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  • Don’t Be Fooled Again by the Anti-Nuclear Crowd

    A few alleged design hiccups and supposed cost increases in Westinghouse’s new AP1000 nuclear reactor have so-called public interest groups calling for the reactor to be taken off the table. Claiming that escalating costs and half-baked design ideas will result in a failure to build the reactors, environmental group Friends of the Earth are calling for state regulatory agencies to reverse an earlier decision that approved the project.

    The truth is that these are the same old delay tactics that the anti-energy crowd used in the 1970’s. We allowed it to kill the nuclear industry then. The stakes are too high to allow that to happen again.

    There are two important takeaways from this:

    1.) The United States hasn’t built a nuclear reactor in decades; just the application process that moves through the Nuclear Regulatory Commission will take about four years on top of another five years for construction. Of course a process as lengthy and complicated as this is going to experience a few hiccups the first time around. After that, the process will be streamlined and cost projections will not only be more accurate but they will also fall as economies of scale are achieved. Furthermore, additional savings should be recognized by applying lessons learned from initial construction projects. Because nuclear plants could have an operating life of 80 years, the benefits will be well worth the costs and initial hurdles that must be overcome.

    2.) The more regulations and litigations that the nuclear industry is subject to, the more unstable and costly it will be. Undoubtedly, the nuclear regulatory regime needs to be sound and comprehensive, but it also needs to be predictable. After all, in the 1970s and 1980s, federal, state, and local governments nearly regulated the U.S. commercial nuclear industry out of existence. A large part of this stemmed from the work of anti-nuclear activists of the time. If state and federal governments listen to today’s anti-nuclear activists because of a few bumps in the road, the nuclear renaissance will move down the same path it’s been on since the 70s, a path to nowhere. On the other hand, if the U.S. wants a sustainable source of clean and affordable energy, it must be willing to push through the learning stages.

    There are plenty of things to reminisce about the 1970’s. Energy policy is not one of them.

    Posted in Energy [slideshow_deploy]

    19 Responses to Don’t Be Fooled Again by the Anti-Nuclear Crowd

    1. Donald Pay, Wisconsi says:

      Time for a reality check. The problems of nuclear power do not stem from public interest groups pointing out Westinghouse's withdrawal of critical design plans from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission process. This is hardly a hiccup, and calls into question the entire certification process. That process was designed to put into place the very inadequate streamlined rubberstamping of new plant designs that Hertigae Foundation says it wants. Well, what happened? You can call it "hiccups," but when a capital-intensive nuclear facility has design hiccups you had better be prepared for years long delays and billion dollar cost increases. It's probably prudent for to take another look at whether these expected cost increases make the plants cost effective, because you know it won't be the corporate executives who swallow those costs.

    2. Michael Stuart, Rich says:

      I'd rather have hiccups than coughing fits.

      Whatever is ironed out this early in the process can only make these power plants safer and more efficient in the long run. The nuclear industry has benefitted from decades of experience and is now poised to supply low-carbon energy to bridge the gap until renewables are ready to take on a sizeable share.

      So Donald, if not nuclear, then what? Coal? Natural gas? If you think that wind and solar will fill the gap then you need to look no further than the failed attempts in California. They import over 20% of their electricity now which is supplied mostly by coal power stations.

      Nuclear power today supplies 1 in every 5 homes and businesses, reducing our carbon emissions by about 800 MILLION metric tons per year. We need all of the renewables and conservation we can get, but a low-carbon future is virtually impossible without a proven, safe, and effective technology such as nuclear energy.

    3. Will van der Zalm, S says:

      Long term thinking is not rewarded in our political and business environment, but what if we had not succumbed to external pressures in the 70's and had proceeded to build another 100 units in the US? The existing fleet is now the low cost producer of base load electricity – by a fair margin. More of that would lower our energy costs – helping consumers reduce electric bills and make US business more (globally) competitive.

      Yes, new plants will be expensive, but will generate high paying jobs here in America, both in construction and for the long operating life of the plant. For base load there really are no viable alternatives (especially when factoring in environmental impacts of electricity production). Our long term economic viability is directly tied to the availability of abundant reliable and competitive base load power. History has demonstrated that nuclear was the answer before. What are we waiting for? Most of the rest of world (developed, developing, and emerging economies) is not waiting.

