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Don’t Drink the Nuclear Kool-Aid

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Posted on Jul 16, 2008

By Amy Goodman

  While the presidential candidates trade barbs and accuse each other of flip-flopping, they agree with President Bush on their enthusiastic support for nuclear power.

  Sen. John McCain has called for 100 new nuclear power plants. Sen. Barack Obama, in a July 2007 Democratic candidate debate, answered a pro-nuclear power audience member, “I actually think that we should explore nuclear power as part of the energy mix.” Among Obama’s top contributors are executives of Exelon Corp., a leading nuclear power operator in the nation. Just this week, Exelon released a new plan, called “Exelon 2020: A Low-Carbon Roadmap.” The nuclear power industry sees global warming as a golden opportunity to sell its insanely expensive and dangerous power plants.

  But nuclear power is not a solution to climate change—rather, it causes problems. Amory Lovins is the co-founder and chief scientist of Rocky Mountain Institute in Colorado. He makes simple, powerful points against nuclear: “The nuclear revival that we often hear about is not actually happening. It is a very carefully fabricated illusion ... there are no buyers. Wall Street is not putting a penny of private capital into the industry, despite 100-plus percent subsidies.” He adds: “Basically, we can have as many nuclear plants as Congress can force the taxpayers to pay for. But you won’t get any in a market economy.”

  Even if nuclear power were economically viable, Lovins continues, “the first issue to come up for me would be the spread of nuclear weapons, which it greatly facilitates. If you look at places like Iran and North Korea ... how do you think they’re doing it? Iran claims to be making electricity vital to its development. ... The technology, materials, equipment, skills are applicable to both. ... The president is absolutely right in identifying the spread of nuclear weapons as the gravest threat to our security, so it’s really puzzling to me that he’s trying to accelerate that spread every way he can think of. ... It’s just an awful idea unless you’re really interested in making bombs. He’s really triggered a new Mideast arms race by trying to push nuclear power within the region.”

  Along with proliferation, there are terrorist threats to existing nuclear reactors, like Entergy’s controversial Indian Point nuclear plant just 24 miles north of New York City. Lovins calls these “about as fat a terrorist target as you can imagine. It is not necessary to fly a plane into a nuclear plant or storm a plant and take over a control room in order to cause that material to be largely released. You can often do it from outside the site boundary with things the terrorists would have readily available.”

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  Then there is the waste: “It stays dangerous for a very long time. So you have to put it someplace that stays away from people and life and water for a very long time ... millions of years, most likely. ... So far, all the places we’ve looked turned out to be geologically unsuitable, including Yucca Mountain.” Testifying at a congressional hearing this week, Energy Department official Edward Sproat said the price of a nuclear dump in Nevada’s Yucca Mountain has climbed to $90 billion. Slated to go online a decade ago, its opening is now projected for the year 2020. And even that’s optimistic. Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, wants to block nuclear waste from passing through Utah entirely, and most Nevadans oppose the Yucca waste plan.

  The presidential candidates are wrong on nuclear power. Wind, solar and microgeneration (generating electricity and heat at the same time, in smaller plants), on the other hand, are taking off globally, gaining billions of dollars in private investments. Lovins summarizes: “One of the big reasons we have an oil problem and a climate problem today is we spent our money on the wrong stuff. If we had spent it on efficiency and renewables, those problems would’ve gone away, and we would’ve made trillions of dollars’ profit on the deal because it’s so much cheaper to save energy than to supply it.”

  The answer is blowing in the wind.

  Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!,” a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 700 stations in North America.

  © 2008 Amy Goodman

  Distributed by King Features Syndicate


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By GRLCowan, August 23, 2008 at 11:37 am Link to this comment

“Because of all this, the US has stopped producing DU and substituted tungsten in it’s place.”

That seems unlikely. Maybe tungsten darts have been *studied*, but uranium darts are still what you want in your gun when you are in a two-way firing range.

Several percent of the world’s nuclear power comes from reactors that run on whole uranium. They do not depend on enrichment plants, and therefore have nothing to do with the fields of drums of depleted uranium that accumulate at such plants.

If those who pretend to be concerned about side-effects of shooting DU were genuinely so concerned, they would acknowledge these plants’ existence. They might also recommend dumping DU in the ocean. A million tonnes of it cannot harm the ocean, which already contains more than 4000 million tonnes of undepleted U, and it can’t easily be made into darts if it’s diluted to 0.0000000032 in seawater.

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By David Walters, August 23, 2008 at 9:18 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’ve always been someone “betwix-and-between” on this subject.

First, there are a lot of nasty stuff in expended ordinance, most of which is NOT DU. The biggest single amount of ammunition in S. Iraq, for example, is LEAD. Which is very toxic. Secondly, mercury, which is a part of any explosive device from bullets, to 20mm DU cannon shells to bombs.

Secondly, almost all DU, and in fact ALL DU expended in Iraq and everywhere now comes from guns mounted under and outside a flying vehicle. There simply is no way for the little bit of dust to attach itself to the pilot, it gets blown away.

Thirdly, as it relates to “Vietnam Syndrome” we know for a fact that few VS or others in army and marines coming down with terrible illnesses that it comes from DU. Radioactive toxic material has a *different* effect on people than what’s been visited on US soldiers.

The big bad aspect of this is what is causing the terrible cancers and mutations among th shia population of southern Iraq, an area where most DU was expended in two wars. I think there are a lot of potential reasons for this and DU is only one of them. Secondly, given the almost non-radioactive nature of DU, the danger of DU then is more along the line s of the *chemical toxicity* because DU is a heavy metal and the effects on the civilian population DO line up with the effects of heavy metal poisoning.

Because of all this, the US has stopped producing DU and substituted tungsten in it’s place.

David

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By Rod Adams, August 22, 2008 at 9:13 pm Link to this comment

revenant:

You wrote:

“Cowan, re shielding, the DU high temperature oxides can be seen under an electron microscope as hollow spheres or bubbles.  This shape provides very little self shielding of alpha which would occur in solid chunks.  Alpha is devastating high electron voltage radiation with a short linear energy density.

In the shielding application that Cowan is talking about, it does not matter what DU oxides look like under an electron microscope. The appearance of a very thin slice of material - the physical requirement for viewing under an electron microscope - does not indicate what kind of shielding it will provide in a thicker slice.

DU oxide is very dense material and is a very good shield for both gamma and alpha radiation. I have watched a team use a portable radiography device consisting of a C0-60 source with a DU shield container and “lens”. The device with the lens closed can be carried safely.

The team put some film on one side of a steel pipe. They put the radiography device on the other. Once in place, the area was cleared and the lens opened briefly. The result was a very high quality image of the internal structure of a steel pipe that allowed us to see corrosion, wall thickness and even tiny pits.

I have always thought about how valuable such a device, properly sized and designed, would be in a place where there was not reliable electricity to drive more conventional - and far more expensive - X-ray machines. Interestingly enough, such devices - without the good shielding - were thought to be one of the most amazing inventions of all time and saved a lot of lives and limbs during WWI.

Unfortunately, one of the operators exposed herself to a rather hefty amount of radiation during the course of the war while conducting hundreds or even thousands of diagnostic procedures.

That operator - Madame Marie Curie - famously died of leukemia at age 66, a death that has always been attributed to radiation. It probably was, but as scientists have always known “the dose makes the poison.”

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By Finrod, August 22, 2008 at 5:01 pm Link to this comment

No kidney damage in supposedly exposed populations equals no toxic exposure to DU. It’s as simple as that. Write a 2000 word essay to the contrary, write a whole book to the contrary, it’s still nonsense to suggest that a DU round is an environmental or health threat after it’s been expended.

So just what is the radioactive source used to induce breast cancer in mice anyway? How radioactive does the source have to be? Is it uranium, or something else?

Just what is the risk to human health from uranium according to Argonne, anyway? One suspects that if they’re saying that the risk for all isotopes is essentialy the same, it would have to be because the chemical toxicity of uranium as a heavy metal (comparible to that of lead) is overwhelmingly the greatest risk factor, and the trifling amounts of radiation even from U235 is simply not worth taking into account in the overall assessment. So once again, the first symptom to cause trouble should be kidney damage. Show us the kidney damage.

Now enough of this absurd red herring. The depleted uranium voodoo mask is no more scarey than Harvey Wasserman’s “Nuclear reactors can explode like atomic bombs” voodoo mask.

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By Kirk Sorensen, August 22, 2008 at 11:25 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

All I have heard on this thread from the nuclear industry is lies, damned lies, and utter fantasies.
It’s time to tell all the shills and liers their efforts are no longer required.

Haven’t noticed any “nuclear industry” guys on here.  Just interested pro-nuclear folks dispelling falsehoods and breathless anti-nukes who keep changing the subjects to politically charged unrelated issues like depleted uranium and racism.

I agree that the services of liars are no longer needed, indeed never were.  I hope those telling lies about nuclear power will stop telling them on here.

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By revenant, August 21, 2008 at 11:25 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Lance raised a valid point that the nuclear industry spreads its waste in the environment via DU munitions use, which I would note is in violation of the UN Human Rights Resolution of 1996, the Geneva Convention on poison gas weapons, and US Federal Code on Weapons of Mass Destruction, and he provided unimpeachable references from the DOD’s own documents disproving everything put up as rebuttal by the preposterous liers posting here.  He furthermore provided a link describing what is done to native peoples’ land and lives by uranium mining which none of them want.  The Navajo finally stopped it on their land. 
  And typically the only response by the liers is that this is not relevent to the discussion, as though people should not know of the industry’s actual methods. 
  Then we witness the complete discrediting of the nuclear liers with the preposterous claim about lead.
  Cowan, re shielding, the DU high temperature oxides can be seen under an electron microscope as hollow spheres or bubbles.  This shape provides very little self shielding of alpha which would occur in solid chunks.  Alpha is devastating high electron voltage radiation with a short linear energy density.  Nanoparticles of DU easily pass into cells and tissues by their very size, and the insolubility has been shown out at least into the second decade after exposure.  Non combustion natural U does not have the ceramic characteristic of fired DU, hence is capable of passing out of the body, especially if bound to minerals and in relatively large particles.  This is why comparing battlefield inhalation to mining is not entirely comparable. 
  Recent studies have shown the only reliable way to cause breast cancer in lab mice is radiation. 
  It’s true that a long half life indicates relative disintegration activity, however, to believe there is no radiation from U238 is to ignore the sheer number of U atoms in a speck of DU.  In fact, Argonne National Lab says that the human health risk coefficients for all isotopes of Uranium are “essentially the same”.  The claim that “depleted” uranium is less hazardous to human health is therefore false inasmuchas U238 is essentially as hazardous as the fission isotope U235.   
  All I have heard on this thread from the nuclear industry is lies, damned lies, and utter fantasies. 
  It’s time to tell all the shills and liers their efforts are no longer required.

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By GRLCowan, August 21, 2008 at 10:45 am Link to this comment

“it would be stupid to shield an iradiating source with something ...”

(238-U)

“... that produces radiation itself [23, wouldn’t it?”

Not necessarily. A 60-Co source giving a kilowatt of hard gamma rays would be smart to shield, when not sterilizing syringes, with a depleted uranium jacket that would thin the gammas down to a milliwatt and add only nanowatts, 0.000000001s of watts, of its own softer gamma rays. (It would produce more alpha rays, but these, when originating even a micron under the surface, would be unable to get out.)

“And secondly - the absolute cheery on the cake: lead is more radiocative than DU.”

Would be a cherry if it were true.


—- G.R.L. Cowan, H2 energy fan ‘til ~1996
http://www.eagle.ca/~gcowan

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By Val Braten, August 21, 2008 at 5:57 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Depleted uranium contamination is pure fiction. But it seems some people want to make this fiction credible by a combination of half-truths and pseudoscience - an ample example of this is a post by Cann4ing about two screens down.

He states that DU rounds turn into uranium oxide upon impacting a target. Indeed, this is true. What he fails to explain is that uranium oxide (UO2) is actually the mineral pitchblende, which occurs naturally in very high concentrations (5-10%) and asociates with copper and zinc bearing ores. Large deposits of pitchblende (in the millions of metric tons) are known to exist in the US (Nevada, Arizona), Canada, Australia and Russia. And many of these formations are mined (mainly for the copper). As a consequence it is higly unlikely that while miners who are exposed to this compound daily for years show no sign of radiation poisoning, military personal exposed for very short amounts of time are affected.

