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NRC Emails Reveal Confusion In Aftermath of Fukushima

Unknown Lamer posted more than 2 years ago | from the doe-suggests-nuking-it-from-orbit dept.

Government 113

mdsolar writes "The Washington Post is reporting on the NRC response to the Fukushima disaster. Aspects include an abusive relationship with Steven Chu, a secret database on fuel pool fires that was not shared, and a Washington Two Step on Vermont Yankee. Pretty sordid." The NRC website has a bunch of documents relating to their response and attempts to consult the Japanese government (it might take a few months to work through). On a related note, The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists ran a retrospect on the nuclear situation in 2011.

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113 comments

Republican Bashing? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38967855)

Any excuse to bash the National Republican Committee, I guess.

~

Re:Republican Bashing? (-1, Troll)

forkfail (228161) | more than 2 years ago | (#38967965)

Any excuse to get an anonymous first post, no matter how moronic it makes one look. Though, what the glory in posting AC is, I really don't know.

PS: I'm gonna guess Perry supporter here...

Re:Republican Bashing? (1)

El Royo (907295) | more than 2 years ago | (#38968259)

**woosh** Please report to the mothership for humor readjustment.

Re:Republican Bashing? (-1, Flamebait)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#38968291)

Were you dropped on your head as a child? Did your mother smoke crack? Are you just the typical moron

Next time before rushing for that first post, try google.
NRC in this context is Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Re:Republican Bashing? (1)

longacre (1090157) | more than 2 years ago | (#38968517)

Also, there is no such thing as the National Republican Committee. It's the Republican National Committee (RNC).

Re:Republican Bashing? (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 2 years ago | (#38968543)

If you think the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission got it wrong, read what came out of the Heritage Foundation at the time: [heritage.org] "The low levels of radiation currently being released will likely have no biological or environmental impact. Humans are constantly exposed to background radiation that likely exceeds that being released. The Chernobyl disaster was caused by an inherent design problem and communist operator error that is not present at any of the nuclear plants in Japan."

Re:Republican Bashing? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#38968717)

Linking to the heritage foundation for news on this subject is like linking to stormfront for news on white folks.

Even in your little blurb they say "communist" when it has nothing to do with it. The operator was in a communist nation, but that does not mean he was a communist.

Re:Republican Bashing? (1)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 2 years ago | (#38968771)

**woosh**

Turn right for a sense of humor.

Re:Republican Bashing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38970145)

Wow. My trolling worked better than expected. You are clearly retarded.

They should have worked out... (4, Insightful)

forkfail (228161) | more than 2 years ago | (#38967927)

... every single possible scenario that they could imagine long ago, and then kept looking for more scenarios.

But - just like they cut corners to reduce construction costs, they really didn't have all their contingency ducks lined up.

You'd think that this would be one area where sanity at least had a place at the table with business and profit, but I guess not.

Re:They should have worked out... (2)

JBMcB (73720) | more than 2 years ago | (#38968753)

Fukushima was designed to withstand earthquakes of greater magnitude than had been recorded in that area, and tsunamis larger than had been recorded in that area. In what way do you believe they were under-engineered (using the best available data at the time of their construction, of course.)

Re:They should have worked out... (2)

davester666 (731373) | more than 2 years ago | (#38969499)

They should have planned for everything to happen at once. Like a terrorist attack just the rapture occurs, during a hurricane, as multiple tornadoes approach, with an earthquake that splits the island in two, as a tsunami wave hits.

Re:They should have worked out... (2)

beowulfcluster (603942) | more than 2 years ago | (#38970327)

You'd think that if anyone would know the importance of planning for a Godzilla level event it would be the japanese.

Re:They should have worked out... (2)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#38969601)

Because earthquakes and tsunamis in the area HAD been recorded as much larger than the ones used by the engineers of Fukushima -- just not within a 100 year timeframe. The best-available data actually agreed very well with the events that actually transpired. The best-available data within the selected timeframe did not.

Your question is therefore the wrong question.

The correct thing to do is ask a series of questions: What windowing parameters are the correct windowing parameters to use? What timeframe are you going to look over? (Is 100 years too short, since the earthquake and tsunami that hit are extremely regular 500-year cyclic events and occurred very close to peak probability of the next cycle starting?) What sort of probability of event should you consider? (Is it meaningful to talk of a 1-in-a-hundred-years event when the aforementioned cycle has a virtually zero probability of occurring in a 400 year timespan but is a near-certainty in a specific 100 year window? Non-cyclic earthquakes which are genuinely random can sensibly be talked of in that way, but this was not one of those. How do you allow for non-random events in risk management?) What level of probability should be considered and - given the sort of probability may need to be rethought - how do you decide what the actual value is during the forecast operational lifespan? What are the economic costs of this solution versus the costs of fixing the damage in the event of a failure? Given that there is a probability of making the assessment AND suffering a failure anyway, what is the total cost of this solution across all possible events? How does that compare with the total cost of other solutions across all possible events?

I can tell you with a very high level of confidence that the Japanese engineers were fully-aware that an earthquake plus tsunami on this scale was exceedingly likely at some point in the lifetime of the reactor and have been for over 20 years. I can also tell you that they were fully-aware of the requirements for avoiding the disaster that happened. What I CANNOT tell you is that meeting those requirements prior to the earthquake met the requirement of being the lowest-cost solution across all possible events.

They were and are totally wrong in claiming it could not be foreseen - it was and they'd had both data and conclusions for two decades. But that does NOT mean they were wrong in not engineering a better solution within that time. That is knowable only if you carry out the complete risk assessment, and I know of no such comprehensive assessment carried out by qualified engineers that is in the public domain.

Personally, I think they were in the wrong. I think they could have, and should have, made the necessary adjustments according to the data they had. However, whilst I may think this, I cannot KNOW this from what information is public. Doesn't have to be from TEPCO - they might never have performed a comprehensive review either. But sans a comprehensive analysis across all possible events weighted by probability and a reasonable range of solutions, their expense and the permutations of events they would protect against, along with the costs of any given solution failing, we can only make wild guesses in the dark.

Re:They should have worked out... (1, Interesting)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#38970729)

I can tell you with a very high level of confidence that the Japanese engineers were fully-aware that an earthquake plus tsunami on this scale was exceedingly likely at some point in the lifetime of the reactor and have been for over 20 years. I can also tell you that they were fully-aware of the requirements for avoiding the disaster that happened. What I CANNOT tell you is that meeting those requirements prior to the earthquake met the requirement of being the lowest-cost solution across all possible events.

It's just too bad that the rest of us cannot be as confident about the stuff you pull out of your ass.

Personally, I think they were in the wrong. I think they could have, and should have, made the necessary adjustments according to the data they had. However, whilst I may think this, I cannot KNOW this from what information is public.

In other words, you don't have much of a reason to believe they were in the wrong. It's just something you do.

we can only make wild guesses in the dark.

Which I see you did.