    4. Jeff Eerkens, Woodla says:

      I totally agree with the article. Green nuclear power is the only practical solution to simultaneously (1) ameliorate global warming,

      (2) avoid dependence on foreign oil/gas, and

      (3) overcome oil/gas depletion. Only two prime energy sources, coal and uranium, can affordably deliver terawatts of "mother" electricity for: (a) heavy industry, i.e. manufacture of automobiles, ships, airplanes, bridges, etc;

      (b) power for vast fleets of future electric plug-in autos; and (c) production of portable synfuels (hydrogen and ammonia) and biofuels to replace oil. However coal worsens global warming and should be preserved as raw material to make plastics and other organics when oil/gas is gone. This leaves uranium as the only "big-mama" green energy source, an "inconvenient truth".

      Solar and wind energy are useful for small-quantity power generation in select locations. But at terawatt levels, immense areas of land and/or sea would be needed, requiring enormous maintenance operations, spoiling scenic land- or sea-scapes, and destroying local ecosystems. As scientifically documented in "The Nuclear Imperative – A Critical Look at the Approaching Energy Crisis" (ISBN 1-4020-4930-7), by 2050 when oil fields approach exhaustion, only uranium and thorium can affordably sustain global energy needs for some 3000 years, using proven fuel reprocessing and advanced reactor technology. A serious in-depth analysis of our future energy shortage by engineers (not by anti-nuclear hand-waving philosophers) reveals that nuclear power is essential to rescue our children from a future economic collapse. For the USA, 500 additional nuclear reactors are required, built on 9000 acres (@ $1.5 trillion), compared to 1,500,000 windmills with storage batteries on 6,000,000 windy acres (@ $4.5 trillion). Ten times these numbers are needed for the entire world. (Costs are in 2006 dollars; for later years, these costs must all be multiplied by the dollar inflation factor).

      Because it takes a decade to design, license, and build a reactor, action must be taken immediately to prevent an economic catastrophe by 2030 when oil starts to run out. Contrary to false propaganda by anti-nuclear groups, the cost of tera-watts of electricity is three times less expensive with nuclear than for wind or solar. Solar and wind power generation requires expensive energy storage systems (batteries, etc) when there is no sunshine or wind. Also many miles of access roads for maintenance and repair are needed to keep blades or solar panels clean from bird droppings, dead birds, sand erosion, and storm damage, and to periodically replace electrodes on storage batteries. Aficionados of renewables usually quote peak windmill or solar station capacities, neglecting to multiply their numbers by a factor of four to account for a year-averaged availability of only 25% of peak wind or sunshine. Reactors run continuously all year at 90% capacity. Should the USA limit itself to solar and wind energy, it is guaranteed to become impoverished and dependent on portable synfuels imported from other countries (the future OPECs), who have expanded their nuclear power generation when oil fields are depleted.

      Modern nuclear power plants are absolutely safe. Because of the negative "coefficient of reactivity", reactor fuel elements only melt (an explosion is not possible) during a maximum credible accident in which the emergency core cooling system totally fails. This was "experimentally" proven in the Three-Mile-Island (TMI) accident. A negative coefficient of reactivity means that neutron multiplication is automatically stopped when the temperature in the reactor gets too high. The Russian Chernobyl reactor which took the lives of approximately 60 people, had a positive coefficient of reactivity because it used graphite as moderator, a design for nuclear power plants which is now prohibited in all countries. Furthermore the Chernobyl reactor had no containment vessel, as is the law in all Western countries and now worldwide. The assertion that perhaps thousands of people could still die from radioactive fallout around Chernobyl is nonsense. Of the 60,000 inhabitants of Pripyat who had been exposed to fallout, about 9,000 will die at an advanced age of cancer because worldwide 15% of all people ultimately die from cancer. To ascribe those 9,000 deaths to Chernobyl's fallout is equally ridiculous as claiming that such a death toll is due to drinking coffee because 15% of all people drink coffee. Security precautions and containment measures for today's nuclear power plants do reckon with the possibility that terrorists might crash a large airplane or bomb on a reactor. Even if aerial obstructions (e.g. balloons) or underground construction can not prevent penetration of the large dome-shaped containment vessel, the reactor core vessel is designed to remain mostly intact. It can further be inundated with neutron-poisoning borated water which suppresses all further uranium fission in case of an accident.

