Friday, August 22, 2008


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Lyman Fools Public on Indian Point


Click on the chart, to see a larger version of it.

At the top you will see all the ways you can have an accident. Car crashes, Dam failures, airplane crashes, what have you. The fact they are at the top of the graph, means they happen often. The fact that their line extends to the right, means lots of people are getting hurt.

Now go down to the bottom, and see two lines at the lower left corner. The two are meteor strikes, and nuclear plant accidents. A nuclear plant meltdown is expected every 20,000 years of reactor operation. A big meltdown, that would involve public harm, is expected every ten billion years. That's once each 10,000,000,000 years. You are slightly more likely to be hit by a meteor.

(by the way, asteroid 2004 MN4 is approaching the earth, and is likely to hit on September 21, 2029. It is half a mile across, and may make the human race extinct when it hits.).....Original MN4 Article.....There is one chance in 233 that it will hit. There is one chance in 7,300,000 that Indian Point will have a meltdown. And while 2004 MN4 hurtles toward us, its doing nothing for us at all. Indian Point is running your air conditioners, and wide screen digital HDTV sets, as well as our air traffic control center computers.

Professor Bernard Cohen has compiled various dangers, by how many days of life expectancy they are taking off your life. He adds this up in days of life expectancy, which he calls LLE. Here are the numbers, which he compiled from general statistical tables-what insurance companies use.


Activity or risk* ............ LLE (days)

Living in poverty ............ 3500

Being male (vs. female)............ 2800

Cigarettes (male) ............ 2300

Heart disease* ............ 2100

Being unmarried ............ 2000

Being black (vs. white) ............ 2000

Socioeconomic status low ............ 1500

Working as a coal miner ............ 1100

Cancer* ............ 980

30-lb overweight............ 900

Grade school dropout ............ 800

Sub-optimal medical care* ............ 550

Stroke*............ 520

15-lb overweight ............ 450

All accidents* ............ 400

Vietnam army service ............ 400

Living in Southeast (SC,MS,GA,LA,AL)............ 350

Mining construction (accidents only)............ 320

Alcohol* ............ 230

Motor vehicle accidents ............ 180

Pneumonia, influenza*............ 130

Drug abuse*............ 100

Suicide*............ 95

Homicide*............ 90

Air pollution*............ 80

Occupational accidents............ 74

AIDS*............ 70

Small cars (vs. midsize)............ 60

Married to smoker............ 50

Drowning*............ 40

Speed limit: 65 vs. 55 miles per hour*............ 40

Falls*............ 39

Poison + suffocation + asphyxiation*............ 37

Radon in homes*............ 35

Fire, burns*............ 27

Coffee: 2 cups/day............ 26

Radiation worker, age 18-65............ 25

Firearms*............ 11

Birth control pills............ 5

All electricity nuclear (UCS)*............ 1.5

Peanut butter (1 Tbsp./day)............ 1.1

Hurricanes, tornadoes*............ 1

Airline crashes*............ 1

Dam failures*............ 1

Living near nuclear plant............ 0.4

All electricity nuclear (NRC)*............ 0.04

*Asterisks indicate averages over total U.S. population; others refer to those exposed.

If we compare these risks, we see that having a full nuclear power program in this country would present the same added health risk (UCS estimates in brackets) as a regular smoker indulging in one extra cigarette every 15 years [every 3 months], or as an overweight person increasing her weight by 0.012 [0.8] ounces, or as in raising the U.S. highway speed limit from 55 miles per hour to 55.006 [55.4] miles per hour, and it is 2,000 [30] times less of a danger than switching from midsize to small cars. Note that these figures are not controversial, because I have given not only the estimates of Establishment scientists but also those of the leading nuclear power opposition group in this country, UCS, (Union of Concerned Scientists).

I have been presenting these risk comparisons at every opportunity for several years, but I get the impression that they are interpreted as the opinion of a nuclear advocate. Media reports have said "Dr. Cohen claims . . ." But there is no personal opinion involved here. Deriving these comparisons is simple and straightforward mathematics which no one can question. I have published them in scientific journals, and no scientist has objected to them. I have quoted them in debates with three different UCS leaders and they have never denied them. If anyone has any reason to believe that these comparisons are not valid, they have been awfully quiet about it.

