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First New Nuclear Reactor In a Decade On Track

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the give-me-the-warm-power-of-the-sun dept.

Power 575

dusty writes "Plans to bring online the first new US nuclear plant since 1995 are on track, on time, and on budget according to the Tennessee Valley Authority. TVA had one major accident with a coal ash spill of late, and one minor one. The agency has plans and workers in place to have Unit 2 at Watts Bar, near Knoxville, online by 2012. Currently over 1,800 workers are doing construction at the plant. Watts Bar #1 is the only new nuclear reactor added to the grid in the last 25 years. From the article: 'TVA estimates the Watts Bar Unit 2 reactor every year will avoid the emission of about 60 million metric tons of greenhouse emissions linked with global warming. ... TVA began construction of Watts Bar in 1973, but work was suspended in 1988 when TVA's growth in power sales declined. After mothballing the unit for 19 years, TVA's board decided in 2007 to finish the reactor because it is projected to provide cheaper, no carbon-emitting power compared with the existing coal plants or purchased power it may help replace.'"

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Oh boy. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28774297)

Boom!

Linux is an OS for homos (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28774739)

Only men who stick their dicks into the asses of other men use Linux

Just Takes One (0, Troll)

Bruha (412869) | more than 5 years ago | (#28774367)

I guess nobody in power to stop these things never takes into account that one nuclear accident could render a majority of the US inhabitable. Chernobyl could of been much worse if a weather system absorbed the nuclear material and spread it even more than it did. Imagine a winter storm hitting California and a plant explodes, it picks up the material, traverses the south and then moves up the eastern seaboard. 75% of the major population centers rendered uninhabitable.

It would be nice if they would adopt something like a pebble bed reactor which supposedly can not go critical.

Re:Just Takes One (1)

johanatan (1159309) | more than 5 years ago | (#28774429)

I think you meant to say:

"... nobody in power to stop these things *ever* takes into account... render a majority of the US *un*inhabitable."

"could of" should be "could have"

"Imagine a winter storm hitting California and a plant *exploding*, picking up the material, traversing south and then moving up the eastern seaboard."

Re:Just Takes One (-1, Flamebait)

brkello (642429) | more than 5 years ago | (#28774445)

I guess nobody in power to stop these things never takes into account that one nuclear accident could render a majority of the US inhabitable.

I know! Particularly in all these states infected with Republicans. Clear those areas out with a nuclear explosion and then good, decent folks could move in there. (I'm kidding of course, I am not a liberal version of Glenn Beck, I don't want anyone to die)

Re:Just Takes One (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28774547)

A stranger was seated next to a little girl on the airplane when the
stranger turned to her and said, 'Let's talk. I've heard that flights go
quicker if you strike up a conversation with your fellow passenger.'

The little girl, who had just opened her book, closed it slowly and said
to the stranger, 'What would you like to talk about?'
'Oh, I don't know,' said the stranger. 'How about nuclear power?' and he
smiles.
'OK, ' she said. 'That could be an interesting topic.

But let me ask you a question first. A horse, a cow, and a deer all eat
the same stuff - grass. Yet a deer excretes little pellets, while a cow turns out a flat patty,
and a horse produces clumps of dried grass. Why do you suppose that is?'
The stranger, visibly surprised by the little girl's intelligence, thinks
about it and says, 'Hmmm, I have no idea.'
To which the little girl replies, 'Do you really feel qualified to
discuss nuclear power when you don't know shit?

Re:Just Takes One (1)

AJWM (19027) | more than 5 years ago | (#28774627)

LOL. I'd mod that up if I hadn't already commented in this topic.

Re:Just Takes One (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28774795)

AC FTW!

Re:Just Takes One (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28774463)

It would be nice if they would adopt something like a pebble bed reactor which supposedly can not go critical.

[pedant] Yikes, a reactor that couldn't go critical wouldn't be very useful now, would it? I believe you mean "super critical" [/pedant]

Re:Just Takes One (4, Insightful)

DrMrLordX (559371) | more than 5 years ago | (#28774473)

1). Inhabitable? Don't you mean uninhabitable?

2). It doesn't "just take one". We've suffered more than one nuclear reactor failure in this country without experiencing mass-contamination events along the lines of Chernobyl. Three Mile Island wasn't the only one.

Re:Just Takes One (2, Informative)

Conditioner (1405031) | more than 5 years ago | (#28774501)

Nuclear reactors are reaching critical mass everyday, they need to reach critical mass in order to function... critical mass - the smallest amount of fissile material needed for a sustained nuclear chain reaction.

Re:Just Takes One (5, Insightful)

AJWM (19027) | more than 5 years ago | (#28774505)

I hate to feed the troll, but:

one nuclear accident could render a majority of the US inhabitable. Presumably you meant "uninhabitable", but you'd still be wrong.

