Nuclear split off thread

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morriswalters
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Re: Nuclear split off thread

Postby morriswalters » Wed Nov 18, 2015 3:29 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:No. As already mentioned, it's a result of just assuming modern rates backward throughout the entire history. That's...not really valid.
No, not exactly. It needs stating that most reactors today in the US were designed and developed in the 60's and 70's. The current CDF's represent what we know today about operating those reactors. Chernobyl would have had a different number given different technologies. But both TMI and Fukushima Daiichi were started prior to 1980. What it tells you is that the regulating agencies didn't have a good grasp of the hazards.
Tyndmyr wrote:Do you have any, yknow, evidence of this?
See this.
Twelve years into NRC operations, a 1987 Congressional report entitled "NRC Coziness with Industry"[3] concluded, that the NRC "has not maintained an arms length regulatory posture with the commercial nuclear power industry... [and] has, in some critical areas, abdicated its role as a regulator altogether".[1] To cite three examples:

A 1986 Congressional report found that NRC staff had provided valuable technical assistance to the utility seeking an operating license for the controversial Seabrook plant. In the late 1980s, the NRC 'created a policy' of non-enforcement by asserting its discretion not to enforcement with license conditions; between September 1989 and 1994, the 'NRC has either waived or chosen not to enforce regulations at nuclear power reactors over 340 times'. Finally, critics charge that the NRC has ceded important aspects of regulatory authority to the industry's own Institute for Nuclear Power Operations (INPO), an organization formed by utilities in response to the Three Mile Island Accident.[1]
All was not like it is today assuming it has improved.

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Re: Nuclear split off thread

Postby Zamfir » Wed Nov 18, 2015 3:55 pm UTC



No. As already mentioned, it's a result of just assuming modern rates backward throughout the entire history. That's...not really valid.

Whther by modern or by past standards, reactor accidents have happened much more often than they were supposed to. Harrisburg was a greater surprise for the experts than Fukushima, because most had considered a PWR meltdown to be extremely unlikely. Not something they expected to see in their lifetimes.

Back in the experimental years, 1950s, early 1960s, the standards were genuinely lower, in the sense that people were more willing to accept accidents and even releases to the environment. But ever since the start of large scale nuclear power generation, the target has been to make core damage and environmental releases vanishingly unlikely. The exact formulation of that goal changes, but the acceptable outcome was always that large accidents should nowhere happen in generations, if ever.

And apart from the past, Fukushima alone is enough to invalidate calculated CDFs as reliable estimates. After all, those reactors were certifified by modern standards, not those of 1970. They went through the modern analyses, all the programs to implement learned lessons, the upgrades to match modern standards. BWRs like that were even considered to have relatively low CDFs.

And irony is, the tsunamis should not even have in the probabilistic part of safety analysis. The accepted standard for events that happen every few thousand , is that they become part of deterministic design basis. You assume they happen with probability 1, and have to show conservatively that the plant can handle them without core damage. That was already the standard when the reactors were built, it's not some new fangled idea.

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Re: Nuclear split off thread

Postby Coyne » Wed Nov 18, 2015 4:01 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:If you can equate things that happen in different ways, from different causes, you might be over-generalizing.


That statement reveals that you know exactly zero about root cause analysis.

Root cause analysis is exactly how "accidents [...] refine the process". If you don't do that; if you don't generalize to other reactors then the same causes are repeated at other reactors, yielding additional accidents.

Let's pick on a specific instance from Chernobyl: The much-maligned graphite-tipped control rods. If we don't learn those are bad, if we don't generalize, then we will make that same design error in other reactors.

Root cause analysis is probably the best example ever underlying George Santayana's quote, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
In all fairness...

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Re: Nuclear split off thread

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Nov 18, 2015 5:25 pm UTC

Coyne wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:If you can equate things that happen in different ways, from different causes, you might be over-generalizing.


That statement reveals that you know exactly zero about root cause analysis.

Root cause analysis is exactly how "accidents [...] refine the process". If you don't do that; if you don't generalize to other reactors then the same causes are repeated at other reactors, yielding additional accidents.

Let's pick on a specific instance from Chernobyl: The much-maligned graphite-tipped control rods. If we don't learn those are bad, if we don't generalize, then we will make that same design error in other reactors.

Root cause analysis is probably the best example ever underlying George Santayana's quote, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."


If you believe that all root causes boil down to "not spending enough money", you've missed the point of risk analysis entirely. By your logic, you could skip analysis entirely, and dump money at the problem.

Process problems are not necessarily money problems. What the root cause is may vary significantly from incident to incident.