When I started my investigations into the safety of nuclear energy in 1971, I had no preconceived notions and no "axes to grind." I was just trying to understand in my own way what the fuss was all about. Rather early in these efforts, I started to develop these risk comparisons. They convinced me that nuclear power is acceptably safe with lots of room to spare. If I am a nuclear advocate, it is because developing these comparisons has made me so.

To be certain that this all-important bottom line is not missed, let me review it. According to the best estimates of Establishment scientists, having a large nuclear power program in the United States would give the same risk to the average American as a regular smoker indulging in one extra cigarette every 15 years, as an overweight person increasing his or her weight by 0.012 ounces, or as raising the U.S. highway speed limit from 55 to 55.006 miles per hour, and it is 2,000 times less risky than switching from midsize to small cars. If you do not trust establishment scientists and prefer to accept the estimates of the Union of Concerned Scientists, the leading nuclear power opposition group in the United States and scientific advisor to Ralph Nader, then having all U.S. electricity nuclear would give the same risk as a regular smoker smoking one extra cigarette every 3 months, or of an overweight person increasing his weight by 0.8 of an ounce, or of raising the U.S. highway speed limit from 55 to 55.4 miles per hour, and it would still be 30 times less risky than switching from midsize to small cars.


In its early days, NRC contracted with Sandia lab to compute the danger of nuke plants to the public. At that time no computer program existed to do the computations, so Sandia used huge "dumbness margins" in making its assumptions. In those days----the days of the sliderule,... engineers relied on what was called a "safety margin". They couldn't really accurately compute how strong a building or a bridge was, so they figured it out, and then doubled the result, just to be sure. Then they doubled it again--just to be double sure. This resulted in a lot of fat, ugly, overbuilt bridges and buildings that will probably last a million years.

Sandia did the same thing.

In its CRAC2 report, it intentionally WAY overestimated how dangerous nuke plants might be. Its assumptions were----OK, lets assume the containment is TOTALLY gone, and the reactor vessel has disappeared somehow, and we have an earthquake, with a tornado...and that everybody ran away and left the plant untended, and turned off ALL the safety systems on their way out. How many people could get hurt?

Needless to say, they got some big numbers. Later on , NRC withdrew the report as obsolete, and superseded it with NUREG-1150, and instructed scientists to never use CRAC2 again, because modern computer programs could now realistically compute how dangerous (or safe) the place was, without making all the wild negative assumptions that CRAC2 had used to substitute safety margins for real knowledge. (incidentally, the engineering world went through this change also, which is why buildings are now more beautiful).

So guess what Riverkeeper's Edwin Lyman did?

To make Riverkeeper's anti nuke campaign seem credible, Lyman intentionally went back in time, added all of Sandia's unrealistic negative safety margins back in by resurrecting the now-obsolete CRAC2 math. He had to know it was a fantasy calculation, because NRC has warnings all over its website to that effect, but in full knowledge he was perpetrating a huge scientific lie, and a huge backward step in methodology, he issued it in 2004, as if it were a modern calculation, and Riverkeeper's purple fantasy campaign was built on all of its maliciously, intentionally incompetent negative assumptions.

It was like your doctor telling you he was going to operate on your appendix using the operating room tools and methods used in the Civil War. CRAC2 was not a lie when it was first done, because it was the best workup available at that time. However, to dust off a civil-war hacksaw, and start hacking into a hospital patient with it in 2004 would certainly result in a long jail term, for the malicious quack doctor who attempted it.

So it is with Lyman.

The man deserves jail time, for what he has done to the public. It was NOT a difference in opinion, and it was NOT an honest whistle-blowing scientist, catching NRC in some lie. It was a devious delinquent propaganda hack, purposely returning to discredited math, and presenting it as truth. I feel very, very sorry for Lyman, and what is left of his "scientific" non-career.

