View Thread

Who is here? 1 guest(s)
 Print Thread
Nuclear Energy
JohnH
I worked as an engineer for 35 years. I worked with people who had been involved in the design of nuclear power plants. I also made mistakes.

Because nuclear energy does not produce CO2 emissions some are promoting it as a potential answer to excess CO2 in the environment.

I do not know if it was the earthquake or the tsunami in Japan that damaged the nuclear plants there. What I know was that an event that was not anticipated occurred. Engineers like to believe that have the information to anticipate the events that may damage the devices they design. They cannot always do that.

The problem I have always had with nuclear power is that with other power sources a significant failure can kill hundreds with nuclear hundreds of thousands can be a possibility.

Consider the horrific explosion in San Bruno, the town I grew up in, in fact my first girlfriend lived close to where the explosion occurred. As near as I can tell from an internet search only 7 people died, although others were horribly injured.

I will not suggest that nuclear power must be removed from the discussion. I will suggest that it be approached with extreme caution. I think the events in Japan point that out.
 
catman
The nuclear power stations in the earthquake-y part of CA make me nervous as hell.
"If I owned both Hell and Texas, I'd live in Hell and rent out Texas." - General Sheridan
 
seeker
While perhaps less dramatic the cost in human lives of our dependence on fossil fuels far outweighs that of nuclear power. Carbon emissions kill far more per year than die from the use of nuclear power.

I'm not necessarily saying nuclear power is the best answer but at least when it operates normally it isn't polluting.
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana
 
JohnH
I am cautious about three things in that article. It is a predictive model predicting things that will be nearly impossible to check. I know from personal experience that the greater number of variables in a model the more likely errors are included in the model. It is one of the reasons that hydraulic modeling remained actual physical models and not computer models until fairly recently. Keeping track of all the variables was simply too difficult. Atmospheric processes are so complex I find it hard to believe that all but the most simple are hard to keep track of. Such as CO2 is effecting surface temperatures in a variety of ways.

The second thing is that he is a civil/environmental engineer. He may have an emotional or even financial stake in seeing nuclear power or solar/wind power move forward.

Thirdly on what basis were increased deaths predicted, simply saying there will be more cases of asthma does not make that true.

And yes catman the nukes in California especially ones on the coast trouble me also. I just recently read about San Onofre that should be closed down in 2013 now has had its operating permit extended to 2020. One of the facts of life with nuclear power it the radiation shortens the useful life of most of the materials used in nukes. And the radiation makes them very difficult to repair.
Edited by JohnH on 03/19/2011 12:45
 
Bob of QF
I've always been a more or less cautious proponent of nuclear power, for various reasons. Some are security (it's easier to secure a nucke plant, due to the already high need to protect the workers from radiation), cheaper (it's cheaper overall than anything else), highly regulated (because it's relatively new tech, it already has high safety regulations in place), and so on.

And the potential of nuclear energy is unlimited-- if-- we can get off our technical butts and get fusion on-line. The de-funding of fusion research by the Most Extreme Idiot, Bushy was beyond reprehensible, I say. (Bush's actions almost convince me that if there isn't a hell, there ought to be-- for people like him...)

But, I did not post to say any of that, really.

I found this really cool site of statistics, for the world, here: http://www.indexm...n%28kWh%29

This map is electricity consumption, by region. Astute observers will note the USA is the highest by a wide margin. That is horrible, considering the next map, population:

http://www.indexm...Population

Again, astute observers will quickly note that the highest population has the 2nd highest electricity consumption-- a quite reasonable correlation. However, this surprised me a bit: the USA is #3 in population, which somewhat mitigates the first map from "horrible" to just "bad". Smile

In any case, these maps are an excellent time-waster if you like.

But they also help to give one perspective:

Look at the foreign debt map, for example: http://www.indexm...-+external Guess who's #1?

No, I have no idea how accurate these values are, but the website claims it is from the CIA world factbook. Make of that what you will.

