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NRC Relicensing Old "Zombie" Nuclear Plants

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the old-and-in-the-way dept.

Earth 260

mdsolar writes "In the Dec. 7 edition of The Nation, Christian Parenti details what he considers to be the real problem with nuclear power as a solution to carbon emissions in the US: Not the high cost of new nuclear power, but rather the irresponsible relicensing of existing nuclear power plants by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The claim is that the relicensed plants — amounting to more than half ot the 104 original 1970s-era nukes in the US — operate like zombies beyond their design lifetimes only because of lax regulation spurred by concern over carbon dioxide emissions. But these plants are actually failing, as demonstrated by a rash of accidents. And some of the ancient plants are now being allowed to operate at 120% of their designed capacity. There is a video interview with Parenti up at Democracy Now."

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Chernobyl again? (-1, Troll)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245542)

The Chernobyl nuclear reactor disaster in Pripyat happened because one of its reactors was running at a higher capacity than allowed and after its designed life cycle. It was in process of shut down, but it was too late already then. This caused the chain reaction in one of the cores to grow out of control (the same thing that happens when you initiate a nuclear weapon). This however doesn't initiate a nuclear blast like a nuclear weapon does, it just pours the radioactive all over the air (and it can travel thousands of kilometers).

This is why the nearest city Pripyat wasn't even evacuated first and Soviet Union didn't admit anything happening. They only did after the radioactive fallout reached northern Europe. The whole city is still just like it was left there, with peoples items and toys. It's just a ghost town [wikipedia.org] . It will take 200 years before you can live anywhere near it again. And over half of that radioactive fallout landed over Belarus, but also over northern European countries.

Yeah, it's a great idea to run nuclear plants over their designed capacity.

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Re:Chernobyl again?Christmas gift,shoes,handbags (1, Insightful)

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Re:Chernobyl again? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30245610)

Thanks, TripMaster Monkey. Except EVERYONE ALREADY KNOWS ALL OF THAT. We've all seen those pictures that Ukrainian woman on a motorbike took. And if we wanted to read the Wikipedia article, we would have done so.

And, no, it wouldn't be like Chernobyl again. It'd probably be worse. In the USSR, only careers and lives were on the line. In modern America, corporate profits would be at risk, which are FAR more important than alerting citizens or trying to contain the mess.

Re:Chernobyl again? (4, Informative)

fbjon (692006) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245656)

The Chernobyl disaster happened because of a test that was being run outside of safe parameters plus some other coincidences. The plant was not being shut down permanently, it was being taken down for maintenance, nor was it anywhere near its designed life time at 3 years of operation for reactor 4.

Re:Chernobyl again? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30245844)

That was the cause of the Chernobyl accident. The cause of the Chernobyl disaster, however, was the poor design of Russian nuclear power plants. Every reactor in the west is designed not only with several more layers of fail-safes but also encased inside of a steel reinforced concrete containment vessel. These vessels are built stronger than many bunkers and are designed to prevent the release of radioactive materials in case of an accident.

If the Chernobyl accident had occurred in every detail identical to history except with a reactor inside a western style containment vessel the only people injured would have been some of the reactor staff.

Also worth noting is that Chernobyl was quite exceptional in that the accident occurred during a test where staff had intentionally overridden several safety protocols.

Re:Chernobyl again? (1)

MadKeithV (102058) | more than 4 years ago | (#30246140)

Also worth noting is that Chernobyl was quite exceptional in that the accident occurred during a test where staff had intentionally overridden several safety protocols.

Unfortunately that doesn't seem to be so exceptional, even with Western reactors. The Dutch have just admitted recently to accidentally turning off critical systems in the dark in 2001 (English article [greenpeace.org] ). Yes, that was a research reactor, not a power reactor, but "it's exceptional" seems to be a very bad thing to rely on for safety.

Re:Chernobyl again? (5, Insightful)

david.given (6740) | more than 4 years ago | (#30246168)

The cause of the Chernobyl disaster, however, was the poor design of Russian nuclear power plants.

Yeah, cooling your reactor by pumping oxygen-laden air through a red-hot carbon lattice is a really good idea. Excuse me, I need to go slap someone.

France generates pretty much all of its electricity from nuclear, with reprocessing, using pressurised water reactors. Not only do they have a number of handy engineering benefits such as isolating the water loop through the reactor from the water loop through the turbines, but they also have a particularly useful safety feature in that they're self-regulating --- temperature goes up, power output goes down. France has an excellent safety record; I can find only one major incident, which was a coolant spill in 2008.

They even do their own waste reprocessing into plutonium, which is then reused to generate more power. Unaccountably, terrorists don't seem to have stolen any of it.

RTFA (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 4 years ago | (#30246646)

The approval of license extensions for plants with substandard and inadequate containment like Oyster Creek is the point of the article. You are making the case for Parenti.

Re:Chernobyl again? (5, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245678)

The design capacity is irrelevant if subsequent advances in technology have increased that capacity.

Re:Chernobyl again? (0, Troll)

haruharaharu (443975) | more than 4 years ago | (#30246050)

technology is irrelevant unless the design is updated to take advantage of it.

Re:Chernobyl again? (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 4 years ago | (#30246138)

Happens all the time 1 [sj-r.com] 2 [probeinternational.org] 3 [paksnuclea...rplant.com] .

Re:Chernobyl again? (4, Interesting)

jpmorgan (517966) | more than 4 years ago | (#30246366)

No. See, there's something important you need to understand about engineering, which apparently the submitter doesn't understand either:

The plants were designed back in the days of tables and slide rules. They were designed with large safety margins, because the understanding of the science and the engineering was imperfect. Today our understanding is much greater, and we have very advanced computer models to help the design process. Ever wondered why modern bridges and buildings are much more 'delicate' than older behemoths? Because we can compute the actual behavior of the structures to much higher precision and accuracy, so the needed safety margin is less. It's the same with nuclear plants.

The plants were built to a certain design that had large safety margins... not because they were needed per se, but because the designers couldn't prove they weren't. Today, we can model all the behavior of the plants to a high degree, so we don't need the same safety margins to keep these plants safe. You don't need a cooling system with 50% excess design capacity, since we can prove that 25% is sufficient. We know now that the containment wall is twice as big as it needs to be, for the original design load. So, we can use the safety margins to run the plants longer and to higher capacity than the original design.

In the engineering world, this is done all the time. The only 'news' here is that it's being done with nuclear power plants. But still, that's no big deal. This is just the new anti-nuclear luddite rallying cry.