I wonder why people keep trying to shoehorn every accident of nuclear power into the format of the plot from the China Syndrome movie? Fukushima got hit by a way out of spec disaster. And given that, the obsolete plant design, and the chaos after the earthquake and tsunami, it failed pretty gracefully.

If this sounds familiar, it may be because you might have read a similar post of mine a few weeks after the disaster. Nobody has been able to show in the meantime that TEPCO or the Japanese nuclear regulatory agency did anything wrong with respect to protecting the plant against an earthquake and tsunami from the time that the Fukushima nuclear plant was built on up to today. The only truly questionable event was delaying the decommissioning of the plant, but that makes some sense given the difficulty of making new nuclear plants (several Japanese nuclear plants under design or construction were cancelled in the late 90s and early 00s).

Re:They should have worked out... (3, Informative)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#38971249)

It's just too bad that the rest of us cannot be as confident about the stuff you pull out of your ass.

Too bad you're a troll who can't be assed to actually go do the research. These things were known, it's very well documented, anyone bothering to do the legwork would find as much.

In other words, you don't have much of a reason to believe they were in the wrong. It's just something you do.

Translation: You want me to be wrong, but can't be bothered to determine if I am. You just prefer anyone who is different to you to be somehow at fault - even if you don't know what the fault is.

Which I see you did.

No, I made no guesses. I stated a method of determining the right course of action, I made no determination as to what the outcome of the method would be. Again, your desire to make other people wrong if they happen to differ from you is transparent. You're a bigot of the highest order.

I wonder why people keep trying to shoehorn every accident of nuclear power into the format of the plot from the China Syndrome movie?

Well, as far as I can see, they aren't. So you can wonder all you like. You might as well wonder why people see pink ants climbing up the walls and talking to them. Your wonderings aren't real. Your observations are delusional. You're a paranoid SOB and need to get help.

Nobody has been able to show in the meantime that TEPCO or the Japanese nuclear regulatory agency did anything wrong with respect to protecting the plant

That is correct, but only because nobody has actually crunched the numbers. I made no claim that either had done anything wrong with respect to protecting the plant, my claim is that what they did wrong was fail in the design of their test. It did not handle historic events in the area and thus neither did the plant. Had they crunched the right numbers, it may have made ZERO difference to their decision, but we cannot know that until the numbers are crunched. Something nobody, YOU INCLUDED, has done.

Re:They should have worked out... (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 2 years ago | (#38971589)

They designed the system so that if the generators failed and mains power was lost for 24 hours, there would be a meltdown. That's a fundamental design flaw. They could have had emergency turbines generate local power and not have that issue. But no, they chose to implement a system where a mains power loss and generator failure will always result in a meltdown.

Re:They should have worked out... (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38972287)

Wait, What!? Emergency Turbines?

Powered by what? You are in a mandatory shutdown situation. Where do you get the heat to run a turbine?
You just got smacked by a tidal wave! Everything got flooded.

They had generators. Poorly located, inadequately fueled perhaps. But would it be any different if they had a separate set of generators fueled with JetA, or natural gas?

As JD posted above, these things were well known ahead of time. But the Japanese tendency to "save face" as they "save money" prevented them from being dealt with publicly, proactively, and realistically.

Reactor design was the the first big problem. Location the second. Failure to heed the warnings that were documented years in advance was the third. Add them together, throw in a fairly secretive power company, and you have a perfect storm. That reactor on that site could not have been made safe for the twin disasters that hit it, and this was well known by the plant operators and the Japanese government.

Re:They should have worked out... (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 2 years ago | (#38973437)

Powered by what? You are in a mandatory shutdown situation. Where do you get the heat to run a turbine?

How long after a mandatory shutdown until the core is too cold to generate electricity? When you need to cool it (the problem they were running into), you have waste heat. Capture that and you'll have emergency power as long as you need it.

Reactor design was the the first big problem. Location the second. Failure to heed the warnings that were documented years in advance was the third. Add them together, throw in a fairly secretive power company, and you have a perfect storm. That reactor on that site could not have been made safe for the twin disasters that hit it, and this was well known by the plant operators and the Japanese government.

It would have been safe if they had sealed the diesel fuel tank against seawater and had at least one generator in the reactor room (which I'm told isn't allowed to reduce items irradiated for decommissioning) or elevated sufficiently. Yes, I'm asserting that for $10,000 this meltdown could have been avoided. Easily. Cheaply. It's only because of the "OMG, it's nukular science, common sense doesn't work" arguments that nobody ever sees this. Raising a generator 5 meters above ground level would be essentially free and would have prevented the problem. You'd think that after Katrina and having the pumps fail because their electrics were below flood levels someone would have extrapolated lessons learned from that to other places, like nuclear plants.

Re:They should have worked out... (2)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974319)

Powered by what? You are in a mandatory shutdown situation. Where do you get the heat to run a turbine?

How long after a mandatory shutdown until the core is too cold to generate electricity? When you need to cool it (the problem they were running into), you have waste heat. Capture that and you'll have emergency power as long as you need it.

 

Apparently its not hot enough to generate any significant heat for very long, and boiling water to steam in enough volume to run even a small turbine takes a boat load of heat.

See this image [googleusercontent.com] . The vertical line shows temps dropping all over the reactor immediately after the scram.

This chart [google.com] shows that the core was at 4000 degrees at 14:46 at the time of the quake (and scram), and by 15:30 when the wave struck it was at around 250 degrees. You won't produce enough steam to run a turbine with that amount of heat. (If you could there would be no reason for normal operation at 4000 degrees).

Diesel generators were the right choice. Indeed the only choice. Used in reactors all over the world.

The location of those generators was wrong. We both agree on that.

They knew, or should have know it was wrong, just as JD Posted Above [slashdot.org] . The risk assessment used to design the plant didn't take into account the very strong quake AND the very large wave, because the original design used ONLY a 100 year window. JDs point is that the 100 year window was too short.

But plant operators are handed a plant to run, and its almost impossible to go back and say this is dangerous, we need to totally rebuild this plant, or move it. That doesn't happen in Japan, and it doesn't happen in the US [wikipedia.org] either.

Once built, you couldn't make this plant safe. $10,000 doesn't come close. There are 5 reactors on site. Even raising the generators, indeed, the entire plant 50 feet couldn't make it safe against a quake of that magnitude and a tsunami of that size. All it takes is a cooling water pipe to shake and break, or a pump to fail, or salt water contamination of the cooling system.

It should not have been built there. A proper risk assessment window would have prevented it.

Re:They should have worked out... (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 2 years ago | (#38975691)

the original design used ONLY a 100 year window

The basic mistakes done are the reason we can't be trusted with nuclear power. A 20 year life on the 1 in a 100 year storm means there's somewhere in the neighborhood of 20% chance of a nuclear meltdown. Put it to the public that way and try to sell it.

I've worked for the guys that spilled the oil in the gulf. Even with their safety record, they generally build for the 1 in 1000 storm at sea (interestingly enough, the storms in the North Sea are worse than the hurricaines that rip through the Gulf of Mexico. So for a nuclear plan to build for the 1 in a 100 for a 20 year life is absurd.