A second missconception circulated wildly by the green lobby is that DU ammo is radioactive. Again this is only half, if not a quarter of the truth. Firstly, all, and I mean ALL anorganic substances are radioactive to some extent. What the scientists mean by ‘radioactive’ is that a given sample of a material gives off (significantly) more radiation than the normal background radiation. The fact that this is false in the case of depleted uranium is best ilustrated by its use in radiation shielding - it would be stupid to shield an iradiating source with something that produces radiation itself, wouldn’t it?
And secondly - the absolute cheery on the cake: lead is more radiocative than DU. Think about that if you’re buying anything painted in China…
(i apollogise for the spelling errors i might have made, my native language is dutch)

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By Finrod, August 21, 2008 at 2:54 am Link to this comment

“Um, remember, the discussion is about nuclear power, not depleted uranium or indigenous peoples…stick to the topic, quit getting off into bizarrely constructed ad hominem arguments.”

Kirk, how can you possibly say that when you know perfectly well that China is leading the medal tally in the Olympics? And on top of that, there was a full moon last weekend!!

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By kfsorensen, August 21, 2008 at 2:40 am Link to this comment

Um, remember, the discussion is about nuclear power, not depleted uranium or indigenous peoples…stick to the topic, quit getting off into bizarrely constructed ad hominem arguments.

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By Finrod, August 21, 2008 at 1:41 am Link to this comment

“Just as I thought, Finrod has never even been to India.  What a joke.”

I’ve never been to Burma, Zimbabwe or North Korea either. If I had spoken out about the injustices which the regimes of those states visit on their citizens, would you dismiss my concerns because I’d never set foot in those lands?

  “And on his dismissal of all the sick vets exposed to DU I recommend he consult the Pentagon’s own report by Wakayama in 2002, the SAIC report of 1990, the Los Alamos memo of 1991, or go all the way back to the Groves memo of 1943 about terrain contamination.  It’s all there to rebut you total denial.”

Well what can I say? The pattern of symptoms reported by Gulf War veterans simply do not match up with the known effects of uranium toxicity. Nor is there any obvious pathway for DU to reach them in the first place in any amount or form which could conceivably cause harm.

Some Gulf War vets have reported various illnesses, and that is well worth investigating. What they absolutely do not need is a pack of anti-nuke do-gooders trying to ride off their misfortune, redirecting efforts which would be better spent discovering the real cause of their illnesses into a wild goose chase for non-existent evidence in support of the insupportable.

“Japan has a cancer registry and the figures are all there coincident with the nuclear era (Japan has over fifty nuclear reactors in a dense population).  I’ve already drawn my own conclusions from the data.”

Yes, clearly you have. Or someone’s at any rate. Did you hold that opinion just as strongly prior to examining the data as after?

  “You can read “The Enemy Within” by Jay Gould to learn about the NCI studies and statistical methodology re nuclear plants.”

Never heard of it. Tell me more. The actual details, I mean.

 
”Oh sure Finrod pretend you are a friend of the Aborigines.  When the truth is-
http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/feb2005/2005-02-28-03.asp “

You make it sound as though I was claiming to be ‘Finrod, Friend of the Aboriginal People!’  Not so. That’s a tactic of your side of the debate. I am friends with some of them, adversarial towards certain of them, and generally indifferent to most. I tend to take people as they come rather than treating them in a certain way because of their ethnicity, which is more than can be said about the mendacious anti-nuke opportunists who have managed to successfully exploit indigenous Australians in their misfortune to further their own political agendas.

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By lance, August 20, 2008 at 10:12 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Just as I thought, Finrod has never even been to India.  What a joke.  And on his dismissal of all the sick vets exposed to DU I recommend he consult the Pentagon’s own report by Wakayama in 2002, the SAIC report of 1990, the Los Alamos memo of 1991, or go all the way back to the Groves memo of 1943 about terrain contamination.  It’s all there to rebut you total denial.  Japan has a cancer registry and the figures are all there coincident with the nuclear era (Japan has over fifty nuclear reactors in a dense population).  I’ve already drawn my own conclusions from the data.  You can read “The Enemy Within” by Jay Gould to learn about the NCI studies and statistical methodology re nuclear plants. 
  Oh sure Finrod pretend you are a friend of the Aborigines.  When the truth is-

http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/feb2005/2005-02-28-03.asp

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By paul robertson, August 20, 2008 at 9:28 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

What a typical load of bunk, Rod Adams.  Don’t for a minute pretend at Truthdig that the miliary did not take the central lead part in foisting perpetual war on the world with no exit strategy.  Do you honestly think people don’t know about the lies Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz spun about WMD and the cost and duration of the invasion of IraQ?  Do you honestly not know the military’s activities on 9/11 or that they put out the story about Iraqi anthrax which they actually produced?  That within the Pentagon was a foreign aligned cabal inventing facts to fit the policy? 
  Who knows, who cares, but you guys—the military—got it wrong on the Geneva Convention, torture, spying, false flag attacks, poisoning your own troops, and bankrupting the nation. 
  Stuff like that makes your opinions very questionable based on your organizational loyalty.
  How come we don’t hear you speaking out against DU?

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By Finrod, August 18, 2008 at 7:44 am Link to this comment

”Since WWII, two nuclear bombs and Japan’s exposure to nuclear power plants undoubtedly are the reason its cancer incidence rose so markedly in an era of generally improving health care and lowered infectious diseases.”

Back here in reality, some of us are wondering if this phenomenon might not be caused by increased life expectancy, so that a much larger section of the population now lives long enough for cancer to become a serious possibility.
Do you have any links to studies which support your contention?
 
”India has some people and groups that are actually doing things to bring sustainability, health, and organic food to the people.  They are deconstructing the sort of industry Finrod believes in.  The current industrial paradigm pushed mostly now by the US is a complete disaster for India and is leading it to collapse.  Nuclear power would just accelerate the collapse and leave them with insoluble and dangerous waste problems, forever.”

Organic food and what you call ‘sustainability’ are nightmares of history from which the mass of Indian peasantry is desperately seeking escape, and they have made great progress in that direction over the last few decades with the widespread introduction of modern agriculture. The spectre of mass starvation has been lifted from a significant mass of humanity for the first time in that region’s history. This will surely be seen in a more rational age as one of the great humanitarian triumphs of the 20th century. In such a society, the first priorities to improve health are simple matters of good nutrition, clean water and basic medical care, such as vaccination. Producing the first two is best done with a power-rich industrial base. Nuclear power is again the way to go.

The idea that the Indian economy is heading for collapse is a serious contender for ‘most ludicrous comment on this thread’. The Indian economy has been growing by about 9% per annum for many years now. And they haven’t been doing it with renewable energy or organic farming, either.

”Finrod, ever been to India?”

No, and I have no current plans to visit there.

There’s no real need to. The figures are all widely available.

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By Finrod, August 18, 2008 at 7:43 am Link to this comment

“I had to laugh at the disappointment of Finrod when he realized he came up with a hypothesis about India so lame nobody wanted to waste the time answering.  He ended up doing his calculations drinking by himself.  Pathetic.”


I actually asked a question, rather than posed a hypothesis. No one from the anti-nuclear side wanted to answer it, but my ‘hypothesis’ concerning why this is differs considerably from Lance’s. If it had been lame, the antis would have been all over it. I’m pretty sure the real reason was fear. They had a sudden awful realisation that the particular case of India was the reef on which all their silly fantasies of ‘renewable’ energy would be shipwrecked.

You can prove me wrong by producing some credible figures showing just why I’m wrong… if I am wrong.

  “The problem with his assumption was first there is no reason to believe that India will ever conform to the values he assigned, and the premise is therefore unlikely no matter what scenario unfolds.  Finrod proposes that a fool’s mission will change everything and make the impossible possible.”
There is no doubt that the Indian government is intent upon developing the country as rapidly as possible. The chosen path of power generation is also not in doubt. They intend to develop nuclear technology to exploit their huge reserves of thorium. This plan has been developing for decades, and one of the easiest things for the west to do which would be a major step in reducing CO2 emissions globally would be to assist India in getting this scheme up and running as swiftly as practicable. This will take quite some time yet though. In the meantime they’re resorting to coal. The sooner we can help ween them off coal, the better off we’ll all be.


“The major existential problems globally are peak oil, not wholly solvable by much of anything under the sun,”

That is a legitimate concern for some point in time, but no one is precisely certain when. The most obvious solution to the problem is to use nuclear plants to synthesise substitute liquid fuels, first from sources like tar sand oils deposits, then coal liquification, and eventually the synthesis of some carbon-neutral liquid fuel. I don’t particularly like the idea of using carbon-positive liquid fuels during the interim, but we’ll still need heavy machinery for agriculture, industry and transport while we transform to a mainly electrified economy.

“nuclear radiation exposure since WWII,”

This is a red herring, just thrown in among more legitimate concerns to try and give it an air of credibility.

“water shortage,”

Use nuclear desalination plants.
“overpopulation,”

High population growth rates have been shown in all regions and cultures to fall with rising living standards. High living standards require extensive power consumption. Nuclear reactors are the best way of providing that power.

“perpetual war economy,”

Hmm. Perhaps a path away from this perpetual war economy, as you call it, is the path to a superior fuel source to oil.

“ and attacks on freedom by people who feel it is their business to control others.”

You mean like disingenuous groups like Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, RMI and others of that ilk?

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By Finrod, August 18, 2008 at 6:34 am Link to this comment

“The truth is nuclear power could not succeed in a free market, could not obtain private insurance, must have public subsidy and relief of responsibility”


How much money has the US Federal Government ever actually paid out under the Price-Anderson act?


“ can not control its waste,”


The technology to control waste has been around for decades. Check out synrock. Check out fast spectrum nuclear reactors. Check out the Swedish waste storage program. The only reason that a sensible scheme has not long been in place in the US is because of blockage from panic mongering anti-nuclear groups imposing unnecessary restrictions. The physics and engineering of the solutions is straightforward. The idea that there’s nothing which can be done about nuclear waste is one of the many Big Lies of the anti-nuclear lobby industry.


“ has already experienced numerous accidents impacting the environment and is doomed as a complex non renewable power source that diverts investment from sustainablility and healthy alternatives.”

The environmental and safety impacts of nuclear power plants are well known, and have a much less serious impact than any other form of power generation. This is hardly debatable. The numbers are in.

 


“Finrod thinks any old poor white is connected with nature just fine, yet the history of whites in America was that in their poverty they immediately went to the dark side and began attacking the native people who did have a sustainable culture.  And of course as an Australian white boy he probably cares nothing about the Aborigines’ land being ruined by uranium mining.”

I’m astonished by the racism in that remark.

Neither white people nor any other ethnic or racial group have ever found an intimate connection with nature such as experienced in pre-industrial society a pleasant experience. It is anything but just fine. The requirements of survival mandate that nature’s brutal reign over us must be moderated by any means available.

The history of the European settlement of North America and the consequences thereof are not germane to the topic under discussion. Anything to escape a technical argument, eh Paul?

I tell you what, Paul. If you ever come to Canberra, I’ll show you around the place, and introduce you to some Koori acquaintances of mine.

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By Finrod, August 18, 2008 at 6:02 am Link to this comment

Ah me! Such a target rich environment, where to start…

“the nuclear shills sure are a piece of work…or something.”

Sorry to disappoint you Paul, but the nuclear industry doesn’t pay me a single red cent. I do this entirely for my own personal satisfaction in the knowledge that I’m fighting for the good and the true.

“If credibility was their mission, they certainly doomed that proposition when caught out by Lance on their Big Lie about radiation, when they asserted they were right and the National Academy of Sciences would listen to their quackery and someday agree with them.”

The statistics from Chernobyl, Hiroshima, half a century of experience with civilian nuclear power, all point to the same conclusion that the LNT model is incorrect. No cancer clusters have ever been linked to the normal operation of civilian power plants.

