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Terrorism, Nuclear power and Secrecy

by A swedish kind of death Wed Jul 25th, 2007 at 01:10:16 PM EST

Just heard (Wed. 7/18) swedish radio news about the earthquake and nuclear power plant accident in Japan. Apparently the spill was larger then first reported (no numbers) and IAEA has encouraged Japan to be more open about nuclear power. No surprises thus far.

Now comes the real news (to me anyway).

From the diaries ~ whataboutbob. Back from the front paged and bumped because it is still active. --Jérôme


According to Jan-Olov Liljenzin, professor in nuclear chemistry at Chalmers university of technology (second largest technical college in Sweden) this is probably an empty gesture, and IAEA knows it. After september 11th 2001 nuclear companies has been ordered (by the governments) to keep secret anything that could help terrorists.

Apparently after the accident in Forsmark last summer Liljenzin encouraged Vattenfall to publicly explain the specifics of the electric system. They explained that they were not allowed too by law.

So what does this mean? Are nuclear power and terrorism incompatible, and if so which must go?

Poll
Are nuclear power and terrorism incompatible
. Yes, and nuclear power must go 15%
. Yes, and terrorism must go 15%
. No 35%
. What kind of a poll is this!? 35%

Votes: 20
Results | Other Polls
Display:
must make seed comment for comments to grow.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Wed Jul 18th, 2007 at 10:06:10 AM EST
Gotta water it a little....

I'm in one of those moods. Will do ANYTHING to avoid starting a major paper I have to do my Friday...

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Wed Jul 18th, 2007 at 10:23:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
of course I think the question is misphrased :-)

the real issue is "Are nuclear power and an open-information society incompatible?" and as y'all are tired of hearing, my answer is Absolutely.  the lethality of the technology requires a fairly high degree of secrecy and authoritarian/centralised control to "protect" the public from the menace that its own elite have installed in its midst.  not coincidentally the elite gain power, influence, and impunity w/in the culture of authoritarian/centralised control required to operate the nuclear technology "safely."

meanwhile, since centralised control is never as good as its own fantasies of its authority and power, the public is not really as protected as the official story has it.  friend of mine was on a team that cracked the security of a US nuke plant fairly easily (they were paid to do this, I add hastily, as expert consultants).  the public ends up with worst of all worlds:  authoritarian centralists in charge of a complex and arcane system, doing an incomplete (or at worst, incompetent) job, and then empowered to lie about and cover up their mistakes.  here the KISS principle and the precautionary principle tie in to the glasnost principle, and the tech inherently violates all three.

due to the lethality of the nuclear tech, it is highly irresponsible to run the plant at less than 100 percent functionality;  there's a sharp knee function between "working condition" and "dangerous to operate", at a very low value of "damage or dysfunction."  another word for this is "frail."  so we have the trifecta again, a complex high-tech system that is frail, operated under conditions of officially sanctioned secrecy and obfuscation.  and, one might add, during an era of increasingly extreme weather conditions, possibly an increased incidence of earthquakes (if the greenland ice mass theory is correct), and certainly at risk of serious breakdowns of social order such as the fall of the FSU.

"That's the difference between low tech and high tech, right?  Low tech, things start to go bad, it just doesn't work as well.  But high tech?"  She patted the hood of the car.  "This was made during the age of didactic machinery.  It goes glitchy, and that's it.  The whole thing comes to a stop."

nuclear tech is imho the ultimate artifact of the Age of Didactic Machinery.  (a lovely phrase imho and one which would make a delightful book title;  I wish I could claim it as my own but it is from Lynn Hightower's SF book Alien Blues).

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Wed Jul 18th, 2007 at 11:17:28 AM EST
Somehow I remain unconvinced that nuclear power is incompatible with openness.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jul 18th, 2007 at 03:37:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Are nuclear power and an open-information society incompatible?"

Yes, I'm a bit tired of hearing your answer.

Of course, in large part, that's because I like nuclear reactors and you don't and I do find quite grating that people fail to see the beauty that lays in the blue glow of a cooling pond :>

But in some parts, it's because your answer is just factually wrong.

An introductory reading on nuke physics, may be? here or there?  Fundamental data, perharps? I also like this one. Wanna know where French nuclear wastes are? Try that Want an idea of what the future of nuclear powr looks like, go there. IAEA? this or that? Literally, months worth of reading. Years if you insist on sleeping and eating. Want to know what was on the mind of US nuclear engineers when they designed EBR-II at the height of the cold war (21 MB pdf)?

Etc, etc, etc, etc, and so on and so forth...

But above all and before you lose yourself in the many publicly available proofs of the officially sanctioned secrecy and obfuscation that surround nuclear energy, I would strongly suggest that you start by reading that wonderful little essay :>

by Francois in Paris on Thu Jul 19th, 2007 at 03:15:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You know, I suspect on the issue of nuclear energy as in many others people who are familiar with the technology are less likely to oppose it. However, here on ET opposition to nuclear power is not technically ignorant, so there is something different at play.

You were unfortunately not around for How can we talk rationally about nuclear energy? by Jerome a Paris on March 27th, 2007

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jul 19th, 2007 at 03:33:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So the only alternatives in your mind are 100% information and zero information?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jul 19th, 2007 at 05:33:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is a complaint about supposed secrecy. He points to a number of links that suggest that there is a lot more information available than those complaining about secrecy admit.

I'll let François speak for himself, but I understand his argument as being precisely that the nuclear industry is not quite closed and secret, and thus that the ignorance about it which is seen as its biggest problem is at least as much wilful (caused by the complainers) as it is malicious (caused by the industry).


In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Jul 19th, 2007 at 06:11:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is a complaint about supposed secrecy. He points to a number of links that suggest that there is a lot more information available than those complaining about secrecy admit.

I'll let François speak for himself

Well, let DeAnander speak for herself, too: is this a lot more information than what she admitted or not? (I don't think they touch on my complaints on secrecy a bit, either.) What really is the comparison you have in mind when you say "not quite closed and secret"? And do you agree with Francois that claims of secrecy are just BS?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Jul 19th, 2007 at 08:23:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I say claims of secrecy are mostly BS.

John Q Public has immediate access to a lot of information. Just for France, you have:

  • For nuclear plants and facilities operation, ASN (Autorité de Sureté Nucléaire), and in particular the incident logs.
  • For nuclear waste operations, ANDRA (Agence Nationale pour la Gestion des Déchets Radioactifs) and in particular, the national inventory.
  • And there are the publications and reports of IRSN (Institut de de Radioprotection et de Sureté Nucléaire) whose role is more in consulting and the long term action compared to the ASN.

The military is a black hole and will remain so. For civilian applications, there is always the risk of misreporting and fraud (TEPCO in Japan, for isntance) but that's a matter of giving the good incentives by making dissimulation far more costly than disclosure and its consequences.

You will always find issues with any structure, including in France. For instance, the spat regarding Vincent Lhomme and the "secret" EPR security report is grotesque. Just armor EPR correctly. It's not like concrete and rebars are expensive compared to the rest of an EPR plant. But the notion that nuclear power requires secrecy is absurd. It does not and it actually does much better in transparency then in secrecy.

by Francois in Paris on Thu Jul 19th, 2007 at 03:49:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So is open and accurate reporting after nuclear accidents the rule, or the exception in the industry?
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Jul 20th, 2007 at 06:45:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
For France, I think it's fair to say that the reporting is correctly done and the information available and complete.

Even someone rabidly anti-nuclear like Stéphane Lhomme of Sortir du Nucléaire admits that the industry and the the ANS are doing that job correctly and honestly. His thesis in L'insécurité nucléaire is that, in his view, the actions prescribed by the ANS to the operators upon those reports are way too "lax".

Elsewhere, depends. It looks like things are getting better in Japan. The Tepco scandal in 2002 was certainly a wake-up call. In the US, it's definitively going in the wrong direction, as everything governmental in the US since Bush took office.

by Francois in Paris on Fri Jul 20th, 2007 at 02:42:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
(note: I'm pro-nuclear electricity for the time being at least until we have a clear social negawatt path and proven new technology to replace it)

I don't buy your third bullet.

"Institut de Radioprotection et de Sureté Nucléaire" according to wikipedia is the organisation (under a different name - it was renamed since) that said that the radioactive could from Tchernobyl incident did stop at the french frontier (no paper? no you don't go in).

At this point, either IRSN does a full public exposé of all the available data and how it went wrong managent-wise and you end up putting some of these guyes in jail, or no reasonable citizen can rely on them (that currently includes me).

If you think otherwise on this point, I'm interested in your arguments.

http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centrale_nucl%C3%A9aire_de_Tchernobyl

[...]
En France, dans les jours qui suivirent la catastrophe, le Service central de protection contre les rayonnements ionisants (SCPRI) minimisa les conséquences de la catastrophe de Tchernobyl en France. Pour obtenir des informations sur le nucléaire indépendantes des exploitants du nucléaire, de l'État et de tous partis politiques, plusieurs personnalités antinucléaires françaises fondèrent la Commission de recherche et d'information indépendantes sur la radioactivité (CRIIRAD). Le SCPRI fut rebaptisé Office de protection contre les rayonnements ionisants (OPRI) en 1994 puis intégré à l'Institut de Radioprotection et de Sûreté Nucléaire (IRSN) en 2002.
by Laurent GUERBY on Fri Jul 20th, 2007 at 02:43:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Gaaaa ...

Again, the Chernobyl cloud and its passport...

The SCPRI never said that or anything that could be construed in this way.

Noel Mamère reported that the SCPRI said it that while he was still a journalist for Antenne2. Mamère and the network were soundly condemned for defamation on the facts in 2001 and 2002 in criminal and appeal courts (with the INA tapes, it wasn't even a close call), then on the principles in 2003 before the European Court of Human Rights decided to adopt an American view of free speech (essentially, "anything goes") and overturned the verdict on principles.

by Francois in Paris on Fri Jul 20th, 2007 at 03:12:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course I know they never said it that way, it's just they said mostly nothing AFAIK.

Again according to wikipedia because I could not find information on what was said at the time on the IRSN site (if you find the official communiqués I'm interested after all it  would be a good proof of transparency):

http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cons%C3%A9quences_de_la_catastrophe_de_Tchernobyl_en_France


[...]
Le nuage radioactif atteint la France le 29 avril 1986, détecté par les systèmes de la centrale nucléaire de Cattenom, près de la frontière luxembourgeoise. Le gouvernement français estime alors qu'aucune mesure particulière de sécurité n'est nécessaire.

Le Service Central de Protection contre les Rayonnements Ionisants (SCPRI), placé sous la direction du Professeur Pierre Pellerin et sous la tutelle du ministère de la Santé, annonce le 29 avril 1986 par un premier communiqué qu'« aucune élévation significative de la radioactivité n'a été constatée ». Le 2 mai 1986, le Professeur Pellerin diffuse un communiqué selon lequel « les prises préventives d'iode ne sont ni justifiées, ni opportunes » et « il faudrait imaginer des élévations dix mille ou cent mille fois plus importantes pour que commencent à se poser des problèmes significatifs d'hygiène publique »[1].