      A stale anti-nuclear cry is "what do we do with all the long-lived radioactive nuclear waste". The volume of waste amounts to one aspirin tablet per year per person using nuclear electricity, compared to tons of air pollutants and globe-warming gaseous CO2 emitted by coal or fossil-fuel combustion. Nuclear waste can be easily stored and safely transported, as the US nuclear navy has done for half a century. Contrary to allegations that uranium and plutonium in spent fuel elements pose a problem because of million-year half-lives, they are separated from fission products by reprocessing and burnt as fuel in future fast-breeder reactors. They will not be dumped. This reduces 50,000 tons from ten-year accumulation of spent fuel to 500 tons (with shorter decay lives) of fission products, taking centuries instead of decades to fill the Yucca Mountain repository in Nevada. The notion that long radioactive lifetimes are undesirable is also erroneous. The longer the decay lifetime, the less the radiation emitted per gram of radio-isotope. Most elements that make up our bodies (hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, etc) have infinitely long decay lifetimes. All humans are "hot" because everyone has radioactive potassium-40 (K-40; 0.012% abundance) in his body, which continuously emits beta particles with a half-life of one million years! Man successfully evolved in this environment, and there are even indications that low levels of radiation benefit health (called hormesis). The hue and cry about possible terrorism and "dirty bombs" is also highly exaggerated. By the reasoning of anti-nuclear activists, we should stop flying 707 jets because they can be used as weapons to kill thousands of people.

      Energy is man's third most important need after water and food. Those who hinder expansion of nuclear power will be viewed as irresponsible neo-luddites by future generations. Any further delay of a committed worldwide nuclear energy program will cause certain impoverishment and death of many people by 2050. Those responsible will and must be held accountable for this. Originally the US had planned to have 300 reactors by the year 2000, but instead there are only 104 today. After the Three-Mile-Island (TMI) reactor meltdown in 1979 in the US (with 0 casualties) and Russia's Chernobyl accident in 1986 (with 57 fatalities), public hysteria fanned by fear-mongering antinuclear activists caused cancellations and moratoria on construction of new nuclear plants. While the USA was once the leader, most US businesses with reactor manufacturing know-how closed. Instead France, Russia, Japan, South-Korea, India, and China are now in charge. Zealous anti-nuclear lobbyists and mal-informed governments have created the pending energy crisis. We are entering a war-like energy-deprivation period as serious as WW-II or Al-Qaida. Strong Manhattan-project-like leadership is needed. If the US government can not soon agree on bipartisan support of a vigorous nuclear-energy expansion program, the job of winning the energy war should perhaps be turned over to the military, like in WW-II. It might help prevent anti-nuclear sabotage by blind parochial interests as well as Al-Qaida terrorists.

      Jeff W. Eerkens, Ph.D

      Adjunct Research Professor,

      Nuclear Science and Engineering Institute

      University of Missouri, Columbia

    5. Jeannine Honicker, L says:

      For those who want reprocessing, take a look at Savannah River Site, (SRS) where there are 49 huge tanks of leftover reprocessing waste from military reactors that produced plutonium and tritium for nuclear bombs.

      Since 1990, DOE has spent over $1 bllion per year trying to empty those tanks and vitrify the long-lived waste. Now, 18 years later, only two tanks hav been emptied enough to be grouted. Even they still contain a layer of crud so radioactive the National Academy of Sciences recommended that they not be grouted, but held until a technology could be developed to more completely remove the crud and radioactive waste still embedded in them. Hopefully, according to the NAS study, that technolgy could be developed in 5-10 years.

      As a matter of fact, in the 1970s Representative Leo J. Ryan wrote a congressional eport, "Nuclear Power Costs," stating that up until then there'd been over 5,000 studies on what to do with the waste, and the AEC, (later broken up into DOE and NRC) could not even tell his committee how much the government had spent on all those studies.

      Here we are, 60 years into nuclear energy. How many total studies have been done on what to do with nuclear waste, at what costs, and still there are no answers. DOE's solution is to reclassify it, ship it to landfills, and privatize it, allowing Energy Solutions to import waste from other countries, to be melted, and burned in Tennesse, with the remainder shipped to Utah.

      Instead of protecting the public, NRC changed the calculation methods or calculating doses, eliminating the most vulnerable segment of the population, fetuses and young children, and substituting adult men. Instead of the most deadly radiation, ingested and inhalled being considered, they now only calculate external doses. Priviate drinking water wells outside the boundry of the plants are not monitored by NRC, (or anyone else, to my knowledge.) People asked at a recent meeting at the proposed site of two new reactors at Vogtle, in Waynesboro, Ga., where they should go if they were ordered to be evacuated. They were told to consult the internet or the public library. After the meeting, an employee of Ga. Power Company told me that the Burke County High School was where the people in the 10 mile radius of the plant were suppose to go if an evacuation was ordered.

      Wind, solar, ocean currents and wave energy, and geothermal do not require evacuation routes. Nor do that produce waste that must be guarded and isolated from the environment virtually forever. Nor do they produce nuclear bomb material.