Re:Chernobyl again? (5, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245692)

Methinks the lady doth protest too much. Chernobyl happened because engineers bypassed safety devices and did stupid things in a plant without a containment vessel. I've not read that the overrating had anything to do with the disaster. Pure, unadulterated human stupidity did.

Back to the TFA. Color me unimpressed. Using terms such as 'zombie', "decrepit" and 'unprecidented' without a shred of evidence makes me think that the article and the author have a bit too much bias to really believe. Sure, it could be true, but we run things past their design lives all of the time. With careful maintenance and modification it works well. Perhaps maintenance isn't being done correctly as the article suggests, but lets see a bit more evidence, shall we?

Even though the operators of nuclear plants are shielded from much of the liability of a reactor failure by the feds, no operator wants to Wilson a plant - it's just too expensive.

Re:Chernobyl again? (1)

AlecC (512609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30246086)

On the contrary - the reactor was running essentially un-loaded. What the engineers performing the ill-advised test was that in the un-loaded state the reactor was highly unstable. The water being pumped through to make steam when the plant was on load acted as a stabiliser. Without this steady flow, the reactor was very prone to run away in the way it did.

Re:Chernobyl again? (2, Interesting)

Shatrat (855151) | more than 4 years ago | (#30246108)

Using terms such as 'zombie', "decrepit" and 'unprecidented' without a shred of evidence makes me think that the article and the author have a bit too much bias to really believe.

On the other hand, maybe they're onto something.
Should I stop driving my 'zombie' car now that the warranty has expired?

Re:Chernobyl again? (1)

Again (1351325) | more than 4 years ago | (#30246642)

Yeah and "zombie" processes. I'm looking at you Transmission!

Re:Chernobyl again? (1)

emilper (826945) | more than 4 years ago | (#30246118)

Using terms such as 'zombie', "decrepit" and 'unprecidented' without a shred of evidence makes me think that the article and the author have a bit too much bias to really believe.

yes ... "rash of" also indicates negative bias ... could have written "series of", "number of", but it had to go into the colloquial register ...

Re:Chernobyl again? (3, Informative)

wytcld (179112) | more than 4 years ago | (#30246186)

The article mentions the mishap-plagued Vermont Yankee, currently near relicensing and with a 120% uprate a couple of years ago. Entergy, the current owner, plans to spin off ownership of half its plants, including Yankee, to a new firm financed by massive debt. This way Entergy will no longer itself be financially responsible for any aspect of these plants, while pocketing most of the projected profits from their next two decades of licensed operation in advance.

So Entergy's got little reason to concern itself with whether Yankee will work as advertised after relicensing. Relicensing is merely a requirement to spin it off, and relinquish Entergy of any responsibility at all, beyond immediate, massive profit.

Re:Chernobyl again? (1)

ludditetechnologies (1005885) | more than 4 years ago | (#30246352)

Ding ding ding, give wytcld a prize.

Re:Chernobyl again? (4, Insightful)

Artifakt (700173) | more than 4 years ago | (#30246364)

Comparing Chernobyl to any American commercial reactor and talking about what could happen, without mentioning the severe differences, is just like mentioning a prior dam failure, hinting at the imminent collapse of Boulder dam, and not mentioning the little detail that the prior dam was made of packed dirt and not concrete.
        Whoops, it's Slashdot, better go with a car analogy:
        It's like planting explosives under one make of car, claiming that model blows up more than another brand, and not mentioning the explosives part.

Bzzzt. FAIL. (0)

Concern (819622) | more than 4 years ago | (#30246390)

Using terms such as 'zombie', "decrepit" and 'unprecidented' without a shred of evidence

Hoping to fool people who didn't read the article?

It presents copious evidence by citing numerous specific incidents at various facilities, and clearly detailing how these incidents are related to age and lax safety culture.

Hence "decrepit."

It also discusses specific regulators at NRC, their backgrounds, and their resumes (which involve jumping between the regulatory agency and cushy jobs at the companies they regulate). It cites a specific ethics violation.

"Zombie" is perfectly valid analogy considering that these plants are unquestionably operating beyond their original design "lifetime." Quite a bit less vivid than many other terms and analogies I've been subjected to by the news media lately: i.e. who "hates America," who'se part of a "Nazi regime," who'se "socialist," who "sides with terrorists," and so forth.

The events described in the article, both in terms of safety incidents and regulatory activity, are prima facie unprecedented.

You fail. Good day, sir.

Sorry to say that, but you are wrong. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30245772)

Sorry to say that, but you are wrong. The Chernonbyl disaster happened when they were testing a new reactor. Reactor 4, where the disater happened was commissioned in 1983 and the disaster happened in 1986. The reactor has not passed it's design life time at the time of the disaster.

Summarizing, your post is just scaremongering.

Re:Sorry to say that, but you are wrong. (3, Informative)

TomTraynor (82129) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245928)

Wrong, it was an existing reactor (it was built in 1983 and the disaster took place in 1986) and they were testing the shutdown procedures. Check http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chernobyl_disaster

Re:Chernobyl again? (4, Insightful)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245838)

The Chernobyl nuclear reactor disaster in Pripyat happened because one of its reactors was running at a higher capacity than allowed and after its designed life cycle

No.

The Chernobyl reactor disaster happened because the operators decided to run a test, and turned off the automatic safety shut-down.

Re:Chernobyl again? (2, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245970)

And they were using a HIDEOUSLY old technology for a reactor that would allow for a runaway reaction to happen. It is suspected the reactor was not a normal power reactor but a breeder reactor designed to make weapons grade.

Most of the American old reactors are NOT of a horribly bad design like that. Is there a risk? kinda. but if all we have are 3 mile island incidents that the worst was undetectable by most instruments then I'm all for it. Honestly the damned NIMBY and green idiots that kept us from chasing the nuke power option for the past 40 years are the ones to blame. we would have been mostly nuclear plants now all operating profitably. I guess that is what you get with a very undereducated populace. They get easily scared of technology.

Re:Chernobyl again? (1)

tg123 (1409503) | more than 4 years ago | (#30246510)

Most of the American old reactors are NOT of a horribly bad design like that. Is there a risk? kinda. but if all we have are 3 mile island incidents that the worst was undetectable by most instruments then I'm all for it.

Undetectable by most instruments the radioactive contamination at the site ?

I think you would have some cleanup crews who would disagree with you there.