In the 1940s-1950s, the US detonated numerous nuclear weapons above ground in Nevada and New Mexico, releasing a hell of a lot more radioactive material than Chernobyl -- and Chernobyl-type disasters cannot happen with US power reactors (totally different reactor design). This hardly rendered even a significant fraction, let alone "a majority" of the US uninhabitable.

Re:Just Takes One (3, Interesting)

SUB7IME (604466) | more than 5 years ago | (#28774675)

Plus, since the feds own the vast majority of Nevada (>85%), it was already illegal to inhabit those areas, anyways. I'm not bitter; I'm just Nevadan.

Re:Just Takes One (5, Insightful)

Avin22 (1438931) | more than 5 years ago | (#28774715)

Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't the US have naval submarines that are powered by nuclear reactors. And aren't those subs often docked near populated ports, San Diego for example. Thus, we have already accepted the risk of having nuclear power in populated areas, so it seems odd to be afraid of adding a few civilian nuclear reactors that are not in highly populated areas.

Re:Just Takes One (4, Insightful)

kannibal_klown (531544) | more than 5 years ago | (#28774759)

Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't the US have naval submarines that are powered by nuclear reactors. And aren't those subs often docked near populated ports, San Diego for example. Thus, we have already accepted the risk of having nuclear power in populated areas, so it seems odd to be afraid of adding a few civilian nuclear reactors that are not in highly populated areas.

Agreed. It's mostly irrational fear.

I could see where one would trust a reactor that was built FOR the military and operated BY highly trained military personnel. Too many civilian projects and products get hit by lowest-bidder disasters.

Re:Just Takes One (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28775101)

Too many civilian projects and products get hit by lowest-bidder disasters.

I take it you haven't had to deal with many military low-bid projects then?

Re:Just Takes One (4, Insightful)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 5 years ago | (#28774859)

I recently read about Chernobyl on wikipedia. That entire episode was apparently ... well, incredibly stupid and mismanaged. It was more of a "Titanic" incident than anything else I can think of in history. (The "nothing will go wrong" mentality that leads to some really, really stupid actions)

Re:Just Takes One (2, Informative)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 5 years ago | (#28774901)

In the 1940s-1950s, the US detonated numerous nuclear weapons above ground in Nevada and New Mexico, releasing a hell of a lot more radioactive material than Chernobyl

Nope. The 100 or so bombs detonated above ground on the US mainland were relatively small, releasing a few kg of material each. Chernobyl released tons of material. To match that, you'd have to go to the US thermonuclear tests in the Pacific ocean, some of which released about of ton of fission products each. (Some of those test site islands are actually still uninhabitable.)

Re:Just Takes One (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28774527)

Yes, because lord knows RBMK reactors are what they're building. Oh wait, they're not? Well fuck me then, I've given in to stupid knee-jerk reactions, just like the parent post. Would anyone care to hear my spew on other topics I know nothing about?

Re:Just Takes One (5, Informative)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 5 years ago | (#28774599)

1. Reactors don't explode.
2. A Chernobyl style accident is impossible with a light water reactor.
3. Even with a Chernobyl style reactor and even if they had the exact same accident the problem would have been manageable if they had a freaking containment building.
4. Reactors all go critical. What you don't want is for them to go super critical.
5. No modern reactor can go super critical the fuel they use isn't enriched enough to go super critical and they all need a moderator like water to work.

Re:Just Takes One (5, Informative)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 5 years ago | (#28774891)

1) Mostly true. They can have a steam explosion, which is basically the first thing that happened at Chernobyl. That said, they can't result in a nuclear explosion.

2) Exactly. To be specific, the Chernobyl (RBMK-1000) reactor design used a graphite moderator in order to make it more suitable for production of weapons materials. Graphite moderators are bad for a variety of reasons, both in regards to reactor stability, and the fact that it's extremely flammable (which is where most of the atmospheric contamination from Chernobyl came from - burning graphite.) No US civilian power reactor serves such a dual purpose.

3-5) Don't really need to say more

Additonally:
A typical coal plant releases more radioactive material into the air in a day due to traces of uranium in the coal than TMI released in its lifetime

Also, in addition to the fundamental deficiencies of the the RBMK-1000 design, they were running an experiment with the reactor that could only be described as "fucking dangerous". Well not only, "fucking stupid" works too. By the time the incident occurred, the reactor operators had overridden most of the reactor's safety features - the reactor SHOULD have SCRAMed long before the incident occurred but the operators kept it going to run an experiment because they feared retribution from their superiors. (The experiment failed the first time, and rather than continue shutdown they tried to restart the reactor to try again.)

The biggest problem currently is waste. Sadly, there are reactor designs that are both far more efficient in fuel use (hence produce far less waste per kWh) AND also produce far shorter-lived waste (plus can use traditional LWR waste as fuel), but were killed because politicians translated "breeder" into "proliferation risk" even though traditional LWRs were more of a proliferation risk than the IFR was. Also, a past president (Carter?) banned all nuclear fuels reprocessing in the U.S. with an executive order. Back then, reprocessing = PUREX and banning PUREX was understandable (it WAS a major proliferation risk), but now there are many other reprocessing technologies that are not proliferation risks but are still banned under the wording of the executive order.

