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NRC Study Lowers Hazard Estimate For Nuke Plants

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the but-everybody-panic-anyway-just-to-keep-in-practice dept.

Power 168

JSBiff writes "With the incident at Fukushima causing much renewed concern about the risks of nuclear power this year, the NY Times brings news that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has released the preliminary version of a safety report due out in April 2012, based upon new science about the behavior of Cesium-137. The report finds that the public health hazards of nuclear accidents at the types of reactor designs currently in common use are lower than previously thought, based upon a better understanding of the science behind earlier estimates."

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Does the report also find... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36952774)

...that John Q Public does not operate on the logical, scientific wavelength?

The Trouble with Reports: (2)

newcastlejon (1483695) | more than 2 years ago | (#36952900)

Only half the people that know about it, read it.
Only half the people that read it understand it.
Only half the people that understand it believe it.
Only half the people that believe it will agree with it.
Of those six people, maybe one will actually try and persuade others.

The rest are as jaded as me, if not more so. I admire the sentiment behind it, but alas I don't think the general populace will be won over by anything larger than a few tens of words. *sigh* If only we could curtail fear-mongering in the media without impinging on journalistic freedom.

Re:The Trouble with Reports: (-1, Troll)

polar red (215081) | more than 2 years ago | (#36952940)

It does not matter. nuclear power does not make economic sense. http://www.ucsusa.org/nuclear_power/nuclear_power_and_global_warming/nuclear-power-subsidies-report.html [ucsusa.org]

Re:The Trouble with Reports: (1)

Frank T. Lofaro Jr. (142215) | more than 2 years ago | (#36953016)

If the alternative is a permanent blackout, they'll find a way to have it make economic sense or they will have the government do it, and switch from capitalism to a command economy if need be.

Without energy, there is nothing. No economy, no goods, no services, no medicine, no food, no life.

Re:The Trouble with Reports: (1)

polar red (215081) | more than 2 years ago | (#36953108)

nuclear power provides only a tiny amount of electric energy compared to other types, so no nuclear power does not mean a permanent blackout. In fact, wind and solar alone can provide enough electricity http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intermittent_power_source#European_super_grid [wikipedia.org]

Re:The Trouble with Reports: (1)

MasterPatricko (1414887) | more than 2 years ago | (#36953210)

http://www.eia.gov/cneaf/electricity/epm/epm_sum.html [eia.gov]

20% of total electricity production in the US is not a tiny amount, and is thousands of times the currently installed wind and solar capacity. It'll be many decades before they can replace nuclear.

Re:The Trouble with Reports: (1)

polar red (215081) | more than 2 years ago | (#36953234)

Re:The Trouble with Reports: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36953434)

Try reading the things you cite. "Renewable" is not limited to solar and wind, so MasterPatricko's point is not refuted or undermined by your link. Furthermore, nuclear power production has remained relatively static in the US for political reasons.

Re:The Trouble with Reports: (1)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 2 years ago | (#36953534)

Review of the source [eia.gov] of that article shows that it's misleading.

Figure 44 shows nuclear passing renewables(including hydro) for electricity production in 1974, and still in the lead today.

Figure 59 shows "renewables" leading worldwide energy production since the graph start in 1970. It's in BTUs, so includes things like burning wood.

Rereading the article, it boils down to that more is now being invested into renewable power, than nuclear power. Given that we aren't building a lot of nuclear plants, that's not surprising. Despite that, renewable power isn't trending upward significantly enough to pass nuclear anytime soon; most of the increase is in natural gas.

Re:The Trouble with Reports: (1)

lgw (121541) | more than 2 years ago | (#36953880)

All power is "renewable" on one time scale and "exhaustable" on another. It's really about "Red Team Power" and "Blue Team Power", and we need to stop playing that game.

Re:The Trouble with Reports: (1)

slick7 (1703596) | more than 2 years ago | (#36954374)

Nuclear power sucks. It's like a boat, just a hole in the water that you keep shoveling money into.
The big question is, what is the true state of energy development? You will never get a straight answer from the utility companies, the government people cannot or will not divulge what they know. We can put men on the moon, look at every planet in the solar system, look at distant planetary systems and ascertain probable life bearing planets, yet we're stuck with fossil fuels owned by people without a lick of sense.

Re:The Trouble with Reports: (0)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 2 years ago | (#36953538)

Sorry, but humans existed for a long, long time without electric power and we can learn to exist again in an environment where there is only a little electricity available.

The US is certainly headed in that direction. You can expect to start seeing the power companies using the tools homeowners are giving them to turn off appliances, air conditioning and just about everything else during the day and at other peak times. For the rest, you can expect to see time-dependent electric rates when it becomes idiotic to try to be running anything more than a 7-watt CFL bulb in your house at some times.

More capacity will not be built. The war on utilities has pretty much been won by the environmentalists so today even if the federal government declared instant approval without any possibility of court hearings, environmental impact studies and endless negotiations over land use it would take at least five years before new capacity came on line. We don't have five years of reserve capacity left and if we turn off the nuclear power plants (likely!) we will be in an instant capacity crisis.

It will be a choice between the home refrigerator running during the day or the computer at the office. It will be a choice between being able to work late in the evening or other people watching TV, cooking and cleaning their homes.

Sure, it will be difficult for some and likely mean the end of home air conditioning in much of the US. But we've only had air conditioning since the 1930s. Lots of old folks will likely die from heat stroke and such, but they wouldn't have lived anyway before the 1930s. But the important thing to remember is that recognizable humans has been around for 40,000 years or more and nobody had air conditioning or electric light except in the last 100 years or so.

Re:The Trouble with Reports: (1)

lgw (121541) | more than 2 years ago | (#36953906)

The US is certainly headed in that direction. You can expect to start seeing the power companies using the tools homeowners are giving them to turn off appliances, air conditioning and just about everything else during the day and at other peak times. For the rest, you can expect to see time-dependent electric rates when it becomes idiotic to try to be running anything more than a 7-watt CFL bulb in your house at some times.

