Oh fer shure...I wasn't arguing, only trying to
clarify/amplify...commercial nuclear generation has one of if not the
best safety record of any industry segment in not only the US but all of
the developed countries utilizing LWR technology(*).
This, of course, is owing to the extreme diligence of the operating
utilities w/ stringent operating rules combined w/ what is probably the
most extensive use of safety features and designs with lesser regard to
implementation costs in any commercial activity.
The down side of the latter combined of course w/ the fervent denial of
any possibility of any risk whatever of the JoeBedroom's of the world is
that we have neglected to develop the most appropriate technology there
is for large-scale electrical power generation at the expense of wasting
prodigious amounts of natural gas and oil and continuing to require
older, less-efficient and more polluting coal-fired units to remain
on-grid to make up the difference. Combined w/ the previously discussed
decision during the Carter administration to not close the nuclear fuel
cycle we have in a remarkably shortsighted fashion arrived at the
(*) France generates some 80% of their power via nuclear.
A worker was killed by direct radiation at an experimental reactor in
Idaho (not commercial power generation).
Some people were killed by direct radiation at Chernobyl, including
firemen spraying water on the reactor. And many in the general
population died from more indirect effects, like fallout. Different
reactor type than US. None of these fit Doug's 'nobody killed in the US
in power generation'.
I don't remember the radiation released from Three Mile Island, but
there could have been indirect deaths as at Chernobyl. And uranium
miners have died from radon breakdown or other radiation effects.
Coal miners have died from black lung.
And people have died from polluting effects from coal burning. Indirect
deaths, like from nuclear, don't leave fingerprints.
I agree that, bottom line, nukes are reasonable sources of power.
Yes, I specifically excluded research reactors and laboratories. There
was also a criticality accident that killed one (or maybe two, I forget)
at the Oak Ridge Y-12 facility. Those incidents are at least 30 years
ago now, all of them.
Yes, I also specifically limited the discussion to LWR reactors. As
somebody else mentioned way back in the thread, the Chernobyl reactor
did not have a containment building at all in the sense of what we think
of--it was simply in a metal-clad building. Such a reactor would never
have been built in any of the western nations. The Chernobyl design and
the operational misdeeds that lead to the event are prime examples of
"how _NOT_ to do it".
While TMI is a "could be", there are no confirmable injuries or deaths
in the general public (or in the workforce at the plant, either) around
TMI that can be attributed to those releases. In talking w/ a co-worker
who spent a great deal of time on site during and immediately after the
event (while they were still dealing with the "H bubble" in the SG upper
leg), he said his greatest concern was being run over by the teeming
hordes of media reporters every time he approached or left the plant. :)
I spent the days at the time looking at data from the plant
instrumentation and in phone consultations on trying to infer state of
the core from the incore instrumentation system which was my area of
Overall, hard to refute it's probably the cleanest overall practical and
reliable source for large scale electricity central-stateion generation
we presently have (or will have for the foreseeable future).
I wonder who would stand to lose FINANCIALLY if we could quickly replace all
oil & coal burning plants with nuclear.
If your first reaction is to focus on the word "quickly", please don't
bother responding, because it would mean you're pretending not to understand
the real point of the question.
The reason the 20 or more canceled plants were canceled (some at near
completion w/ billions already invested--TVA Bellefonte as one example),
plus those that were shortsightedly shut down (Shoreham isn't the only
example) were not done so for anything to do with somebody _else_ losing
out. Nor has the 30-yr hiatus in new construction of nuclear units had
anything to do with anything other than licensing a construction delays
made it excessively risky to commit to nuclear generation. Again,
nothing whatsoever to do with your conspiracy theories.
They're still true, which you missed.
The point here is that someday, I think you'll find that not all the blame
for the lack of nuke plants can be placed with environmentalists and their
legal actions. That's the simple, most visible answer, though. The invisible
answers are the ones we need to know more about. Cheney knew this when he
classified all information surrounding his energy policy meetings.