You also should use the term accident not incident as it was rated as a 5 on INES scale.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Nuclear_Event_Scale [wikipedia.org]

When I read about the Three mile island accident it chills me to the bone.

What happened at Three mile island was the partial melt down of the rector core and then a hydrogen bubble formed in the reactor vessel . By "sheer dumb luck" this bubble did not explode.

it took them until 1993 to cleanup the site and the accident occurred in 1979.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Mile_Island_accident [wikipedia.org]

Re:Chernobyl again? (1)

mirkob (660121) | more than 4 years ago | (#30246550)

no, that's what happen if you use all your uranium and plutonium for atomic bombs :)

Re:Chernobyl again? (2, Insightful)

tg123 (1409503) | more than 4 years ago | (#30246072)

The Chernobyl nuclear reactor disaster in Pripyat happened because one of its reactors was running at a higher capacity than allowed and after its designed life cycle. It was in process of shut down, but it was too late already then.......

This first part is incorrect. The reactor (no.4) was almost brand new having been completed in 1983.

The Chernobyl accident occurred while they were doing a test to see if with the reactor shut down the steam turbine had enough momentum to produce power to run the main cooling pumps for the 60 seconds before the backup diesel generators kicked in.

As part of this test they switched off the reactors safety devices and the rest is history.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chernobyl_disaster [wikipedia.org]

Didn't we learn anything? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30245614)

Didn't anyone learn anything from Chernobyl [wikipedia.org] ? It's been over 20 years and it's still too radioactive to go near Reactor 4. Do we really want another plant to blow up?

I'm a supporter of nuclear energy, but don't let anyone dumb too close a nuclear power plant.

Re:Didn't we learn anything? (1)

kestasjk (933987) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245716)

Thanks for linking to the Wikipedia article, we hadn't heard of this "Chernobyl" thing before now..

Reports into Chernobyl at the time of the accident were that the US had nothing to learn from it, reactor lifetimes have been extended because they underestimated the lifetimes when they were first built.

Yes (1)

NoYob (1630681) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245750)

Didn't anyone learn anything from Chernobyl [wikipedia.org]?

One of the lessons learned was don't let communist bureaucracies call the shots for management of nuclear reactors.

Re:Didn't we learn anything? (2, Funny)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245756)

I'm a supporter of nuclear energy, but don't let anyone dumb too close a nuclear power plant.

It's good we have this guy [yfrog.com] in control of a nuclear power plant.

Yawn.... (3, Insightful)

johnlcallaway (165670) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245668)

Once again, the crowd that wants us to cut back our carbon emissions comes up with things we can't do rather than some suggestions. And their alternatives aren't viable for 10 years or more when they finally get all the kinks worked out, or electricity becomes so expensive they become economical.

We can't build new nuclear because of the NIMBY crowd. We can't build new coal fired because of the eco-nuts. We can't drill for more oil because of the morons in congress. We don't have to wait for Obama to ruin this country, these groups are doing it for us.

Hey .. mdsolar ... go back and stick your head in the sand until you have grow some more FUD.

Re:Yawn.... (5, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245832)

All this eco-stuff is especially pointless since there's a perfectly good solution to everything - put our heads in the sand, do nothing, pretend fossil fuels are harmless, and plan on increasing the population exponentially forever. It's Carter and Reagan all over again - fire the guy causing you pain my making you face up to problems, and bring in a new guy to tell you everything is wonderful as is... no more worries about Iran, the environment, the energy supply... right? Right?

Re:Yawn.... (3, Insightful)

emilper (826945) | more than 4 years ago | (#30246202)

+1 insightfull, please, for timeOday ...

do nothing

indeed, the perfect solution, because:

fossil fuels are harmless

plan on increasing the population exponentially

... no harm in planing, except it won't work: population never increased exponentially.

no more worries about Iran

are there any worries about Iran and concerning the energy supply ? The worry is about a regime that does not do well with openness attempting to develop nuclear technology.

Right?

Absolutely right.

Re:Yawn.... (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30246522)

"pretend fossil fuels are harmless, and plan on increasing the population exponentially forever."

And yet you seem to be the one with the buried head.

Nuclear fuel ain't fossil fuels.

Many people wanted more nuclear plants, more people stopped them. If would hose the nuclear plants, there would be more coal and gas burning plants.

The US does not have an exponentially growing population. We have been around 2.1 to 2.2 children per household for decades. (In fact, the last government report I read on population growth showed that illegal immigration accounted for a huge population increase; I point this out because the pro-immigration crowd is usually seen as leftist, as is the NIMBY, anti-nuclear energy, and anti-fossil fuel crowd; I'm rather more better immigration policy than anti.)

People screwed around against all the solutions, then they are surprised that the current infrastructure is screwed up. Go ahead, raise energy prices, it's been shown again and again these past few years that the hardest hit are the blue collar workers and poor. Carbon tax, etc., and it still trickles down or, worse, exports jobs (as if we haven't been doing that fast enough already for other reasons).

You want a solution? Shift the defense budget to an energy one. If the advertising in many general science magazines is true, most defense contractors hold massive intellectual property and manufacturing potential in the energy sector. They can compete with our new focus on solving our energy issues on a level playing field along with smaller, innovative companies too.

Re:Yawn.... (2, Insightful)

NoYob (1630681) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245914)

Once again, the crowd that wants us to cut back our carbon emissions comes up with things we can't do rather than some suggestions. And their alternatives aren't viable for 10 years or more when they finally get all the kinks worked out, or electricity becomes so expensive they become economical. We can't build new nuclear because of the NIMBY crowd. We can't build new coal fired because of the eco-nuts. We can't drill for more oil because of the morons in congress. We don't have to wait for Obama to ruin this country, these groups are doing it for us. Hey .. mdsolar ... go back and stick your head in the sand until you have grow some more FUD.

Damn straight!

I know exactly where to put the new power plants: in the neighborhoods of the major stockholders and executives of the power plants. Hey, if they're going to be making money on those things, wouldn't they want to be near their investments to keep an eye on them? They sure would!

And you're right about those Eco-Nuts! I for one have no problem with children getting lead poisoning from smelters and mercury poisoning from burning coal! And the old people and small children who are at risk for respiratory ailments from the air pollution caused by burning fossil fuels, well, fuck'em! Darwin baby!

Drilling for oil: tell me about it. Those damn eco-fags and the pussy fishermen too! And the tourism industry homos! They think that no one wants to see oil rigs when they're vacationing? They're wrong! There's nothing more beautiful that seeing an oil rig at dawn - it looks of - victory! Anyway, oil brings in a hell of a lot more money than tourism.