Modern reactor designs are not terribly like Chernobyl, and it would be utterly false to say we've learned nothing from the incident. If most reactors today are still designs from decades ago, this is precisely BECAUSE of anti-nuclear activism that greatly delays and often prevents the construction of nuclear facilities. The glacial pace here is entirely the doing of those who misunderstand risk, and try to drag us into the past.

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Re: Nuclear split off thread

Postby Zamfir » Wed Nov 18, 2015 5:54 pm UTC

Tyndmyr, the Fukushima reactors were anyzed by modern analysis methods. All reactors get reevaluated that way. Those are the methods used to evaluate the new designs. The acceptance standard is often set lower, but they don't use out of date analysis practices to find the result. The Fukushima events are an observation of the reliability of the analysis approach of new plants, even if they are not an observation of those plants themselves.

The legal acceptance limit in Japan is a large release frequency below 10-5 per , same as for most other places. That implies that the analysis will identify most contributing sequences of frequency 10-6, to get a reasonable error margin.

Turns they forgot a contribution of about 2*10-4( 5*10-4 for the occurrence of a tsunami at that location, and most of the active reactors hit caused a release )

In other words, the analysis approach made a mistake 200 times larger than was supposed. For new plants, the acceptance limit is often set at 10-6, which implies that most 10-7 sequences can be reliably identified. That's just rubbish, if 10-4 sequences can slip through the net. At this point, calculated event frequencies cannot be relied on for policy decisions. Their observed error is just much larger than their signal.

If most reactors today are still designs from decades ago, this is precisely BECAUSE of anti-nuclear activism that greatly delays and often prevents the construction of nuclear facilities

Here too, Japan provides a counterexample. Japan continued nuclear construction up to 2011, overruling antinuclear activism in the process. The Fukushima BWRs had two successor models: the ABWR,a larger design aimed at lowering operating costs, and the SBWR, the first design with a passive cooling capability. Since they were not listening to anti-nuclear activists, naturally built the ABWR.

You can't simultaneous blame the activists, and tout the safety of newer designs. It's only because of the activists that some new designs are safety-oriented. Without that pressure, most of the effort would have gone to lower the costs.

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Re: Nuclear split off thread

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Nov 18, 2015 7:10 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:Tyndmyr, the Fukushima reactors were anyzed by modern analysis methods. All reactors get reevaluated that way. Those are the methods used to evaluate the new designs. The acceptance standard is often set lower, but they don't use out of date analysis practices to find the result. The Fukushima events are an observation of the reliability of the analysis approach of new plants, even if they are not an observation of those plants themselves.

The legal acceptance limit in Japan is a large release frequency below 10-5 per , same as for most other places. That implies that the analysis will identify most contributing sequences of frequency 10-6, to get a reasonable error margin.

Turns they forgot a contribution of about 2*10-4( 5*10-4 for the occurrence of a tsunami at that location, and most of the active reactors hit caused a release )

In other words, the analysis approach made a mistake 200 times larger than was supposed. For new plants, the acceptance limit is often set at 10-6, which implies that most 10-7 sequences can be reliably identified. That's just rubbish, if 10-4 sequences can slip through the net. At this point, calculated event frequencies cannot be relied on for policy decisions. Their observed error is just much larger than their signal.


It's a single failure incident. "most reactors" treats the reactors as if they were seperate, but it was a single failure that was responsible for the releases. So, you're still extrapolating from a single event.

Granted, there were some failures there, and a shortcoming in the safety protocol was found the hard way, but you can't extrapolate that to say that the measurement was equally off for everything. Lots of locations are not vulnerable to the same shortcoming, and those that are, well, folks are unlikely to make the same mistake again.

Hell, Fukushima 2 was fine during the event, was it not? Improvements were being made even before the disaster. Not everywhere, sure, but this demonstrates that things are being identified and fixed.

Focusing entirely on the single failure does not provide a very good look at the system as a whole.

If most reactors today are still designs from decades ago, this is precisely BECAUSE of anti-nuclear activism that greatly delays and often prevents the construction of nuclear facilities

Here too, Japan provides a counterexample. Japan continued nuclear construction up to 2011, overruling antinuclear activism in the process. The Fukushima BWRs had two successor models: the ABWR,a larger design aimed at lowering operating costs, and the SBWR, the first design with a passive cooling capability. Since they were not listening to anti-nuclear activists, naturally built the ABWR.

You can't simultaneous blame the activists, and tout the safety of newer designs. It's only because of the activists that some new designs are safety-oriented. Without that pressure, most of the effort would have gone to lower the costs.


Which, given the vast delta between older designs and coal, probably would be a way more practical approach. Cheap, common nuclear, even at decades older safety standards, would beat the hell out of coal, resulting in less overall deaths.

