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Comments

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Greenpeace: Amazon Fire Burns More Coal and Gas Than It Should

mdsolar Re:Wrong (282 comments)

RTFA

yesterday
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Report: Nuclear Plants Should Focus On Risks Posed By External Events

mdsolar Re:Stylized (119 comments)

Which is what makes it stylized and useless. Which is the point of the report.

yesterday
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Report: Nuclear Plants Should Focus On Risks Posed By External Events

mdsolar Re:Stylized (119 comments)

It is not per reactor, that is 1 in over in a million in the generic approach.

2 days ago
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Report: Nuclear Plants Should Focus On Risks Posed By External Events

mdsolar Re:How would that be even helpful? (119 comments)

So, your claim that the margin is already there is false.

2 days ago
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Report: Nuclear Plants Should Focus On Risks Posed By External Events

mdsolar Re:already done (119 comments)

OK, so they are right and Wald reported accurately. NRC already agrees with the report. It hardly seems late if it is a report requested by congress with a particular scope. NAS is usually pretty thorough. It hardly seems wrong for congress to want to know about this since the US shoulders nearly all the risk for an accident through the huge Price Anderson subsidy.

2 days ago
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Report: Nuclear Plants Should Focus On Risks Posed By External Events

mdsolar Re:Stylized (119 comments)

What?

2 days ago
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Report: Nuclear Plants Should Focus On Risks Posed By External Events

mdsolar Re:How would that be even helpful? (119 comments)

It was shuttered because it was not built to withstand the earthquake risk. The margin was not there.

2 days ago
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Report: Nuclear Plants Should Focus On Risks Posed By External Events

mdsolar Re:already done (119 comments)

But isn't that what the National Academy of Sciences is saying in the report? Platts reports he same. http://www.platts.com/latest-n... "US nuclear regulators and industry officials must do more to protect reactors from extreme, but unlikely, events like the earthquake and tsunami that caused the accident at Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant, the National Academy of Sciences recommended in report issued Thursday."

2 days ago
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Report: Nuclear Plants Should Focus On Risks Posed By External Events

mdsolar Asleep (119 comments)

An NRC inspector had a very hard time waking a guard up at Indian Point a few years back.

2 days ago
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Report: Nuclear Plants Should Focus On Risks Posed By External Events

mdsolar Re:Stylized (119 comments)

Accounted for that.

2 days ago
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Report: Nuclear Plants Should Focus On Risks Posed By External Events

mdsolar Re:already done (119 comments)

Matthew Wald does his homework and reports pretty accurately. Perhaps you should give some examples where he has misread the report.

2 days ago
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Report: Nuclear Plants Should Focus On Risks Posed By External Events

mdsolar Stylized (119 comments)

It really harms the credibility of the NRC when their risk calculation come to a accident every ten thousand years while the real world rate is one every 18 years. There are ten or more near misses each year http://www.ucsusa.org/news/pre... so nuclear plants are operating far outside the claimed safety envelope.

2 days ago
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Greenpeace: Amazon Fire Burns More Coal and Gas Than It Should

mdsolar Re:Wrong (282 comments)

By all means, repeal the Price Anderson subsidy and require market insurance rates be paid.

2 days ago
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Greenpeace: Amazon Fire Burns More Coal and Gas Than It Should

mdsolar Re:whoosh (282 comments)

You should look at the second part of their name. They oppose violence.

2 days ago
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Greenpeace: Amazon Fire Burns More Coal and Gas Than It Should

mdsolar whoosh (282 comments)

Didn't catch the murder in there I guess.

2 days ago
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Greenpeace: Amazon Fire Burns More Coal and Gas Than It Should

mdsolar Re:As soon as greenpeace touches it (282 comments)

So you support state sponsored terrorism. Tyranny, fun for the whole country....

2 days ago
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Greenpeace: Amazon Fire Burns More Coal and Gas Than It Should

mdsolar Wrong (282 comments)

They did anticipate renewable energy making nuclear power uneconomic though. https://will.illinois.edu/nfs/...

2 days ago

Submissions

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U.S. Coastal Flooding on the Rise, Government Study Finds

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  yesterday

mdsolar (1045926) writes "Flooding is increasing in frequency along much of the U.S. coast, and the rate of increase is accelerating along the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic coasts, a team of federal government scientists found in a study released Monday.

The study examined how often 45 tide gauges along the country’s shore exceeded National Weather Service flood thresholds across several decades. The researchers found that the frequency of flooding increased at 41 locations. Moreover, they found that the rate of increase was accelerating at 28 of those locations. The highest rates of increase were concentrated along the mid-Atlantic coast."

Link to Original Source
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Why We Said Goodbye to Fossil-Fuel Investments

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  yesterday

mdsolar (1045926) writes ""This spring, after considerable study, Pitzer College announced a comprehensive and ambitious climate-action plan, including a commitment to divest the endowment of substantially all fossil-fuel-company stocks by the end of 2014. It was not a decision made lightly, but one that we felt was a key step in more fully aligning the college’s actions with its mission and values.

Our deliberations began last October, when the Board of Trustees formed a working group, which I chaired, composed of students, faculty and staff members, and trustees. In the course of our discussions, we confronted a wide variety of objections to divestment, many raised by other colleges and universities that have rejected it. Taking the road less traveled required much research and soul-searching, but, personally, I can say it was well worth the journey.

As other colleges consider fossil-fuel divestment and confront those objections, I would like to share the objections and our responses, which helped shape Pitzer’s decision...""

Link to Original Source
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Nuclear Plants Should Focus on Risks Posed by External Events

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  2 days ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes ""Engineers at American nuclear plants have been much better at calculating the risk of an internal problem that would lead to an accident than they have at figuring the probability and consequences of accidents caused by events outside a plant, a report released Thursday by the National Academy of Science said.

Accidents that American reactors are designed to withstand, like a major pipe break, are “stylized” and do not reflect the bigger source of risk, which is external, according to the study. That conclusion is one of the major lessons from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident in Japan in 2011, which began after an earthquake at sea caused a tsunami."

NAS Report: http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php..."

