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Would You Trust an 80-Year-Old Nuclear Reactor?

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the get-off-my-nuclear-lawn dept.

Power 429

the_newsbeagle writes "The worst nuclear near-disaster that you've never heard of came to light in 2002, when inspectors at Ohio's Davis-Besse nuclear power station discovered that a slow leak had been corroding a spot on the reactor vessel's lid for years (PDF). When they found the cavity, only 1 cm of metal was left to protect the nuclear core. That kind of slow and steady degradation is a major concern as the US's 104 reactors get older and grayer, says nuclear researcher Leonard Bond. U.S. reactors were originally licensed for 40 years of operation, but the majority have already received extensions to keep them going until the age of 60. Industry researchers like Bond are now determining whether it would be safe and economically feasible to keep them active until the age of 80. Bond describes the monitoring techniques that could be used to watch over aging reactors, and argues that despite the risks, the U.S. needs these aging atomic behemoths." Meanwhile, some very, very rich individuals have taken an interest in the future of nuclear power.

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I wouldn't. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40757367)

I wouldn't trust an 80-year-old anything.

Re:I wouldn't. (3, Informative)

coastwalker (307620) | more than 2 years ago | (#40757529)

Politics not science decides questions like this. You get what you vote for, serves you right.

Re:I wouldn't. (1)

zero.kalvin (1231372) | more than 2 years ago | (#40757569)

Specially my 1926 born grandfather! Who is still very much alive and in better health than most people I know. That is way too suspicious for me!

Re:I wouldn't. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40757663)

Either science and engineering is right or it isn't. If you think engineers can safely build a nuclear reactor and operate it for 40 years, why is 80 years different if they can demonstrate strong engineering judgement? And if 80 years isn't safe, then what arbitrary number is it that it becomes unsafe?

Re:I wouldn't. (1, Insightful)

Cosgrach (1737088) | more than 2 years ago | (#40757727)

Some may argue that they are unsafe even before they are built.

Re:I wouldn't. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40757839)

depends on the number the lobbyists tell us. Also depends on which political party is for which number...

Re:I wouldn't. (4, Insightful)

Medievalist (16032) | more than 2 years ago | (#40757857)

Either science and engineering is right or it isn't. If you think engineers can safely build a nuclear reactor and operate it for 40 years, why is 80 years different if they can demonstrate strong engineering judgement? And if 80 years isn't safe, then what arbitrary number is it that it becomes unsafe?

If we were depending on anything as rational as science, engineering or judgement we wouldn't run them past their designed lifespans.

There's these things called "safety margins" that engineers like, and these things called "new designs" that scientists like, but none of that will be as important as what the rich political donors want. Because the people making the decisions, at the end, will be the politicians.

Re:I wouldn't. (2, Interesting)

Rei (128717) | more than 2 years ago | (#40758221)

Either science and engineering is right or it isn't. If you think engineers can safely build a nuclear reactor and operate it for 40 years, why is 80 years different if they can demonstrate strong engineering judgement?

So you think a 20-year-old car drive 400,000 miles runs the same as 10-year-old car driven 200,000 miles?

Re:I wouldn't. (1)

jxander (2605655) | more than 2 years ago | (#40758253)

Fourty tw- no, wait ...

That would really depend on maintenance, and the longevity of the internal components of a nuclear reactor with which I'm not familiar. But think of it like a car. If it's good for 50k miles with only regular tuneups and fluid changes, shouldn't it be good for 100k miles, 200, 300, 500k miles with the same routine? There's just wear and tear from usage that needs to be accounted for. I'm familiar with those wear and tear needs on my car, and I'm comfortable with the results of a catastrophic failure of any particular component of my car. A nuclear reactor, not so much.

Also, I'd like to think that we've made some improvements in our nuclear power generation methods in the last 80 years. Have the old reactors been retrofitted to take advantage of those improvements? Is that part of the extension process that moves these from 40 to 60 to 80 years of service? Again with the car analogies, are these reactors model Ts, in a world of modern BMWs, Lexuses (Lexi?) Tesla, Corvettes, Camaros and Shelby GT500s?

