your proof of wasteful energy use.

ToSeek
2004-Nov-08, 02:35 PM
Isn't that an extended exposure? If so, then it's a bit disingenuous to use it as your proof of wasteful energy use.

Why? That's light that's pouring out into space 8-12 hours every night, to no useful purpose.

Evan
2004-Nov-08, 02:36 PM
...disingenuous...

Are you suggesting that we in North America do not waste energy? Have you traveled Europe at all? How does the manner of making the photo have anything to do with the facts? It's not the subliminal glow of phosphorescent fungi.

Speaking of waste, the lights you see in the upper left of the photo with the sharp line drawn by the Rock Mtns. are mostly not habitation or cities. They are the flared off gas from oil wells in Alberta. Criminal in my opinion.

pghnative
2004-Nov-08, 02:45 PM
Isn't that an extended exposure? If so, then it's a bit disingenuous to use it as your proof of wasteful energy use.

Why? That's light that's pouring out into space 8-12 hours every night, to no useful purpose.My bad --- what I meant to type was that if the photo is an extended exposure, it is disingenuous to use it as proof of extreme waste.

pghnative
2004-Nov-08, 02:48 PM
...disingenuous...

How does the manner of making the photo have anything to do with the facts? the manner of making the photo is critical, since you were using the photo to illustrate extreme wasteful energy. If the photo was a "snapshot", then the conclusion could reasonbly be that Earth is lit up like a lightbulb, and boy, are we wasting energy.

But if the photo is an extended exposure, then it is meaningless.

(I'm pretty sure that it is --- we've discussed this before on this board, but I am incompetant at finding the link.)

pghnative
2004-Nov-08, 02:53 PM
Are you suggesting that we in North America do not waste energy? No, I'm not suggesting that. I'm suggesting that the photo supplied is insufficient proof.

Have you traveled Europe at all? I fail to see the relevance of my travel experience. Besides, this picture (if I ever find it --- aaargh), is a crop from a worldwide exposure compilation. I recall that Europe was well lit too.

They are the flared off gas from oil wells in Alberta. Criminal in my opinion. Well, I don't know the details of oil wells in Alberta, but I can attest that flares in general are critical for the safety of petrochemical plants.

edited once to add link (http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/image/0208/earthlights02_dmsp_big.jpg)

Evan
2004-Nov-08, 05:28 PM
My reference to Europe is simply that they are far ahead of North America in energy conservation. It is standard for instance to use solid core doors with weather stripping for interior doors so that unused rooms may be well sealed and not heated. In Kolding, Denmark they have a super clean garbage incinerator that is used to heat the entire city. Process steam is piped to individual homes throughout the city. The steam pipes are buried under the sidewalks so that the heat leakage melts the ice from the walks in winter. Everything is recycled. At the back of the average home or apartment is a series of garbage bins, at least three, sometimes five. Garbage is sorted even in a MacDonalds resturant. It is sorted as biodegradable, plastic, metal, glass or paper. Cars are never permitted to stand idling. At traffic intersections with long waits for the light to change there is a sign instructing drivers to switch off the engine. Two seconds before the lite is to change to green the yellow comes on with the red to alert the drivers to restart the engine. We here in North America are very spoiled by the abundance of nearly free resources. That is now coming to an end.

The reason gas is flared if largely because of politics and false economy. It is cheaper to flare gas than build a pipline in the short run. In the long run it is a criminal waste of resources that we will soon regret. Politics comes into play when building pipelines as well. Just look at the wrangling going on over a proposed pipeline from Alaska to the continental US through Canada. It still isn't started.

pghnative
2004-Nov-08, 05:43 PM
The reason gas is flared if largely because of politics and false economy. It is cheaper to flare gas than build a pipline in the short run. In the long run it is a criminal waste of resources that we will soon regret. Oh, OK. I was confusing this with chemical plant flares, which serve to safely burn process streams when there is a process upset.