Le 6 mai, un communiqué de presse du Ministère de l'Agriculture annonce que « le territoire français, en raison de son éloignement, a été totalement épargné par les retombées de radionucléides consécutives à l'accident de Tchernobyl » et qu' « à aucun moment les hausses observées de radioactivité n'ont posé le moindre problème d'hygiène publique. »
[...]

The reports on IRSN site all conclude we don't have data good enough to judge what really happened.

But then, could you tell me who was responsible for the data collecting system design to alert the authorities and population? In case of doubt and limitations on the model, did he err on the safe side? Was he competent? Was he held responsible?

I'm interested.

by Laurent GUERBY on Fri Jul 20th, 2007 at 04:14:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They didn't say much indeed.

SCPRI/Pellerin said that the cloud was detected but was no cause for concern for public health, in which respect he was probably right, may be not. And about iodine, he was definitively right. Iodine overdoses are rarely deadly if treated on time but quite dangerous nonetheless. I'm pretty certain 1000s of people would have taken 100 or 1000 times the recommended dose.

In case of doubt and limitations on the model, did he err on the safe side?

I don't think he erred on any side. If I recall correctly what I read about his assessment, the measures were below levels of concerns by 1000x or 10000x factors. So there is a distance between erring on the safe side and blundering in panic.

My gut feeling is that he didn't account enough for precipitation, lessivage and bio-concentration but even then, pfff ...

Was he competent?

Undoubtedly yes. He started working on radio-biology in 1959 and is pretty much one of the founders of the discipline. What's also indubitable is that the guy is a pretty geeky wonk, not exactly the communicative kind.

Was he held responsible?

There is a case instructed by Mme Bertella-Geffroy, opened since 2001 that's been brandished by CRIIRAD against Pellerin. Pellerin was indicted last year. Since then, no news of the instruction. It will probably end in a non-lieu. I just don't see how they can make a case.

by Francois in Paris on Fri Jul 20th, 2007 at 07:39:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]

My gut feeling is that he didn't account enough for precipitation, lessivage and bio-concentration but even then, pfff

Yes that's what the report say, the first in 1997 just one sentence IIRC, the latest one try a bit more on this line.

I noticed you didn't address my first question about the lack of adequacy of the measurement network. BTW I noted no direct advice in the reports on this topic, but may be now the measurement network is more appropriate? (I hope so...).

And to address your gut feeling, did anyone try to think about possible concentration scenario in this agency? After all who was in charge of protecting people?

(Lots of work has been done on pesticide concentration in the food chain and effects on water, this superficially look similar to me)

by Laurent GUERBY on Sat Jul 21st, 2007 at 05:04:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I noticed you didn't address my first question about the lack of adequacy of the measurement network. BTW I noted no direct advice in the reports on this topic, but may be now the measurement network is more appropriate? (I hope so...).

<rant>Laurent, can't you do some digging by yourself?</rant>

Réseau national de mesures de la radioactivité de l'environnement.

You have also a lot of continuous detectors at nuclear facilities and things like measure wells for water table monitoring , etc. On top of that, you have the military network but those detectors are not meant for long term public health monitoring but for sustaining military operations under nuclear warfare. The goals, the measures and the thresholds are very different.

One important note: for public health, the monitored levels are extremely low and continuous detectors are not doing a very good job. The measures must done off-line in laboratories. So the network is more a matter of trained personnel, capable of performing samplings - properly controlled and recorded - and sending them to analysis.

Lots of work has been done on pesticide concentration in the food chain and effects on water, this superficially look similar to me.

For radioactive elements, the mechanisms are actually quite different and depend on the specific elements. See the ANL fact sheets. One important nuance is that contrary to pesticides, dioxins and heavy metals, most radioactive contaminants from nuclear accidents like Chernobyl have short to medium life and actually disappear by decay. So there is a big difference between one-time exposure and constant exposure. The numbers for cancer risk in the ANL data are for constant life-time exposure. Assessing the risk for one-time releases is much more complex and for most scenario yield much more lower risks unless the doses are acute. But some elements, like Sr-90, have wildly different effects depending on the age and health of the subjects.

by Francois in Paris on Sat Jul 21st, 2007 at 07:47:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So on the measurement side we've moved from an inappropriate network  to an appropriate one, good.

I did not do more than read the two reports, and none of them IIRC mentionned any progress on the network but did not advise either on doing something on it so I was curious.

I see a lot of "first" in the "first" report on national network management (2004-2006), so that let me wonder what was there/done before 2004...

I've not seen anything yet on the "concentration par ruissellement" mentionned in the reports.

by Laurent GUERBY on Sun Jul 22nd, 2007 at 04:21:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Stéphane Lhomme, not Vincent Lhomme.
by Francois in Paris on Fri Jul 20th, 2007 at 02:43:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... nuclear companies has been ordered (by the governments) to keep secret anything that could help terrorists.
...
Are nuclear power and terrorism incompatible, and if so which must go?

No.

It just means that governments are led by blockheads. That, I think, is not news to anyone.

Safety through secrecy doesn't work. But secrecy is always good at promoting fear, which is pretty much all the political classes in western countries have had left to run on for the past 30 years.

by Francois in Paris on Wed Jul 18th, 2007 at 02:59:52 PM EST
Are nuclear power and terrorism incompatible ...?

No.

It just means that governments are led by blockheads.

Francois, what are your thoughts on What if a technology requires a perfect government? by MillMan on July 11th, 2007

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jul 19th, 2007 at 03:35:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You need transparency and a good enough government, which doesn't need to be that great, in my opinion.

I think it always boils down to the assumptions made for nuclear risks. We come back to what was discussed in this "How can we talk rationally" thread you pointed to.

If you think that any anomaly related to anything nuclear is the end of the world, nothing will do but absolute perfection, which is not achievable.

The nuclear industry is like any other industrial operation. They spend their life dealing with breakdowns, mishaps, screw-ups, stuff that fails for no good reason and Murphy's Law. And none the less it works because the industry explicitly rejects the notion above. The key notions are design simplicity, defense in depth, redundancy, fast communication, return on experience and preventative action. And the factual record says it works very well.

Same at the government level. A lot of things can go wrong before the whole thing goes wrong. What you need to avoid is the situation in the US where a single fucker is able to crash the entire thing.

Interestingly, You'll note though that the GWB disaster is happening only because of the general acceptance for governmental secrecy. Take that away and GWB would have imploded 4 years ago. No Iraq, no New Orleans. Well, probably no Republican party for that matter.

Transparency is not a cure-all but it allows what's done in the nuclear industry, early action before things go really wrong.

by Francois in Paris on Thu Jul 19th, 2007 at 04:53:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A lot of things can go wrong before the whole thing goes wrong. What you need to avoid is the situation in the US where a single fucker is able to crash the entire thing.

I hasten to say what you sort of say in the next paragraph, that the system as it existed ten years ago has been carefully subverted ... ah, be honest, broken.

by Number 6 on Fri Jul 20th, 2007 at 04:41:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It just means that governments are led by blockheads. That, I think, is not news to anyone.

So, how do you get around the problem of blockheads?

For that matter, how do you abolish the military? (I think nothing less would suffice to make nuclear plants NOT a national security issue with secrecy requirements.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Jul 19th, 2007 at 05:29:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Costa Rica abolished its military. Could it have nuclear power?

I don't know what the military has to do with nuclear power in countries without a nuclear weapons development programme.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jul 19th, 2007 at 05:33:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Care for "national security".

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jul 19th, 2007 at 05:34:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Erm... is the problem the security, the nation, or the military?

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jul 19th, 2007 at 05:40:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
All of them? But the point with the scare quotes is, while you or I might consider nuclear plants a security issue or not, a military (or another state security organisation, or their political overseeers) will always consider them one.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jul 19th, 2007 at 08:12:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They are a security issue, just like anything else. Now, why does that require secrecy?

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jul 19th, 2007 at 08:18:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Information control?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jul 19th, 2007 at 08:30:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, the military thinks it needs to control information, but that doesn't mean that you need secrecy to run a nuclear power plant. Or a wind farm. Or a coffee maker.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jul 19th, 2007 at 08:50:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wind farms and coffee makers don't produce dangerous waste that could - at a stretch - be used to kill people.

(True, the point is debatable in the case of coffee makers. But still.)

I don't think people necessarily want access to technical papers.

My guess is what they want is reassurance that the industry is being run by reliable professionals, that accidents will be minimal and that procedures are in place to handle them, and that dangerous waste is contained safely and is unlikely to leak or be stolen.

Corporate openness, technical openness and security transparency are all separate issues.

If the industry is going to be trusted it has to have a solid record on all three counts. So far that doesn't seem to have been the pattern the industry aspires to, never mind operates by.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Jul 20th, 2007 at 06:58:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But we cannot stop doing something because it can, at a stretch, be used to kill people. That's the rationale for banning liquids and gels in carry-on baggage. Ultimately, DoDo and De end up using the terrorist bogieman for their own goals, just like the security-industrial complex does, and that's what I find most annoying about the position.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jul 20th, 2007 at 07:01:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If we ban everything that, at a stretch, can be used to kill people, we will have to sacrifice many modern, and ancient, comforts.

Fertilizer. Cars. Knives (including your bread knife, but that won't matter as there won't be any bread anyway (no fertilizer)). And so on.

Ban this, ban that.

What is needed is proper cost benefit analysis. And with that both bread knives and nuclear reactors come off looking good.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Fri Jul 20th, 2007 at 08:18:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
won't be any bread anyway (no fertilizer)

Invalid assumption there. No obvious need for refined fertilizer.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Jul 20th, 2007 at 08:21:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I didn't say refined fertilizer, did I? ;-)

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Fri Jul 20th, 2007 at 08:25:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The difference is that nuke waste could be used to kill a lot of people quite easily, with much more of an impact than a fertiliser bomb would.

As usual I'm not going to make suggestions here, but I can think a few delivery methods which would do the job quite effectively.

It's a question of scale and accessibility, not just a theoretical binary 'might be.'

But I'll say again - there are different kinds of secrecy and security being discussed here as if they're identical.

They're not. There's no paradox between industry-wide openness and industry-wide security - or at least there shouldn't be. The information needed to reassure everyone that the industry is being run in a sane way is completely different to the information that terrorists might want to use.

One is about clarity of practice and professional emergency response. The other is very much about plant specifics.

So it's a useful data point that the two are being conflated by the industry itself, for its own benefit. There's no reason why they should be, and the fact that they are suggests that the industry is either not being run competently, or isn't used to be being completely truthful -  or both.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Jul 20th, 2007 at 09:55:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The two are also being conflated by anti-nuclear activists.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jul 20th, 2007 at 10:06:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's all right: they're being conflated in the service of good in that case.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Jul 20th, 2007 at 10:07:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The difference is that nuke waste could be used to kill a lot of people quite easily, with much more of an impact than a fertiliser bomb would.

Quite the opposite. Spent fuel is a bitch to deal with if that's not your job. If you try to make it into a dirty bomb in your garage, the radiation will kill you before you're done.

