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National Academy Blockbuster: Coal's Huge Hidden Costs

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posted on Oct, 20 2009 @ 06:56 AM
reply to post by foxhoundone

Yes but what does that do to the sea?

Chernoble killed far more than 10...there were all those who died of radiation poisoning from their work on the tomb and then there is all the lost land due to contamination.

I personally would not believe any nuclear power spokesperson tauting how safe it is...after all they have their agenda to sell it so of course they will down play all the risks.

Also nuclear power produces far more waste than we can use up and among the waste is the buildings themselves when their lifespans are over.

posted on Oct, 20 2009 @ 12:38 PM
reply to post by grover

So since the USSR cannot run a reactor correctly 20 years ago, that means we shoudn't have a reactor now? The whole western world has had reactors for over 40 years, without a significant problem.

posted on Oct, 20 2009 @ 04:29 PM
reply to post by KissMyBass

Three mile an example of accidents that have happened here. Your whole argument ignores the reality of nuclear power and that is its danger when something happens and its toxic wastes.

posted on Oct, 21 2009 @ 04:48 AM

Yes but what does that do to the sea?

I have never heard of any Uranium reprocessing technique from seawater. However, seawater contains large amounts of Uranium, and studies have shown that it can be collected from seawater in practically unlimited quantities. The cost is higher than what it is now so it's not economically viable. Fuel costs in Nuclear reactors are so low that even doubling the price would have little affect though.

Three mile an example of accidents that have happened here.

The Three Mile Island accident released a small amount of radiation - only exposing the public within 10 miles to the equivalent of a chest x-ray. It was caused only because the safety operators overrode safety systems. Even so, it did not breach either the reactor pressure vessel, or the containment vessel.

Risks from reactor accidents are estimated by the rapidly developing science of "probabilistic risk analysis" (PRA). A PRA must be done separately for each power plant (at a cost of $5 million) but we give typical results here: A fuel melt-down might be expected once in 20,000 years of reactor operation. In 2 out of 3 melt-downs there would be no deaths, in 1 out of 5 there would be over 1000 deaths, and in 1 out of 100,000 there would be 50,000 deaths. The average for all meltdowns would be 400 deaths. Since air pollution from coal burning is estimated to be causing 10,000 deaths per year, there would have to be 25 melt-downs each year for nuclear power to be as dangerous as coal burning.

Of course deaths from coal burning air pollution are not noticeable, but the same is true for the cancer deaths from reactor accidents. In the worst accident considered, expected once in 100,000 melt-downs (once in 2 billion years of reactor operation), the cancer deaths would be among 10 million people, increasing their cancer risk typically from 20% (the current U.S. average) to 20.5%. This is much less than the geographical variation--- 22% in New England to 17% in the Rocky Mountain states.

Very high radiation doses can destroy body functions and lead to death within 60 days, but such "noticeable" deaths would be expected in only 2% of reactor melt-down accidents; there would be over 100 in 0.2% of meltdowns, and 3500 in 1 out of 100,000 melt-downs. To date, the largest number of noticeable deaths from coal burning was in an air pollution incident (London, 1952) where there were 3500 extra deaths in one week. Of course the nuclear accidents are hypothetical and there are many much worse hypothetical accidents in other electricity generation technologies; e.g., there are hydroelectric dams in California whose sudden failure could cause 200,000 deaths.

In any case, much was learned from this accident - and Western Nuclear has not had a similar incident in more than 30 years. The Nuclear Navy has never had an accident in more than 40 years. If TMI was the worst accident that anyone could come up with then it's more of an advertisement for nuclear power. Nuclear has killed far less than its only peer competitor - coal, even per unit of electricity generated. I don't know about gas but my understanding is that drilling on offshore platforms is not safe either. TMI, mind you, has been operating without a hitch for over 30 years.

With newer reactor designs such as the ESBWR, there is simply no realistic way to cause an accident. Keeping the core covered, for example, relies on gravity - gravity usually doesn't fail. Even older reactors are retrofitted with safety systems, to make them even more safe. For example, in the 1960's early versions of the GE BWR...:

The Design Basis Accident (DBA) for a nuclear power plant is the most severe possible single accident that the designers of the plant and the regulatory authorities could imagine. It is, also, by definition, the accident the safety systems of the reactor are designed to respond to successfully, even if it occurs when the reactor is in its most vulnerable state...