Out of curiousity, what would you have them do with the flare gas?


My reference to Europe is simply that they are far ahead of North America in energy conservation.Perhaps. My experience with Europe has been a few short trips to London, Paris and Lyon. Your description of Europe seems idealistic, but maybe I just wasn't paying enough attention. If they are quantifiably more efficient than North America, it isn't obvious based on the relative amount of light they give off. (see link in my previous post.) So either their efficiency is not that great, or the picture is not indicative of efficiency.

Swift
2004-Nov-08, 05:57 PM
An interesting aside to all of this, today on CNN.com, their QuickVote poll is "Do you believe global warming is a serious threat?". As of 12:56 EST, the vote was Yes 72% (87183 votes), No 28% (33984 votes).

Evan
2004-Nov-08, 06:22 PM
What to do with the natural gas? That seems obvious. Generate low cost electricity. It's being flared anyway so the net CO2 change is zero. Also, when the gas is flared untreated it is pumping huge quantities of sulphur into the atmosphere, not a good thing.

Europe isn't perfect but they are way ahead of most of us in North America.

pghnative
2004-Nov-08, 06:38 PM
What to do with the natural gas? That seems obvious. Generate low cost electricity. Presumably this involves capital expenditures. Do you believe that the earnings from selling this electricity will pay for this capital expense?

Evan
2004-Nov-08, 07:16 PM
What to do with the natural gas? That seems obvious. Generate low cost electricity. Presumably this involves capital expenditures. Do you believe that the earnings from selling this electricity will pay for this capital expense?

Natural gas is currently used to generate electricity so it must be economic to do so. If the generating plant was sited in the oilfields the amount of pipeline to be built would be minimal. Electricity is in short supply at times in the US. It seems like a no-brainer to me.

Swift
2004-Nov-08, 07:25 PM
There have been other proposals on what to do with the flared off natural gas. One is to build pipelines to bring the gas to markets. I'm pretty sure that there is a proposal to build a pipeline from Alaska for this purpose. The other is to liquify the natural gas and ship it as LNG. IIRC, New York had a LNG port for a while.

There are limits on how far you can economically transfer electricity, though I don't know the numbers.

I have no info on the economics of any of that.

It does seem a big waste just to flare off the gas.

Evan
2004-Nov-08, 07:36 PM
Electricity can be transmitted very efficiently over long distances. Line loss accounts for 4 to 6 percent of loss from the dams in northern BC to California. Really, that is an academic consideration as the loss right now for the flared gas is 100 percent.

pghnative
2004-Nov-08, 07:58 PM
What to do with the natural gas? That seems obvious. Generate low cost electricity. Presumably this involves capital expenditures. Do you believe that the earnings from selling this electricity will pay for this capital expense?

Natural gas is currently used to generate electricity so it must be economic to do so. If the generating plant was sited in the oilfields the amount of pipeline to be built would be minimal. Electricity is in short supply at times in the US. It seems like a no-brainer to me.And yet it is not a "no-brainer" to the oil executives. They're sitting on a revenue source and just not seeing it. Too bad for all of us that you don't own your own oil company.

OK, I'll dial back the sarcasm. I suspect that if you'd look at the numbers, you'd find that the revenues don't outweigh the costs. When it comes to money, Big Business (or even Little Business) generally is not stupid.

Evan
2004-Nov-08, 08:32 PM
It actually would make money in the long run. The problem is that the decision makers don't look much further than the next quarter earnings report. Although I detest government regulation this is a case that seems to require it. The oil companies should not be allowed to waste our resources like that.

JimTKirk
2004-Nov-08, 09:03 PM
Maybe the petrol producers are already starting to do this (http://www.exxonmobil.com/corporate/files/corporate/141004.pdf).

=D> =D> =D>

pghnative
2004-Nov-08, 10:14 PM
It actually would make money in the long run. The problem is that the decision makers don't look much further than the next quarter earnings report. Although I detest government regulation this is a case that seems to require it. The oil companies should not be allowed to waste our resources like that.Why is it that solutions always require someone else to do things the way you want them to.

