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Why Bernie and Hillary Must Address America’s Dying Nuke Reactors


#1


#2

I appreciate Mr. Wasserman's steadfast commitment to this issue along with his vision for clean energy systems or Solartopia.

"Reactor projects in Finland and at Flamanville, France, are billions over budget and years behind schedule. So are the two each in South Carolina and Georgia, where the local economies stand to be devastated by gargantuan cost overruns."

Currently--as in the news--a so-called 1000 year flood event is impacting various portions of South Carolina. Imagine if a nuclear power plant was sitting on one of those flood zones? (Most rely on nearby water to serve as basis for the plant's cooling system).

All over the world, out of control, unexpected and rare weather events are demonstrating that engineers cannot count on existing topography, stable terrain, or available water sources.

Here is a link to a site that does a phenomenal job of showing what's really going on: (September's monthly overview should be published in a day or so.)


#4

"Over the Top Harvey" is back again...
Fukushima: doesn't dump huge quantities of radioactive water into the Pacific everyday, nor is the site out of control. The reactor cores didn't explode, they melted and are still in their secondary containment buildings, not "missing". Health impacts among children are not devastating, rather they are un-measurable.
The explosions that did occur were chemical, not nuclear. No reactor is likely to "kill millions, irradiate large sections of the globe or bankrupt us all."
The deaths from Fukushima so far were caused by over-reaction of the Japanese government to radioactivity that then caused unnecessary mass evacuations. Harvey is pushing that same irrationality.
Wasserman's hyperbole is out of place here at Common Dreams.


#5

All Nuke Plants leak dangerous ionizing radiation. ALL OF THEM. Heavy, Unstable, Man-Made radioisotopes like Plutonium-239, Americium-245, Stronium-90 and Cesium-137 are not found in nature and cause cancer mutations when previous healthy cell tissue is exposed to them.

The CDC says Cancer is the number two killer of Americans. They forecast it will become the number one shortly. The number two cause of death for Americans is Heart failure. Ionizing Radioisotopes ingested or inhaled from nuke plant leaks cause heart muscle weakness leading to death by heart attack. The heart muscle pumps thousands of gallons a day and must be at over 90 percent efficiency to work. So many heart attacks are really caused by nuclear fallout and are simply misdiagnosed at random heart failure since no testing for excessive radiation is ever ordered for heart failure victims.

These creaking, leaking 40 year old Deathtraps have to go!


#6

There is no such thing as a Molten salt thorium reactor.

This theoretical magic you cackle about cannot "burn down" any nuclear waste. It can only transmutate dangerous nuke waste into even more dangerous concentrated waste. But the required transport and fuel re-processing required to do this virtually guarantees an fallout accident behind someone's house.

It would also produce additional nuke waste since it has a Uranium 235/233 reactor in it's core. Folks, don't take nuclear advice from a Grocery Store Bag-Boy with no education.

I hauled this chit for a living and you have no idea all the close calls and reckless coverups we experienced. The nuke mob never admits to contamination of poor innocent downwinders. The Magic Thorium reactor is a complete fraud. Don't fall for it.

TJ


#7

Oh Chit,

You just made me realize that South Carolina has Nuke plants. I wonder if they got flooded like the one in Nebraska a few years ago? The flood at that Nuke Plant cut off all power and the water carried away the fuel tanks of the emergency generators and the thing almost melted down according to Gundersen. It was a really close call as I recall, within a foot or so of breaching the levies into the reactors. I'll have to check into that.

Gundersen points out over and over again that Nuke plants are not even designed for handling 100 year floods or 100 year known tsunamis. The breakwater Jetti (sp?) at Fukushima was built 50 feet lower than known events of the past. The tsunami reached 75 feet in some places on the shore and the Lagoon breakwater was only 35 feet IIRC.

Not even close.

And there were ancient stone tablets erected in Japanese that warned of huge tsunamis killing everyone along the shore saying it was not safe for settlement. GE chose to ignore the warnings from elder's past. Now reckless China is building 75 nuke plants at the behest of Westinghouse. They can't even store chemicals properly as your video showed whole cities blowing up. It's a safe bet they are going to do the same thing with nuke waste causing global fallout.


#8

According to who, Mr. Finston?