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Japanese monkeys' abnormal blood linked to Fukushima disaster

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  2 days ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "Wild monkeys in the Fukushima region of Japan have blood abnormalities linked to the radioactive fall-out from the 2011 nuclear power plant disaster, according to a new scientific study that may help increase the understanding of radiation on human health.

The Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata) were found to have low white and red blood cell levels and low haemoglobin, which the researchers say could make them more prone to infectious diseases."

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New regs for Friday: Radiation, coal mines, model airplanes and beer

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  4 days ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "Friday's edition of the Federal Register contains new rules for radiation at nuclear facilities, explosives used in coal mining operations, model airplanes and recreational drones, and energy efficiency at manufactured homes.

Here's what is happening:

Radiation: The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is considering new radiation protections at nuclear facilities.

The radiation standards would protect workers and the public from hazardous radiation stemming from a nuclear facility, the NRC said Thursday.

The public has 120 days to comment.

Explosives: The Interior Department's Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement is considering more stringent blasting regulations at surface coal mine sites, the agency said Thursday.

The Interior Department is considering a petition from WildEarth Guardians, an environmental group that wants the agency to prohibit visible nitrogen oxides emissions resulting from blasting operations.

The petitioners argue this would protect the health, welfare and safety of mine workers and the surrounding public.

The public has 30 days to comment...."

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Is EPA About To Relax Radiation Protections From Nuclear Power?

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about two weeks ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "Both proponents and opponents of nuclear power expect the Environmental Protection Agency in coming months to relax its rules restricting radiation emissions from reactors and other nuclear facilities. EPA officials say they have no such intention, but they are willing to reconsider the method they use to limit public exposure—and the public’s level of risk.

At issue is a 1977 rule that limits the total whole-body radiation dose to any member of the public from the normal operation of the uranium fuel cycle—fuel processing, reactors, storage, reprocessing or disposal—to 0.25 millisieverts per year. (This rule, known as 40 CFR part 190, is different from other EPA regulations that restrict radionuclides in drinking water and that limit public exposure during emergencies. Those are also due for revision.)

“We have not made any decisions or determined any specifics on how to move forward with any of these issues. We do, however, believe the regulation uses outdated science, and we are thinking about how to bring the regulation more in line with current thinking,” said Brian Littleton, a chemical engineer with EPA’s Office of Radiation and Indoor Air."

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Fighting Climate Change With Trade

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about two weeks ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "The United States, the European Union, China and 11 other governments began trade negotiations this week to eliminate tariffs on solar panels, wind turbines, water-treatment equipment and other environmental goods. If they are able to reach an agreement, it could reduce the cost of equipment needed to address climate change and help increase American exports.

Global trade in environmental goods is estimated at $1 trillion a year and has been growing fast. (The United States exported about $106 billion worth of such goods last year.) But some countries have imposed import duties as high as 35 percent on such goods. That raises the already high cost of some of this equipment to utilities, manufacturers and, ultimately, consumers.

Taken together, the countries represented in these talks (the 28 members of the E.U. negotiate jointly, while China and Hong Kong are represented by separate delegations) account for about 86 percent of trade in these products, which makes the potential benefit from an agreement substantial. Other big countries that are not taking part in these talks, like India, South Africa and Brazil, could choose to join later."

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World Council of Churches pulls fossil fuel investments

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about two weeks ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "An umbrella group of churches, which represents over half a billion Christians worldwide, has decided to pull its investments out of fossil fuel companies.

The move by the World Council of Churches, which has 345 member churches including the Church of England but not the Catholic church, was welcomed as a "major victory" by climate campaigners who have been calling on companies and institutions such as pension funds, universities and local governments to divest from coal, oil and gas.

In an article for the Guardian in April, Archbishop Desmond Tutu said that "people of conscience need to break their ties with corporations financing the injustice of climate change" and events sponsored by fossil fuel companies could even be boycotted.

Bill McKibben, the founder of climate campaign group 350.org, said in a statement: "The World Council of Churches reminds us that morality demands thinking as much about the future as about ourselves – and that there's no threat to the future greater than the unchecked burning of fossil fuels. This is a remarkable moment for the 590 million Christians in its member denominations: a huge percentage of humanity says today 'this far and no further'.""

Link to Original Source
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Stigmatized nuclear workers quit Japan utility

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about three weeks ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "Stigma, pay cuts, and risk of radiation exposure are among the reasons why 3,000 employees have left the utility at the center of Japan's 2011 nuclear disaster. Now there's an additional factor: better paying jobs in the feel good solar energy industry.

Engineers and other employees at TEPCO, or Tokyo Electric Power Co., were once typical of Japan's corporate culture that is famous for prizing loyalty to a single company and lifetime employment with it. But the March 2011 tsunami that swamped the coastal Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, sending three reactors into meltdown, changed that.

TEPCO was widely criticized for being inadequately prepared for a tsunami despite Japan's long history of being hit by giant waves and for its confused response to the disaster. The public turned hostile toward the nuclear industry and TEPCO, or "Toh-den," as the Japanese say it, became a dirty word.

Only 134 people quit TEPCO the year before the disaster. The departures ballooned to 465 in 2011, another 712 in 2012 and 488 last year. Seventy percent of those leaving were younger than 40. When the company offered voluntary retirement for the first time earlier this year, some 1,151 workers applied for the 1,000 available redundancy packages."

Link to Original Source
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Blueprints for Taming the Climate Crisis

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about three weeks ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes ""Here’s what your future will look like if we are to have a shot at preventing devastating climate change.

Within about 15 years every new car sold in the United States will be electric. In fact, by midcentury more than half of the American economy will run on electricity. Up to 60 percent of power might come from nuclear sources. And coal’s footprint will shrink drastically, perhaps even disappear from the power supply.

This course, created by a team of energy experts, was unveiled on Tuesday in a report for the United Nations that explores the technological paths available for the world’s 15 main economies to both maintain reasonable rates of growth and cut their carbon emissions enough by 2050 to prevent climatic havoc.

It offers a sobering conclusion. We might be able to pull it off. But it will take an overhaul of the way we use energy, and a huge investment in the development and deployment of new energy technologies. Significantly, it calls for an entirely different approach to international diplomacy on the issue of how to combat climate change."

Actual report (Brazil, Germany, and India still to come): http://unsdsn.org/wp-content/u..."