Re:I wouldn't. (4, Insightful)

bennomatic (691188) | more than 2 years ago | (#40758297)

Makes me think of the joke about the carpenter. "This is the best hammer I've ever owned; I've had it my whole career," he says. "I've replaced the head three times and the handle five times. I love this hammer, and I'd never part with it."

Re:I wouldn't. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40757855)

you walk on Earth every day, while she has not disclosed her true age, i'm told she is far older than 80.
As for the reactor, that's a different story ...

Re:I wouldn't. (2)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40757887)

I don't see a problem. Engineers double estimates to ensure safety. For critical situations like military (or nuclear) they triple or quadruple their estimates. So I don't see a problem with a reactor being extended from 40 to 80 in lifespan since it was probably designed to handle 120 years. I wouldn't go beyond double though.

Re:I wouldn't. (4, Insightful)

korgitser (1809018) | more than 2 years ago | (#40758079)

I might trust an 80 year old reactor, but I wouldn't trust the suits running it.

Very, very rich individuals (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40757385)

I thought for sure you were referring to Mr. Burns. No fear, Homer's watching the reactor core (between naps).

If only there were another solution... (3, Insightful)

jtownatpunk.net (245670) | more than 2 years ago | (#40757395)

Like building new reactors to replace the old ones.

Re:If only there were another solution... (3)

busyqth (2566075) | more than 2 years ago | (#40757547)

If only new reactor designs were safer than the old ones...

Re:If only there were another solution... (1)

ericloewe (2129490) | more than 2 years ago | (#40757607)

And just what makes you think they're not?

Re:If only there were another solution... (1)

busyqth (2566075) | more than 2 years ago | (#40757661)

If only there was some way to... you know... somehow rehabilitate spent nuclear fuel and reuse it so that there'd be enough fuel for tens of thousands of years...

Re:If only there were another solution... (1)

Relic of the Future (118669) | more than 2 years ago | (#40757773)

This has nothing to do with the fuel. Fuel is cycled out every couple years. This is about the plants themselves.

Re:If only there were another solution... (2, Insightful)

ericloewe (2129490) | more than 2 years ago | (#40757899)

More than enough fuel. Especially because nearly all plants currently in operation only go so far. You've only truly spent the fuel once it's stable (non-radioactive), and even then, you might be able to extract even more energy from it.

Unfortunately, that requires new reactor designs, which the usual crowd hates more than Satan himself. Ironic, isn't it? Hippies are more likely to contribute to our collective demise than the devil himself.

Re:If only there were another solution... (1)

Relic of the Future (118669) | more than 2 years ago | (#40757781)

GP was being sarcastic.

Re:If only there were another solution... (2)

Lisias (447563) | more than 2 years ago | (#40757683)

The core issue is: they are!

Stop and think: it was needed a full, cataclysmic tsunami to make Fukushima colapses. This is not small shit.

Granted, I'm not saying modern reactors are safe. But they're a lot safer than the old ones - or perhaps, less unsafe.

But they're not cheap.

Re:If only there were another solution... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40757825)

The core issue is...

I see what you did there.

Re:If only there were another solution... (2, Interesting)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#40757729)

They could [thorium.tv] be [wikipedia.org] .

Re:If only there were another solution... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40757853)

If only new reactor designs were safer than the old ones...

They are. Unless you're the money-hungry idiotic morons who cut corners at Fukushima Daiichi.

Re:If only there were another solution... (1)

Relic of the Future (118669) | more than 2 years ago | (#40758015)

Fukushima is/was 40 year old designs.

Re:If only there were another solution... (1)

SomePgmr (2021234) | more than 2 years ago | (#40757567)

Yeah whatever happened with thorium reactors? I thought those were supposed to be the super-safe, super-cheap, panacea of future power. I even seem to remember China was going all-in on them... but I haven't heard anything in a long while.

Re:If only there were another solution... (3, Insightful)

Delarth799 (1839672) | more than 2 years ago | (#40757627)

If the word nuclear is in any way shape or form associated with something it is evil and will kill millions of people and explode and spew radiation across the land because nuclear.