More capacity will not be built. The war on utilities has pretty much been won by the environmentalists so today even if the federal government declared instant approval without any possibility of court hearings, environmental impact studies and endless negotiations over land use it would take at least five years before new capacity came on line. We don't have five years of reserve capacity left and if we turn off the nuclear power plants (likely!) we will be in an instant capacity crisis.

Sure, in California, where PG&E seriously considered building a power plant in orbit to avoid the NIMBY problem, but gave up because they'd need a city block somewhere to receive the power, and so back to NIMBY. Meanwhile, Texas has its own power grid, and is doing fine.

Re:The Trouble with Reports: (4, Insightful)

spottedkangaroo (451692) | more than 2 years ago | (#36953106)

it would make a lot more sense if they could ever get permission to build fast breader reactors and use the nuclear "waste" as fuel in the second type of reactor.

Re:The Trouble with Reports: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36953476)

Re:The Trouble with Reports: (1)

spottedkangaroo (451692) | more than 2 years ago | (#36954014)

So we get one try and when it doesn't work, oh well, let's keep burning coal and burying otherwise usable fuels? Yes, nuclear is dangerous, but I bet even the japanese use more and more of it in the future. You have to get electricity from somewhere and throwing away fuel that was only 1% spent doesn't make any sense to me.

The fact is, there would be more of these reactors if the government would allow fuel reprocessing -- Carter shutdown that program for reasons unclear to me. Was it because he was afraid of developing rich plutoniums? Was he afraid of nuclear in general? I don't really know, but nobody has reversed that decision either -- they just make too much sense. If you're going to have nuclear at all, it doesn't make sense to stop with the slow reactions and then throw away what's left. None of the original designs expected that. They expected to then later reprocess the "spent" fuels to make fuels for the faster reactors.

So it's not fair to say nuclear isn't cost effective. If you cut off the program at the knees, of course it's hard to make it work. I'm not addressing at all the problems with meltdowns, environmental carnage, and initial cost overruns with the first few reactors. Nuclear has plenty of problems, and I'm not sure it's wise at all. I'm leaning toward yes, but I wouldn't want to live anywhere near it.

All I'm saying is that if we worked up the nerve to build these things (lol 70' towers of liquid sodium, not in my backyard); then it would be a lot more cost effective, and storing the "waste" would be less of a problem.

Re:The Trouble with Reports: (1)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 2 years ago | (#36953330)

Well, yes. If you block all technological advancement in one field for upwards of half a century then it won't tend to much progress. The designs for commercial nuclear power plants were based around 1950s requirements to create material for nuclear weapons programs. If energy companies were even just allowed to advance to state-of-the (1970s) - art molten salt reactor designs based around the thorium fuel cycle the economic argument would look a lot different, not to mention what might happen if the State decided to stop micromanaging energy production and allowed technology to advance on its own.

Re:The Trouble with Reports: (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | more than 2 years ago | (#36953670)

what might happen if the State decided to stop micromanaging energy production and allowed technology to advance on its own.

When the power source in question is capable of rendering 100 mile radius uninhabitable for decades....sorry I want micromanagement.

Now, solar/wind on the other hand don't do a damned thing when they fail. They might fall over and hit you but once they have failed they are completely inert and can be cleaned up right after the storm.

To be fair, I like Thorium as a reactor fuel, but my understanding of Thorium is the tech isn't yet there; i.e. keeping corrosive radioactive salts contained with no maintenance (closed systems) is still problematic.

In any event, it still has a fuel cost that renewable sources don't.

Re:The Trouble with Reports: (1)

lgw (121541) | more than 2 years ago | (#36953946)

When the power source in question is capable of rendering 100 mile radius uninhabitable for decades....sorry I want micromanagement.

Coal is vastly more dangerous than nuclear. The real world problems are far worse - US nuclear power never killed anyone (except during plant construction), but coal miners still die relatively young. And mine fires have actually made 100s of square miles uninhabitable, while the worst-realistic-case risk from a nuclear plant is far smaller.

Please step away from "scary-scary-nukular-scary".

Re:The Trouble with Reports: (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | more than 2 years ago | (#36954104)

Coal is not dangerous from a 'failure' perspective. It is dangerous from an operational perspective. It is *possible* to run a clean coal operation, prohibitively expensive, but possible.

Nuclear is not possible to contain in a 'failure', by definition because things have failed you don't have control. Without control, the entire area is no longer safe.

Some failures are and have been contained, but others haven't. So you can't guarantee that it can be contained. Hence you can't say it's 'safer' than coal.

Re:The Trouble with Reports: (1)

Vancorps (746090) | more than 2 years ago | (#36954210)

The former [wikipedia.org] residents of Centralia Pennsylvania might beg to differ. Their town has been uninhabitable since the 60s, the toxic air has killed many. Coal mining is very dangerous and has killed far more people than all nuclear accidents combined.

There are certainly nuclear designs that are far less prone to failure, the fact that many stations have been running for 40 years without major incident is proof that the old designs with known problems are still safer than the current approach to coal.

Re:The Trouble with Reports: (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | more than 2 years ago | (#36954344)

sigh, Centralia is 1.6 sq km. Hardly comparable to 31,000 sq miles...

Even if you're comparing the apples of mining to oranges of plant operation...

Re:The Trouble with Reports: (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | more than 2 years ago | (#36954360)

To your point about safety. Fukashima was 'safe', they didn't consider it was *possible* to have the magnitude of event that happened.

Which is my point, you can't plan for failure, because things have failed. You can try and mitigate and redundancy you're way to some percentage, but it is not and never will be 100% safe.

Coal simply does not have these types of failure conditions. It has operational issues, which you can plan for adequately. We certainly haven't, but you *can*. Nuclear cannot be made 100% safe, ever. And when a 1% chance means relocating 100,000 people? I say that's not feasible.

