Nuclear Knowledge

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Desertrat, Nov 25, 2007.

  1. Desertrat macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2003
    Location:
    Terlingua, Texas
    #1
    Mention the word "nuke" and a lot of folks go bonkers. It doesn't seem to matter what the scientists and engineers say, folks still seem to believe that "The China Syndrome" was a documentary.

    The reality is proving that excited hearsay and rumor is just as wrong as ever:

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,519043,00.html

    Example: We know that the blasts at Hiroshima and Nagasake killed over 100,000 people. But the radiation?

    "Today, 60 years later, the study's results are clear. More than 700 people eventually died as a result of radiation received from the atomic attack:

    87 died of leukemia;

    440 died of tumors;

    and 250 died of radiation-induced heart attacks.

    In addition, 30 fetuses developed mental disabilities after they were born.

    Such statistics have attracted little notice so far. The numbers cited in schoolbooks are much higher. According to Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, 105,000 people died of the "long-term consequences of radiation."

    We all know or should know that radiation is indeed dangerous. But there is a difference between rational caution and raving panic--and we have too many people making a living from inciting panic.

    'Rat
     
  2. Scarlet Fever macrumors 68040

    Scarlet Fever

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2005
    Location:
    Bookshop!
    #2
    Maybe I'm tired (and a wee bit hung over), but I'm having trouble seeing your point. So I'll tackle both the fronts I can see here.

    Nuclear bombs are bad. They have a much worse short term effect, but the main problem with them is the long term effect. Hydrogen bombs don't leave traces of their explosion 60 years after they were detonated.

    Nuclear power isn't very good either, because it costs an absolute mint to build and maintain them, they end up emitting greenhouse gases, transporting the materials to and from the plant. They also leave millions of tonnes of radioactive waste, with a half life of up to about 100,000 years. In the short term, it's more efficient and more environmentally friendly than coal plants, but still not as good as wind, solar, geothermal, hydro, etc.
     
  3. pdham macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2003
    Location:
    Madison
    #3
    The real fear of nuclear power is not meltdown; it is what to do with all the nuclear waste.
     
  4. takao macrumors 68040

    takao

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2003
    Location:
    Dornbirn (Austria)
    #4
    since 1986 the leukemia rate in eastern austria has been doubled and surprisingly the rate of leukemia drops the further west in the country... a tendency not visible in statistics before 1986
     
  5. Desertrat thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2003
    Location:
    Terlingua, Texas
    #5
    I don't think anybody in these last decades is ignorant of the fact that radioactive material is hazardous. Not as bad as strychnine or cyanide, but definitely hazardous. But it's difficult to have rational and objective discussions when hysteria abounds.

    The waste-handling problem is political and emotional, not scientific and engineering.

    'Rat
     
  6. pdham macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2003
    Location:
    Madison
    #6
    I am going to have to disagree. From what I know from my energy analyst and engineer friends there are still big questions about safely disposing nuclear waste. Burying it in a big hill in Nevada doesn't count as safe disposal.
     
  7. pseudobrit macrumors 68040

    pseudobrit

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2002
    Location:
    Jobs' Spare Liver Jar
    #7
    Not as bad as we thought? What are we waiting for then? Let's start the bombing now!
     
  8. ucfgrad93 macrumors P6

    ucfgrad93

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2007
    Location:
    Colorado
    #8
    They may emit greenhouse gases, but a lot less than other fossil fuel power plants.

    http://www.umich.edu/~gs265/society/nuclear.htm
     
  9. Desertrat thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2003
    Location:
    Terlingua, Texas
    #9
    Pdham, I'm gonna have to disagree for a couple of reasons: One is that burying in a big hill beats having a bunch of radioactive gunk spread here, there and yonder around the country. The other is that once it's clad and shielded, there's no reason not to bury it in a geologically inactive region, below groundwater-bearing formations.

    Folks speak of the large tonnage, ignoring the density. The actual volume is relatively small.

    Funny-odd: We had the laser and the transistor decades before we had any use for either. Each was called a "solution in search of a problem". Somehow, homo sap figured out a use--and nowadays they're fundamental to many scientific and medical marvels. Today we refer to nuclear "waste"--which may well be raw materials in some future of, what, fifty years from now? 100? Are people gonna suddenly quit finding new uses for old ideas? Anybody old enough to remember Dick Tracy's wristwatch TV? Now think about what can be done with a cell phone.

