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Phobos
2002-Aug-23, 03:52 AM
http://a52.g.akamaitech.net/f/52/827/1d/www.space.com/images/hf_moon_nuclearwaste_01.jpgMoon Seen As Nuclear Waste Repository (http://www.space.com/news/nuclear_moon_020822.html)

This is an interesting article just appeared in Space.Com

The atricle goes into the possibility that we may start using the moon as an alternative site for dumping nuclear waste.

On the whole it is positive towards the idea, and it points out that we may later use the waste as a resource for reprocessing by Lunar settlers.

Phobos

RalphVanDyke
2002-Aug-23, 04:38 AM
So people aren't comfortable with driving it around in trucks, but we will put it in a rocket and shoot it to the moon??? Suppose there was an accident with the launch vehicle carrying tons of nuclear waste in the high atmosphere......then what? The article mentions it, but the advocate for this plan never states his thoughts on safety.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: RalphVanDyke on 2002-08-23 00:44 ]</font>

moving_target
2002-Aug-23, 07:56 AM
sure, next thing you know it explodes, sending the moon and moon base alpha, careening off into the galaxy... /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_eek.gif /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_eek.gif /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_eek.gif
wait, that was in 1999... nevermind! /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_lol.gif

_________________
The universe is not only queerer than we imagine, it is queerer than we can imagine.
J. B. S. Haldane


<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: moving_target on 2002-08-23 03:57 ]</font>

Phobos
2002-Aug-23, 08:58 AM
On 2002-08-23 00:38, RalphVanDyke wrote:
So people aren't comfortable with driving it around in trucks, but we will put it in a rocket and shoot it to the moon??? Suppose there was an accident with the launch vehicle carrying tons of nuclear waste in the high atmosphere......then what? The article mentions it, but the advocate for this plan never states his thoughts on safety.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: RalphVanDyke on 2002-08-23 00:44 ]</font>


I am surprised they are talking about using a spaceplane. Surely to raise a heavy load the first 60 Km or so the best and safest method for this sort of cargo would be a heavy loading blimp?

There would be plenty of details to sort out, but if I wanted to ship hazardous material to the moon this is how I would start. The heavy loading blimps may already exist in military service - the latest theory from the UFO community is that most black triangle sightings are just this (backed up by matching reported sightings with known USAF base locations).

Phobos

kucharek
2002-Aug-23, 08:58 AM
Look at the trouble with shooting a few kilograms Plutonium into space with Cassini and try to imagine the political trouble when you want to send up tons of nuclear waste.
And, if we really want to put nuclear waste into space - I don't know if this is even from the technical aspects a good idea - I'd say a solar orbit slightly within Earth's orbit would need less energy (no braking necessary) and would still keep the waste within our reach. Except we can do something useful with the waste on the Moon - like using it as an advanced propulsion system to travel with the Moon to weird places meeting even more weird people there.

Harald

David Hall
2002-Aug-23, 09:04 AM
This is not a new idea of course. Larry Niven had just this set-up in his short story The Woman in Del Rey Crater. For years Earth had been lobbing it's nuclear waste into this crater on the Moon, with the idea that it might eventually be recovered and reprocessed. At the time of the story, that's exactly what was being done. Then one of the robot salvagers comes across a body in the middle of this uninhabitable wasteland and the mystery begins...

My idea for disposal of nuclear waste is to not mess around with the Moon and just send it into a freefall trajectory directly into the Sun. Then there'd be nothing left to worry about. The only trouble would still be the safety of launching it. But I think that could be overcome.

kucharek
2002-Aug-23, 09:19 AM
On 2002-08-23 05:04, David Hall wrote:
My idea for disposal of nuclear waste is to not mess around with the Moon and just send it into a freefall trajectory directly into the Sun.

Unfortunately, the Sun is the most difficult to reach location in our solar system, as you'd need not only to leave Earth's gravity but also you've to cancel the 30km/s orbital speed of Earth around the Sun. Only feasible method would be a swing-by at Jupiter - giving him back some of the speed that the Pioneers and Voyagers took away from him. Would make the Society for the Preservation of Jupiter's Orbit (or what was the exact name?) happy... /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_wink.gif

Harald

kucharek
2002-Aug-23, 09:24 AM
On 2002-08-23 04:58, Phobos wrote:
I am surprised they are talking about using a spaceplane. Surely to raise a heavy load the first 60 Km or so the best and safest method for this sort of cargo would be a heavy loading blimp?

It's not only a matter of height (getting above the atmosphere), but also a matter of speed (giving the initial push).

Harald

xriso
2002-Aug-23, 09:41 AM
Let's just dig a really deep hole (down to molten rock) and throw waste of all sorts down there. Barring that, dig a less deep hole and wait some million years for it to be subducted.

traztx
2002-Aug-23, 02:20 PM
I wonder how many windmills, solar arrays, geothermal pipes, etc, could be purchased and deployed for the cost of this endeavor.

Donnie B.
2002-Aug-23, 02:25 PM
On 2002-08-23 05:41, xriso wrote:
Let's just dig a really deep hole (down to molten rock) and throw waste of all sorts down there. Barring that, dig a less deep hole and wait some million years for it to be subducted.

It has been proposed to drop nuclear waste into deep ocean trenches and allow subduction to get rid of it over the (very) long term.

That's the ultimate in sweeping dirt under the rug, I'd say... /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif

chris l.
2002-Aug-23, 04:21 PM
Would it be possible to send it to Venus? Afterall, nobody is ever going to walk on Venus!

The Bad Astronomer
2002-Aug-23, 04:37 PM
On 2002-08-23 10:20, traztx wrote:
I wonder how many windmills, solar arrays, geothermal pipes, etc, could be purchased and deployed for the cost of this endeavor.


I would just like to say that this is perhaps the most salient post in this thread. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_wink.gif

traztx
2002-Aug-23, 04:43 PM
On 2002-08-23 12:21, tychobrahe wrote:
Would it be possible to send it to Venus? Afterall, nobody is ever going to walk on Venus!


Depends on how much money you have to spend on it.

aurorae
2002-Aug-23, 06:08 PM
On 2002-08-23 10:25, Donnie B. wrote:
It has been proposed to drop nuclear waste into deep ocean trenches and allow subduction to get rid of it over the (very) long term.


That technique was used in a SF book by David Brin, when the planet was abandoned for a few million years to let it recover from having been inhabited by a "civilized" race.

The problem with the idea is that sometimes the material near the survace doesn't get subducted, but instead gets scraped off and ends up being added to the continent.

An example of this is the Olympic Mountains in Washington State of the US. Apparently, somehow the subduction zone got partially plugged or something.

Donnie B.
2002-Aug-23, 06:53 PM
Another obvious problem is that the subduction process is very slow, and the waste would have to sit on the bottom for thousands of years before being removed from the environment.

How slow? I don't know about the deep Pacific trenches, but the North Atlantic is spreading at about the same rate as fingernails grow. That's probably a good first-order approximation for subduction, too.

Espritch
2002-Aug-24, 02:48 AM
I wonder how many windmills, solar arrays, geothermal pipes, etc, could be purchased and deployed for the cost of this endeavor.

I'm not convinced that geothemal pipes and windmills can solve our energy problems. On the other hand, controlled nuclear fussion probably could. What we really need is an effort similar to the Apollo program (but on an even larger scale) to solve the problem on controlled fussion.

Imagine a world where we are dependent on neither vulnerable fission power plants nor fossile fuels from unstable parts of the world. Imagine eliminating one of the major sources of pollution and CO2 production (with it's related environmental impact).

Considering the upside of controlled fussion, why aren't we putting a lot more resources into developing it? The payoff would be a lot bigger than that for shooting spent uranium into space or even for putting a man on the moon.

beskeptical
2002-Aug-24, 08:11 AM
On 2002-08-23 10:20, traztx wrote:
I wonder how many windmills, solar arrays, geothermal pipes, etc, could be purchased and deployed for the cost of this endeavor.


Once the cost of disposal is attached to the cost of development we could make progress here. All the claims that alternative energy sources are not adequate or not cost effective are based on leaving out the cost of disposal and environmental cleanup when figuring the cost of fuels we use today. Sure nuclear energy seems cheap, as long as we the taxpayers foot the bill for cleanup.

David Hall
2002-Aug-24, 03:47 PM
On 2002-08-24 04:11, beskeptical wrote:

Once the cost of disposal is attached to the cost of development we could make progress here. All the claims that alternative energy sources are not adequate or not cost effective are based on leaving out the cost of disposal and environmental cleanup when figuring the cost of fuels we use today. Sure nuclear energy seems cheap, as long as we the taxpayers foot the bill for cleanup.


The same could be said for hydrocarbon fuels. They generally don't include environmental or cleanup costs either.

Nuclear energy has some highly toxic wastes, but if you compare it to the waste products and environmental damage from oil-based fuel use, it really isn't any worse overall. It just has a bad image comparatively because it's a more visible problem in the public's eyes.

beskeptical
2002-Aug-25, 09:33 AM
On 2002-08-24 11:47, David Hall wrote:
The same could be said for hydrocarbon fuels. They generally don't include environmental or cleanup costs either.