Re:Just Takes One (4, Funny)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 5 years ago | (#28774911)

Science-to-car analogy translation:

All car engines use small explosions to provide power. What you don't want to happen is a really big explosion.

Re:Just Takes One (2, Informative)

Ancient_Hacker (751168) | more than 5 years ago | (#28774975)

All wrong:

1. Reactors don't explode. :
                  See SL-1, Chernobyl, and the one the AEC blew in Idaho just for fun.

2. A Chernobyl style accident is impossible with a light water reactor.
            True, but there are still about 843 other failure modes that don't involve the many bad
design features of RBMK-style reactors.

3. Even with a Chernobyl style reactor and even if they had the exact same accident the problem would have been manageable if they had a freaking containment building.
      Not feasible if you're a poor country that needs a RBMK style reactor that can be refueled while running.

4. Reactors all go critical. What you don't want is for them to go super critical.
          Duh. And I think you're confusing super-critical to with prompt-critical. Very different beasts.

5. No modern reactor can go super critical the fuel they use isn't enriched enough to go super critical and they all need a moderator like water to work.
        Nope. Enrichment has nothing to do with it. AT least three reactors have gone boom with low enrichment uranium.

Re:Just Takes One (2, Insightful)

david.given (6740) | more than 5 years ago | (#28775013)

Don't forget:

6. Coal power stations, worldwide, release approximately the same amount of radioactive material into the atmosphere every year than Chernobyl did, ever.

Which means we that if we could replace those coal power stations with nuclear ones then we could have a Chernobyl-style event every couple of years and still come out ahead.

Re:Just Takes One (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28775021)

correction to your #4 good sir, you do want your reactor to go super critical when an increase in power generation is desired.
the terminology is as thus:
"critical" - everything is steady or steady power generation (scientific definition: for x neutrons consumed in fission, there are x neutrons produced)
"subcritical" - decreasing activity or lowering power generation (scientific definition: for x neutrons consumed in fission, there a x neutrons produced)

disclaimer: i work in the nuclear industry

Re:Just Takes One (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28775041)

I don't think supercritical means what you think WRT reactors.

http://www.euronuclear.org/info/encyclopedia/s/supercritical-reactor.htm [euronuclear.org]
http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/basic-ref/glossary/supercritical-reactor.html [nrc.gov]

Question: How do you start a reactor without going supercritical?

Re:Just Takes One (5, Interesting)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 5 years ago | (#28774623)

I guess nobody in power to stop these things never takes into account that one nuclear accident could render a majority of the US inhabitable.

I think the keyword here is could. I can imagine many disasters that could cause enormous damage too, but the question is how likely they are to happen. What is more likely, a meteor strike, or an accident in a nuclear power station of such a magnitude as to render US uninhabitable? I don't know, but lets say they are comparable. If so, we should be willing to spend as much money on protection against meteors as we are on not using nuclear power, including, arguably, the cost of our military operations in the middle east, the increased danger of terrorism (potentially nuclear too) etc. Either way it's a cost/benefit analysis and you have to look at both sides of the equation.

Re:Just Takes One (1)

sketerpot (454020) | more than 5 years ago | (#28774841)

The keyword is "could", and even that is false. How exactly is an accident at a light water reactor going to render most of the US uninhabitable? Short of divine intervention by a malicious god, I mean?

Intense danger (4, Insightful)

StreetStealth (980200) | more than 5 years ago | (#28774665)

Your car has four wheels and an internal combustion engine, traits shared by the 1907 Holsman Model 3. Have you stopped to consider the intense danger this poses to you?

But wait: The Holsman was built in a time before ABS, crumple zones, air bags, or even seatbelts. One might presume your 2003 Nissan Altima to be a little safer.

Chernobyl was a nuclear plant built with all the safety precautions of early automobiles. Comparing it with modern TVA-built plants is just as valid as the above Slashdot Car Analogy.

Re:Intense danger (1)

dyingtolive (1393037) | more than 5 years ago | (#28774837)

Nuclear power scares me less than orbital microwave cannons. At least we've been playing with nuclear power long enough to have a pretty good understanding of long term effects.

Re:Intense danger (2, Interesting)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 5 years ago | (#28774923)

Chernobyl was not just old:
1) It was built with a dual purpose: Power generation AND weapons materials production - this led to design safety compromises
2) It DID have a lot of safety precautions, but the operators disabled them to run an experiment. Based on your car analogy, this would involve ripping out the ABS controller, removing the shock absorbers, removing the swaybar, slashing the brake lines, then going for a ride.