      When utilities are willing to build nuclear plants without subsidies from tax payers; when they are willing to keep the waste they produce; when they can truly protect the population from routine releases of radiation that cause cancer, leukemia and birth defects; when there is absolutely no chance of an accident caused by terrorist, human error, or mechanical failure for which we cannot buy homeowners insurance to cover our loses; when the material that these reactors produce will not be used for nuclear bombs, either intenionally as the tritium that is being produced at Watts Bar in Tennessee, or as a result of reprocessing where it can more easily be diverted; when nuclear plants are not such water hogs that they use millions of gallons of water a day, and when the water that they release back into the rivers and lakes is not up to 50 degrees F. hotter than the ambient temperature of the body of water to which it is released; when the sun has quit shining, the wind has quit blowing, the tides have quit rolling in and out, and there is no more geothermal energy, then and only then should we consider nuclear power plants.

    6. Darvin Dowdy, Houston, TX says:

      Sounds like marshal law, Dr. Eerkens. May indeed be necessary one day. I hope not. But we all know that its the democrat party that is impeding all manor of progress in our nation. Obstruction is one of their few byproducts along w/lies, misinformation and propaganda. We all also know that the majority here in the U.S. want nuclear power along w/domestic drilling. I’d think a better alternative would be for good, responsible folks like yourself to think about forming up a new 2nd political party to replace the terminal dem’s. A more nation-centric party designed around the concept of what is good and best for “our” nation and if the rest of the world doesn’t like it, too bad. We don’t require their approval.
      And, of course, the GOP has been hijacked by a collection of weak, pandering globalists who can’t wait to rush to the table of compromise.
      So what other direction can we take to fill the massive void in representation in our country? DD

    7. Bobbie Paul, Atlanta GA says:

      The voice of the people is beginning to be heard: it’s time to move forward with cooperative & innovative change to meet our energy needs… relying on new nuclear power is an irresponsible step backwards.

      Can the nuclear industry and its promotional arm – CASE (Clean and Safe Energy – details at http://www.nei.org) – stop using fear tactics to manipulate public opinion telling us that global nuclear expansion is our only option if we want to continue a “love affair” with our hair dryer? *

      I don’t trust the nuclear industry moguls, their teams of attorneys, and their false advertising claims about how safe and clean nuclear power is. Personal stories from those living close to nuclear reactors strongly dispute industry claims that there are no health or risk issues associated with nuclear power.

      This is a mature industry that, after years of government support, cannot stand on its own or find one ethical & practical solution to the continuing problem of mounting quantities of highly radioactive waste. And nuclear power plants regularly release tritium (radioactive hydrogen) into our environment which can be both mutagenic and carcinogenic.

      What I fear is that Congress will listen to nuclear engineers (too invested in their own careers), and nuclear companies (too comfortable with their status quo profit margins), to envision and fund a more ethically responsible energy future.

    8. Judy Treichel, Las Vegas, NV says:

      Those who assume that Yucca Mountain will be available for the garbage end of this industry are taking a leap of faith. But nuclear power does seem to be a faith-based energy source. Yucca Mountain is not capable of isolating nuclear waste and can not contain it for its dangerous lifetime. So far every rule and regulation has been bent or eliminated in order to accommodate the Yucca Mtn. project but we in Nevada believe that the rule of law will prevail. Then the useless waste of money will stop and the issue of safe management and disposal of nuclear waste can be intelligently considered. Until that time, building additional waste producing plants is lunacy unless you are also planning to have the plant site serve as a very long term waste site. People can try to wish away things that they don’t like but that’s supposed to stop when you reach the age of reason.

    9. Jeff Eerkens, Woodla says:

      Ladies Bobbie Paul and Jeanine Honicker from Georgia, and Judy Treichel from Las Vegas don't seem to understand the magnitude of the energy problem we are facing. Their mistrust of those of us who try to keep them supplied with electricity is totally misplaced. When there is no more portable fuel to move land- or airborne vehicles, Las Vegas will become a ghost town, and in Georgia people would have to go back to live on farms and use horses for transport. Most urbanites would die. If these ladies really believe that nuclear is not needed, and that windmills, solar farms, and wave energy can provide the required terawatts for (1) oil-replacing fuels,(2)for electricity to empower vast fleets of future plug-in cars, and (3) for heavy industry (making cars, trucks, airplanes, refrigerators, bridges,etc,etc), they should go back to school and take some math. They have been brain-washed by anti-nuclear self-appointed gurus who know nothing about the essence of radiation and how the world is fueled and operates. If the biased notions of anti-nuclear groups would be followed, we would have great famines and 90% of the world's population would ultimately die. A return to life in the middle ages would result.