Furthermore, the chemical explosives in your dirty bomb is bound to kill more people than the spent fuel itself.

Spread it into the water mains? Use ricin instead, or botulinium, dioxines, lead, or just the ordinary damn flu.

Bound to kill thousand of pensioners.

Spent fuel is hard to get, hard to deal with and strictly supervised. You can du much more damage with toxic chemicals or just plain fertiliser. Much easier to get and make too.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Fri Jul 20th, 2007 at 10:56:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
oh you find it annoying, huh?

your intellectual position on this seems clear to my perception, you are quick to jump on projections.

terrorism is being used as a bogeyman by forces you recognise as malign, do you really believe de and dodo are modelling on them?

de is anti nukes, so jerome paints her as a pastoralist (his projection, rebutted as inaccurate), and you affect indecision and rational enquiry, while using the same kind of logic-twist as the right do to attack de and dodo more than you do those advocating nukes, like starvid.

thank pasta your sniping looks pretty ineffectual against facts, laid out so generously by de anander in this case, and many others.

do you like to be contrary for kicks, perhaps?

or do you really think the arguments raised by de and dodo don't deserve better than straw man talking points?

of course anti nuke activists will use the terrorism angle to help make their point, but it's not because they want to...it's to reflect that the same authoritarian structures are whipping the public's fear levels and then trying to push nukes.

it's the contradiction in the latter's logic that's startling, and should be a tip-off.

very similar to how iran shouldn't have nuke power plants, but others in the area can have them and n-weapons too..

either they're safe (enough) or they're going to cause more problems, and playing 'fair and balanced' trying to shoot holes in the arguments
of those who have, imo, a deep commitment to doing better with respect to the earth, society, and its relationship to energy, seems a waste of such a keen intellect as yours.

another twisting strawman argument to bring in franco and hitler, btw.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Jul 24th, 2007 at 03:23:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
why would it want nuclear power?

you don't need a military to protect windplants, but when you have mucho toxic waste that other countries' military or terrorists want to put their dirty paws on, then you have to invest in massive 'security' aka military, aka thugs in uniform.

you're so bright migeru, it seems like you're playing dumb in these discussions, or devil's avocado.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Jul 24th, 2007 at 03:02:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As Starvid points out, you can't steal nuclear waste: radiation will kill you before you can take it anywhere. If you have the tools to actually steal nuclear waste and not die trying you probably have the werewithal to do whatever you damn well please, like blow up the cuntry's bridges or burts dams to cause a flood, or something.

So, yeah, you need the military to protect your nuclear waste from other militaries, but that's about it. And in that respect protecting nuclear infrastructure is like protecting any other infrastructure.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jul 24th, 2007 at 04:49:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
what about all the waste that travels in lorries and by rail?

couldn't that be hijacked and used as a weapon?

if this fear, oops, concern is scientifically impossible, maybe someone here will let me know.

i don't visualise some jewel thief ala david niven stuffing some into a bag!

as for the fine line between 'other militaries' and bog-standard 'terrorists', it's getting damn hard to discern.

regarding protecting it (them) from attack, like it was just another munitions warehouse, look what happened to pearl harbour in very short time.

from what i'm learning here, it's less likely that a terrorist would fly a plane into a nuke plant and achieve anything major, but if the plants are dependent on so much external power to keep them running cool, what happens if that's attacked, or the supply lines for the fuel to run that?

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Jul 24th, 2007 at 10:18:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The waste shipped by truck and rail, and ship, is contained within huge bulky canisters weighing tens or hundreds of tons. Not that easy to steal.

Or open. You can drop the canisters from planes or hit them with freight trains without them opening. The Americans managed to blow one open with an anti-tank missile, but the contamination was limited to a few square metres around the breach, and it was easily cleaned up.

What if external power is lost? Well, that is a bitch. First there is usually several off site power lines. But they might all be lost. Then you have the reserve diesels. They should not all be destroyed, as they are usually located at several places, usually two or four.

If they are all lost, you have about two hours to get power back online until you get fuel damage. That means that the water in the reactor tank is turned into steam and the fuel is uncovered and starts breaking apart and  melting.

(The nuclear chain reaction stops after 1-2 seconds after the plane impact, but there is still heat left and this is the problem)

If no power is back within eight hours, the molten fuel breaches the bottom of the reactor tank and contaminates the inside of the containment. This is a nuclear meltdown.

The increased heat and pressure is a hazard to the structural integrity of the containment, so you need to remove heat. You do this by venting the (possibly) radioactive gases inside the containment to the atmosphere. This is sounds a lot worse than it really is.

It was done at Three Mile Island, and the radiation relase was positively tiny and did not hurt anyone whatsoever. After that incident, plants installed filters which catch 99,9 % of the radiation. So the result if a modern reactor melts down is zero divided by one thousand, hurt or killed.

Pretty much no one is aware that this most basic myth of nuclear power is false: that if everyhting is okay nuclear is very clean, while if something goes wrong ot becomes very dirty indeed. Well, it doesn't. But the plant is destroyed. $3-4 billion down the drain, which is a pretty strong motivation for private plant managers to maintain safety.

By the way, the new Westinghouse AP1000 reactor will have passive cooling systems, making a meltdown impossible in the first place. This seems to be the most popular reactor design in the American nuclear renaissance.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Wed Jul 25th, 2007 at 12:05:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
thanks starvid, very comprehensive and comprehensible!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Jul 26th, 2007 at 12:48:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
you're so bright migeru, it seems like you're playing dumb in these discussions, or devil's avocado.

I think I have told you before to get off your high horse, melo. You're pushing it again.

If you're right, you should be able to convince yourself. Then you should be able to convince a friend. Then you should be able to convince an enemy.

Convince me.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jul 24th, 2007 at 04:55:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
sorry, let myself get over-personal there, i apologise...

as for convincing you, it's not about being right as much as being intellectually honest, and if de's posts can't convince you, certainly nothing i'd ever come up with would!

this issue is huge, and will continue to divide until it's put to bed by one more biggish accident, or by slow attrition from incidents, and the clockwork cover-ups, like the recent one in japan.

giving trust over multi-generational life-and-death issues to people who lie at first opportunity or press release, qualifies as giving away too much of what little sovereignty we left over our lives, imo, and is as breathtaking in its callousness towards future generations as continuing to pour more coke-smoke into the heavens.

i certainly don't want to mess with your optimism, i just wonder, mystified, at its placement.

climbs down off horse...


'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Jul 24th, 2007 at 10:35:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Indeed. As the old cryptography adage goes, obscurity is not security.
by someone (s0me1smail(a)gmail(d)com) on Thu Jul 19th, 2007 at 09:19:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Beat me to it.
by Number 6 on Thu Jul 19th, 2007 at 12:00:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
are the most hardened civilian strucutures in existence. From that point of view they are the worst imaginable target for a terrorist.

On the other hand, terrorists are not actually out to do real damage but to terrorise, and assaulting nuke plants will do exactly that. But the problem then is not the nukes but the media, which continues to harass nuclear power and continues to present it in an extremely biased way.

So, with more knowledgeable and responsible journalists (yeah right) this problem goes away entirely.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Thu Jul 19th, 2007 at 06:52:59 AM EST
fascist state, organized around suveillance, force, and secrecy.  

Some technologies are just inherently undesirable.  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Thu Jul 19th, 2007 at 09:08:12 AM EST
fascist state, organized around suveillance, force, and secrecy.  

Some technologies are just inherently undesirable.  

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jul 19th, 2007 at 09:10:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That wind power though centralizing, is nevertheless compatible with open information and democratic structures.  

You may a good exhibit for the "why people hate science thread."  

Irresponsible two-year-olds, having fun with your toys.  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Thu Jul 19th, 2007 at 10:38:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah, attempted insults. How nice and democratic.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jul 19th, 2007 at 10:39:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What is it about nuclear power that makes it require secrecy?

This is not a rhetorical question: I really want someone to walk me through this, because it is a statement at too high a level to be an axiom.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jul 19th, 2007 at 10:49:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think there's a feedback loop based on negative public perceptions.

If an accident is reported the outcry is much more vocal when it's a nuke accident than if it's a burning oil dump.

Therefore profits will be hit, and a plant may be closed down. Therefore - since it's mostly about profit - it's better to minimise the truth than be honest.

I think De's point is that a key difference is that it's impossible for people to assess the risk for themselves, which means that nuke damage assessment relies on expert testimony more than any other industry does.

When something like Bhopal happens it's obvious who has been affected. With coal burning you'll see smog and acid rain. But an equivalent nuke accident will release deadly poisons into the air and no one will notice unless some bothers to tell them.

So it's a combination of the profit motive, legacy links to weapons development, the opaqueness of the process itself and - not least - the solid record of dishonesty that the industry has acquired over the years.

This doesn't mean the industry has to be dishonest. But it's very much harder to cover up a loose turbine blade than a leak of radioactive particles.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Jul 20th, 2007 at 10:04:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If an accident is reported the outcry is much more vocal when it's a nuke accident than if it's a burning oil dump.

Well, burning oil dumps, just like uranium mine pollution, more often happen in places like Nigeria, which may incite some locals to form terrorist resistance movements, while we ignore it. (Tho' in Texas, the oil industry managed to cloak its environmental destruction in secrecy during Bush's governorship.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Jul 27th, 2007 at 04:50:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
i'll tell you...

the fact that people are not as stupid and gullible as governments and advocates of this grisly technology would like, so the rule of the people, oops, democracy, would not permit it to go forward if they didn't have the best paid liars in the world constantly keeping us in the dark and feeding us horseshit.

would you walk me through why that's so hard to understand?

would you be happy raising your children downwind of a nuke plant?

do you trust nuclear power companies to tell you the truth?

and what are they doing while feeding us lies?

it's a secret!

qed

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Jul 24th, 2007 at 04:04:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You know, from what I know about nuclear physics I don't see any reason why secrecy is needed.

On the other hand, I do not trust for-profit corporations or the military to tell me the truth, no.

the rule of the people, oops, democracy, would not permit it to go forward

Let me remind you of something...

El Pais: Zorita demands another [nuclear power] plant (30-04-2006)
The mayor and a majority of residents of  Almonacid [de Zorita, site of the Zorita nuclear power plant] demand another plant in place of the one being closed today

Spain is closing its first nuclear power plant at 23.30 today in a programmed way. The José Cabrera plant, better known as Zorita, opened 38 years ago in what was then a destitute comarca [county], ends its life two years ahead of schedule. he closure, decided in 2001 by the PP government , comes in the midst of a debate on the future of atomic power. Sheltered by climate changge, defenders of nuclear [power plants] have launched a worldwide offensive as Oil prices set new records. Among them [defenders] is the majority of the  800 inhabitants of Almonacid de Zorita, a village depending almost exclusively on the plant. They demand anoter power plant.

Conclusion: NIMBY is bullshit, people get used to whatever they live with, be it wind farms or nuclear plants.



Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jul 24th, 2007 at 04:50:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Unfortunately, that only proves that 800 people who have only had a hammer for 38 years, would rather have a nail than learn to use a screwdriver.