Re:Just Takes One (1)

ocularDeathRay (760450) | more than 5 years ago | (#28774815)

how dare you have a different opinion? look, I totally agree we need to be careful. I totally disagree about the level of danger involved in a properly designed and maintained nuke plant. Even though I disagree, I fail to see what makes this flamebait. fucking /.ers once again afraid of a different opinion.

I will save you all the trouble of replying to this, and do it myself.

Re:Just Takes One (1)

ocularDeathRay (760450) | more than 5 years ago | (#28774831)

You must be new here!

Re:Just Takes One (1)

ocularDeathRay (760450) | more than 5 years ago | (#28774855)

nuh UHH! Check my UID loser... I am in the sixdigit club!

Re:Just Takes One (1)

Translation Error (1176675) | more than 5 years ago | (#28775199)

I expect it was modded troll/flamebait because it was the equivalent of raving that one sneeze could wipe out an entire state with swine flu. Saying reactors can be dangerous isn't flamebait; grossly exaggerating the dangers of them is.

Re:Just Takes One (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28775017)

blah blah blah blah 75% of the major population centers rendered uninhabitable.

As opposed to 90% of them being currently uninhabitable due to smog and overcrowding? Hey, that's an improvement! Let's get started already!

Finally (5, Insightful)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 5 years ago | (#28774369)

Common sense prevails. Nuclear is the best option we have right now for clean, cheap, reliable energy.

Re:Finally (5, Insightful)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 5 years ago | (#28774407)

Or we could just, you know, turn off computers that we're not using.

Re:Finally (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28774421)

Or ones of no relevance. I call dibs on yours!

Re:Finally (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 5 years ago | (#28774517)

bing.com [bing.com] ?

Re:Finally (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28774531)

Common Sense would say use the nuclear reactor already operating: The Sun.

Re:Finally (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28774709)

idiot, the amount of power that hits the earth per square meter is NOT enough to run our cities. we NEED other energy. Solar is great for small power consumption devices, like light bulbs, or calculators, but once you start powering cities when them you're fucked

Re:Finally (5, Informative)

TerranFury (726743) | more than 5 years ago | (#28774965)

Humans consume 16 TW on average.

89 PW of solar energy reaches the earth's surface.

That's over 5,000x the power we need.

(source [wikipedia.org] ).

I support nuclear too, but GP is no idiot.

Re:Finally (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28775171)

89 PW spread over a huge surface area you fucking idiot. or were you planning to build a dyson sphere ?

Re:Finally (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28775007)

As you can see from TerranFurry's comment, you are the weakest link, idiot.

Re:Finally (3, Informative)

spidercoz (947220) | more than 5 years ago | (#28775155)

Who's calling whom an idiot, idiot?

Solar output in Watts: 3.86x10^26
Solar energy that reaches Earth: 1.74x10^17 W
Energy that reaches ground: 8.9x10^16 W

Energy consumption of the planet: 1.6x10^13 W

Re:Finally (5, Informative)

bunratty (545641) | more than 5 years ago | (#28774581)

Agreed. Exactly how nuclear reactors operate makes a big difference, though. If we do not use breeder reactors and build lots of new nuclear power plants, our nuclear fuel might last only a few decades and will generate lots of radioactive waste. Breeder reactors would be able to use most of that waste as fuel, allowing the fuel to last hundreds of years with a fraction of the waste generated.

Re:Finally (3, Insightful)

all5n (1239664) | more than 5 years ago | (#28774635)

Can't we go back and re-refine the nuclear waste for further use later once we get rid of the stupid "no breeder reactors allowed to prevent proliferation" laws?

Re:Finally (3, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#28774903)

Yes. The continued on-site storage of reactor waste and political failure of Yucca mountain is 'a good thing'.

Re:Finally (1)

Ruliz Galaxor (568498) | more than 5 years ago | (#28774825)

Clean, as in: do you know how much greenhouse gases are emitted when getting uranium/plutonium out of the ground and processed to be able to use it in a nuclear reactor?

If you would know, you wouldn't call it clean.

Cheap is also largely untrue.

See (for example): http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=3250 [foreignpolicy.com] to debunk your clean and cheap arguments.

Re:Finally (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28774989)

Plutonium? Really? FAIL.

Also, YFA indicates "Data from the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research and USEC, a uranium enrichment company, indicate that enriching the amount of uranium needed to fuel 1,000-megawatt reactor for a year using the most efficient method can require 5,500 megawatt hours of gas- and coal-fired electricity (a 10-megawatt power plant running for 550 hours).*"

Holy brainfuck batman... If there were more nuclear power, they wouldn't need to use power generated by fucking oil and coal plants. You know, nuclear might not be all that great, but it's the best we've got by a long shot, and if we continue to develop it, it'll get better. Letting nuclear cool its heels for decades is not an answer.