It should not have been built there. A proper risk assessment window would have prevented it.

An additional $10,000 in construction cost and we'd have found out if the earthquake alone would have caused a meltdown, or whether the tsunami was necessary, even though it's proven that the tsunami alone would have done it.

Re:They should have worked out... (1)

radtea (464814) | more than 2 years ago | (#38972219)

The only truly questionable event was delaying the decommissioning of the plant

If you include the seriously wrong decision to over-load the cooling pools and spent fuel storage on site then I agree, but consider that to be a separate issue from decommissioning the plant, and it isn't a "questionable" decision, it is a flat-out incorrect one.

I can well imagine how such a decision could be made by increments: the storage facilities could be outside the containment because they couldn't ever go critical due to limits on what could be stored in them, then those limits were incrementally relaxed after the fact until there was a real risk of re-criticality.

But that doesn't mean it wasn't a bad decision.

Re:They should have worked out... (3, Interesting)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38969653)

Fukushima was designed to withstand earthquakes of greater magnitude than had been recorded in that area, and tsunamis larger than had been recorded in that area. In what way do you believe they were under-engineered (using the best available data at the time of their construction, of course.)

Sort of true. However, later study on the area's geology indicated that there were tsunami's much higher than originally planned for. TEPCO decided not to do anything about that because it would have involved a multi million dollar upgrade to the sea wall.

Further, there was later damage to suggest that the reactor did suffer significant damage during the quake, thus damaging the assumption that the original design and engineering was adequate.

Of course, this would have been a technical footnote in some brief stuffed in a disused lavatory had someone had the presence of mind not to put all the backup generators in the basement.

Re:They should have worked out... (2)

Relic of the Future (118669) | more than 2 years ago | (#38971661)

"Further, there was later damage to suggest that the reactor did suffer significant damage during the quake, thus damaging the assumption that the original design and engineering was adequate."

You can't design to withstand 100% of earthquakes. Fukishima was designed so that, based on frequency and strength of quakes, it would have a 99.something% chance of not running into something worse than it could handle; like all nuclear plants are. That was what the engineers were told to do, and they did it; it was designed to withstand an 8.something.

Then it was noticed that the geology was worse than first thought; quakes bigger than 8.something were more frequent than the engineers had been told. Then it's lifetime was extended; more lifetime, more chances to "win". Then it was hit by a 9.0, the fifth-largest earthquake ever recorded, and 10x more powerful than the engineers had been instructed to prepare for.

I'm sure you're all familiar with being given incorrect design requirements and feature creep.

Re:They should have worked out... (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 2 years ago | (#38980099)

There are keyboards designed to withstand 100% of coffee spills. Reactors could be designed to withstand 100% of earthquakes. Likely, naval reactors could do so already. Don't be silly.

Re:They should have worked out... (1)

stooo (2202012) | more than 2 years ago | (#38969777)

>> Fukushima was designed to withstand earthquakes of greater magnitude than had been recorded in that area
Every Engineer knows this is bullshit. data on such a short span as 100 years (max) does not give nearly enough statistic data.

Re:They should have worked out... (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 2 years ago | (#38971557)

Every Engineer knows this is bullshit. data on such a short span as 100 years (max) does not give nearly enough statistic data.

You do realize that "100 year event" doesn't mean they've only got data for the last 100 years, right?

Here in Oregon, we've got data from earthquakes that took place in 1700 or so. Are you saying that people in Japan haven't been keeping track at least that long?

Re:They should have worked out... (1)

bryan1945 (301828) | more than 2 years ago | (#38975999)

Maybe not under-engineered, but putting the backup generator below ground level wasn't a great idea.

Re:They should have worked out... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38968831)

They should have worked out every single possible scenario that they could imagine long ago, and then kept looking for more scenarios.

Really? This seems like a ridiculously high bar to have for safety. Should every industry have thousands of engineers sitting around, dreaming up worst-case scenarios, working out the implications, and filing the result away? Car manufacturers should have working groups assessing the outcome of a car colliding with a running jet engine? Figuring out how much resistance the car provides against anthrax? Should architects be worrying about how buildings will withstand collisions with the moon? Should cellphone manufacturers worry about whether the phones will become toxic when exposed to plasma?

Obviously not. Safety is about resource allocation. It makes sense only to plan for, and build contingencies for, events that have a decent probability of occurring. It also only makes sense to worry about things for which one can reasonably plan a response. And most importantly, you have to pick some cutoff level: some mixture of likelihood and danger below which you say 'that's an acceptable risk'.

I'm not saying mistakes were not made in the Fukushima case. By all means let's optimize our procedures and planning to minimize mistakes in the future. But I dislike this notion that projects must be 100% safe in order to be undertaken. That's absolutely ridiculous: the only sensible way to handle safety is to decide how much risk/damage is tolerable, and then allocate one's finite resources in an attempt to bring the risk down to that level. (It in particular bothers me that the nuclear industry is expected to have absolutely zero mistakes; whereas other industries are not held to the same standard. I'm not saying we should make the nuclear industry less safe, I'm saying one has to be fair in comparing the scale and scope of mistakes in different sectors.)

Re:They should have worked out... (1)

forkfail (228161) | more than 2 years ago | (#38969989)

If a car (or a thousand) crash, you don't have consequences that span time measured in millenia.

Re:They should have worked out... (2)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 2 years ago | (#38971505)

If a car (or a thousand) crash, you don't have consequences that span time measured in millenia.

AP - Linz, Austria, 1918. In a freak accident, Adolph Schicklgruber, 19, son of Alois Hitler, was killed while riding in the 1918 Packard automobile his father had imported and was demonstrating to his fellow customs agents. ...

UPI - Berlin, 1948. Physicist Albert Einstein announced a breakthrough in the overall theory of matter and energy yesterday at the annual German Physicist Association conference in Berlin. He was assisted in his work by German mathematicians Robert Remak and Otto Blumenthal. "They were absolutely vital in finding the theoretical basis" said Einstein. ...

AP - Poland, 1955. The Nobel prize committee announced the award of its highest prize in medicine to Polish physician and researcher Wladyslaw Dobrzaniecki for his pioneering research in the cure for cancer and other degenerative diseases. Since his discovery of the main biological pathways leading to carcinomas, the rate of cancer deaths has dropped by 50%, ...

You were saying, Mr. Godwin?

Re:They should have worked out... (1)

princessAndDragon (2570097) | more than 2 years ago | (#38969661)

Unlimited time and funding would not fix the inherent flaws in statistical modelling. The fact remains, we do not know what we don't know and we can not predict the future - no matter how many variables your model accepts. Lets not forget that a Core melt, not to mention a melt-through, were perceived as a physical impossibility by just about every engineer in the Nuc Eng field. The undeniable lesson here is you don't build shit that can, if things go wrong, destroy the Earth.

