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9587Re: permanent energy crisis

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  • mauk_mcamuk
    Feb 18, 2006
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      >--- In carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com, "J.H. Crawford" <mailbox@...>
      > >Nuclear power is hugely abundant, but is saddled with decades
      > >of lies, propaganda, and misconceptions
      > and a small town named Chernobyl

      LOL! <sigh>

      Okay, let's discuss Chernobyl then.

      I have studied the accident at Chernobyl, a LOT. (Simple rule: Never
      try to burn your way out of a Xenon well.) By far the most accurate
      account of what really happened, and the real after-effects, is a
      massive UN report called UNSCEAR 2000. I have read the whole thing,
      which can be accessed here:


      While I don't expect anyone on this list to read it as well (it takes
      a person of truly oddball interests such as myself to do that) I
      provide the link to back up what I'm going to say, because the truth
      about Chernobyl is hugely different from the propaganda.

      I'm not making this up. If you don't believe me, yell at the UN. :D

      Chernobyl has to date killed not more than 55 people. Bad, yes, but
      certainly no worse than many other major accidents.

      The huge majority of those 50-odd casualties could easily have been
      prevented with a little good sense. For example, 40-odd guys
      essentially cooked themselves trying to put out a burning nuclear reactor.

      You CAN'T put out a burning nuclear reactor, folks! There's a reason
      nobody but the USSR was crazy and stupid enough to build an RBMK style
      reactor! The sensible thing to do would have been to set up some
      hoses, pump water on it, and get the heck away from it. Nobody would
      have been killed in the immediate effects if they'd just done that.
      let the thing burn itself out, keep folks under the plume indoors, and
      let the mess settle.

      The rest of the casualties have come from a large number of childrens
      thyroid cancer cases, over a thousand, caused by drinking contaminated
      milk. Yes, a dozen children have died, which again, is bad, but
      hardly worse than many other accidents that have had far less
      propaganda spread about them.

      Worse, even those deaths and cancers could have been completely
      prevented if the old Soviet government had just TOLD PEOPLE not to
      drink milk downwind.

      Now, I note that folks on the list immediately mentioned Chernobyl.


      Because it's famous.


      Because it was a terrible disaster?

      But it WASN'T. It was a disaster, yes, but we have disasters as bad
      or worse all the time!

      For example, has anyone here ever heard of Buffalo Creek?


      That was a coal-waste flood in West Virginia in 1972, killed 118. I
      would lay odds no one here has ever heard about it. How many people
      were killed at Three Mile Island?

      Why not? Why are Chernobyl and Three Mile Island so famous, when far
      worse events that were caused by coal are forgotten?

      Buffalo Creek isn't the only coal waste disaster, either. Have you
      ever heard of Aberfan?


      That's another coal disaster.

      How about the massive fertilizer explosion at Toulouse, France?


      That was only five years ago! Killed 29, wounded 2500! Yet most
      folks have never heard of it.

      How about Bhopal? Or the Chinese "Iron Dam" failures?

      Why is Chernobyl so famous?

      Lies, propaganda, and misconceptions. The lie is, nuclear is
      different, and more dangerous, somehow.

      In fact, it just isn't. Really. :)

      <sigh> Why is it I always wind up having to defend nuclear? Hydro is
      much more deadly than nuclear is.

      On another front, did you know that 2005 was the largest year on
      record for wind-power installations? The average windmill size is
      also increasing nicely. All good signs! :D

      > >Those three power sources, used together and tied to a massively
      > >upgraded grid, could provide at least European levels of energy >usage
      > >to pretty much the entire world. The total capacity of such a >system
      > >would be LARGE, but is quite doable.
      > The supply of fissile material is quite limited in terms
      > of supplying most of the world's energy for more than
      > an interlude of a couple of generations.


      Er, sorry, but while fissile material (u235) is merely hugely
      abundant, fertile material (U238 and Th232) is much, much more common,
      and quite simple to burn once we stop being afraid of it. (Here's a
      dirty secret: EVERY commercial nuclear power plant is a breeder
      reactor, that's where the plutonium for MOX fuel comes from. Breeding
      new fuel is very easy to do these days.)

      Even failing that, there is far more fissile material (u235) than most
      people think there is. In deposits that are feasible to mine once the
      price gets high enough there are many millions of tons of the stuff.
      The Alum Shale in Sweden, for example, or phosphate fertilizer beds,
      or the Chattanooga Shale in the USA.

      If we decide to use it wisely, there is enough to last us at least
      many thousands of years.

      > Then there's the minor problem of nuclear waste.

      This is a very complicated topic, but suffice to say, the "nuclear
      waste problem" was mainly created by President Carter with one
      executive order, and it can be fixed quite readily.

      There is no component of nuclear waste that cannot be destroyed,
      recycled, or sequestered with technology we now have available. Since
      the 70's, scientists have not been idle on this topic. :)

      All we need do now is start using all this nifty tech we've figured
      out. :D

      > So, no solution here. And the GNER thing is really only a
      > concept, not proven technology. And there isn't yet a new
      > generation of proven technology.

      Are you stating that nuclear is unproven?? There are hundreds of new
      nuclear plants planned right now, you'd better tell the industry! :)

      More importantly, yes, the technologies proposed for the GNEP closed
      fuel cycle are indeed proven. The UREX-1a reprocessing scheme is a
      simple enhancement of the PUREX process France uses to reprocess their
      waste, and pyroprocessing has been tested to DEATH in the USA and
      Japan. It definately works. :)

      > I agree that we'll probably see quite a few more nukes built,
      > but I don't think it's going to change very much.

      Time will tell. :D Even people in the US nuclear industry are
      astonished at how fast momentum is moving toward nuclear right now.
      Oil at 60+ dollars a barrel is a MASSIVE incentive for change.

      Carfree lifestyles need stable power supplies even more than car using
      societies. if there is a huge blackout now, people can at least go
      listen to their car radios, possibly leave the area of the blackout,
      etc. If a carfree city loses power, the residents are by-and-large
      stuck there. So, it behooves us to ensure we have abundant, safe, and
      reliable power.
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