Re:The Trouble with Reports: (1)

Vancorps (746090) | more than 2 years ago | (#36954610)

China [wikipedia.org] is the world's largest user of coal and I think they would beg to differ. 100,000 people even in Japan were not permanently relocated. You are correct that nuclear will never be 100% safe, neither will coal, neither will any power generation method that is on any appreciable scale. People were evacuated from the areas surrounding Fukashima not because it was unsafe to be there but specifically because they weren't sure and until they were sure it was better safe than sorry.

Also, given that they did know this was a risk and failed to adequately account for that risk since they raised the backup generators, they just didn't raise them at that plant enough unlike most of the others. In modern designs power is also not required which was the big problem with using older designs.

Using examples of old methods of doing things and calling them unsafe when newer methods exist with 40 years more engineering behind them and you have to be pretty disingenuous to say that it is unsafe especially given the track record. In the entire history of nuclear power in the U.S. there has never been any reason to call it unsafe. When procedures aren't followed you end up with problems, imagine that? By that logic we should ban drilling for oil because it's not safe! In the last year more people died from coal and oil than have died in all of the history of nuclear power except maybe if you include the atomic bombs in the history of nuclear power.

I'll admit, coal feels safer, it's easier to control, it's something you can hold in your hands even if you shouldn't, and its safer to transport, in reality though it's still difficult to control and causes way more radiation to be released while operating normally as opposed to a nuclear power plant.

Re:The Trouble with Reports: (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | more than 2 years ago | (#36954714)

100,000 people even in Japan were not permanently relocated.

You mean everybody is allowed to go home now? Sources please... They were decidedly *not* concerned with safety since the US had a bigger exclusion zone than the Japanese did. It was politics playing its role. They finally had to admit that multiple reactors had full containment breach through the bottom. That's not 'safe' by any stretch.

You are correct that nuclear will never be 100% safe, neither will coal, neither will any power generation method that is on any appreciable scale.

What 'safety' issues exist with solar and wind? Again, coal has operational issues but not failure issues. You can plan for the former, you can at best mitigate the latter.

By that logic we should ban drilling for oil because it's not safe!

And I've said that very thing. Most specifically deep water drilling because we simply can't contain a problem when it happens. 160+ 'failure' scenarios for the blowout preventers! seriously, 160 ways they can fail when they are the last line of defense. Yet we're still using the same design even now post Deepwater Horizon.

Re:The Trouble with Reports: (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 2 years ago | (#36954786)

You mean everybody is allowed to go home now?
Not yet, AFAIK, no. But just because they haven't gone home yet doesn't mean that they've been relocated permanently. And, you're saying, over and over, that just because an old reactor failed during a pair of natural disasters that were far worse than anything it was designed for (It survived the earthquake, you know, even though that was much worse than it was built to survive.) all reactors, regardless of where they're built or how they're designed are automatically unsafe. I honestly can't understand people who "reason" like that.

Re:The Trouble with Reports: (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | more than 2 years ago | (#36954834)

I said decades, which is pretty darned permanent. Could new people move back, probably, but you still have to relocate 100,000 people. What's the economic cost of that?

just because an old reactor failed during a pair of natural disasters that were far worse than anything it was designed for

So it was 'safe' right up until it wasn't? what's your point? My point is that it can't ever be 'safe' enough because there will always be something you haven't planned for.

And yes every situation has *something* that isn't planned for. The difference with nuclear is the effect of that failure. And we're seeing it can be downright catastrophic with no ability to mitigate.

This thread took off when somebody wished there was less micromanagement in nuclear industry.

Do you really want BP running a nuclear plant with George W Bush doing oversight?

Re:The Trouble with Reports: (1)

lgw (121541) | more than 2 years ago | (#36954270)

What kind of nonsense is that? Try living in coal country for a while - coal kills, and there's no such thing as a clean coal mine. And you clearly don't understand the failure mode [wikipedia.org] of coal mining, either.

The only nuclear disaster that wasn't contained was Chernobyl, where there was no containment dome - they didn't even try. And that was a pretty small disaster, in term os casualties, relative to "communist engineering failures" worldwide.

How do you wan't to measure "safety"? By whose science-fiction novel is scarier, or by actual death and injury rates?

Re:The Trouble with Reports: (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | more than 2 years ago | (#36954422)

Centralia is 1.6 sq mi. Compared with 31,000 sq miles that Fukashima has fouled.

Did I ever say coal was 'good'? nope, I simply said it does not have the failure issues that nuclear does. If you think a coal plant failing is remotely close to a nuclear plant failing, logic won't sway you I'm sure.

Mining is bad, I agree. You know what? You have to mine uranium too. What's your point again? I"m in favor of renewable so there's nothing of the sort for fuel.

The only nuclear disaster that wasn't contained was Chernobyl

Which was a human event with no safety systems. Note the human part, if humans are involved in design, construction or operation, there will be failures. We are not infallible. When there are failures at nuclear plants it is *possible* that you have vast areas uninhabitable.

Fukashima was considered 'safe' prior to this event. How many more 'safe' events are we going to have hmmm?

How do you wan't to measure "safety"? By whose science-fiction novel is scarier, or by actual death and injury rates?

Well for starters I don't compare failure scenarios to operational ones...

Coal has significant operational issues I don't deny that. But you can mitigate those with enough money, stack scrubbers etc. We haven't done this and so coal causes many deaths world wide. That is not the same as being unable to contain something like a nuclear accident.

Coal bad != nuclear good

Re:The Trouble with Reports: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36953806)

There's been no barrier to technologically advancing the types of remediation and containment necessary to partner with these technologies, and what have we learned? Mushrooms are the best remediation technique and we still can't store the stuff safely. This is the most dangerous kind of technological optimism... one that burdens all future generations with vigilance for the dangers we leave behind deciding to employ tech we can't manage safely. Just amassing thousands of tons of waste in lead caskets is hardly "management", it's irresponsible, as is the cherry-picked science that says this whole scenario is "safe".

If the hidden costs of nuclear were presented, like the actual carbon costs in construction and decommissioning, as well as what still remains the largest lobby in Washington, the scales would tip away from this massively dangerous and unnecessary technology. It is hardly surprising to find the NRC covering their arses this way.