Nuclear energy has some highly toxic wastes, but if you compare it to the waste products and environmental damage from oil-based fuel use, it really isn't any worse overall. It just has a bad image comparatively because it's a more visible problem in the public's eyes.


Most definitely. I would certainly include combustion fuels in the 'taxpayer subsidizes the industry by paying for environmental costs' category.

Cloudy
2002-Aug-26, 10:56 PM
Nuclear waste is recycleable through breeder reactors. There are allot of industrial wastes that are more poisonous by any objective measure - and are saftly stored at low cost right here on earth. High level nuclear waste can last a long time, but it does'nt remain highly radioactive for nearly as long. In general, the more radioactive something is, the less long the radioactivity lasts. Many chemical poisons retain their toxicity indefinitly. These are facts.

The nuclear waste problem is a creation of people with economic and political interests exploiting the irrational fears of the public. I would have no problem living right next to a nuclear power plant or waste dump - if the land is cheap, it would be a great way to save money at the expense of the ignorant /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif.

check out this link. PBS's frontline did a great job debunking the many common myths regarding nuclear power

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/reaction/





<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Cloudy on 2002-08-26 18:58 ]</font>

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Cloudy on 2002-08-26 19:00 ]</font>

Chip
2002-Aug-26, 11:07 PM
On 2002-08-22 23:52, Phobos wrote:
"The article goes into the possibility that we may start using the moon as an alternative site for dumping nuclear waste."

Isn't this how that 60's Sci-Fi series Space 1999 opens? They start to pile up nuclear waste on the moon, something goes wrong, it all explodes, and off they go on a series of bizarre adventures.

BTW - I'm all for a human inhabited moon base (This is 2002 after all!) but this waste disposal idea looks very expensive and, with regards to money, well...wasteful!

mallen
2002-Aug-27, 03:13 AM
I always thought it would be a good idea to pulverize the radioactive waste into a powder, mix it with concrete, and use it to fill in the mine it was taken out of originally.

After all, shouldn't it be less radioactive after its use than before? It seems both practical and economical to me.

Kaptain K
2002-Aug-27, 04:57 AM
After all, shouldn't it be less radioactive after its use than before?
Nope. Tons of ore are needed to produce a few pounds of uranium, and most of that is U238, which is useless for reactors.

Also, the reactions produce some really nasty by products that are highly radioactive but fairly short lived.

Cloudy
2002-Aug-27, 10:21 AM
Mallen,

Good idea - but you may have to use allot of concrete to dilute the radioactivity back down to the level it came out of the mine with. And you don't have to put it back in the mine - sufficiently diluted, you could put it anywhere. This is what we do with many other poisons. Many serious proposals are based on the idea of diluting the stuff. I don't really know enough to do the calculations re the economics or feasability of putting it in empty mines.

One disadvantage - you then loose out on all the energy that is left in the waste. You can reprocess the stuff in "breeder reactors" untill all of the energy in it has been used. Better to store it until people regain their sanity and let us reprocess it.

There are other risks involved in reprocessing - terrorism and nuclear proliferation, for example - but they are managable. And some of the risks of the alternatives are not as manageable. If I was a terrorist - the first attack I would plan would be a morter/bazooka raid on a natural gas tank farm. Or tanker. Or pumping station. I hope the authorities are guarding these at least as carefully as they are the nuke plants.

Russ
2002-Aug-27, 09:56 PM
I would like to agree most avidly with Cloudy. I think it is a horrid waste of resourses that we do not reprocess the waste fuel from Nuclear power plants. Less than 1% of the energy in the fuel is consumed by time the fuel is removed. It has been coated with substances that "poison" the reaction. Removal of this oxide coating renews the fuel for future use, so you only have to store .82% of the wasste we now store. Further, that waste is much less nasty than what we're storing now.

I know, I know! You are all sitting there saying "What if we have another "Three Mile Island" type accident? Doesn't that prove how dangerous nuclear power is?" As a professional in the business of power generation, I can truthfully say that TMI was a demonstration of how SAFEnuclear power is not how dangerous.

I offer as proof:
1) Everything that could go wrong at TMI went wrong.
2) Everything that couldn't go wrong at TMI went wrong.
3) Every time they had a 50/50 chance of guessing right on a decission, they guessed wrong.
4) Every time they had a 100% chance of doing the right thing just by following written proceedure, they did it wrong.

With all of this going against them, they still didn't hurt anybody, release illegal amounts of radiation or breach containment. With modern system design, nuclear power is safe.

I hear you. "What about Chyrnobyl?" Comparing Chyrnobyl to American reactors is like comparing a pile of pig doodoo to a Boing 777 airliner. In short, no relationship.

(steps off soapbox, puts on flame retardant coveralls) /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif

traztx
2002-Aug-27, 10:29 PM
On 2002-08-27 17:56, Russ wrote:
I would like to agree most avidly with Cloudy. I think it is a horrid waste of resourses that we do not reprocess the waste fuel from Nuclear power plants. Less than 1% of the energy in the fuel is consumed by time the fuel is removed...


Good point. I was just reading an article about waste in National Geographic (of all places). According to the article, our (America's) best reactors in production burn about 3% of the fuel and the rest is wasted. Some advances in "fast reactors" are theoretically supposed to burn almost all the plutonium fuel. There is concern about sodium in the core since it is so volatile, but evidently a meltdown is not gonna happen because this kind of reactor's rods spread out when heated, which reduces the reactions.

The article also talked about the amount of waste out there... wow! We need a better way. I'd hate to think we have to block off a Yucca-Mountain-sized chunk of America every 50 years and leave them roped off for 200,000 years.

But then again... how about some mutants to rack up some new biodiversity? /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_wink.gif

Russ
2002-Aug-27, 10:37 PM
And, as Cloudy mentioned above, breader reactors creat fuel as they work so, no waste, no fuss, no muss, no pots, no pans. No wait, that's an old Jiffypop Popcorn ad.

Unfortunately, breaders are politically incorrect, so the chronicly ignorant population wins again.

beskeptical
2002-Aug-29, 09:58 AM
On 2002-08-27 18:37, Russ wrote:
And, as Cloudy mentioned above, breader reactors creat fuel as they work so, no waste, no fuss, no muss, no pots, no pans. No wait, that's an old Jiffypop Popcorn ad.

Unfortunately, breaders are politically incorrect, so the chronicly ignorant population wins again.



My nuke knowledge is rusty so correct me if I'm wrong, but

Doesn't liquid sodium you call volatile in those reactors explode and burn on contact with air?

And, the problem with certain reactors is the resulting byproduct is plutonium, (you know, the stuff all the terrorists and Iraq type countries want for bombs). It's OK with me to waste a little fuel if the alternative is not only plutonium everywhere, but also, plutonium making technology everywhere as well. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_frown.gif

traztx
2002-Aug-29, 04:38 PM
On 2002-08-29 05:58, beskeptical wrote:
Doesn't liquid sodium you call volatile in those reactors explode and burn on contact with air?


I mentioned sodium, so maybe you were refering to me on this. I don't know either, but I'm guessing (worst case) a chemical fire is preferable to a nuclear meltdown. This was the "fast reactor" technology, not breeder (unless they are the same).



On 2002-08-29 05:58, beskeptical wrote:
And, the problem with certain reactors is the resulting byproduct is plutonium, (you know, the stuff all the terrorists and Iraq type countries want for bombs). It's OK with me to waste a little fuel if the alternative is not only plutonium everywhere, but also, plutonium making technology everywhere as well. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_frown.gif


Yeah pretty scary. "Where there's a will, there's a way". A good reason to progress the tech for planetary colonization.

Jim
2002-Aug-29, 05:08 PM
Just fyi, sodium is pyrophoric and may ignite spontaneously upon contact with the air. It is considered highly flammable and readily ignitable upon exposure to flame, spark, friction or heat. It will release toxic and corrosive fumes upon combustion.

In other words, not nice stuff.

Kaptain K
2002-Aug-29, 05:35 PM
Just fyi, sodium is pyrophoric and may ignite spontaneously upon contact with the air. It is considered highly flammable and readily ignitable upon exposure to flame, spark, friction or heat. It will release toxic and corrosive fumes upon combustion.

In other words, not nice stuff.
It will also burn on contact with water, producing NaOH (lye). Also, not nice stuff!

Russ
2002-Aug-29, 09:55 PM
On 2002-08-29 05:58, beskeptical wrote:
My nuke knowledge is rusty so correct me if I'm wrong, but

Doesn't liquid sodium you call volatile in those reactors explode and burn on contact with air?

Sodium has the potential to ..."catch fire"...(a poor description) when exposed to air. The context of the "fire" is from contact with water vapor in the air. If you think back to your high school chemistry class when sodium comes in in contact with H2O it experiences "explosive oxidation".