No, they're not. You provided no substantiation of _any_ of your
I've never said environmentalists were the entire cause, but surely had
a major impact with both delaying and in poisoning public opinion by
similar scare tactics as those you try (whether you really believe this
crap or just like to spout off, I've not yet been able to tell for
absolute certain. One hopes for the latter; suspects the former). TMI
was key while of no consequence whatsoever in causing any detectable
offsite injury or damage it did provide a much-needed-at-the-time focus
and re-impetus for the anti-nuke lobby.
The actual straw that broke the camel's back was the resulting
apparently unending increase in retrofits, upgrades and additional
licensing burdens placed on the other plants under construction or still
in licensing hearings that stretched completion times to as much as 15
years and untold billions in additional cost. That created such an
unfavorable economic climate the utilities simply cut their losses and
either canceled orders or quit construction and abandoned units in somce
cases nearly complete at the cost of billions.
Been following this thread with interest, and sometimes a little
amusement, I might add.
In general, I agree with the position that nuclear is probably the
best short/medium term solution to providing our energy needs.
But it seems to me that vilifying environmentalists as having done no
good by opposing nuclear power is an inconsistent argument when at the
same time one praises the nuclear industry's safety record. Here's
The current state of affairs, both good and bad aspects, was arrived
at via long series of events. Demands of the market, developments by
industry, regulation and oversight by federal agencies, and yes,
opposition by citizens and environmental groups, all intertwine in a
system of action, reaction, checks, balances, disturbances and
One can't rationally blame environmentalists for all the bad and give
credit to industry for all the good in such a complex situation.
Reality is somewhere in the middle.
If there was no environmental opposition ever, the current state would
be different for sure. But no one can be sure whether or not it would
be better, just different. Once can never be certain about the
outcome of a path not chosen.
Once would like to think that industry, free of oversight and
regulation, would always act in the best interests of citizens. But
history is chock full of counter examples. So when the stakes are
high, as they certainly are here, government watches over industry,
and the citizens watch over government. I for one think that's how it
should work, despite getting out of kilter at times.
It may well be that the balance swung too far toward the nuclear power
opponents in the last 2 decades. That appears to be changing. But
vilifying environmentalists and others who oppose nuclear energy
without recognizing that they have had and should have a valid role in
the system of checks and balances is wrong, IMO.
If you're criticizing me, I've never said there wasn't value in
environmental work -- I've only criticized the demonization of nuclear
and the manner in which many environmentalist organizations have told
less than the honest story of what the relative risks are of one
alternative vis a vis another.
Unfortunately for the power generating industry, they get lumped into the
same category as corporations which *do* foist their questionable practices
on the public on a regular basis. Oh well. I guess they have to deal with
Meanwhile, there's an important word to keep in mind when you're tempted to
use the word "environmentalist". Try substituting the word "customer", which
pretty much ends all disagreements about whether it's important to address
people's concerns. My doctor has stopped using the word "patient", and uses
"customer" instead, since it's much more correct, and it takes him down a
notch from the pedestal on which some doctors place themselves. Your
industry should do the same.
You will now ask why ALL customers don't express the same concerns as the
subset you like to call "environmentalists". The answer is a very simple
one. Let's see if you know the answer.
Not at all. Call them what you like, they are still extremists with an
anti-nuke agenda. As such, they should be mostly, if not completely,
For tripping over such semantics, your doctor is an idiot.
I can just see the kindly, old, bespectacled M.D. enter his PATIENT'S room
during grand rounds and ask, "How is my CUSTOMER doing this morning?" Gag me.
As usual, you're wrong again. (Habit-forming, isn't it?)
It is those the M.D. SAVES and cures that place him/her on a pedestal.
Admittedly, some physicians LIKE it "up there" and make no effort to come
down, but few self-ascend to such a status.
Then there's you: Not an M.D. yet you have ascended to a pedestal of your own
making. It must be quite a balancing act to stay up there considering the
stack of chips on each shoulder.
Why ask something to which I already know the answer?
Of course, you won't like it but, here it is: They are informed and rational.
The subset to which you refer is not.