Neither the government, nor the industry, nor them have planned or adapted to the reality of "change".  That is not about democracy.

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Tue Jul 24th, 2007 at 07:21:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How about the mining comarcas of Asturias? (10 thousand miners, maybe 100 thousand people dependent on mining) When they demand that their industry be subsidised, is that democracy? It is hammers and nails? Is it powerless people being fed by an industrial juggernaut and who have forgotten how to be free?

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jul 24th, 2007 at 07:47:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, there are thousands of cases of industry that does no future context-planning and enslaves millions of people into dead-end lives.  Sadly, the "victims" also have a responsability for allowing it by sticking their heads in the sand.  They did not forget, they never bothered to learn the duties of being free and democratic.

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.
by metavision on Tue Jul 24th, 2007 at 08:56:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You know, from what I know about nuclear physics I don't see any reason why secrecy is needed.

well.... that's reassuring!

i'd be more receptive if you had experience in evacuating millions at short notice, providing emergency supplies, and calming public panic in the wake of another chernobyl.

oh yeah, and since we were talking externalities and quantification, i bet no-one spends more analysing and crunching demographics and geography than insurance companies....you know where i'm going with this...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Jul 24th, 2007 at 10:04:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Citizens of Stade and Obrigheim were happier, while citizens near other plants (say the two near Hamburg I diarised recently) sued for plant closures. Meanwhile, it also happened that people living around US bases were against them closing. When dependence builds...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Jul 27th, 2007 at 04:47:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
On the other hand, I do not trust for-profit corporations or the military to tell me the truth, no.

Assuming for a moment that we can have non-privately-run nuclear plants without any military (or other hierarchical security organisation) involvement, what about a for-continued-self-existence state company/bureaucracy?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Jul 27th, 2007 at 05:05:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
DoDo, a power company is, structurally, a "for-continued-self-existence" entity (i.e. we need power 24/7 and most likely will for the foreseeable future). Why should that be a problem per se?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Jul 27th, 2007 at 10:28:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Name a not-for-continued-self-existence entity.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jul 27th, 2007 at 10:30:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
O Colman, now you're being captious :-)  farmers all over the midwest of the US had wind generators as far back as the earlier days of utilitarian electric generation -- 1920's, 1930's, maybe even earlier.  nothing about wind power requires centralisation and massive bureaucracy, or even heavy security;  I've walked right up to the perimeter fences of wind farms and had a picnic, taken photos, etc. -- and there hasn't been a guard tower, a camera, or a security checkpoint anywhere in sight.  I don't know of any nuke facility (US anyway) where you can drive, bike, or walk right up to the perimeter fence and hang out for long w/o becoming the centre of attention for serious people carrying sidearms.  which is probably just as well;  but that's why I say the technology exists in symbiosis with heavy security.

no one seriously imagines terrorists trying to steal the blades off your wind turbines to make WMD.  stealing weapons-grade uranium or plutonium, however, is quite imaginable -- security experts lie awake nights worrying about this sort of thing.  maybe they could be doing better things with their lives.

and despite all the layers and layers of precautions and defence-in-depth trying to compensate for risk-in-depth -- clever and careful as they are -- it just takes one earthquake to shut the biggest nuke facility in the world down w/o a restart date...

an earthquake in Japan this week rattled the Kashiwazaki nuclear power plant. The plant's operator "said it had found more than 50 problems at the plant caused by Monday's earthquake," The New York Times reported, adding:

    "While most of the problems were minor, the largest included 100 drums of radioactive waste that had fallen over, causing the lids on some of the drums to open, the company said.... The company said that the earthquake also caused a small fire at the plant, the world's largest by amount of electricity produced, and the leakage of 317 gallons of water containing trace levels of radioactive materials into the nearby Sea of Japan."

    Meanwhile, accidents at two German nuclear reactors last month prompted German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel to call for the early shutdown of all older reactors there, reports Bloomberg News.

    Concern about the safety of Germany's 17 reactors has grown after a fire at Vattenfall's Kruemmel site June 28 and a network fault at its Brunsbuettel plant on the same day. Der Spiegel online adds:

    "It took the fire department hours to extinguish the blaze. Even worse, the plant operator's claim that a fire in the transformer had no effect on the reactor itself proved to be a lie.

    In short, the incident made clear that nuclear energy is by no means the modern, well-organized, high-tech sector portrayed until recently by politicians and industry advocates. Indeed, the frequency of problems occurring at Germany's aging reactors is on the rise. Just as old cars succumb to rust, nuclear power plants built in the 1970s and '80s are undergoing a natural aging process.

    On Wednesday, the chief executive of Vattenfall Europe AG stepped down. Klaus Rauscher was the second manager to depart this week amid mounting criticism for the utility's handling of a fire at a nuclear plant in northern Germany, reports the AP.

CSM

I note that early press releases from Japan claimed that only 1 liter of mildly radioactive water had been leaked "harmlessly" into the sea and that the plant would be up and running again very soon.  as more and more damaging facts leaked out, the story (like climate change science) has morphed over the last few days into something more serious -- not disastrous, but fairly serious.  if you had lived with the US NRC for a few decades, you'd now be asking yourself, "And what haven't they told us yet?  What will we find out 40 years from now when the fear of lawsuits has abated and the real documents are finally released?"  

I really envy those who enjoy the happy condition of not expecting their government to lie to them...  ahhh you lucky French.  but this is what I mean by "secrecy" -- and it applies to the incident at Bhopal as well, where proper treatment was impossible because the company refused to share an analysis of the chemical compounds released, claiming intellectual property right to proprietary formulae.

... nuclear enthusiasts [as opposed to the "hold your nose and glow" type who simply think nuclear waste proliferation is an acceptable alternative to using a manual toothbrush or a smaller TV] sometimes remind me of brash young men I occasionally encountered in my younger days, who always wanted to drive at very high speeds.  any complaints from the passenger would be dismissed with heartfelt (and often condescending) lectures on the superior intelligence, skills and reflexes of the driver, the superior technology of the car, its custom rollbar, etc;  but it always seemed to me to dodge the question:  why take the risk in the first place?  and particularly, why impose that risk on other road users and the hapless passenger?  

I think the real point here is that while a solar/wind enthusiast can go off the grid, build an energy-efficient home, reduce demand, and enjoy the technology of their choice w/o materially harming other people much [modulo the toxicity of pv and battery manufacture which is deeply troubling to me], the nuclear enthusiast cannot build a little nuke plant in the garage to play with.  the tech is far too dangerous for amateurs to fool around with, and I think that demonstrates the "con" case as clearly as anything.  I can make my own wind gen out of used car parts, canvas, wood, an old oil drum... but I can't build a little nuke for my homestead.  and for good reason.  the technology is inherently lethal and requires strictest regulation, control, oversight, surveillance, blah blah.  for both technical and security reasons it does not scale down well, meaning that it encourages hypercentralisation.

the nuclear enthusiast cannot indulge in their fascinating (I do admit it's fascinating) hobby without projects of Pharaonic scale, endangering fairly large demographics of Other People, and this (like SUV driving and other risk-externalisation paradigms) I think this must be a core trait of a nonconvivial technology.  

the risk to other people, furthermore, is almost impossible for those other people to assess and detect for themselves without high technology (dosimeters, whole-body assays, etc).  their only recourse is to "trust the experts," and "just trust us" is not something I like to hear from any elite :-)  if one of your wind towers is starting to lean dangerously due to foundation subsidence, your neigbour across the property line can see that, assess the degree of lean, hike over and inspect the base of the tower, take some digi snaps, and demand that you fix it.  but if your nuke plant may or may not have released cesium (or worse), neighbouring residents can hardly afford the kind of assay needed to determine for sure whether their safety is imperilled or not, whether the leak occurred or not, whether it was greater than reported, etc.  they need Experts to tell them, and the available Experts are most likely working at the plant :-)

same is true of all/most highly toxic chemical operations, and there is often not much excuse for them either, i.e. there are less-toxic ways of achieving similar results, but someone has got themselves a cosy market niche doing it the toxic way.

I'll be generous here and admit that the biggest hole that can be made in this argument of mine is ... Public Transit :-)  after all, the public relies on a small crew of experts to operate the trains, maintain the trains and tracks, etc. -- you can't build your own personal railway, unless you're extraordinarily wealthy, and the average train rider doesn't understand switching gear, scheduling software, tunnel construction, etc.  the relevant diff I think is visibility of results.  there is no mistaking a rail crash, or a breakdown or delay.  anyone can perceive it, and its effects, in realtime.  there isn't the "lethality 30 years delayed" problem which assists greatly in mystification, or the invisibility/insidiousness problem which undermines trust and hinders accountability in both toxic chemical ops and nuke ops.  and rail operators look damn silly standing around saying "trust us, nothing really happened" in the middle of a derailment.

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Thu Jul 19th, 2007 at 10:27:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
why take the risk in the first place?

"Because it's there!"

by Number 6 on Fri Jul 20th, 2007 at 04:45:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
no one seriously imagines terrorists trying to steal the blades off your wind turbines to make WMD.  stealing weapons-grade uranium or plutonium, however, is quite imaginable -- security experts lie awake nights worrying about this sort of thing.  maybe they could be doing better things with their lives.
So, the problem is terrorists?

You're actually conceding that the only way to deal with terrorists is either not do anything remotely dangerous or allow secrecy and erosion of civil rights.

There are a lot of technologies that have "dual uses". If there are no swords people will kill each other with plowshares. Also, you can't steal weapons-grade uranium or plutonium from a civilian power reactor, can you? Because you don't need weapons-grade fuel to run a reactor in the first place. So the problem is the military application, and the technology does not necessitate the military application.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jul 20th, 2007 at 05:11:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So, the problem is terrorists?

The problem with the nuclear power industry is that it is staffed by a pack of liars.  They lie by omission.  They lie by commission.  They give out little lies that they then cover with other lies that they cover with a big lie that they then, finally, admit were lies.  They have lied in the past.  They have lied in the present.  No doubt they will lie in the future as well.

The nuclear power industry are murders.  They killed tens, if not hundreds, of people in the Four Corners area in the 1940-1950s directly from uranium mining and indirectly from the dust cause by uranium mining.  They have also killed a whistle blower in the US by putting radioactive material under her driver's seat.

The nuclear power industry are incompetents, e.g., they build nuclear power plants meters away from the San Andreas Fault.  And, when this was pointed-out, claimed it was perfectly safe.  (A twofer!)

The technical papers and reports - even the science - behind the nuclear power industry are irrelevant to the this discussion.  Saying some nuclear power plants and some groups of nuclear power plants are run by truth-telling competents  brings us into the Existential which, by definition, precludes Categorical analysis.  So general statements regarding the operation of nuclear power plants has no necessary application, or bearing, on the nuclear power plant down the road.

Speaking of which, the nuclear power plant down the road has 4 reactors.  The advertising prior to construction was that they wanted to build 4 to keep 3 running while doing repairs, and so forth, on 1.  Since the plant came on-line they've kept all 4 running all the time.  