Why don't you work on convincing others that your economic analysis is correct. Then you can convince some bankers to loan you the money, then invest money in NG - electricity equipment, then buy the gas from the oil refiners. Based on your analysis, you'd make money, right??

Evan
2004-Nov-08, 10:37 PM
I have done no analysis. However, natural gas is currently used to generate electricity in North America so obviously it is economically viable. That is a very simplistic plan you present. It doesn't work like that when dealing with exceedingly wealthy multinationals. Only governments have sufficient power to deal with them and even then it can be difficult.


Why is it that solutions always require someone else to do things the way you want them to.

The answer to that is that it their business that they are conducting poorly and so their responsibility to fix.

pghnative
2004-Nov-08, 10:41 PM
It looks like you and I are in agreement on one point: we agree that one of our two plans is simplistic.

dgruss23
2004-Nov-09, 12:13 AM
An interesting aside to all of this, today on CNN.com, their QuickVote poll is "Do you believe global warming is a serious threat?". As of 12:56 EST, the vote was Yes 72% (87183 votes), No 28% (33984 votes).

It would be interesting to see the responses to a follow-up question:

"What evidence has convinced you global warming is a serious threat?"

Star Pilot
2004-Nov-09, 05:23 AM
An interesting aside to all of this, today on CNN.com, their QuickVote poll is "Do you believe global warming is a serious threat?". As of 12:56 EST, the vote was Yes 72% (87183 votes), No 28% (33984 votes).

It would be interesting to see the responses to a follow-up question:

"What evidence has convinced you global warming is a serious threat?"
Climate change is the key word.


Climate change over the next 20 years could result in a global catastrophe costing millions of lives in wars and natural disasters..

A secret report, suppressed by US defence chiefs and obtained by The Observer, warns that major European cities will be sunk beneath rising seas as Britain is plunged into a 'Siberian' climate by 2020. Nuclear conflict, mega-droughts, famine and widespread rioting will erupt across the world.

http://observer.guardian.co.uk/print/0,3858,4864237-102275,00.html

The full Pentagon report can be found at
http://www.stopesso.com/campaign/Pentagon.doc

beskeptical
2004-Nov-09, 08:31 AM
I'm just going to throw this in here. It isn't exactly along the thread line.

Global warming seems pretty certain. I think human causality is almost certain. And rapid climate change will cause a multitude of disasters as it rearranges the rain and other aspects of climate.

HOWEVER, we really are/were close to the return of a significant period of glaciation if you just look at the historical climate pattern. Maybe global warming won't be so bad after all, at least in the long run.

Glom
2004-Nov-09, 12:13 PM
Well that article of a load of crap. As scientific research continues, the date of our impending doom keeps on getting pushed back. It's now at the end of the century not in the next 20 years. I suppose they feel an ice age is a good thing for agriculture.

pghnative
2004-Nov-09, 12:26 PM
It would be interesting to see the responses to a follow-up question:

"What evidence has convinced you global warming is a serious threat?"
Climate change is the key word.
Climate change over the next 20 years could...You may want to check your dictionary. Speculation about future events does not constitute evidence.


The full Pentagon report can be found at
http://www.stopesso.com/campaign/Pentagon.docUmmm -- I couldn't get this to load so I couldn't read it, but I find it hard to believe that there would be an official Pentagon report at www stopesso.com.

(For younger Americans, note that "Esso" is the name for "Exxon" in many countries.)

Glom
2004-Nov-09, 12:32 PM
I just noticed that. Not exactly an unbiased source. And why pick on Esso? Texaco and BP feel left out.

Star Pilot
2004-Nov-09, 02:39 PM
It would be interesting to see the responses to a follow-up question:

"What evidence has convinced you global warming is a serious threat?"
Climate change is the key word.
Climate change over the next 20 years could...You may want to check your dictionary. Speculation about future events does not constitute evidence.