Even if the focus was on cost, safety improvements would have still happened at a slower pace, and transitioning off coal earlier(as opposed to our current practical rate of...basically not), would be huge.

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Re: Nuclear split off thread

Postby Zamfir » Wed Nov 18, 2015 8:46 pm UTC

Thing is, we will never have more than singular events to extrapolate from. The desired (and required) safety levels would effectively provide zero events. The singular deviations from zero are all we have, to evaluate the real world performance of the safety system.

We have to look at singular events, get as much information from them as we can. In particular, was this a freak event, a 1 in a million event that just came early? Could have been, but it wasn't. It was a 1 every few thousand year event, high enough to get in the deterministic design base. Tepco knew it was, and kept that knowledge in a drawer because of costs. The regulator knew, but went along. The IAEA and the WANO did their international review missions but never caught on that the Japanese system was shoddy.

In other words, it worked exactly as nuclear skeptics claimed it worked, and not as we intended and promised it worked. That's partially an organizational issue, but also a techical issue. It means that nuclear safety is so complex, so opaque, that even experts don't notice a huge flaw if it happens elsewhere. I might perhaps have known about such coverups if it had been at a plant I did analyses for, but I probably wouldn't know. Any other plant? A similar flaw might be present, and I wouldn't have known. I am on the outside now, and can't tell at all.

My conclusion is that no one can promise 10^-5 , or claims that it wouldn't happen here, or that the new designs are incredibly safe. After all, we would have supported such claims about Fukushima in 2010, and we would have been wrong.

We have to go back to what we can infer from observations, which is fundamentally limited by the number of reactor years behind us. 10^-3 frequency against large release, that we can promise for tried designs and established regulatory systems. 10^-4, that takes a judgement call that a design and the surrounding organization are better than average. Lower than that , 10^-5, we just don't have the basis to judge. And people who do make such claims are bluffing. They didn't spot the problems in Japan either.

If we start a big save-the-climate nuclear expansion, then we're talking thousands of reactors. A Fukushima every decade, based on that 10^-4. Perhaps it's better than that, but we can't know yet. It's the best we can promise. This might be an acceptable price, but it would be a hard sell to the public.

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Re: Nuclear split off thread

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Nov 18, 2015 8:54 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:Thing is, we will never have more than singular events to extrapolate from. The desired (and required) safety levels would effectively provide zero events. The singular deviations from zero are all we have, to evaluate the real world performance of the safety system.

We have to look at singular events, get as much information from them as we can. In particular, was this a freak event, a 1 in a million event that just came early? Could have been, but it wasn't. It was a 1 every few thousand year event, high enough to get in the deterministic design base. Tepco knew it was, and kept that knowledge in a drawer because of costs. The regulator knew, but went along. The IAEA and the WANO did their international review missions but never caught on that the Japanese system was shoddy.


Sure. And to a certain degree, planned safety and real world safety will always diverge a little. You're never going to actually catch everything. That's true for literally everything, and humans have difficulty dealing with timeframes way beyond their lifetime.

A Fukushima every decade, somewhere in the world, over coal, would still be a massive saving in lives lost. I'd cheerfully accept that trade in a heartbeat. Not even based on global warming or any such predictions, based purely on "the side effects of this tech kills x people".

I agree that such a thing, in practice, would be a hard sell. But based on the math, it shouldn't be. Why? Irrational fearmongering.

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Re: Nuclear split off thread

Postby morriswalters » Wed Nov 18, 2015 9:36 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:I agree that such a thing, in practice, would be a hard sell. But based on the math, it shouldn't be. Why? Irrational fearmongering.
It all depends on how you sell whatever it is you are trying to sell. But if you tell people it's safe and they see a meltdown on CNN, you're a liar. What is real doesn't matter. You can't see the coal deaths. And there are one visible type of failure at coal plant, boiler explosion. And they almost never blow. They pop their safeties and vent steam to the atmosphere. They never have to evacuate people after the fires stop.

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Re: Nuclear split off thread

Postby CorruptUser » Thu Nov 19, 2015 1:09 am UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:I agree that such a thing, in practice, would be a hard sell. But based on the math, it shouldn't be. Why? Irrational fearmongering.


You are more likely to die driving from NY to Chicago than flying there, but because the news reports every plane crash but not every car crash, your mind uses incomplete data to assess the risk. The news reports lotto winnings, but never the millions of losers every day.

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Re: Nuclear split off thread

Postby ucim » Thu Nov 19, 2015 2:07 am UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Granted, there were some failures there, and a shortcoming in the safety protocol was found the hard way, but you can't extrapolate that to say that the measurement was equally off for everything. Lots of locations are not vulnerable to the same shortcoming, and those that are, well, folks are unlikely to make the same mistake again.
I'm not worried about "the same mistake". I'm worried about "the same metamistake".