Re:They should have worked out... (1)

tp1024 (2409684) | more than 2 years ago | (#38970357)

They did work out the scenarios, they knew exactly how a meltdown in a Mark I BWR containment would work out and they were proved right. Countermeasures were worked out - look up "common cause failure", "filtered containment vents" and "passive autocatalytic recombiners" (PAR).

Alas, none of those were present in Fukushima Daiichi and consequently couldn't work. The emergency generators were neither enough nor laid out to avoid common cause failure. Containments could not be vented to the outside through a filter (or any other system for that purpose) and consequently weren't until pressure rose high enough that steam, hydrogen and radionuclides were released uncontrolled into the reactor buildings. (The attempt to vent through a jury-rigged system in reactor 3 led to hydrogen intrusions into reactor building 4.) Without catalysers (the PARs), hydrogen reached explosive concentrations and did what this tends to do. (The PARs are a redundant system, in case the venting fails or hydrogen seeps through the containment seals.)

Re:They should have worked out... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38978583)

The NRC is corrupt to begin with, and what bothers me is they have said we will punish or impose sanctions on the Japans Nuclear Plants. The NRC has always been a US driven dictator it is just laughable to hear these goons (NRC) talk..

Yes the power plant could have done at least two major things differently, but who is to say it would have been enough. I would encourage people to go onto PBS.ORG and watch Frontlines report on the latest Fukushima update that also talks about US power plants that are at risk, and how the NRC had done little to nothing. I watched it but you need to keep in mind they left out a lot positives or they should have been much broader in there reporting.

"and a Washington Two Step on Vermont Yankee" (1)

Xacid (560407) | more than 2 years ago | (#38967979)

...and a Washington Two Step on Vermont Yankee.

Wait, what?

AKA Potomac two step (3, Informative)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 2 years ago | (#38968199)

Re:"and a Washington Two Step on Vermont Yankee" (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38968405)

Hillspeak translation:

Nobody wants to take responsibility for the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant.

Biased summary (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38968021)

Oh no, the United States NRC has only as much information as the rest of us and some smart people had a few arguments! Some people made some PR decisions! Schlumberger overcharged for water equipment!

"Abusive" my ass.

Abusive (4, Insightful)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 2 years ago | (#38968087)

The commissioners are abusive and dysfunctional with each other. Little wonder the whole organization can't get along with any other part of the government.

Re:Abusive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38968701)

The NRc is a regulator. They regulate parts of the US government including DOE and DOD so of course those agencies bitch about them. Those agencies don't get to do dangerous things like they could in the 60s, it's why the NRC exists because you can't have agencies that promote something also regulating it. It doesn't matter if they get along with the people they regulate, it only matters that they enforce US regulations and laws.

And of course the commissioners don't get along, they aren't supposed to. They are supposed to make decisions to protect the health and safety of the US public, and sometimes they don't agree. Wow, shock, gasp, zomg! I'd rather have spirited arguments from people that care than a Bunch of bobbing heads that always agree.

Re:Abusive (1)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 2 years ago | (#38968809)

"can't have agencies that promote something also regulating it."

Sort of works for the FCC and the FAA. Sort of.

Oh, and the USDA. I'll leave whether the FDA is part of this scenario...

Re:Abusive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38977719)

Doesn't work in nuclear at all. The NRC and DOE came out of the old AEC, which both promoted and regulated. And it did very little regulating. DOE is now the promoter, and the NRC is the indecent regulator. Which is why the NRC sometimes, rightchaos, chafes at madness coming from DOE. Its their job.

Re:Abusive (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38972373)

Further the NRC is a US organization, half a world away from the scene and totally cut off from communications.

Why would anyone expect them to have current knowledge, coherent communications, and clear planning for a reactor accident well out of their jurisdiction?

 

Re:Abusive (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38968961)

Well, let's be clear about that, mdsolar: Gregory Jaczko is alleged to be abusive and dysfunctional. The other commissioners have formally complained to the White House about his behavior -- Republican and Democrat appointees unanimously. The professional, career staff feel ignored and slighted by Mr. Jaczko. I hope the reason for my posting anonymously is obvious.

Re:Abusive (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 2 years ago | (#38969387)

Or, the republicans just want to stage a coup and are insubordinate to try to push that. Either way, they are not working well together.

Re:Abusive (1)

Fallen Kell (165468) | more than 2 years ago | (#38973873)

Which is what happens when you have political appointees trying to be in charge of an engineering process that should have no politics involved what-so-ever in policy that is set. However, because of the politics, you have one group trying to let the energy companies do whatever they want cause it will cost money to enact regulations, another group calling for super strict measures against the industry because they don't like the fact that there is a nuclear plant near their multi-million $ homes, another group trying to actually protect the people, etc., etc....

News flash: Engineers don't think of everything (3, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 2 years ago | (#38968093)

Of course there was going to be confusion - you're looking at a scenario that nobody had actually handled before. There were smart people with some good guesses about what to do next, but there was no way to test things out ahead of time, because causing a nuclear meltdown for testing purposes is too expensive to even really consider it.

I'm reasonably certain that if people either at the NRC or in Secretary Chu's group proposed an idea, they most likely had good reasons for thinking it was going to work. There were also good reasons to think that some of those good ideas would be wrong.

News flash: It's what we pay them to do (4, Insightful)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 2 years ago | (#38968251)

We do expect the NRC to know what to do in case of a meltdown. Evidently they take the money but don't do the job.

Re:News flash: It's what we pay them to do (5, Insightful)

skyraker (1977528) | more than 2 years ago | (#38968435)

That's BS. The NRC's job is to ensure operators are operating plants safely. When you are at a meltdown situation, you are already beyond that point. The NRC will do its best to advise, but stations themselves have many contigency plans in place should they reach this point. Three Mile Island was the event that prompted that to happen, and we haven't had a meltdown here since. Chernobyl was a big ball of s**t that only proved the US had better procedures, precautions, and design than the Russians. Fukishima, while a problem, generated confusion primarily because TEPSCO didn't want to tarnish its reputation by revealing how bad it was.

Rubber Stamp (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 2 years ago | (#38969507)

So the NRC's job is to rubber stamp laughable risk estimates from industry? In the forty years or so of commercial nuclear power we get a major meltdown every eight years. The NRC talks about one per million years per reactor, complete claptrap....

Re:Rubber Stamp (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38972403)

The NRC's job does not extend to Japan.

Re:News flash: It's what we pay them to do (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 2 years ago | (#38971247)

The NRC's job is to ensure operators are operating plants safely.

Plants in the United States you mean. If you were trying to deal with a nuclear accident and kept getting emails and phone calls from some foreign agency who is pretty far down your list of people that have to be kept informed and who don't speak your language... Well, it isn't that surprising that the NRC was confused and lacked information.

I don't want to defend TEPCO too much but reading some of the actual emails it really doesn't sound like the NRC was helping very much.

