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You will not be surprised to hear that the events in Japan have changed my view of nuclear power. You will be surprised to hear how they have changed it. As a result of the disaster at Fukushima, I am no longer nuclear-neutral. I now support the technology.
A crappy old plant with inadequate safety features was hit by a monster earthquake and a vast tsunami. The electricity supply failed, knocking out the cooling system. The reactors began to explode and melt down. The disaster exposed a familiar legacy of poor design and corner-cutting. Yet, as far as we know, no one has yet received a lethal dose of radiation.
Some greens have wildly exaggerated the dangers of radioactive pollution. For a clearer view, look at the graphic published by xkcd.com. It shows that the average total dose from the Three Mile Island disaster for someone living within 10 miles of the plant was one 625th of the maximum yearly amount permitted for US radiation workers. This, in turn, is half of the lowest one-year dose clearly linked to an increased cancer risk, which, in its turn, is one 80th of an invariably fatal exposure. I'm not proposing complacency here. I am proposing perspective.
reply to post by SirMike
even the worst case scenario, a near cosmic alignment of cataclysmic events, has not an most likely will not produce any fatalities from radiation.
Originally posted by Hundroid
Maybe not in the immediate, but Chernobyl consequences are lethal still today (leukemia, other forms of cancer) after more than twenty years. To die directly from radiations (by means of lesions to internal organs) you must be very close to fissile materials.
Originally posted by backinblack
reply to post by SirMike
Why are they not quoting radiation levels in Japan?
Are they not stopping exports of some foods from the area and also stating the waters off the coast are contaminated?
Why start with Japan then quote figures from Three Mile ??
Caracappa calculated for me the implications of eating the most radioactive sample of the vegetable reported so far — a bunch of spinach grown in the open air near Hitachi, a Japanese city about 70 miles south of the Fukushima power plant. Japanese authorities reported over the weekend that 2.2 pounds of this particular spinach sample contained 54,000 becquerels of radioactive iodine-131. (A becquerel is a measure of radioactivity.)
That spinach reading is by far the highest reported so far.
It takes a million becquerels to reach a nuclear plant worker's annual limit of radioactivity — and remember, that's not enough to do any measurable harm, in the short or long term.
Caracappa figures someone would need to eat 41 pounds of that Hitachi spinach to reach the nuclear power plant worker's annual exposure limit. "That's a significant amount of spinach," he allows.
But what about cancer? That's probably what most people worry about when they hear about radioactivity in food. Well, it takes 20 million becquerels to yield a Sievert's worth of exposure; remember, that's what it takes to increase a lifetime cancer risk by 4 percent.
That translates to 820 pounds of spinach – more than two pounds a day for a year.
...Japan may be on the verge of spewing more radioactive material because water was gone from a storage pool for spent nuclear fuel rods. The troubles at several of the plant‘s reactors were set off when last week’s earthquake and tsunami knocked out power and ruined backup generators needed for their cooling systems.... www.theblaze.com...
...June 29, 2009
The bill included an amendment proposed by the Congressman to require the Secretary of Energy to study how Thorium, a nuclear element, can be used to address our energy needs. The Congressman believes that nuclear energy needs to be part of our mid-term energy policy to increase domestic energy production and reduce our emissions. In addition, he understands that we must overcome nuclear waste issues. Under the amendment, Thorium could be used with or as a substitute for Uranium in nuclear reactors. Thorium-powered nuclear reactors have the potential to be more efficient and produce less than 1 percent of the waste of today’s Uranium nuclear reactors, while emitting no greenhouse gases.
Using Thorium reactors do not breed plutonium, and can, in fact, be designed to “burn” plutonium into non-weapons grade material and, thus, decrease weapons proliferation. Additionally, Thorium nuclear reactors can help eliminate spent Uranium.
HYPERION POWER COMPLETES FIRST FORMAL MEETING WITH U.S. NRC.