    But I figure the odds are the discoveries will be made by a Krishnamurti rather than by a Jones or Johnson, and I'm chauvinistic enough to have some mild regret about that.

    'Rat
     
  10. pseudobrit macrumors 68040

    pseudobrit

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2002
    Location:
    Jobs' Spare Liver Jar
    #10
    And how about the concrete and steel construction? Uranium mining, processing and transport?

    The carbon footprint of a reactor is huge if you look at all the factors involved.

    You've cited a University of Michigan student's essay (written with high school proficiency) , btw, not an academic research paper.
     
  11. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2002
    Location:
    Republic of Ukistan
    #11
    You mean they will be made by an American of Indian extraction rather than by a Welshman or a Swede? :confused:
     
  12. pseudobrit macrumors 68040

    pseudobrit

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2002
    Location:
    Jobs' Spare Liver Jar
    #12
    'Rat, I've gone over this stuff in detail before and cited US research of the atmospheric testing era that contradicts your general assertions. You can repeat this mantra all you want but you have yet to refute the conclusions I made in those posts, and this article doesn't address those data at all.

    And the only folks who "still believe" The China Syndrome was a documentary are hopelessly stupid, not to mention old. It came out a few months before I was born, which was a coincidence because I was a fetus residing about 10 miles from Three Mile Island when their B&W PWR went into full meltdown. GPU decided to vent radioactive steam directly into the atmosphere without warning the NRC or, more importantly, the public. Wouldn't want to cause a panic when we're irradiating pregnant women, would we? :mad:

    If the wind had been blowing in its more typical direction for the area there's a good chance I wouldn't have been born.

    But WTF could I know about it? I never even saw The China Syndrome documentary. :rolleyes:
     
  13. ucfgrad93 macrumors P6

    ucfgrad93

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2007
    Location:
    Colorado
    #13
    All of those factors except uranium exist for other fossil fuel power plants as well. Lots of steel in construction, transportation costs, etc.
     
  14. pseudobrit macrumors 68040

    pseudobrit

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2002
    Location:
    Jobs' Spare Liver Jar
    #14
    Lots of 12" thick concrete containment buildings for those coal burners, eh? :rolleyes:
     
  15. ucfgrad93 macrumors P6

    ucfgrad93

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2007
    Location:
    Colorado
    #15
    No. How silly of me to not know that coal and oil burning power plants have absolutely no building materials at all in them. Only evil nuclear power plants. :rolleyes:
     
  16. Desertrat thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2003
    Location:
    Terlingua, Texas
    #16
    Sorry, pseudobrit, but "Shoot the messenger!" is not valid argument.

    And the gist of your commentary would have us believe that nobody learned anything during these last thirty-some years.

    ufcgrad, I think it would be interesting to compare the energy inputs for construction of a nuke plant vs. the equivalent MW capability, including wheeling, for wind units. Mining, smelting, transportation of materials and labor, etc.

    'Rat
     
  17. ucfgrad93 macrumors P6

    ucfgrad93

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2007
    Location:
    Colorado
    #17
    Agreed. Get back to me when you have an answer! ;)
     
  18. Peterkro macrumors 68020

    Peterkro

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2004
    Location:
    Communard de Londres
    #18
    The free marketeers amongst you should take note of the price paid for virtually the entire British nuclear industry a sum I believe of £5. The cost of cleaning up the existing nuclear power stations? £80 billion.
     
  19. SMM macrumors 65816

    SMM

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2006
    Location:
    Tiger Mountain - WA State
    #19
    I think nuclear energy can be made safe, once they solve the issue of dealing with the waste. My home state is Washington. We have (perhaps) the largest nuclear reservation there - Hanford. One of my best friends is a nuclear engineer, employed by Bechtel. I am privy to a great deal of 'insider information', with the exception of national security stuff.

    The facility disposed of much of the radioactive waste in the west, and for other areas too. They began to run out of room. The plan was to create a national radioactive waste facility there. The citizens said, "Not in my backyard". The last I heard, someplace in Utah was going to be the site, but I am not sure that is a done deal.