Re:News flash: It's what we pay them to do (1)

toby (759) | more than 2 years ago | (#38971701)

Chernobyl was a big ball of s**t that only proved the US had better procedures, precautions, and design than the Russians

Wow. Go look up hubris in a dictionary.

Re:News flash: It's what we pay them to do (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38971823)

That statement is absolutely not at all hubris. If you think so, then you need to go look up the details of nuclear power and the Chernobyl accident, and if you still think so then you are an idiot. Full stop.

Re:News flash: It's what we pay them to do (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38968511)

No you don't. Two points:

One: The US NRC is responsible for US licensed reactors, not Japanses reactors. They have no authority over Japanese reactors, are not rsponsibility for them and most importantly they don't know ANYTHING about them. That's like saying your local police office is responsible for solving a crime in Zimbabwe because he's a police office. The US government offered to help the Japanese, amd the Japanese lied and stonewalled them. Yes, lets blame the Americans for this one. Jesus.

Two: The US NRC is a fee recovery agency, licensees not taxpayer pay for 90% of the US NRCs budget and thats per the law congress passed. The US NRC must get 90% of their budget from licensees, not from the taxpayer. So no dear taxpayer, you don't pay for the US NRC to regulate and you definitely shouldnt expect the US NRC to respond to nuclear emergencies in JAPAN. The US NRC regulates reactors in the US period. The US can not tell Japan what to do with its reactors, nor is the US responsile for solving Japans problems. Nor is the US in any position to know what's going with a Japense reactor, it has no authority to even ask! The US NRC can't even talk directly to the Japenese, only the State department can do that. If you'd bother to read the reports you would know that, the State department was and is in charge of these things. They can ask for other agencies to help, but it's their show and not the US NRC's. Take a civics class kids.

Three: how would you expect the US NRC to know anything about a reactor they don't regulate and know nothing about? You don't, it's common sense. They got asked to figure out something based on no information, lies and finally bad information from the Japense. Yes, I can see why they might be confused!

So, to recap, you don't pay for that, the companies that own the reactors do. And the US NRC has nothing to do with Japanese reactors. And it's has no authority to do anything about a disaster in Japan nor is it responsible for this, nor does it know anything about another countries Reactors,. End of story, move on.

Re:News flash: It's what we pay them to do (1, Offtopic)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 2 years ago | (#38968855)

"The US NRC is a fee recovery agency, licensees not taxpayer pay"

And licensees pay that from revenues.

That they receive from ratepayers.

That would be taxpayers who are their customers.

Put another way, we pay for it all, dude.

Re:News flash: It's what we pay them to do (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38972497)

Put another way, we pay for it all, dude.

And HOW is that germane to the GP's points?
Does it somehow give the NRC access to or information about an event in Japan just because some customers in some areas of the US see a small "regulatory charge" on their bill?

Re:News flash: It's what we pay them to do (1)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 2 years ago | (#38973007)

The GP seemed to be making some point that being a fee funded agency left the NRC without the mandate to be involved in the Japanese incident at all.

My point is that to-be immediate source of their funding isn't important because the true source is ratepayers.

Besides, the NRC had some interest in the accident, if for no other reason than to analyze the causes and response . learning from the mistakes of others for instance. Offering to help doesn't seem like a bad thing either.

Re:News flash: It's what we pay them to do (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38978061)

Are you kidding? You didn't support your argument at all, again how is the USNRC responsible for an accident in Japan? What does thatnhave to o with who pays? You said that's what we pay hem to do, and the GP was that no we don't.

To wit, Some ratepayers in the US paying an agency to regulate US reactors does not Support the argument that the NRC is responsile fowman accident in Japan! The NRC in fact is not responsible for japanese reactors. There is Nothing in their regulatory authority that supports the statement "this is what we pay them for". Even assuming "we" paid them, which is also not true as most people do not get power from nuclear, and therefore do not pay the NRC anything, I can't find a damn thing to support the requirement that they are somehow responsible for reactors in Japan.

It's pretty clear the NRC only has authority over reactors in the US. Says so on their website. Its also clear Japan is a sovereign website, says so on their embasses website, so why should the Japanese do any the NRC says? It's clear that the Japenese know the NrC has no authority over them, too bad you don't seem to understand that.

Lets be lear: You can't be responsible for something you don't have any authority over, and the NRC has zero authority over Japan! If the NRC has no idea what going on in Japan that should come as no surprise.

This sounds like a hachet job. Someone just has an ax to grind. It sounds like the USNRC offered to help, were told lies, and did the best they could with bad informatin, And now people want to blame the NRC somehow? Madness. Axes are grinding, I'm sure of it. And I'm not buying it, this is pure opportunist political BS.

Re:News flash: It's what we pay them to do (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38977841)

Ratepayers are not taxpayers dude. Taxpayers is everyone, ratepayers is only everyone that buys power from that plant which is not everyone. And I don't buy power from a nuclear power plant, so no dude, I'm not paying for that at all. Neither taxes nor my rates. My power comes from coal.

Re:News flash: It's what we pay them to do (2)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974381)

I sure hope you are not saying they should only do what the licensees want (which is what they do). Congress established the fee. The fee could just as well be a tax that goes into general revenue. WE pay for the NRC by those missing revenues.

Re:News flash: It's what we pay them to do (2)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 2 years ago | (#38968599)

I don't.

I expect them to have some idea of what to do in the case of a reactor meltdown in theory, but given that nuclear meltdowns don't happen that often they won't know whether their plans actually work until they have to use them. And while in theory there's no difference between theory and practice, in practice there is.

Re:News flash: It's what we pay them to do (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38969759)

So, what you're really saying is we should melt down a few more reactors in order to understand the process better.

Your ideas intrigue me....

Re:News flash: It's what we pay them to do (1)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#38970363)

I expect them to perform a reasonable range of simulations and drills to determine if their plans would definitely fail. They may not know what WILL work, but they can know what definitely won't. (If maximum traffic flow is X and there are Y cars, then you cannot evacuate faster than Y/X even if nothing fails, nothing breaks down and all drivers are intelligent and courteous. In reality, we know that some percentage of breakdowns is inevitable, that most drivers are stupid and that failures are inevitable. However, you can put numbers to the probabilities, run simulations according to different types of event, and then compare the simulations with what happens in a drill.)

Weather is a major factor in the spread of radioisotopes. You can't allow for all possible weather, but you can allow for a range of likely scenarios. The ideal would be a torrential downpour at the reactor, since then nothing is in the air. All the isotopes will fall in a very short distance of the reactor and provided you have sensible containment, you can buy yourself time. Water seeps through the ground, yes, but you know where the ground is and the area is very limited. Evacuation would only be needed over that area, so the hazardous road conditions won't impose much of a problem as you've only a few people to evacuate.

The worst possibility is light-to-medium showers away from the reactor itself but over nearby populated areas and the surroundings. This is when you get the isotopes washed out of the air into people's homes. Containment would be exceedingly difficult, evacuation would be hard (high density traffic on slightly slippery roads -- bad) and you'd have the least amount of time to do the evacuating.