      It is interesting to note that two very brilliant women actually initiated the discovery and use of nuclear energy: Marie Curie and Lise Meitner. Marie Curie discovered that elements from the nuclear decay of uranium emitted gammas that could be used to obtain x-ray photographs of wounded and sick people. During WW-I in France, she volunteered to drive an ambulance with portable X-ray equipment that allowed physicians to effectively treat wounded soldiers.

      Austrian Lise Meitner (working in Germany) fled the nazis in 1938 and in the nick of time brought key information about nuclear fission to the USA. This led to the atomic bombs that ended WW-II, but also brought the world nuclear power (not to be equated to nuclear weapons!). This new source of energy came just in time to save our planet from a no-oil catastrophe by mid-century.

    10. Pingback: The Energy Net » Top Nuclear Stories (July 28th-31st)

    11. Bobbie Paul, Atlanta says:

      Jeff Eerkens' dismissive and condescending tone towards women he calls"Ladies" is as old-school as his blind devotion to nuclear power expansion as the world's best energy solution.

      "Ladies and gents" around the country are deeply aware and concerned about our future energy needs and the rate at which the Arctic Ice is melting. But we see more than one solution.

      Mr. Eerkens, you seem to loathe those of differing viewpoints using cynicism and insults to try to strengthen your position. It's unproductive, polarizing and childish.

      Is that your desire?

      Perhaps you might want to revisit the work of Dr. Alice Stewart and her epidemiological studies in addition to the dedicated precautionary work of Dr Helen Caldicott.

      And tell us how Dr. Marie Curie died.

      In the spirit of sharing alternative approaches and positive information, I encourage you to take a look at Dr. Arjun Mahkijani's book entitled Carbon Free Nuclear Free: A Road Map for US Energy Policy; or Brice Smith's book entitled Insurmountable Risks: The Dangers of Using Nuclear Power to Combat Global Climate Change.

    12. Dolph Honicker, LaGr says:

      Marie Curie–didn't she die of, uh, an excess of sunshine units–sometimes referred to as radiation?

      And Sir Jeffery Eerkens, don't pick on Lady Jeannine. She's my wife. Back in the mid-1970s, she and a bunch of other ladies, gentlemen, students, veterans, hippies and YMCA law students took on the massive Tennessee Valley Authority army of lawyers which tried to build the Hartsville Nuclear Plant 37 miles from the source of our tap water.

      It was to have been the world's largest nuclear plant and to have come in at a $2.5 billion price tag. After four years of court battle, after seeing TVA workers pour ton after ton of concrete into the underground streams that farmers had told them about, TVA wound up with one cooling tower, a $2.5 billion piece of work looking like a giant beer can, almost as tall and wide as a football field, in the middle of once pristine dairy land.

      So, Sir Jeffery, beware of little old ladies in tennis shoes.

    13. Jeff Eerkens, Woodla says:

      I apologize if I offended the three women who gave anti-nuclear comments. My dictionary defines "lady" as a "woman regarded as being of superior social status", which I don't think is condescending.

      Many of my engineering colleagues feel it is impossible to reason with certain people who have an irrational fear of anything labeled "nuclear", and who are clearly unable to ever concede they could be misinformed and wrong. My colleagues refuse to even argue with them, and I should perhaps have done the same. But when it comes to issues that might threaten the future welfare of my children and grandchildren, I must speak out. Contrary to allegations of the previous comment writers, I have always tried to understand what bothers those that have anti-nuclear phobia.

      Yes, Madame Curie died of cancer most likely because she was overexposed to radiation during her pioneering discoveries of nuclear decay. What does that have to do with generating electricity from nuclear fission to rescue our civilization? We now know how to protect ourselves against excessive radiation, just like we learned to protect ourselves from use of electricity that can kill.

      I am glad some anti-nuclear gurus were mentioned by name. I have known about most of them, but had forgotten their names. Dr Helen Caldicutt and Dr Arjun Mahkijani have made a comfortable living for opposing the development of nuclear power for many years. But it should be remembered that these doctored contrarians are a very small minority (Bobby Kennedy once remarked that for every issue there are always some nay-sayers). The vast majority of engineers, scientists, and others who studied nuclear and other energy extraction methods seriously (not emotionally), and who have hands-on experience with electric power generation, conclude like I do: nuclear power is essential for the survival of our civilization beyond 2050. Solar and wind power is fine but only a band-aid for what will be needed.