Link to Original Source
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Aims of Donor Are Shadowed by Past in Coal

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about three weeks ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "In a "Washington Fought for the British" sort of piece, Coral Davenport, the NYT's new climate reporter begins to show her colors: "To environmentalists across Australia, it is a baffling anachronism in an era of climate change: the construction of a 4,000-acre mine in New South Wales that will churn out carbon-laden coal for the next 30 years.

The mine’s groundbreaking, in a state forest this year, inspired a veteran to stand in front of a bulldozer and a music teacher to chain himself to a piece of excavation equipment.

But the project had an unlikely financial backer in the United States, whose infusion of cash helped set it in motion: Tom Steyer, the most influential environmentalist in American politics, who has vowed to spend $100 million this year to defeat candidates who oppose policies to combat climate change.""

Link to Original Source
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Site of 1976 'Atomic Man' accident to be cleaned

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about a month ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes ""Workers are finally preparing to enter one of the most dangerous rooms in the world — the site of a 1976 blast in the United States that exposed a technician to a massive dose of radiation and led to his nickname: the "Atomic Man."

Harold McCluskey, then 64, was working in the room at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation when a chemical reaction caused a glass glove box to explode.

He was exposed to the highest dose of radiation from the chemical element americium ever recorded — 500 times the occupational standard.

Hanford, located in central Washington state, made plutonium for nuclear weapons for decades. The room was used to recover radioactive americium, a byproduct of plutonium.

Covered with blood, McCluskey was dragged from the room and put into an ambulance headed for the decontamination center. Because he was too hot to handle, he was removed by remote control and transported to a steel-and-concrete isolation tank.

During the next five months, doctors laboriously extracted tiny bits of glass and razor-sharp pieces of metal embedded in his skin.

Nurses scrubbed him down three times a day and shaved every inch of his body every day. The radioactive bathwater and thousands of towels became nuclear waste.""

Link to Original Source
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Wind turbine energy payback time less than a year

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about a month ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes ""Researchers have carried out an environmental lifecycle assessment of 2-megawatt wind turbines mooted for a large wind farm in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. They conclude that in terms of cumulative energy payback, or the time to produce the amount of energy required of production and installation, a wind turbine with a working life of 20 years will offer a net benefit within five to eight months of being brought online.""
Link to Original Source
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Broken bolts found in all Salem 2 reactor cooling pumps

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about a month and a half ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "PSEG Nuclear has now found broken-off bolt pieces inside all four of the huge pumps which help cool the nuclear reactor at its Salem 2 plant, officials said.

Errant bolt heads have been found in the bottom of the reactor coolant pumps and even at the bottom of the reactor core itself, settled under the nuclear fuel rods.

And some of the bolt heads that have broken off have not yet been accounted for, federal regulators confirmed Tuesday.

The bolts secure parts known as turning vanes on the inside of the pump. The vanes direct water out of the pump into the reactor where it circulates to cool the core.

Salem 2 has been shut down since April 12 when a rescheduled refueling outage began. During routine inspections, workers found all 20 of the bolts that hold turning vanes in place inside one of the four pumps had failed.

This discovery prompted plant officials to then inspect the three other pumps used to cool the reactor.

In two of the other pumps all of the bolts were found to have failed and broken off. In the fourth pump, nine of the bolts had severed heads, six were intact and the others showed signs of decay, according to Neil Sheehan, spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission."

Link to Original Source
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Fixing China's Greenhouse Gas Emissions for Them

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about 2 months ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes "Paul Krugman, who won a Nobel Prize for understanding world trade, has proposed climate tariffs as a way to get China to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Today he writes:

"China is enormously dependent on access to advanced-country markets — a lot of the coal it burns can be attributed, directly or indirectly, to its export business — and it knows that it would put this access at risk if it refused to play any role in protecting the planet.

More specifically, if and when wealthy countries take serious action to limit greenhouse gas emissions, they’re very likely to start imposing “carbon tariffs” on goods imported from countries that aren’t taking similar action. Such tariffs should be legal under existing trade rules — the World Trade Organization would probably declare that carbon limits are effectively a tax on consumers, which can be levied on imports as well as domestic production. Furthermore, trade rules give special consideration to environmental protection. So China would find itself with strong incentives to start limiting emissions."

In my opinion: Article XX of GATT does indeed allow us to unilaterally impose tariffs on China. I'd suggest that there should be a ramped approach. First, we should acknowledge that dangerous climate change has come early and we are already suffering damages. The growth in Federal crop and flood insurance payouts is owing to the effects of climate change. Instead of increasing premiums, we should use climate damage tariffs to cover this increase. That amounts to a pretty small tariff, but it firmly establishes the liability connection. Non-Annex I countries (as listed in the Kyoto Protocol) are becoming the main contributors to cumulative emissions just as climate change has turned dangerous, that makes their emissions the cause of dangerous climate change. An accident of timing? Yes. But deliberately increasing emissions, as China is doing, eliminates safe harbor as well.

This small tariff could be used as a stepping stone to larger tariffs imposed cooperatively with other Annex I countries if China does not turn around. The larger tariffs could be used to assist with adaptation costs in countries with low per capita emissions where vulnerability to dangerous climate change is high. Lack of a clear funding mechanism for this sort of thing has been a sticking point at climate negotiations. This would essentially get funds from those who are causing the damage."

Link to Original Source
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Staffers at Nuclear Regulatory Commission Report Backlash After Dissent

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about 2 months ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes ""Seventy-five percent of Nuclear Regulatory Commission employees who participated in an internal survey said they received poor performance reviews after registering formal objections to agency decisions, a report made public Wednesday says.

For employees that object to policy, technical or administrative statements contained in agency documents working their way up the NRC management chain for approval, the agency has a formal "non-concurrence" process meant to ensure that the concerns of those staffers are heard.

According to the survey, which was conducted last year by the NRC Office of Enforcement, many of those surveyed about their own experience submitting formal objections through the program believed there had been negative consequences to doing so.

In addition to the three quarters of survey participants who reported poor performance reviews after raising objections, 63 percent felt they were excluded from work activities and 25 percent thought they were passed over for promotions.