...The DBA consists of a "guillotine break" in the coolant loop of one of the recirculation jet pumps, which is substantially below the core waterline (LBLOCA, Large Break Loss of Coolant Accident) combined with loss of feedwater to make up for the water boiled in the reactor (LOFW, loss of proper feedwater), combined with a simultaneous collapse of the regional power grid, resulting in a loss of power to certain reactor emergency systems (LOOP, loss of offsite power). The BWR is designed to shrug this accident off without core damage.

The ABWR and ESBWR, the most recent models of the BWR, are not vulnerable to anything like this incident in the first place, as they have no liquid penetrations (pipes) lower than several feet above the waterline of the core, and thus, the reactor pressure vessel holds in water much like a deep swimming pool in the event of a feedwater line break or a steam line break.

There is simply no conceivable way to have an accident with these things. In essence, you are saying that because the Hindenburg crashed, the A380 is doomed and we should never fly. The Soviets were kids playing with matches.

I personally would not believe any nuclear power spokesperson tauting how safe it is...after all they have their agenda to sell it so of course they will down play all the risks.

Generally it's the investigators who are paid to be critical of the designs who state how safe it is... If you think of a way to have an accident in one of these things it will be news for everyone.

Also nuclear power produces far more waste than we can use up and among the waste is the buildings themselves when their lifespans are over.

Waste is an issue. However remember that the waste can be stored in existing sites for another 100 years, and the power companies also have paid $15 billion dollars to create a repository for waste. It is also interesting how some environmentalists accuse repositories for being delayed even though it is often themselves who delay it. I am not so much pro-Nuclear, but I am pro- GENIV Nuclear. That technology reduces waste. GENIV doesn't need any safety systems - it's impossible to melt them down anyway. They actually tested a reactor similar to GENIV over 30 years ago where they disabled all the safety systems... the reaction stopped by itself by virtue of a strong negative temperature coefficient.

Also, the German government is phasing out Nuclear because of political pressure. They implementing the most dirty possible type of coal instead, while using Nuclear profits to subsidize wind. Without Nuclear we are stuck on coal. All this talk about reducing emissions with wind is bull-crap, because it will never happen. It hasn't worked particularly well in Denmark, why would it work well here?

its toxic wastes.

Toxic wastes? The byproducts of coal (a few hundred thousands tonnes of ash including *gasp* Uranium, Mercury, Arsenic.. etc..), and drilling for oil & gas are also toxic. Think of it this way, waste has a half life of a few hundred million years. The waste from coal is toxic and always will be. Granted, Uranium is more toxic, but it's also in substantially less quantity and people actually care about containing it, unlike coal.

The radioactive waste products from the nuclear industry must be isolated from contact with people for very long time periods. The bulk of the radioactivity is contained in the spent fuel, which is quite small in volume and therefore easily handled with great care. This "high level waste" will be converted to a rock-like form and emplaced in the natural habitat of rocks, deep underground. The average lifetime of a rock in that environment is one billion years. If the waste behaves like other rock, it is easily shown that the waste generated by one nuclear power plant will eventually, over millions of years (if there is no cure found for cancer), cause one death from 50 years of operation. By comparison, the wastes from coal burning plants that end up in the ground will eventually cause several thousand deaths from generating the same amount of electricity.

The much larger volume of much less radioactive (low level) waste from nuclear plants will be buried at shallow depths (typically 20 feet) in soil. If we assume that this material immediately becomes dispersed through the soil between the surface and ground water depth (despite elaborate measures to maintain waste package integrity) and behaves like the same materials that are present naturally in soil (there is extensive evidence confirming such behavior), the death toll from this low level waste would be 5% of that from the high level waste discussed in the previous paragraph.

As previously stated, waste can be reduced through reprocessing, GENIV (GENIV consumes waste and creates less than 1% that's far less potent), or sub-critical reactors.

Wonder why Grover got hit by the ban-hammer? Any ideas? Mods?

[edit on 21/10/2009 by C0bzz]

posted on Oct, 21 2009 @ 02:58 PM

Originally posted by grover
Yeah nuclear energy looks good until you consider the waste and accidents like Chernoble.

Yeah. 196 reactors in Europe and only one large-scale disaster like Chernobyl. And Chernobyl only happened because of a very unusual set of circumstances occured along with a flawed design (positive void coefficient) that has since been corrected in RBMK reactors.

The one problem they need to address with nuclear reactors is waste disposal. Right now they can contain it and store it indefinately without it leaking into the ground water table, but eventually it's all going to have to go somewhere.

There was one idea about launching the waste into the sun using a huge "sun cannon" that I thought was cool, but the problem with that was it was not nearly economical enough to get waste into orbit to be fired. If the space elevator becomes reality, that could all change.

[edit on 21-10-2009 by sos37]

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