Even if we fix the "thing" that let this particular mistake happen, we are not fixing the thing that lets these kinds of mistakes happen. Fix that and I'm behind nukes 100%. But as it is, we have monkeys flying a 747 while claiming that flying is safe.
Spoiler:
Ok, more like monkeys managing the airlines and overseeing the hiring, but the point is the same
So long as we don't take the risks of nuclear (and any other high stakes endeavor) seriously, we will continue to make mistakes like this, that will be "different every time" but have the same fundamental cause - that being, "It won't happen to me".

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Re: Nuclear split off thread

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Nov 19, 2015 3:09 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:I agree that such a thing, in practice, would be a hard sell. But based on the math, it shouldn't be. Why? Irrational fearmongering.


You are more likely to die driving from NY to Chicago than flying there, but because the news reports every plane crash but not every car crash, your mind uses incomplete data to assess the risk. The news reports lotto winnings, but never the millions of losers every day.


The logical conclusion here isn't that planes are the problem, but that the media is.

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Re: Nuclear split off thread

Postby Zamfir » Thu Nov 19, 2015 3:56 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:A Fukushima every decade, somewhere in the world, over coal, would still be a massive saving in lives lost. I'd cheerfully accept that trade in a heartbeat. Not even based on global warming or any such predictions, based purely on "the side effects of this tech kills x people".


I think there was a point, quite some time ago already, where the nuclear sector had a choice. On the one hand, they could have pushed hard against the perceived danger of radiation. Said, the health risks of limited doses of radition are real but small, we should treat them similarly to air polution health risks. A few accidents once in a while are a reasonable downside that we'll work on to decrease further. No mass evacuations necessary, 20 mSv/year is no worse than living near a busy road.

That view never caught on, perhaps due to the cold war. So they went down the other road: sell nuclear power as the non plus ultra of safety. We accept the conservative approach to radiation, because we won't release any of it anyway, because we have backup systems for the backup systems of the backup systems, and experts.

It's tricky to change horses now, when it's convenient. Perhaps we should indeed go back to that first version, but it will take many years to regain trust. Talking about irrational fear mongerers won't help. After all, people who warned about accidents were also derided as fear mongerers, and they had a better grip on the risks then the insiders.

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Re: Nuclear split off thread

Postby elasto » Thu Nov 19, 2015 3:58 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:The logical conclusion here isn't that planes are the problem, but that the media is.

Yes and no. Most media is interested in ratings: One death is a [dramatic] tragedy, a million deaths is a [dull] statistic and all that.

It's more the fault of human nature than the media. They are only giving us what we want.

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Re: Nuclear split off thread

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Nov 19, 2015 4:21 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:It's tricky to change horses now, when it's convenient. Perhaps we should indeed go back to that first version, but it will take many years to regain trust. Talking about irrational fear mongerers won't help. After all, people who warned about accidents were also derided as fear mongerers, and they had a better grip on the risks then the insiders.


I am not sure that this is the case.

There are always people who protest change, and say "think of the risks" when a new technology is invented. Sometimes, by chance, they are right. Very, very often, they are not. I do not believe that, in large, they have a better grasp of the risks, merely a tendency to fear novelty.

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Re: Nuclear split off thread

Postby morriswalters » Thu Nov 19, 2015 5:11 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:There are always people who protest change, and say "think of the risks" when a new technology is invented. Sometimes, by chance, they are right. Very, very often, they are not. I do not believe that, in large, they have a better grasp of the risks, merely a tendency to fear novelty.
Horse cookies. They embraced coal and you see where that led. Borg knows its been argued in this thread enough. Oh yeah, they embraced asbestos and that worked out. We could make make a list of good ides that in retrospect weren't as good as they thought. We create new technologies and then proceed to run around putting fires out when they blow up in our faces. The problem with nuclear reactors is about overselling and under delivering.

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Re: Nuclear split off thread

Postby Dauric » Thu Nov 19, 2015 5:39 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote: We create new technologies and then proceed to run around putting fires out when they blow up in our faces.


This is pretty much how technological progress works. The hazards aren't always known about ahead of time, so a certain amount of putting out fires is necessary. I doubt that the people who invented the Internet could foresee the modern incarnations of "Identity Theft" and "4Chan". Unless you think the proper response to coal power was to abandon the Industrial Revolution and continue living an agrarian existence with our horse-drawn plows and whale oil lanterns because of the horrible living conditions coal created in the factory towns?