    14. Markus, Stockholm, S says:

      I take great comfort to live in a country were nuclear power has a high level of acceptance and toghether with hydropower provides 95% of electricity demand. It limits the damage that scientifically illiterate, fossil fuel appologists can cause to economic damage rather than rolling black-outs and deaths.

      The waste issue is not only solved, it's extremely solved.

      Even completely irresponsible dumping of spent fuel elements at random locations in the ocean will cause a lower death toll(using the LNT hypothesis, which is an overestimate at such low doserates) than dumping of dangerous fossil fuel wastes into our atmosphere. The fact that we know how to keep this material separated from human contact for millions of years at a cost of less than 0.5 US cents per kWh is gravy.

      And yes, I'd be perfectly happy to live near a geologocial respository for spent fuel. Can you coal humpers say the same about the mercury(stays toxic forever, unlike nuclear "waste"), cadmium, SOx, NOx, fly ash, uranium, thorium, CO2 etc. output of a coal plant?

      (See Germany, which is planing 26 new coal plants to replace their nuclear plants and provide spinning reserve for their massive wind power boondoggle, if you have any doubts as to what the alternative to nuclear is.)

    15. Rod Adams says:

      Like Jeff Eerkens, I want to engage in rational conversations with people who have concerns about energy supply issues. They are some of the most important issues facing us today.

      For me, the most important feature about nuclear energy that needs to be understood is that it is clean enough to run inside a sealed submarine.

      The second important fact is that a volume of fuel small enough to fit under my office desk can power a 9000 ton submarine for 15 years. (I was on an old sub. Modern boats achieve a full 33 year core life with just a bit more fuel.)

      The third important fact about nuclear is that the fuel cost is less than 1/40th as much as petroleum and less than 1/8th as much as coal on a per unit heat basis for fully commercial fuel. The margins in the nuclear fuel fabrication business are pretty generous as well.

      One facet of the nuclear debate that I rarely see discussed is the fact that our path of nuclear development in the 1970s would have resulted in almost a complete replacement of the need to burn coal and natural gas in power plants.

      I firmly believe that the coal, oil and gas industries saw that trend and took a diverse set of actions to stop it.

      Those actions included supporting people like Amory Lovins – who freely admits that he has worked for major oil companies for 35 years – in their efforts to convince people that we can get all the energy we need from wind, solar, waves, and geothermal. He has been writing about the "Soft Energy Path" since the early 1970s in widely read publications, but our coal consumption has increased from about 600 million tons per year to more than 1.2 billion tons per year.

      We have also rather dramatically increased our consumption of natural gas for power generation, a development that has pushed a number of major employers out of the country while also increasing the cost of home heating fuel.

      (Don't worry though, the increased price of natural gas is responsible for about half of ExxonMobil's profit and we all know that ExxonMobil stockholders are just people like you and me. At least that is what all of the commercials tell me.)

      Dolph is proud of the efforts of "ladies, gentlemen, students, veterans, hippies and YMCA law students took on the massive Tennessee Valley Authority army of lawyers which tried to build the Hartsville Nuclear Plant 37 miles from the source of our tap water."

      How does he feel about the 14,000 MW of coal fired electricity in the TVA system that currently spews about 650,000 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere every single day? Oh yeah, there is a minor matter of also releasing SOx, NOx, mercury and fly ash into the air and water over a much wider territory.

      If we had simply continued building the plants that were planned by about 1973, we would have reduced coal burning to nearly zero. If we had continued building at the rate that we achieved in 1974 and 1975, we would have pushed all fossil fuels out of the electrical power market by 2000.

      If we had not run into excessive political opposition led by the petroleum industry and its friends, we could also have kept building nuclear powered ships of all kinds, both naval and commercial and reduced our country's oil consumption in another important market.

      Again, don't worry – the US Navy is instead spending about $2 billion a year to buy fuel for its remaining conventional surface ships and helping to prop up the profits of companies like ExxonMobil, Shell, and Aramaco.

    16. David Walters, San F says:

      This in an interesting discussion.

      I used to be an anti-nuclear activist, now I'm a pro-nuclear activist.

      In fact, only nuclear and nuclear alone can reduce our non-transportation emissions of carbon particulate (the nasty stuff from coal plants that kill people NOW), CO2 and heavy metals. All major "Solar/Wind grand plans" are designed to work with fossil generation because no "alternative" source of generation is reliable enough provide all our generation. And, it's expensive on a KWhr-to-KWhr basis.