 

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Fri Jul 20th, 2007 at 11:19:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The problem is when the nuke industry is run exclusively for a profit. Safety becomes a cost, borne only because of fear for the regulator. And it is cheaper to lobby for weaker regulations than to pay for safety...

This is true in other industries too, of course.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Jul 26th, 2007 at 12:29:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
you make striking points, but you still seem to have an idyllic vision of semi-autarchic pastoral existence which is not, frankly, compatible with the thigns we take for granted, starting with healthcare and the internet. These require complex systems to exist, specialisation, and urban life.

Once you acknowledge the existence of cities and complex systems, you have to accept that economies of scale matter, and some forms of centralised systems are a lot better at making things work. You acknowledge public transit, but electricity is, quite frankly, the same.

Once you're there, you have to look at the least noxious way of providing electricity to cities and to the industries than sustain them. Smart energy use should come first, and renewable energy next, and we all hope that they will be enough, but they won't be for a while.

In the meantime, do we take the massive certain, permanent, recurrent  deaths of coal and (to a lesser extent) gas, or the threat of potentially lethal large scale, or otherwise scary nuclear-related deaths? When you consider that Chernobyl was a pretty much worst case scenario, and that it caused much less damage that than the coal industry causes in any random year in any big producing country (go see "mountaintop removal" as an asnwer to "inhabitable land"), and that it happened just the one time, well, the choice should be easy.

And we haven't even mentioned climate change.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Jul 20th, 2007 at 07:13:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
complexity?  I have to chuckle.  a human city is, as a rule, several orders less complex than the soil ecosystems that were destroyed to build it.  and those soil ecosystems, stable over millennia, did not work by massive centralisation, but by distribution and redundancy in networks.  we could learn a lot from the rhizosphere and the nutrient-balancing behaviour of copses.

"economy of scale" as I think someone (not me) pointed out on an earlier thread, presupposes that transportation -- raw materials in, product (such as electricity) out -- is free, or at least that its cost is irrelevant.  the cost in loss over long transmission lines is irrelevant so long as you have productive capacity in considerable excess of demand;  the cost of mining fuel half a world away, or even half a continent away, and hauling it to the centralised facility (not to mention the cost hauling the toxic waste products away again to a "safe" distance) is irrelevant so long as you have a near-infinite supply of cheap liquid fuel for the hauling.  

in other words, the Economy of Scale notion is a product of cheap energy, and is itself scaled to the cheapness of energy.  if energy and other resources were free/infinite, then we could have one godawful huge power plant on one island someplace that fed the entire planet with electricity galore, and the hell with the losses in 4000 mile transmission lines;  but, as with sci-fi Arthropods of Unusual Size, there are physical factors that limit the practical extent of centralisation.  

when energy becomes expensive, the radius of "economy of scale" shrinks, because long supply lines and long delivery lines get more and more expensive proportional to the amount of energy generated.  if you want to save energy by encouraging less car use and more bike use, then the walmart/costco model of centralising all retail activity for a 400 sq mi region on one megabox store becomes unworkable.  that model is only workable when (a) the energy cost of people driving 100 mi round trip to the centralised store is trivial compared to the cost of goods acquired, (b) the energy cost of hauling slave-labour goods half way around the world to stock the shelves is trivial compared to the sales revenues.  as soon as energy becomes expensive, the "advantages" of concentrating manufacturing in "sacrifice zones" (both human and ecological) thousands of miles away, and the "advantages" of driving tens of miles for "cheap" goods, turn into losing propositions.

the Economy of Scale radius is not an axiom (bigger/more centralised is always better), it's a function of a wildly varying term (energy availability and cost).

as long as energy supplies are finite and have non-zero costs or downsides, there is always a point at which economy of scale founders on energy costs and diminishing returns; this is why we do not have 50 foot cockroaches.

I dunno why various folks keep accusing me of being "pastoral," when I personally tend no herds of ruminants -- and even do a fair amt of research on urban microfarming and the efficiencies of self-powered multifamily buildings...  economy of scale may work very well indeed at the apartment-building or city-block level, or the village level (fairly similar transport radii).  smaller radii could apply just as well to self-organisation and robustness w/in urban areas as outside them, as Jacobs argues so convincingly in DLGAC.

and before we jump to the conclusion that centralisation = hightech medical care = happiness, we might wonder how many of the ills presented to high-tech medical specialists are themselves the physical "externalities" [sic] of industrial toxicity concentrated by centralisation.  the high-tech pharma nexus in the US, f'rexample, is one of the worst criminal polluters;  I am not the only observer to note that it makes a large chunk of cash "curing" the cancers and other syndromes that its effluents are causing.  many people worldwide sicken and die because they live in cities (air pollution mostly, but also slum conditions generally) or because the industrial effluents from the activities which enrich the urban elite contaminate soil and water throughout the hinterlands.  which somewhat vitiates the claim that we are all so awfully lucky to have access to the high-tech medical facilities that "only cities" can provide... I think Cuba's track record on decentralising health care to the neighbourhood and the village level speaks for itself here -- lower tech preventive and basic medicine decentralised and spread more evenly through the population achieves better results wrt most accepted metrics than isolated concentrations of industrialised med tech.

what economy of scale really translates into is a tradeoff between the cost of supply lines and the value of the output, and a tradeoff between more and less democratic institutions (i.e. more or less centralised control).  being as how I am a pessimistic student of human nature and tend to endorse Lord Acton's axiom, I don't think any one person or small team of people should own/hold the Off switch for the daily power needs of millions.  I like short supply lines, especially in troubling and uncertain times.

this does not in any way indicate that I object to extending delivery networks for load balancing, energy sharing, etc., as proposed in the recent "renewables for Euroland" study I cited earlier.  but if those networks fail, they should fail into a few broken local nodes and many functional local nodes, not into one massive failure area.  I wouldn't design a 24x7 computational center to work that way (with all the compute power in one single chassis for a single POF), why would I design a power grid that way?  the Beowulf style cluster of peers, or the VO peer-network data mining/reduction architecture, is a far better mimic of  highly adaptive and stable biotic webs, and hence imho inherently superior design (even aside from considerations of "social capital" and institutional culture).

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Mon Jul 23rd, 2007 at 06:34:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
let's talk about the vulnerability of a highly centralised medical system:
The scale and subtlety of our country's dependency on oil and natural gas cannot be overstated. Nowhere is this truer than in our medical system.

Petrochemicals are used to manufacture analgesics, antihistamines, antibiotics, antibacterials, rectal suppositories, cough syrups, lubricants, creams, ointments, salves, and many gels. Processed plastics made with oil are used in heart valves and other esoteric medical equipment.

Petrochemicals are used in radiological dyes and films, intravenous tubing, syringes, and oxygen masks. In all but rare instances, fossil fuels heat and cool buildings and supply electricity. Ambulances and helicopter "life flights" depend on petroleum, as do personnel who travel to and from medical workplaces in motor vehicles. Supplies and equipment are shipped -- often from overseas -- in petroleum-powered carriers. In addition there are the subtle consequences of fossil fuel reliance.

A recently retired doctor informs me, "In orthopedics we used to set fractures mostly by feel and knowing the mechanics of how the fractures were created. I doubt that many of the present orthopedists could do a good job if you took away their [energy-powered] fluoroscope or X-ray."  [DeA sez:  nonconvivial technologies create dependence on industry and on energy- and techno-elites by deskilling workers]

[...]
The coming scarcity of fossil fuels, on top of inflationary costs in medicine (the prices of oil and natural gas are approximately four times what they were in 1999 and rising) and the expenses of treating Baby Boomers (a cohort twice the size of its predecessor), could overwhelm a medical system already in crisis.

We can avoid collapse, however, by reducing medicine's present consumption of energy and creating a health-care system that reflects our actual relationship to resources. Ironically, peak oil can be a catalyst for creating a health-care system that is cost-effective, ecologically sustainable, and congruent with a democratic social ethos.

At present we have a tiered health-care system. At the top is a Ferrari model of care that reflects our affluence, fascination with technology, and extravagance. Ferrari care has made possible the treatment of rare life-threatening diseases and expensive procedures like organ transplants, but it has also been used for esoteric and often redundant testing and vanity procedures such as botox injections. At the bottom is a jalopy model serving over 50 million un- and underinsured Americans who very often receive no treatment, defer treatment until their condition cannot be ignored, or face economic ruin when they seek adequate care.

If the two tiers persist after peak oil, they will eventually be preserved by force -- armed guards at gated medical facilities -- for the few able to pay, while the rest of Americans are relegated to the jalopy and faced with overt rationing, triage, and curtailment of medical care. Such an outcome would be an overt contravention of democratic values -- most Americans tell pollsters they believe that health care is a human right, not a privilege awarded those with higher income.

What then should we do? The best democratic option is to replace both the Ferrari and the jalopy with a Honda. [...]

The commonsensical Honda model will emphasize public health -- the prevention of disease and the promotion of health within the population as a whole -- over treatment medicine, which focuses on restoring health to chronically or acutely ill individuals.

Typically accomplished through the diffusion of information, low-cost therapies, and the promotion of healthful nutrition and lifestyle, preventive medicine allows people to avoid or postpone disease, and to stay clear of the costliest and most energy-intensive sectors of the medical system -- doctors' offices, pharmacies, and the hospital. In the Honda model, treatment medicine would continue, but its role would be brought into better balance with the vastly more cost-effective and energy-efficient mode of preventive health care.

note that the commonsense or preventive model of health care would reap far less profit for the med mafia and pharmistocracy than the current "perpetual motion" ponzi scheme of cherrypicking (care denial), iatrogenic pathologies, and price gouging.  DeAnander's Law predicts that it is always more profitable, in money terms and for the elite, to do things wrong.  but it would be far more energy efficient and far more profitable in terms of life-years saved and quality-of-life to do things right, that is, sensibly and more simply, with less centralisation and lighter tech.

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Tue Jul 24th, 2007 at 04:08:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
is quite marginal for these uses, and they are least likely to be impacted by increasing oil prices. As the "most valuable" use of oil, it will easily be privileged. Also, the volumes are not that big altogether.

The impact on road transport will be a lot starker than on petrochmeicals accessibility.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Jul 25th, 2007 at 01:09:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You do know that the costliest bit of logistics is not long distance shipping, but the local distribution, right? Shippinh lots of stuff over long distances is cheap and easy - you can use huge boats, combined sea/river/rail systems, standardized containers which are extremely energy efficient altogether.

What is costly is the last mile, where you need to deliver lots of small packages (whether of energy, goods or anything else) to lots of different places. That's energy intensive, but it's easier to do in concentrated areas, where you can get dense networks (with all the redundancy you need).

There is a reason why human activity always migrated towards this, even before there was plentiful oil.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Jul 25th, 2007 at 01:03:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's why high-density residential and mixed residential-commercial land uses are optimal.

Also, by the way, why it makes sense to segregate residential from agricultural uses. Because it is easier to work a contiguous plot of land than many scattered plotlets. And this is irrespective of whether we're talking about monoculture or permaculture.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jul 26th, 2007 at 05:19:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Easier for mechanised agriculture, maybe ; or animal traction. Not so sure about perma culture ?