Re:The Trouble with Reports: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36953166)

According to an earlier /. report which is also right (like this one,) you need only to have 9 friends to ensure that everyone will eventually come to know this immutable scientific fact. Because 10% is the magic tipping point. And they need 9 friends, and so on. So, do not despair. If you believe /. reports, your dreams will come true.

Re:Does the report also find... (2)

BlueMikey (1112869) | more than 2 years ago | (#36953052)

And that politicians who apparently went to decent high schools and colleges and graduate schools subsequently forget any science they've learned when they realize that John Q Public not only cannot understand science, but hates people who do.

Ignorance is bliss.

TFA (4, Insightful)

Ironchew (1069966) | more than 2 years ago | (#36952840)

TFA says that 1-2% of cesium 137 is likely to escape the core in the event of a containment breach, unlike 60% in previous estimates (Most of it dissolves in stagnant water or is deposited on the containment vessel surface). People living in a 10-mile radius would have enough time to evacuate, and cancer estimates within 10 miles went from 1 in 167 previously to 1 in 4348. A rainstorm happening during the meltdown can cause a higher dose to accumulate in small areas.

Total Meltdown (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36953194)

I can still score a total meltdown in less than 30 seconds.
Beat that!

http://esa21.kennesaw.edu/activities/nukeenergy/nuke.htm

Re:TFA (1)

Interoperable (1651953) | more than 2 years ago | (#36953382)

It's worth noting that the panel was considering the results of the most-likely mode of failure under average conditions and not a worst-case scenario. If a reactor managed to explode and destroy the containment vessels, I'm sure their earlier estimates of the death toll would still apply.

The Fukushima accident suggests that Three-Mile-Island was actually more of a real disaster than a narrowly avoided one; a contained meltdown with some radiation release is a normal failure mode and not tremendously hazardous. On the other hand, the NRC report didn't consider less likely types of failure which could still produce much worse contamination. It's very tough to say beforehand how likely a given type of disaster is and very easy to look back in hindsight and say that there had been a disaster waiting to happen.

Sooner or later I'm sure a worst-case nuclear disaster will occur and the result will be a handful of acute radiation sickness deaths and a few million people who end up with a statistically-insignificant increase to their chances of getting cancer.

Re:TFA (1)

AC-x (735297) | more than 2 years ago | (#36953426)

Sooner or later I'm sure a worst-case nuclear disaster will occur and the result will be a handful of acute radiation sickness deaths and a few million people who end up with a statistically-insignificant increase to their chances of getting cancer.

A worst case nuclear disaster has already occurred, in 1986.

Re:TFA (2)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 2 years ago | (#36954112)

If a reactor managed to explode

Reactors don't explode.

Unless you pack them full of TNT or some such.

Re:TFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36954264)

Incorrect. Reactors are in fact quite likely to explode during serious accidents. Steam explosions, hydrogen explosions (which is what happened at Fukushima), those are the sort of thing that happen to them.

Re:TFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36954978)

Reactors are very hot. Hot things tend to expand. Whenever a material "tries" to expands, but is contained (as within a nuclear reactor), a chance exists that the container might fail and an explosion ensue. That said, I support nuclear power since the engineers who design them take such things into consideration when designing a safe reactor.

Re:TFA (1)

fnj (64210) | more than 2 years ago | (#36955326)

Oh, the Chernobyl reactor didn't explode? I'll alert the media. They've been wrong all these years. Why didn't you tell them?

Re:TFA (3, Informative)

danlip (737336) | more than 2 years ago | (#36955454)

Chernobyl exploded - it was a steam explosion, not a nuclear explosion, but it was sufficient to blow apart the building and throw pieces of the core everywhere. Really much worse than a nuclear bomb, since a bomb would burn more of its fuel.

And there might have been a small nuclear explosion too - there were 2 explosions, and the second might have been nuclear, although it certain isn't clear - the wikipedia article on the Chernobyl disaster discusses this. In any case, the damn thing exploded.

Re:TFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36954274)

Japan actually had nuclear explosions happen in densely populated areas, twice. Nowadays, the life expectancy in Hiroshima is longer than the life expectancy anywhere in America.

It's actually very hard to get fissile material to explode like that. Just ask the North Koreans with their fizzlebomb. In particular, reactors can't explode.

Re:TFA (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 2 years ago | (#36955348)

Well, they CAN explode [ndtv.com] . Just not in that way.

That was very quick! (2)

Idou (572394) | more than 2 years ago | (#36953540)

I am amazed that they were able to gather such specifics so quickly from the Fukushima accident when apparently even the Japanese government still seems to be clueless to the extent of cesium contamination (though, they continue to give out low-ball estimates that do not align with observations in the field . . .). Oh, or maybe this does NOT include lessons learned from Fukushima? Then why the peculiar timing? Perhaps this is just more industry damage control through PR efforts?

In that case, I am not too interested. I would much rather listen to professors with the balls to yell at the Diet of Japan [blogspot.com] than looking a the industry/regulators give each other reach arounds . . .

Re:That was very quick! (1)

EdZ (755139) | more than 2 years ago | (#36953998)

that do not align with observations in the field

Observations by who? Measurements published by NISA and the IAEA (and freely available), or from 'independent' observers. Observers who often don't know the first thing about taking accurate measurements, haven't calibrated their equipment (or more commonly, don't even know it needs to be calibrated), have built their own detectors by blindly following plans on the internet, or all three. I'm all for community monitoring from competent amateurs, but I'd take any aggregate data from them with several metric tons of salt.

Re:That was very quick! (2)

Idou (572394) | more than 2 years ago | (#36954718)

Alright, yes, we should just let the "experts" take care of things, since they NEVER make mistakes [houseofjapan.com] . Oh, and this is way too complicated for average citizens . . . readings at 20 meters should be just as accurate as at 1 meter [jugem.jp] .

No properties are selling within a 100 mile radius of the plant. You, being enlightened, should profit by buying cheap land from the stupid masses at a discount. You can start by buying my house. Though, I have yet to receive an offer from your ilk. Must have something to do with spewing BS without any consequence does not equate to an actual economic decision.