“They failed to address all the nuclear waste being spread on battlefields except to promote the Pentagon disinfo that DU is harmless.”

The medical effect of DU on mammals has been well studied. The first organ to be affected by uranium toxicity is the kidney. The pattern of illness in Gulf War veterans is not that of DU exposure.

“They want people to suspend all logic and believe there is no danger whatsoever from nuclear industry, or that nukes don’t release emissions, because after all, those are the critical PR talking points they assemble to lie about over and over.”

I’d never claim that there’s no danger to anything, but the statistics are quite clear on this matter. Nuclear power is the least dangerous large-scale method of power generation ever devised, both in terms of normal operation and major failure. Probably the most deadly form of power plant in wide use today is the coal-fired power station. Their emissions are known to cause hundreds of thousands of deaths each year. The most dangerous power stations from a catastrophic failure point of view are hydroelectric dams, which can kill hundreds of thousands of people in one failure. Compared to those, nuclear plants have an enviable safety record.

“I doubt they even read or understood what Wasserman said, because they couldn’t rebut his important point.”

I read it all right. Wasserman doesn’t go into any details of what actually happened except to say that the cooling system had a blockage, list some hyperbolic consequences for what might have happened, and refer to a book which he just assumes others have read. Does anyone here know the actual details of this incident?

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By kfsorensen, August 18, 2008 at 4:59 am Link to this comment

I had to laugh at the disappointment of Finrod when he realized he came up with a hypothesis about India so lame nobody wanted to waste the time answering.  He ended up doing his calculations drinking by himself.  Pathetic.

Um, once again I repeat, the math is simple, if it’s so wrong, show why.  Puffing out your chest and deciding you’re “too cool” to explain the problem isn’t getting you anywhere in a debate based on quantifiable evidence.

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By Rod Adams, August 18, 2008 at 1:56 am Link to this comment

Paul Robertson wrote:

How unsurprising that a military officer would be involved in crashing the party at Truthdig.  This mission calls for someone who can believe his organization has any credibility after two criminal invasions based on complete lies, one terror attack simultaeous with military exercises, and the “muslim” anthrax made in their own lab.  Go for it—the US economy is headed into collapse to serve your organization’s plan to rule the world—and nobody will ever believe you again!

Sorry to rain on your parade Paul, but please understand your civics and history a little better. The military did not lead or decide to invade, it is, by the Constitution, an organization that takes on the missions given it by the elected leaders of the country. Quite a number of professional military spoke out against the aggressive path on a number of occasions.

As it happens, I have served all administrations since 1977 and am not particularly pleased with current decision making.

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By lance, August 18, 2008 at 12:23 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I had to laugh at the disappointment of Finrod when he realized he came up with a hypothesis about India so lame nobody wanted to waste the time answering.  He ended up doing his calculations drinking by himself.  Pathetic.  The problem with his assumption was first there is no reason to believe that India will ever conform to the values he assigned, and the premise is therefore unlikely no matter what scenario unfolds.  Finrod proposes that a fool’s mission will change everything and make the impossible possible.  The major existential problems globally are peak oil, not wholly solvable by much of anything under the sun, nuclear radiation exposure since WWII, water shortage, overpopulation, perpetual war economy, and attacks on freedom by people who feel it is their business to control others. 
  Since WWII, two nuclear bombs and Japan’s exposure to nuclear power plants undoubtedly are the reason its cancer incidence rose so markedly in an era of generally improving health care and lowered infectious diseases. 
  India has some people and groups that are actually doing things to bring sustainability, health, and organic food to the people.  They are deconstructing the sort of industry Finrod believes in.  The current industrial paradigm pushed mostly now by the US is a complete disaster for India and is leading it to collapse.  Nuclear power would just accelerate the collapse and leave them with insoluble and dangerous waste problems, forever.
  Finrod, ever been to India?

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By Rod Adams, August 17, 2008 at 11:47 pm Link to this comment

Cann4ing:

You wrote:

kfsorenson:  When I argue a case, it is before a neutral arbiter of fact and law—not paid for jackals from think tanks who would never in their wildest dreams admit to “any” error in the pro-nuke propaganda.  My point about Finny’s little exercise in hypothetical math was that it has absolutely no bearing whatsoever on the specifics of the NIRS articles.  Sop bug off, jerk!

I am quite proud of the American system of jurisprudence that provides the opportunity for two sides to strenuously argue their respective cases in front of neutral arbiters of fact like judges and juries.

To a very large degree, that is what has motivated me to continue engaging in this discussion for the past month. I hope there is a substantial body of lurkers reading the comments being posted and judging for themselves who is sharing useful and relevant facts and who is shrilly restating conclusions reached through fundamentally flawed logic.

As several of us have said - no matter how many times you repeat your assertion to the contrary - we are not “paid for jackals from think tanks”. We are what our great system of adversarial justice calls “subject matter experts”.

I have operated nuclear fission power plants for one of the more respected power plant owning organizations in the world - the US Navy. I have no initials to put after my name, but I can assert that I passed the tests and earned the assignment to be in charge of all training, operations and maintenance related to a plant for a three year period as the Engineer Officer of a submarine.

As one part of the 6-year training process leading up to that assignment, I learned enough about radiation protection to be given the responsibility to sign off on the qualification cards of people assigned to protect the crew. No profit motive there, I was one of those crew members sealed inside a ship within 200 feet of a fission power plant.

Somehow, I think that my credentials would carry some weight in a court of law. I know a little about some of the other people who have spoken in support of nuclear power in this discussion - they have different but just as important qualifications.

This round of the energy discussion is going to be fundamentally different from the one that put us where we are today. The engineers are not going to quietly allow the lawyers, the accountants and the activists - many of whom have been quietly hired by people that like the wealth and power provided by the world’s addiction to fossil fuel - to impose their will without a fight.

Some of us have a more liberal education and understand a bit more about the tactics of our opposition. In comparison to the First Atomic Age, a smaller portion of the trained professionals are sequestered in remote communities either supplying power or developing new inventions. 

Even if our discussion here has not be witnessed by a neutral jury, it has been very useful for me in my continued education about how to express my firm, technically grounded, and emotionally strong belief that atomic fission has to be allowed to compete in the world energy market if we are going to live in a world that is not torn by a battle over finite resources. Like the original Progressives, I think the way to do that is to build new sources of power like roads, power plants, financial structures and distribution systems that reach those that have previously been left behind.

By my reading of history, cheap, reliable energy is a fundamental ingredient in a more fair and just society. Feel free to disagree and strive to restrict the use of the only source of power that has a hope of reducing the importance of fossil fuels, but do not expect everyone on the other side to roll over and play dead.

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By freeman, August 17, 2008 at 11:06 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

From Mark Hertsgaard:

  ‘And if the industry’s certainty about nuclear waste storage turned out to be wrong, so what?  “To me, it’s the craziest thing,” another top executive told me, referring to the many governors, legislators, and average citizens who had declared their states off limits to nuclear dumping in the late 1970’s.  “Neither they nor their descendents are going to be there at the time when anything could conceivably go wrong.  If you do a halfway decent job of disposing of nuclear waste, it’s at least a few hundred years before anything could go wrong, and they won’t even be there then.”
  And the nuclear industry wonders why people don’t trust it.’

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By Paul Robertson, August 17, 2008 at 11:00 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Cann4ing and Lance, the nuclear shills sure are a piece of work…or something.  What an inept full court press they have made to sell an unwanted load of snake oil.  If credibility was their mission, they certainly doomed that proposition when caught out by Lance on their Big Lie about radiation, when they asserted they were right and the National Academy of Sciences would listen to their quackery and someday agree with them.  They failed to address all the nuclear waste being spread on battlefields except to promote the Pentagon disinfo that DU is harmless.  They want people to suspend all logic and believe there is no danger whatsoever from nuclear industry, or that nukes don’t release emissions, because after all, those are the critical PR talking points they assemble to lie about over and over.  I doubt they even read or understood what Wasserman said, because they couldn’t rebut his important point. 
  The truth is nuclear power could not succeed in a free market, could not obtain private insurance, must have public subsidy and relief of responsibility, can not control its waste, has already experienced numerous accidents impacting the environment and is doomed as a complex non renewable power source that diverts investment from sustainablility and healthy alternatives.
 
  Finrod thinks any old poor white is connected with nature just fine, yet the history of whites in America was that in their poverty they immediately went to the dark side and began attacking the native people who did have a sustainable culture.  And of course as an Australian white boy he probably cares nothing about the Aborigines’ land being ruined by uranium mining.  They did it to the Navajos, the Afghans, and their own people with the cledge because they don’t care about anyone and serve some pretty shady masters.
  How unsurprising that a military officer would be involved in crashing the party at Truthdig.  This mission calls for someone who can believe his organization has any credibility after two criminal invasions based on complete lies, one terror attack simultaeous with military exercises, and the “muslim” anthrax made in their own lab.  Go for it—the US economy is headed into collapse to serve your organization’s plan to rule the world—and nobody will ever believe you again!

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By kfsorensen, August 17, 2008 at 7:46 pm Link to this comment

So testy, cann4ing.  Like I said, Finrod’s math was EXTREMELY simple.  Nothing more than a sixth-grader could do.  So either he made some serious mistakes, which you’re free to point out, or you accept his results.  The numbers are right there, go ahead and argue them.  You continue to accuse us of being “jackals in think tanks” when most of us are nothing more than simple engineers who like to see accuracy prevail in discussions on matters as important as future energy policy.

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By Finrod, August 17, 2008 at 5:54 pm Link to this comment

Cann4ing, I thought you had promised to sit quietly in your room.

I don’t expect to convince you about the positives of nuclear power, and I have yet to read anything from you that is even remotely convincing favouring the anti-nuclear viewpoint. Let us face the fact that the people we are respectively trying to convince are the undecided ones who may be reading this thread to gain some insight into these issues.

Your resort to childish insults has provided a candid demonstration of your personal quality. You have done yourself and the anti-nuclear movement no favours today.

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By cann4ing, August 17, 2008 at 5:00 pm Link to this comment

kfsorenson:  When I argue a case, it is before a neutral arbiter of fact and law—not paid for jackals from think tanks who would never in their wildest dreams admit to “any” error in the pro-nuke propaganda.  My point about Finny’s little exercise in hypothetical math was that it has absolutely no bearing whatsoever on the specifics of the NIRS articles.  Sop bug off, jerk!

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By Finrod, August 17, 2008 at 4:55 pm Link to this comment

Oh deary me.

The true situation is actually much worse for solar PV than I made it seem. I was very generous in my allowances for cost and efficiency, and I didn’t even go near such issues as the operating time required for payback of the energy used to manufacture the panels, or the world supply of rare doping elements used by the huge semiconducters called PV panels, or the labour involved in keeping the vast surface area of panels clean and clear of dust, or the wars which would be fought over the limited global supplies of squidgies and windex.

The situation for nuclear power is also very likely much better than I allowed for.

These simple calculations were done by me slowly over a period of half an hour after I’d downed a few beers. The only mathematical operations involved were basic arithmatic, such as multiplication and division.

But, as the man said….

VICTORY!

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By kfsorensen, August 17, 2008 at 4:29 pm Link to this comment

My goodness cann4ing, I hope you put up more of a fight for your legal clients than you have here.  Finrod did an extremely simple calculation and it seems to have put you to flight.  If you really believe in your position, argue your point numerically or accept Finrod’s.  As it is, you leave a bad impression of yourself (and your acceptance of facts) by your recent post.

I know a lot of the guys on here and they aren’t (nor am I) in the employ of the nuclear industry.  But the anti-nuclear folks like Amory Lovins and NIRS sure do well by the fossil fuels folks as they do their dirty work fighting the one form of power that offers us a fighting chance in the future.

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By cann4ing, August 17, 2008 at 12:17 pm Link to this comment

You pro-nuclear advocates are a piece of work.  People who have never posted at Truthdig before but who troll the internet in search of anyone and anything that dare challenges the safety or economics of nuclear power; people, many of whom are linked to pro-nuclear think tanks and the giant multinational corporations who stand to make a killing from nuclear power, then pile on to any and all who are not persuaded by your take.