Re:If only there were another solution... (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#40757759)

Yeah. (sarcastic) Thanks a lot, Irwin Allen.

Re:If only there were another solution... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40758135)

You sure showed that strawman, tough guy.

Re:If only there were another solution... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40758255)

That's why I'm terrified of nuclear families.

Re:If only there were another solution... (1)

Relic of the Future (118669) | more than 2 years ago | (#40757755)

Research takes time. Also money, which the current US political environment doesn't want to spend. But rest assured; China, India, France, and others are still working on it, even if the US isn't.

Re:If only there were another solution... (2)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40758155)

The history of industrial development shows it's better to let OTHER people waste their money on research/development (and also advertising the new product to educate the public). Then you just copy the end result.

Microsoft is extremely good is this (or used to be). So too is Apple: They didn't invent laptops, iPods, or tablets... they just copied other designs & then tweaked the interface (to be easy to use by their non-technical fans).

Re:If only there were another solution... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40757765)

There's an easy answer to that: the people who would stand to loose and are already accusing the President of trying to destroy the coal and other fossil fuel industries throw their political clout against Thorium. LFTR is fundamentally a disruptive technology if it comes to fruition (it's already very viable since we BUILT one, for Pete's sake), so it probably would REALLY make coal and natural gas take some big losses. They seem to think it is cheaper to spend lots of money fighting Thorium rather than being the pioneers in it.

Politicians pay attention to the people who throw money at them more than the people. A bunch of crazy LFTR fans don't donate massive amounts to campaigns so they won't listen to us.

Re:If only there were another solution... (1)

Githaron (2462596) | more than 2 years ago | (#40758127)

We really need to cap total amount a politician is allowed to receive/spend on a campaign. Campaigning should be a level playing field so that the issues can debated rather than political contributions deciding.the laws.

Re:If only there were another solution... (2, Insightful)

mlts (1038732) | more than 2 years ago | (#40757789)

They are safe and cheap...

But coal is "safer" [1] and cheaper.

I get a bit cynical when I see people grumbling about old nuclear technology. To use the car analogy, it would be akin to banning cars since someone's Edsel or Packard threw a rod.

[1]: Safer because it doesn't conjure up the radioactive boogyman, even though some statistics say coal plants toss up more radioactive crap in the air on an annual basis than nuclear reactors even use.

Re:If only there were another solution... (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 2 years ago | (#40758259)

Yeah whatever happened with thorium reactors? I thought those were supposed to be the super-safe, super-cheap, panacea of future power.

The hype fairy moved on to different projects.

Re:If only there were another solution... (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 2 years ago | (#40757631)

Agreed. I'm all for safe, clean nuclear energy. But equipment wears out. It's an inevitable fact of life. Eventually these plants will need to be decommission. So do so when recommended. Just move the fuel to a new plant or process the fuel into something else useful.

no. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40757403)

That's scary. I don't like it.

What is there to turst? (0, Troll)

SealBeater (143912) | more than 2 years ago | (#40757411)

I wouldn't trust a nuclear reactor if it was a day old. What, it's not going to have a problem someday? What am I trusting here?

I will trust that whenever there is an accident, and there will be an accident, it will evolve into a problem that will take thousands of years to cure. All the nuclear meltdowns we've had are still going on.

Re:What is there to turst? (1)

ericloewe (2129490) | more than 2 years ago | (#40757587)

That's the same thing as saying airplanes are inherently unsafe and using your car to get from A to B is much safer.

Guess what. Neither statement is true.

Re:What is there to turst? (1)

SealBeater (143912) | more than 2 years ago | (#40757829)

Slight difference being that neither planes nor cars present an ecological disaster for thousands of years when they malfunction.

Re:What is there to turst? (1)

ericloewe (2129490) | more than 2 years ago | (#40757961)

If anything is active for thousands of years, it's easy enough to carefully scoop it up and bury it as nuclear waste. Hundreds of years, maybe, but let's not exaggerate.