In the context of a sodium moderated reactor they do not use pure sodium. They use "salts" of sodium so that, should there be a spill, the sodium will resist violent reactions with any water it might contact. It should be noted that (to my knowledge) no sodium moderated reactors made it past the research stage, so that point is moot.

So far, all commercial reactors in the US are water moderated. Either of the boiling water (B&W) or pressurized water (Westinghouse)design.


And, the problem with certain reactors is the resulting byproduct is plutonium, (you know, the stuff all the terrorists and Iraq type countries want for bombs). It's OK with me to waste a little fuel if the alternative is not only plutonium everywhere, but also, plutonium making technology everywhere as well. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_frown.gif

Breader Reactors (FBR) are the beast to which you refer. Also some urainium reprocessing processes (URP). While it is true they produce plutonium, there is a pretty big technological step between the plutonium produced by FBR's/URP and weapons grade plutonium. This is one reason there is no risk of nuclear explosion from a nuclear power plant. Contrary to what Jane "the ignorant slut" (SNL) Fonda would have you believe. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_wink.gif

Besides, it's not a little. It's thousands of tons. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_frown.gif Reprocessed, it could be a little that gets wasted.

beskeptical
2002-Aug-30, 08:40 AM
On 2002-08-29 17:55, Russ wrote:


On 2002-08-29 05:58, beskeptical wrote:
My nuke knowledge is rusty so correct me if I'm wrong, but.... And, the problem with certain reactors is the resulting byproduct is plutonium, (you know, the stuff all the terrorists and Iraq type countries want for bombs). It's OK with me to waste a little fuel if the alternative is not only plutonium everywhere, but also, plutonium making technology everywhere as well. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_frown.gif

Breader Reactors (FBR) are the beast to which you refer. Also some urainium reprocessing processes (URP). While it is true they produce plutonium, there is a pretty big technological step between the plutonium produced by FBR's/URP and weapons grade plutonium. This is one reason there is no risk of nuclear explosion from a nuclear power plant. Contrary to what Jane "the ignorant slut" (SNL) Fonda would have you believe. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_wink.gif

Besides, it's not a little. It's thousands of tons. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_frown.gif Reprocessed, it could be a little that gets wasted.


Contrary to your assumption I've been unduly influenced by activists, I learned what I know about reactors when I lived in Richland WA, home of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. My significant other at that time worked there. It's just that it's been close to 20 years and I've forgotten some. I do remember he said the risk from plutonium production was a big concern, as was the liquid sodium problem.

I also remember the San Onofre plant in CA when I was a kid. They had a little tour for the common folk complete with a 'nuclear power doesn't polute' display. Later I learned the excess heat from the plant was damaging the marine environment around the plant. It's one of those things that was significant enough to me to have survived in my memory bank to this day. Not that nuclear energy was polluting, but that they lied about it.

I wasn't even aware Jane Fonda was campaigning against nuclear energy. I'm not sure why you felt the need to include that statement but I hope the BA considers deleting it. I'll keep my opinions of Jane Fonda to myself but I will say my opinion of using derogatory language that specifically belittles women pisses me off, even if it was from SNL. On SNL you knew it was a joke.

Valiant Dancer
2002-Aug-30, 05:07 PM
On 2002-08-23 05:41, xriso wrote:
Let's just dig a really deep hole (down to molten rock) and throw waste of all sorts down there. Barring that, dig a less deep hole and wait some million years for it to be subducted.


Isn't this the premise for that awful assault on physics coming this fall? (The Core - 11/1/2002)

Russ
2002-Aug-30, 06:54 PM
On 2002-08-30 04:40, beskeptical wrote:
Contrary to your assumption I've been unduly influenced by activists, I learned what I know about reactors when I lived in Richland WA, home of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. My significant other at that time worked there. It's just that it's been close to 20 years and I've forgotten some. I do remember he said the risk from plutonium production was a big concern, as was the liquid sodium problem.

I also remember the San Onofre plant in CA when I was a kid. They had a little tour for the common folk complete with a 'nuclear power doesn't polute' display. Later I learned the excess heat from the plant was damaging the marine environment around the plant. It's one of those things that was significant enough to me to have survived in my memory bank to this day. Not that nuclear energy was polluting, but that they lied about it.

I wasn't even aware Jane Fonda was campaigning against nuclear energy. I'm not sure why you felt the need to include that statement but I hope the BA considers deleting it. I'll keep my opinions of Jane Fonda to myself but I will say my opinion of using derogatory language that specifically belittles women pisses me off, even if it was from SNL. On SNL you knew it was a joke.

Hi Beskep:

I wrote you a long and verbose appology and response to this post. For some unkonwn reason the system swallowed, burped and it was gone. Now I don't have time to duplicate my original post.

To make this short and to the point, I appologize if I insulted or offended you. That was not my intet. I thought my SNL cite would make my joking tone clear. I'm sorry again. It has been made clear to me that my written voice comes across much more harshly than intended, I shall be more prolific with my smiley emoticons. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif

Re: my opinion of Jane Fonda. It comes from the person she is, not the fact that she's a woman. I'd have the sme opinion were she a man. To wit, I have a similar opinion of her Ex-husband Teddy Turdner. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif Please excuse me while I go wash my mouth and hands. One can't say or type those names without delousing.

Re; Nuclear power: Not perfict but better than fossil. I feel my opinion valid as I have worked directly on both for over 24 years. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif

Finally: Lighten up, WE'RE ALL HERE FOR THE FUN OF IT!! /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_lol.gif

overrated
2002-Aug-31, 01:06 AM
So, Russ, in your opinion, is nuclear power the best power-producing option currently offered by the technology at hand? Or is it just the most cost-effective? And I guess I should quantify "best": Does it produce the most power with the fewest drawbacks?

And I don't ask this question as a direct attack on nuclear power; it's just an honest question, and you seem to be an expert.

_________________
PC load letter? What the @%$# does that mean?

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: overrated on 2002-08-30 22:56 ]</font>

Cloudy
2002-Aug-31, 05:30 AM
Perhaps Russ can correct me but
I was under the impression that with what is
called the Integral Fast Reactor the plutonium produced never leaves the reactor. Not only is it an isitope of plutonium that no one has been able to make bombs from yet (though it is theoretically possible), the stuff is never actually taken out of the reactor. To steal it you have to actually break into a heavily guarded reactor, turn it off, deal with the radioactivity, seperate the stuff out, and smuggle it out of the country. Not likely, IMHO.

As to the "lie" regarding heat "polution", I doubt there was any intent to decieve, just a confusion over definitions. What he probably meant is that there is no air polution of the kind usualy produced by fossil fuel plants All forms of power generation and industrial activity produce heat polution - and some produce a heck of allot more than nuclear power. This can be, and is well contained in present reactors and there is a powerfull economic incentive to minimize it. Waste heat represents energy that could have been sold as power if you had a more efficient system. The more modern the design, the less waste heat. The trouble is, antinuclear activists don't want more modern designs. They have used nuisence lawsuits and senseless regulations to bring all new construction to a standstill.

Even if someone did lie to you, consider the myriad of lies told by antinuclear activists. "Plutonium is the most poisonous substance in the world" - provably untrue, by a huge margin.
"30,000 people died in Chernobly" a huge exageration, you need to move the decimal point at least two places. "Nuclear power plants leak radioactivity into the environment" - most of the inner workings of a power plant are required by law to be ten times less radioactive than your living room. "Nuclear waste lasts for thousands of years" the stuff itself does, but the very high radioactivity does not and it is recyclable. "You can make a bomb from power reactor waste"-a nearly impossible task. I'd worry far more about an attack on natural gass infrastructure.

I have a horrible suspicion that the reason much of the environmental movement does not like nuclear power is that if we use more of it we will solve environmental problems that are the source of allot of their donations and political power. Nuclear power could replace nearly ALL fossil fuel electric power generation if it were sensibly regulated and if we reprocessed spent fuel. No more acid rain to rail about. Can't talk about running out of natural gass, etc... with reprocessing - the Uranium supply is virtually unlimited. No more huge, visible smokestacks to point to. Even global warming becomes less of an issue - allot of CO2 emmissions come from burning coal to make electricity. Eliminate(or at least downgrade) these issues and you have less ammunition to throw at those evil corperations and exploitive capitalism.

Pressure groups need problems to attack. When these problems are solved, there is not as much need for the pressure group. I'm not saying they conciously think this - but it has got to be in the back of their minds. People and corperations that work for a living will lie to protect their money/jobs (and this includes the coal/natural gass industry that competes with nuclear power). But their lies pale next to the lies of those who lie for a living.

Sorry to get so emotional, but I tire very quickly of those who prattle on and on about a problem and care little for the best solutions out there. Makes me suspect that their purpose is not to solve the problem, but to push some other agenda.

BTW Russ and company... the P.R. guys in the industry have been to nice. Just saying nuclear power is safe and using <gasp> real facts doesnt cut it. You need to attack the credibility of those who lie about you. Dont just rebut their conspiracy theories. Come up with some of your own. Use ad-hominems if they are justified by a person's behavior. Show that it is more nieve to believe your opponents then to believe you. Facts and thinking don't make news. Conflict does. Those are the ways of the world...