I have never once claimed to be a nuclear expert.  I have linked to multiple sites that disagree with your core points, quoting at length from articles posted at NIRS that appear to be well researched and well-reasoned.

So what happens?  I am repeatedly assaulted by the likes of Finrod who poses a provocative but entirely irrelevant question of the number of Negawatts required to theoretically resolve India’s energy needs—as if that has something to do with the core issues of either the safety or economic viability of nuclear energy, both core issues which are challenged, quite effectively I might add, by the people at NIRS and by Public Citizen.  When I admit that I don’t know the answer to his irrelevant hypothetical, Finrod spends the next two days piecing together an answer to his provocative, hypothetical question and then attempts to overwhelm us with his mathematical skills by posting a lengthy piece about his irrelevant topic.  Quite taken with yourself, aren’t you Finny?

I have no personal interest in nuclear, coal, oil, gas, wind, solar or geothermal.  I am but a citizen concerned with safety and expense, and, given the points raised by those who express the expertise to oppose you, NIRS in particular, I would say that the proponents of nuclear power bear a heavy burden in proving safety and economic efficiency of nuclear power.  To my mind, that burden cannot be met by a tag team approach of pro-nuclear bullies who seek to drown out the voices of any and all who are not persuaded by your arguments over those presented by NIRS.

But I will give you this.  I have had enough of the insults hurled by Finny and hit-and-run posters like T7.  You want to continue on here at TD?  Be my guest.  You will be speaking amongst yourself.  At that point, having gained the silence from the opposition that you demand, you can declare victory and crawl back into the nuclear silos from which you emerged.

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By Finrod, August 17, 2008 at 5:39 am Link to this comment

After a bit more fun with pen and calculator, some back-of-the-envelope calculations (literally, on a convenient envelope from an ancient bill) reveal the following:

Annual average solar power per square meter in India is generously held to be 250 watts.

I also generously assume that solar PV panels with an efficiency of 30% and a cost of US$2000/m^2 will be available for use.

Therefore, output of solar panels for India is 75W/m^2.

That’s 75MW/km^2. The cost for aforementioned square kilometre of PV panels is US$2,000,000,000.

To generate the 400GW necessary for per capita parity with Poland requires 5,333km^2 of solar panels, which results in a cost of US$10,667,000,000,000. That’s ten and a half trillion US dollars, you know, or about 3.57 years of India’s current GDP.

To reach per capita parity with the US would require an investment of US$42,000,000,000,000 (about 14 years current GDP).

Generously assuming that only three times that power level could take care of all India’s energy needs for transport, heavy industry, agriculture, domestic consumption and water desalination/purification, we hit a cost of US$126,000,000,000,000. Please note that this is the cost of the solar panels. I have not included the cost of the storage batteries. Consider also that India is subject to monsoons, and may experience weeks at a time of seriously reduced solar illumination. Those storage batteries are going to need some pretty fancy long-term capacity.

Does anyone have US$126,000,000,000,000 in spare change to lend to India? I’m sure they’d be grateful for the assistance.

Or they could save up for it. It’s only 42 years of India’s current GDP, after all, or about two years of current Gross World Product.

Let us also generously assume that the panels will be good for 25 years. US$126 trillion divided by 25 gives about US$5 trillion a year average replacement cost for the solar panels, about US$5000 per person per year. 

Now let’s have a look at nuclear power.

Let us conservatively assume that nuclear power stations shall not advance beyond the current state of the art in the foreseeable future, and that the cost of building such plants shall be US$4,000,000,000/GWe.

The cost for India of matching Polish consumption using such nuclear power is then US$1,600,000,000,000 (about 6 months current GDP).

To match the US it would need to spend US$6,400,000,000,000 (a bit over three years current GDP).

Tripling that output to cover all energy use in the economy would cost US$19,200,000,000,000 (just under ten years current GDP). It is reasonable to assume that modern nuclear plants will be good for at least 60 years of operation. That’s US$320 billion per annum average replacement cost, or around US$290 per person per year. And unlike my calculations for solar, that cost includes everything.

So how about that?

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By Finrod, August 17, 2008 at 2:40 am Link to this comment

“Dividing those figures by the number of hours in a year (8760), and dividing that result again by the population gives us the ongoing rate of power production per person for each country.”

Pardon me. I should have said power consumption, not power production. Poland, for example, produced a bit more power than it consumed in 2005. The excess was exported.

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By Finrod, August 16, 2008 at 11:36 pm Link to this comment

Just going back to the matter of India for a moment, a quick search of the CIA world factbook reveals that in 2005 India consumed 448.5 billion kW.hours of electricity, while in that same year Poland consumed 120.4 billion kW.hours.  Dividing those figures by the number of hours in a year (8760), and dividing that result again by the population gives us the ongoing rate of power production per person for each country. This reveals that whereas Poles enjoy on average approximately 0.35 kW of electrical power, Indians make do with around 0.0446 kW each. The average Pole use about 7.6 times as much power as the average Indian. The figure for the US is about 1.45 kW per person, about four times the consumption of a Pole, and over thirty times the consumption of an Indian.

For India to match Poland’s per capita electricity consumption, it would need to generate about 400 GW of electricity. To match US consumption, it would need about 1.6 TW of generating capacity. To generate enough power to replace fossil fuel use with electric transport, or hydrogen powered vehicles, or some kind of synthesized liquid fuel to the point where they match the US standard of living would likely take about three or four times as much power again, possibly even more.

Can anyone tell us what kind of solar array would be required to provide that level of electrical power, and how much it and the storage batteries needed for it would cost?

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By t7, August 16, 2008 at 8:34 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Cann, I read the thread and noticed how skillful you are in avoiding responding to questions, changing topics and avoiding argumentation which could converge. It does not surprise me any more, people sharing antinuclear point of view do it often. I wonder if this sloppiness in arguing is connected with sloppy thoughts, resulting in the antinuclear position, as such.

From general to particular, nationalizing energy supply is not what Rod suggested, actually nationalizing would make the problem Rod speaks about worse. Not only a government is basically incapable of regulating itself - which is why private ownership of nuclear plans is a good idea, as governments can do a decent job overseeing others. Influencing industry as such is much mode difficult in a competitive environment, than if the industry is state owned - and one only needs to bribe a few bureaucrats, who are not even interested in the profitability/efficiency of the industry in question, as they are state payed employees.

This is a major point why socialism never works: all the economic incentives are gone, replaced by rampant corruption. If you think that “special interests” are problem now, you haven’t seen a thing. In socialism, the “special interests” are the driver of policies, not only an influence on a policy.

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By David Walters, August 16, 2008 at 2:41 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Well, nationalizing the entire energy sector wouldn’t be a bad thing (as you might expect from someone who runs left-atomics). 16% of the US energy production is run by publicly owned utilities, usually municipal, sometimes state (Nebraska), sometimes regional (TVA).

But the public vs private debate hardly addresses the real issues of the kind of technology we need to solve the planetary energy crisis. I should say that it actually DOES address it but this is not what we debating really.

Rod (himself a nuclear entrepreneur & engineer) has laid out in a very real way what the issue is vis-a-vis the interview Amy Goodman did on her show: that those that honestly want to save the planet via “renewable or alternative” energy generation end up supporting and maintaining the fossil infrastructure. (I’m excluding Lovins here since he openly works for fossil interest). This is true with every *implemented* “Grand Plan” on a national basis, such as Denmark, Germany, Italy and so on.

On this forum among those that really want to do something about the problems of fossil extraction and use believe that nuclear (in the many applications of this extremely dense energy source) can solve the problem. Those that oppose this answer, objectively, are part of the problem.

David Walters

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By cann4ing, August 16, 2008 at 2:11 pm Link to this comment

Well, Rod Adams, you make a pretty good case for nationalizing the entire energy sector—though I am certain that is not your intent.  Remove all potential for a conflict of interest arising out of decisions on which technologies would be best and you maximize the prospects that decisions will be made on issues like safety and efficiency.

(Of course, as individuals living amidst capitalist greed, I doubt seriously that anything you or I said on that subject would hold any sway.  After all, we are having enough trouble overcoming the irrationality of having the world’s only health care system where 31% of spiraling health care costs go to parasitic middle men (for-profit carriers and HMOs) as compared to administrative costs of 1% to 2% for single-payer countries.  Our irrational system continues to operate as it does even though some 18,000 Americans die each year for no reason other than that they are too poor to buy insurance.  No doubt that’s seen as some form of “natural selection” by 21st Century right-wing Social Darwinists.)

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By Rod Adams, August 16, 2008 at 10:17 am Link to this comment

Cann:

You wrote:

Are you saying that NIRS is funded by the fossil fuel industry, Rod?  If so, source?  If not, why bring it up?  Many of the same environmental groups who are resisting nuclear are also resisting coal and oil—preferring clean alternative, renewable energy—wind, solar, geothermal, wave.

I am saying that NIRS and other anti-nuclear organizations are working hard to slow down the growth of the only competition that the established industry has faced in the past 100 years.

It would be difficult to prove funding streams since many non-profit organizations protect that information very carefully, but if NIRS has taken money from foundations like Pew, Ford or Rockefeller they have taken money from fossil interests. If they have taken money from individuals with old family money, the chances are they have taken money from fossil interests. If their money comes from large banking interests, the chances are it is partially fossil money.

I have made a very specific comment - several times - that the person that Amy Goodman originally interviewed and who told her that we do not need nuclear power - Amory Lovins - freely admits that he has worked for major oil companies for 35 years. At least he is honest, but what he is not honest about is the fact that the biggest beneficiary of restrictions on nuclear energy is the industry that sells the energy that we end up buying instead.

BTW - when it comes to wind, solar and geothermal who do you think builds windmills, solar panels and drilling rigs that will enable those energy systems to produce at all? GE, BP, Siemens, Halliburton all benefit enormously from incentive programs for alternative energy systems. Do you and NIRS like serving as part of their marketing programs?

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By cann4ing, August 16, 2008 at 9:36 am Link to this comment

My efforts, Rod, in some of the catastrophic cases I have handled proved vital to the very survival of my clients who faced callous insurance carriers who would deny necessary medical care even if it that denial could lead to my client’s death.  So I am not impressed, Rod, that you “personally” do not feel you benefited from the representation you received—though one thing lawyers are taught upon entering the profession is the declining scale of client gratitude the further one moves away from the critical decision the lawyer obtained for the client.

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By cann4ing, August 16, 2008 at 9:26 am Link to this comment

Are you saying that NIRS is funded by the fossil fuel industry, Rod?  If so, source?  If not, why bring it up?  Many of the same environmental groups who are resisting nuclear are also resisting coal and oil—preferring clean alternative, renewable energy—wind, solar, geothermal, wave.

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By Rod Adams, August 16, 2008 at 9:24 am Link to this comment

Cann:

You wrote:

CWO4—It’s been my experience over more than 31 years practicing law (I’m now semi-retired) that most people hate lawyers until they need one.

Have you ever seen a whole neighborhood cheer for the electric company employees putting up wires a week or so after they were downed by a storm?

Many people love to criticize energy producers, but they really seem to like our products.

I have occasionally paid some legal fees, but have never actually be assisted by a lawyer. On the other hand, I have spent nearly 50 years being very thankful for the engineers who bring me electricity that is so reliable that it is generally only noticed when it is not there.

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By Rod Adams, August 16, 2008 at 9:20 am Link to this comment

Can:

If the reason for my advocacy is only the profit motive, I am either really stupid or simply crazy. You (not just cann4ing, but everyone else reading this thread) can decide.

I formed my company 15 years ago when I left a good paying job. After 6 years of struggle, I went back to my former employer and took a job in a role that made use of my education and experience, but offered zero chance of promotion.

I continue to spend a lot of time sharing what I have learned. Occasionally, my web sites and podcast get an advertising client and I get a few pennies from Google Adsense. My engine company continues to be essentially a collection of IP without a single employee or source of revenue. My income comes as a result of serving as an analyst for various training and maintenance systems associated with ships and submarines.

So far, my atomic advocacy and design activities have resulted in a loss carry forward in the 6 figures.