I'm done for now.

Re:Yawn.... (2, Interesting)

torkus (1133985) | more than 4 years ago | (#30246158)

Yup, and about a million other things that aren't as perfect as a little baby. You realize though that you played into the OP's point perfectly...right?

So let's be realistic for...oh...30 seconds or so. The NIMBYism in the US has left us in a position where energy demand is outstripping production (well, it has but we import). Sure, an oil rig isn't ideal for your romantic sunset on the beach but if it's that have gas up at $10/gallon maybe we should give it some though. Sure the teary case of a child with lead poisoning hits all kinds of sore points but would you rather shut down the smelting plants and stop construction on anything containing steel or aluminium?

Now, I'll give a lot more weight to things that cause actual *problems* like mercury pollution. The cries over preserving the skyline/horizon at the expense of progress/growth are getting a bit much. On long island they want to build a rather tall hotel building. It will be the tallest building on the island...and people are all bent out of shape about it. Ok...except the *current* tallest structure is a smokestack. really people!

So...give us some technology that's available today and is even reasonably cost competitive and "clean". If you don't like the current game, come up with some new ones to play or STFU and don't play at all.

Re:Yawn.... (3, Informative)

slewfo0t (679988) | more than 4 years ago | (#30246418)

Ahh, I see the eco-nuts are in full force with this post... Putting on tin-foil hat...

Nuclear power - PLEASE put one of these in my back yard! http://www.nextenergynews.com/news1/next-energy-news-toshiba-micro-nuclear-12.17b.html [nextenergynews.com]

Mercury - Here are some mercury FACTS from the department of energy... http://www.fossil.energy.gov/programs/powersystems/pollutioncontrols/overview_mercurycontrols.html [energy.gov] .

Drilling for oil - So while the rest of the world goes out and drills for oil, going so far as to cross drill under US soil, the United States should take a back seat and watch these resources be taken and used against us. Gee, I certainly hope the countries that are actually drilling for oil don't stop sending it to us. I'd hate to see what that would do to our economy.

The sky is falling! (1, Insightful)

onyxruby (118189) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245722)

Oh no, nuclear energy is being used, the world will end! Must stop this at all costs, or mother nature will be unhappy. Nuclear is evil because it has the word nuclear in it and somehow related to the military! Now that thats settled it's back to firing up some more coal power plants to meet the needs of society....

What do you mean the greens are the ones stopping the building of new nuclear power plants? The FUD power trip on nuclear is so much more important than letting people have clean power.

Re:The sky is falling! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30246064)

Honest question: What the fuck is wrong with you?

New stations NOW (5, Insightful)

aspelling (610672) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245738)

Greenes did huge damage to this country by instilling fear in nuclear power. While Greens mostly support good things to protect environment their opposition and fearmongering of nuclear plants caused us to build economy on oil.
Besides that we canceled all large-scale development of next generation reactors (breeders, lead-cooled, etc.) capable of burning 99% of fuel and leaving almost no waste.

On the bigger picture in the last twenty-thirty years people became more comfortable and lazy and unwilling to take any risks. This affected everything in the society - cancellation of Space Shuttle program, public safety even kids wearing helmets on the bicycles. If there is no risk there is no reward but it seems we kind of forgot about it.
 

Re:New stations NOW (2, Informative)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30246068)

I see and understand what you're generally saying, but how does that follow from Space Shuttle and helmets?

Space Shuttle is simply obsolete...or rather, was a marriage of advanced concept with inappropriate technology; way too early before its time. And helmets...is there anything negative about them?

Re:New stations NOW (1)

aspelling (610672) | more than 4 years ago | (#30246154)

On Shutles: Shuttle carries 40 tons into orbit and can be reused many times. Our next best option - Soyuz can carry up to 3 tons payload on the lowest orbit. NASA got scared with two crashes and cannot take risk anymore and instead of producing new Shuttles they gave up into old technology (Orion is an advanced Apollo)

This is about how much risk people can handle. While it is completely sane to wear bicycle helmet on the road it is completely unnecessary to wear it in the park. Do you see the difference in risks between these two situations?

Re:New stations NOW (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30246268)

On Shutles: Shuttle carries 40 tons into orbit and can be reused many times. Our next best option - Soyuz can carry up to 3 tons payload on the lowest orbit. NASA got scared with two crashes and cannot take risk anymore

More accurately, NASA didn't get "scared," they got hammered-- by Congress, by the media, pretty much by everybody. It was made exceptionally clear that failures of any kind were not acceptable, regardless of how much it would cost to make systems that could not fail. According to Congress, sending humans into space has to be risk free. It is not worth it to explore if exploration means somebody might die.

Re:New stations NOW (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30246306)

Check your facts. Shuttle carries over 20 tons of cargo, which is in ballpark of current heavy launchers and waaaay smaller than what Saturn or Energia could do.

And anyway, those are inadequate examples when talking about risk of nuclear power. In categories of risk - Shuttle is actually quite comparable to other launch systems but its complexity and cost didn't give us anything. Helmet costs almost nothing, doesn't get in your way, but significantly lessens the risk. Don't use those examples when talking about nukes, they are counterproductive.

Re:New stations NOW (2, Interesting)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 4 years ago | (#30246240)

I am a huge fan of Nuclear Power, however, I sometimes wonder if all the irrational fear of Nuclear Power was Good for the industry? I kinda think all the negative attention and scare tactics and stuff made the nuclear industry have to go over and above to continue proving, without doubt, that they were safe..

Re:New stations NOW (3, Insightful)

torkus (1133985) | more than 4 years ago | (#30246316)

Well i'm with you on most of it...except the greens supporting good things.

All we seem to hear is 1) Stop doing this-and-that because it's bad and B) 'This' magical technology is the panacea ... at 10x the cost and in 5-15 years when it goes from laboratory process to initial commercial production ... and another 10 for large-scale usage.

I understand that cleaner generation plants, cars, etc. are a good thing but the cost-reward balance is often so far off I can do nothing but shake my head. Remember the father that backed a large SUV over his child? They fought (probably still are) to get a law passed *requiring* every SUV have a back-up camera in it. Never mind that many children aren't visible behind a normal size CAR. So because one person is a complete IDIOT ... we should put a ~$1000+ camera system in *every* car? Funny, my parents just made sure they could see each of us before backing out of the driveway when I was a kid.