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Cloudy on 2002-08-31 02:21 ]</font>

GrapesOfWrath
2002-Aug-31, 01:27 PM
On 2002-08-30 14:54, Russ wrote:
Finally: Lighten up, WE'RE ALL HERE FOR THE FUN OF IT!!

I think that was the point that Beskeptical was trying to get across.

overrated
2002-Aug-31, 09:12 PM
Cloudy,

First of all, I think it's cutting the nuclear plant too much slack when you say "there was a confusion of definitions." It's straight PR, man... they were using the definition that best suited their needs. To say that wasn't a conscious decision is just being disingenous. And of course, that tactic isn't confined to the nuclear power industry. For instance, an anti-nuclear activist could inflate the death figures from Chernobyl by including, say, all the cancer deaths in the Soviet Union since the accident.

And second, I think it's a stretch to assume that anti-nuclear activists are just activists because nuclear power would solve the world's problems and leave them without a cause. That's kind of insulting, and I would say it's a hard point to prove unless you start from the position that nuclear power is the best thing to come down the pike since sliced bread. Most of the activists I know--of any stripe--are activists because they feel strongly about an issue. Why is it so hard to imagine someone distrusting nuclear power, especially in light of high-profile accidents like Chernobyl?

Cloudy
2002-Sep-01, 04:26 AM
[quote]
On 2002-08-31 17:12, overrated wrote:
Overated,

First of all, I think it's cutting the nuclear plant too much slack when you say "there was a confusion of definitions." It's straight PR, man... they were using the definition that best suited their needs.
-----
Of course. All people will present the part of the story that make their side look the best. Youd have to see the exact quote and know the conditions of that plant to really judge the veracity of the statement.

------

To say that wasn't a conscious decision is just being disingenous. And of course, that tactic isn't confined to the nuclear power industry. For instance, an anti-nuclear activist could inflate the death figures from Chernobyl by including, say, all the cancer deaths in the Soviet Union since the accident.
---
Not only can they, they do it all the time. The difference between what activist groups say and what people who work for a living say is that when people who work for a living talk, they will put the best spin on the facts as possible. But the activists dont just spin the facts, they ignore them and invent them.
-----

And second, I think it's a stretch to assume that anti-nuclear activists are just activists because nuclear power would solve the world's problems and leave them without a cause. That's kind of insulting, and I would say it's a hard point to prove unless you start from the position that nuclear power is the best thing to come down the pike since sliced bread. Most of the activists I know--of any stripe--are activists because they feel strongly about an issue.
----
Yes it is insulting. But it is also insulting to say that the leaders of the power industry are motivated by greed. Why must we take the activists at their word when they talk about their own motives, yet when people who work for a living say they have good motives we must always be suspicious?

It is time to stop saying "they are well meaning, but". I don't claim the activists conciously think that they would lose power if more problems were solved, just that it has to be in the back of their minds and it would be surprising if it didnt influence their behavior somewhat. Even assuming anti-nuke activists do care about the environment, they may care about the rest of their agenda even more. Namely, oposition to globalization and the excesses of capitalism. Make no mistake about it, 9 times out of ten it is the same people who talk about both issues. Cant make those greedy corperations look good, can we? Can't admit we were wrong, can we? Otherwise we might not be believed about other things we say, like genetically engineered crops are unhealthy(also provably untrue). Wouldn't it be horrible if people realized that those corperations did more for the third world than angels like us? That genetic engineering and modern farming are already doing great things for the third world? When informed people don't seem to care about facts at all, I get suspicious of their motives. Almost everybody thinks, in their own mind, that they are working for the good of all mankind. What really drives their thinking, though, may be another thing entirely...You can delude yourself allot if you don't do any self-reflection regarding your own motives. Self-reflection is not a strong suit of professional persuaders.

Yes, you cant really prove anybodys motives.
You can't really be sure even of your own. Strange this point is never brought up when the nuclear industry is portrayed as being a bunch of greedy jerks that care nothing about safty.
----

Why is it so hard to imagine someone distrusting nuclear power, especially in light of high-profile accidents like Chernobyl?
---

The operative word is "high-profile". Anything nuclear is always "high-profile", while competing technologies get a free ride.
It is hard to imagine this irrational fear of nukes because fewer people have died due to nuclear power than any other widely used form of power in the industrialized world. This is a fact. Ever hear of the Bhopal chemical plant disaster with 800-900 casualties? This was arguably as big as Chernobyl. People die every year due to natural gass explosions - strange that environmental activists tend to favor this most dangerous of fuels more than any other traditional form of power. And if an antinuclear activist dies because of an accident with the natural gass he allows in his own house, he/she deserves a half Darwin Award(Not quiet a full darwin. He didn't directly cause his demise...) - particularily if he/she refuses to live anywhere near a nuclear power plant. Nuclear power has a better safty record, yet is thought less safe,then other forms of power.

Remember, engineers such as Russ are experts at serving people with technology in the real world. Activists of all stripes are experts at persuading people. I am amazed that activists get more credibility in the press than people like Russ.

In this matter, my wicked nature is showing. Time to put civility aside. Bring on the ad-hominems. Start using the word "They", again and again and again. Sometimes you have to to mud wrestle for a while - especially if your opponent is a gen-you-whine scientifically certified falsehood squeeling herd of hogs. War is not fun, but if you are being shot at, you have to shoot back. With the truth. This is what the nuclear industry really s*.*!ks at- they will duck but they wont shoot back. I say it is high time they tried taking a few shots of their own. Look at the "Frontline" interview with Ralph Nader (see my link on the 1st page of this topic) to get an eye into how activists "think". It is enlightening.



<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Cloudy on 2002-09-01 00:33 ]</font>

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: cloudy on 2002-09-01 02:38 ]</font>

Russ
2002-Sep-01, 08:21 PM
I would be hard pressed to improve on Cloudy's dissertations. He/She seems unusually well informed and eloquent. The only addition I can make regards Fast Breader Reactors (FBR).

They (FBR's) were designed and intended to creat more fuel than they consumed. Therefor, you do have to shut them down occationally to remove the fuel produced.

Further, the plutonium created is a LOOOOONG way from being bomb ready.

I agree that, at least part of, the anti-nuc movement is motivated by preserving a dragon for themselves to slay. Nuclear fission power solves a WHOLE BUNCH of problems from a polution point of view. Cloudy is also correct in that current technology nuc plants, (non Chrynoble type) are VERY SAFE and are only as radio active as the concrete they are made from.

Yes, concrete is naturally radioactive. About 0.01 REM above ambient.

The heat pollution Beskep mentioned is characteristic of all power plants not just nuc's. Like Cloudy says, the radioactive pollution problem created by the current situation with nuc power plants is an unnecessary side effect of the environmental activists. If we reprocessed the existing spent fuel, we have 0.8% of the radioactive waste volume problem we have now. Further, the waste we'd be storing would be 90% LESS radioactive.

A little nuc power industry humor: /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif Do you know what an elephat is? /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif






Answer: /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_lol.gif /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_lol.gif /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_lol.gif A mouse built to Nuclear Regulatory Commission specifications. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_lol.gif /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_lol.gif /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_lol.gif

AJ
2002-Sep-03, 07:38 PM
From Mallen's post

" I always thought it would be a good idea to pulverize the radioactive waste into a powder, mix it with concrete, and use it to fill in the mine it was taken out of originally.

After all, shouldn't it be less radioactive after its use than before? It seems both practical and economical to me."

From Russ' post

"Yes, concrete is naturally radioactive. About 0.01 REM above ambient."

Coincidence or Secret Government Agency working with concrete companies?

-AJ

overrated
2002-Sep-03, 11:53 PM
Cloudy,



Not only can they (the activists), they do it all the time. The difference between what activist groups say and what people who work for a living say is that when people who work for a living talk, they will put the best spin on the facts as possible. But the activists dont just spin the facts, they ignore them and invent them.


Again, this is your opinion. You seem to have a serious bent against, at least, antinuclear activism. Further, I would say that the folks at Enron didn't just "put the best spin on the facts," and yet they "worked for a living." Tossing out blanket statements like that isn't productive or illuminative.



Yes it is insulting. But it is also insulting to say that the leaders of the power industry are motivated by greed.


Is it? It doesn't seem like too much of a stretch to me to suggest that profits are inversely proportional, in most cases, to safety, workers' rights, etc. Do you honestly believe that, absent public opinion about pollution, etc., industries (including the power industry) wouldn't try to cut back spending on environmental safety?



Why must we take the activists at their word when they talk about their own motives, yet when people who work for a living say they have good motives we must always be suspicious?


Who said that? Me? Nope. I don't think you should necessarily believe the motives of anyone. But it's as arbitrary to say "activists have the worst possible motivations" as it is to say "nuclear power has the worst possible motivations."