My principles are pretty strong, however. I hate seeing people starve. I hate seeing women and children carrying “biomass” on their heads so they can cook a meager meal. I hate having $700 billion per year leaving the US to pay for imported oil when we have better alternatives that do not depend on the vagaries of the weather. I know how people feel when they lose access to electricity - I have lived through several hurricanes and traveled in some pretty desolate places.

I hate having people like Amory Lovins flying around the country telling others how to reduce their carbon footprints while still collecting money from coal, oil and gas interests as well as large consulting fees from the Rumsfeld led Pentagon.

Once again - I could certainly live a prosperous and comfortable life without spending time sharing information about nuclear energy. NIRS would cease to exist if they stopped pushing misinformation that enables the continued domination of the fossil fuel industry.

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By cann4ing, August 16, 2008 at 9:15 am Link to this comment

CWO4—It’s been my experience over more than 31 years practicing law (I’m now semi-retired) that most people hate lawyers until they need one.

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By cann4ing, August 16, 2008 at 9:00 am Link to this comment

With all due respect, Rod Adams, I don’t see a corollary between NIRS’s principled opposition to the construction of nuclear power plants and your profit driven advocacy.  Their opposition is based on the belief that nuclear technology is not safe and is inordinately expensive.

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By CWO4, August 16, 2008 at 5:19 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

As a former Naval nuclear power specialist, and later a civilian nuclear worker/system engineer, I read commentary from “experts”, especially legal professionals (read as lawyers) who rail at the profit motive of nuclear utility orgainzations.

Pot, offer your greetings to the kettle.  If lawyers (as a group) are so anti-capitalist, why then do they not live in the ‘hood, ride the bus, etc.?  Simply stated, it is all about the money.

Imagine the statement by “can4ing”, changing it from the nuclear to legal profession.

With apologies….

But then, here’s an idea that can remove all hint of partisan bias.  Nationalize all lawyer related industries.  Make it so no one stands to profit from the selection of one lawyer or law firm vs. the other.  Put our academic institutions—as opposed to corporate bought and paid for think tanks like yours—to work on formulating the best, safest and most economically sound strategy for responsible and ethical legal plans.

Under that scenario, I’d bet dollars to donuts that the cycle of lawsuits and countersuits for damages, real or imagined, would not then be seen as the ideal solution by people with no financial interest in the outcome.  I’d also bet that many who have posted here touting questionable claims of safety and economics would fade away, never to again be heard from on the subject.

Lawyers, and their self-serving “experts”, have assumed the mantle of supremacy in everything they attack, even though many could not state the basic concepts of the endeavor they attack.  It’s all about safety, it’s all about the environment, it’s all about the children.  What a crock.

If they (lawyers)and anti everything activists believed - and demonstrated that belief through actions - they would be living an austere lifstyle, studying their law books by candle light and foraging for food.  Instead, they typically live the life of an effete proletarian, dismissing we lesser people…...

//rant mode off//

Sometimes…..

CWO4

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By Rod Adams, August 16, 2008 at 3:13 am Link to this comment

Can:

Here is where our individual experience and personal knowledge leads us to vastly different conclusions.

You quoted the following from a NIRS publication -

“Thus, decades worth of waste, representing multiple full reactor core inventories, are stored in pools.  In fact, the pools at some reactors are crammed so full of waste that the density of metal sleeves placed between adjacent nuclear fuel assemblies are all that prevents inadvertent nuclear chain reactions….For reactors lacking dry cask storage, the pool often contains all the irradiated fuel ever generated there.”

For you, as a personal liability lawyer who sees evil in every corporation and, by extension, in many of the products that enable our current standard of living, think of that statement as frightening.

From my point of view - as a guy who has actually seen spent fuel pools, operated reactors, done criticality analysis, and studied fuel design - I see that statement as a huge ENDORSEMENT of fission technology.

That is especially true since I have also operated large fossil fuel systems, and visited a number of large fossil plants. I have seen their waste handling processes, walked on top of enormous ash hills covering many acres of land and read about the tens of thousands of people who die every year as a result of the deadly byproducts of combustion.

Let’s take a close look at a key part of the NIRS statements - “Storage pools located indoors at operating and permanently shutdown commercial nuclear reactors in the US hold most of the irradiated fuel ever generated at those reactors. Thus decades worth of waste, representing multiple reactor core inventories are stored in pools.”

Those pools are smaller in area than Olympic swimming pools. However they are also about 40-50 feet deep with about 30 feet of water above the top of the fuel assemblies.

Those packed assemblies were removed from a very carefully designed configuration that enabled power production because they were no longer contributing much to the production - they were not reactive enough to maintain criticality. In a pool that has a different design goal, the idea that they could somehow achieve an inadvertent criticality is something with about as much potential as a 747 “inadvertently” taking off. 

The fact that the byproducts from decades worth of reliable electricity production can be stored in such a tiny space is IMPRESSIVE, not scary, and the idea that such a deep pool of water can suddenly drain or catch on fire is ridiculous.

You view corporate communications as often deceptive because they want to sell a product. I view NIRS communications as deceptive because they often use scary language to sell their point of view. Without their campaign against nuclear power, the organization would cease to exist. Sure, Michael Mariotte may not be a rich guy in a corner office, but he is very definitely a professional anti-nuclear activist who receives his income because of that activity and has for many years. Here is a blurb from the “About NIRS” page from nirs.org:

2008 will mark the 30th anniversary of Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS). We were founded to be the national information and networking center for citizens and environmental activists concerned about nuclear power, radioactive waste, radiation and sustainable energy issues.

We still fulfill that core function, but have expanded both programatically and geographically. We initiate large-scale organizing and public education campaigns on specific issues, such as preventing construction of new reactors, radioactive waste transportation, deregulation of radioactive materials, and more.

Translation - the well-established organization’s raison d’etre is to fight the beneficial use of radioactive materials - especially large scale energy production. Does that pass the unbiased or disinterested observer test?

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By Finrod, August 15, 2008 at 9:56 pm Link to this comment

““‘wet’ storage underwater presents significant hazards….Water of sufficient depth must cover the waste to limit radiation doses received by nuclear workers near the pools, and pumpts must continually circulate the water to keep the thermally hot wastes cool.  These operations must continue 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for decades on end.  Both accidents and intentional attacks threaten these pools….Examples of significant accidents…include inadvertent drain downs, such as at the Dresden nuclar power station in Illinois….

“In February 2001 the [NRC] reported that the irradiated fuel in a drained pool could spontaneously combust, the irradiated fuel could overheat so badly that the zirconium metal cladding on the nuclar fuel rods could catch fire.  The fire could spread throughout the densely packed pool, engulfing decade’s worth of accumulated high-level waste.  The resulting atomic inferno would release catastrophic amounts of radioactivity…killing over 25,000 people as far as 500 miles downwind….”

Any of you nuke addicts prepared to revise any of your comments on the “safety” of nuclear power?”

An addict is presumed to be taking the drug in the first place. Australia has no nuclear power plants yet.

I’ve not heard of what happened at the Dresden plant in Illinois. When did this occur, and how many thousands of people died as a result?

A pretty simple solution occurs to me. Just have as much water in storage ready for gravity feed into the spent fuel pool as is necessary to replace the water released by an inadvertent drain-down. Have multiple systems in place to plug the drain at various points downstream in the piping.


Today is a good day to live.

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By Finrod, August 15, 2008 at 9:40 pm Link to this comment

“The U.S. faces a deepening dilemma about what to do with high-level radioactive waste….The various alternatives merely amount to greater or lesser degrees of danger….”

That sounds pretty grim. What exactly is the greater or lesser ‘degree of danger’ we’re talking about here? This stuff has been laying around for decades now, so there should be some pretty good stats on things like the fuel forming a ‘critical mass’, and generating a beam of neutrons which will burn through the steel casks. Actually, shouldn’t that happen pretty much immediatly if it’s going to happen at all? And if it’s not going to happen immediatly, if there’s some low-probability chance that it could happen, how often could we expect that a spent-fuel drum will behave in this way, and how likely is it that a cascade effect will occur with the other drums in the pool?

Come to think of it, aren’t spent fuel rods stored in solid form?

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By cann4ing, August 15, 2008 at 9:34 pm Link to this comment

More from a 3/17/06 Nuclear Monitor article at NIRS

“‘wet’ storage underwater presents significant hazards….Water of sufficient depth must cover the waste to limit radiation doses received by nuclear workers near the pools, and pumpts must continually circulate the water to keep the thermally hot wastes cool.  These operations must continue 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for decades on end.  Both accidents and intentional attacks threaten these pools….Examples of significant accidents…include inadvertent drain downs, such as at the Dresden nuclar power station in Illinois….

“In February 2001 the [NRC] reported that the irradiated fuel in a drained pool could spontaneously combust, the irradiated fuel could overheat so badly that the zirconium metal cladding on the nuclar fuel rods could catch fire.  The fire could spread throughout the densely packed pool, engulfing decade’s worth of accumulated high-level waste.  The resulting atomic inferno would release catastrophic amounts of radioactivity…killing over 25,000 people as far as 500 miles downwind….”

Any of you nuke addicts prepared to revise any of your comments on the “safety” of nuclear power?

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By cann4ing, August 15, 2008 at 9:23 pm Link to this comment

Some select quotes from:

http://www.nirs.orgmononline/nm643.pdf

“The U.S. faces a deepening dilemma about what to do with high-level radioactive waste….The various alternatives merely amount to greater or lesser degrees of danger….”

“Reprocessed high-level radioactive wasts…the highly radioactive liquid, sludge, or re-solidified ‘leftovers’ from physically chopping up and then chemically dissolving irradiated fuel…have most of the same hazardous poisons ever created, in addition, there is the danger that fissile materials still present in the wasts can form a ‘critical mass’ causing an inadvertent nuclear chain reation that would generate a deadly beam of neutrons and possibly even enough heat to melt through the contain within which it is held….These wastes must be shielded for centuries, prevented from going critical for millennia, and isolated from the living environment virtually forevermore…”

“Storage pools located indoors at operating and permanently shutdown commercial nuclear reactors in the US hold most of the irradiated fuel ever generated at those reactors.  Thus, decades worth of waste, representing multiple full reactor core inventories, aree stored in pools.  In fact, the pools at some reactors are crammed so full of waste that the density of metal sleeves placed between adjacent nuclear fuel assemblies are all that prevents inadvertent nuclear chain reactions….For reactors lacking dry cask storage, the pool often contains all the irradiated fuel ever generated there.”

More to come.

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By Finrod, August 15, 2008 at 8:56 pm Link to this comment

Apologies to all. I believe the fault I previously alluded to was with my machine.

Today is a good day to live.

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By Finrod, August 15, 2008 at 8:16 pm Link to this comment

According to my email account, Rod Adams has posted a comment. I’ve tried to refresh, and even reload the site completely, but I’m not seeing it. Is anyone else having these difficulties?

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By Rod Adams, August 15, 2008 at 8:00 pm Link to this comment

Can:

You wrote:

This is why, when I see the extensive listing of giant, multi-national corporations as funders of the NEI think tank, I find it necessary to receive anything their “scientists” have to say about nuclear power with a very heavy grain of salt—just as a number of the advocates of nuclear power cite Amory Lovins past connections to the oil industry as reason to question his claims—and rightly so.

Let’s be clear - at least three of the people with whom you are currently having a discussion are not funded by the NEI or the large companies that are members of the NEI. I am a professional military officer who has a tiny company on the side, David Walters is a power plant operator, and FINROD is an Australian tech worker.

You might be surprised by this, but I am pretty sure that each of us have similar ideas about large corporations and their excessive power as you do. I consider myself quite a bit left of center partially as a result of the influence of my mom, three aunts and two uncles who were members of the NEA.

I happen to be a huge advocate of small nuclear plants - it is fission that I like in competition with combustion. I think it is a regrettable accident of history that put its ownership first into the hands of a secretive, controlling government and then into the hands of its chosen corporations.

I cannot hold that against fission, however, and I cannot say that there are any real dangers associated with well designed and operated nuclear plants - even the large ones. I can say that there are cost and schedule issues that lead to significant financial risk and reluctance associated with building up a reconstituted industrial base.

With village sized power plants that can also supply individual industrial parks or ships, there are many financial risk reductions that are available.