But serious enough to have the Pentagone investigate it.


The full Pentagon report can be found at
http://www.stopesso.com/campaign/Pentagon.docUmmm -- I couldn't get this to load so I couldn't read it, but I find it hard to believe that there would be an official Pentagon report at www stopesso.com.

[/quote]
Check this:
http://www.ems.org/climate/pentagon_climate_change.html

Or this:
http://www.environmentaldefense.org/pdf.cfm?contentID=3566&filename=AbruptClimateChang e.pdf

snowcelt
2004-Nov-09, 02:49 PM
Electricity can be transmitted very efficiently over long distances. Line loss accounts for 4 to 6 percent of loss from the dams in northern BC to California. Really, that is an academic consideration as the loss right now for the flared gas is 100 percent.

Are you sure about the line loss percentage? I thought that the power loss (amps) is rather high. The voltage may be the same in California because of rectification.

As for flares, I see it happen every day.

JimTKirk
2004-Nov-09, 03:51 PM
Evan,
I posted a link to a PDF from a (probably biased) source that gave this for gas production flares:

And while the total amount of gas flared from our production operations has averaged only 3 percent of the total oil and gas we produce, we are taking steps to reduce it significantly.


That's actually below the percentage you feel is OK for transmitting power long distances. I think you make the assumption that 100% of the natural gas that's produced is flared off, when that's just not true. From what I looked at on the net (I googled for "petrol refinement flares"), nearly all natural gas is captured and piped for use. The 3% stated above is from overpressure problems.

pghnative
2004-Nov-09, 04:39 PM
Percentages can be confusing animals. 3% of the "oil and gas" may indeed be the same as 100% of the "gas" if the proportion of gas to oil is low. But if the 3% is a factual number (as you've pointed out, it may be biased), it does indicate that recovering it wouldn't do a whole lot towards increasing worldwide energy efficiency.

Evan
2004-Nov-09, 04:41 PM
JimTKirk,

Wait a minute. I did not say or assume all the gas produced is flared off. I wouldn't be heating my home with natural gas if that were the case. What does the percentage of gas flared off have to do with the efficiency of the power distribution system? Whatever gas is flared off is 100% lost and creates SO2 pollution. Further even if only three percent of production is flared at many wells 100% is flared. This is often the highest sulphur containing gas because it is less economical to desulphurize and ship. The oil companies do a lot of what in the mining business is called "highgrading". They don't care to process high sulphur gas because it is less profitable. Note, not unprofitable but only less profitable.

More to the point the statistics given by the oil companies are misleading. When they say only three percent is flared they mean three percent of the gas produced from NATURAL GAS wells. They are not referring to the natural gas flared from OIL wells which in many cases is all flared. It's not considered production so isn't counted. Virtually all oil produced has natural gas dissolved in it, like CO2 in a soft drink. It comes bubbling out when the oil is taken out of the well. My brother in law is an expert consultant in natural gas well drilling and gas plant operation and travels the world overseeing these operations. What actually happens in the field and what the companies tell the public and even the regulators are two different things he assures me. He lives in Alberta. My wife's uncle has a gas well in his back field.

Also, in that quote you provide they say "three percent of all the oil and gas". That is a huge amount in absolute terms. The power industry get excited about fractions of a percent. As well, how do you compare gas to oil in percentage terms? Thermal units? Cubic meters? Liquified?

Furthermore, the companies don't know how much they flare. The amount flared is often based on vauge estimates as it changes constantly. Gas is flared for numerous reasons including pipeline blowdown for maintanance, well testing and simply disposing of "sour gas" with high H2S content.