    Like many, I expected the waste disposal process to be organized and professionally managed. So, we were surprised to see trains, with flat-cars stacked with old rusty 50 gallon drums, with the radiation symbol half worn-off. Soon, there was what appeared to be, a couple acres of these drums sitting around, waiting for disposal. The volume was huge. All they were doing was to dig a huge hole on the ground and dump them in, helter-skelter.

    Rat - perhaps the waste from a plant's rods is not too great. But, it needs to be factored in with the total volume which needs to be dealt with. I think I read, medical waste was the largest, in terms of volume.

    My Bechtel friend says that nuclear energy is pretty safe right now. He says most of the issues can be attributed to poor management, inadequate oversight, relaxed regulations and unwillingness to keep investing in technology and infrastructure upgrades. He is also an environmentalist.

    He believes the first step is to stop the denial, and face the fact that we have serious environmental problems to reverse now. Energy will be a major component of an comprehensive environmental plan. I asked him, "What should we be focusing our effort in developing; biofuels, Solar, geo-thermal, nuclear, super-conductor, wind, wave?". His response was, "All of them. Each geographic region has a resource, or characterization, which will make different technologies more attractive, practical, or cost effective".

    The environmental comprehensive plan, and the enabling technology plan should be developed concurrently. That will help (but probably not guarantee) ensure the final draft plans have a chance to succeed. This will be a big ticket item. We do not want to run up more debt paying for it. So, the American people are going to get behind it. Many will not want to, of course. I suspect these are the ones living in denial over global warming. From my perspective, the decisions we make, and the action we take over the next 10 years, will not only determine whether we continue to survive as the leading nation in the world, but whether we survive intact.
     
  20. pseudobrit macrumors 68040

    pseudobrit

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2002
    Location:
    Jobs' Spare Liver Jar
    #20
    Ironic, because just last week you started a thread doing exactly that.

    They have and they have. And that is why there are no nuclear plants being built; even with heavy subsidization and ignoring waste issues, they're still not cost effective in the long term.

    This is the market at work.
     
  21. ham_man macrumors 68020

    ham_man

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2005
    #21
    Nuclear power is the only source we have yet identified that can produced a ready and constant supply of energy (and thus should be used in conjunction with more erratic sources of energy, such as solar and wind) on the massive scale necessary to be viable. The benefits are many and the drawbacks are few. The fuel is in the hands of American allies, the processes are there to recycle spent fuel, and there are so many safety features in new reactors that even one of us couldn't melt it down. The relative amount of waste is tiny compared to the amount of CO2 produced in traditional plants (both uranium and coal need to be shipped, but a nuclear plant needs a whole lot less uranium than a coal plant needs coal). The only real drawback is the "scare factor" of having so much nuclear material, but that can be rectified with a small amount of investment in security infrastructure. Also, the startup costs are huge, but the maintenence costs are tiny and the revenue is constant (and carbon free).

    If there was every something I was sure about, it's nuclear energy.
     
  22. SMM macrumors 65816

    SMM

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2006
    Location:
    Tiger Mountain - WA State
    #22
    Well, that is certainly the PollyAnna view.
     
  23. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2002
    Location:
    Republic of Ukistan
    #23
    If ever there was a subject you haven't tackled, it's decommissioning.
     
  24. pseudobrit macrumors 68040

    pseudobrit

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2002
    Location:
    Jobs' Spare Liver Jar
    #24
    Good thing you're sure, because the real experts aren't so confident. From Sandia National Laboratories:

     
  25. Desertrat thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2003
    Location:
    Terlingua, Texas
    #25
    "Systems are complex. Complexity spawns breakdowns. And breakdowns invite disaster."

    Lordy, I'd hate to live in a complex world!

    Howsomever: Over 17,000 parts in the average automobile, including the computer and its numbers of lines of code, not to mention more electric circuits than are in the average house. That's complex, and yup, cars breakdown--and if it's a critical part it can easily be a disaster.

    But we kill more miners in coal mines in a year for our electricity than we've lost to nukes since Shippingport went online in 1958.

    'Rat
     

Share This Page