Re:What is there to turst? (1)

SealBeater (143912) | more than 2 years ago | (#40758071)

Fine, hundred of years, are you saying you think it's ok to produce toxic waste, as long as you bury it somewhere? And what happens when you run out of places to put it? This is one planet, how long do you think it will take for us to places to put it? What happens when there's an earthquake and the container vault cracks? Seeps into groundwater? That's one of our problems, the lack of foresight. Meanwhile, we have solutions that are clean and work but we ignore them.

Re:What is there to turst? (5, Insightful)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 2 years ago | (#40757979)

People keep comparing the deaths per capita from nuclear to things like car and plane accidents and especially other methods of power generation. I would suggest its NOT A USEFUL METRIC.

Our society has the means to absorb the geographically dispersed individual and and handfuls of people lost in car wrecks each day all over the place. Even the the total number is large, its dilute and the long term loss of economic resources such as land is minimal. The odd air craft accident that claims a few hundred is more painful but still manageable.

The slow deaths from coal and such get spread out across decades of somewhat elevated medical expenses and environmental clean up projects. Even an major accident like a slag spill can be contained and cleaned up with conventional equipment and means.

A major Chernobyl or Fukushima like accident however rare stands to displace tens of thousands of people at once and render major economic assets and surrounding land unusable for decades, all at once! That is the sort of thing that derails entire economies.

Its the difference between being shot and say having HIV. Over the long haul HIV and sympathetic infections probably do more total harm, but its spread out you can live with it for a long time. The bullet on the other though it might kill few cells on initial impact, often does enough damage that its immediately catastrophic anyway.

Re:What is there to turst? (2)

busyqth (2566075) | more than 2 years ago | (#40757591)

I never understood why it takes 1000s of years to clean up a steam leak from a nuclear power plant, when thriving cities have had atom bombs dropped on them without stopping them from being thriving cities today (with albeit, an interruption from normal business and a whale of a mess to clean up).

Re:What is there to turst? (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 2 years ago | (#40757687)

I believe that the fallout from nuclear weapons has very short half-lives.

Re:What is there to turst? (1)

dak664 (1992350) | more than 2 years ago | (#40757911)

The half lives are the same. But actinides build up over time and the residual beta activity in used fuel rods is many, many orders of magnitude greater than that from instantaneous kiloton fissions.

Re:What is there to turst? (1)

Delarth799 (1839672) | more than 2 years ago | (#40757731)

Well the biggest reason is that a total meltdown at a nuclear reactor would release a LOT more radiation than the atomic bombs we dropped back in WWII.

Re:What is there to turst? (1)

Relic of the Future (118669) | more than 2 years ago | (#40757977)

Where did you hear it would take 1000s of years? 10s definitely, maybe 100s, but not 1000s. Also, at the height both nuclear attacks detonated, almost all the reaction byproducts were swept up in to the stratosphere and dispersed over a much larger radius than, for instance, Chernobyl.

Re:What is there to turst? (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 2 years ago | (#40758289)

It depends on the details of the accident, what you want to classify as "safe", and what percent of contaminated land you want to declare "safe" (if you're talking about the core itself, you could get figures as high as "millions of years").

No. (4, Insightful)

ericloewe (2129490) | more than 2 years ago | (#40757427)

Get rid of them, build new ones. Simple enough, but of course, there's always the usual group, saying how bad nuclear power is... The only thing that accomplishes is a mixture of more coal/natural gas power plants and increasingly old nuclear reactors, operating way beyond their designed lifespan.

Re:No. (3, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | more than 2 years ago | (#40757643)

I agree political opposition is a big problem, but afaict the capital costs and potential liability are a big problem as well.

The biggest problem is liability, which I believe is currently covered by a government guarantee. It is puzzling, though, that nobody big will take on construction of a nuclear plant without substantial government liability protection and guarantees. Dick Cheney even said that "nobody" would build a plant without that protection, because they don't want to take on the potentially unlimited liability if something really bad happens. But why would you be worried about a risk of an accident that basically can't happen due to modern safety protections? Skeptics suspect this reveals that the risk isn't as close to 0% as claimed. Another explanation is that it is but the management of power companies are out of date with their information, or irrationally conservative on the matter.