Kinda OT but related. Swine flu vaccinations - about 10^5 people die from the (regular) flu every year. Swine flu has claimed what, 10^2? Yet how many millions/billions have been spend on this vaccination? For a sickness that's generally NOT deadly to healthy people? Come on people, stop living in fear and look at the big picture.

If I understand it right (2, Insightful)

Concern (819622) | more than 4 years ago | (#30246476)

...the most salient criticism raised by the "Greenes" was that we were not, as a people, disposed to live up to the "zero tolerance" policy for failure that large scale industrial use of nuclear materials really demands. We always make mistakes eventually. Even if it takes 50 or 100 years, then it means we only have 50 or 100 years until a major nuclear disaster and i.e. epic human suffering, unprecedented economic calamity, the depopulation of a major urban area, the success of a fanatical act of terrorism, etc.

This article rather underscores the point. We have become complacent that we are smart enough and organized enough to use nuclear power safely. As we become complacent, this leads to a false sense of security, laziness and corruption on the part of operators and regulators, apathy on the part of the public, and the decline of safety culture. Now I am sure you will have no problem moving your family in down the street from one of these plants, right?

Right?

Why not update? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30245760)

Why not streamline the process to upgrade to newer reactor technology? The basics are there at these sites now (power lines, steam turbines, etc).

The real problem (2, Insightful)

radl (1266970) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245766)

The real problem with nuclear power is and was (and will always be!), that there exists no solution for radioactive waste. Maybe we won't have a Chernoby like desaster again - however with every single hour we have nuclear power plants running, we are producing toxins that will be lethal for centuries. So come on, using nuclear power was a failure straight from the beginning!

Not so (5, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245926)

Reprocessing fuel reduces the waste stream. And you can bury the waste (after you vitrify it) that you can't reprocess, say in Yucca Mountain.

Re:Not so (1)

radl (1266970) | more than 4 years ago | (#30246016)

..bury the waste ... in Yucca Mountain.

Yeah! I can't see it, its's not there anymore ;-) Thanks, next one. Please!

Re:Not so (2, Informative)

aspelling (610672) | more than 4 years ago | (#30246188)

There is a big difference between 99.4% of fuel wasted full of long-life waste and 0.4% short-living waste.
On a bigger scale - try to store 9940 lbs of waste or 40 lbs of waste. 250 times less and less dangerous waste.
40lbs can be even discarded into deep space.

Re:Not so (1)

radl (1266970) | more than 4 years ago | (#30246226)

There is a big difference between 99.4% of fuel wasted full of long-life waste and 0.4% short-living waste.

Not to mention the 0.2% lost somewhere... :-o

Re:Not so (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#30246340)

You said there wasn't a solution. I merely showed the error of your statement.

Re:Not so (1)

radl (1266970) | more than 4 years ago | (#30246536)

You said there wasn't a solution. I merely showed the error of your statement.

For the "solution" part, regarding a pure intellectual concept of "solution", I agree.

So let's move on and talk about responsibility! How can someone today take over responsibility for something humans (to name a few) will still have to cope with in thousand years?

Re:Not so (2, Interesting)

Loadmaster (720754) | more than 4 years ago | (#30246060)

Yucca Mountain will probably never be used, because the Obama administration has said it won't and is looking to cut all funding. However, the WIPP (Waste Isolation Pilot Plant) seems like a better idea anyway.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WIPP [wikipedia.org]

Re:The real problem (4, Insightful)

Stupendoussteve (891822) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245974)

Not necessarily. While still in the research phase, Fourth Generation [wikipedia.org] reactors look very promising, waste that remains dangerous for decades rather than thousands of years and the ability to use waste from Gen III reactors as fuel.

Even current breeder reactors can use some waste as fuel.

Re:The real problem (1)

laughing_badger (628416) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245984)

Piffle!

Your statement that 'there exists no solution for radioactive waste' is incorrect as we have solutions for the disposal of the waste that we currently generate. You confuse radiation with toxicity, showing that you know little about the actual subject.

We are capable of creating nuclear powerstations that produce a fraction of the waste of current powerstations and in a more manageable form.

Stop scare-mongering.

Re:The real problem (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30246018)

You sound like all the other libtard eco whackjobs. You are living contradictions in that your lifestyle has been created and can only be sustained by the very things you attack and your other lifestyle choices (for example smoking pot) have very serious costs to the commons but they are "alright" because you like them.

Move our of your mother's basement, stop playing MMORPG, get a job or better yet start a business, and grow the fuck up.

Re:The real problem (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 4 years ago | (#30246024)

Secret for you: the planet has a crapload of those exact "toxins" you speak of. so instead we are harvesting them, and concentrating them in one place so they dont accidentally poison people with the evil "TOXINS"

Nuclear power is cleaning up the planet by harvesting the things that this evil planet puts all over the place to try and kill us, and getting them away from people. now go back to getting 3 enemas a day, you still have more toxins in you that needs to be flushed out for your better health!

Re:The real problem (1)

radl (1266970) | more than 4 years ago | (#30246136)

I really like that one:

Nuclear power is cleaning up the planet by harvesting the things that this evil planet puts all over the place to try and kill us, and getting them away from people.

Nuclear power is not only harvesting the evil things, but also separates the more evil from the less evil things when concentrating the isotopes for the reactor. Following this logic, nuclear weapons are even better because they need higher concentrations... Where's cold war when I need it?

Re:The real problem (1)

salesgeek (263995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30246486)

more evil from less evil things

I'm pretty sure that most fissile metals just want to sit there and decay. There is nothing inherently evil about Uranium and Plutonium.

Re:The real problem isn't really a problem. (2, Informative)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 4 years ago | (#30246036)

Actually there is a solution for nuclear waste.
It is called fuel reprocessing.
With proper reprocessing the waste is much easier to handle. We are not doing it right now because it is cheaper to just let it sit and or to bury it.
The problem is most people have been fed a line of manure from the anti nuclear folks. Do you have any idea how much money some of them are making off of book deals, speaking fees, and "donations" that people make to keep the world and the coal companies safe from the evils of nuclear power.
If you want a test to see if they are using fear and ignorance as a tool there is a simple one.
If they mention Chernobyl when speaking about the safety of western nuclear reactors they are using fear and ignorance.
Chernobyl has as many simulates with a western nuclear power plant as the Hindenburg has with a 777.
It is impossible for a western reactor to fail like Chernobyl because no Western country would ever allow a commercial graphite moderated reactor with out a containment building to be put into service!