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Thu Jul 26th, 2007 at 10:44:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Permaculture seems to me an attempt at recreating a rich ecosystem in controlled way in a limited space. It's easier to have an ecosystem on a larger scale.

But I might well be wrong on this. We haven't had enough diaries on permaculture in any case (hint, hint).

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jul 26th, 2007 at 10:50:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually, man is part of that ecosystem, and its excrements are very good fertilisers. Who's candidate to carry the load of sh*t 3 miles from here ? :)


Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Thu Jul 26th, 2007 at 11:03:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I suppose that's what composting toilets are for, which are more efficient if built into multi-unit housing.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jul 26th, 2007 at 11:16:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Using human crap as fertiliser is a bad idea. You get a concentration of toxins, biomagnification I think it's called.

Plants grow, ingesting some small amounts of toxins. Animals eat plants, getting far higher concentrations of toxins than the plants have as the toxins are retained in the animal tissue. Humans eat the animals and get even more toxins. Dumping our toxic crap on plants will make us ingest far more toxin the next time we eat meat, and it will get worse for every consecutive year.

Now, if you manage to separate the toxin from the crap in an economic way, you have a prize to collect in Stockholm.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Thu Jul 26th, 2007 at 11:26:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Isn't that an argument for not using manure as fertilizer, too?
Dumping our toxic crap on plants will make us ingest far more toxin the next time we eat meat
How about you don't eat meat?

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jul 26th, 2007 at 11:33:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sure, but the toxins are magnified one extra time in the loop (and by an order of magnitude???) if you go plant->cow->man->plant etc compared to plant->cow->plant. At least this is what they told me in high school biology. Considering where I learnt about it, I can't really claim to be an authority on these things.

I might also have mixed up biomagnification with bioaccumulation. Let's see what wikipedia says.

Biomagnification, also known as bioamplification, or biological magnification is the increase in concentration of a substance, such as the pesticide DDT, that occurs in a food chain as a consequence of:

    * Food chain energetics
    * Low (or nonexistent) rate of excretion/degradation of the substance.

It is an important concept in ecology, environmental science, and ecotoxicology: it says that the solution to certain types of pollution is not dilution, because food chains will concentrate the pollutant.

Although sometimes used interchangeably with 'bioaccumulation,' an important distinction is drawn between the two. Bioaccumulation occurs within a trophic level, and is the increase in concentration of a substance in an individual's tissues due to uptake from food and sediments in an aquatic milieu. Bioconcentration is defined as occurring when uptake from the water is greater than excretion. (Landrum and Fisher, 1999). Thus bioconcentration and bioaccumulation occur within an organism, and biomagnification occurs across trophic (food chain) levels.

Bioaccumulation occurs when an organism absorbs a toxic substance at a rate greater than that at which the substance is lost. Thus, the longer the biological half-life of the substance the greater the risk of chronic poisoning, even if environmental levels of the toxin are very low.

This is one reason why chronic poisoning is a common aspect of environmental health in the workplace. As people spend so much time, for so many years in these environments, very low levels of toxins can be lethal over time.

An example of poisoning in the workplace can be seen from the phrase "as mad as a hatter". The process for stiffening the felt used in making hats involved mercury, which forms organic species such as methylmercury, which is lipid soluble, and tends to accumulate in the brain resulting in mercury poisoning.

Other lipid (fat) soluble poisons include tetra-ethyl lead compounds (the lead in leaded petrol), and DDT. These compounds are stored in the body's fat, and when the fatty tissues are used for energy, the compounds are released and cause acute poisoning.

Strontium 90, part of the fallout from atomic bombs, is mistaken by the human body for calcium, and is laid down in the bone, where its radiation can cause damage for a long time.

Naturally produced toxins can also bioaccumulate. The marine algal blooms known as "red tides" can result in local filter feeding organisms such as mussels and oysters becoming toxic; coral fish can be responsible for the poisoning known as ciguatera when they accumulate a toxin called ciguatoxin from reef algae.



Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Thu Jul 26th, 2007 at 02:38:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't believe that's correct, though you need to be careful with it. I'm not sure of the details though - I believe Deanander is the authority on that.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jul 26th, 2007 at 11:55:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
These require complex systems to exist, specialisation, and urban life.

correction: they did require those conditions, but the technology could be rolled out to the world without them now, in fact it seems to be begging to.

what's not to love about 100 dollar computers and wimax?

i suspect we created these urban nexuses to concentrate intelligence, while now info and opinion can fly on their own wings, liberating us in the future from rural>urban refugee problems like we see now.

cities as giant vertical, energy-hogging infrastructures are poor use of land, as we will shortly discover, when the true price of transporting all the raw goods needed to feed the cities is revealed without the subsidy left behind by the dinosaurs to facilitate it.

i hope and believe the distinctions between town and countryside will eventually blur as we find a better demographic balance, and stop concentrating on creaming off the best and brightest to leave the countryside and add to already poorly planned, overcrowded cities.

thanks for mentioning 'smart use', i can't help but feel this is the real way forward, and is finally getting more attention, as when recently it was calculated that just by putting appliances on a power strip could save as much energy as several nuke plants produce.

with all the externalities factored in, nuke power is way more expensive than it's sold as being, and with gas and oil prices rising fast and faster, the costs of building these beasts is only going to get higher.

with that in mind, it seems like a losing race with time, pushing for more nukes.

not to mention a money-hole, when that money could do a lot for solar research to bring prices down.

the insurance companies are the deciding factor here...if they would indemnify plants and potential damage, then i'd trust that.

i'll bet €100 that'll never happen.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Jul 24th, 2007 at 03:56:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
with all the externalities factored in, nuke power is way more expensive than it's sold as being

Is it? That's the debate we keep trying to have, and then being told that it's the wrong way to frame the debate, that by doing so we are objectively pro-nuclear.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jul 24th, 2007 at 03:58:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
even with the known externalities it seems like a no-brainer to this citizen, operating in the big middle, with better-informed, but not necessarily correct surrounding me...

once you start thinking about the social costs, it goes clear off the map, unless the idea of further orwellian dystopias is your cuppa lipton's.

how is it pro-nuke to debate how much the bloody things cost?

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Jul 24th, 2007 at 04:13:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
how is it pro-nuke to debate how much the bloody things cost?

Give us a figure.

And it is not anti-nuke because the anti-nuke position disputes the validity of cost-benefit analysis.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jul 24th, 2007 at 04:33:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
seems to me that what you call 'cost/benefit analysis' is a frame in which both sides cannot agree to stay, for the simple reason that misery and happiness have no numerical yardstick!

btw, thanks for that archive link, migeru, clicking on it revealed a bunch of brilliant multilogue i had missed, due to the inconvenient truth that there are only 24 hours in a day/night cycle.

i'd very much like to see a collection of deananders' replies bound into a handbook of rational, enlightened rebuttal to the nukedealers' propositioning.

the replies could be prefaced by interview-style one or two-line questions.

i'd love to see her on 'hardtalk' with stephen sackur too.

lotta meta in this discussion, i guess a reaction to not feeling some feelings...

special props to starvid for consistency and restraint, and not resorting to vitriol.

de's compendia iterate perfectly my gut feelings, and enrich my judgement with wisdom, surgical deconstructions and always fearlessly looking at the big picture.

blogging at its finest

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Jul 24th, 2007 at 09:43:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
seems to me that what you call 'cost/benefit analysis' is a frame in which both sides cannot agree to stay

Well, yes, that's my conclusion as you will have read in this thread and the one you refer to.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jul 26th, 2007 at 05:16:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Both the validity and some of the details.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Jul 27th, 2007 at 05:12:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
how is it pro-nuke to debate how much the bloody things cost?

Heh, I've never understood that either.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jul 24th, 2007 at 04:57:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I thought it was pretty clear.

It boils down to this: some of us are technocrats. some more eager and some more reluctant. But from a technocratic point of view, the heated debate makes absolutely no sense.

Maybe De and DoDo are recovering technocrats (like DoDo calls himself a recovering interventionist).

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jul 24th, 2007 at 05:14:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I still don't share your (and apparently melo's) view that it is just about different narratives.

I'm not sure I am not a technocrat -- not with rail; and I think even building & maintaining a decentralised energy production structure would need elements that can be called technocratic -- say grid planning, balancing (energy storage) network, boosting production and technology export.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Jul 27th, 2007 at 05:32:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, you actually are willing to discuss the cost/benefit analysis.

Most of the most vociferous opposition to nuclear isn't.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jul 27th, 2007 at 05:33:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
i did imply that, but on further thought, there are many different narratives clouding the fundamental issue, each with agenda, more or less worn on political sleeve.

the simple issue being how to provide as much power as cleanly as possible to as many people, cleaning up our ancestors mistakes, and busting people who pretend to be logical and dispassionate, but are really indulging in intransigence, for the ego-thrilling sake of it.

it's interesting how the tone (polemic, superior) reveals almost always more than the melody ( the wake of the mind's tacks), except in certain poignant occasions, to wrap it in a musical metaphor.

i think of a gorgeous strain, hissing and crackling through a rusty, semi-shorted reciever, and still breaking your heart.

some melodies can do that, beat even shitty tone....exception that proves the rule!

when it comes down to trusting my eyes or my ears, i always trust the latter, it connects more deeply.

can you 'hear' tone in the posts here at ET?

i sure can...life's too short to waste reacting to bristly pedants.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Jul 27th, 2007 at 07:26:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The best scientific report on the external costs of energy, including nuclear, is the EU Externe report. It clearly shows that nuclear have some of the lowest external costs of all energy sources, and the report doesn't even take climate change into account.

Now, all this anti-military claptrap is rather irritating. Every state has a military, its own or somebody elses, no matter if it has nuclear power or not. Saying that it promotes surveillance and fascism and everything is just silly. The military is what has stood between us and Soviet occupation for the last half century. And that would have meant surveillance and fascism.  

And seriously, don't tell me you think France, the UK, Sweden, Canada, Switzerland, Germany etc have turned into fascist autocracies since we deployed nuclear reactors, especially when compared to non-nuclear nations like Denmark, Norway, Portugal, Austria, Italy etc?

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Tue Jul 24th, 2007 at 08:49:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yum!

European Commission: External Costs: Research results on socio-environmental damages due to electricity and transport (2003) [PDF]

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jul 24th, 2007 at 08:56:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hmm, on page 7 of the report [9 of the PDF] there is a table of "Impact pathways of health and environmental effects included in the analysis". Release of radioactive nuclides into the environment is not listed, and the only "accident risk" is "from traffic and workplace accidents".

Also, the "External cost figures for electricity production in the EU for existing technologies" table has a footnote: "sub-total of quantifiable externalities (such as global warming, public health, occupational health, material damage)"

So, on the face of it, the specific risks of nuclear power are not addressed.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jul 24th, 2007 at 09:03:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
O Colman, now you're being captious :-)

I don't think so. Is it "captious" to object to Gaianne's ex cathedra pronouncements replete with "fascist"? I think Colman was pointing out that unsubstantiated bombast can be applied to whatever one wishes (even icons of this blog...).