Anyway, just wanted to add something to the discussion that would cause you to rethink your continued assertions that you are battling big corporate forces here.

Oh yeah - as someone else pointed out - Lovins has never stopped being funded by major fossil fuel companies. He still represents their interests because they know that only fission based systems have any near term hope of taking market share from combustion.

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By Finrod, August 15, 2008 at 6:57 pm Link to this comment

Interestingly, I posted my last comment before David’s last comment appeared for me. Oh well.. guess I’ll have to take this delay of comment appearance into account.

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By Finrod, August 15, 2008 at 6:26 pm Link to this comment

The answer to what, exactly?

Wasn’t Three mile Island a partial meltdown in a metropolitan area?

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By David Walters, August 15, 2008 at 5:32 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Sophisticated anti-nuke activists have dropped the “what if” for a meltdown for many years…since one hasn’t happened since TMI and, the newer generation of reactors are hundreds of times safer. It’s a false risk. We might as well discuss the possibility of a dangerous meteor heading toward earth and hitting the World Cup stadium…wait…should we cancel the World Cup now?

There are only now two issues with nuclear can be discussed with any sort of rational discourse because they are real issues:

1. What to do with spent nuclear fuel and
2. Cost of nuclear energy

The fake “meltdown” scenario has be relegated to the history books.

David
PS…Chernobyl was not a meltdown. Read up on it.

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By cann4ing, August 15, 2008 at 5:13 pm Link to this comment

No one would be affected by a meltdown of a nuclear reactor in a major metropolitan area.  Now there’s real credibility.  Like your “the debate is over” Finrod?

So tell us the answers smart A$$!

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By Finrod, August 15, 2008 at 4:22 pm Link to this comment

I said NEGAWATTS, not megawatts. You know negawatts, dont you? Lovins carries on about them all the time.

In the unlikely event of a meltdown, so long as the containment was up to the standards of the rest of the world, no one would be affected. Unlike the accident at the Union Carbide plant back in the eighties.

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By cann4ing, August 15, 2008 at 11:18 am Link to this comment

Don’t know the answer to your megawatt question, Finrod.  Do you?  While you are at it, Finrod, given the crowded conditions in India, perhaps you could tell me how many Indians would be affected by a melt down of a nuclear power plant near one of its major cities.

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By Finrod, August 15, 2008 at 10:49 am Link to this comment

“just as a number of the advocates of nuclear power cite Amory Lovins past connections to the oil industry as reason to question his claims—and rightly so.”

‘Past’ connections?

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By Finrod, August 15, 2008 at 10:46 am Link to this comment

Well that’s just great that the pro and anti nuclear folk can occasionally find something they agree on.

Could you just remind me again, cann4ing, how many negawatts of efficiency India is going to need to match the standard of living of eastern Europe without pursuing nuclear power?

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By cann4ing, August 15, 2008 at 10:34 am Link to this comment

Finally a topic upon which you and I wholeheartedly agree, David Walters—the disaster that is neoliberal economics.  Perhaps one of the better academic presentations on that subject is to be found in Jeff Faux, “The Global Class War” (2006), and its impact is felt here in the U.S. as well as abroad.

Faux writes:

“This is not the first time in American history that investment opportunity has marched under the banner of a messianic crusade to enlighten the world.  But in the past, when what was good for General Motors was good for America, the economic benefits generally trickled down to the people back home.  Today, the new post-cold war globalization has disconnected the fate of America’s citizens from those who own and control the great transnational corporations with American names….

“Globalization did not cause America’s growing inequalities.  Rather it allowed the rich and powerful to detach themselves from the bonds that had connected the economic fate of Americans of all classes since World War II.  Ronald Reagan’s breaking of the air traffic controllers’ union in 1981 signaled big business that it could violate the domestic social contract.  Clinton’s passage of NAFTA in 1993 signaled that big business could abandon it completely.”

This is why, when I see the extensive listing of giant, multi-national corporations as funders of the NEI think tank, I find it necessary to receive anything their “scientists” have to say about nuclear power with a very heavy grain of salt—just as a number of the advocates of nuclear power cite Amory Lovins past connections to the oil industry as reason to question his claims—and rightly so.

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By David Walters, August 15, 2008 at 10:25 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Ah…OK, I get it. Well it can’t of course. In fact, Lovins travels within the pores of neo-liberalism, actually. If China had followed Lovin’s adivice they would be worse off than India is today, and LOT more polluted since he’s counselled against nuclear .Thank god the Chinese haven’t listened to him on this.

If you read Lovins on China, he claims to have influenced the Chinese with his looney ‘negawatts’ and “alternative” energy sources. That it was all him and only him. Fortunately, the Chinese actually ignored him except to burn more coal, which is fine by Lovins, it seems.

I think of what it would of been like at the olympics today had the Chinese started their nuclear progam 10 years earlier instead of the late 1980s.

For India, it means little wind turbines and some solar plants. India today is the largest user of ‘renewable’ energy in the world: charcoal and cow dung and about 500 KWs of power per person per year. This is Lovin’s future for us.

David

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By Finrod, August 15, 2008 at 10:08 am Link to this comment

David Walters said:

“Can, I will address India. India has a massive R&D;program in nuclear designed to lift India out of poverty by developing cheap nuclear energy based on thorium, where India has the second largest reserves in the world.”

Yes David, I’m well aware that India does indeed have such a program, but that is not what I was getting at. I was requesting details of how India might elevate the average standard of living of its populace to that of a moderately poor Eastern-European nation using the technology advocated by Amory Lovins. I’m sure you’re aware that such a program would have no nuclear component.

My question thus remains. How could Amory Lovins’ preferred suite of technologies achieve such an outcome for India (assuming that the Indian government were foolish enough to buy into it in the first place)?

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By David Walters, August 15, 2008 at 9:36 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Can, I will address India. India has a massive R&D;program in nuclear designed to lift India out of poverty by developing cheap nuclear energy based on thorium, where India has the second largest reserves in the world.

Thus, it’s based this way:
(by way of energyfromthorium.com):

#Burn natural uranium in heavy-water CNADU reactors. This is basically uranium ore ground up, reformed

#Extract plutonium produced in step 1 and burn it in a fast-spectrum reactor with a thorium blanket.

#Extract U-233 produced in step 2 (from thorium) and burn thorium in breakeven-breeder thermal-spectrum reactors.

Neo-liberal strategy is in contridiction to this plan because everything in society has to be for sale at market prices. Ergo, any government research and marketing of new energy sources is counter-neo-liberal.

Neo-liberalism has to opposed across the board as anti-worker and anti-farmer.

David

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By Finrod, August 15, 2008 at 2:25 am Link to this comment

“Finrod, unless and until you address the devastation wrought upon the great masses of the Indian people by neoliberal economic exploitation and the dumping of heavily subsidized first world agriculture into that nation below the local cost of production, it will matter little what energy system they turn to.”

That is a seperate matter (one on which your basic assumptions are flawed in any case), and I will not be drawn into it at this juncture. If you cannot give a relevant response to the matter of how such a mass of humanity could lift themselves to the (relatively modest) level of material prosperity enjoyed by the average Pole using Amory Lovins’ trademark solutions, the audience is going to begin to suspect that you cannot formulate one.

If this cannot be done for India, it wont be done anywhere. If such a huge nation discovers that Lovins’ prescriptions are useless and resort to other means (be it nuclear or fossil fuel) to power their society, all others must do so as well, or eventually be out-competed and overwhelmed by the far superior Indian nation.

Now how about you quit evading this critical issue upon which so much of your case depends?

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By cann4ing, August 14, 2008 at 10:01 pm Link to this comment

Finrod, unless and until you address the devastation wrought upon the great masses of the Indian people by neoliberal economic exploitation and the dumping of heavily subsidized first world agriculture into that nation below the local cost of production, it will matter little what energy system they turn to.

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By Finrod, August 14, 2008 at 6:44 am Link to this comment

By the way, the following was supposed to be in response to cann4ing, not Lance. For some reason, Lance’s post appeared between cann4ing’s and mine. Why are the posts out of sequence?

“Ah. So you’re a lawyer.

That makes sense. Only a lawyer would consider the response you’ve just given to be a serious attempt to address the issues I’ve raised.

So getting back to the question, how would you go about arranging for India to increase its general standard of living to that of Poland using Amory Lovins’ ‘soft energy’ path of renewables and “negawatts”?”

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By Finrod, August 14, 2008 at 5:58 am Link to this comment

That’s right Lance. I’m not an expert on anything. All I really have to go on is my life experience, my reading, such education as I’ve managed to pick up, and a very basic background understanding of some science and math.

The only possible way that I could get the better of an expert in any debate is if I was right and the expert was wrong. Even then I might not win. It’s quite possible that an expert could present an argument I simply couldn’t pick any significant holes in on account of my lack of understanding of the field. The argument might be instantly recognisable as garbage by another expert, but I might not recognise it at all because I don’t have the specialist training required to understand the deeper issues of that field.

In fact I’m so ignorant of the subtler details of these matters that the only way I could make headway in such a debate would be if the case for the opposition was so weak that even an uncredentialed dilettante such as I could point out absurdities in the opposing case so blatant that no amount of obfuscation could conceal them from an honest observer.

Lance, you said:

“And that pretty much boxes you into some dismal cubicle somewhere trying to imagine how the rest of the world could live differently and see what you never do.”


I’m not sure what you mean or intend to imply by this. It is true that I have never lived the lifestyle of a truly pre-agricultural human, but I did spend the earliest part of my life in a home that most westerners today would at least regard as old-fashioned. The humble home I grew up in until the age of seven was not connected to the grid, and we didn’t even have a small generator on hand. There was no point. The house didn’t have any electrical fixtures. There was a battery-powered radio, but the stove was wood-burning, hot water was provided by boiling water with wood in a tub outside, there was a meat-safe for preserving meat for a little while, and the main illumination at night was from kerosene lamps. I remember when the telephone was connected in 1969. It obviously made an impression on me, although I was only four at the time. I recall that it was of a very old-fashioned make.

For all that, my grandparents weren’t too badly off by the sixties for working class rural folk, but some of the stories they told me later about life in the twenties and thirties, and the assertion that they would have starved without “the humble bunny” at that time, have left an impression on me.

As for what my grandmother has told me about my great-grandmother’s life as a widow left to raise many children in rural Australia during the depression, I can honestly assert that as little as three generations ago my direct ancestors had a standard of living that we would now consider third-world.

So Lance, before you cast aspersions concerning what I can and cannot imagine, consider my background. It is not one of privilege.

Lance, would you care to instruct us on how India might move ahead with a plan to eliminate all coal power, go to complete renewable energy, and with the assistance of increased efficiency in energy use achieve a per-capita standard of living equal to Poland?

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By Rod Adams, August 14, 2008 at 2:07 am Link to this comment

Can:

I have some degree of respect for lawyers that work to protect consumers and I understand your desire to obtain independent points of view.

However, using your analogy, even your independent medical examiners still have recognized credentials as medical specialists.

In contrast, the people that you keep linking to have few, if any credentials that make them energy or nuclear specialists while some of us do and are not employed by “the industry”.

For example - Amory Lovins has no formal degrees at all, as he himself admits, he dropped out of every school he attended. Helen Caldicott used to be a pediatrician, but she has not practiced that profession for decades. As far as I can tell from her biographies, she never specialized in any radiation related field. In front of a jury, couldn’t a good lawyer destroy their credibility?

In your world, how would you credit someone like Theodore Rockwell, a man with enough credentials to have written one of the first books on radiation shielding but who retired from MPR Associates more than a decade ago. Surely he would qualify as not employed by the industry? How about Dr. Jerry Cuttler, a man who has been an independent consultant for many years?

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By Finrod, August 14, 2008 at 1:12 am Link to this comment

Ah. So you’re a lawyer.

That makes sense. Only a lawyer would consider the response you’ve just given to be a serious attempt to address the issues I’ve raised.

So getting back to the question, how would you go about arranging for India to increase its general standard of living to that of Poland using Amory Lovins’ ‘soft energy’ path of renewables and “negawatts”?