Re:Finally (4, Informative)

Ares (5306) | more than 5 years ago | (#28775177)

Also, YFA indicates "Data from the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research and USEC, a uranium enrichment company, indicate that enriching the amount of uranium needed to fuel 1,000-megawatt reactor for a year using the most efficient method can require 5,500 megawatt hours of gas- and coal-fired electricity (a 10-megawatt power plant running for 550 hours).*"

in other words, for the math-challenged grandparent post, the 1,000 MW reactor would have to run at full load for 5.5 hours for every year worth of enriched fuel it consumes. The remaining 8,754.5 hours of the year can be used to do other things. like power homes and businesses.

Re:Finally (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#28775045)

Is it 60 million metric tons of greenhouse gases?

The whining about refining emissions in that article is hilarious, it complains that refining the fuel to run a 1,000 megawatt reactor for a year produces emissions comparable to a 10 megawatt power plant running for 23 days (well, they used hours, but whatever), but fails to point out that when coal is the alternative, that fuel also offsets 100 10 megawatt reactors running for a year. I imagine that the emissions from mining are similarly small fractions of the eventual energy output of the fuel.

Re:Finally (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28775181)

Alright, so your 1000 MW reactor needs an investment of 5500 megawatt-hours a year. How much power did the reactor generate in that time? There's 8765 full hours in a year, so that plant may have generated about 8,700,000 megawatt hours, give or take. The investment of 5500 MWH was repaid 1581 times.

Seems like a whopper of deal to me. I wish I could make a 160000% return on my investments.

on track, on time, and on budget... (2, Insightful)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 5 years ago | (#28774381)

Inconceivable!

Re:on track, on time, and on budget... (4, Insightful)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#28774829)

1.5 years into a 5-year project, the project is on-time and under-budget?

Quite conceivable, especially since the main contractors (Bechtel, Siemens, Westinghouse) are not operating on cost-plus contracts. But this early into a project, it is a bit premature to assume that it'll continue to be under-budget and on-time. But who knows, maybe it will be. The reputation of the contractors (especially Bechtel, as primary contractor for most of the work) depends on it. This is especially important given that the market for construction of nuclear facilities in the US has the potential to, um, explode over the next decade or two.

Keep in mind that the biggest boondoggle of over-budget and past-due construction (the Big Dig in Boston) was under budget and on time for the first several years of construction.

Re:on track, on time, and on budget... (1)

cailith1970 (1325195) | more than 5 years ago | (#28774927)

"I don't think that means what you think it means..."

:)

Re:on track, on time, and on budget... (2, Insightful)

michrech (468134) | more than 5 years ago | (#28775009)

I always thought it was : "On Track, On Time, and On Budget -- Pick two"?

Re:on track, on time, and on budget... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28775191)

You broke it. On track and on time?

I think its: something to do with quality, something to do with speed, something to do with price: pick two.

I enjoy nuclear power (3, Insightful)

Gizzmonic (412910) | more than 5 years ago | (#28774393)

Nuclear power is the only true green power. Environmentalist wackos want us to turn off electricity and live in paper hats, but you just can't turn off civilization, it's too late. We're addicted to electricity and all the joys it brings-refrigeration being tops on the list, of course! So we're going to have to do something else to fight global warming. Nuclear power is that "something else." It's the only practical solution. There ain't no such thing as clean coal, and Americans will not stop their "unsustainable" lifestyle...and why should they, when they can just nuke it up and enjoy as much refrigerated food as before. The refrigerator is the true ambassador of civilization.

Re:I enjoy nuclear power (1, Interesting)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#28774511)

The problem with nuclear power isn't really the fact that it produces toxic waste but rather (especially in a post 9/11, post USSR world) is the security aspect. The USA has enough space that we can effectively store a ton of nuclear waste for a very long time. However securing it is a challenge. There will always be unaccounted waste that could be in anyone's hands. You only need to look at some shocking photos from Russia to see that (see http://englishrussia.com/?p=2198 [englishrussia.com] for an abandoned Soviet nuclear lighthouse). While the USA currently is a whole lot more stable than post-soviet Russia, it still raises a number of questions. While we might be able to secure it for 100 years, what happens after that? There are plenty of abandoned coal and hydro power plants in the world and abandoning nuclear plants is a bad idea. So how do you secure them fully to keep the waste out of the hands of people who wish to do harm while still providing for the fact that they -do- go obsolete after a time.

Re:I enjoy nuclear power (5, Informative)

amliebsch (724858) | more than 5 years ago | (#28774769)

I think the security threats are exaggerated. Highly radioactive materials are mostly dangerous to whomever possesses them, and even the highest-level reactor fuel or plutonium products cannot be turned into bomb fuel without multi-billion dollar enrichment facilities. The biggest threat is probably low-level radiation leaking into ground water supplies, but if our society reaches the point where people don't care or don't know about that hazard, we probably aren't living long enough for that to be a big concern anyways.