      The Germans are seeing this now and are reconsidering their ill-advised 'phase out' of nuclear power. Actually, there was so much uproar over their Wind Power plan…because it involved, initially, building 26 coal plants, that they had to back down. Now it's "only" 8 coal plants. Italy just reversed course, threw out their anti-nuclear NIMBY laws banning nuclear energy (they RUN on French nuclear energy, but didn't want any plants in their country). The Chinese, by 2030 will be on the road to building 160 GWs(!!!!) of nuclear energy (the US has about 100GWs).

      New technologies such as the Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor holds much hope (and it's a proven technology) to build atomic reactors that produce only 1/100th the amount of waste (and it's limited to only 300 years of dangerous radiation) with almost unlimited fuel and can actually run on the spent fuel/waste from light water reactors. This is called "limitless energy" and we can do wonders with limitless energy, from cracking water into hydrogen, to heating whole cities to desalinate vast amounts of sea water for human need.

      I'm on the FAR left politically, the opposite, so-to-speak, of the Heritage Foundation. I'm for human needs before profits but I see only nuclear energy as the material basis for advancing humanity. In this, perhaps, I can find common cause with the HF. I think HF takes a far more *progressive* position on energy technology than the so-called "leftists" on the Green side of the political spectrum.

      David Walters


    17. Randal Leavitt says:

      Mr. Loris does not need to worry – no one is listening to the anti-nuke alarmists. China is going to build hundreds of reactors as fast as it can. Canada has new reactors in the pipe. The UK is going ahead with a major nuclear power revival. Add to this the technological ferment that is happening – every month I read about yet another way to build better reactors. Liquid fuels, supercritical steam, thorium, thermoelectric electricity generation, used light water reactor fuel as primary CANDU reactor fuel, uranium hydride reactors, and all the software and robotic advances that will make manufacturing and operating these system much simpler. You can throw in some transhumanist thinking if you want more excitement – will the intelligent beings on this planet during the next century have any biological components at all?

      The enviro-alarmists have absolutely nothing to say about any of these developments – they are mired down in criticisms of a ghost technology that went out of fashion decades ago. I guess I just dont see the point in going over this old list of irrelevant complaints again and again – except that people feel better when they sing familiar songs.

      There are some interesting environmental debates that should be considered in this new context. For instance, how do we get the large companies with their sunk costs in light water reactors to move toward better systems? How should thorium be used and how do we make that happen? And a nice subtle one – human fertility. Given the comfort levels that nuclear power will engender around the world, how do we keep human fertility at a replacement level?

      Personally, I would like the nuclear renaissance to lead to the withdrawal of humans from the land surfaces, returning the land to the animals. Humans can live better on floating ocean platforms.

      There is lots to discuss. Lets get our heads out of the sand and build our future with clear, comprehensive, computer assisted thinking.

    18. Warren Heath says:

      A few points to Ponder:

      Total Energy consumption in the USA, 2006 = 99.5 quads

      Population of the USA, 2006 = 303 million

      Total Energy consumed per family of four, in USA, 2006 = 392 Mwh

      Average Power consumption per family of four, in USA, 2006 = 44.8 Kw

      Note, this includes all the energy inputs we take for granted, like those that go into the food we eat, the roads we drive on, the buildings we live in, the cars we drive and the wind turbines that we build.

      So at 20 cents per kwh, the average cost of energy per family of four in the USA, would be $79,000 per year.

      In Canada it would be higher, @ 60 kw per family of four, that would be $106,000 per year.

      That is not sustainable. We can’t afford that. Our civilizations have been built upon cheap concentrated energy, stored over eons in Oil, Coal and Natural Gas. Cost of these energy sources have been in the range of 1 to 3 cents per kwh.

      I think it is reasonable to say that if we don’t find energy sources that cost a maximum 5 cents per kwh, or $20,000 per year for a family of four, our civilization will collapse. The much touted alternatives, including the Gore and Pickens Solar & Wind specials, are not even close to 5 cents a kwh. They are a complete waste of money. So far only two possibilities exist, that can provide civilizations energy needs for the next 100 years, at feasible cost, that is Nuclear and Coal. And that’s not Clean Coal – no way you’re going to do that for 5 cents a kwh – that’s plain, old dirty Coal, maybe burned in higher efficiency power plants, like 40% rather than 32% efficiency. What is left is Nuclear, both fusion and fission, and that’s not an easy-as-falling-off-a-log solution. It’s going to take hard work, a lot of hard work.