Your dishonest source "Spunky Monkey" on a physics board? :wink: Sorry, anonymous bloggers with no medical background are not "sources" to "disprove" peer-reviewed medical studies as you claim.

I have personally verified everything in Harvey Wasserman's article. If anything, he is way understating the danger that nuke plants pose to the public.


#10

Mattie,

The MSR at Oakridge was a SIMULATION, without a thorium blanket. Your original post was implying that such an animal as a Thorium Reactor actually exists; which is bullchit. You said:

Everything in your post is untrue. There's never been a Thorium Reactor built since it was so dangerous and caused radiation to surge through the system and risked an uncontrolled criticality. The waste produced by "burning" old Pu-239 waste WILL LAST LONGER with massive half-life (not less duration as you claimed) in the neighborhood of millions to billions of years.

I never said a Thorium MSR would produce More Waste than a LWR. I informed everyone that the claim made by people like you that Thorium Reactors don't produce waste is a lie. They produce nuke waste in the Uranium 235 reactor to get the transmutation started. This is in addition to the longer lasting nuke waste produced from transmutation from Pu-239 to usable elements. Then there's massive liquid and atmospheric waste produced at the fuel reprocessing plant that must be employed to put the bomb material into usable form for fuel.

I can't possibly provide a link that a uneducated person like you would understand. You've never been to college, by your own admission, and you've never taken physics. The reason for my assertive tone with you is that supporting something so dangerous is going to result in fallout on my family.

You Conservatives without a science background are a constant danger to us all.


#12

R F'n Inston, so good to see my favorite nuke shill is still operational. It's been awhile.

So, a hot core in the ground is a-okay 'cause it didn't blow 'eh?


#13

So now, the pro-war, pro-nuke, pro-GMO, anti-female, anti-Liberal Mattie who bags groceries is a commie.

Now I've heard everything! :joy:

The Molten Salt Reactor Experiment that you keep lying about WAS NOT A THORIUM REACTOR, since it did not have a thorium blanket. It was a SIMULATION. This means all your claims about what Magic Thorium MSR's are capable of are complete fabrication by your twisted mind since one has never been tried. Wiki says:

After shutdown the salt was believed to be in long-term safe storage.
At low temperatures, radiolysis can free fluorine from the salt. As a
countermeasure the salt was annually reheated to about 150°C, until
1989.[20]
But beginning in the mid-1980s, there was concern that radioactivity
was migrating through the system. Sampling in 1994 revealed
concentrations of uranium that created a potential for a nuclear criticality accident, as well as a potentially dangerous build-up of fluorine
gas — the environment above the solidified salt was approximately one
atmosphere of fluorine. The ensuing decontamination and decommissioning
project was called "the most technically challenging" activity assigned
to Bechtel Jacobs under its environmental management contract with the U.S. Department of Energy's
Oak Ridge Operations organization. In 2003, the MSRE cleanup project
was estimated at about $130 million, with decommissioning expected to be
completed in 2009.[21]
Removal of uranium from the salt was finally complete in March 2008,
however still leaving the salt with the fission products in the tanks.[22]
Much of the high cost was caused by the unpleasant surprise of
fluorine and uranium hexafluoride evolution from cold fuel salt in
storage that ORNL did not defuel and store correctly

If you took Physics, why is it you don't seem to comprehend the basic scientific law of "The Conservation of Matter". That matter cannot be created or destroyed; but rather, only converted into different form. There is no way to magically "burn" nuke waste out of existence, Matti!

We are not "ending the atomic age" by building new "atomic" Uranium reactors which must be operating to get this farcical Thorium MSR started.

Since you dropped out of college without a degree, you don't have the education to discuss such complex technology, and invariably fall for the nuke mob's "too cheap to meter" marketing lies.


#14

Why TJ, how dare you question the veracity of R f'n Inston?

You may as well question the veracity of TEPCO, which only took four years to admit they had a meltdown.

Maybe, in another 4 years, they'll admit that the groundwater contamination from the hot core is mixing with the seawater by the plant. They'll just wait until the core has gone so low that it no longer impacts ground/sea water.

Of course, in the meantime, they're claiming that tests prove the water is fine.

Are those independent tests?

What? Why would you even ask that?

