3.13.2011

meltdown expected, the wheat's growing thin, a nuclear error

All those people who claim nuclear energy is safe, and who ridicule those of us who fear it, claiming we are antiquated treehuggers... where will they hide from the radioactive wind?

Dr. J: Nuclear meltdown is not an alternative to global warming.

Good thing my comrade Dr. J writes so much faster than me. Saves me a lot of work.

11 comments:

Berlynn said...

I've posted a roundup of good info links.

The Mound of Sound said...

Gee Laura, I was just over at Dr. J's site where a blogger who goes by Magnolia claims that just last year you were advocating nuclear technology as a bridge to transition from fossil fuels to greener technologies. I'd suggest you set Magnolia straight because I'm positive that can't be true.

James said...

One thing that's being overlooked in the current reporting is that the Chiba refinery fire may well end up causing more health problems than the Fukushima disaster. Let's hope they get both of them under control soon -- and convert the remaining Fukushima reactors to the now-standard gravity fed cooling system instead of using electric pumps.

laura k said...

MoS: Read about Magnolia here.

laura k said...

the Chiba refinery fire may well end up causing more health problems than the Fukushima disaster.

I'm not sure how that would be possible, considering the very long-term effects of radiation, the potential effects for generations to come.

I've had enough of hearing how this new technology or that new technology can make nuclear energy and its waste products safe. The risks are too high, the thinking is too short-term.

James said...

If the Fukushima leaks are contained, with the evacuation of the area very few people will be exposed to radiation. However, the Chiba fire is in a very densely populated area and is exposing a lot of people to unhealthy smoke.

Here is a good set of comments on bad reactor design.

One other stat to keep in mind: right now, the only thing available to replace nuclear power plants, on a large scale, are coal plants. Coal emissions are estimated to be responsible for about 4000x as many deaths as nuclear plant radiation, even with disasters like Three Mile Island, Windscale, and Chernobyl accounted for.

None of which is to say that there aren't serious problems with nuclear power. Unfortunately, there are serious problems with all power production. Even solar, wind, and tidal power have consequences -- though it would be great if we could actually deploy them broadly enough to allow us to get rid of coal and nuclear.

laura k said...

I know the argument that only nuclear can replace coal, but that's also where (up til now) the investment has been.

What about nuclear waste? Do the calculations on the deaths assume eternally safe waste storage?

laura k said...

Unfortunately, there are serious problems with all power production.

This argument is often deployed in a reductionist way: all methods of power generation have consequences, therefor ignore the consequences (of oil sands, of nuclear). There are many different levels of risk.

(I know you don't mean it that way.)

James said...

What about nuclear waste? Do the calculations on the deaths assume eternally safe waste storage?

Not eternal; just until decay brings the radioactivity in line with normal natural levels. Which is certainly a long time, of course -- that's why sticking it down a deep disused mine or a deep-sea trench is a favoured approach. The current "keep it in a pool on-site until the permanent solution is ready" approach is far more dangerous.

But yes, it's included in the calculations.

James said...

This argument is often deployed in a reductionist way: all methods of power generation have consequences, therefor ignore the consequences (of oil sands, of nuclear).

On the flip side, there can apparently be knee-jerk opposition to anything, no matter what the benefits or how minor the drawbacks. A reporter friend of mine recently did a story about an anti-wind-power meeting where one of the arguments presented against wind turbines was that they were a hazard to skydivers.

laura k said...

There is such a thing as knee-jerk opposition, of course, on both ends of the political spectrum.

Not eternal; just until decay brings the radioactivity in line with normal natural levels.

Eternal in terms of human lifespan. Bad word choice, but that's what I meant.

The schemes for burying nuclear waste seem to work on the assumption that there'll never be leakage, and that seismic activity won't affect it.

Pro-nuclear people would like us to believe that you can somehow have all this poisonous waste without serious health and environmental concern. That seems like wishful thinking or perhaps dreaming to me.