Re:No. (1)

kestasjk (933987) | more than 2 years ago | (#40757819)

If you're a private investor and want reliable, easy, predictable returns why not go with a coal/gas fired plant? No politician is going to come along and shut it down because of an accident in Japan, you won't need to deal with protestors looking for any tiny issue to sue over, and you don't need to worry about waste because it just goes straight into the atmosphere! Also it's a much smaller expenditure up-front, because nuclear reactors are much cheaper to build even if they last much longer and are cheaper to run.

The risks of nuclear, from an investors point of view, aren't really about safety risks.

Re:No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40758053)

Because those hippy democrats want to push their carbon credits on everyone.

Re:No. (2)

Trepidity (597) | more than 2 years ago | (#40758123)

I can buy that, but then why was there so much noise about renewing the Price-Anderson disaster-liability limitation? If there aren't really safety risks with new plants, why does the nuclear industry care about being indemnified from them?

Re:No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40757677)

The biggest reason for extending them is to avoid cleanup and shutdown costs and hope a technology comes along that makes it a lot cheaper when they are shut down.

Re:No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40757707)

Old nuclear power plants are kept around for economic reasons, not because new ones can't be built. It's much cheaper to run an existing plant than to dismantle it and replace it with a new one, and since it's safe, why spend the money? See, there is this notion that a 30 year old reactor is safe and a 31 year old isn't, because engineers designed it with a lifetime of 30 years in mind. Every day we use infrastructure that has outlasted its original design lifetime, because we inspect it, see that it hasn't aged as quickly as projected and therefore consider it sufficiently safe. Why should nuclear reactors be different? Don't you trust the engineers who claim these reactors are safe? Why not? You trust them when they make the same claims about younger reactors. If you commission 10 new reactors tomorrow, not a single old reactor will be shut down.

Re:No. (4, Insightful)

Medievalist (16032) | more than 2 years ago | (#40757921)

Yeah, it's all the fault of those damn greenies. There's no way the entrenched powers who actually control things could possibly have anything to do with it - secretly, you know, a bunch of dirty hippy flower children control all the world's investment banks, that explains everything!

Let's face it, in the USA "greens" have less power than dog fanciers. This Rush Limbaugh meme of blaming them for all US nuclear power issues is hilarious.

Re:No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40758007)

I get the feeling the industry is making excuses to save money. I just don't buy that the anti-nuclear group is running the whole show. They need to invest in more expensive energy producing technology if the anti-nuclear side is that large. If it is that costly than let the price rise until people stop bitching about replacing the nuclear power plants. I think if we really are that dependent on nuclear and can't put up enough newer cleaner technologies then you need to make that point. Invest in the green technology, shut down some of these reactors temporarily, and let the prime season (summer) for electric do the talking. When people don't have air conditioning they WILL be pissed and MIGHT change there mind.

The real problem is we need to let the cost of nuclear rise. Then offset renewable energy with the subsidies going to nuclear. We also then need to ban in the process coal and other harmful energy producing methods.

We have seen a significant increase (at least in New Jersey) in solar here. I'm sure solar makes up a tiny percentage of our electric although it's a start. We have 1.55% now and the plan is to increase it to 2.05% by 2014. Just a guess although we probably had near zero from solar a few years back. New Jersey seems to have followed Germany's footsteps in offsetting the higher costs of solar and its showing. We now need to implement other technology to maintain a stable grid. Like developing storage for off-peak hours.

Ding ding ding ding! We have a winner! (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40758171)

I get the feeling the industry is making excuses to save money. I just don't buy that the anti-nuclear group is running the whole show.

Whenever industry - any industry- points fingers at environmentalists, lawyers, politicians, or anything else, they are lying.

Industry has Congress in their pockets. They can thumb their noses at environmentalists or anyone else.

When a company says, " We can't do 'x' because of liability or whatever" they are making excuses to cover their ass so that they don't have to admit - "We're not doing 'x' because we don't make as much money."

That is ALWAYS the real reason - not enough money.

Let's make a deal (2)

symbolset (646467) | more than 2 years ago | (#40758269)

Break down the one old reactor with the most spent fuel, and dispose of all the waste including the spent fuel. In return you can have two shiny new reactors of the most modern design. Repeat.