Nuclear power isn't all sunshine and roses sure, but the moratorium the U.S. has had on nuclear power generation since the Three Mile Island incident doesn't really help with the development of newer and safer technologies that put us in a better place in the future than we were in the past.
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Re: Nuclear split off thread

Postby ucim » Thu Nov 19, 2015 6:01 pm UTC

Dauric wrote:Unless you think the proper response to coal power was to abandon the Industrial Revolution...
That's a false dichotomy. The proper response to coal power was to be careful and considerate. Instead, we painted pictures of daffodils and ponies, steamrollered the unfortunates who had to put up with collateral damage, and pocketed the difference.

Coal can be safe, so can nuclear power. It's just more costly. We have to take it seriously, and we have to take others (including the environment) seriously.

I don't see that happening.

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Re: Nuclear split off thread

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Nov 19, 2015 6:20 pm UTC

ucim wrote:
Dauric wrote:Unless you think the proper response to coal power was to abandon the Industrial Revolution...
That's a false dichotomy. The proper response to coal power was to be careful and considerate. Instead, we painted pictures of daffodils and ponies, steamrollered the unfortunates who had to put up with collateral damage, and pocketed the difference.

Coal can be safe, so can nuclear power. It's just more costly. We have to take it seriously, and we have to take others (including the environment) seriously.

I don't see that happening.

Jose


Life isn't as simple as "just spend more money and take it seriously".

Coal was absolutely fine for a fuel. It allowed the industrial revolution. And yeah, we learned an awful lot about horrible side effects, and slowly, things have improved.

This isn't the same as "coal can be safe". Coal, now is much safer than it was way back when we had kiddos mine it for us. It is not safe relative to nuclear power.

It's about picking the best available option. Nuclear hasn't always been a viable option. And if we'd not had the industrial revolution, it never would have been. You can't make a nuclear plant outta pre-industrial tech. But now...we know a crapton more, and our choices are better. We don't have to stick with the same old thing, and doing so would be as harmful as avoiding coal would have been when it was the best option.

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Re: Nuclear split off thread

Postby morriswalters » Thu Nov 19, 2015 6:43 pm UTC

Dauric wrote:Unless you think the proper response to coal power was to abandon the Industrial Revolution and continue living an agrarian existence with our horse-drawn plows and whale oil lanterns because of the horrible living conditions coal created in the factory towns?
There was no proper response. Having said that, we've been using coal for a couple of hundred years, people don't get it in a visceral sense that coal is dangerous. So repeated characterizations of coal as causing more deaths than nuclear are useless. People don't see it that way emotionally. Another problem is the characterizations of Nuclear Accidents as a tolerable side effect of their use. It's one thing when there are 500 or so, it is another thing all together if there are 7000, the current number of coal fired plants.

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Re: Nuclear split off thread

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Nov 19, 2015 7:31 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:
Dauric wrote:Unless you think the proper response to coal power was to abandon the Industrial Revolution and continue living an agrarian existence with our horse-drawn plows and whale oil lanterns because of the horrible living conditions coal created in the factory towns?
There was no proper response. Having said that, we've been using coal for a couple of hundred years, people don't get it in a visceral sense that coal is dangerous. So repeated characterizations of coal as causing more deaths than nuclear are useless. People don't see it that way emotionally. Another problem is the characterizations of Nuclear Accidents as a tolerable side effect of their use. It's one thing when there are 500 or so, it is another thing all together if there are 7000, the current number of coal fired plants.


The smallest US nuclear reactor in power output is about on par with the typical coal fired plant.

So, the actual number would be rather less than 7,000. Maybe half that. Maybe fewer, depending on what particular build strategy.

In the US, we'd probably have about 600 reactors, rather than the 100ish we have now. Back of the envelope math. 6x the US reactor accident rate would be...still pretty alright.

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Re: Nuclear split off thread

Postby morriswalters » Fri Nov 20, 2015 12:37 am UTC

Tell it to the hamsters on the hamster wheel. You're playing catch up. The damage has already been done. There is a narrative that says, radiation dangerous, mutant things coming out of the ocean. Build a containment housing out west somewhere and fly a 747 into it at speed. Prove that it can take the hit. Clean up Chernobyl at whatever cost and move back in. You aren't trying to sell the truth, you are selling an idea.

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Re: Nuclear split off thread

Postby elasto » Fri Nov 20, 2015 12:06 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:Build a containment housing out west somewhere and fly a 747 into it at speed. Prove that it can take the hit. Clean up Chernobyl at whatever cost and move back in. You aren't trying to sell the truth, you are selling an idea.

But you're also not selling the truth but an idea. The idea you're selling is that we shouldn't use or move to any tech unless it is risk-free.

The truth is that we should use or move to any tech that is safer than the current tech. That should be 'the rule'.

As has been stated, the truth is we could have airliners crashing into reactors every year and we'd still be better off than burning coal.