Re:I enjoy nuclear power (5, Interesting)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 5 years ago | (#28774869)

Couldn't agree more.. The best way to defend against a "dirty bomb" is to start refining the low level waste for recycling. I wish the terrorists luck assembling dirty bombs made of Plutonium. In reality, a very large portion of our current nuclear fuel comes from "recycled' warheads from Russia. I can't help but smile at the fact that the cold war is powering my AC on a hot day ;).

Re:I enjoy nuclear power (5, Insightful)

dogmatixpsych (786818) | more than 5 years ago | (#28774553)

And of course now that we have such a "green"-friendly president we are now going to build a few new nuclear reactors!

[Yes, that was sarcasm]. It is unfortunate that our current president and Congressional leadership are so anti-nuclear. You'd think they all still believe the lies and exaggerations of 1960s and 1970s environmentalists. We need to build many more nuclear plants, recycle spent nuclear fuel, and figure out and build better electric cars. That should help out our economy and environment.

Re:I enjoy nuclear power (4, Insightful)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 5 years ago | (#28774743)

Don't be silly. Our current president is much smarter than that.

He understands that opposing nuclear technology is much more valuable to him politically than using the technology to reduce our carbon emissions in a significant fashion. And maintaining power is more important than the environment.

Repeat After Me: I Enjoy ... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28774563)

cocaine in the company of prostitutes because it's a fun thing to do [youtube.com] .

Yours In Theocracy,
Kilgore Trout

Re:Repeat After Me: I Enjoy ... (1)

TerranFury (726743) | more than 5 years ago | (#28774757)

I respect Fox news as little as the next (sane) guy, but I really don't have that much of an issue with that clip. It's still pretty obviously a joke; they left it more-or-less in context, with Stephen Colbert telling him to say it.

Re:I enjoy nuclear power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28774647)

Speech is the true ambassador of civilization.

I dont know any paper hat wearing enviros. I do know quite a few enviromentalists though, most of them are Pro nuke...but things like TVA concern them because of their safety records.

Their concerns- Where do you put the waste?
Safety of said reactors?
Enviromental impact of the heat dump most reactors have.

Fair questions all.

Re:I enjoy nuclear power (1)

Piranhaa (672441) | more than 5 years ago | (#28775195)

There ain't no such thing as clean coal

I guess you've never heard of gasification? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gasification [wikipedia.org]

But I do agree with the rest of your comment.. Once people adapt to something, it's impossible to bring them away from it. It's an addiction worse than a heroin junkie - we're all computer and electricity junkies.

Less radioactive waste, too (5, Interesting)

AJWM (19027) | more than 5 years ago | (#28774395)

A nuclear plant also produces less radioactive waste than does a corresponding coal plant. Of course since the latter doesn't fall under the authority of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the radioactive substances in coal ash (like thorium) just get dispersed into the environment along with the stuff that stays toxic forever like arsenic and mercury.

Re:Less radioactive waste, too (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28774571)

HAHAHA. idiot.

Re:Less radioactive waste, too (1)

Kokuyo (549451) | more than 5 years ago | (#28774765)

I suppose that's the same thing they said to Galileo back then.

Re:Less radioactive waste, too (5, Interesting)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 5 years ago | (#28774787)

I've often wondered what would happen if they changed that.. A recent Newsweek article was talking about how at the very end of the Clinton Administration, they ruled Fly Ash a hazardous waste, but it was via Executive order (just like we complained that bush did the last few weeks of office) and was undone by the next administration. I wonder what would have happened if that designation was passed "properly" and allowed to stand the last 9 years or so.

Re:Less radioactive waste, too (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28774863)

Radioactive elements in coal and fly ash should not be sources of alarm. The vast majority of coal and the majority of fly ash are not significantly enriched in radioactive elements, or in associated radioactivity, compared to common soils or rocks.

Source [usgs.gov]

Although coal releases the joyous toxins of arsenic, mercury, and selenium, the radioactive components of coal are minor enough to be ignored.

Re:Less radioactive waste, too (5, Insightful)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 5 years ago | (#28775141)

The article doesn't really provide enough information to support the conclusion. All

Summary: Radioactive elements in coal and fly ash should not be sources of alarm. The vast majority of coal and the majority of fly ash are not significantly enriched in radioactive elements, or in associated radioactivity, compared to common soils or rocks.

Right, but that doesn't help because it discounts the quantity of coal, and the fact that it is being burned and released into the atmosphere. It didn't answer at all the amount of radiation released in total, only the density of the radiation. The question is: Does a coal plant release more or less radiation than a nuclear plant with equivalent output?

About Coal Creek Station [greatriverenergy.com] : In 1993, the Nation consumed more than 2 million tons of coal per day.

And the article you linked to says:

concentrations of uranium fall in the range from slightly below 1 to 4 parts per million (ppm)

But don't know what 2 million tons x 1 part per million means.... soo... Aha!