Re:That was very quick! (-1, Flamebait)

Goaway (82658) | more than 2 years ago | (#36955392)

So when challenged to provide sources for what you're saying, all you come back with is snark.

Not doing a very good job of convincing anyone that you are worth listening to, there.

Re:That was very quick! (2)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 2 years ago | (#36955396)

Real Estate prices have everything to do with mass fear among the populace, and prove nothing about the actual risks or hazards of living in the area. Real Estate is about A) Perceptions, and B) Economy (e.g. can anyone *afford* to buy a house, even if they want to).

Your argument doesn't actually address the science in the report. It's just a statement of your lack of belief in the ability of any expert, ever, to make a correct determination based upon science. So, experts sometimes make mistakes, but that doesn't mean the NRC has made a mistake in this case. It doesn't mean the people running the radiation monitoring in Japan *actually* did make any mistakes.

As for that article you linked to, it appears to me to be a very, very poor example of journalism, that takes one small fact - TEPCO said that an emergency venting happened one day, but it actually happened the previous day, and makes a big deal out of that. It also declares about the venting, "It is an event that has a huge impact on the environment outside a nuclear power plant." However, it provides no source or basis for that claim. How do they know it will have a huge impact on the environment outside the plant? Wouldn't it be important to know just what type of radioactive material was in the steam which was vented, how much of it, etc? Wouldn't you need to know how much that radioactive material dispersed, and how long its half-life is?

I'm sorry if I don't believe every poorly backed up alarmist hit-piece in the media that claims that every little thing that happens at a nuclear plant is a terrible, terrible disaster that is being covered up by the government and industry.

I can't buy your house as I don't live in Japan and have no plans at all to move to Japan, but I will say this - I would be comfortable living within 10 miles of a nuclear plant, and would even be comfortable going to live in an area like the area around Fukushima which has only been (in most parts - IIRC there is one small area where the contamination, for some reason, ended up being much more concentrated than most of the other areas), lightly contaminated by a relatively small quantity of radioactive materials.

Re:TFA (0)

wholesale1 (2418238) | more than 2 years ago | (#36954990)

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Nuke plants?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36952936)

I hate trees as much as the next guy, but I don't think we should start a war with them..

So, which is it?? (1, Troll)

madhatter256 (443326) | more than 2 years ago | (#36952942)

Fist Cesium 137 was very dangerous, but now "new" science dictates it's safe....

It's like going to the tire shop with a flat tire and having them say it's perfectly fine....

Re:So, which is it?? (3, Insightful)

gstrickler (920733) | more than 2 years ago | (#36953004)

137Cs is dangerous [wikipedia.org] , however, the amount you're likely to be exposed to after a reactor meltdown is significantly lower than previously thought.

Based on what real life experimentation? (2)

Idou (572394) | more than 2 years ago | (#36953926)

The Fukushima experiment is still ongoing and will take at least 20 years before the first set of results come in. I think the conclusions from the report are a bit premature and the timing is quite suspicious.

Re:So, which is it?? (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 2 years ago | (#36954200)

And it makes a great marinade for steaks and rib roasts [bbc.co.uk] !

Re:So, which is it?? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36953008)

No one said it was safe. This report indicates that the vast majority of Cesium in a plant would remain in said plant in the event of a catastrophic meltdown.

Re:So, which is it?? (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 2 years ago | (#36955270)

In Fukushima it wound up in the food chain fairly immediately. They were fortunate as the prevailing winds blow offshore, and the deliberate dumping of contaminated water went into a very big Pacific ocean - but large swaths of island were impacted anyway.

In the US it's a different story. Downwind from just about everywhere is the highly populated Eastern seaboard. In the middle of America the only way to dump that water is to put it into a tributary of the Mississipi.

Few will hear this (1)

Gonoff (88518) | more than 2 years ago | (#36952958)

It will not get in the tabloids because lack of fear does not sell newspapers.

It will not get in most of the adult newspapers because it win't fit the editorial stance that is either anti-technology because "green is good" or anti state control because they are so right wing they could only be seen as mainstream in the USA. Few people really want nuclear power run like Monty Burns one...

This does not leave many other sources of information that "normal" people (not like the /. crowd) will hear.

Re:Few will hear this (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 2 years ago | (#36954570)

Few people really want nuclear power run like Monty Burns one...

I'd say that was a pretty efficient operation. You didn't even have to type in "Y-E-S" every time you wanted to vent off some gas to prevent an explosion.

isn't it great? (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#36952964)

we now know so much more about these 1 in 10,000 years types of meltdowns, because we've been so fortunate to get over 40,000 years worth in less than 50 years. Like winning the mega-millions lottery again and again and again.

Re:isn't it great? (2)

Rising Ape (1620461) | more than 2 years ago | (#36952980)

There've been nearly 15,000 reactor-years of operation worldwide, not 50 years. So "one in ten thousand years" is a bit off, but not spectacularly.

Re:isn't it great? (1)

HiThere (15173) | more than 2 years ago | (#36953272)

Yes, but even though I *know* the they mean "reactor-years" in the same way as man-years, when they just say years I automatically read it as chronological years. And that's the proper way to read it. They say it that way because that's how they want you to read it.

If they wanted you to understand reactor-years, that's what they'd say. They don't. They want you to think of it as a lot safer than it really is. Which is why I distrust their "revised report". It *may* actually be more accurate, but they may also be playing this same kind of word game. (Or, of course, they could be lying, but I generally exclude that when I know that they could effectively mislead you by just playing word games.)

So. There's a chance that the report is honest. But internal evidence leads one to suspect that they have an agenda of convincing people that things are safer than they really are. How much should I trust them?

I understand their argument, and it would be reasonable if these were people that were trustworthy. They demonstrably aren't. So is it a true report being issued by untrustworthy people, or is it untrustworthy people trying to mislead me again?