Pathetic (1)

SealBeater (143912) | more than 2 years ago | (#40757479)

I think it's pathetic that it's the 21st century, and we've harnessed the power of the atom to boil water to make steam to make electricity.

Re:Pathetic (2)

busyqth (2566075) | more than 2 years ago | (#40757615)

I think it's pathetic that it's the 21st century, and we've harnessed the power of the atom to boil water to make steam to make electricity.

Dunno.. Sounds to me like that's more impressive than burning old plant and animal carcasses dug up from underground to boil water to make steam to make electricity.

Re:Pathetic (2)

SealBeater (143912) | more than 2 years ago | (#40757909)

Not quite as impressive as using the gravatational force of the planet or tidal power tho.

Re:Pathetic (1)

busyqth (2566075) | more than 2 years ago | (#40758113)

And less impressive than zero point energy too.

Re:Pathetic (1)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 2 years ago | (#40758115)

I think it's pathetic that it's the 21st century, and we've harnessed the power of the atom to boil water to make steam to make electricity.

I think its pathetic that in our supposedly educate 21st century; people think its pathetic to use an inexpensive safe medium like water vapor to turn a highly efficient turbine for power generation. Doubly so when they propose any alternatives let alone a better one. Or were you objecting to harnessing the atom?

Re:Pathetic (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#40757679)

Yeah. And where's my flying car?

Re:Pathetic (1)

Lisias (447563) | more than 2 years ago | (#40757745)

What do you expect from a civilization that burns (finite stocked) fossil fuel on highly polluting vehicles to buy intoxicated food that came from the other half of the world because it's cheaper to do so instead of planting local food?

Well then (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 2 years ago | (#40757767)

Go ahead and let's hear your brilliant idea for how to do it better. Don't have one? Then STFU.

I get real tired of people who cry about humanity not having a better solution for random problem X, as though there are people who could have that solution if only they weren't so lazy or mean and would just think it up. Not so much, actually.

Re:Well then (0)

SealBeater (143912) | more than 2 years ago | (#40757897)

Well, instead of assuming no better solution exists, perhaps you should educate yourself.

Google "Tesla Tower"
Google "Salter's Duck"

Have a nice day.

Re:Well then (1)

Relic of the Future (118669) | more than 2 years ago | (#40758191)

I needed a laugh. Thanks!

Oh, were you serious? Tesla did a lot of great work, but his tower was not a power plant (it was intended to transmit power, not create it, and it didn't even do that especially well) and wave power is interesting, but not a slam-dunk solution [ucsd.edu] by any stretch.

Re:Pathetic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40757785)

What's pathetic about it? It's damn near magical.

Re:Pathetic (1)

ericloewe (2129490) | more than 2 years ago | (#40757795)

Well, there's no electric potential to harness, no usable kinetic energy, no usable EM... That leaves us with heat. Since we can't really convert heat into electricity directly, we need something that'll act as a middleman. So, we convert heat into usable mechanic energy which is used to drive a generator.

Novel ideas on how to manipulate electromagnetic fields using nuclear fission are appreciated, if you have any.

Re:Pathetic (0)

SealBeater (143912) | more than 2 years ago | (#40757995)

Why is using nuclear fission an option?

Gravatational rotation of the planet = Tesla tower
Kinetic energy from the ocean waves = Salter's duck

Both would/could supply our energy needs but instead, our political process have been subverted by the nuclear lobby, which end results in incidents like Chernobyal and Fukishima

Re:Pathetic (1)

Spy Handler (822350) | more than 2 years ago | (#40758275)

how else are you going to convert heat (from fission or fusion or coal burning or whatever) into electricity? Steam turbine is our best method.

According to Bob Lazar, aliens use a "near-100 percent efficient" thermoelectric generator to convert the heat (from antimatter annihilation) into electricity. Unfortunately the CIA is keeping it under wraps so we don't have it.

No worries (5, Insightful)

dak664 (1992350) | more than 2 years ago | (#40757483)

Well sure the regulators would not extend the license unless it was absolutely safe. And the power companies know they would get a painful slap on the wrist if anything went wrong.