Also, as an aside, you seem to equate activism with not working for a living. That's just fallacious. I take it you have a job... does that mean you're less passionate about your pro-nuclear power views?



I don't claim the activists conciously think that they would lose power if more problems were solved, just that it has to be in the back of their minds and it would be surprising if it didnt influence their behavior somewhat. Even assuming anti-nuke activists do care about the environment, they may care about the rest of their agenda even more.


Yep, just like the pro-gun lobby would reorganize its platform to be anti-gun if Congress repealed all restrictions on guns tomorrow. Come on, man, you're a) ascribing the worst possible intentions to activists, and b) assuming that they have a liberal bent.



Namely, oposition to globalization and the excesses of capitalism. Make no mistake about it, 9 times out of ten it is the same people who talk about both issues. Cant make those greedy corperations look good, can we? Can't admit we were wrong, can we?


How is opposing globalization and the excesses of capitalism a contradictory position?



Otherwise we might not be believed about other things we say, like genetically engineered crops are unhealthy(also provably untrue).


"Also provably untrue"? Because corporate abuses fall into this category as well?



Wouldn't it be horrible if people realized that those corperations did more for the third world than angels like us? That genetic engineering and modern farming are already doing great things for the third world?


Another blanket statement. While improved technology for agriculture has helped improve the lives of some in the Third World, global corporations are not benign in themselves. In Togo, how many villages do you think utilize genetically engineered crops? The answer: Almost all. Question two: Does it benefit the villagers? Answer: No--the cost of the seed comes out of the profits from their harvest. In other words, they owe money, not make it, at the end of each growing season. I don't think I'm going out on a limb here when I say I could provide you with far more malicious examples of huge corporations hurting a Third World country more than they help it.



The operative word is "high-profile". Anything nuclear is always "high-profile", while competing technologies get a free ride.
It is hard to imagine this irrational fear of nukes because fewer people have died due to nuclear power than any other widely used form of power in the industrialized world. This is a fact. Ever hear of the Bhopal chemical plant disaster with 800-900 casualties? This was arguably as big as Chernobyl. People die every year due to natural gass explosions - strange that environmental activists tend to favor this most dangerous of fuels more than any other traditional form of power.


Are you saying environmental activists don't oppose chemical plants? Because that statement is patently false. And, not being an antinuclear activist myself, I can't speculate as to why such people would favor gas power--although I've never heard this claim before. I'd guess it had something to do with the clean-burning nature of such fuels. They aren't truly renewable, so it's hard to imagine someone backing their use for the long haul, though. Solar power fits that bill.



Remember, engineers such as Russ are experts at serving people with technology in the real world. Activists of all stripes are experts at persuading people. I am amazed that activists get more credibility in the press than people like Russ.


Right, right... because activists are uneducated and don't hold jobs. You mentioned that above. I might point out, however, that nothing's stopping you or Russ from trying to persuade people. And don't for a second think of pinning this on the media. That's a cop-out and a tactic everyone uses when they're unhappy with public opinion. I've never read a reputable newspaper that presented an expert as inexpert and his inexpert opposition as neccessarily correct.



When informed people don't seem to care about facts at all, I get suspicious of their motives. Almost everybody thinks, in their own mind, that they are working for the good of all mankind. What really drives their thinking, though, may be another thing entirely...You can delude yourself allot if you don't do any self-reflection regarding your own motives. Self-reflection is not a strong suit of professional persuaders.

Yes, you cant really prove anybodys motives.
You can't really be sure even of your own. Strange this point is never brought up when the nuclear industry is portrayed as being a bunch of greedy jerks that care nothing about safty.


And it's funny how you ignore your own advice when you portray activists as whiny, uneducated, self-centered malcontents that care nothing about what's best for the world.

The bottom line: It's clear you dislike the antinuclear viewpoint. Fine. But to say they distrust nuclear power because they are selfish liars is a poor way of trying to argue against them.


_________________
PC load letter? What the @%$# does that mean?

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: overrated on 2002-09-03 19:55 ]</font>

beskeptical
2002-Sep-04, 04:24 AM
On 2002-08-30 14:54, Russ wrote:
To make this short and to the point, I appologize if I insulted or offended you. That was not my intet. I thought my SNL cite would make my joking tone clear. I'm sorry again.


Apology accepted.

As far as the additional posts, I think overrated has answered as well as I could have. I don't buy unsupported activists' claims, but I certainly don't buy corporate altruism either.

You can't discount Chernobyl in weighing the risks and benefits of nuclear power. You can't discount the risk that exporting nuclear technology plays in industrial pollution and accidents in other countries. And, you can't discount the risk that exporting nuclear technology plays in making nuclear weapons.

(BTW, the employee gossip from Hanford was that several kilos of plutonium were unaccounted for and just written off as lost in the nooks and crannies of the plant. I do know that when my partner went into certain sections of the plant that weren't supposed to be contaminated, there was radioactive contamination. He had to go through monitors and the alarms did go off more than once. Their protective clothing was usually enough, but it was needed.)

I think the point is, when evaluating all these technologies, to include the true costs and benefits not just the surface costs.

Sonic
2002-Sep-04, 08:05 PM
Well, from the posts above I can say that I absolutely love this type of conversation. In my opinion, it is the people who care(activists, Corps, or anyone else without a label) about something regardless of their intention that creates a kind of symbiotic relationship between those involved, in whatever debate, that actually proliferate any real change. Now, maybe the change that actually occurs is not the "correct" change, but it is nonetheless change which is needed, albeit inevitable, for our civilization to grow forward in a positive direction. The challange that I find myself faced with is what information from any group is real, or truthful? I find that the more I stop blaming others for the information they "gave" me and go and find out for myself the more I may actually know what is really going on. Obviously though one cannot know everything and figure everything out on his/her own, so we must rely one someone, something? Anyway, I am starting to go in circles and will digress. It seems a little paradoxical to me.

Now, on another point....
"Considering the upside of controlled fussion, why aren't we putting a lot more resources into developing it?"

(*disclaimer, I did not take notes and may misquote something here..sorry*)
I just saw a show on the Science Channel where there is research going on at MIT where they are using a "magnetron" to create a very powerful magnetic field(no numbers here) to contain fusion reactions between Hydrogen atoms. Apparently, the Hydrogen atoms will fuse to create Helium and in this a large amount of energy is released. They are now gaining temperatures around 15 million degrees F if I am correct. According to the show, no known materials can handle that temperature which is what the magnetic field handles.
Well, this seems interesting to me, yet I have done no research on this topic myself. Is anyone out there familair with any of this? Does anyone know how they might convert this energy into something useful after they contain it? This type of fusion may not have any harmful byprodutcs(skeptical thoughts...). Any idea what may happen if the containment field were to shutdown? Anyway, I thought that this may spark some interesting conversation.

Thanks,
Sonic

overrated
2002-Sep-04, 08:32 PM
Sonic,

The problem with today's attempts at controlled fusion is that it takes way more energy to fuse the hydrogen atoms than the device puts out.

Cloudy
2002-Sep-05, 06:51 AM
------
Again, this is your opinion. You seem to have a serious bent against, at least, antinuclear activism. Further, I would say that the folks at Enron didn't just "put the best spin on the facts," and yet they "worked for a living." Tossing out blanket statements like that isn't productive or illuminative.
-----
No, it is a fact that antinuclear activists lie constantly. Yes, Enron lied and the market exposed their lies. Someday, in a free market, you have to show the goods. You eventualy get in trouble if you build a house of cards. This is not nearly as true in the sociopolitical realm activists live in. Antinuclear activists say things all the time that are untrue by any objective measure. Plutonium - the most poisonous substance in the world? How many times have you heard that bandied about? I make generalizations that I think hold up in the real world. You can always find a few exceptions, but it is counterproductive to let that blind you to what is usualy going on.
-----

Is it? It doesn't seem like too much of a stretch to me to suggest that profits are inversely proportional, in most cases, to safety, workers' rights, etc. Do you honestly believe that, absent public opinion about pollution, etc., industries (including the power industry) wouldn't try to cut back spending on environmental safety?
-----
You are arguing that the statement that power companies are greedy is true. I was not arguing its truth or falsehood, I was just saying that it is just as insulting as the invectives I am hurling at the activists. If you want to question your opponents motives, use ad-hominems, etc. dont complain when your opponents do the same. The problem with corperate PR is that it is run by people who are used to building a brand and selling a product, not fighting a down and dirty political campaign. And that is what this nuclear controversy is(pun intended). So they get taken advantage of and lied about all the time and have no idea on how to effectively respond.

People who run activists groups persuade for a living. They need causes, they need to excite their donor base, they need bad guys. That is why they become so good at appealing to people's basic emotions and needs, for good or for ill. The people at the utilities work for a living, they work every day with nuclear power and its alternatives. I'll take the opinion of an engineering organization over a marketing organization any day. I give 'extra credit' when listening to someone who doesn't make his living from persuading - he usualy knows more about what he is talking about and has less personal interest in having you believe one way or the other. Plus he doesnt know as much about how to appeal to emotion. There are activist organizations that do allot of good. But I take what they say with a huge grain of salt - their very business is manipulating your mind to think a certain way.