Now it's true that human nature doesn't judge risk like that, but I take issue with you claiming any kind of monopoly on 'truth' here.

[Edit: Reading it back, I now don't think you were - but meh. It's still annoying to have this huge double standard where some tech is held to impossibly high standards and other tech is basically given a free pass to kill millions]

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Re: Nuclear split off thread

Postby morriswalters » Fri Nov 20, 2015 3:21 pm UTC

elasto wrote:But you're also not selling the truth but an idea. The idea you're selling is that we shouldn't use or move to any tech unless it is risk-free.
Sorry, but not true. I like Nukes as compared to coal. However given another alternative I would dump nukes like yesterdays dirty laundry. However the great unwashed who get to foot the bill don't see it that way, they think of Godzilla and glow in the dark Barbies and tiny mushroom clouds with pretty lighting. You could say I'm suggesting that saying accidents are acceptable, is a poor sales technique, as one of the points I've argued.
elasto wrote:It's still annoying to have this huge double standard where some tech is held to impossibly high standards and other tech is basically given a free pass to kill millions
I'm not sure what to say to this, the resistance comes from people better understanding the risks and the rewards. When coal and steam drove the Industrial Revolution, this conversation didn't happen. Because nobody thought that some advance like coal use, could eventually kill millions and change the climate.

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Re: Nuclear split off thread

Postby curtis95112 » Fri Nov 20, 2015 4:17 pm UTC

Would it be naïve to suggest better education and more responsible media as a solution?
Mighty Jalapeno wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:
Роберт wrote:Sure, but at least they hit the intended target that time.

Well, if you shoot enough people, you're bound to get the right one eventually.

Thats the best description of the USA ever.

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Re: Nuclear split off thread

Postby elasto » Fri Nov 20, 2015 4:24 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:
elasto wrote:But you're also not selling the truth but an idea. The idea you're selling is that we shouldn't use or move to any tech unless it is risk-free.
Sorry, but not true. I like Nukes as compared to coal. However given another alternative I would dump nukes like yesterdays dirty laundry.

How does that contradict my principle that you should move from less safe techs to more safe ones? Seems to me it's entirely in agreement with it.

To quote myself: "The truth is that we should use or move to any tech that is safer than the current tech. That should be 'the rule'."

If nuclear is safer than coal (which it is), then go to nuclear. But if something is safer than nuclear, then obviously by the same principle you go on to that.

(There are of course cost/efficiency considerations also - but nuclear is not particularly a winner in cost terms either - at least with present designs.)

When coal and steam drove the Industrial Revolution, this conversation didn't happen. Because nobody thought that some advance like coal use, could eventually kill millions and change the climate.

Sure, but that doesn't excuse people who right now today make the same failed choice to use and continue to use coal: It's terrible for the environment and kills millions. It's insane that it's even a debate...

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Re: Nuclear split off thread

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Nov 20, 2015 4:37 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:Tell it to the hamsters on the hamster wheel. You're playing catch up. The damage has already been done. There is a narrative that says, radiation dangerous, mutant things coming out of the ocean. Build a containment housing out west somewhere and fly a 747 into it at speed. Prove that it can take the hit. Clean up Chernobyl at whatever cost and move back in. You aren't trying to sell the truth, you are selling an idea.


I am endorsing the truth. I am not trying to sell anything. I ain't in this market. I just want less risk of death, plenty of power, and less health risks. And also, people to be rational about those things. Sales are beside the point.

If coal were the best answer, I'd be all for coal. I just do not believe that the present evidence supports that position.

curtis95112 wrote:Would it be naïve to suggest better education and more responsible media as a solution?


Both of those things, while perhaps difficult, are certainly worthy goals, and I wouldn't mind discussing the pursuit of either.

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Re: Nuclear split off thread

Postby morriswalters » Fri Nov 20, 2015 4:50 pm UTC

elasto wrote:Sure, but that doesn't excuse people who right now today make the same failed choice to use and continue to use coal: It's terrible for the environment and kills millions. It's insane that it's even a debate...
When merit rules, or when you're king, it may be that way. But that isn't today. People are invested in coal.
elasto wrote:How does that contradict my principle that you should move from less safe techs to more safe ones? Seems to me it's entirely in agreement with it.
I am, but the Devil is in the details.
Tyndmyr wrote:I am endorsing the truth. I am not trying to sell anything.
I'm using sell as a metaphor.

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Re: Nuclear split off thread

Postby elasto » Fri Nov 20, 2015 5:16 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:When merit rules, or when you're king, it may be that way. But that isn't today. People are invested in coal.

I am, but the Devil is in the details.

I'm not even sure of the point of your arguing now. The claim is that nuclear is safer than coal and you seem to agree. The claim is also that people irrationally think nuclear is less safe than coal and you seem to agree with that also...