Meanwhile, 25 percent said they were verbally abused by their supervisors or colleagues after submitting a formal objection, and only 32 percent said their views were fully considered before a decision was made.""

Link to Original Source
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Flight MH370: Malaysia releases new satellite data

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about 2 months ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes ""Satellite data used to narrow down the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane, MH370, has been released after demands from relatives of the passengers.

The data, which was drawn up by the British company Inmarsat, was released 80 days after the Boeing vanished with 239 people on board.

It consists of a 47-page table of satellite logs from 4pm on 7 March when the plane took off from Kuala Lumpur until its last known contact of this type early the next day. Malaysia's civil aviation authority said the raw data was being released for "public consumption".

The data was used by Inmarsat to calculate that the Beijing-bound plane changed course and was likely to have gone down in the southern Indian Ocean. No trace of the plane has yet been found despite an extensive search in the area led by Australia, first on the surface by air and boat, and then underwater using specialist submarines.

Explanatory notes to the newly released data point out that the ping signals were used to estimate the distance between the satellite and the aircraft, but that they do not pinpoint its exact location."

The data: http://www.dca.gov.my/mainpage..."

Link to Original Source
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US plants prepare long-term nuclear waste storage

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about 2 months ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes ""Nuclear power plants across the United States are building or expanding storage facilities to hold their spent fuel — radioactive waste that by now was supposed to be on its way to a national dump.

The steel and concrete containers used to store the waste on-site were envisioned as only a short-term solution when introduced in the 1980s. Now they are the subject of reviews by industry and government to determine how they might hold up — if needed — for decades or longer.

With nowhere else to put its nuclear waste, the Millstone Power Station overlooking Long Island Sound is sealing it up in massive steel canisters on what used to be a parking lot. The storage pad, first built in 2005, was recently expanded to make room for seven times as many canisters filled with spent fuel.

Dan Steward, the first selectman in Waterford, which hosts Millstone, said he raises the issue every chance he can with Connecticut’s congressional members.

“We do not want to become a nuclear waste site as a community,” Steward said.

The government is pursuing a new plan for nuclear waste storage, hoping to break an impasse left by the collapse of a proposal for Nevada’s Yucca Mountain. The Energy Department says it expects other states will compete for a repository, and the accompanying economic benefits, and it’s already heard from potential hosts in New Mexico, Texas and Mississippi. But the plan faces hurdles including a need for new legislation that has stalled in Congress.""

Link to Original Source
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Organic Cat Litter Chief Suspect In Nuclear Waste Accident

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about 2 months ago

mdsolar (1045926) writes ""In February, a 55-gallon drum of radioactive waste burst open inside America's only nuclear dump, in New Mexico.

Now investigators believe the cause may have been a pet store purchase gone bad.

"It was the wrong kitty litter," says , a geochemist in Richland, Wash., who has spent decades in the nuclear waste business.

It turns out there's more to cat litter than you think. It can soak up urine, but it's just as good at absorbing radioactive material.

"It actually works well both in the home litter box as well as the radiochemistry laboratory," says Conca, who is not directly involved in the current investigation.

Cat litter has been used for years to dispose of nuclear waste. Dump it into a drum of sludge and it will stabilize volatile radioactive chemicals. The litter prevents it from reacting with the environment.

And this is what contractors at were doing as they packed Cold War-era waste for shipment to the dump. But at some point, they decided to make a switch, from clay to organic.

"Now that might sound nice, you're trying to be green and all that, but the organic kitty litters are organic," says Conca. Organic litter is made of plant material, which is full of chemical compounds that can react with the nuclear waste.

"They actually are just fuel, and so they're the wrong thing to add," he says. Investigators now believe the litter and waste caused the drum to slowly heat up "sort of like a slow burn charcoal briquette instead of an actual bomb."

After it arrived at the dump, it burst.""

Link to Original Source

Journals

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Lessons not Learned

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about 9 months ago Lessons Learned is a sad but effective way to reduce accidents and fatalities. Taking the time to investigate accidents, find their causes and eliminate the occasions of future accidents may be the most profound way to show respect for accident victims. But these days, we don't seem to care. The National Transportation Safety Board has halted accident investigations. The Mine Safety and Health Administration has posted no fatalgrams for three consecutive coal mining fatalities. One occurred in Wyoming where accident investigation can be especially effective in preventing future accidents.

Accidents are preventable, but only if we find out what is causing them and make appropriate changes. If a recall does not get issued because a dangerous defect is not identified owing to lack of accident investigations, that means needless deaths.

Delayed medical research and lost lab mouse genetic lines probably mean the same thing. But failure to honor the victims of accidents with full investigations that might bring some meaning to an otherwise senseless tragedy seems especially callous.

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Shutting down the right to petition

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about 10 months ago The Bill of Rights includes a right to petition the government for redress of grievances. When the government has erred, the people must demand redress. But what happens when the government makes a mistake, and then shuts down the petition process?

That is exactly what is happening now at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

"Last year, a federal appeals court sided with the states of New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont, which argued the Nuclear Regulatory Commission wrongly assumed spent reactor fuel eventually would move to a permanent waste repository, even though the Obama administration canceled the Yucca Mountain project in Nevada."

Previously, the courts had ruled that Yucca Mountain would not work, and data fabrication by government scientists had put into question the ability of the Department of Energy to even manage such a project.

As a result, the NRC is not allowed to issue licenses for nuclear power plants until it clears up this mistake, though is seem happy to give up on proper procedure and allow nuclear power plants to operate without a license.

So, now the people are supposed to have their say, exercising their right to petition their government through the public comment period. But the NRC is closing up its ears, cancelling public meetings and shutting down our constitutional right.

While it may be a fair point brought up by "Janet Phelan Kotra, who worked for the commission for more than 28 years and served as project manager for the waste confidence issue for 14 years, [when she] said the proposed new rule is improperly based on the idea that the commission has confidence in the safety of long-term storage at reactor sites rather than on confidence that a permanent repository will become available in a reasonable time frame." Telling everyone else to just shut up seems like a violation of a very primary right.

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Is Indian Point Next to Close?

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about a year ago

Nuclear power plants are retiring early all over the country and planned power uprates are being canceled. With the recent decision to close Vermont Yankee, it comes to five closed reactors and five canceled uprates.