-----
Who said that? Me? Nope. I don't think you should necessarily believe the motives of anyone. But it's as arbitrary to say "activists have the worst possible motivations" as it is to say "nuclear power has the worst possible motivations."

Also, as an aside, you seem to equate activism with not working for a living. That's just fallacious. I take it you have a job... does that mean you're less passionate about your pro-nuclear power views?
-----
I agree that it is somewhat arbitrary to question anyone's motives. But what's good for the goose is good for the gander. For the longest time, the media+public has taken it for granted that the anti-nuclear communities motives are pure. And until they stop calling people (and believe it or not, the stockholders+workers, even CEO's in the industry are ordinary people trying to make a living) greedy sons - of - B***s it is perfectly ok to point out their own political agenda. What would happen to them if the problems they base their existence on were basically solved? Environmental activists have as much or more financial interest in this issue as the power industry does.
-------

Yep, just like the pro-gun lobby would reorganize its platform to be anti-gun if Congress repealed all restrictions on guns tomorrow. Come on, man, you're a) ascribing the worst possible intentions to activists, and b) assuming that they have a liberal bent.
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They do have a liberal bent. Can you look at their websites, etc and honestly claim otherwise?
Thanks for mentioning the NRA. It is a great illustration of my point. If congress repealed all gun laws tommorow, the NRA would have allot more trouble raising money and wielding power. Sometimes activist groups in this situation choose new issues, and sometimes they simply make up new lies so the old issue can come back to life. ANote that the NRA constantly exagerates the "threat" of gun regulation. And plays fast and loose with the facts -

"The US will ban all handguns!"-never seriously proposed
"They'l make you register every gun!"- ditto
"Democracy requires private gun ownership" - tell that to the Europeans.
"The constitution gives you the right to own handguns, etc". This is an interpretation rejected by the majority of legal scholars. Even the arch-conservative Justice Scalia rejects it.
"Studies show that conceal-carry reduces crime" - Some show a reduction, some an increase. All that is agreed is that other factors are probably more important.
They also compare the FBI, etc. to the Nazi SS. This is patently absurd.

Listening to Greenpeace, etc. regarding nuclear regulation is as absurd as listening to the NRA regarding gun regulation.
----
["Also provably untrue"? Because corporate abuses fall into this category as well?
----
No, I was comparing anti-biotech factual claims to anti-nuclear factual claims. But I should have made this more clear, it was not in the original post. Corporate abuses are beyond the scope of this board. But what are the most successfull non-western countries, in terms of tangible benifits for workers and the environment? they don't tend to be ones whose governments despise capitalism and foreign capital. People take care of what they own.

As to blanket statements, I am simply using the tactics of the activists. They use blanket statements all the time.
------
Are you saying environmental activists don't oppose chemical plants? Because that statement is patently false.
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Yes, they favor alternative sources of energy like solar, wind, conservation etc. But then why is nuclear, more than any other power source, singled out for so much blame - even though it has far less environmental impact? That was the question I was asking. I suspect one reason is because this is the easiest traditional power source to rile up people's fears about. And because it solves to many problems.
-------

And, not being an antinuclear activist myself, I can't speculate as to why such people would favor gas power--although I've never heard this claim before. I'd guess it had something to do with the clean-burning nature of such fuels.
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Yes, natural gas emits less greenhouse gasses(and polutants like sulfer compounds,etc.) when burned than other fuels and so they are less opposed (not "favoring") to gas turbines. Why do activists like to prattle on about nuclear safety even though nukes have a far better record than natural gass? My guess is they really don't care as much about safety, they want to further another agenda. Maybe a good agenda, maybe bad... but if they cared so much about safety they would be protesting over at the natural gas tank farms. But then again, I wouldn't be caught anywhere near such a place - suppose old Osama has someone fire a morter at the tanks? The safest place to protest is in front of a Nuclear power plant. Even if he crashes a plane into one of these, the radioactive energy in the fuel will most likely be contained even if the dome colapses arround the reactor - which is unlikely. Such scenarios have been studied.
-----

They aren't truly renewable, so it's hard to imagine someone backing their use for the long haul, though. Solar power fits that bill.
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Solar/Wind power has some promise but it is still way to expensive and has not been used in any large scale without massive subsidy. It is not nearly as dependable as nuclear power. We will not really know its environmental impact until it is used in large scale. There may be things we hasn't thought of. Desert ecosystems(with solar) come to mind. Nukes may be even better than solar or wind power. Nuclear power does not take up nearly as much space.
All other things being equal, that means less environmental impact. But, as you will point out, not all things are neccesarily equal. Hydro power was thought to be without environmental impact for some time, now people actually talk of tearing damns down. It is best to let a sensibly regulated market decide - regulations designed to insure a good level of safety, as well as insuring that environmental costs are taken into account. What we know now is that nuclear power is both cheaper and environmentaly superior to commercialy viable alternatives. Especially for base loads(look this up if you don't know what it means). For a long, long time. Opposition to nuclear power has not helped alternative energy in the slightest. Alternative energy sources, for the most part, compete with "peak" rather than "base" load power sources.

My SWAG(Scientific Wild A*,*!Guess) is that a sensibly regulated system would use Nuclear power and Hydro power for base loads. Natural gass and "renewables" such as solar would compete for peak loads. Hapily, solar gives you the most when the power load is the greatest (when ya turn on your air conditioner). Over time, improved energy storage and transmission methods would allow greater use of renewables. Then natural gass would fade out of the picture because of rising fuel costs.

The current system uses Natural gas for peak loads. It uses Coal/Nuclear/Hydro and some natural gass for base loads. We can do better. Mostly, the reason we dont is because of irrational fears and demagogery.

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Right, right... because activists are uneducated and don't hold jobs. You mentioned that above.
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I say they don't work for a living by directly meeting other people's needs(I should have made this more clear - as what I wrote stands, you made a good point). I did not question their education. A good education is helpfull in being a good persuader. But still, doers should be more credible than persuaders.
-------

And don't for a second think of pinning this on the media. That's a cop-out and a tactic everyone uses when they're unhappy with public opinion. I've never read a reputable newspaper that presented an expert as inexpert and his inexpert opposition as neccessarily correct.
----
Ive read plenty of "reputable" newspapers that have given the opinion of social activists equal weight to that of scientists and engineers. In newsmagazines and TV it gets even worse - most Americans get their news from TV. I agree emphatically that blaming the media is a copout - if the industry hired more skilled PR people, this would not be an issue. The media needs conflict to make their money - if they don't see a hot fight, they look elsewhere. Oftentimes, the people who have the least credible research and least relevant facts(or even the most lies) on their side will win. Facts are borring. Conspiracy and conflict sell. Those of us who care about a rational energy policy have to understand this fact of life.
-----

And it's funny how you ignore your own advice when you portray activists as whiny, uneducated, self-centered malcontents that care nothing about what's best for the world.
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I never said I could prove such assertions, as they are inherently unprovable. I just say it is just as valid to make them as it is to say the darn power industry is greedy. Especially since there are no major corperations that are "pure plays" in nuclear power - most have just as much to gain from alternative energy sources like gass, etc. They do have an interest in protecting their existing investments, and do so. But very few people/corperations with money have much to lose if no more nuclear power plants are ever built. Some even have a great deal to gain. The good ole' "evil" oil and natural gas drilling industry come to mind. If electric or hydrogen powered cars ever become widespread - we will need a huge increase in generating capacity. The oil industry knows that it will be much more difficult to get this capacity if nuclear power is banned.....if you like corporate bad guys better, try the oil guys on for size:). Its been done before. But I don't really know enough about the oil industry oil company PR claims to asses this candidate bogey so you'll have to go it alone on this one /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif.

Pro-nuclear folk dont like ad-homs. We prefers facts. So we leave ad-homs directed against them unanswered, and unavenged. This has to stop.
Then we can say, "You drop your ad-homs, we drop ours."
------

The bottom line: It's clear you dislike the antinuclear viewpoint. Fine. But to say they distrust nuclear power because they are selfish liars is a poor way of trying to argue against them.
-----
If it is such a poor way of arguing, than why has it succeeded so much in politics, activism, etc? People are not basicaly logical creatures. In an ideal world, there would be world peace, no one would be hungry, and all issues would be settled by purely logical persuasion. But this is the real world. In the words of Grover Cleveland
(paraphrased), when talking about a political opponent.

"If they stop telling lies about us, we'll stop telling the truth about them".

But you have a good point if ya are talking strictly about this board. On this topic, I was the first to launch a serious ad-hom attack. And I am not sure that was the most ethical thing to do. At least, now that I have made my point re the activist ad-homs, I will try to use logic and facts instead.