The regulations in Alberta, which I have read, are full of phrases such as "you are encouraged to...", "no permit required for existing..." and so on.

snowcelt
2004-Nov-09, 04:55 PM
If your primary yield is oil, it may not be viable to tap the gas which accompanies the primary. I see gas flared every day. As Evan states, it happens all the time. When you drive down the highway at night, sometimes you can drive without headlights. This is NOT trivial flaring. In some places this "trivial" gas is put to use by generating electricity---be it a small scale. You can hear the sound from these plants for miles. They generate minimal energy for the cost to set up, and for the racket they make they are not worth it. Better off paying a carbon tax then listen to that crap.

Evan
2004-Nov-09, 05:35 PM
No need for the units to be noisy. The flares themselves can make a heck of a racket. There is a bright side as there are some initatives to start using flare gas. There is one small flare gas generator in Alberta and Saskpower is working on a project. They really need to get going a lot faster. It isn't rocket science.


http://www.saskpower.com/environment/initiatives/flaregas.shtml

snowcelt
2004-Nov-09, 05:45 PM
[quote="Evan"]No need for the units to be noisy. The flares themselves can make a heck of a racket. There is a bright side as there are some initatives to start using flare gas. There is one small flare gas generator in Alberta and Saskpower is working on a project. They really need to get going a lot faster. It isn't rocket science.


http://www.saskpower.com/environment/initiatives/flaregas.shtml[/quote}

Yes. And I know were the one in Alberta is. Were I used to live. Taber Alberta. I moved because the turbines were so loud. You could here them for at least four miles.

I exaggerate, I left Taber for other reasons, but they still made a heck of a racket.

Evan
2004-Nov-09, 06:02 PM
Snowcelt,

That must not be a flare gas generating plant. There doesn't appear to be any generating capacity in Taber. The only flare gas generator in Ab is in Willesden Green.

Web site (http://www.altekpower.com/projects.asp?project=willesden)

List of generating capacity here (http://www.energy.gov.ab.ca/com/Electricity/Key+Numbers/Key+Numbers.htm)

pghnative
2004-Nov-09, 06:20 PM
According to this site here (http://www.worldbank.org/ogmc/global_gas.htm), the World Bank estimates global flaring/venting to be 100 billion cubic meters per year. Sounds like a lot.

But from Exxon's website (http://www2.exxonmobil.com/corporate/Campaign/Corp_campaignhome.asp), the current world usage of natural gas alone is 270 billion cubic feet (~8 billion cubic meters) per day. Converting days to years, this gives less than 3.5% of all natural gas is "criminally" (Evan's words) wasted. Including oil production, the percentage of petroleum based energy that is wasted is even less. (If anyone can convert NG to equivalents in oil, that would be interesting to see.)

Now Evan's friend's brother's cousin may have information that's not available to the World Bank, but I see no reason not to believe their numbers. (If anyone has competing data, I'd love to see it). And yeah, the usage number is from a corporate website, but why would Exxon lie about worldwide energy consumption??

The point here is that the absolute numbers may look high (100 billion cubic meters!!!!), but in reality, even if this was eliminated completely, the effect on global CO2 levels would be minimal. (That is what this thread is about, isn't it??)

snowcelt
2004-Nov-09, 06:23 PM
Snowcelt,

That must not be a flare gas generating plant. There doesn't appear to be any generating capacity in Taber. The only flare gas generator in Ab is in Willesden Green.

Web site (http://www.altekpower.com/projects.asp?project=willesden)

List of generating capacity here (http://www.energy.gov.ab.ca/com/Electricity/Key+Numbers/Key+Numbers.htm)

I hate being wrong. However, there is a turbine gas generator in Taber. I see that it was a permanent natural gas generator. Sorry about that. I would of sworn that this plant was a flare dump because of what all the locals said, and I believed. I should have looked into it, but I thought that this plant was a flare dump. Now I find that it was a capped well site that was CO2 injected, and reactivated. Why pipe minimal gas when you can create energy on site?

As we used to say in the army: my fault, your mistake. :oops:

Evan
2004-Nov-09, 06:25 PM
Evan's friend's brother's cousin...

Never a good debating technique. I said brother in law.