Re:No worries (1)

Stormthirst (66538) | more than 2 years ago | (#40757575)

The trouble is the slap on the wrist is just that - a slap and no more. It should be a capital crime (electric chair for added irony, or perhaps radiation poisoning) for the entire board, CEO down, if a nuclear power plant were to melt down.

Re:No worries (1)

busyqth (2566075) | more than 2 years ago | (#40757701)

That's too harsh. Just make the CEO and the board of directors have to be the on-site first responders and clean-up crew.

Re:No worries (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40757907)

Obviously we need some public executions to make people take safety seriously. I vote we start with the Greenpeace guys who have been holding up the deployment of newer, safer reactors.

Re:No worries (1)

merxete (1965396) | more than 2 years ago | (#40758099)

And you'd trust these regulators not to do what money exchanging pockets tells them to do?

Kind of like you trust that the Fed always does what's in the best interest of humanity?

What if the nuclear site was in your backyard? Still unflinching optimism?

I for one have been let down too many times by corrupt individuals and systems to put so much faith in some dude with the last name "Bond"

Re:No worries (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40758143)

Why is this not (+5 Funny)? Last I checked, companies did not have wrists, no mutter how much they pretended to be a person.

SimCity (5, Informative)

dg41 (743918) | more than 2 years ago | (#40757487)

If I learned anything from SimCity it was to never let your reactor stay online beyond its intended life - unless you have disasters turned off, of course.

Re:SimCity (2)

ericloewe (2129490) | more than 2 years ago | (#40757539)

Wait, I thought the whole point of Sim City was to create the best city you could, only to play with the multitude of options at your disposal to destroy it.

Of course (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40757503)

because they weren't doing big nuclear reactions in 1932

Maintenance (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40757507)

Perhaps it depends on the contry, but I know that in France, each reactor is entirely dismount every 10 years to check everything.
But I have to admit that after 80 years, the technology seems really too old to be reliable...

Trust it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40757543)

Trust it? To give me power, Yes. But if it was offering me candy, No.

Would you trust an 80 year old dam? (2, Insightful)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#40757657)

Wait, we are [wikipedia.org] .

Meh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40757741)

Who gives a shit.

All of americas infastructure is in the same condition. Built to last 30-40 years. And now going on 50, 60, 70, 80 years of use. Use above and beyond what they were ever designed to handle.

We all should give a shit. But it seems that.... no.. nobody does. we're not going to fix any of this shit until its a HUGE disaster.

Why?
I suspect we are too greedy for our own good.

I've never been big on the conspiracy theorys and nutjob ideas. But it really is starting to look like the 'powers that be' has decided america is going down. Let the shit fall apart and explode anyway that can happen. Bring it all down.

And then?

Technical Analysis (5, Interesting)

dont_forget (71107) | more than 2 years ago | (#40757799)

The process currently requires that licensee demonstrate using technical analysis that the vessel is fully capable of performing its design function for the entire licenses period. As long as technical analysis demonstrate that the vessel will continue to function, why not allow the plants to extend their license indefinitely? If the stress on the vessel due to cooldowns, heatups, and neutron flux is less than the margin for performing its design function, then preventing a extending license is an action based on fear not science.

A common misconception is that plants were only initially licensed for 40 years due to technical concerns. As it turns out the AEC (the predecessor to the NRC) just picked an arbitrary amount of time to issue operating licenses. There was not a technical basis to the 40 year time period. That being said, some manufactures may have used the 40 year time period as a design input for reactor designs. However there is no mysterious phenomenon that causes the reactor to turn into a pumpkin.

And what about the decomissioning time (1)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 2 years ago | (#40757827)

Because we don't do sensible things like reprocess much spent fuel, even after these things shut down usually they have become some sort of simi-active nuclear grave yard for another 10-20 years before all the fuel is cool enough for transport to suitable longer term storage (which we don't have much of).

If you run these things out to 80 years, they will be 100 years old in many cases before operations really cease. Granted after the initial shutdown, risk drops off pretty fast, there is only so much that can go wrong with what amounts to a big swimming pool but still.