Re:The real problem (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30246102)

You do realize that typical coal fired powerplant emits more radioactive waste to the biosphere in one day than typical, modern nuclear powerplant will emit in its whole lifetime?

Re:The real problem (1)

radl (1266970) | more than 4 years ago | (#30246150)

You do realize that typical coal fired powerplant emits more radioactive waste to the biosphere in one day than typical, modern nuclear powerplant will emit in its whole lifetime?

Citation needed

Re:The real problem (1)

PolarIced (119874) | more than 4 years ago | (#30246262)

Here you go:

http://www.ornl.gov/info/ornlreview/rev26-34/text/colmain.html

Re:The real problem (1)

geekgirlandrea (1148779) | more than 4 years ago | (#30246266)

Probably not true in the form the OP stated; he didn't even specify the capacities of the plants in question. However, it is true that, on a per unit energy produced basis, coal-burning power plants produce significantly more radioactive waste than a nuclear fission plant does - and, unlike the fission reactor, the coal power plant pours it all into the atmosphere. See Scientific American - Coal Ash Is More Radioactive than Nuclear Waste [scientificamerican.com] .

Re:The real problem (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30246372)

Probably true - the typical modern nuclear plant will emit roughly ZERO radiation to biosphere as a result of its operation (yes, other industrial processes associated with its construction and operation will emit some radiation, but the amount will be more or less identical for coal plant construction and much higher for its operation/coal mining)

In contrast, emitting significant amounts of radiation to biosphere is a daily routine for coal plant.

PS. (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30246454)

Please note that all the time I'm talking specifically about the biosphere.

Re:The real problem (0, Troll)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 4 years ago | (#30246582)

Actually, coal plants produce zero nuclear waste.

Re:The real problem (1)

torkus (1133985) | more than 4 years ago | (#30246464)

You do understand that a coal plants produces billions of tons of waste, and an appreciable amount of that is toxic chemicals, right? Also a fun factoid - Coal plants release more radiation than nuclear plants. Go look it up.

In addition, you're perpetuating more FUD by linking unrelated facts. Chernobyl had *NOTHING* to do with processing nuclear waste. It had everything to do with taking every safety system offline, then having poorly trained staff incorrectly running hugely dangerous tests on a totally unsafe reactor design and not understanding/reacting properly when things went wrong. More homework for you.

Someone else mentioned reprocessing which is very true. More advanced reactors also reduce the amount of waste but can produce additional "dangerous" nuclear fuel so they're looked down upon. Never mind these same reactors actually *make* fuel while producing their energy output, essentially eliminating the possibility of running out of fuel in the next 1000+ years.

Nuclear power was anything BUT a failure. Every other technology since though...

Solar is great, except it's 10x too expensive and producing the solar cells isn't an especially 'green' process.
Biofuels are a nifty idea. Let's starve the population to produce ~5% more fuel oil. Never mind that political motivation has left us with horribly inefficient corn-based ethanol instead of several better options and it's driven up the price of staple food by something like 25-50%.
Hydrogen was a joke because our president at the time didn't understand the difference between energy generation and energy storage/transport
Hydro is great except for the part where building a dam destroys the local ecology and there's simply not enough places where it's effective.
Wave power is cute but quirky and will fall victim to people preserving the sea life if it ever gets beyond the conceptual testing phase.

Blame the EPA (4, Insightful)

peragrin (659227) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245816)

The EPA won't let new nuclear plants to get built. If the plants get decommissioned it will literally cut our energy production by 1/2. It takes 10-15 years to build a new nuclear plant by EPA guidlines, and the population in that zone won't let it get built just as they refuse to let wind turbines to get built.

So our only short term solution is to let the NRC extend the lives of the plants. It is either that or force new nuclear plants to get built but it isn't cost efficient to do so.

there is a real energy crisis looming. Simply because people won't plan ahead, the oil will start to run out roughly when all the fission plants have to go offline do to safety reasons.

Re:Blame the EPA (3, Informative)

eebly (7752) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245938)

"If the plants get decommissioned it will literally cut our energy production by 1/2"

According to the Department of Energy's Energy Information Administration, in August 2009 Nuclear power produced approximately 0.758 quadrillion BTUs of energy, out of a total of 6.266 quadrillion BTUs produced across all sources. That's approximately 12% of total output. Thus, decomissioning nuclear power plants would not cut our energy production by half, either literally or figuratively.

Extensive stats from EIA available here: http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/mer/overview.html

Re:Blame the EPA (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30246066)

IAAEA (I am an energy analyst with one of the larger energy companies in the US), and I'd argue your math there. Nuclear is base-load power, meaning it's always there. Coal plants, natural gas plants, and the like have to be taken on and off line for maintenance and such pretty frequently. If you live in the PJM footprint of the Northeast, it's very likely that the only plant(s) providing off-peak, nighttime power to your house is a nuclear reactor. Half sounds about right for PJM, and the same probably holds true for most of the South and California.

Not to mention that replacing the nukes with oil or gas burning plants would cost squillions more in land, fueling pipelines, railheads, etc.

Re:Blame the EPA (1)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | more than 4 years ago | (#30246452)

IAAEA (I am an energy analyst with one of the larger energy companies in the US), and I'd argue your math there. Nuclear is base-load power, meaning it's always there. Coal plants, natural gas plants, and the like have to be taken on and off line for maintenance and such pretty frequently.

True. And, you know what? Nuclear plants have to be taken on and off line for maintenance, fueling, "and such," too.

If you live in the PJM footprint of the Northeast,

In response to a post about energy in the US, you respond with statistics about energy in the PJM. This does not in any way contradict the statistics quoted.

it's very likely that the only plant(s) providing off-peak, nighttime power to your house is a nuclear reactor.

And since off-peak, baseload power at night is a load that's less than a quarter of the capacity-- in many places, much less-- even by your numbers, you could take off-line all of the nuclear plants, and for that matter half of the fossil-fuel plants as well, and still have plenty of capacity for off-peak nighttime power.

Baseload power is cheap. Peaking power is the problem.

Re:Blame the EPA (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 4 years ago | (#30246038)

Science cant overcome the Collective stupidity of land owners and the populace.

Re:Blame the EPA (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 4 years ago | (#30246232)

Science cant overcome the Collective stupidity of land owners and the populace.

Markets can. Free electricity to all residences in the town where the plant is built for 20 years.

Re:Blame the EPA (1)

salesgeek (263995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30246498)

Correction: greed can.