Now wasn't that simple? No wonder it eluded you.
But, I will add I do believe the environmental movement had no
significant role in the development of reactor safety standards -- those
rules were put in place by the NRC almost solely on the basis of
engineering principles to eliminate insofar as possible any serious
accident and to provide systems to mitigate the consequences of various
In my experience environmental concerns were raised was almost always on
the basis of siting issues and environmental impact statements. Many of
these objections I personally believe were knowingly filed simply as
obstructionist tactics to delay and hopefully cause enough extra cost
and difficulty that a utility would choose to withdraw the application
rather than continue the battle. I really don't believe many of these
cases had any real significant environmental issues at stake.
As a result of these, there may be a few ancillary improvements in how
given plants are situated on a site or similar small improvements
locally, but overall I think the effect has been minimal at best.
There's probably more to be said for some of their work in the area of
spent fuel storage, but again, that's kinda' a toss-up because we were
prevented from closing the fuel cycle by the earlier decision confusing
nuclear weapons proliferation w/ commercial nuclear power fuel reprocessing.
As in many things, I'm sure it depends on whose ox is being gored... :)
That's your mantra. CUSTOMERS
Another reason to repeat the mantra forever is that when it becomes obvious
that you're ignoring your customers' concerns, we make a logical leap to a
conclusion that's been proven for other industries: You have purchased the
appropriate regulators so you can wildcat without concern for your
customers. Whether it's true or not, this is the assumption, based on solid
facts from other industries.
And I agree with you. It's unfortunate that groups of all types on
all sides of most issues, not just this one, seem to feel it's
necessary to take extreme positions or overstate their case to make a
point. This just generally seems to contribute more noise, when we
need more signal. (Don't get me started on the appalling lack of
critical thinking we see on all fronts :-) )
It is indeed unfortunate that the US nuclear power industry has been
stalled, for whatever reasons, for so long. If we do turn back in
that direction, we will greatly miss the additional experience and
history we would have gained with even a few new plants. Slow but
steady rollout and testing of new designs, materials, operating
procedures, maintenance, security, etc. would have provided not only
invaluable real world data, but would have given the public more
confidence in the industry and would have helped silence some of the
most extreme rhetoric. Restarting the domestic nuclear program will
require lots of talent with rather specialized skills, and we haven't
been doing much to build the talent pool. If we're going to restart,
let's do it soon so the industry can grow slowly and cautiously.
I respectfully disagree.
The environmental movement did MUCH to vilify nuclear power generation with no
basis in fact or experience. TMI's little "belch" of irradiated steam,
magnified a million times by a mass media with a well documented anti-nuke
bias and Hanoi Jane's little movie did the rest.
Any group with a baseless counter agenda should NOT be part of a system of
checks and balances.
In any discourse, there will always be outliers. Groups with extreme
views driven by ignorance, hidden (or not) agendas, or other
In science and engineering, outliers in data receive special scrutiny.
When such scrutiny reveals valid reasons for excluding them from
further consideration, they are set aside. Not removed from the
record, but set aside for valid reasons.
We need to do the same in public discourse and policy. Critically
examine the points and counter points and set aside the ones that are
truly outliers and invalid. This requires a great deal of leadership,
critical thinking, and impartiality.
You don't have to convince me that those skills are way too rare in
our chosen leaders. We need leaders who can identify and set aside
the outliers, and then make an informed decision on the basis of what
So I agree with you. If a group's position, under the cold light of
critical thinking, is determined to be an outlier, then it should be
excluded from the remainder of the decision making process.
But a point I am would like to make is this. One can't exclude a post
ion just because it appears to be outside the mainstream. (I don't
mean to imply that's what your doing, but there's a lot of it going on
out there) One must do the study, do the analysis, apply critical
thinking, and make the informed decision.
Now what I didn't take care to do in my previous post was to make it
clear that I believe environmental groups and other opponents of
nuclear power should not be lumped all together and painted with a
broad brush. Some are outliers, others can add value to the
discussion. I believe this is true with the other side(s) as well.
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