Coal ash is more radioactive than nuclear waste [scientificamerican.com]

The editor clarifies, at the end of the article:

*Editor's Note (posted 12/30/08): In response to some concerns raised by readers, a change has been made to this story. The sentence marked with an asterisk was changed from "In fact, fly ashâ"a by-product from burning coal for powerâ"and other coal waste contains up to 100 times more radiation than nuclear waste" to "In fact, the fly ash emitted by a power plantâ"a by-product from burning coal for electricityâ"carries into the surrounding environment 100 times more radiation than a nuclear power plant producing the same amount of energy." Our source for this statistic is Dana Christensen, an associate lab director for energy and engineering at Oak Ridge National Laboratory as well as 1978 paper in Science authored by J.P. McBride and colleagues, also of ORNL.

As a general clarification, ounce for ounce, coal ash released from a power plant delivers more radiation than nuclear waste shielded via water or dry cask storage.

Re:Less radioactive waste, too (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 5 years ago | (#28774929)

Bah. We should take that mercury and put it on our teeth! Solve toxic waste AND overpopulation at the same time!

Re:Less radioactive waste, too (1)

swillden (191260) | more than 5 years ago | (#28774937)

A nuclear plant also produces less radioactive waste than does a corresponding coal plant.

Cite?

I've seen this claim many times, and I'd like it to be true, but I've never seen a trustworthy source with hard numbers to back it up.

Re:Less radioactive waste, too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28775015)

The USGS says that this claim is not true and that "The vast majority of coal and the majority of fly ash are not significantly enriched in radioactive elements, or in associated radioactivity, compared to common soils or rocks." [usgs.gov]

You still have to deal with the non-radioactive emissions though. . .

Re:Less radioactive waste, too (3, Insightful)

swillden (191260) | more than 5 years ago | (#28775183)

That doesn't necessarily mean it's not true. Even if there are only small amounts of radioactive material (enough to make it not "significantly enriched"), it could still be the case that when multiplied by the amount of ash released, the result is a larger amount than is produced by a nuclear reactor of the same size.

I don't know if it is, but it's possible. I'd like to see numbers.

Re:Less radioactive waste, too (4, Informative)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 5 years ago | (#28775099)

It's not true. He is misrepresenting the actual (and true) claim, which is that that during normal operations, coal plants release more radioactivity into the environment than a nuclear plant. The nuclear plant creates many orders of magnitude more radioactive waste than a coal plant; however, almost all of it is normally kept contained, whereas the coal waste is released into the air.

Of course, people who have concerns about the radiation involved with nuclear power aren't worried about radiation released during normal operations, so the claim is rather pointless. They're worried about accidents, sabotage, leakage, and WMD proliferation, which are all ways that the containment could fail.

Re:Less radioactive waste, too (1)

akirapill (1137883) | more than 5 years ago | (#28775193)

And yet there's still no viable long-term solution to the problem of nuclear waste. Let's look at the options: -burial: requires generations of stewards to maintain rusting sarcophagi. Requires shipping of nuclear waste in trucks/trains to burial site. Susceptible to earthquakes (Yucca Mountain is a joke in this regard) -launch into space: shuttle columbia anyone? -recycle into new fuel: produces.... nuclear waste. So does a nuclear plant produce less nuclear waste than a coal plant? Nice try, but no. Here's the original article [Scientific American] Apparently, radiation surrounding coal plants is worse than around nuclear plants because the radioactive particles are blown into the air or leach into the groundwater, in other words precisely because they aren't regulated for radioactivity. This doesn't mean that nuclear plants "produce less radiation," just that the high level (and more hazardous) waste produced by nuclear plants is contained on site. Right now, ALL high level waste produced by nuclear plants in the US is contained on site and piling up quickly because of NIMBYism. Chances of meltdown are certainly inflated by environmentalists, and if you ignore the waste issue, nuclear power is a very elegant solution (for some reason this seems to appeal to nerds). However, simply putting your fingers in your ears and plowing ahead with the nuclear agenda will only put the problem of waste on the shoulders of the next 300+ generations.

On time??? NOT!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28774399)

Let's see here.... Hmmmm..... "mothballed" for 19 years and that makes it "on time" just how?

No matter how bad things get (1, Funny)

Aku Head (663933) | more than 5 years ago | (#28774489)

with global warming spawned fires and floods and tropical diseases, I will sleep peacefully at night with the knowledge that hillbillies have electricity.

Re:No matter how bad things get (1)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 5 years ago | (#28774819)

An attitude like that probably has FDR spinning in his grave. Oh, the sorry state of the modern Liberal.

I feel sick at the idea that somebody like you may have a mainstream view.

Re:No matter how bad things get (1)

Aku Head (663933) | more than 5 years ago | (#28775197)

Yes, a sense of humor is a terrible thing to have.