If, between a reactor failing catastrophically and fallout via rain, you have a few days to prepare, you've got time to run weather forecasts to see where fallout is likely, the expected severity (the greater the distance, the more that will have fallen out as dust) and whether it'll even be in a place you care about. (If there is no rain expected until the airmass is over the ocean, it's not an issue beyond restricting deep sea fishing for a while.) You'd want to evacuate the areas contaminated by dust until they can be cleaned up, but it can be relatively controlled. Dust doesn't seep into the ground, so decontamination work doesn't need to be massively extensive.

Beyond that, the specific isotopes only matter to the NRC to the extent that (a) iodine tablets can reduce take-up of radioactive iodine or (b) where a radioisotope is either the same as one common in biology or (worse) "preferred" in chemical reactions over a different but biologically important element. Beyond that, it only matters what general health category the radioisotopes fall into : highly toxic (regular poison if ingested or in contact), highly carcinogenic if ingested (your alpha emitters fall into this category), or otherwise dangerous if around for longer than the time needed to perform a full evacuation plus decontamination.

Now, if people need hospital treatment, that information would need to be available to health professionals without delay (whether from office politics or government politics), but there should be no pressure to give information where it is not needed.

Re:News flash: It's what we pay them to do (1)

forkfail (228161) | more than 2 years ago | (#38970959)

Given the potential consequences, they'd better have a pretty damn good theory on what to do when the fecal matter hits the fan.

Re:News flash: It's what we pay them to do (0)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 2 years ago | (#38968677)

What to do in the case of a meltdown is obvious: run as fast as you can and hope you're far away before it goes critical.

How to prevent a meltdown in the face of catastrophic structural, infrastructural, and logistical failure is another question entirely.

Re:News flash: It's what we pay them to do (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38972391)

We do expect the NRC to know what to do in case of a meltdown. Evidently they take the money but don't do the job.

In JAPAN?

Please tell my you aren't serious!

Surprising? Not Really... (1)

princessAndDragon (2570097) | more than 2 years ago | (#38968923)

I suspect if Engineers could think of everything we wouldn't build BWRs in the first place. Engineers do not know what they don't know - but most think they know everything. The problem arises when we base critical decisions on complex models and algorithms - which obviously do not and can not account for the unknown. Does it surprise anyone that information has and continues to be withheld? At the time of the accident essential data and information was extensively withheld from the organizations and individuals who needed it the most. In fact, There exists mountains of data and reports that remain undisclosed. For Example, I just came across an Atmospheric Model, of plutonium dispersion, utilizing recently leaked Tepco estimates of total Plutonium and Neptunium vaporization: http://www.datapoke.org/blog/89/study-modeling-fukushima-npp-p-239-and-np-239-atmospheric-dispersion/ [datapoke.org] http://datapoke.org/partmom/a=114 [datapoke.org] If this model is accurate, it is very disturbing as it indicates plutonium has been dispersed across the Northern Hemisphere... -P&D

Re:Surprising? Not Really... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38969937)

The output of that model, when I check various US cities near peaks shown on the map, seems to be showing values around 1e-6 Bq/m^3 for Np-239 (which corresponds to around a quarter of Np-239 atom per cubic meter), and 1e-9 Bq/m^3 for Pu-239. Isn't typical natural radon background around ~10 Bq/m^3, more than a million times larger? It looks like a neat simulation, but even the peaks of the distribution are extremely low levels of background that wouldn't show up even if you tried to measure it, let along impact biology.

Re:Surprising? Not Really... (1)

princessAndDragon (2570097) | more than 2 years ago | (#38970185)

I can't be sure what the biological consequences result from radon inhalation or ingestion. I'm fairly certain US GO's maintain that radon has negligible effects on the human body. It has been shown that even minuscule amounts (maybe even a few atoms) of plutonium inhaled, or ingested, and bound in a particularly vulnerable location within the body can have dire biological consequences.

Re:Surprising? Not Really... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38972531)

The long-term effects of radon isn't negligible in most cases, and it is considered the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking. Radon-222 decays by an alpha particle of similar energy to alpha particle emitted by Pu-239, so its radiological effects would be similar when inhaled.

And I would want to see something that says a few atoms of plutonium is dangerous quantity, especially considering a typical background. Even at the lower end of the scale, natural uranium levels in soil is several hundred parts per billion. This corresponds to an activity of 5 Bq / kg of soil, which also consists of alpha particles of similar energy to Pu-239's emitted alpha particle.

Nuclear "civil" industry (-1, Flamebait)

openfrog (897716) | more than 2 years ago | (#38968341)

The lies of the nuclear industry, which are spread here on Slashdot as well, are that Fukushima will cause very few deaths.

But the data, collected by the army in Japan after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, ie. how many deaths a given exposure to radiation will cause, shows that it will be in the tens, if not hundreds, of thousands.

I have just seen a documentary (in French, sorry), directed by Kenichi Watanabe, which shows how the propaganda spread by the nuclear industry started with Hiroshima, and never stopped from there.

For example, the nuclear industry never properly researched thorium fuel cycle reactors, which would be much less risky since they don't risk a run-away reaction, because that option ruled out use on submarines and other vessels. With Chernobyl and Fukushima, we have the results of those policies.

And the lies continue.

Re:Nuclear "civil" industry (2)

skyraker (1977528) | more than 2 years ago | (#38968489)

Hiroshima was hit with an atomic explosion. Fukishima did not have this. Completely different event. Chernobyl didn't even kill nearly this many, and they actually had their reactor explode. There have been ZERO deaths so far. The only certainty is that the CHANCE of cancer in many of the workers will increase. CHANCE is a big word. This isn't a guarantee that they will all get it. And anti-nuclear activists will always claim that there is a cover-up happening. But maybe you should take a cue from one of the founders of Greenpeace (a big anti-nuke organization) supporting the expansion of nuclear power.

Re:Nuclear "civil" industry (3, Insightful)

openfrog (897716) | more than 2 years ago | (#38969229)

Hiroshima was hit with an atomic explosion. Fukishima did not have this. Completely different event. Chernobyl didn't even kill nearly this many, and they actually had their reactor explode. There have been ZERO deaths so far. The only certainty is that the CHANCE of cancer in many of the workers will increase. CHANCE is a big word. This isn't a guarantee that they will all get it.

Epidemiology 101: Hiroshima and Nagasaki data can be used to calculate how much radiation cause how many deaths in a population and this data is used by everyone, industry, regulators and who you call activists, to do just that. You write "CHANCE" as if what is meant is that there is a chance than mortality increases. No, we use probability because we cannot prove that a given death is caused by the added exposure or the natural occurring one, but over large numbers, we can OBSERVE a definite number of death, that we can definitely ATTRIBUTE to the increased exposure, in a linear relation (there is no safe exposure). There is no CHANCE of increased cancer mortality caused by Fukushima: this is a certainty and it is measurable, thanks in part to the data collected from Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Why has my post above been modded Flamebait? I merely stated facts, that are recognized by anyone knowledgeable in this field.