Now Entergy, the troubled owner of Indian Point close to New York City, is issuing denials that it will close Indian Point just as it had until so recently issued denials that it would close Vermont Yankee.

A second law suit has been filed against Energy by security employees saying the Indian Point plant is vulnerable to attack. And with the checkered history of violations by Entergy on this score, it seems likely that the coverups described in the suit have been occurring as per usual. Vermont Yankee was on the list of the ten most likely to retire early constructed by analyst Mark Cooper (linked above).

  • Palisades (Repair impending, local opposition)
  • Ft. Calhoun (Outage, poor performance)
  • Nine Mile Point (Site size saves it, existing contract))
  • Fitzpatrick (High cost but offset by high market clearing price)
  • Ginna (Single unit with negative margin, existing contract)
  • Oyster Creek (Already set to retire early)
  • Vt. Yankee (Tax and local opposition)
  • Millstone (Tax reasons)
  • Clinton (Selling into tough market)
  • Indian Point (License extension, local opposition)

So is Indian Point. I'd guess that chances are better than nine to one that it will be next.
 

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Fossil Fuel Use Cuts Body's Internal Radiation Burden

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  more than 2 years ago Many discussions of nuclear power on slashdot are polluted by references to completely bogus calculations at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory web site that claim that coal power plants emit more radiation into the environment than nuclear power plants. This is completely bogus because when coal is burned, the uranium within it remains in the ash and its concentration is no greater than in typical low carbon soils. You might as well say that a bulldozer pushing clay soil around is releasing radiation into the environment. Why? Because the uranium in coal comes from the soil out of which the primaeval forest grew. When the coal is burned, you just get the soil components back. It always seemed curious that a national laboratory, even one so captured by the nuclear industry, would be yanking everyone's chain like that, making such preposterous claims. It could just be stupidity. But....

One thing about fossil fuels is that they have been isolated from the atmosphere for a very long time. That means that the carbon-14 produced by cosmic ray impacts with nitrogen nuclei in the atmosphere that they originally contained has pretty much decayed away. So, when fossil fuels are burned, carbon-14 in the atmosphere is diluted with respect to carbon-12 in the atmosphere. But that diluted mix is just where our food comes from, and since we are what we eat, we end up with less carbon-14 in our bodies. If we were to instantaneously double the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels, the amount of carbon-14 in our bodies would go down by half. This would cut the beta decay rate from carbon-14 in our bodies by half and the combined beta decay rate from potasium-40 and carbon-14 by about 12%. If we subsequently removed carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to control the climate, carbon-14 would be removed together with carbon-12 and the internal radiation burden in our bodies would remain low for thousands of years as carbon-14 production would catch up on a timescale similar to the decay timescale for carbon-14 (5700 years).

Now, potasium-40 decays are more energetic than carbon-14 decays but carbon-14 in incorporated in DNA and thus decays may have a greater chance of inducing mutations, the apparent origin of cancers.

Nuclear power use, on the other hand, only increases radiation exposure, it does not decrease it. And it does so for long long after there has been any benefit from the power generation. While there are immediate cancer risks in the chemical components emitted from coal, gasoline or diesel burning, those risks are incurred by those benefiting from the fuel use and are not transmitted down the ages. The long term cancer legacy, in fact, is reduced cancer risk owing to reduced internal radiation burden.

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Fossil fuel use cuts body's internal radiation burden

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  more than 2 years ago Many discussions of nuclear power on slashdot are polluted by references to completely bogus calculations at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory web site that claim that coal power plants emit more radiation into the environment than nuclear power plants. This is completely bogus because when coal is burned, the uranium within it remains in the ash and its concentration is no greater than in typical low carbon soils. You might as well say that a bulldozer pushing clay soil around is releasing radiation into the environment. Why? Because the uranium in coal comes from the soil out of which the primaeval forest grew. When the coal is burned, you just get the soil components back. It always seemed curious that a national laboratory, even one so captured by the nuclear industry, would be yanking everyone's chain like that, making such preposterous claims. It could just be stupidity. But....

One thing about fossil fuels is that they have been isolated from the atmosphere for a very long time. That means that the carbon-14 produced by cosmic ray impacts with nitrogen nuclei in the atmosphere that they originally contained has pretty much decayed away. So, when fossil fuels are burned, carbon-14 in the atmosphere is diluted with respect to carbon-12 in the atmosphere. But that diluted mix is just where our food comes from, and since we are what we eat, we end up with less carbon-14 in our bodies. If we were to instantaneously double the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels, the amount of carbon-14 in our bodies would go down by half. This would cut the beta decay rate from carbon-14 in our bodies by half and the combined beta decay rate from potasium-40 and carbon-14 by about 12%. If we subsequently removed carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to control the climate, carbon-14 would be removed together with carbon-12 and the internal radiation burden in our bodies would remain low for thousands of years as carbon-14 production would catch up on a timescale similar to the decay timescale for carbon-14 (5700 years).

Now, potasium-40 decays are more energetic than carbon-14 decays but carbon-14 in incorporated in DNA and thus decays may have a greater chance of inducing mutations, the apparent origin of cancers.

Nuclear power use, on the other hand, only increases radiation exposure, it does not decrease it. And it does so for long long after there has been any benefit from the power generation. While there are be immediate cancer risks in the chemical components emitted from coal, gasoline or diesel burning, those risks are incurred by those benefiting from the fuel use and are not transmitted down the ages. The long term cancer legacy, in fact, is reduced cancer risk owing to reduced internal radiation burden.

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Mitigating deep oil spills

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  more than 3 years ago

A mile below the surface of the ocean, conditions are different. The pressure of the water increases the boiling point of the water above the autoignition temperature of crude oil. Water could act as a sort of diesel chamber at that depth. With an oil spill plume rising from the ocean floor, mixing enough air from the surface into the oil could consume the oil completely in a self-sustaining reaction. Heat from the reaction would heat the surrounding water and turbulence would provide complete mixing of the oil and air, oxidizing the oil to carbon dioxide and water. Getting the air to the sea floor might be accomplished with off-the-shelf equipment. Electric air compressors could be arranged in stages down to the bottom each stage feeding a standard fire hose within its tolerance, with pressure increasing from stage to stage to balance the water pressure at the stage depth. Electric power might be supplied from a naval vessel. Once air can be introduced to the oil plume, a standard flare can initiate the reaction. Hot complete combustion at the bottom of the ocean may have greater environmental benefits compared with incomplete combustion at the ocean surface. Because off-the-shelf equipment is involved, this response might be faster than other responses.