Whatever. I don't want nuclear plants, even nominally safe ones, built around me because the area is riddled with active earthquake faults. The last time they built a plant around here they built it below a cliff on an active fault. Somehow this left me with a lot of distrust for them. They had to shut it down before they put the fuel in, but we're still paying for it on the electric bill. No more of that, please.
And what's worse the company was informed of the problem before they started construction. But they didn't care. It wasn't until a site inspection by an independent evaluator was forced by the state...which wasn't until LOTS of money was sunk into the project...that they even admitted that they had a problem.

I'll consider trusting nuclear plants when they stop requiring that the government exempt them from damage caused if they have an accident. Even then past history is going to make me very skeptical of them. It's not the plants themselves, it's the organizations that run them that are the problem. But it's such a VERY large problem.

Re:isn't it great? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36953394)

Yes, but even though I *know* the they mean "reactor-years" in the same way as man-years, when they just say years I automatically read it as chronological years. And that's the proper way to read it. They say it that way because that's how they want you to read it.

If they wanted you to understand reactor-years, that's what they'd say. They don't. They want you to think of it as a lot safer than it really is. Which is why I distrust their "revised report". It *may* actually be more accurate, but they may also be playing this same kind of word game. (Or, of course, they could be lying, but I generally exclude that when I know that they could effectively mislead you by just playing word games.

..or they expect the main percentage of people that read it know it means reactor years and not chronological years. This is a governing body, not a newspaper that has to peddle to the lowest common denominator. The language doesn't have to include translations when everyone knows it.

Re:isn't it great? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36954006)

Yes, but even though I *know* the they mean "reactor-years" in the same way as man-years, when they just say years I automatically read it as chronological years. And that's the proper way to read it. They say it that way because that's how they want you to read it.

If they wanted you to understand reactor-years, that's what they'd say. They don't. They want you to think of it as a lot safer than it really is.

Trouble with your scare-mongering is that I don't live 10 miles from all the nuke plants in the world, I live 10 miles from one nuke plant. So unless the fates really have it in for me, reactor-years (or plant-years, if there's multiple reactors at the plant) is the correct tool for assessing my risk. You, on the other hand, want me to behave as if every time any plant anywhere on Earth fails and some people get cancer 5 years early, that I'll be the one harmed -- you want me to think of it as a lot riskier than it really is.

I'll consider trusting nuclear plants when they stop requiring that the government exempt them from damage caused if they have an accident. Even then past history is going to make me very skeptical of them. It's not the plants themselves, it's the organizations that run them that are the problem. But it's such a VERY large problem.

Fine, I'll consider trusting coal plants when they stop requiring that the government exempt them from the damage caused every single freaking day as normal business.

You can't point at a problem with the whole industry (socializing harm while privatizing reward), use that to repudiate a single segment rather than the whole industry, and expect anyone to take it as a serious argument.

Re:isn't it great? (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#36954176)

Was being sarcastic because I'm pissed at carelessness, stupidity and greed that caused all the major accidents to date. But to be serious, we're talking about stats from something called the Rasmussen Study, which gave that number, and then said nine out of ten of those events would NOT have radiation emissions of consequence. But that major meltdown with release would be 1 in 100,000 per reactor-year of operation. That's actually kind of scary, we'd better put these gen II turds out of commission.

Surprisee, surprisee. Industry whoring. (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 2 years ago | (#36952970)

After this :

http://hardware.slashdot.org/story/11/06/20/1540233/AP-Investigation-Concludes-US-Nuke-Regulators-Weakening-Safety-Rules [slashdot.org]

and this :

http://www.myweathertech.com/2011/07/03/leaked-emails-reveal-government-conspiracy-to-downplay-fukushima-nuclear-disaster/ [myweathertech.com]

and this :

http://blog.alexanderhiggins.com/2011/05/19/confirmed-epa-rigged-radnet-japan-nuclear-radiation-monitoring-equipment-report-levels-nuclear-fallout-22823/ [alexanderhiggins.com]

is it ANY surprise that an official government committee said 'nuclear is less dangerous than you think' ?

despicable. the fact that they think they can still fool people, is appalling. the fact that there could be people who would believe them, is dumbfounding.

these people should be outcast from society. they are public enemies.

Re:Surprisee, surprisee. Industry whoring. (5, Insightful)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#36953024)

No, the real outcasts of society are those, who are trying to hold economic and technological development of society back, from allowing that sort of development to help the society to become more wealthy and affluent by having more and cheaper and safer energy sources, and nuclear is that type of source.

Re:Surprisee, surprisee. Industry whoring. (1)

dave562 (969951) | more than 2 years ago | (#36953184)

and nuclear COULD BE that type of source.

FTFY

Without open and honest dialogue about the realities of the risks inherent with nuclear, and what must be done to mitigate them, nuclear will never be a viable option. The people who would conceal the risks and continually lower the safety standards are the societal outcasts. They are more focused on saving money and increasing profits than they are on running things safely and responsibly.

Re:Surprisee, surprisee. Industry whoring. (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#36953214)

Saving money and increasing profits is the only right way to go about building more nuclear capacity. Their safety records are already excellent, regardless of which metric you are using, be it death per gigawatt or release of carbon or any other polluting emissions per gigawatt.

Figuring out how to make nuclear energy more profitable and cheap is what we need in the long run.

Re:Surprisee, surprisee. Industry whoring. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36953252)

Not only is holding back cheap power bad for the economy but bad for the environment even without taking coal or CO2 into the equation. Cheap power would make it more economical to recycle and break down wastes. Cheap power would help us clean up polluted lakes and rivers because the major costs is pumping the water to filter it.

Re:Surprisee, surprisee. Industry whoring. (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 2 years ago | (#36953700)

Holding back cheap electric power makes tremendous sense in some circles.

Think about it for a moment. If electricity was limited and there was only enough for a few lights at home and the refrigerator we wouldn't have to worry about coal pollution, coal mining, light pollution (no more streetlights!) or many of the problems we face today. There would probably be less electricity for commercial purposes, so instead of using a computer there would be 10-20 clerks with mechanical calculators. Full employment once again!