Re:Nuclear "civil" industry (2)

princessAndDragon (2570097) | more than 2 years ago | (#38970421)

Hiroshima and Nagasaki are not very good models to use when comparing to a BWR meltdown. The physics of the contamination dispersion are completely different. Much of the fallout from an atomic bomb is mixed with soil substrates and falls-out relatively close to the bomb impact - leading to a smaller contamination area. In the case of BWR meltdowns, in contrast to an atomic warhead, a much larger portion of deposition takes place 10's,190's and even 1000's of miles from the accident as the contaminates are released as vapors and carried readily in atmospheric jet streams. As for predicting the number of cancers from chernobyl, hiroshima, nagasaki etc, the real tragedy lies in the fact that we do not accurately record the actions of individuals following the event - because exposure boils down to an individuals personal behaviors. It would be like asking all the inhabitants of Northern Japan how much milk they have consumed since Fukushima failure - or more specifically how much milk was consumed, and where was the milk from, between march 11-13, 14,16, 23-24 etc. Without such detailed information we cannot accurately project any one individuals personal risk.

Re:Nuclear "civil" industry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38968687)

Propagandize much?

Re:Nuclear "civil" industry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38969223)

France? Seriously? Your nation is in no position to mock either the Japanese or American nuclear programs:

1. France saw fit to conduct nuclear weapons testing in Algeria during Algeria's struggle for independence (and a few tests were conducted after independence, because what good is colonial privilege unless you can nuke a country that recently won the right to self-determination).

2. France continued to perform atmospheric testing up until 1968 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canopus_(nuclear_test) ), years after other countries stopped.

3. France continued nuclear testing in general until 1996; even the Soviet Union stopped years earlier.

4. France had a small problem with anti-nuclear protests in French Polynesia, so France committed murder on New Zealand soil (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinking_of_the_Rainbow_Warrior)

5. France has no program in place to compensate victims of nuclear weapons testing, something even the United States accomplished.

Your civilian nuclear power industry has certainly paid dividends, but that comes at the cost of a serious lack of transparency and no frank discussion about the accidents they did have, some of which are pretty major.

So please stop casting this as a Japan/American problem, France's nuclear goodness rank is near the bottom of the pile.

Re:Nuclear "civil" industry (1)

DeathFromSomewhere (940915) | more than 2 years ago | (#38970633)

3. France continued nuclear testing in general until 1996; even the Soviet Union stopped years earlier.

Not existing tends to have that effect.

The new normal (1)

Bardwick (696376) | more than 2 years ago | (#38968447)

I do not blame the NRC, they are, like many/most agencies buried in legislation and policies. Very little of the resources actually go to enforcing or monitoring those polices. It's easy to collect thousands of datapoints, but if you have no way to analyze the data into something useful, what was the point? Step1: Make it illegal. Step2: Act suprised when someone breaks the law Step3: Make it illegal++ ! GOTO step2. Until there is actual accountability, all you need to do is pay off your PR department and move on.

Judging From Emails is Stupid (1, Insightful)

Petersko (564140) | more than 2 years ago | (#38968803)

Given an organization of any significant size, and given a complex situation, you'll always be able to pick and choose emails from people who are confused and not in the loop, and who describe problems and alternatives that seem disjointed.

Abusive Relationship with Dr. Chu? (2)

KainX (13349) | more than 2 years ago | (#38969421)

I'm not sure where the idea came from that there was any sort of relationship at all with Dr. Chu himself described in this article.

All he did was gather up some experts in the field and facilitate their advise to the Japanese. That's exactly what the Secretary of Energy should do.

And yes, some of their suggestions were radical. That's what "brainstorming" means. Coming up with all sorts of ideas and determining as a group which are the good ones and which are the bad ones. Has no one ever seen an episode of House before?

And Dr. Chu, as far as I can tell, was not himself directly involved in the "Chu group," the at-best-misleading-at-worst-inaccurate term used in the article. So to say anyone had an "abusive relationship" with Dr. Chu is just silly.

If a US Diplomat gets into a shouting match with a foreign minister, do we accuse Hillary Clinton of being abusive?

Re:Abusive Relationship with Dr. Chu? (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974321)

Good point. They protected their turf against Chu and were abusive to his appointees. Towards Chu, they were merely, I don't know, turds?

Re:Abusive Relationship with Dr. Chu? (1)

KainX (13349) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974425)

If your point is that the NRC were abusive *toward* Dr. Chu and his appointees, then I'll agree with you. But that's not generally what the phrase "abusive relationship with" means. :-)

Nuclear plants $5,000 per KW (3, Informative)

mspohr (589790) | more than 2 years ago | (#38969535)

Interesting to see in the "Bulletin of Atomic Scientists" link from the summary that the "overnight" (without construction interest) cost of a nuclear plant has risen from $1,200 per KW to $5,000 per Kw in the past 10 years. This is more than the current costs for solar or wind power. This economic fact alone doesn't bode well for the nuclear industry.

Re:Nuclear plants $5,000 per KW (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38970547)

nuclear plant has risen from $1,200 per KW to $5,000 per Kw in the past 10 years. This is more than the current costs for solar or wind power.

How about cost at night? Or when it is cloudy or calm for a week or two? Exactly.

Of course people may only want lights and heat during the day.

Re:Nuclear plants $5,000 per KW (1)

tp1024 (2409684) | more than 2 years ago | (#38970897)

1KW of PV generates as much energy as 0.1-0.15 kW of coventional power plants. And that's not counting losses for necessary storage (at least 50% of energy) not to talk about the cost of that storage. Sorry to tell you, but you fell for the propaganda.

Re:Nuclear plants $5,000 per KW (1)

mspohr (589790) | more than 2 years ago | (#38971183)

Since you accused me of falling for the "propaganda", I don't have high hopes for a rational discussion but I'll give it a try.
First, the "propaganda" I used was from the "Bulletin of Atomic Scientists" which appears to be a reliable scientific source. I have also used other widely published (Google it) estimates of the cost of wind and solar. You are right in stating that solar and wind don't provide continuous power but your estimate of 10-15% is too low. Also, it doesn't really matter that solar doesn't generate power at night since there is already too much power available at night. The electric companies can't even give it away at bargain basement rates. Solar power does, however, generate power during times of peak demand (and peak prices) so there is no need for storage. Your estimates of storage losses are also too high but storage is not necessary for solar power.
I'm afraid that the market has spoken. Nuclear power is just too expensive.

Re:Nuclear plants $5,000 per KW (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38971645)

once again, falling for the propaganda. The "Bulletin of Atomic Scientists" are the guys behind the famous Cold War "Doomsday Clock". Back when they were a groups of concerned scientists, they were pushing back against atomic weapons technology; now, like many other advocacy organizations originally formed around the issue of nuclear weapons, they find themselves in a world that doesn't care as much about weapons any more, but is still frightened of the word "nuclear", and the only option to remain relevant is pushing against nuclear power.