Smile
Quantum Junction: Use both lanes

Reality is that which is left, after you stop believing.
 
catman
Interesting stuff. I wish the smaller-scale maps were broken down into staes/provinces/etc. And I really wanted to see a population density map.
"If I owned both Hell and Texas, I'd live in Hell and rent out Texas." - General Sheridan
 
seeker
John - All reasonable cautions. I would suggest though that he left out a lot of the more direct effects caused by the burning of fossil fuels.
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana
 
catman
I'd like to see Photon's input on this.
"If I owned both Hell and Texas, I'd live in Hell and rent out Texas." - General Sheridan
 
JohnH
yes seeker there are other pollutants associated with fossil fuels.

My children rented a large space in a former warehouse on the main street into the Port of Oakland. It took them a considerable amount of time and money to convert it into a 3 bedroom apartment, but the rent was dirt cheap, and it had a lot of space with a huge main room. They could only stay there for about 2 years. The exposure to diesel emissions was so great that the constant irritations it caused got to them and their girlfriends. Window sills always had a fine film of particulates on them. A 2-3 inch high wedge of particulates would be formed at the corner between the building and the sidewalk. Cars left parked for any length of time would be covered in a oily film and a layer of particulates. It was admittedly a very high level of exposure.
 
Theory_Execution
I find the crazy thing is that any power plant is situated near fault lines - but the reality is without serious investment in science and technology, situating them further away would mean huge waste in transporting the electricity generated.

The objections I have seen for nuclear power are the huge amounts of concrete needed, possibility of failure and radioactive waste.

However, we just cant continue to burn fossil fuels, so we either reinstate and increase funding for science, incorporate more green / nuclear technologies or carry on with the bonfire and watch civilization as we know it fizzle out.
 
seeker
Unfortunately the current aversion to raising taxes means that we'll be unlikely to see any real advances in green energy until we the fossil fuels are gone. The fact is that its problems like these that we need governments to solve because it is never really cost effective for private corporations to make the kinds of changes that will have to be made.
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana
 
Theory_Execution
You dont need to raise taxes to do it, just tax properly and be efficient with the money raised.

Military expenditure is something that needs to be reduced in the US and UK, and in the UK it was recently discovered that one Council (theyre generally in charge of a city and a few surrounding areas) spent around 10,000 on maintenance of potted plants in their office (it was more but cant remember the figure).

Someone also leaked something from MoD records to say that they had been spending upwards of 100 each for light bulbs that cost 65p.

The money is there, its just that rich people have moved into politics in order to create holes in the publics purse to drip feed all of their friends.

There is no accountability for this either. One common man attempts to rob a post office, leaves with nothing and gets 4 years. A politician creates a poorly regulated system in which they swindle thousands of pounds of tax payers money and he gets 12 months with rights to appeal for a reduction to 4. Its a fucking disgrace - but we'll go on accepting it.
 
Cynic
Theory_Execution wrote:
You don't need to raise taxes to do it, just tax properly and be efficient with the money raised.



While I understand your sentiment, it's the constant assumption that "taxing properly" cannot possibly include raising taxes that prevents a proper analysis of anything, including using the money efficiently. Rather than doing things right, we outline everything we need to do, budget how to do it properly, then cut that budget in half in the name of "efficiency" when what's really happening is an attempt to adhere to the "never raise taxes" mantra.
 
seeker
Cynic wrote:

While I understand your sentiment, it's the constant assumption that "taxing properly" cannot possibly include raising taxes that prevents a proper analysis of anything, including using the money efficiently. Rather than doing things right, we outline everything we need to do, budget how to do it properly, then cut that budget in half in the name of "efficiency" when what's really happening is an attempt to adhere to the "never raise taxes" mantra.


Nicely put

I would emphasize that the biggest problem is projects are often underfunded to create the appearance that they don't work. One of the oldest tactics in politics is for incoming politicians to underfund a project then simply claim it doesn't work so they can cut it without debate. Its the same kind of play conservatives are trying to make with Social Security and Medicare in this country now.
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana
 
JohnH
My apologies for bringing this up again but I just read where the crisis at the Fukushima power plant continues to get worse. In the two articles I read it was also pointed out that many scientists related to the nuclear power industry have been downplaying (according to the authors, advocates in their own right) the potential effects. For example, the scientists point out that 3 Mile Island killed no one directly, or that Chernobyl only killed 30 people. There is, however, significant evidence that the indirect deaths or health issues from both events are much greater than the direct deaths. I will admit that the evidence I saw was presented in ways that I distrust when used by advocates concerning health issues (a rant about which I have probably made here before).