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By lance, August 14, 2008 at 12:07 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Oh sure Mr. Finrod I can do ALOT better than that.   
  To start with, you have no credibility yourself as an expert on anything.  You make statements like:
  “In my experience, most people who advocate for a ‘return to nature’ do so from a nice, comfy western lifestyle perch.”
  And that pretty much boxes you into some dismal cubicle somewhere trying to imagine how the rest of the world could live differently and see what you never do.
    Operation Plowshare and atmospheric testing were stopped only because biologists had more crediblity ultimately than the fission proponents ruining our planet.  I sincerely doubt the nuclear industry shills posting on this site—who apparently have nothing better to do than put out propaganda for a scientific impossibility, the harmlessness of radiation—with an admitted agenda and funding sources, have won any credibility contests nor will their breed of ignorance outlive the cultures they completely ignore.

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By cann4ing, August 13, 2008 at 9:01 pm Link to this comment

Wow, I leave for a time to take care of business, and what do I come back to but Finrod-gone-wild.  You really need to chill, my friend.

With respect to your “questions,” I am not Tao.  I, like you, would be one of those “tamed two-leggeds” he refers to.  The closest I ever came to what Tao describes as living free and wild were the three days when my platoon went for three days without food in Vietnam—had to shoot a deer.

But unlike you, I will not show disrespect for the philosophy of the indigenous peoples who roamed the North American continent for 1,000 years, living in harmony with what Tao refers to as Mother Earth.  They achieved a natural balance that we civilized types have never come close to accomplishing—never threatening the survival of species or exploiting resources—something which our “civilization” mandates.

I have met and talked to a sufficient number of Native Americans in my 60 years to realize that Tao is the real deal.  He signs off every post with HokaHey—Lakota for it’s a good day to die.

Where Tao and I have diverged is that his “free and wild” would not sustain the many humans who are alive today.  His response is to the effect that this is as it was meant to be; that civilization is unsustainable and that such a collapse would return us to a state of natural harmony in which only the “free and wild” survive.

We tamed two-leggeds like the creature comforts our civilization has brought us, so we tend to rationalize the illogical.  Many throughout the industrial revolution have sought to deny or ignore adverse environmental impacts.  I believe that to be true with respect to you and the other nuclear advocates who are quick to dismiss any and all articles suggesting danger or exorbitant expense.

I was amused by the suggestion that I should simply accept the contentions of nuclear scientists employed in your industry and think tanks on the basis of their academic credentials.  As an attorney who has represented severely injured workers for over 30 years, I have seen countless opposing “experts”—physicians with solid credentials proposing lucrative surgeries they would perform vs. insurance company physicians who invariably deny the need—cases we often must resolve by agreed medical examiners with no ax to grind.  I suspect it will require the same independence to get an honest assessment of nuclear power.

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By Finrod, August 13, 2008 at 2:46 pm Link to this comment

No response yet. OK. Perhaps cann4ing is working out how many negawatts India is going to need to match Poland’s standard of living.

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By Finrod, August 12, 2008 at 2:49 pm Link to this comment

How odd. cann4ing hasn’t provided an answer to my question yet, or at least not one that isn’t 100% evasion/misdirection. Or perhaps, can, you simply never stopped to think about how your preferred set of solutions could apply in practice to where it would really need to go?

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By Finrod, August 12, 2008 at 11:51 am Link to this comment

Anyhow, isn’t the point of this debate to try to work out which is the better set of energy solutions for the world?

What’s the point of trying to introduce a no-energy solution?

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By Finrod, August 12, 2008 at 11:45 am Link to this comment

It should be added, of course, that if the kind of lifestyle you say Tao advocates for represented a superior set of solutions to the ones we currently use, we would not have ended up where we are.

In my experience, most people who advocate for a ‘return to nature’ do so from a nice, comfy western lifestyle perch. Most people who do attempt to practice such a thing rapidly come to understand why virtually all of human history is a catalogue of the actions taken by people attempting to get as far away from ‘nature’ as possible.

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By Finrod, August 12, 2008 at 11:34 am Link to this comment

Never mind Tao’s take on this for the moment, can. What’s yours? Remember that if renewable energy schemes are to have any hope of succeeding, the market I referred to (India) is the one that you ultimately have to capture.

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By cann4ing, August 12, 2008 at 7:25 am Link to this comment

Careful there, Finrod.  “Comfortable standard of material well being for the mass of the population” is likely to draw in a repost from TD’s resident Native American poster, Tao, who will no doubt lecture you on our being what he calls “tamed, two-legged creatures” whose “civilization” created on a greed-based exploitation of resources cannot survive; that the only ones who will survive are the free and wild who chose to live in harmony with Mother Earth.

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By Finrod, August 12, 2008 at 5:24 am Link to this comment

My apologies to all for the brevity of my contributions lately. They’ve usually been thrown out about five minutes before I have to leave for work in the morning. I shall try to do better, and put some worthwhile effort into the debate.

My point about the debate being ‘over’ in the international community doesn’t mean there aren’t people who want to keep up the propaganda (for either side). It means that the decisions have already been made by those in a position to make them. Could this be derailed? I guess it’s possible, but I greatly doubt that the derailing will occur before the current proposed build is complete. If anything, the enthusiasm of government and heavy industry for the nuclear resurgence is considerably stronger than I expected to see by this stage (except, sadly, in Australia, but there’s even some hope here too).

But before we go any further, I wonder if cann4ing and/or his allies could provide me with the ‘Grand Solar Plan’, or wind plan, or any other non-hydro ‘renewable’ energy plan designed for providing a comfortable standard of material well being for the mass of the population as it would apply to India? I mean if India enjoyed a per capita real income the equivalent of, say, Poland?

How would that work?

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By Rod Adams, August 11, 2008 at 9:52 pm Link to this comment

Can:

Just in case you cannot find it, here is the link to the online nuclear energy debate that David Walters mentioned:

http://preview.tinyurl.com/66ndtp

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By David Walters, August 11, 2008 at 9:30 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Can,
I agree with Rod. It’s not a question of finding “unbiased” reportage, rather it’s a question comparing the data. That was the purpose of the Keystone paper. The same with the MIT and Chicago studies. Rod himself was in a rather amicable debate with an anti-nuclear activist online a few months ago that discussed ways of looking at nuclear and alternative energy.

But I agree…a debate would be great, that is good idea. I’ll write Amy off list about it. But online debates like this where we can throw data around, make proposals, examine the evidence (you did look at the links about Caldicott didn’t you?), etc are also worth while. I have issues (as others do as well) with Caldicott’s rather centrifugal attack on nuclear because she simply makes so many factual mistakes. Does, say, David Bradish from the NEI? Sure, but not in the consistent and almost rapid way Dr. Caldicott does who *seems* to say anything to tie nuclear energy to nuclear weapons, confuses technologies and otherwise makes what, IMO is simply an *emotional* response to the increasing support for nuclear energy in light of climate change, not a scientific one. This includes the the papers from the NIRS.

Around the world, including the US, hell, even including my state of California, the ‘tide’ of opinion is becoming less anti-nuclear. We should all examine why this is. Nuclear is happening. I think this is a good thing, not a bad thing.

D.

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By Rod Adams, August 11, 2008 at 7:47 pm Link to this comment

Can:

By your logic, if my child is sick, the last person that I should ask for help is a trained pediatrician who has a financial interest in treating childhood illness.

I have found that nuclear specialists are generally smart enough to have succeeded in almost any profession that they could have chosen. The people that you continue to denigrate are not paid spokespeople, they are professionals who are sharing their hard won knowledge in an apparently vain attempt to convince you to take another look at an amazing technology.

Some of the organizations that you continue to quote owe their entire existence to financial support provided BECAUSE they oppose nuclear technologies. How does that make them unbiased?

Once again I will ask you - why are you spending so much time in this discussion? Who are you and what are your financial interests in the energy industry?

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By cann4ing, August 11, 2008 at 6:38 pm Link to this comment

How do we know Caldicott is not reliable?  Answer, the “professionals who work in the nuclear industry”—ie the very individuals whose livelihood is dependent upon the advancement of nuclear power—say she is not reliable.  That is the gist of the links just provided by David Walters.

Come on David, not everyone who you communicate with is going to be so gullible as to fail to see the partisan bias on this issue that you expouse.  If you are going to challenge Dr. Caldicott, do so in a forum where she has the opportunity to respond to your smears.  Contact Amy Goodman as I suggested to David Bradish.  Arrange a real debate, televised for all to see, where each side can either put up or shut up.

But then, here’s an idea that can remove all hint of partisan bias.  Nationalize all energy industries, oil, gas, nuclear, coal, solar, wind, geothermal, wave so that no one stands to profit from the selection of one energy solution vs. the other.  Put our academic institutions—as opposed to corporate bought and paid for think tanks like yours—to work on formulating the best, safest and most economically sound strategy for future clean energy.

Under that scenario, I’d bet dollars to donuts that nuclear would not then be seen as the ideal solution by independent researchers with no financial interest in the outcome.  I’d also bet that many who have posted here touting questionable claims of safety and economics would fade away, never to again be heard from on the subject.

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By David Walters, August 11, 2008 at 4:47 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Is the debate internationally over?

Well, I think my friend Finrod might of been overstating the case some. What is clearly NOT over is that nuclear energy, internationally, and domestically for the US, is a growing enterprise as more and more countries have submitted proposals to the IAC for help in starting their nuclear programs. Amory Lovins was so sure it was a dead issue in 1980 he predicted NO MORE new builds would occur because it was financially unfeasable. How wrong he was proven to be.

Italy has REVERSED it’s ban on nuclear last month (in the biggest case of international NIMBY it shut it’s own power plants but bought cheap nuclear power from France).

China (one the countries Lovins thought abandoned nuclear energy) has 11 plants, intends to increase this number from this 10GW to 40GW….that’s 30 reactors. By that time…2020, they expect to have *under construction* another 60GW! The last two Chinese reactors were brought in ahead of schedule and under budget.

S. Korea and Japan never stopped building nuclear power plants after Chrenobyl, the did the right thing: they were more careful on how to build them.

India, Malaysia, Thailand, Nigeria, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and host of other countries are now setting up nuclear power agencies.

So…the US situation, with 4 proposals and about 12 more in the pipeline, is actually way behind the curve.

David

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By David Walters, August 11, 2008 at 4:35 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Finrod, if you remember the definition of “fundamentalist”...we’ve all read Caldeocott (and worse, Wasserman)...*they* have not read the critiques of her. We’ve already provided links to show where Caldecott not only doesn’t know what she’s talking about, she factually wrong. She “sounds right” so why question her science? Here are some, just for others information, that is those who genuinly want to see both sides of her, and the anti-nuclear/pro-nuclear debate:


Nuclear and Radiation Safety Issues
Responses of Professionals in the Industry
http://www.ntanet.net/publicinfo.html

The above is a *devastating* critique of Dr. Caldicott’s failure as a scientist to address the real issues surrounding nuclear safety. It’s actually IN debate format so you can read her and the replies to her.

Lovins and Caldicott: Hypercars and Hyperbole.
http://enochthered.wordpress.com/2007/11/13/foo/

This is Luke Wilson’s piece, written when he was just 18 I think, comparing who is worse “Amory Lovins or Helen Caldicott”.

“More Nuclear Madness”...
http://enochthered.wordpress.com/2007/09/05/more-nuclear-madness/

Another great piece by Luke which shows that Caldicott doesn’t even KNOW what comes out of a nuclear reactor…she is that bad with her science, er, rather, on her physics, which she is clearly not a “doctor” in THIS field.

So…yeah, I question Dr. Caldicott. Everyone should. We should question everything a *loose* one’s fundementalism and replace it with science.

BTW…I do endorse cann4ing’s idea of a debate. There have been a few online, for example, already, on Climate Change web site I think.

David

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By cann4ing, August 11, 2008 at 3:55 pm Link to this comment

Are you seriously attacking her?

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By Finrod, August 11, 2008 at 3:51 pm Link to this comment

Can, are you seriously still trying to defend caldicott?

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By cann4ing, August 11, 2008 at 3:40 pm Link to this comment

David, I doubt Amy Goodman actually reads the comments posted in response to her articles.  But here’s a suggestion. 