Most of the pollution would be gone in a decade or two. You wouldn't drive a car if the gas pump had to be hand cranked and there were no traffic lights, just policemen on every corner directing traffic. There would be more horses and plenty of work for people cleaning up after them. People wouldn't have cell phones because the solar cell chargers would be for TVs, radios and lights in the evenings. Going on a cruise might be really nice because they would have lights and games 24x7.

Just think what Las Vegas would be like by candlelight and gas lamps.

Re:Surprisee, surprisee. Industry whoring. (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 2 years ago | (#36954190)

There would be more horses and plenty of work for people cleaning up after them.

That would bring back Tetanus as a big killer, what with all that horse manure laying around.

It should be noted that tetanus from horse manure has probably caused more deaths than have nuclear reactors. Or nuclear bombs, for that matter.

Cheap power? (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 2 years ago | (#36955436)

Before you call nuclear power cheap you have to come up with a plan and a cost for the whole lifecycle of a nuclear plant - including disposal of the spent fuel. Otherwise you don't know what you spent for the power you got. Since there is no plan to dispose if the spent fuel, there can be no costing associated with it. So we really have no idea how much this power actually costs yet. Cheap nuclear power is a myth.

Producing spent fuel with no plan to be permanently rid of it is simply irresponsible.

Re:Surprisee, surprisee. Industry whoring. (1)

scarboni888 (1122993) | more than 2 years ago | (#36953522)

If it really were so cheap and safe it could get private insurance. But since it can't it's not.

Yes, just like in Fukushima . . . (1)

Idou (572394) | more than 2 years ago | (#36953884)

Safer and cheaper . . . the residents are so overjoyed by their new found wealth that they are literally killing themselves to rejoice.

If you want nuclear technology, first build a proper system to protect and compensate those negatively impacted by the limitations of institutional governance and oversight. You can start by compensating my family and myself. Otherwise, STFU.

Re:Yes, just like in Fukushima . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36955444)

OK, sell opponents of nuclear power in to slavery and give the proceeds to their victims. We would all be running on generation IV-V reactors if not for their obstructionist hysteric bullshit. The reason Fukushima happened was because Boiling Water Reactors are an inherently flawed and poorly thought out design.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generation_IV_reactor#Lead-cooled_fast_reactor_.28LFR.29

Thorium Fuel Cycle, Pebble Bed, Traveling Wave. Take your pick. If it wasn't for retards we would all be living on the Starship Enterprise by now.

Re:Yes, just like in Fukushima . . . (1)

danlip (737336) | more than 2 years ago | (#36955524)

No, if it wasn't for the opponents they would just be building cheaper boiling water reactors with fewer safety precautions, and dumping the nuclear waste in the river. Because they really don't give a shit about anything but making money, and designing a new reactor costs money, safety precautions cost money, disposing of waste properly costs money. The captains of industry have been fucking over the little guys for much longer than nuclear power has existed, and they aren't going to magically stop because of the invisible hand of the free market. The only thing that keeps them in line is government regulation and the threats of lawsuits, and the only thing that keeps the government regulators in line is lots of protests and activism.

Yes there are much better reactor designs, and yes we need them desperately, but selling the nuclear opponents into slavery will not get us there.

Re:Surprisee, surprisee. Industry whoring. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36955286)

Nuclear is obviously not safer (unless your are unable to do basic exponential math).

Re:Surprisee, surprisee. Industry whoring. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36953116)

Meh... The first was about cases being made for engineering limits being changed over the course of years. Nobody was surprised. Typically hyperbolic writeup.

The second was about British government PR campaign to contain uneducated hysteria about nuclear power generation. Yes, particularly important when you're looking to build a plant. Typical overstatement by press and (worse) /. summary. Zomg... it's a conspiracy... they're trying to kill us. Let's deal with facts for once, eh?

The third simply pointed out, with another ridiculously hyperbolic headline, the detectors hadn't been properly maintained in years. They (obviously) went and calibrated them when Fukushima happened... per the article. That calibration meant the readings went down. Per the article. Wow... another "conspiracy" to kill us with nuke plants headline... color me surprised.

Really... I could find bullshit FUD about nuclear power all day too. What I care about are facts.

Re:Surprisee, surprisee. Industry whoring. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36953994)

You are a creationist and a climate change denier. This is proven by the fact that you think exactly like them; any science contradicting what you "know" to be true must be false and/or made up by conspirators.

Now get your sorry ass back to Kansas and burn some more books.

Oil and Coal Are Safe! (0)

BlueMikey (1112869) | more than 2 years ago | (#36953086)

Sincerely,

Politician Who Accepts Gobs of Money from Oil and Coal Companies


(Who wants blue skies anyway?)

Please indicate when linking to NYT paywall (1)

TwobyTwo (588727) | more than 2 years ago | (#36953094)

This /. posting does indicate that what's linked is a NYT article, but it fails to remind that following the link costs you one of your 20 free NYT accesses/month. It would be helpful if the posting were updated with a [paywall] marking, or some such, after the link. Otherwise, thanks for the interesting post!

Re:Please indicate when linking to NYT paywall (2)

gstrickler (920733) | more than 2 years ago | (#36953304)

It's not a paywall. You can read the article for free for at least 7 days after it's published. Even if if requires an NYT account (it doesn't appear to), you can get a free NYT account. And since almost no one reads /. articles over 3 days old, the 7 day window is plenty for the 99+% of readers who will see this.

Re:Please indicate when linking to NYT paywall (2)

molo (94384) | more than 2 years ago | (#36953508)

You know you can just clear your nytimes.com cookies to have them forget about the 20 articles you already read, right?

-molo

Re:Please indicate when linking to NYT paywall (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36954852)

Turn off javascript and cookies. Should work fine.

No trust (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36953404)

for a report generated by industry lapdogs...

I'm constantly amazed at the number of nuclear apologists on slashdot. C'mon guys, that technology is half a century old! Am I the only one who sees the irony in geeks being so resistant to new technology (though I suspect half the accounts on here are astroturfers)? Look to the future in renewables.