(Btw - I assume we all here realise that when we talk about 'nuclear power', it's not limited to designs primarily intended to serve up the raw materials for nuclear weapons. Obviously that is not going to as safe as could be (even though it's still way safer than coal, as discussed).

Personally I see a lot of promise in exploring tech ranging from SSTAR to LFTR)

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Re: Nuclear split off thread

Postby morriswalters » Fri Nov 20, 2015 5:50 pm UTC

elasto wrote:I'm not even sure of the point of your arguing now.
Here is what I was arguing at the beginning, it's an argument about how you change the politics of selling the idea of nukes.
The assumption is that we will magically somehow quit using coal. Whatever deaths are caused by nukes as compared to coals is pointless. Coal isn't going away quickly no matter how many nuke plants are built. The deaths are additive.

And the dangers of nuclear weapons and radiation releases in the wild aren't well understood. Above ground nuclear testing was banned because of fears of strontium 90. Indications existed that suggested that it was present in humans in increased amounts after a period of testing. This is what is keeping people from returning to Bikini Atoll. And you can't run tests on humans to test the response to radiation except when it happens with weapons and accidents. Japan and Russia are both research experiments into the long term effects on exposure to low level radiation. In addition the accident rate at reactors was sold as a low probability occurrence. Yet in my lifetime I have seen three accidents that melted core material.

And then their are the political problems. Israel may go to war over the danger of proliferation by Iran because of the secondary uses of reactors sooner or later. When was the last time someone bombed a coal plant because it was producing weapons grade coal? We are going to use nukes but anyone with any sense knows that it isn't simple or non dangerous.

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Re: Nuclear split off thread

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Nov 20, 2015 5:52 pm UTC

Nothing is non-dangerous. Nothing.

Less dangerous is adequate. Nuclear power is definitely that.

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Re: Nuclear split off thread

Postby dg61 » Fri Nov 20, 2015 6:20 pm UTC

It seems like everyone's talking a bit past each other. Nobody's actually arguing "Nuclear is perfectly, 100% impossible to have go wrong" or that "Nuclear is the devil incarnate", just that "It is probably better than the current alternatives"(which even the most relatively anti-nuclear person in here seems to agree with) and that "it's good, but if we're going to expand it we need stringent safety measures aimed at cutting down on human error". Such safety measures don't necessarily need to be technical in nature, although they can be, but they do need to address issues like regulatory capture, fear of publicizing problems, or the temptation to cut corners to save money that lead to massive disasters. Put another way, instead of arguing about the acceptability of other Fukishimas or Chernobyls, which is a bit silly, address how to prevent them in the future. A somewhat increased cost for building plants and keeping them up to standards is in my eyes a perfectly reasonable tradeoff for avoiding massive, expensive disasters that put everyone off nuclear for years but that is not always kept in mind because the cost of better measures is here and now and someone's breathing down your back about cost overruns and the cost of future disasters is far away and easy to minimize.

Chernobyl is a good case in point. The problem there had very little to do with nuclear energy per se, the problem was that:

1) It was, to my understanding, an aging reactor that should have been replaced but wasn't because of political intertia and expense.
2) Experiments were conducted that were known to be outside the safe operating capacity of the reactor, but this was not called off(again, primarily an institutional or political problem).
3) Once, as could have been easily predicted, the reactor melted down and generally went haywire, the Soviet government acted primarily out of concern for a loss of face and attempted to conceal the scale of the disaster, delaying the evacuation and probably worsening the long-term health effects.

While problem 3) is probably specific to the Soviet context and unlikely to recur in the US or many other countries, the first two are probably quite common under many regulatory regimes.

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Re: Nuclear split off thread

Postby eran_rathan » Fri Nov 20, 2015 6:29 pm UTC

dg61 wrote:3) Once, as could have been easily predicted, the reactor melted down and generally went haywire, the Soviet government acted primarily out of concern for a loss of face and attempted to conceal the scale of the disaster, delaying the evacuation and probably worsening the long-term health effects.

While problem 3) is probably specific to the Soviet context and unlikely to recur in the US or many other countries, the first two are probably quite common under many regulatory regimes.


Do you perchance recall Hurricane Katrina? And the massive delays in dealing with that?
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Re: Nuclear split off thread

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Nov 20, 2015 6:34 pm UTC

eran_rathan wrote:
dg61 wrote:3) Once, as could have been easily predicted, the reactor melted down and generally went haywire, the Soviet government acted primarily out of concern for a loss of face and attempted to conceal the scale of the disaster, delaying the evacuation and probably worsening the long-term health effects.