Sensible to who? (1)

bigtrike (904535) | more than 2 years ago | (#40758215)

Current technologies for reprocessing fuel are very dangerous and extremely expensive. It only works in France due to the huge government subsidies, and last I heard they're considering suspending operations. Even if you ignore the fact that some of the plutonium will get lost, it still doesn't make sense economically.

I nearly died today (2, Interesting)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#40757945)

No really, I came within a cat's whisker of having a terrible blowout at highway speed and being crunched by an 18 wheeler.

But what actually happened is I didn't drive anywhere today, so I didn't have a blowout, so I didn't lose control of my car, so I wasn't crunched by an 18-wheeler.

WHEW, that was close!

OH, and the Davis-Besse reactor didn't cause any probvlems either.

Like they say . . . (1)

bigdavex (155746) | more than 2 years ago | (#40757947)

Never trust a reactor over 30.

Old technology... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40758021)

Would You Trust an 80-Year-Old Nuclear Reactor?

We trust 50-60 year old aircraft [wikipedia.org] to carry thermonuclear weapons. Not saying it's a good idea but it's being done as we speak. Even some of the cargo birds they normally use to shift nuclear warheads are not exactly spring chickens.

Has anybody bothered to read the report? (3, Informative)

tp1024 (2409684) | more than 2 years ago | (#40758057)

Quote:

Task Force Conclusions
The lessons learned task force (LLTF) concluded that the DBNPS VHP
nozzle leakage and RPV head degradation event was preventable. While
this review was primarily introspective, this question could not be
answered without considering industry activities and DBNPS’s per-
formance. At DBNPS, early indications of RPV corrosion were missed
such as radiation element system filters being clogged by boric acid and
corrosion fines, the build up of boric acid deposits on containment air
cooler fins and large amounts of boric acid deposits on the RPV head.
The task force concluded that the event was not prevented because: (1)
the NRC, DBNPS, and the nuclear industry failed to adequately review,
assess, and follow-up on relevant operating experience, (2) DBNPS
failed to assure that plant safety issues received appropriate attention,
and (3) the NRC failed to integrate known or available information into
its assessments of DBNPS’s safety performance. Furthermore, an NRC
investigation concluded that DBNPS did not adequately execute the
boric acid corrosion control program in response to an NRC Generic
Communication, and the NRC did not adequately review the industry
implementation of long term commitments, such as the commitment to
maintain a boric acid corrosion control program.

The problem is not the age of the reactor, but proper implementation of safety reviews. I hope this will be changed.

I got a fix for this... (4, Insightful)

bobbied (2522392) | more than 2 years ago | (#40758231)

Start letting industry build new ones! There are some excellent modern designs which would be a great improvement on safety and even some that can help us dispose of high level long half life waste by converting it to stuff with shorter a half life. We are simply storing this stuff at the plant that generates it right now and that's CRAZY. We should be using it to generate power with these new reactor designs.

Start reprocessing all the spent fuel into forms where we can use it again. There is 40 plus years of used fuel assemblies just sitting inside these plants that could be reprocessed and reused with the side benefit of making the physical size of the high level waste much smaller and easier to handle. The waste can be encased in glass or ceramics and made ready for long term storage. Which brings me to the final thing we need to do...

Get one or more high level waste sites completed ASAP so we can start dealing with the *real* problem here. I'm worried more about the thousands of fuel assemblies just sitting in storage pools corroding than the danger from aging power plants springing leaks and melting down. We need to get this really dangerous stuff into more secure locations and stabilized environment where it can be stored in a more permanent way.

O.G. Nuclear Reactor (4, Funny)

H3xx (662833) | more than 2 years ago | (#40758237)

I trust the sun.

Old or new reactors? (3, Interesting)

Nkwe (604125) | more than 2 years ago | (#40758285)

I wouldn't trust one built 80 years ago. I would be more likely to trust that one built today can run 80 years safely. We have learned a lot since we started making reactors and they have gotten safer over the years. (I know that there aren't reactors that old yet, but the point is the oldest still operating were not designed for that life span; the newer ones have a better chance of being engineered for longer life.)
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