Like Migeru, I too want an explanation of why nuclear is supposed to be "naturally" secretive, or police-state or fascist, or wherever else one wishes to ratchet the rhetoric up to.

These are arguments I'd have accepted without further thought thirty years ago. I'm not happy now with the lack of information concerning accidents today - but it seems to me nuclear shares that culture with other industries, in other words, that it's not sui generis a natural characteristic of nuclear power. And, (after having opposed the nuclear roll-out in France in the '70s), I have not noticed France becoming a police state or fascist or even a weensy bit less democratic than before (FWIW !). So these are arguments I'm frankly dubitative about today. And Gaianne's type of rhetoric doesn't further thought and discussion.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Jul 20th, 2007 at 08:18:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I have not noticed France becoming a police state or fascist or even a weensy bit less democratic

just give Sarkozy some time... I'm sure he'll be working on it :-)

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Mon Jul 23rd, 2007 at 05:48:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sarkozy has nothing to do with nuclear - thus France's move to anything more authoritarian under Sarkozy will not be attributable to nuclear, which kind of proves our point that the two are not linked.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Jul 25th, 2007 at 01:00:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What if Sarko introduces more authoritarian ways with the argument of protecting nuclear facilities? (It happened in Germany.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Jul 27th, 2007 at 05:02:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We'll discuss it if and when that happens. In the meantime, it is Greenpeace and the "Sortir du Nucléaire" group that regularly trumpet that French nuclear plants (or the new EPR) really are vulnerable to terrorism (the "I take the biggest plane around, load it with fuel and smash onto the reactor" kind) and thus unacceptable. So the fearmongering is not quite coming from where you'd expect...

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Jul 27th, 2007 at 10:36:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
While I won't defend Gaianne's excessive rhetoric,

it seems to me nuclear shares that culture with other industries, in other words, that it's not sui generis a natural characteristic of nuclear power.

Hm, I don't see the logic. Isn't it that it is sui generis for nuclear as well as others? With a gradation due to "stakes as well as odds", e.g. the stakes are higher, both in terms of accident and in terms of financial/livelihood involvement?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Jul 27th, 2007 at 05:09:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, because if we didn't have nuclear power we wouldn't have a fascist state built around surveillance, force and secrecy. It was all going in the right direction before the 1930's.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jul 19th, 2007 at 09:13:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
no reason to give their successors their dream tool for controlfreakery...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Jul 24th, 2007 at 04:07:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What we need to advocate is openness - if that leads to the end of nuclear as you predict, so be it. But I don't think so because secrecy is not needed for security.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jul 24th, 2007 at 04:40:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
secrecy is not needed for security.

wha??? i can't believe you actually typed that!

name me one security organisation that is open, please.

can you have security and openness?

i believe we can and must gradually attain this, but it demands much more awareness and accountability.

a braver and more truthful media would help, ergo us!

advocating openness...that's the way, fo sho...we deserve truth from public officials, since their expertise or lack of it affects the lives of millions, and often they are appointed, not elected.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Jul 24th, 2007 at 09:54:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
name me one security organisation that is open, please.

Public key encryption. All the information is public but the communication is secure. However, it is not absolutely secure. If you have sufficient computing power you can crack the code. But, if you have that amount of computing power you're essentially outside of the game. It's like saying that my house is not safe because an invading army could come in and destroy it. Well, yes, if there's an invading army I have other things to worry about.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jul 26th, 2007 at 05:05:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
name me one security organisation that is open, please.

I understood security operation, not organisation.

Here's another security operation that is open. A club bouncer. You want to secure your joint, so you hire a 200-pound gorilla to stand at the door and look mean. That's in your face open. What? Twenty gangers can come in, beat the crap out of the bouncer and trash the joint? Well, yes, but if you have a mob attacking your joint no amount of secrecy is going to secure it.

Need I continue?

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jul 26th, 2007 at 05:08:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
if you like...

you are looking at the bottom of the 'security' food chain, when we both know that's not what we're really talking about.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Jul 26th, 2007 at 12:22:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What does a nuclear reactor need to be defended from, exactly?

If your chosen attacker has the ability to use depleted uranium munitions, the attacker poses a higher radiation risk than a running nuclear reactor.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jul 26th, 2007 at 12:46:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
uh-huh, aren't depleted uranium munitions a byproduct of nuclear fission?

and just in case we've forgotten, terrorists don't care if they risk their own persons, as long as their goal is furthered, their own death is a feature, not a bug.

to reiterate: it's not so much the nuke plant that needs security (though any idiot knows why that is so), its the people who live around them who need security and protection, and deserve corporations who milk them to be accountable and most of all truthful, and government who doesn't collude in hoodwinking us, and hypersubsidising the wrong choices, while poo-poohing the right ones.

and while starvid blames the media for hyping the negative aspects and amplifying possible panic, would any of us trust the media parroting the corporations' spiel about how safe and foolproof it is?

objectivity....for sale to the trickiest talker, rented by highest bidder.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Jul 26th, 2007 at 08:54:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
uh-huh, aren't depleted uranium munitions a byproduct of nuclear fission?

No, they are U238, the non-fissile uranium isotope. This doesn't come from nuclear reactor waste but from the enrichment process.

Yes, people need protection, that's why the nuclear industry is heavily regulated.

No, we don't trust the media parroting the industry. We do our own research.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jul 27th, 2007 at 03:00:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
here's some research_

http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_energy/nuclear_safety/spent-reactor-fuel-security.html

The spent fuel pools for nuclear power plants with boiling water reactors are located above ground in the building surrounding the primary reactor containment structure.  This can make some boiling water reactors even more vulnerable.

The reactor containment structure is often a steel-lined, reinforced concrete building whereas the spent fuel pool building is usually made simply of reinforced concrete.

An aircraft--or missile--would not need to completely level the fuel building to cause harm. It would merely need to crack the concrete wall or floor of the spent fuel pool and drain the water out. The spent fuel pool is designed to remain intact following an earthquake, but it is not designed to withstand aircraft impacts and explosive forces.

What about spent fuel stored in dry casks?

When the spent fuel pool in the "attic" of the nuclear plant fills up, some of the highly radioactive fuel assemblies are loaded into large casks and stored outside on concrete pads.  Weapons available on the black market, and even some that can be legitimately purchased in the U.S., or explosives could cause the casks to be penetrated resulting in the release of large amounts of radiation. At some plants, the casks are line-of-sight visible from open access (i.e., unsecured) areas while other plants place casks inside unguarded chain-link fences.

What should the NRC do about spent fuel security?

Easy. Existing federal regulations (10 CFR 73.55) require plant owners to provide adequate security to protect spent fuel-- whether stored in pools or casks-- from radiological sabotage. All the NRC needs to do is simply enforce regulations already on the books. No more studies are required, no more rulemaking is needed, no more evaluations are necessary, and no more delays are warranted.

i'm glad these folks are on the case.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Jul 27th, 2007 at 06:50:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Good stuff.
When the spent fuel pool in the "attic" of the nuclear plant fills up, some of the highly radioactive fuel assemblies are loaded into large casks and stored outside on concrete pads.  Weapons available on the black market, and even some that can be legitimately purchased in the U.S., or explosives could cause the casks to be penetrated resulting in the release of large amounts of radiation. At some plants, the casks are line-of-sight visible from open access (i.e., unsecured) areas while other plants place casks inside unguarded chain-link fences.
I believe these are the same containers (CASTOR) that Starvid was mentioning upthread (military weapons can breach them, but with limited release of ratiation).

CASTOR have been mentioned by DoDo recently:

I note that current chancellor Angela Merkel is also close to nuclear power. She used to be a physicist, first came into Helmut Kohl's conservative government to oversee R&D, and was then environment minister. It was during the latter time that the big scandal of nuclear waste transport containers (named Castor) blew, e.g. that contamination was found on their outside with radiation levels that were orders of magnitude above the limit (up to 3000 times). In the run-up to the scandal, Merkel rejected all doubts. once it blew big, she made a stand against the companies, acting all outraged. A cunning and cynical move foreshadowing a great tactician: wasn't it her ministry, as oversight authority, that should have caught this at home, or pressed the French authorities for better information flow?
Also here.

I have had a very heated argument about CASTOR with DoDo, by the way.

DoDo: the point with the security risk was: if treehugger protesters with a simple infrastructure can accomplish trespassing, so can a terror group with military training, and they wouldn't just want to stop the train.

...

DoDo: ... no CASTOR can be hurt by a simple derailment ... (In fact CASTOR containers were marketed as indestructible, with videos showing them thrown from airplanes and hitting the ground hard, though later it was found that some hard operation can cause structural damage.)

But you were in that thread too, so you must remember.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jul 27th, 2007 at 07:17:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
uh-huh, aren't depleted uranium munitions a byproduct of nuclear fission?

Err, no. Depleted uranium is the by-product from the isotopic separation step before the uranium is used as fuel. It's produced before any fission takes place.

Natural uranium coming from the mine is composed of 0.0054% U-234, 0.7204% U-235 and 99.2742% U-238. Light water reactors need a higher proportion of U-235 - 3 to 5% - to sustain nuclear fission. The isotopic separation does that. It concentrate the U-235 on one side and on the other side outputs depleted uranium with 0.4 to 0.1% of U-235 left.

Depleted uranium never sees the inside of a nuclear reactor. Actually, that's the whole point of the isotopic separation.

I don't know why that idea about depleted uranium coming out of a reactor is so prevalent. It must be a confusion with recycled uranium.

by Francois in Paris on Fri Jul 27th, 2007 at 03:14:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But don't you mean "secrecy is not needed for safety"? Isn't safety one of the bigger hang-ups in this debate?
by Nomad on Thu Jul 26th, 2007 at 04:35:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Secrecy is definitely detrimental to safety because ot breeds complacency, that much we know.

But people are arguing that certain technologies (nuclear power, but it could be others) cannot be made safe because to be safe it needs to be secure, and to be secure it has to be secret. And they're using the terrorism/organised crime bogeyman to buttress the argument.

Isn't it agreed that if someone is determined to die trying, there's no amount of security that will make any target safe? But that is the problem, you have to either assume overwhelming force or willingness to die trying in order to justify secrecy for security or safety.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jul 26th, 2007 at 05:11:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But people are arguing that certain technologies (nuclear power, but it could be others)

Chemical industry. Also a problem (and before someone curses Greenpeace et al again, I note one that gets attention -- say BASF's spills into the Rhine), though stakes are less.

cannot be made safe because to be safe it needs to be secure, and to be secure it has to be secret.

You short-cut it there. For you the info-anarchist, the main issue seems to be the theoretical possibility of safety without secrecy. While I would contest that, too, a more important question is the practical issue of whether there are people who (1) do think that safety needs secrecy, and (2) are in position to influence actual policy. Be them military or police, as I try to argue towards you, or François's blockhead politicians, I think there are and there always will be such people.

they're using the terrorism/organised crime bogeyman

I don't think they're only bogeymans. They should be taken into account just like earthquakes. There is safety and excessive safety. On the other hand, you left out the most probable willfull human-caused damage concern, mentioned by rdf, sabotage, especially by on-site workers, which is not theoretical.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Jul 27th, 2007 at 04:23:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree on sabotage, but inside jobs are not something than can be prevented by secrecy either.

the main issue seems to be the theoretical possibility of safety without secrecy. While I would contest that, too

I'd like to see that.