Three percent more energy on the grid here would have prevented rolling blackouts in California. What did that cost?

pghnative
2004-Nov-09, 06:53 PM
Evan's friend's brother's cousin...

Never a good debating technique. I said brother in law.What isn't a good debating technique? Your technique of using anecdotal data, or my technique of exaggeration (substituting "friend's brother's cousin" for "brother-in-law" and "wife's uncle") to sarcastically highlight the use of anecdotal data?


Three percent more energy on the grid here would have prevented rolling blackouts in California. What did that cost?Are we talking about energy costs in California or effective ways to reduce CO2 in the atmosphere?

Van Rijn
2004-Nov-09, 09:00 PM
Climate change over the next 20 years could result in a global catastrophe costing millions of lives in wars and natural disasters..

A secret report, suppressed by US defence chiefs and obtained by The Observer, warns that major European cities will be sunk beneath rising seas as Britain is plunged into a 'Siberian' climate by 2020. Nuclear conflict, mega-droughts, famine and widespread rioting will erupt across the world.

http://observer.guardian.co.uk/print/0,3858,4864237-102275,00.html

The full Pentagon report can be found at
http://www.stopesso.com/campaign/Pentagon.doc

The Guardian should not be taken as gospel. Do a google search on:

pentagon contingency global warming

For instance, from
http://www.usnews.com/usnews/tech/nextnews/archive/next040227.htm


Although news of the study was played up in some quarters—particularly the always subtle and nuanced British press—as proof that the Pentagon was planning for climatic Armageddon, even a cursory reading of the study reveals it purely as a blue-sky, what-if exercise conducted by some outside consultants, including well-known futurist Peter Schwartz...

The Pentagon does a LOT of "what if" contingency exercises. It wasn't a serious scientific climate report.

Star Pilot
2004-Nov-09, 09:56 PM
The Pentagon does a LOT of "what if" contingency exercises. It wasn't a serious scientific climate report.
I think the report is based on a scientific study
What would happen to our climate if the thermohaline circulation collapsed?


The study looks at a possible effect of the gradual warming of Earth’s climate (without reaching any conclusions about whether or not human activity is driving it): rising temperatures could reach a tipping point leading to an abrupt alteration in ocean circulation. In short, the runoff of fresh water from melting Arctic ice would prevent the saltier, warmer water of the Gulf Stream from reaching the North Atlantic, where it sinks into the depths, driving a global system of currents called the thermohaline circulation.

http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/info/thc/

Swift
2004-Nov-11, 01:43 PM
A report by a University of Texas biologist
Cox News Service story (http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/national/198840_climate09.html)

A report co-written by University of Texas biologist Camille Parmesan concluded that more than 40 scientific studies link climate change with observed ecological changes. In half of the studies, the link is strong, the report stated.

"Of 40 studies on individual species we reviewed, about 20 show strong evidence that changes are due to local climate change," she added.

Examples include:

The red fox has shifted its habitat northward, where it is encroaching on the Arctic fox's range.

Southern, warm-water fish have begun to infiltrate waters off Monterey, Calif., previously dominated by colder-water species.

The Alaskan tundra, which has for thousands of years been a "sink" for carbon dioxide, has begun to release more of the gas into the air than it removes because warmer winters are causing stored plant matter to decompose.

Glom
2004-Nov-11, 02:04 PM
Affirmation of the consequent. The article talked about ecological changes, but then jumps to conclusions about the causes.

Van Rijn
2004-Nov-12, 05:29 AM
Also, it is a huge leap from global warming research to assuming immediate thermohaline circulation collapse. The key point above is that some newspapers made a big deal out of a clear "what if" scare scenario, not global warming research.

Still, if you really want to cut down on CO2, and help prevent all the loss of life you believe might happen because of its use, phasing out all fossil fuel plants, fossil fuel out for heating, etc. and moving quickly to nuclear would be a great help, and I'd be thrilled to see it happen ... :)