WASHINGTON, DC, December 09, 2010 — Hyperion Power Generation (HPG) has completed its first formal presentation of the Hyperion Power Module (HPM) to the United States' Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and related documents are now available through the agency's Agencywide Documents Access and Management System (ADAMS). Visit: wba.nrc.gov (simple search on Hyperion Power).
The HPM is the first of Hyperion Power's designs for safe, self-contained, simple-to-operate nuclear power reactors, small enough to be manufactured en masse and transported in its entirety via ship, truck, or rail. The HPM will deliver 70 megawatts of thermal energy, or approximately 25 megawatts of electricity. This amount of energy is enough to supply electricity to 20,000+ average American-style homes or the industrial/commercial equivalent.....
...Fortunately, some U.S. lawmakers are starting to wise up to the benefits of thorium. While President Obama and congressional democrats continue to double down on traditional nuclear energy, Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Harry Reid (D-NV) co-sponsored a bill that would allocate $250 million (chump change) for thorium research.
But the United States need to expand its energy portfolio, and we need to do it fast. Democrats and Republicans alike are voicing full-throated support for dirty nuclear just because it's what we know, when thorium is clearly a better alternative. And the $250 million for research included in the Hatch-Reid bill won't cut it. "I don't know of anything more beneficial to the country, as far as environmentally sound power," says Hatch, "than nuclear energy powered by thorium."
.... This thorium fuel cycle carries with it a number of important natural properties some of which contrast sharply with the uranium fuel cycle:
-At no point in the thorium cycle – from mining to waste – can fuel or waste products be used as bomb material in any way;
-The thorium fuel cycle is inherently incapable of causing a meltdown according to the laws of physics; in nuclear reactor parlance, the fuel is said to contain passive safety features;
-Thorium-based fuels do not require conversion or enrichment – two essential phases of the uranium fuel cycle that are exceedingly expensive, and create proliferation risk;
-Thorium fuel cycle waste material consists mostly of 233-uranium, which can be recycled as fuel (with minor actinide content decreased 90-100%, and with plutonium content eliminated entirely);
-Thorium-based fuels are significantly energy efficient;
-Thorium fuel cycle waste material is radiotoxic for tens of years, as opposed to the thousands of years with today’s standard radioactive waste;
-Thorium fuel designs exist today that can be used in all existing nuclear reactors;
-Thorium exists in greater abundance and higher concentrations than uranium making it much less expensive and environmentally-unobtrusive to mine;
These facts have many serious implications for the efficiency and security of energy delivery in the United States, and the world. www.ensec.org...:thorium-as-a-secure-nuclear-fuel-alternative&catid=94:0409content&Itemid=342
...Even smaller reactors might be built. The molten salt may have a temperature of around 1,400°F, but as long as it can be contained by the best alloys, it is not really a threat. The small gasoline explosions in your automobile today are of a similar temperature. In the future, personal vehicles may be powered by the slow burning of thorium, or at least, hydrogen produced by a thorium reactor. Project Pluto, a nuclear-powered ramjet missile, produced 513 megawatts of power for only $50 million. At that price ratio, a 10 kW reactor might cost $1,000 and provide enough electricity for 10 persons/year while consuming only 1 kg of thorium every 5 years, itself only weighing 1000kg - similar to the weight of a refrigerator. I’m not sure if miniaturization to that degree is possible, or if the scaling laws really hold. But it seems consistent with what I’ve heard about nuclear power in the past....www.thorium.tv...
I agree with that, the fat lady hasn't sung yet. Let's revisit in 1-2 months.
Originally posted by lpowell0627
I think it's a bit early to be making any conclusions regarding Japan and how many people did or did not die or get sick from radiation.
It will be months before we know, if we ever do, what happened to the original Fukushima 50.
So far that would appear to be the case, however if the disaster were to worsen there could be some more immediate fatalities. Some of the Chernobyl workers died in just a few weeks, but so far the Japan disaster is nowhere near as bad as Chernobyl.
Further, it will be years before we realize, if we ever do, an increased rate of cancer and illness in Japan from this disaster.