But it makes sense that increased exposure to radiation is not beneficial. Some of you may be old enough to remember that at one time it was common to be able to x-ray your feet inside of shoes in shoe stores, to check the fit. A practice banned when it became obvious that the level of exposure to radiation was unsafe. Surely most of you know of the cancer clusters associated with the so called downwinders from atmospheric nuclear bomb testing. Personally, a former girl friend has to take daily medication because her thyroids were removed. Her doctor blamed the need for removal on the use of x-rays to treat acne in her youth.

Nuclear power plants do only tend to emit thermal pollution and small bits of radioactivity on a normal basis. When they fail however it is something very different. One can argue, probably successfully, that in almost 60 years of commercial power production by nuclear plants (the first in the USSR) there have only 3 major failures, and those failures have caused less deaths than the use of carbon fuels over the same time period. And, that the normal production of nuclear power causes only a very small increase in the death rate.

I however continue to advocate extreme caution with regard to nuclear power. The dangers demand careful planning on the siting, design and potential effects of failure.

It should be noted that wind/solar have some problems themselves. Wind turbines will kill birds and it is my understanding that they can cause problems to people who live near them. Solar panels almost certainly have some nasty stuff in them which will pollute on both the front and the back end.

Potential death or health problems are legitimate engineering issues. Although I will admit I was told to forget it when I once asked the question about putting a value on deaths and did we consider who they were in a meeting. They are also legitimate social issues. The problem will remain who makes the decisions and where will the information come from. As long as advocates one way or another control the information and affect the decisions we have little hope. Unfortunately the issues are so complex that in general it will come down to who has the most juice. The public does not generally have the knowledge to understand and will be at the mercy of the "leaders".
Edited by JohnH on 03/29/2011 06:51
 
Bob of QF
JohnH:

Your analysis was spot-on as far as I know/could tell.

Since atomic energy plants are quite expensive to construct, it only makes sense (to me) to make them as save as is reasonable.

Of course, 'reasonable' for one is 'wasteful' to others; it's always a compromise in engineering between safety and over-the-budget.

It's been estimated Chernobyl has subsequently killed over a thousand persons since it's failure-- but in truth, that is impossible to know. Medium exposure to radiation has chaotic effects, nearly impossible to measure objectively.

Like all statistical studies, it boils down to probability.

And as always... probability is all but impossible to apply to individuals... groups only.

But good points you made there.
Quantum Junction: Use both lanes

Reality is that which is left, after you stop believing.
 
seeker
John - Well posted. I think we agree that any form of power plant is dangerous to some degree. What we are really doing is picking the lessor of many evils.
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana
 
catman
JohnH wrote: Wind turbines will kill birds and it is my understanding that they can cause problems to people who live near them.

I don't mean to derail the thread, but what kind of problems do wind turbines cause to people...is it electromagnetic field exposure?
"If I owned both Hell and Texas, I'd live in Hell and rent out Texas." - General Sheridan
 
JohnH
Catman, This link should give you a sense of what I had read elsewhere, it includes a contrary argument.

http://www.7dvt.c...s-disagree

I will point out that it is fairly well established that long term exposure to single tones is more irritating than louder noise that varies in tone. I tried to find a site to confirm that but could not. I suspect that I did not perform the search properly.
 
Theory_Execution
They generate noise polution. Apparently the low level of vibration causes havok with the inner ear, which goes on to cause nervousness and other things.

If this is the case, more research should be done to alter then natural frequency of the devices, changing the height or putting the base on some sort of dampener system.

Have a read of this Catman http://www.indepe...66254.html
 
Jump to Forum:

Similar Threads

Thread Forum Replies Last Post
How open A door Dimensional using energy of light to the eyes: Pseudo-Science 9 04/16/2012 11:17
1945-1998: 2053 nuclear explosions Interesting Articles and links 15 12/03/2010 01:06