Re:No trust (1)

Colourspace (563895) | more than 2 years ago | (#36953562)

Show me the sums that truly show re-newables in a good light, I will listen. No-one can, other than 'ideology sums'. I'd love to think otherwise, but I still have faith in nuclear for now. Really the 'best' alternative we at this moment in time as we buy time is for truly greener solutions.

Re:No trust (1)

Falconhell (1289630) | more than 2 years ago | (#36955552)

Yeh and those same apologists will quote this sort of rubbish to try and "prove" nuke is safe.
And those same folks will say that climate scientists are corrupt, and cant be trusted, whereas nuke scinetists who are directly employed by their indusrty are to be believed.

Funny about that eh? Nuke fans get the message, most people dont want nuclear plants near them and that is NOt going to
change. Lets get on with other forms of energy, not piss around with a thouroughly discredited nuke industry.

Does this include cost? (1)

gweihir (88907) | more than 2 years ago | (#36953512)

Like the astronomical cost required for a cleanup and that can for example negatively impact the economy with all the negative health effect that causes?

Events of this type and impact magnitude always need to have all their negative impact looked at in a holistic fashion. Everything else is just lying with statistics.

Fukushima Death Toll Approaches Zero (1)

bxwatso (1059160) | more than 2 years ago | (#36953542)

The Fukushima plants were hit with a heavy earthquake. The ground they sat upon was lowered by something like 6 - 11 feet. The power lines that could have powered the coolant pumps were destroyed. A tsunami flooded the site and fouled the backup generators. The containment buildings exploded. The containment vessels cracked. On top of all that, the reactors are based on 40 year old designs.

This is about as bad of scenario as one could imagine, yet there were no public deaths. That sounds to me like nuclear power is in fact safe and robust, and the worst case scenario is bad but not catastrophic.

Re:Fukushima Death Toll Approaches Zero (2)

formfeed (703859) | more than 2 years ago | (#36953826)

The Fukushima plants were hit with a heavy earthquake. ....

This is about as bad of scenario as one could imagine, yet there were no public deaths.

No, no public deaths. Most deaths will be private. And slow enough that it will be impossible to prove that the cancer was caused by the Fukushima accident and not by carcinogenic food additives, pollution, or background radiation (e.g. previous nuclear tests) - All of them cancer sources previously labeled insignificant by the industry, their paid stooges, and some stools on /. who call anyone who questions their 19yo wisdom an unscientific troll.

Re:Fukushima Death Toll Approaches Zero (1)

bxwatso (1059160) | more than 2 years ago | (#36953940)

What I meant by private deaths is that some of the workers at the plant may have exposed themselves to a lot of radation while trying to resolve the crisis. They may die an early death.

Since everyone dies, it is truly hard to say what the cause of death was decades after an event. Japan is a nation of smokers, and that is proven to be unhealthy. I can tell you do not like corporations (whatever 'the industry' is that does all these bad things), but one thing is clear: life expectancy has about doubled since these various corporate evils were introduced.

Re:Fukushima Death Toll Approaches Zero (1)

iksbob (947407) | more than 2 years ago | (#36954606)

I can tell you do not like corporations (whatever 'the industry' is that does all these bad things)

It's a phenomenon that results from the very definition of a capitalist economy. Businesses are created and motivated by the opportunity for profit. Profit is the business's revenue less their expenses. If a business can reduce their expenses, their profit increases. If protecting the public has an expense tied to it (as it generally does), not protecting the public will increase profits. The same is true of protecting workers. While free market forces would presumably push away workers and consumers if conditions were bad enough, a great deal of injury and injustice would be wrought before those reactionary forces could take effect. The only way to be proactive is to force businesses to maintain a certain level of respect for their workers and the public in general via environmental and safety regulations.

Re:Fukushima Death Toll Approaches Zero (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36954574)

Most deaths will be private. And slow enough that it will be impossible to prove that the cancer was caused by the Fukushima accident...

Proof beyond a reasonable doubt is unnecessary in civil cases in the U.S., only in criminal cases. If the incidence of a type of cancer caused by radiation exposure more than doubles, then it's more likely than not that the Fukushima accident caused it. Other potential mitigating factors aside, such a "preponderance of the evidence" would be enough to win a complaint in civil court in the U.S. I don't know about in Japan, though.

Re:Fukushima Death Toll Approaches Zero (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36955002)

not by carcinogenic food additives, pollution, or background radiation (e.g. previous nuclear tests) - All of them cancer sources previously labeled insignificant by the industry, their paid stooges, and some stools on /. who call anyone who questions their 19yo wisdom an unscientific troll.

So... not caused by Fukushima, then?

Perhaps the troll protest too much?

Re:Fukushima Death Toll Approaches Zero (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36953830)

Yeah, and asbestos doesn't kill either!
It's crazy how Fukushima real estate is so cheap now.

On the other hand... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36953654)

While the health hazard of a nuclear leak might be less than previously thought, unfortunately the likelihood of nuclear accidents is much higher than previously thought. Net result: we're screwed more than we thought.

Nuclear is Dead (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36953790)

As a former Navy nuke who has long been a proponent of nuclear power as a clean and safe (if done right) form of energy. I feel that it is the best form for us to use to transition from fossil fuels until we find real alternative sources of power. Until the beginning of this year, it seemed that many people, including several environmentalists disturbed by climate change, were beginning to agree and that there was a chance that nuclear power could become a major source of energy in the US and other parts of the world.

However, Fukushima has effectively ended whatever chance nuclear power had of becoming more widespread. It was hard enough arguing against a major screw-up that released minuscule amounts of radiation over thirty years ago, or a major problem at a type of reactor that was not used for power generation in the West; the memory of Fukushima will be impossible to overcome.

The Airplane Mechanic Test (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36954516)

In the "good old days", airplane mechanics had to go on the test flight of aircraft they had serviced or rated airworthy.
The whole EPA, and their families, ought to live and work on terrain up to 1/4 below the maximum level they rate as "safe". Or "acceptable". On the bright side, doctors could monitor their families' health for vindication and research.

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