Re:Blame the EPA (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 4 years ago | (#30246638)

Correction: greed can.

People make trades when they value one thing more highly than another. This town would be trading one-in-a-million risk for real economic benefit. Voluntary trades are always to both parties' perceived benefit.

Seeking better circumstances isn't greed, it's human nature - otherwise you'd have to call everybody not living in a 1-room cabin in the woods greedy as they insist on more than is necessary.

Re:Blame the EPA (1)

wytcld (179112) | more than 4 years ago | (#30246234)

19.6% of US electricity is nuclear generated. Not near 50%. That according to the Wikipedia, of course. And there's no chance it will all get shut down at once.

Re:Blame the EPA (1)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 4 years ago | (#30246254)

I think that is one of the reasons why several companies are trying to get new reactors built on older sites, all the environmental stuff has been looked at and approved before, and the NIMBY crowd can't get as loud about Nukes in their Back yard, when they already have them....

Re:Blame the EPA (1)

torkus (1133985) | more than 4 years ago | (#30246506)

Actually, new plants are on the table for the first time in ~20 years. Companies would invest millions in design and 10-100x that in initial purchase contracts if they didn't expect a good chance of finishing the project.

You're right though, initial design to completion is FAR too long and our only current choice is more fossil fueled plants or extending the life of existing nuclear plants. Running plants at 120% isn't much of an issue if 30-40 year newer technology makes that safe.

But, as someone else pointed out, nuclear is only about 10% of the power in the US. France, IIRC, has the highest at about 40%.

High cost??? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30245852)

The high cost of nuclear power is mainly due to the cost of meeting regulations. Note that a typical coal-fired plant would not meet nuclear regulations because they emit too much radiation. How stupid is that.

Re:High cost??? (2, Insightful)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30246250)

It's just a measure of fear arising in populace from understanding vs. not understanding something.

Coal powerplant is like a big campfire, right? So how bad can it be? People were doing it since forever and it's quite nice actually!

But nuclear leads them instantly to Hiroshima & Nagasaki bombings, Chernobyl, that scary warning signs at roentgen lab, and so on. Also, "if I can't understand it, surely nobody else can either"

BTW, I remember a "debate" in national TV here few years back. Anti-nuke zealots didn't even know what radiation is when asked.

Maybe some truth there, but it's dubious (4, Insightful)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245896)

There's probably some elements of truth in the article, but it's so obviously biased that it's really difficult to credit anything he says.

According to him, if you're still running your car after the warantee expires, you've got a "zombie car"-- regardless of how much maintanance you put into it. He says a lot of scary things, but doesn't really have much real information.

We need to shut down the zombie plants! (1)

Palpatine_li (1547707) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245940)

Nuclear plants emits green radioactive smoke that mutates men into zombies! wait... since when has water vapour become green?

120% of capacity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30245960)

Industrial plants almost always run at rates greater than nameplate capacity Think of this: 5 plants running at 120% is like getting one plant free. Capital cost are huge for these project, and eking out every We out of plant so another plant does not need to be built is a always a goal.

Large plants are complicated and increasing rates are not as easy was moving a dial from 100% to 120%. An increase in rate takes time, for a 20% it would be several weeks of slowly ramping up, modifying protocols and even plant modification (if capital spending is allowed for the project). While to a lay person 120% sounds like the plant is 20% more likely to meltdown there are plenty of things that would go wrong first.

Nuclear Powered Zombie Plants? (4, Funny)

RivenAleem (1590553) | more than 4 years ago | (#30245964)

This will not end well

"Zombie nukes?" Puh-leaze (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30245986)

I am a nuclear engineering/physics graduate student. Whether that makes me uniquely qualified to comment or just another industry shill is, I suppose, a question of which color Kool-Aid you drank with your Post Toasties this morning. That disclaimer out of the way:

This article is garbage. Others have noted the inflammatory language ("Zombie nukes?" really?). The author is misleading his readers on the issue of radiation-induced embrittlement and stress-corrosion cracking -- whether through ignorance or deliberately deceptive language, it's hard to say. You'll note that of the "shocking" lapses in power plant operations, ZERO led to significant releases of radioactivity. ZERO led to any worker deaths or major injuries. The worst of the bunch, the "six inch deep hole" in the Davis-Besse pressure vessel head, wasn't caused by lax regulation -- it was caused by deliberate fraud. Inspection records were faked, and the people responsible are currently serving time in federal prison. That does point out a legitimate concern: if the operator is willing to lie to the NRC, then bad things can happen. NRC could probably use a shot in the arm, but to suggest it's merely a lapdog of the industry is highly inflammatory, and evidence suggests, not especially accurate.

These reactors were licensed to operate for forty years because that is the maximum time permitted by law. Why was forty years written into the law? Because there was significant uncertainty as to how reactors would hold up in the long haul. The law was written conservatively. Designers built large safety margins into their designs to ensure compliance. Forty years of operational experience has demonstrated to everyone but the most anti-nuke environmentalists that there is sufficient safety margin to operate safely for another twenty years.

As for the 120% operating capacity... sheesh. These plants have had steam generator upgrades. More efficient heat removal allows the turbines to produce more electricity. The nuclear side of the plant is essentially unchanged. They probably drive the primary coolant pumps a little harder, but still well within their designed capacity. So yes, we're getting 20% more energy out of the same number of fissions. No, we're not jamming 20% more fuel into the core. Again: deliberately misleading, or poorly informed? Hard to say.

Profits not power (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30246028)