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Vermont Senate Debate on Entergy Video

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Video streaming of the Vermont Senate Debate on Vermont Yankee is here: http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/artikkel?NoCache=1&Dato=20100224&Kategori=NEWS03&Lopenr=100224011&Ref=AR&template=mogulus

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Slashdot Stalker Replies

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Apparently there are limits even to replying to replies to your own journal entry. So, this is to say welcome to my journal stalker. http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1561690

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VT Nuclear Expert on DemocracyNow

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  more than 4 years ago

A slashdot stalker has been pestering me about dry cooling so I've used up my replies for now. For those following the Vermont Yankee saga, Arnie Gundersen is on DemocracyNow! today providing details. http://www.democracynow.org/

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Tuppence in the Sun

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  more than 6 years ago Mr. Dawes Sr. If you invest your tuppence wisely in the bank, safe and sound, soon that tuppence, safely invested in the bank, will compound! And you'll achieve that sense of conquest, as your affluence expands! In the hands of the directors, who invest as propriety demands!

The lyrics to the song that follows this bit of wisdom in the musical Mary Poppins can be found here. The next song, Step In Time is much more energetic and it is perhaps understandable that a song about compound interest would fail to catch on.

We are seeing a lack of propriety these days in a number of financial transactions. The slicing and dicing of risk seems to have led to a questions of what value many securities have if any at all. But, if you want to take on projects that extend over a substantial period of time, credit markets are likely to be a part of what you do.

One thing we need to do is transform how we get energy and a number of options include long term components. Nuclear power, for example, extends so far into a climatically uncertain future that it is seeking extra help with finance through federal loan guaranties.

While renewable energy is forever, its implementation can be taken in 10 to 25 year chunks so it fits much better with standard lending terms. Further, risk is low so while raising capital though venture mechanisms can happen, it is also attractive to banks, especially since renewable energy equipment can serve as insured collateral. This is why so much of the financing for renewable energy is coming from institutions like Credit Lyonnais and Morgan Stanley especially in the commercial sector. In the residential sector, solar power equipment is being rolled into mortgages for new home construction while installers for existing homes are getting savvy at helping customers find financing through secured credit based on increased equity.

But, what if you want to follow the commercial sector model of separating ownership of the equipment from the use of the equipment in the residential sector. Individually financing each deal, as might work for supplying Walmart with solar power, becomes time consuming and thus expensive. What is needed is an aggregate instrument. One way that aggregation has been used with propriety is the securitization of leases. CVS, for example, financed its eastern expansion based on the security provided by the fact that it had property leases to conduct its business. This brought them lower cost financing since the aggregated leases were more secure than individual leases.

One way to secure low cost credit to allow the long term use of solar power on homes is to secure the credit on the basis of an aggregate of rental contracts which assure repayment of the debt. So long as those contracts are sufficiently attractive that few of them are likely to be broken (they save customers money) then you have a low risk security that does not require high interest. This is the form of financing that Citizenre (discussed here in February) has adopted for its solar power equipment rental business. Shaving the cost of financing puts it in a better competitive position than attempting to work out deal-by-deal financing, so much so, that it can afford to ignore state-level rebates available to individual purchasers of solar power equipment.

There is certainly room for venture capital in the solar power business, especially for high risk new technology development. But, for deployment of proven technology, the model being adopted in the commercial sector using more traditional financing leads to cost savings that are important for market competitiveness. Carrying this over to the residential market, with its much larger roof space resource, will likely rebalance the solar market towards an acceleration of its current 30% annual growth.

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Energy storage options

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  about 7 years ago The closets of fossil energy are crammed full of skeletons. It is long past time to clean them out and as it turns out, renewable energy may need the storage space, not for skeletons, but rather to smooth the transition to full conversion to renewable energy.

Two newspaper articles are out talking about storage of renewable energy. Both articles fail to notice that the US grid already runs on about 20% stored renewable energy through hydroelectric power. About 24 GW of that capacity can run backwards rather than just throttle so we already have quite a lot of what we might need. And, the articles don't notice that distributed renewable power is not very intermittent. The wind is always blowing somewhere and clouds rarely cover all of a continent. The trick is to shuttle the power from where it is produced to where it is needed. If you have enough capacity to meet the peak use, then you don't really care about storing the extra power you don't need when you are using less, you just find something fun and interesting to do with it. Remember, renewable energy is extravagant. Think of the amazing fecundity and diversity of a rain forest. It is about prosperity not scarcity.

But, before we get to the point where we produce more energy than we use most of the time, methods of storage can help to retire fossil energy plants more quickly. So, lets just list the kinds of storage that are covered in the articles and on the Real Energy blog so we know a few of the options. We'll organize it in the types of energy physicists like to use.

Thermal:

Hot or cold, thermal storage adds a certain amount of extra time to use the energy. In some cases like the high thermal mass house, you are just avoiding using energy that you don't really need. The daily fluctuations of external temperature are not important with good insulation and a high heat capacity. In one article ice is used to shift electricity use from day time to night time and also save on over-all use while in the another, molten salts are used to keep solar energy for use at night. You can see how these might work together.

Chemical:

Batteries have the potential for large scale storage and are mentioned in both articles. The anticipated sizes run up to 6 MWh. The batteries mention in the article are not exactly flow batteries which are also used together with wind farms and run up to 12 MWh. The blog also looked at using ammonia as a chemical storage method and producing hydrogen for later use is also a chemical method though it experiences high thermal loses. Aluminum can also be used for chemical storage and used to produce hydrogen on demand.