<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: cloudy on 2002-09-05 04:09 ]</font>

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Cloudy on 2002-09-05 04:14 ]</font>

samsara15
2002-Sep-10, 08:00 PM
It has always seemed such a shame that all that energy in nuclear waste can't somehow be extracted as energy and put to some useful purpose. The nastier the by-product, the more energy it contains. What exactly are the by-products? Contaminated water, for example? U-238 is not that dangerous, is it? I thought U-238 was the most ordinary isotope, fairly tame stuff.

DaveC
2002-Sep-10, 09:07 PM
Wow! What a great discussion I've stumbled upon.

I view all this with a uniquely Canadian perspective. Our nuclear path has been somewhat different than the rest of the world. We use a system called CANDU - CANadian Deuterium Uranium reactors that "burn" natural uranium thereby avoiding the front end problems of uranium enrichment, and thereby getting substantially more energy out of the fuel. U235 is the source of the neutrons for fission, but the conversion in the reactor of U238 to plutonium creates a significant additional source of fissionable material for which the reactors are designed. In fact we have been running trials on using our reactor system to process weapons grade plutonium - an approach that is not workable in most other reactor designs. Another CANDU feature is they can be fueled while in operation.
In the Province of Ontario, where I live, nuclear power has provided between 35 and 50% of our electricity needs for the past 25 years.
I see it as a safe, environmentally acceptable (if not environmentally friendly) means of generating power, the full potential of which is hampered by resistance against "big technology". When I look at 30 years worth of spent fuel stored in a few olympic sized "swimming pools" (well a bit bigger than that), reactors that continue to perform well long after their 25 year design life, and consider issues such as global warming, urban smog, coal miners' black lung, natural gas explosions and the middle east control of the world's oil supply, I have real difficulty accepting why anyone resists displacing fossil fuel with nuclear power where it is possible to do so.

In an ideal world, our power needs could be met fully by renewables such as solar and wind power, but IMHO that's a pipe dream with today's technology. Fusion's probably many years away.

Having spent the better part of my life dealing with environmental activists, I conclude that they object to anything that takes us further away from the peaceful pastoral existence for which they yearn. Cheap, plentiful power means more industry, more consumption of scarce resources and more pollution - on that I agree with the activists. I just don't think nuclear power should be singled out as the ultimate evil, Chernobyl notwithstanding.
I say build more nukes and use our limited North American supply of fossil fuels sparingly and strategically. Burning oil, coal and gas to generate electricity is a really dopey strategy on several levels.

David Hall
2002-Sep-11, 02:49 PM
The biggest problem with solar power right now is that it's just so darned inefficient. I believe even the best solar cels now only convert about 10-20% of the light-energy falling on them into usable electricity. So it takes huge racks of them to generate reasonable amounts, and each one is expensive to manufacture and maintain.

What we really need to do is sink a few billion into a crash-effort at creating a truly efficient solar cel. We should especially focus on converting infrared and other non-visble wavelengths. Once we can get cels with 80-90% efficiency, it would become more practical to use them, even if it costs twice the price per area.

If we could line rooftops all around the world with efficient cels, the average home would need little or no outside electricity, especially in very sunny areas. Most of the extra would actually be there just to smoothing out the supply. You know, providing energy at night and on cloudy days, or at peak hours.

And I was thinking of another possible benefit. Most of the "heat island" effect comes from city structures absorbing sunlight and re-emitting it as infrared. But if a large percentage of rooftops were covered with extra-efficient solar cels, the energy would go towards electricity and not be radiated away uselessly. The heat island effect would become less intense.

Probably the best thing of all would be some kind of photovoltaic paint. Spread it on any surface and let it generate electricity. No fuss, no muss, and you can cover large areas efficiently.

Cloudy
2002-Sep-12, 05:57 AM
David,

The biggest problem with solar is NOT its ineficiency. 10-20% is actually pretty good compared to say, a car or a home furnace. And If you don't pay for fuel you can accept more inneficiency. A considerable ammount of the energy from uranium, coal, etc. is also lost - I don't know how it compares.
Perhaps Russ can help us here.

The trouble is that you dont get it durring night, you get most of it only at certain times of the day, and you dont get as much of it when it is cloudy. This is no good from a power generating perspective. You need to be able to produce power according to the needs of the market, not the sun(or wind). Even 90% efficiency does not help with this problem. Such a "super cell" might be usefull as a supplement for peak loads, especially those caused by airconditioning. For these loads, your plan has merit. But soler cells could not be a major(or "base") source of power. Especially in cities outside the "Sunbelt". This is the considered opinion of most currently working in the industry.

There are ways of countering this inneficiency. Storring power is one way - but this is currently expensive and inneficient. Ya can also build solar power plants in places like the Arizona desert and transmit the power to where it is needed. This is neither cheap nor efficient, and you still get nothing at night.

IMHO you would be better off spending your 2 billion bucks on research into better transmission(superconductors?) and storage methods(perhaps hydrogen production/consumption?). This would make better use of all sources of power, but would be particularily good for renewables for the reasons outlined above.

Also, 90%(roughly) of the energy consumed in the US is by motor transportation. Better storage and transmission could help us replace that with cleaner hydrogen or electric power. But make no mistake about it, increase electric power production 10 fold and you need to use nuclear fission. No way arround it until fusion is usable.

It is worth repeating that we do not know the environmental effects of soler power used on a very large scale. They may be significant - especially since so much space has to be used. Many toxic substances may have to be used to make high-grade cells. We do know the environmental effect of modern nuclear power with reprocessed fuel and it is minimal.

Russ
2002-Sep-17, 12:06 AM
First, I will appologize for being away from this conversation for so long. Darn work gets in the way of fun all the time!

Second, I will say, AWESOME conversation! Many good points of view from all sides. I will send out heaps of praise to Cloudy for being so well informed and WELL SPOKEN. I don't know if you're male or female but I'm falling in love. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif

Third, I'll try to respond to the few of the points I remember.

1) While I am in favor of fission based nuc power in general, I do not consider it the best possible solution. I think there should be more nuc power stations (yes, I'd live next to one)but there will still need to be fossil fired systems as well. Nuc's don't swing load very well. Also somebody asked how efficient nuc's were; about 40% of the heat generated by the reaction makes it on the transmission lines as electricity.

2) Fussion would be great but there are a number of problems to solve. At the power production levels we can currently contain, the process is indothermic (consumes more than it produces). If you buck up the power to where it's exothermic you get so much energy that it would overpower the magnetic containment field, melt down the reactor and quit working in about 10 minutes. The up side is there'd be no radioactive side effects. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif The down side is you'd be the proud owner of a 100 thousand ton puddle of molten steel and copper. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_wink.gif

3) EnviroActivists vs Corporate Management: One of the things (in my opinion) that the activists forget is the corp. bigwigs tend to be smart people, regardless of their their profit motive. The guys at the top of the power generation business, whom I've met, are very sharp! They have to go home at night just like the activists and they don't want live in a nuclear pollution zone any more than the activist do. In my opinion, for better considered reasons. With this in mind, I can personally vouch for the fact that OPERATIONAL SAFETY IS AT THE VERY TOP POSITION OF THEIR CONCERNS LIST Anybody who belives other than that is a damn fool. Yes, I just said anti-nuc activists are damn fools.

I don't have time to pursue this any further, and I can't remember any more points anyway. So's I'm callin' it quits. Thanks for a great read. I can't wait to see what kind of flames I draw from this post.

SollyLama
2002-Sep-18, 05:03 PM
This thread got off the topic of what to do with nuclear waste, and I'm not going to help here.
I have to agree that activists don't really want to end whatever thier little issue is. At least the folks paid to lobby for the cause. Being paid to ***** about something is not a position that lends itself to really trying all that hard to abolish it. After all, you'd work your way right out of a job then you'd have to find some real work to do.
The average 'activist' (maybe holds a sign or pickets for an afternoon, but doesn't get paid for it) is generally not well informed enough to make much of an argument that wasn't simply ripped off from a real expert. Verbatim regurgitation.
You see it all the time with the HB crowd. They are activists as well. But so VERY few of them know a damn thing about what they are saying. They just join a cause and regurgitate it's dogma. So no, I don't put much faith in lobbyists as either honest about facts or informed about them.
The paid lobbyists (the leadership and dogma creators) have a vested interest in keeping the problem alive. The followers are rarely informed beyond what the paid muckety-mucks want them to hear anyway.
Nuclear energy has far and away the best safety record of any fuel type, except maybe solar. I can count a whopping TWO major emergencies at nuclear plants in the history of nuclear energy. Hell, more oil tankers than that crash and dump oil into the ocean every year.
Chernobyl was bad, but then, it wasn't all that terrible here in the US. That was also in 1986. It's been nearly twenty years since there has been any newsworthy mishap in nuclear energy. That's a damn fine track record.
But for the issue of launching waste to the moon? Other than the danger of a launch mishap, what's the problem? I wonder why, if we're going to spend the money on a launch, we don't just launch the crap out of the solar system like Voyager? I really doubt Al Queda is going to intercept it. Why the moon? Why keep the stuff? If you are going to recycle it, yippee, if not, why keep it at all?