While problem 3) is probably specific to the Soviet context and unlikely to recur in the US or many other countries, the first two are probably quite common under many regulatory regimes.


Do you perchance recall Hurricane Katrina? And the massive delays in dealing with that?


There was a lot of hyperbole surrounding that. If anything, people were reporting worse things than actually happened, particularly with regards to evacuee locations.

There was no real coverup that the event happened, though, and certainly mobilization happened reasonably quickly, given the scale. Evacuation notices went out beforehand as they were supposed to.

Sure, there were errors and things, but it's really not comparable to Chernobyl in this regard.

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Re: Nuclear split off thread

Postby sardia » Sat Nov 21, 2015 12:06 am UTC

I'm surprised at the assumption of coals strength. Coal has been going downhill for years now. We are a country just aren't using it as much anymore. And no, it's not cheaper. Why do you think people airways choose to shut down and replace coal plants instead of upgrading them (to keep up with regulations)? Because coal isn't cheap. It's just hasn't been paying externalities until recently.

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Re: Nuclear split off thread

Postby Zamfir » Sat Nov 21, 2015 10:47 am UTC

That's very US centric view. Worldwide, coal power has grown steady for the last decades.
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Re: In other news... (humorous news items, etc)

Postby zmic » Sat Nov 21, 2015 12:33 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:"forever"? Most of the exclusion zone is currently a thriving wildlife reserve. If it was so dangerous, why are the animals and plants there thriving?


They are not. The region around Chernobyl is still deadzone. It seems to be thriving because human have abandoned it and there's a constant inflow of healthy animals from outside the contaminated area.

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Re: Nuclear split off thread

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Nov 23, 2015 4:42 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:That's very US centric view. Worldwide, coal power has grown steady for the last decades.


That makes sense. A ton of developing countries and areas, many of whom may not yet have the necessary resources and skills for nuclear power yet. We went through a coal phase ourselves, it makes sense that others would too.

Still, it'd be nice to advance beyond that phase, now that we can. Or at least, start working on that.

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Re: Nuclear split off thread

Postby sardia » Mon Nov 23, 2015 11:28 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:
Zamfir wrote:That's very US centric view. Worldwide, coal power has grown steady for the last decades.


That makes sense. A ton of developing countries and areas, many of whom may not yet have the necessary resources and skills for nuclear power yet. We went through a coal phase ourselves, it makes sense that others would too.

Still, it'd be nice to advance beyond that phase, now that we can. Or at least, start working on that.

Fair point. The problem with advancing beyond coal is how the US is doing it. The epa is pushing hard on lowering emissions and coal companies have been responding by hiking rates to pay for the scrubbers. But then the gas and environmentalists came to town with new weapons. The fracking boom and cost analysis. Gas has reached record lows, making it more competitive with less pollution. In addition, The greens figured out that coal companies have been giving towns a raw deal. Instead of giving a speech about'think of the animals', they said think about your wallet. What's cheaper than adding pollution scrubbers to coal plants? Building gas plants and not raising rates.

Once people figured out that lower emission is paid for by scrubbers, paid for by rate hikes, then they knew coal was dead 2/3 of the time.

What did this have to do with other countries? Think about what coals demise required,
A strong epa
An environmental movement that plays to pocket book issues
A gas boom.

Where in the world does that exist? Maybe Europe if they ever get their fracking up and running. Maybe China if they ever take environmental issues seriously. That's why it won't happen naturally. Or at least not very likely to happen.

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Re: Nuclear split off thread

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue Nov 24, 2015 3:39 pm UTC

sardia wrote:Fair point. The problem with advancing beyond coal is how the US is doing it. The epa is pushing hard on lowering emissions and coal companies have been responding by hiking rates to pay for the scrubbers. But then the gas and environmentalists came to town with new weapons. The fracking boom and cost analysis. Gas has reached record lows, making it more competitive with less pollution. In addition, The greens figured out that coal companies have been giving towns a raw deal. Instead of giving a speech about'think of the animals', they said think about your wallet. What's cheaper than adding pollution scrubbers to coal plants? Building gas plants and not raising rates.


Natural gas is pretty good, and hey, less pollution is less pollution. I'll take what I can get.

Now, I'd rather also have people calm down about nukes so we can embrace that too...nukes make a good base load, and nat gas makes for good peak load, so some sort of blend probably isn't the worst idea.

Coal was never going to win on a "think of the animals" battlefield, I think. The wallet thing was persuasive until it wasn't. I think they argued their side well enough, they simply were overtaken by changing situations. Politicking is powerful, but it does have limits. Kinda sucks for coal towns, but...most undiversified mining towns eventually crumble. Just their way. Sooner or later, it always happens as the cheap resources are expended. Either gotta bail outta town before then, or change the town into something else.


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