Mechanical:

Here we have two choices, potential energy or kinetic energy. Both articles mention gas pressure storage, essentially a form of of potential energy similar to damming a river. The size of the facility mentioned is about 100 MW and presumably can run for a day or two. About half the energy comes from compressed air and half from natural gas. One article mentions flywheels which store kinetic energy. In this case the flywheel stores 18 MWs or 5 kWh. One can reduce the tensile strength requirements for a flywheel and increase its capacity by usinging a magenetic track. Then the strength requirements are compressive and much simpler.

Electrical:

Capacitors are used to store power when very large currents pulses are needed as for example in inertial confinement fusion. These capacitors store about 3 kWh. Super capacitors are less bulky and are being developed for transportation applications.

Magnetic:

Superconducting Magnetic Energy Storage is used in some applications with capacities moving toward 20 MWh.

Electromagnetic:

For very high energy density, excited nuclear states might be used. This is actually a new listing, but not very practical just now.

The complaint in the articles is that power storage adds cost to the the electric power distribution system. But, pretty clearly, the decreasing cost of renewable energy is making storage more attractive to utilities. Thermal storage in solar plants that work with thermal energy anyway is a natural extension to their capabilities. Similarly, those that work using chemical energy are designed to store energy from the beginning. It is clear that flywheel and magnetic storage are already being used for power conditioning. Very shortly, the cost of renewable power will drop well below the cost of other sources. For wind, it is already the cheapest way to produce power in many places. As it turns out, once we're ready to chase the skeletons our of the fossil energy closet, we'll be able to put in a great new closet organizer with slots for all kinds of storage that will make the dumping of the fossils all the more rapid. Energy storage is not an Achilles' heel for renewable energy, but rather a stepping stone to full deployment. Daniel Arvizu should know better.

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An Air of Leadership

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  more than 7 years ago The US negotiated the Montreal Protocol http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montreal_Protocol in the 1980's to control chlorofluorocarbons which had been shown to disrupt the Earth's ozone layer, allowing ultraviolet radiation to penetrate to ground level. This treaty has, until recently, been considered one of the most successful international treaties ever made. Control of these chemicals has reduced the rate of destruction of the ozone layer, preserving both health and the productivity of agriculture.

The Montreal Protocol was taken an a model for the Kyoto Protocol, aimed at limiting the emissions of greenhouse gases which cause global warming. The problem of greenhouse gases is considered to be more difficult because the mechanism of replacement of chloroflurocarbons needed to make the Montreal Protocol work is not so clearly available for the most important greenhouse gas, CO2. Further, there was a large disparity in the level of greenhouse gas emissions between developed and developing countries and reducing greenhouse gas emissions was thought to impact economic development. So, developing countries were left out of the first round on emissions reductions and had no responsibility, on their own, to limit the growth of greenhouse gas emissions, but rather were to be a testing ground for the efforts of developed nations to assist in economic development while also helping to avoid some of the worst emissions.

While the US negotiated this treaty, there were clear indications that it could not be ratified without stronger commitments from developing countries. In essence, the US negotiated in bad faith.

Now, the problem of economic development is catching up with the Montreal Protocol as well. The substituted materials worked when the demand for them was limited largely to the developed nations, but now economic development has brought in a larger pool of demand http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/23/business/23cool.html. The substitute chemicals, while better, do not bode well with a much increased load. The solution for this problem may well end up being further substitution such as magnetic refrigeration http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnetic_refrigeration. But the fact of the problem raises another issue. If the Montreal Protocol needs revision, who can provide the leadership to bring this about?

US leadership was crucial to both the Montreal and the Kyoto Protocols but US credibility now lies in shambles because in never intended to implement the second protocol. Yet, the US has most at risk should the first protocol not succeed since mid-latitude food production will be at risk. I would suggest that it is time to end the patronizing attitude that divides the world into developed and developing countries and admit that leadership could come from those who have been left out. China is already taking a lead on renewable energy http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/33389.html, and perhaps India could bring us together again on ozone depletion. Hey, Ross, what's that great whooshing sound?

It's everyone else filling the vacuum we've left in credibility space.

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Follow the money

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  more than 6 years ago The NYT is reporting that the recent job loss in Silicon Valley is turning around. The reason: clean energy technology http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/29/technology/29valley.html?_r=1&ref=science&oref=slogin. From the article:

After five years of job losses, Silicon Valley is hiring again. The turnaround coincides with a huge increase of investment in the emerging category of clean environment technology.

Now, slashdoters have certainly beat them to market in the residential sector http://mdsolar.blogspot.com/2007/01/slashdot-users-selling-solar.html but the larger commercial sector is wide open. The bandwagon is rolling owing to economic realities. The article also covers some Silicon Valley Blight issues.

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Your opinion could be paid for by ExxonMobil

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  more than 7 years ago As material from the web site of Sen. James Inhofe makes Slashdot's front page http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/01/18/0421242 in what is basically an ad hominum attach on a Weather Channel meteorologist, the tactics of ExxonMobil in using smoke, mirrors and hot air http://www.ucsusa.org/assets/documents/global_warming/exxon_report.pdf to slow our response to global warming is revealed by the Union of Concerned Scientists. From the Executive Summary:

In an effort to deceive the public about the reality of global warming, ExxonMobil has underwritten the most sophisticated and most successful disinformation campaign since the tobacco industry misled the public about the scientific evidence linking smoking to lung cancer and heart disease.

It goes on to say that information laundering was used to attempt to confuse the public.

If you don't know that fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) is being fed to you, how can you be sure your opinion is your own?

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Slashdot is a lobbyist

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  more than 7 years ago I've come across this site http://www.grassrootsfreedom.com/ which hopes to stop the lobbying reform, which is part of the first 100 hours package the democrats are passing, from applying to normal political organizing. Basically, you'd have to report to the government if you asked people to contact their representatives. So, on issues like net neutrality, or GPL'd software or intelectual property slashdot might be considered a lobbyist. The National Review http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=NDUxMzM5NmNiMjFkMThhMjgzZjhmMDkyZGVmYzBhZjk is up in arms as are a number of conservative groups that organize letter writing campaigns. Should slasdot organize a letter writing campaign about this?