David Hall
2002-Sep-19, 01:57 AM
On 2002-09-18 13:03, SollyLama wrote:
Nuclear energy has far and away the best safety record of any fuel type, except maybe solar. I can count a whopping TWO major emergencies at nuclear plants in the history of nuclear energy. Hell, more oil tankers than that crash and dump oil into the ocean every year.

I don't know how you're defining "major", but in the 6 years I've been in Japan, they've had several safety incidents and accidents involving nuclear reactors and processing plants. One was actually pretty major, leading to fatalities. Loose safety procedures let some workers mix too much material in a barrel, and they started an uncontrolled fission reaction. See here: http://www.uic.com.au/nip52.htm

But still, I agree that compared to the safety records of other forms of power generation, nuclear energy is pretty safe.


But for the issue of launching waste to the moon? Other than the danger of a launch mishap, what's the problem? I wonder why, if we're going to spend the money on a launch, we don't just launch the crap out of the solar system like Voyager?

This is what I was saying earlier when I said we should launch it into the Sun. Of course, someone pointed out that it's pretty difficult to actually get anything down there, so I've altered my idea and now I say we should drop it into the heart of Jupiter. BTW, we don't have to send this stuff there on a direct course. Once we get it off of the Earth, we can take months or even years to get it to it's ultimate destination using the least amount of fuel/effort possible.

As for sending it out of the solar system though, it takes a lot of energy to get something out of the solar gravity well. It'd be much more efficient to find a local waste dump. I'm also reminded of an old Star Trek: The Next Generation episode where the Enterprise encounters a derelict ship filled with highly radioactive waste. They have to haul the thing away and throw it into the Sun to get rid of that hazard. So I'm thinking we wouldn't want to foist our garbage off on any other alien civilization out there. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif

Sonic
2002-Sep-19, 05:22 PM
Well, to go off on a tiny tangent. I was hiking the Appalachian Trail and found the most pleasant, solar powered composting privy. I actually enjoyed the smell as I took a short break visiting inside.

Anyway, question for those in the know. Is the solar power capability limited to only white light(if it is just, in fact, limited to that)? Can it be modified or is there a way to harness cosmic rays, or all the electromagnetic energy that we are constantly bombarded with(also understanding that the light from the Sun is really electromagnetic waves, but I am referring to other sources)?

Also, here is an interesting link on fusion for those interested. http://www.itereu.de/
Go to the "Fusion Research" page to get a quick explanation, or go to the "What's New" section and read the second article on Cold Fusion. Here is another link with regards to magnetic fields that may be able to contain fusion reactions. At least that is what it is being designed for.
http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/nr/2000/magnet.html
I am curious to know if the same magnetic fields could contain the exothermic nuclear reactions mentioned earlier that would melt down conventional reactors. Anyone?

Russ
2002-Sep-19, 08:18 PM
On 2002-09-19 13:22, Sonic wrote:

Anyway, question for those in the know. Is the solar power capability limited to only white light(if it is just, in fact, limited to that)? Can it be modified or is there a way to harness cosmic rays, or all the electromagnetic energy that we are constantly bombarded with(also understanding that the light from the Sun is really electromagnetic waves, but I am referring to other sources)?

The total amount of EMR energy received from all sources other than the Sun amount to about 200 watts. That's one bright light bulb. Not worth chasing as an alternate power source. The problem with "solar cells" set for frequencies other than white light, it the amount of energy present in said light. The lower in frequency EMR you go to the less energy you get for a given surface area. To get a usable amount of InfraRed Radiation (IRR) you have to coat Asia in pannels.


Also, here is an interesting link on fusion for those interested. http://www.itereu.de/
Go to the "Fusion Research" page to get a quick explanation, or go to the "What's New" section and read the second article on Cold Fusion. Here is another link with regards to magnetic fields that may be able to contain fusion reactions. At least that is what it is being designed for.
http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/nr/2000/magnet.html
I am curious to know if the same magnetic fields could contain the exothermic nuclear reactions mentioned earlier that would melt down conventional reactors. Anyone?

I don't have much time to go into this, so I'll try to make it quick. It is possible to generate a magnetic field to contain commercial fussion reactions. The problem is that, with current technology, it takes more energy to do that than is generated by the fussion reaction. What is needed is either a colder fussion reaction or magnetic field generators that are more efficient. If you can come up with either, let me know and I'll make both of us billionaires. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif

Sonic
2002-Sep-20, 05:56 PM
Hey Russ, thanks for your replies. The whole idea about using lower frequency light for solar panels makes sense to me now. I did not realize that the energy output would be so bad. Interesting.

I also understand the point with regards to the energy needed to create the magnetic field. Hmmm... I really wish that I had more data on this, I can only read so much. It seems to me that there are folks out there that believe this is possible even if it is not today. As I look around I keep finding more research groups trying to tackle this very issue. I feel the whole process is what makes Science fun an interesting.

Alrighty, thanks again.

ChrisD
2002-Sep-21, 01:20 AM
Espritch - "Considering the upside of controlled fussion, why aren't we putting a lot more resources into developing it?"

This will never happen. Why? Politics and Greed. Oil / petrol companies make too much money. Simple as that. Cars could be much more fuel efficient than they are, but they aren't, beacuse oil companies pay big bucks to keep it that way.

Cloudy
2002-Sep-22, 06:44 AM
As to controlled fusion - we have been putting billions into it for many decades now and without success. So has Europe, the former Soviet Union, Japan, etc. This is not only because of its potential as an energy source, but because Fusion research helps us test our(The US) nuclear stockpile without having to actually explode any devices and break any treaties. Its still worth going for, but it will probably be awhile.

Again, Methinks research into electricity storage and control would be a better bet. We already have a good clean energy source in Nuclear Fission. What we really need is better methods of transmitting + storring power. A good portable energy storage method that could replace petroleum products would be the top priority. Better transmission and storage could give us the equivalant of many power plants, and replace our worst methods of getting energy. This, not better generating tech, is what would make solar, wind, etc. economically viable.

A short story - One day, I am ashamed to admit, a college buddy of mine went down to the end of a long pier on lake Michigan. We thought it would be fun to "take a leak" in front of the whole city of Chicago. The whole skyline was behind us. Well- no one could actually see us, and we had a little to much beer, so we went ahead and had a go.

Suppose some young activist lady had come up to us and said "HEY, WE DRINK OUT OF THAT WATER! THERE ARE GERMS IN YOUR *.!! SO ZIP YOUR PANTS UP AND GET OUTTA HERE...."

Well, you can all imagine the answer I would have given her - after looking away in red-faced well-deserved embarassment. Of course, many other creatures do all sorts of bodily functions in the lake. The lake is huge compared to us, etc...

I am going to give a similar answer here, both for David(if he was part serious) and the anti-nuke, anti-Cassini crowd....

David Hall Wrote
[ So I'm thinking we wouldn't want to foist our garbage off on any other alien civilization out there. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif]


This is an insignificant worry for several reasons -

1. If they found it and they had our level of tech or better, they would not curse us but laugh at us for throwing away a perfectly good resource. Heck - they may even think their gods had sent them a blessing.

2. Interplanetary space is BIG. Interstellar space is HUGE. The chances of it ending up anywhere near another civilization are tiny. Even if there were one arround every star. Even if we let it stay in the solar system, the chances of it hitting earth in the future are insignificant unless we deliberatly designed the launch to put it in a vulnerable orbit.

The chances of it reaching another star system and hitting a populated world or spacecraft have got to be in the Quadrillions to one.

3. There have been several launches with nuclear material that have in fact crashed back on earth - a Soviet probe that crashed in Canada (a bit more then 20 million in cleanup costs at the site, no other damage), the Soviet MARS 96 probe that crashed somewhere near Chile (with no detectable damage - even though it had as much plutonium as Casini did. So much for the "most poisonous substance in the world"), and one early American probe(don't remember much about this one, other than the nuclear material harmlessly scattered.) Of course - we are talking about allot more stuff when we mention putting nuclear "waste" in space. But the same principle applies if you use allot of smaller launches.

Bottom line - each time the damage was either highly localized or the nuclear material scattered so much that it had no effect. This will happen to any poison unless you deliberatly design the spacecraft to deliver it in ways that hurt people. This is one reason why Sadaam Hussein did not put chemical weapons on his Scuds in the gulf war. Dispersing the stuff in an effective way is very difficult EVEN IF YOU ARE TRYING TO DO IT (though sadly, it can and has been done). Would you worry about 90 pounds of arsenic on a spacecraft? Of course not. It mystefies me why some people think otherwise regarding fissionable material. People turn off their brains when certain words are used or subjects mentioned.

It AMAZES me how much time and effort people make forcing politicians and industry to waste time with insignificant risks. We've got to start educating people about statistics and the importance of viewing things in proportion. Or we're going to be forced into one bad decision after another.



<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Cloudy on 2002-09-22 02:52 ]</font>