Re:No matter how bad things get (0)

sheepofblue (1106227) | more than 5 years ago | (#28774993)

So do we since we have air conditioned houses. Of course this year we have been consistently BELOW average so have wanted less A/C. Of course that is also why the people spreading scary stories like yourself have started calling it climate change.

Thorium reactor (1)

moon3 (1530265) | more than 5 years ago | (#28774589)

Nuclear might actually be the future if promises of this new type of reactor turn to be true. As it is explained this very informative video, enjoy:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AHs2Ugxo7-8 [youtube.com]

Re:Thorium reactor (1)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 5 years ago | (#28774767)

Agreed. Nuclear has zero future if we can't do two things, and BOTH are required:

1. get to a Thorium breeder technology that makes its own fuel.
2. build lots of them fast.

The total amount of oil being pulled out of the ground will follow a bell curve, but the NET oil available will go down much more quickly. Why? EROEI (it takes energy to get energy, and all the easy stuff is gone) and Export Land Model (where exporting nations modernise, and as they do, they use more of their own oil. as they peak and decline and develop at the same time, their ability to export collapses and they become importers - example: UK, Indonesia, USA to name a few...) We need the energy in that oil to build the Thorium nukes, but even more so: we need the materials in the oil to build the machines to manage the nukes (computers and suchlike). We need to ramp up systems to make and store electricity immediately, so we can use the oil for the materials to keep the lights on in the longer run.

If that doesn't happen, and SOON, the second half the the 21st century is going to suck hairy monkey balls.

RS

Re:Thorium reactor (2, Interesting)

Ancient_Hacker (751168) | more than 5 years ago | (#28775069)

Breeders have been tried, to the extent of about 20 billion dollars, over the last 40 years. All have failed. It's really hard to make something that can run with the very high neutron fluxes for years and years. There are only so many different materials and alloys to choose from and they all tend to fall apart after a while with 10^38 neutrons per cm^2 per second buzzing thru them.

In addition we may have passed the point of no return re breeders-- i.e. if we had breeders right now, there isn't enough uranium left to run the current bunch of reactors and breed any usable amount of new material.

There's also the slight problem of building plutonium-burning reactors and not losing a few kilos to the bad guys.

Re:Thorium reactor (2, Insightful)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 5 years ago | (#28775113)

I think I'm probably just feeding a troll, but you're mixing apples and onions. Coal, natural gas, nuclear, wind, water and solar are for stationary power (i.e. electricity). Oil is for portable power (i.e. planes, trains and automobiles). The current discussion is about stationary power generation.

Re:Thorium reactor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28774785)

Kirk Sorenson just gave a newer google tech talk on the liquid fluoride thorium reactor yesterday.
Also probably on youtube somewhere...

Most people want to know... (1)

chord.wav (599850) | more than 5 years ago | (#28774619)

Will it have a Sector 7G?

Will they hire people who show up on day 1 even if (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 5 years ago | (#28775203)

Will they hire people who show up on day 1 even if they only have a high school diploma?

Did somebody say "NUCLEAR"??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28774745)

Run!!!!!!!!!!!! Panic!!!!!!!!!!!

Applications (4, Informative)

TopSpin (753) | more than 5 years ago | (#28774913)

Here is a map of sites [nrc.gov] for which applications have been submitted to the NRC and are currently undergoing review. None of these will happen until the political will emerges to move the bureaucracy.

Meh (4, Insightful)

bill_kress (99356) | more than 5 years ago | (#28774977)

I'm kind of neutral about the whole subject. Neat tech, but trusting corporations is not in my nature.

Also, when compared to wind and solar, Nuclear is the one power source that allow corporations to retain control of power generation.

But balancing that is the fact that it's a pretty continuous source of energy...

What I'd really like to understand (I always ask this and I've never gotten an answer) is why some people are so for it. They aren't going to make money off it, overall it will not save them money (Even those of us who live exclusively off dams don't have THAT much of a money savings)...

I can understand people being really against it. Fear of the unknown, lack of understanding, history (quite a few people have died in the past)

I can also understanding someone being somewhat for it (I'd be tempted to vote for one in my city, although the last one here was a complete cluster-fsck) but where does one get the motivation for the positive passion that this topic so often seems to create?

Minor nitpick (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28775087)

Minor nitpick: Braidwood #1 and #2 came online in 1988, 21 years ago so Watts Bar #1 is NOT "the only new nuclear reactor added to the grid in the last 25 years."

I now return you to the political arguments...

Lost Time (4, Insightful)

CopaceticOpus (965603) | more than 5 years ago | (#28775091)

I think it's great to see new nuclear power coming online, but it's too bad this is simply the completion of a project begun in the 1970's. There hasn't been enough work done in the US to advance the design of nuclear power stations in the last few decades. I wonder how much more efficiently these stations could be built and run today if we had been focused on the problem all this time.

I heard... (5, Funny)

lymond01 (314120) | more than 5 years ago | (#28775127)

that they were just waiting on Windows 7.

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