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Internet radio

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  more than 7 years ago Michael and Justine Willis Toms have been broadcasting for years on public radio and shortwave. Their program, New Dimensions, consists of hour long interviews in depth with people from all over the map. When I was in Hawaii I made time for two programs, both on the radio. One was a series of lectures by Alan Watts and the other was New Dimensions. When I came back to the East Coast, I missed those left coast salients into Hawaii's placid culture. Google helped me get back a bit of that when I found New Dimensions streamed at http://www.newdimensions.org/ with a program every week.

Recently, New Dimensions has expanded it's on line offering with a rotation of 6 programs, refreshed every week. This is called NDIR, New Dimensions Internet Radio. At the same time it has required a registration for the previous free offer of the program of the week. As I am writing, an interview with David Bohm ends and Larry Dossey begins. Later the Dali Lama will be followed by the pretty funny Swami Beyondananda. You can check it out at http://www.newdimensions.org/ndir-pop.html.

Now, why is this a slashdot topic? Real Player is very annoying. It does not work well as a radio. Especially, is does not have a timed off switch. So, because New Dimensions is something you want to listen to when you actually have the time to listen, and one of those times might be just before you go to sleep, here is a bash script to shut it down after an hour. This works with Fedora Core 6. It is crude, and it will mess with you're use of crontab so I've tied it to the gnome-cromagnon.png icon in it's applet launcher. Enjoy adding functionality to the intentionally broken Real Player.

date --date='1 hour' +%M' '%H' '%d' '%m' '%a' kill -9 ' > ctab2
ps x | grep real | grep Sl > ctab3
read realproc realprocext < ctab3
read killtime < ctab2
echo $killtime $realproc > ctab
crontab ctab

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American Interests in the Middle East

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  more than 7 years ago American vital interests in the Middle East, cited in the President's speech last night http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/11/us/11ptext.html are really two fold. The first is that uninterrupted oil supplies be available and the second that theocratic states not become so powerful that they pose a challenge to our position as the only superpower. Our military presence in the region is related to the first interest while our support of Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Pakistan, and a number of smaller Arab states is related to the second. They are also intertwined in the sense that our support of those states enables our military presence in the region through bases and ports which support logistics.

The strategic picture changes substantially if our interests change. The ability of theocraticists to imagine a strategically significant state is enabled by the presence of ready cash available through the sale of oil at prices much higher than the cost of production. Saudi oil income is easily diverted to theocratically minded organizations while Iranian oil income is already attached to such a system. In Iraq, oil revenues, such as they are, are also available to those who are sympathetic to the theocratic movement both legitimately and through massive corruption. In short, the theocratic movement is well funded because there is such a large cash flow to skim.

Changing this situation by eliminating our use of Middle East oil can only help. Oil is a global market, so eliminating our use of Middle East oil really means eliminating our use of oil altogether. Taking US demand for oil out of the market reduces the price of oil to much closer to its cost of production which is going up in the Middle East as more elaborate extraction methods are needed. The cartel structure for Middle East oil sales would have a hard time surviving a market with slim profit margins since production quotas would be difficult to allocate.

If America has no demand for oil, then our interests in maintaining the flow of Middle East oil devolve to support of our allies' needs for such a flow. However, our most important allies are already committed to reducing their use of fossil fuels generally (apologies to those down under) so it is not so hard to envision a world where the free navigation of the waters near the Middle East are of little strategic importance.

The technology is available now to eliminate our use of oil and to save money at the same time, so it seems like a strategic approach to the Middle East and Iraq would be preferable to the tactical approach the President is advocating.

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Why Renewables Displace Nukes First

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  more than 7 years ago Renewable energy is intermittent. Solar is in the day time, wind is available when it is available. But, one fine sunny cool breezy day our renewable capacity is going to meet total demand. What is a regulator to do? The renewables will be too dispersed to tell them to shutdown. All the rapid response generating capacity will already be shutdown because the renewables are free and who wants to compete with that. Hydro is in the middle of a mandated water allocation flow.

So, rather than blow the grid, the regulators will call the nuclear plant and tell it to go off line. But to do that, it has to shut down so it won't be up again for three days. A week later it happens again, and so it goes that spring and the next fall and all of a sudden, the cost of operation of the reactor just went through the roof. The nuclear industry whines about base load and all that but shortly the economics take over and that plant is decommissioned because it just isn't flexible enough to work in a renewables dominated grid.

At this point, or a little sooner, it is realized that what we really need is energy storage, fast in to handle over production, and slow out as a reservoir to handle night time. Any thoughts on what that technology would look like would be appreciated.

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Solar Power the Amway Way

mdsolar mdsolar writes  |  more than 7 years ago Solar photovoltaic power is competitive with retail electricity. If you could borrow at 3% and your electric bill were about $200 per month, you could buy a $30K solar PV system that produced all your power usage over the course of a year for the same amount that you pay for electricity now with a 30 year loan. This works in the states that have net metering laws. http://www.eere.energy.gov/greenpower/markets/netmetering.shtml

But, borrowing at 3% is little difficult to come by. Another way to look at it is that at today's retail rates for electricity, you get a 3% return on investment in a solar PV system. You'll get a higher effective rate of return if electric rates go up. This ties into inflation which might make borrowing even at a higher rate (than 3%) make sense but I'm not going to try to calculate that.

That said, venture capital has been moving into the solar PV market because solar is competitive at the retail level. One example where FedEx went solar is here http://www.powerlight.com/success/fedex.php.

At the corporate level that's fine. Big systems and big deals with risk management and all that. At the residential level, things are a lot slower. Enter a new player: http://www.citizenre.com/ which plans on renting solar PV systems to home owners for what their utility currently charges them for electricity. Their model for coming to market is like that of Amway: Multilevel marketing. They plan to begin installing in the Fall of this year (2007) and they are signing up customers now through a word-of-mouth campaign. How far will this go? I'm not sure, but they've doubled their customer base in a very short time (about a week) and they are approaching 3000 contracts now. That could be 3 million contracts in ten weeks if the viral marketing model works. I doubt that this can happen for practical reasons like server overload and the ability to build production facilities fast enough, but the eventual number of customers is not so unrealistic.

Another limit is the amount of net metering that states will allow as a percentage of total energy use. In Maryland, it looks like there is an out for the utilities at 34.7 MW of capacity http://www.energy.state.md.us/programs/renewable/solargrant/netmetering_statute.pdf which is not a lot.

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