Here, proof the water is okay:

http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/f1/smp/index-e.html

See TEPCO is continuously testing the water, and the water is fine! You can make coffee with it!

And see, an independent "..third-party organization also analyzes the radioactive material concentration to ensure the objectivity of the analysis result."

What? What are they analyzing?

The water that TEPCO gives them to analyze.

From their water cooler in the break room?

TJ, you really need to work on your attitude. You act as if there's some reason to think that TEPCO is covering up what's actually going on.

Straighten up and fly right young man!


#16

LoL!

It's the fact that the water out of the tap boils the coffee without being heated that has me skipping Japanese food products!

Yikes! TEPCO Instant Coffee with Self-Boiling Crystals! Only one cup will make you nervous (for the rest of your life) :scream: :astonished: :skull:


#17

TJ, I gotta disagree with you on the college issue. A lot of idiots have degrees and a lot of brilliant people don't. A college degree often means someone's family had the resources to put them through school, something they might not have been able to do unassisted.

That's one of the reasons I really like Bernie Sanders' plan to eliminate public college tuition costs. It levels the playing field for public schools.


#18

This is what I am trying to get across to you: There is no way out, once you contaminate the biosphere with nuke waste. It floats everywhere. There is no Magic Bullet Machine like the Nuke-Con-Man is trying to sell you. There is no off switch since the half life of Pu-239 is 24,000 years, and the crap has to be vented and guarded forever since it could be used to make a dirty bomb. The only sane thing to do is to quit making and playing around with bomb material which was designed to kill people with. O.K.?

I'm sorry if it offends you, but a simple grocer is not smart enough to understand theoretical physics. I don't even comprehend such a complicated endeavor, and many nuclear engineers strongly disagree with each other about how such untested technologies would pan out. But having been certified by DOD and DOT to transport it by air, I have valuable insight how things go terribly wrong when fallible humans are involved.

It's just too risky to play god and expose all the down-winders to the fallout when 90 percent of all radioisotopes created in a reactor are not even yet known. Do they have daughter products that we all inhale? No one knows. But we know for sure that over One Million Died downwind of Chernobyl according to Russian Doctors published in the New York Academy of Science and Gorbachev said in his memoirs that the Chernobyl nuclear plant explosion was what ended the USSR.

The stakes are just to high to be trucking and flying this "chit" by people's houses. Accidents WILL happen. They always do in transport or reactor operations.


#19

Yes,

You are right ctrl-z. Certainly you are right. I agree with everything you said in your post. But in complex endeavors fooling around with dangerous technologies that could harm the public, you have to start somewhere to weed out the bag boys who have no experience, or you will end up with smoking wreckage. It's starts with requiring a background in physical science and then also requires actual experience whether it's Aviation, Medicine or Nuclear Power Plant operation. Except at TEPCO where any hobo drunk on the street hired by the mob is the perfect candidate to bet the whole country's health on....

Man, I sure hope Bern can pull off a miracle. He's really my last hope.


#21

TJ, ya need to cut the 'bag boy' and 'simple grocer' crap. You're saying a person is their job. You're also saying that jobs are an indicator of intelligence. Ever read about people in Mensa? They come from all walks of life. Plumbers, construction workers, baristas..

So you're barking up the wrong tree here.

Unlike me. I hardly ever do that.

We'll sure, I've called posters bots, but hey, what else are you gonna call a bot?

:smile:


#22

So, would it be safe to say that you would welcome the placement of a new thorium reactor a mile upwind of your home? I think that's the test for the validity of any pro-nuker. If one would not be content to live downwind of a nuke plant, any type of nuke plant, then why would one advocate for such technology?


#23

Thomas_Jefferson wrote (to Matt_Heins):

'If you took Physics, why is it you don't seem to comprehend the basic scientific law of "The Conservation of Matter". That matter cannot be created or destroyed; but rather, only converted into different form. There is no way to magically "burn" nuke waste out of existence, Matti!'

Except that "Conservation of matter" is NOT a valid law of physics. Indeed, it was so in Lavoisier's time, before Einstein showe that matter may be convreted to energy If Lavoisier's law held, nuclear reactors would not exist. And TJ would.be tickled pink.


#24

"The low activity-to-high activity material process you assert without foundation seems doubtful to me. Perhaps a small amount of this would happen."