This is about squeezing every last cent out of existing power plants. New plants are extremely expensive to build and license so it's seen as just cheaper and easier to keep the current reactors churning out power. We aren't talking about offsetting fossil fuels just maintaining the power nuclear is contributing now. Under a best case scenario it takes around 10 years to build and license a nuclear reactor. Most also go radically over budget. I was around the unfinished reactor in South Carolina. Most think it was anti nuke people that killed it. It actually was the fact that they were 200% over budget and they only had one reactor half finished and were still many years away from producing their first watt of electricity. We literally can't build and license plants fast enough to meet demand. I know people don't want to hear wind and solar even though they are the fastest and easiest to get on-line. What does that leave us with? Coal. Coal doesn't just release CO2 there's heavy metals like lead and mercury that are released. Also guess how a lot of it is mined? They cut off the top of a mountain then fill in a neighboring valley with the mine tailings. Not only does it destroy the landscape but the tailings pollute the water supply. There is no simple and painless solution but we have to get it out of our heads that nuclear power is some magic bullet that will let us all us as much power as we want cheaply. It's slow to roll out and is very expensive to build the plants. It would cost north of a 100 billion just to replace the existing plants and that won't reduce dependance on fossil fuels. We simply don't have the money to replace all the coal plants with nuclear plants. Do the math and you'll be in for a shock. To replace coal it would cost more than the Iraq war and that doesn't cover clean up and storage. As a nation we simply don't have the cash to spend on replacing fossil fuels with nuclear power. The catch-22 is we have to get off fossil fuels. We need to embrace cheaper clean options. The problem is the lobbyist are forcing us onto things like corn ethanol which is a joke and just lines corporation pockets. I always hear nuclear called "cheap". It's hard to call it cheap when we're talking around a billion dollars for one reactor. For the cost of one reactor we can put 30K in solar cells on 30,000+ roofs. Just using the cash needed to replace existing nuclear plants would put solar panels on 3 to 5 million roofs. The service life is similar to a reactor and they require little maintenance. Reactors still need fuel and constant care. We can't keep depending on 30 to 50 year old reactors that have already passed their life expectancy and we can't aford to replace coal with new nuclear plants. We need to consider other options. We need other options than solar but it makes more sense to put the cash into other high tech solutions instead of propping up the nuclear industry.

It's the operators that are the greatest danger (2, Insightful)

rbanzai (596355) | more than 4 years ago | (#30246054)

I don't feel like nuclear power itself is dangerous. I'm worried about the people who own and operate the plants. Most companies in this world focus on one thing: increasing profits at the expense of everything else. Forget safety. Forget responsibility. Whatever the industry just cut things to the absolute razor's edge to line the pockets of the owners and executives.

The repercussions of this attitude in the nuclear power industry are far greater than other energy producers. Mistakes (or outright negligence) in the handling of materials related to nuclear power production become the legacy of generations, and as usual we will only find out about these problems when it's too late.

Nuclear power can be clean. It can also be relatively safe. It's the people in the equation that make me anti-nuke. I just don't trust the owners, operators or regulators.

Re:It's the operators that are the greatest danger (1)

DollarOfReactivity (1040610) | more than 4 years ago | (#30246572)

As someone who does a lot of research in the nuclear industry, I think your point here is a much more valid fear than the inane and FUD arguments made by the vocal anti-nuke as in the article. I believe in nuclear power, and I believe the current plants in the US are safe (and that new plants would be even safer). But at the same time they are being run by companies whose job is to (depending on their structure) break even or turn a good profit.

This is not a goal that is fundamentally out of line with safety, because plants that are run poorly have increasing numbers of small problems that cost money and attract the attention of the regulators and the public. But again they are like any company - they are not perfect. Take FirstEnergy, which has been plagued by terrible management. The cost is about a billion dollars in repair costs, fines, lawsuits, and replacement power. They made themselves the pariah amongst the public and their peers and a favorite topic in nuclear materials classes.

It is good to have distrust of management and to question the regulators. At the same time, the nuclear industry is incredibly heavily regulated compared to any other industry I can think of, even those that handle very dangerous materials. And having met many CEOs and regular employees, they are well aware of what they are responsible for. The plants are well designed for ultimate safety of the public (which doesn't mean radiation release in any form is impossible, it means significant releases are very unlikely). Like in any industrial system things will leak and break down, and even brand new components are not guaranteed to be more reliable than 40-year old ones. I would say most of the leaks mentioned in the article are inconsequential, though the tritium spills are stupid (harmless if you look at the amount one could get if one really tried to drink it) but those come from tertiary systems like storage and cleanup and holding tanks.

Wow, that is clever (2, Funny)

NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) | more than 4 years ago | (#30246198)

By having zombies run the places you don't have to give the workers protection against radiation since they're already dead. I hear they work pretty cheaply too, just give them some cow brains and they don't know the difference.

IS SNPP on the list? (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 4 years ago | (#30246330)

IS SNPP on the list?

Very disipointed in you, Slashdot (5, Interesting)

DrBuzzo (913503) | more than 4 years ago | (#30246348)

This story is blatant anti-nuclear propaganda that is full of misleading statements and an inflammatory title. This is not a news story, it's someone's editorial and a bad one at that. The fact that some plants run beyond their design output is a simple matter of more effecient equipment retrofitted to their systems. Turbines and generators are better now than they were 30+ years ago, and that's the age of many plants. The additional years of service are due to life-extension upgrades and the fact that there's no reason a plant can't operate safely for 60+ years.

I've seen some very un newsworthy crap on Slashdot before, but this blatantly one-sided and completely overstated editorial without any further investigation or counter statement is really pushing it. Shame on you, slashdot.

Now if you want, I'd be happy to write a rebuttal to this on my site, and you're welcome to link to that, but I don't expect you will, will you?

I expect that this article was read by someone at Slashdot with a background in computer science or something else that made them totally incapable of judging the merits of these claims. For example the statement "Radiation makes metal brittle, so old pipes must be routinely switched out for new ones." That's totally bogus. There is a such thing as neutron brittling but that happens to the reactor vessel, not the outside plumbing, which is never exposed to neutron irradiation.

Another lie in the article, which is a common political lie used by certain anti-nuclear energy interests is "The government has put up $18.5 billion in subsidies to build atomic plants." That is simply not true. The only thing the government put up is what are called loan guarantees, which basically is to say that the government has agreed to underwrite loans on nuclear plants, a common practice in many private public works projects. It's a means of assuring that the plant can get financing at a reasonable interest rate. The government is not handing out 18.5 billion dollars.

There is more regulation and inspection of nuclear power plants than any other industrial facility on the fact of the earth. Commercial aircraft, chemical production facilities, massive gas storage facilities, explosives storage locations, trains that cary tens of thousands of tons of chlorine - these are all subject to far far less regulatory and safety oversight.

Shame on you again, Slashdot. Next time you go to publish something so obviously slanted and inflammatory, consider asking an expert in the field, who actually understands this stuff. My suggestion would be hps.org. They have excellent media relations and very helpful people who know their stuff.

I'd be happy to write a rebuttal to this, line by line, but I don't know if I have time to today.

kdawson, thanks (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 4 years ago | (#30246512)

While the post says I wrote that, your edits are a big improvement.

Lesson to be learned... (1)

Atticka (175794) | more than 4 years ago | (#30246556)

Have none of these people played Sim City? Running your power plants over capacity never ends well!

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