      Good Citizens WAKEUP! I’m talking WAR here, this is WORLD WAR THREE, and its happening right now, the WORLD GLOBAL ENERGY WAR. You’ve heard of Mega-Death, well in this case, if we loose this War, its going to be GIGA-DEATH. Whether the children born today will live or die, will depend upon the actions taken by industry and politicians here and now, and so far they are doing nothing but taking a bad situation and making it worse.

      I can’t see Wind – installed – with power distribution – and sufficient backup power – ever getting even close to that 5 cent a kwh limit. Cut all subsidies, cut all funding on that, we can’t afford to throw precious, life-giving resources on a NON-SOLUTION.

      Solar, the only possibility I see there, is advanced nanotechnology or biotechnology being able to develop means of producing Solar Modules with levelized power production cost, including any backup power and capital cost, installation, distribution & maintenance, within that 5 cent a kwh cost. So cut all funding, cut all subsidies for present Solar Installations, instead invest heavily in R&D to developing the most promising technologies.

      Really, Nuclear is the only significant hope. We need cheap nuclear, and whatever we have to do to achieve it, WE HAVE TO DO THAT. If it means cutting through Red Tape with a machete, then WE GOT TO DO THAT. If it means accepting small risks, of minor leaks of contaminated, radioactive water, then WE GOT TO DO THAT. Bill Hannahan describes an excellent way to weed out the best methods of funding nuclear power development:

      ‘‘…We should increase R&D to $90 billion per year (only 2.25 cents/kWh) and push every technology as hard as possible. That would include building at least one full scale commercial size plant of every promising technology. Actual performance data would give companies and individuals confidence to make large scale investments rapidly in new and proven technology. …’’

      Right now, Nuclear is still the cheapest of new Power systems, at 7.4 to 8.8 cents per kwh, levelized cost. With Nuclear Power Plants having a lifespan of 60-80 years, and Capital Cost paid in 15-20 years, the further 40-60 years of their lifespan will be well under the 5 cent a kwh limit, probably less than 2 cents a kwh. Also, especially with the smaller modular reactors, like the Hyperion, Nuscale, Fuji Molten Salt reactor and the GenIV gas-cooled high temperature reactors, they can directly supply high grade heat, for industrial process, or building heat, or CHP as it’s called, which would lower actual energy cost to < 5 cents for kwh, even for new plants. These Nuclear Power plants need to be built as-fast-as possible, and the newer designs need to be built and tested with a mindset of dire urgency. The defunct supply chain for nuclear components needs to be rebuilt, with considerable redundancy, again with the highest priority. None of this is being done, right now, and that means a Big Friggin Storm is coming and I hope all of you out there are prepared, to face the consequences. See:

      Comparative cost of Modern Power Plants, Nuclear, Coal and Natural Gas

      A good example of what can be done, but is not being done, is the Bussard Inertial Electrostatic Fusion Reactor. This is a device of extraordinary potential. This is the Epitome of what we need in an energy supply, if it works, at a levelized cost within that 5 cents per kwh barrier. So meanwhile Congress has not funded the research, it has proceeded at a snails pace with bargain basement hardware, working with a shoestring Navy budget. Even proponents talk about wrangling $20 million funding to build a prototype, 100 MW net energy output reactor. NO! This is how you do it, during a time of War. Ten teams working in parallel, unlimited budget, each pursuing a different angle, 24 hrs a day 7 days a week, a $100 million prize to the first team to achieve 100 MW net output.

      A 100 MW net power fusion reactor could be built for $20 million

      A good example of what is being done, but shouldn’t be done is the Corn Ethanol boondoggle. The actual subsidy for energy negative, mega-CO2 releasing Corn Ethanol is a staggering $5.2 billion per year (Patzek) According to a leaked, secret World Bank report, Biofuels have pushed World Food Prices up 75%, causing food riots and mass starvation. Add to this is the fact that ‘‘…Corn production in the U.S. erodes soil about 12 times faster than the soil can be reformed, and irrigating corn mines groundwater 25 percent faster than the natural recharge rate of ground water. The environmental system in which corn is being produced is being rapidly degraded…’’ (Pimentel). Clearly, A CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY. See:

      Alice Friedemann: Why Cellulosic ethanol and other Biofuels are Not Sustainable and a Threat to America's National Security – Part I

    19. Joffan says:

      Randal mentions human fertility, and I'm glad to be able to reassure him that the prospect of good energy supplies for the remainder of the world that currently struggles without it will decrease fertility to replacement levels or below, on previous trends. One of the attractions of nuclear power is that it can address the poverty-fueled population increases in the "bottom billion", the section of the worlds population which has been left behind in our species' climb into civilization.

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