This would actually be the dominant mode of conversion. Almost all of the nuclear "waste" (LWR spent fuel) would be turned into fission products that would, on average, be far more radioactive than the spent fuel. But this is a desirable conversion. First, you can get 20 or more times the amount of energy from spent fuel that you got on the first pass through. Second, fission products are lighter elements than the heavy actinides which dominate spent fuel, and so they tend to have much shorter decay chains. Many are only one step away from becoming a stable or meta-stable isotope. And third, the only way an isotope can have a higher level of radioactivity is by having a shorter half-life, and when it comes to waste management, shorter is better--which is just another way of saying, the more intensely radioactive, the better. And the higher intensity of radioactivity doesn't have to translate into increased hazard. Alpha and beta decay would dominate in fission products, and increasing the intensity of such activity requires hardly any increase in shielding or change in handling. A particle of given mass and energy will only travel so far through a given medium, and increasing the number of particles per second does nothing to increase the distance any of them can travel. If you are beyond the range of one particle from a source, you'll be beyond the range of any number of them from that source. Only the moderately increased gamma emissions would represent an increased local hazard, but some added shielding and increased buffer distance can compensate for that. And for some fission products, much of that decay could take place in the reactor core, which would be built to deal with far higher levels of gamma radiation during normal operation.

Reducing the half-life means that more than 80% of the fission products (by mass) will reach stable in time periods ranging up to 10 years--at which point, all of that is no longer "waste". Most of the remaining isotopes will have intermediate half-lives. That means they are less radioactive, but will take up to 400 years to reach background levels of radiation. And then in small quantities, there would be seven long-lived fission products. These are mildly radioactive, most have weak and easily-shielded decay energies (like, a sheet of plastic would be plenty), and two of them are produced in quantities so small they would be very easy to deal with. Some of them would also have uses in their radioactive form, and with technetium 99, it is only one neutron capture away from becoming stable, and valuable, ruthenium 100.

And the overarching advantage of molten salt waste burning is that it is very amenable to chemical processing, which makes it easier (and maybe even profitable) to separate out the fission products for handling individually or in related batches. The big problem with existing spent fuel is that it is a jumble of actinides and fission products bound up in a solid which is not easy to handle, or process, or break up into its constituent components. We have multiple options for dealing with each ingredient individually, but not bound up in a mass like that.

"As originally stated, the ability of MSTRs to run on LWR waste and reduce its danger is the main reason for employing them."

There are two, very distinct development paths taking place for molten salt reactors. One path is optimized for burning thorium, and those will be based on moderated (slowed) thermal-spectrum neutrons. The nice thing about working with moderated neutrons is that gives you three ways to take the core fluid out of critical--remove the moderation, change the fluid geometry, and reduce the number of neutrons (using an absorber like boron). Having a triple-brake on criticality is kind of overkill, but my hunch is that all three approaches will be used in thorium reactor dump tanks, just because all three are so easy. And the nice thing about burning thorium is that the transmutation path dead-ends at plutonium 238 (which, far from being waste, is actually valuable stuff). Production of U-238 and its attendant (and problematic) transmutation path would amount to a barely-detectable trace. Putting U-238 into a thorium reactor would be a bad thing, both in terms of waste generated and what it would do to the neutron economy. This would be like trying to burn diesel fuel in a gasoline engine.

So the other path is optimized for consuming waste. These need fast or epi-thermal neutrons to get efficient and complete burn-up of the heavy transuranics. The advantage here is that using unmoderated neutrons lets you digest almost any kind of uranium, any kind of plutonium from 239 up, and the heavier actinides in spent fuel (americium, curium, etc.) You also get a higher return of neutrons, so your neutron budget isn't so tightly constrained, which makes for a more versatile reactor and/or a higher breed ratio. The downsides to using fast neutrons are that you have one less way to stop criticality (although changing the geometry to shut it down is easier and more effective), the fast neutrons are harder on the reactor materials, and you need a larger core load to compensate for the reduced likelihood of neutron capture.

My hunch is that the digest-all garbage-eating molten salt reactors will be sprawling multi-gigawatt facilities, much of which will be for chemical processing. They would also be able to consume thorium, but I think it is more likely they will be used to consume waste while breeding thorium into fuel for thorium-specific reactors. I think the thorium reactors will be smaller, more numerous, and more urban, and they will depend on the big hub reactors for their primer loads and for processing out their salt upon decommissioning.