If, as you say, "the market has spoken", there would be no reason for advocacy anyway. Meanwhile, despite a noted anti-nuclear zealot appointed as its chairman, the NRC recently approved the AP1000 reactor, after taking five years for a redesign against the possibility of a September 11th-style attack. With numerous new technologies in development not just in the North Atlantic world but also in India and China, the future of nuclear energy has never looked brighter.

Re:Nuclear plants $5,000 per KW (1)

tp1024 (2409684) | more than 2 years ago | (#38971719)

10-15% is for PV in temperate climate zones, 10% specifically in Central Europe. Even prefect conditions (desert near equator) yield no more than 20%. Windpower depends upon local conditions. Germany currently averages just under 17%, it could be on the order of 25%, but for lack of power lines (and law suits filed by the green party against building more) and storage capacity (also blocked by law suits of the same) wind turbines must be shut down more and more often for lack of demand. In fact, wind power generation has been flat since 2007/8 despite a 30% increase in generating capacity.

Finally, in order to provide even as much as 30% of the electricity needs of Germany (21GW) you need to install 300% of the power requirement in peak power - 210GW. Unfortunately, the absolute peak power demand of Germany is 100GW, so you'd waste at least half the solar power generated at noon along with all the wind power and all other electricity generated if you don't have any means of storage. Storage isn't just necessary, it is vital.

Re:Nuclear plants $5,000 per KW (1)

Bardwick (696376) | more than 2 years ago | (#38971041)

"Without Construction interest". Would that include the purchase of land the size of nevada to place panels?

Re:Nuclear plants $5,000 per KW (3, Informative)

mspohr (589790) | more than 2 years ago | (#38971303)

The "Bulletin" used the term "overnight cost" which I found interesting so I googled it. It refers to the cost of the project without adding in the cost of interest on the money borrowed during construction. It is as if the project was built "overnight".
We know that nuclear plants have very long construction times (5-10 years) so the overnight cost drastically understates the cost of the project. Solar and wind, on the other hand have much shorter construction times (less than a year in most cases) so the overnight cost is close to the actual cost.
As far as land costs go, land is cheap (especially in Nevada) and is a very small part of the cost of any power plant. Most solar is installed on existing roofs so no land cost there. Even large scale solar plants like those in the California and Nevada desert don't use much land and the land is a very small part of the cost of the plant.

Re:Nuclear plants $5,000 per KW (0)

squizzar (1031726) | more than 2 years ago | (#38979725)

There seem to be some lifetime earnings missing from that - running a Nuclear plant is quite cheap, building it is not. So having a plant that can produce, for 90% of it's lifetime, it's full power output vs. having a plant that may produce, for it's lifetime 10-15% of it's output. The lifetime of a solar panel is, iirc, 25 years? A nuclear plant is 40-60 (most seem to be going on to 60). For each kw of nuclear capacity you get 50*90% = 45 kw years of energy. For solar you get 25*15% = 3.75 kw years (assuming 15%, no outages etc.) So as long as installed capacity of nuclear costs less than 12x solar it still works out better.

Re:Nuclear plants $5,000 per KW (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38978789)

. . . or maybe the condemnation of land scattered with caesium-137 for the next 50 years. . .

Re:Nuclear plants $5,000 per KW (1)

radtea (464814) | more than 2 years ago | (#38972665)

Interesting to see in the "Bulletin of Atomic Scientists" link from the summary...

As a matter of interest do you find what the Republicans say about the Democrats or vice versa interesting too? If so, why?

I don't get why a political organization like BAS that has no interest in anything except their own monotonic political agenda is interesting to anyone. They have no facts and no arguments, only conclusions that they they then try to justify by various manipulations. This is epistemically vacuous at best. It's like listening to Greenpeace on the environment or the Pope on the existence of god: nothing they say can possibly be interesting to anyone rational, because they make absolutely no attempt to ever do anything except promote particular conclusions (Greenpeace for example must be amazingly insightful because every bit of research they do just happens to support exactly the political policies they advocate for unrelated reasons.)

Re:Nuclear plants $5,000 per KW (1)

mspohr (589790) | more than 2 years ago | (#38972903)

Thanks for this information. I had no idea that the BAS was a political organization. They seem to try to present themselves as a "scientific" organization. Oh well, I guess I shouldn't be surprised at this revelation.
So, if the BAS is promoting nuclear power then I should probably take their estimate of $5,000 / Kw nuclear power plant construction cost as an understatement of the real cost. This makes my argument stronger. Wind and solar are even cheaper than nuclear. It seems that the people who have to finance nuclear power have figured this out already and that is why there is no great rush to build nuclear plants in the US in spite of generous government subsidies.

ThIS is goatsex (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38969539)

fly They looked The deal with you

Typical journalistic spin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38970585)

1. Eric J. Leeds, director of the NRC’s Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation, wrote to another colleague that “I assured her we are not doing any additional technical reviews or analysis and we are simply ensuring that our communications plans are prepared for the stakeholder responses which are sure to come. I reminded her that [Vermont Yankee] was ... similar in design to the Japanese plants.” - Perfectly sensible and professional.
2. The Chu group also worried about metal fatigue and corrosion from the injection of salt water to cool the Fukushima plants, though the NRC scientists were less alarmed about that. - So what? Does that mean that sea water and neutrons combined cannot lead to fracturing/corrosion? Pfft.
3. “Now we are seriously discussing using shaped charges in the vicinity of the head — madness,” Powers wrote.
“The rarefaction off the backside of the concrete is the way we kill people inside bunkers,” Powers wrote on April 5.
“Let’s send some of the DOE Sci. Council advisers to have this done. I have at least 2 suggestions!” Lee responded.

- Pray tell me what IS wrong with all that? Only one thing - the WP reporter simply copy-pasted the quotes and did not think of any phrases to link them. Pretty damning for Steven Mufson.

Huh? (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#38971569)

We're supposed to be upset that the NRC didn't know exactly what to do about a nuclear plant they had no authority over, no insight into, and no responsibility for? Are we also angry with the Mayberry volunteer fire department?

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38979413)

Well mdsolar posts these hatchet jobs all the time to promote solar. He's got some kind of solar fetish, somehow,if anyone anywhere has non-solar power that means solar isn't getting its day in the sun. And rather than make an argument for solar, he just tries to find fault with anything else in the hope that you will leap to the conclusion that solar must be the answer. You know, the old false dilema two step. He doesn't seems to care about anything else, just bashing anything not solar. Maybe he can't sell solar, so somehow he thinks bashing everything else props up solar. Meh.

So yes, according to him you should be upset, you see they weren't using solar. That's what upsets him. Didnt you know its supposed to upset you? Didn't you get the pamphlet? Sorry it wasn't clear from his illogical post, you just have to be to see thru the logical fallacies and guilt by association tricks. Once you get past all that pesky demand that he be logical, it's clear as day!

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