Chemical industry. Also a problem

And that's why we have strong regulation.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jul 27th, 2007 at 04:42:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree on sabotage, but inside jobs are not something than can be prevented by secrecy either.

Agree, though tiered clearances and access to information may reduce the risk (or at least are argued to reduce the risk by those who influence policy).

And that's why we have strong regulation.

And we also have protected perimeters and secrecy.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Jul 27th, 2007 at 05:01:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Everything that is vulnerable has a protected perimeter.

As for secrecy, that's an ongoing battle ("freedom of information" laws). Or are you agreeing that the government and industry cannot operate with freedom of information laws?

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jul 27th, 2007 at 05:10:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
well said, though 'fascist-type' state prolly wouldn't have tweaked people so much...

i think you have to be really blind not to see how the two feed off each other, either wilfully or not.

fascism has had its share of intellectuals too, though none have stood the test of time.

humans can and do deserve better, once we lose the desire for 'big daddy's protection, for which it appears we are in a hurry to trade off civil rights and a reasonable level of privacy.

not to mention create waste that lasts several orders of magnitude longer than recorded human history.

hubris to new levels...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Jul 24th, 2007 at 03:33:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
99% of the time secrecy is used as a cover for incompetence or malfeasance. Saboteurs (I'm no longer going to permit "terrorist" in my vocabulary) can be of two types: amateurs and professionals.

Amateurs only succeed by luck or accident, professionals have the resources of a state behind them and they can usually find out what they need through the usual intelligence channels.

In the US the highest risk right now is at chemical plants and in chemical transport. See the stories on the Ukrainian rail crash to see how poor transport infrastructure is.

There will be never-ending arguments about how "safe" nuclear power is, but its biggest weak spot is the storage of spent fuel. It is easy to find out where on the site this is stored and it is not nearly as well protected as is the reactor. Sabateurs don't need to trigger a nuclear meltdown or explosion to achieve their aims. They just need to make sure the site and some of the surrounding are contaminated enough to cause difficulties. I won't mention all of the obvious ways this could be achieved from off site.

In the US new regulations about chemical plants were ostensibly imposed for security reasons, but in reality it is because the plants don't want to have to tell the surrounding communities what they are producing, or storing or emitting. In a recent disaster the local responders had no clue what sort of chemicals were being released so they didn't know what steps to take to mitigate the problem. How is this in anybody's best interest?

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Thu Jul 19th, 2007 at 04:14:13 PM EST
but its biggest weak spot is the storage of spent fuel

imho its biggest weak spot is that it's a weak spot, a multigenerational liability undertaken for a short term energy output, introducing permanent weak spots in the social and technological fabric.

when we build a nuke plant we implicitly either accept, on behalf of our grandchildren's grandchildren's (etc) grandchildren, custodial responsibility for the toxicity of the waste stream (which forks many times, from dust and tailings at the mine, to spent fuel, to the hot dregs from the reprocessing plants) -- or we shrug off that responsibility with a kind of après nous la déluge insouciance and unconcern for the health and wellbeing of our posterity.  my $.02:  option A is insanely optimistic (time to read Tainter and Diamond again) and option B is chillingly amoral.

when Jerome reverts to the "well it's coal/gas or nuke, which is worse" position, I take this as a desperation move, rhetorically speaking :-) since I and other nuke skeptics on ET have already expressly deconstructed and rejected this as a false dichotomy.  the correct answer is Neither.  the correct answer, in my long-considered opinion, is demand reduction, accepting a less energy-intensive lifestyle, learning to live within the annual solar budget and generating less power by less toxic means.

[rant mode on] if we continue to promote and expand power-generation technologies whose maintenance and operation is guaranteed to require the sacrifice of our fellow citizens (of the Earth, not just of our parochial little nation-states), then how are we any different, more Enlightenment-oriented, more dedicated to human rights, than the Incas or Aztecs or any other hierocratic state practising human sacrifice?  how can we talk about "Progress" as if our hands were any cleaner than theirs?  when we can live within an energy budget whose maintenance does not involve picking lottery losers to die protracted and painful -- or brutal and immediate -- deaths, then we might be able to call ourselves democratic, Enlightenmentista, or humane.  this is as true of the highly toxic and heterotrophic fossil fuel paradigm as it is of the nuclear paradigm.  coal and gas have to go, but replacing them with nuclear is just trading the Ford Navigator for the Hummer H2.   our choices are not:  Ford Navigator or Hummer H2.  what about a bicycle?  or even walking a mile or two every now and then. [rant  mode off]

in purely pragmatic, project-management terms, if we adopt nuclear power as an "interim bandaid" for a problem (climate destab) that we desperately need to solve in a 10 year timeframe [so some of our leading analysts suggest, and can we afford to go on ignoring them?], and it takes 15 years on average (plus big fossil energy expenditures) to bring a nuke plant online.... then (a) we are wasting precious time and essential resources to a rescue effort that even were it successful, would arrive too late, (b) we are accepting a "forever" liability and cost for this "temporary" bandaid.  (or irresponsibly refusing to acknowledge/accept that liability, and most likely dumping the "externalities" on poor-usually-brown-people in the grand industrialist tradition).

perhaps we'd like to "fast track" the construction and inspection process due to the State of Emergency?  perhaps we'd like to permit any old slipshod and opaque process, sweep public reluctance and doubt aside, allow technocracy to flex its authoritarian muscle, so as to get hundreds of plants lit up within that 10 year period?  my oh my, I feel really safe and secure about that :-)  if the industry track record so far is the product of a leisurely process with more oversight than the elite would like to tolerate, just imagine what it would look like with fast-tracking thanks to executive fiat.

meanwhile, note that the industrialised world is forming a consortium that would enforce a cartel monopoly on nuclear technology

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer says talks with the US about nuclear cooperation could lead to Australia joining a new nuclear group known as the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP).

    The partnership includes the US, Russia, Japan, China and France, and aims to keep information about nuclear technology and the disposal of waste within the nuclear club.

[my emphasis]

I read two messages here.  first, the thunderingly obvious:  the colonial powers see a new opportunity to keep the global South dependent and submissive, by turning to a new power generation paradigm whose technology would be strictly licensed and controlled by the whitefellahin of the North... among whom the Chinese elite are finally, grudgingly gaining acceptance as they demonstrate their willingness to enslave and poison their peasants in the great game of capital accumulation -- they are now "made men" and allowed to sit at the grownups' table.

second, the pitbull paradigm:  the whitefellahin believe that the technology is so risky that no "lower orders" should be permitted to know about it or practise it unsupervised, as it requires the superior faculties, skills, and god-given authority of whitefella technocrats to operate safely.  they will dole out the technology at their discretion to their dependent clients.  translation:  like the boy in the bubble, it ain't safe enough to allow anywhere outside the ultra-surveilled and -technologised industrial core w/o Northern management and authority.  as if the "disorder" and "failure" attributed to Those Other Parts of the World could Never Happen Here (even though it has, and in -- barely -- living memory).

can we imagine a consortium designed to keep the knowledge and practise of wind turbine design limited to a small club of Northern nation-states?   any fool can build a windmill and generate electricity -- high technology can build a better windmill or a larger one, and has marginal improvement to offer but not total control of the concept.  to operate a nuke plant "safely" [I still think this is an oxymoron when we look at the ore-to-waste lifecycle as a whole] requires a total commitment to high/heavy tech, it is all or nothing, not just a value-added enhancement.  I say again, w/face showing faint signs of cyanosis:  the technology is inherently conducive to enclosure, secrecy, and authoritarianism.  resting my case (for the moment)....

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Tue Jul 24th, 2007 at 05:56:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
is that we should get rid of coal before we get rid of nuclear. I'm happy with the goal of getting rid of nuclear in the long term as we roll out energy conservation and renewables.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Jul 25th, 2007 at 12:59:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How do we get renewables if the market is saturated with (new) nuclear (and that for 40 years), and how do we get rid of gas (and oil) peak power? (While these are weighty points for me, I'm asking under an assumption that you may have your answers to these.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Jul 27th, 2007 at 04:31:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Every analysis I've seen points out that we need all the sources of power to keep things going if we dump coal and oil. Nuclear won't be enough because we can't build it  fast enough. So we get renewables that way, surely?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Jul 27th, 2007 at 04:40:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Every analysis I've seen points out that we need all the sources of power to keep things going if we dump coal and oil.

Do you mean only global ones? For country or Europe-focused ones, I showed two projections for Germany in an earlier thread not like that, and there are others.

Nuclear won't be enough because we can't build it  fast enough.

The question is, where? The thing is that the rapid demand growth (even without efforts of demand reduction in the West) comes primarily from the Third World, while (renewables) development happens primarily in the First World. If the whole EU adopts a France-like production structure, that won't lead to a renewables mega-boom in place of coal in Asia.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Jul 27th, 2007 at 04:58:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, we don't like China's Three Gorges Dam, so "renewables" must mean wind.

And wind, f I understand things correctly, has a similar financial structure to nuclear: high capital costs and low operating costs. Nuclear has a more expensive decommissioning. But, in addition, Nuclear power plants have higher decommisioning costs and take longer to put in place than wind farms. So I don't know why China couldn't be building wind farms to replace coal-fired plants. But right now they're building, not replacing, coal plants.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jul 27th, 2007 at 05:18:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hey, I like mega-dams.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Fri Jul 27th, 2007 at 03:41:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, we can build nuclear fast enough. No question about that. The important question we should ask ourselves is if nukes always are the best choice. I'm sure they are not.

When all power sources are put on a rational playing field (not a level one, that doesn't exist), I am sure some wind sites will produce power cheaper than nuclear will, and that most hydro sites will.

And then we should exploit those better sites, and no others.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Fri Jul 27th, 2007 at 03:39:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd rather ask what use renewables are if the market is already saturated with nuclear?

Gas peak power can very well stay for all I care, but it should be able to be replaced with pumped hydro if we thought it important.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Fri Jul 27th, 2007 at 03:39:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The argument of secrecy for civil nuclear stuff is a mostly a joke. According to GIIN:

http://www.giin.fr/

35000 employees have on nuclear site  activity. Most of them are poorly paid, not even permanently employed and have recurrent but spaced in time temporary contracts.

Some put the number of such "intermittent du nucléaire" near 30 000, but I'm not sure it's credible:

http://www.dissident-media.org/infonucleaire/esclaves.html

Anyway, you can assume you have a pool of at least 10 000 people without work future, taking risks, not being considered or payed in consequence.

Secrecy doesn't buy anything for security in this setting, would-be terrorists already have a big and easy path for information and attack vector.

So it's just secrecy against honest citizen.

by Laurent GUERBY on Fri Jul 20th, 2007 at 02:58:34 PM EST


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