#25

There were similar early predictions of (or desires for) the quick demise of computers, and air travel, and telephones, and electricity, and trains. They were all viewed by many as evil and threatening technologies in the beginning. There was even some validity to the objections, particularly for their early incarnations, but the technologies evolved and we adapted. I don't know that we have ever walked away from a technology once we have figured out how to make it useful, and I suspect this is how it has been going all the way back to the first use of fire.

I guess in a sense the dire predictions about fire did ultimately pan out, thousands of years later, but not because of how fire was evil, dangerous, and useless. What happened was that it proved so useful, and we use it so much, that it's now causing problems. And it isn't just the carbon problem. It's also the scale of the energy harvesting footprint.

Check out Google for images of the Garzweiler or Hambach lignite mines sometime, and the huge Bagger excavators which work them. The combined output of all the Rhineland mines is running around 100 megatonnes per year, and the current plan is to continue that indefinitely. Identified Rhineland reserves of surface-mineable lignite are estimated to be 35,000 Mt--sufficient to sustain that rate for 350 years.

http://www.mining-technology.com/projects/rhineland/

The energy value of that lignite averages around 9 megajoules per kilogram--poor for coal, but it is found in deep beds with high purity, so its energy value per mass unit of mined material is very high. A kilogram of uranium or thorium, on the other hand, has roughly 80 million megajoules per kilogram fission energy value (plus a few extra percent decay energy). In a molten salt reactor, that much heat could generate more than 9000 megawatt hours of electricity. There's an old iron mine in Missouri which the owners would like to retask to produce rare earth elements, and they figure their target production rate would generate about 5,000 tonnes of thorium byproduct per year--enough to generate 45 terawatt hours. The McArthur River mine pulls up enough uranium each year to generate 60 terawatt hours in MSR's--on a parcel of land less than one square kilometer.

So just one year's production from that thorium mine could offset nearly 45,000 megatonnes of lignite One year from McArthur could offset nearly 60,000 megatonnes -- 70% more than the total identified Rhineland reserves. Nuclear isn't going to displace coal until its economics improve, but there are a lot of people who think molten salt reactors could get us across the cost tipping point. Once that happens, the advantages will only accumulate for nuclear and coal will be effectively doomed.

The transition from coal to fission power should make it possible to shrink our energy harvesting footprint enormously. But to replace nuclear power with renewables might require expanding that footprint back out again. Here in south Texas, for example, our state-of-the-art solar facilities with high efficiency panels and solar tracking have been averaging less than 35 megawatt hours per year per square kilometer. So to offset the production of that Missouri mine would take a solar farm covering 1,285,700 square kilometers (nearly a half million square miles--or roughly the area of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska combined). To offset McArthur River would take 1,722,860 square kilometers (665,200 square miles--add California to the list above). If you aren't in a place as sunny as south Texas, the area increases. If you don't use solar tracking, the area increases. If you want to include energy storage, the area increases.

If we develop practical waste-burners, they are going to be with us for a while. Digesting decades accumulation of spent fuel will take at least 20 times as many gigawatt-years as it took to generate it in the first place. And once we have molten salt waste-burning figured out, thorium will be close behind and with greater capacity for rapid expansion. It could easily take more than a century before we make significant headway just in the spent fuel we already have, and the rate of spent fuel production isn't likely to peak for at least another decade. The Solartopian solution depends on reducing rates of energy consumption because it would be a monumental challenge just for renewables to meet existing demand. But what will mankind's energy consumption rate be after a century of abundant nuclear energy, and with billions of new arrivals to a high energy lifestyle? My hunch is that we will not be consuming less energy.

If anything displaces molten salt reactors, it's going to be something with similar or better energy density--like fusion. We are technically in the atomic age, but 1) it hasn't even reached the point of mass production and 2) aviation began with balloons and computers began with tubes. In retrospect, we don't say that the aviation age began in the 1790's or that the age of computing began in the 1940's, even if they technically did. We are still in the primitive precursor era to any practical atomic age. And when we do get there, the only thing likely to pry nuclear energy from our grip will be something better that we haven't even imagined yet.