Amy runs Democracy Now, which is an independent, listener-sponsored news program that is broadcast over more than 300 public access TV stations, over Dish network and is available at Democracy Now.org.  A good many members of Congress, like John Conyers, listen to Democracy Now’s Monday thru Friday broadcasts. 

I would propose that you contact the people at NIRS, or Dr. Caldicott, with the idea of approaching Amy Goodman with the idea of holding a live debate between their designated representative and yours.  If you link to Democracy Now you will find that such debates have taken place there on a wide array of topics, and I am sure she would give serious consideration to presenting yours.  NIRS & NEI or Dr. Caldicott & NEI could perhaps submit short position statements on a selected topic in advance so that Amy would be in a position to moderate the debate.

(Note: Unlike corporate media, this would not be a sound bite presentation—Ms. Goodman affords both sides the opportunity to present their case, usually within a fifteen minute segment, though I have seen debates last up to a half hour).

You would then tap into a much wider audience then the one you are conversing with at TD, and viewers would be afforded the opportunity to make up their minds.

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By cann4ing, August 11, 2008 at 3:16 pm Link to this comment

Yeah, Lance, you’re only permitted to quote people from a pro nuclear think tank, otherwise they will be dismissed by Finrod as “lacking cred.”  Wow!  Real persuasive argument there Finny—just like your smear of Dr. Caldicott.

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By cann4ing, August 11, 2008 at 3:14 pm Link to this comment

The international debate over nuclear power is over—Finrod.

Here are a few items that can be linked to at NIRS.

“June 2008: New Greenpeace International factsheet on numerous problems with Areva’s European Pressurized Reactor (EPR), which is being proposed for Calvert Cliffs, MD and other sites in the U.S. 

“June 2008: New Greenpeace International factsheet on construction problems with Areva’s EPR at Flamenville, France. 

“International anti-nuclear summer gathering. A festive, multicultural meeting for activists. In Dordogne (south-west France), August 13-20, 2006”

Another item entitled International Fury About Radioactive Baltic, Press Release 6/28/08

“The levels of anthropogenic radionuclides [man-made radioactive particles] are higher in the Baltic Sea than in any other water bodies around the world” according to a Helsinki Commission report[1]. By the early 1990s the Swedish Defence Research Establishment had already found higher levels of radioactive Caesium-137 in fish from the Baltic than from any other sea[2].

“Also presented was a recent study by academics from Oxford University that the number of fish killed each year by coastal power stations could be up to half the total commercial fish catch[3], at times when fish stocks are already under huge pressure.
There was also concern at satellite photos showing large areas of hot water originating from the nuclear power plants cooling system. Heating of the oceans is a known catalyst for eutrophication and contributes to climate change.

“The Baltic is already the most radioactive sea in the world. Even a child would realize that building a new, bigger reactor and a nuclear waste dump next to the Baltic isn’t a good idea. Yet this is exactly what is currently happening at Olkiluoto.” said Per Hegelund at the camp.”

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By Finrod, August 11, 2008 at 3:11 pm Link to this comment

Lance, can’t you do any better than that? Linking to an article by harvey Wasserman isn’t going to give you any cred. What did he say? At one point he was trying to imply that breeder reactors violate the second law of thermodynamics! A true ignoramous.

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By David Walters, August 11, 2008 at 2:53 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Cann4ing,
simply stating as you do that the NIRS “rebuts” everything is not a discussion. Should we discuss this by my linking to NEI or the University of Melbourne or the UIC web sites which rebut everything NIRS says?

We’ve provided cogent arguments on every aspect of nuclear energy. Above all, and perhaps more importantly, we’ve rebutted everything *Amy Goodman* posted…and she hasn’t replied at all. It would seem this discussion has slowly ground to a screeching halt.

David Walters
San Francisco, CA

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By Finrod, August 11, 2008 at 2:50 pm Link to this comment

Heavy industrial concerns worldwide, in China, Japan, Korea, France, Russia, etc, are expanding their capacity in preperation for the new global nuclear build.

You lost this debate long ago.

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By cann4ing, August 11, 2008 at 2:42 pm Link to this comment

Extensive fact sheets rebutting everything claimed by the nuclear propagandists are available at

http:/www.nirs.org/

This includes a downloadable link to the “new version of False Promises produced by NIRS” which “examines many of the false propaganda claims made by the nuclear industry and carefully rebuts each one, supplemented with extensive footnotes. You’ll find information on nuclear safety, economics, radioactive waste, sustainable energy, radiation and health and much more.”

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By lance, August 11, 2008 at 10:49 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2008/08/10/10911/

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By Rod Adams, August 10, 2008 at 5:16 am Link to this comment

Can:

One area where you and I agree is that it is important to understand why someone will take the time and put in the effort required to engage in challenging discussions. Corporate or personal financial interests are certainly part of the motivation for human activity.

I am all for full disclosure so that observers or participants in a discussion can weigh how the perceived influencers might be shading the commentary from one or another of the participants.

David Walters, David Bradish and I have tried to be very forthcoming and to share in our individual posts just what our interests are and why we feel so strongly that nuclear fission energy has a place at the table in any discussion about future energy systems. We each come from very different places and have some areas of disagreement but we see incredible potential in atomic fission power.

In a world where fossil fuel combustion is changing both local and global environments, where varying degrees of access to fossil fuels can mean the difference between poverty and prosperity, and where governments believe that fossil fuels are so important to national security and identity that they will send young people into battle to fight for them, a new energy source that does not emit waste products to the environment and does not depend on the same substances as fossil fuels should be of huge interest.

One of my main research areas over the past 15 years has been trying to determine why the natural supporters of fission in the environmental movement have such a jaundiced public policy position regarding its use.

In my mind, the only LOGICAL reason is that the leaders of “the movement” have made a pact with the competition. My postulate is that the agreement is something like the following - the groups will include strong action against nuclear power in their platform of interests and, in return,  the establishment energy industry will give them foundation, individual and corporate money to sustain them in the rest of their battles.

The main financial beneficiary of actions against nuclear fission is the fossil fuel industry and all of its supporting players.

What you seem to miss in your many comments is the fact that stopping a competitor is just as likely an activity of vested, corporate interests as promoting one’s own product.

One more thing - do you not see that there are huge corporate interests behind the proposals to mandate and incentivize the production of “renewable energy sources”? Why do you think that GE, Siemens, BP, ADM, and Boone Pickens need public assistance to implement their wind and solar energy systems?

BTW - the blogs listed below accept comments from all kinds of participants in the discussion. The moderation will be used only to prevent or delete inappropriate language or personal attacks.

Rod Adams
Founder, Adams Atomic Engines, Inc.
Publisher, Atomic Insights (http://atomicinsights.blogspot.com)
Producer, The Atomic Show Podcast (http://atomic.thepodcastnetwork.com)

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By David Walters, August 9, 2008 at 8:37 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Can, you have brought the discussion away from nuclear energy and reduced it to a who’s for what when and where. I’m a pro-nuclear activist, on the left (see my web site). I listen to democracy now whenever I’m in the car. But it’s not about me, or you, or Calidicott: it’s about nuclear energy and whether it can contribute to the solution of a variety of questions vis-a-vis energy: can it stop and/or reduce the use of fossil fuel? Can it be done cheaply enough? Can it be done safely? How does it effect transportation fuels, etc etc…basically the same kind of questions everyone has for solar, wind, hydro etc. So why don’t you talk about this? Why don’t you respond to THESE points instead you look for ‘special interests’ under the bed?

This debate is wide ranging and all over the internet, NRC hearings, at state hearings, etc. So showing up here is just lucky. I saw the link I think on Nuclear Green (nucleargreen.blogspot.com) a pro-environmentalist nuclear site I think. Get over the who’s who and discuss the ISSUES.

David

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By David Bradish, August 9, 2008 at 8:36 am Link to this comment

cann4ing,

Yes, I monitor articles and comment on many sites. I, however, am not paid to blog for NEI. My job is to provide NEI and the industry with data and statistics to communicate the benefits of nuclear. I blog because I enjoy the debate and discussions, and because there is a lot of misinformation out there about nuclear. Is it so hard to believe that nuclear energy provides some outstanding benefits?

Who cares if I link to NEI documents? If you actually read them (which I can tell you haven’t), you will see that nearly everything is backed up by an outside party. Call me biased, call us biased, I don’t care. We’re providing our side of the story and it’s up to you and other readers to make up their own mind. We have nothing to hide.

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By cann4ing, August 9, 2008 at 8:05 am Link to this comment

I am curious, David Bradish.  Sites like Truthdig are intended to bring in a broad array of topics so that voices, not ordinarily heard in the corporate media, can be heard, dissected and commented upon—a truly democratic free market of idea.  I have never once seen your name appear on any topic other than this article on nuclear power, or, for that matter, the names of some of the other posters like Mr. Adams or Mr. Walters.

You do have the intellectual integrity to provide the roster of the powerful corporations behind your NEI think tank—corporations whose number and size reflects a financial ability to self-fund a nuclear power plant without seeking subsidies or loan guarantees from U.S. taxpayers.  Yet, like most corporate America, these corporations regularly thrive on public subsidies, yet are the first to scream Socialism whenever government seeks to aid our poorest citizens.

So I can’t help but be curious.  Does the NEI think tank or the corporations which fund it pay people like you to monitor internet traffic for articles critical on nuclear power so that you can link to and post your own NEI think tank responses?

(The problem I have with think tanks like yours is the built in bias that arises from an obvious conflict of interest.  NEI was obviously formed by these powerful corporations to advance the development nuclear power plants.  A researcher who sought to post articles at NEI which slammed either the safety or cost of nuclear power plants would no doubt not be well-received.  (Such an article at such a think tank would, shall we say, not be the wisest of career moves). 

So when you continue to link to NEI hit pieces in response to every independent assessment from the likes of Public Citizen, the Sierra Club or Dr. Caldicott, any objective observer can only receive it with a huge grain of salt, or not at all.)

By the way, David, I’d be real careful about use of the term “White Paper.”  That is the same descriptor used by the Bush regime for a summary of the 10/1/02 NIE in which they had deliberately deleted all dissenting opinions and caveats from our intelligence agencies so as to mislead Congress and the American people about the supposed presence of Iraqi WMD.

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By David Bradish, August 9, 2008 at 6:58 am Link to this comment

I don’t see how simply asking that you reveal the obvious financial interest that your backers have in the development of nuclear power amounts to a “smear.” Perhaps you can enlighten me on that one.

I guess since our interests are obvious, there’s not much anyone can add. You never know what someone will come up with though.

Public Citizen’s paraphrase of the Moody’s report is a bit inaccurate. The only mention of wind and solar was this on page 15:

Nuclear power does not exist in a vacuum. It is one of several sources of electric power, and competes with other fossil-fueled generation (such as coal), other renewables (such as wind and solar) and other demand-side technologies (designed to reduce volume).

It makes no mention of the “steadily declining” costs of wind and solar nor does it say the high cost of nuclear makes it “increasingly less competitive compared to emerging and more economical energy alternatives.” Here’s what it said about the costs on page one:

Nuclear generating capacity, however, is not without its risks. The technology is very costly, potentially reaching over $7,000 per kilowatt (kw) of capacity

How does “potentially” mean “now” according to Public Citizen? Not only that, but a previous Moody’s report stated that their cost estimates for nuclear are “marginally better than a guess.”

Public Citizen did get it correct on the credit quality part though.

If you really want to dig into cost estimates, check out our recently published white paper on costs. The NEI paper is based on a number of studies and we try to present the numbers as honest as possible (of course you can make that judgment for yourself).

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By cann4ing, August 8, 2008 at 6:19 pm Link to this comment

And this from Public Citizen:

“This summer’s Moody’s Corporate Finance Special Comment (May 2008). The Moody’s report concludes that rapidly rising nuclear costs (now surpassing $7,000 per kilowatt) will make nuclear construction projects increasingly less competitive compared to emerging and more economical energy alternatives including wind and solar where cost is steadily declining. Moody’s reported that the risk is great enough for the financial investment service to predict that a nuclear corporation’s credit rating could drop by 25 percent to 30 percent with construction.”

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