With Lyman's criminal bullshit swept aside, all the lurid scenes of NYC being Hiroshima on the Hudson can be seen as total fantasies. Actually Dr. Herschel Specter, a man who helped invent the math, has calculated for us, that in that once in 10,000,000,000 year meltdown, 3 people could die, and you could evacuate by walking 2 miles away at normal walking speed. The EPA says to just go in your cellar. Outside of 2 miles away, there is absolutely no danger.

But don't wait for it to happen.

You'll be waiting 10,000,000,000 years.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007



It is common knowledge that if a meteor were to hit your house (one hit a few blocks down from you 10 years ago) it might kill you or your family. (the Peekskill meteor only damaged a parked car). So in the case of a similarly likely disaster, not only did the meteor miss your house, it also missed the house it hit. That's why the statistical unlikeliness of the event would make complaining about your vulnerability a waste of time and effort. Yes, you are vulnerable. No, it's not going to happen.

However, if you harbored an internal grudge against meteors, you might begin to pepper NASA with urgent letters, requesting, no.... demanding to be told the "True Trajectories" of all likely meteor hits, and the hidden truths about the so-called "Apollo Objects" -a lightly veiled secret that LARGE MOUNTAIN SIZED ASTEROIDS could take out North America at any time (including Peekskill). Why does NASA withold the truth from us, we are all stakeholders here, and the proof it is possible is that the Peekskill meteor hit only a few blocks away, even though it injured nobody!

But why.... why you say.... why does NASA search for Apollo Objects IF THEY'RE NOT DANGEROUS? The very fact that NASA thinks they can hit us, proves they can, and therefore NASA is guilty of gross negligence in NOT PROVIDING EITHER ADEQUATE WARNING, ADEQUATE ESCAPE ROUTES, OR BIG THICK CONCRETE ROOFS FOR ALL OUR HOUSES.

Therefore we must have a petition, to gather signatures of ALL VULNERABLE ASTEROID STAKEHOLDERS, and maybe get together for a little fun and games at the Firehouse Restaurant some Saturday, waddya say?


Now, just for your edification, I've taken a US Government chart off a public US Government website, a chart that shows just what you demanded to see. It also shows what John Hall, Hillary Clinton et al, have been demanding to know. And it was in the damned public domain all along, right where their staffs could have found it. So is it negligence? Or is it a hole in the head? I think its a hole in the head, and so here,.... let's fill that big gaping open "head-hole" for ya-- what say?

It ain't easy though. You have to figure out how to read it. Bummer.... Kinda tough to do with one of those big morning after headaches, eh? Again, let me help. The bottom left corner has two weird numbers. 10-7 and 10. The up and down axis is years. 10-7 denotes ten billion years. The right-left axis denotes dead people. 10 denotes ten dead folks, and 10-2 denotes 100 stiffs. (It's called powers of ten notation).

Now let's read it. left hand panel, bottom left corner, we see nuclear accidents and meteor strikes--- they are statistically very similar. The meteor line says every 10,000 years, you can expect 10 people dead from meteors. Follow it down, and to the right. Its other end says every ten billion years you can expect ten thousand deaths, from a big meteor strike. Horrible? Fearful? Not really..... but possible.

Go to the nuke plant curve. every twenty thousand years you can expect 10 deaths from a nuclear plant accident. (Since 31 people died at Chernobyl, we are ahead of schedule there, but they were stupid incompetent Russians, the people who do everything wrong). That also means Chernobyl "sucked up" all the likelihood of any more plant deaths, so we have a free-and-clear twenty thousand years ahead of us, skating on Chernobyl's contribution. (No, that's actually a lie, but I just thought I'd see if you were following the reasoning--- how did you do on that?).

At the bottom right end of the nuke plant curve we see every ten billion years, we can statistically expect 8000 people to die in "The Big One". I sure hope I'm not there, and if you think Indian Point is old now.,.......just imagine how old its gonna be in ten billion years. All the workers will be mummies, or something.

So there it is. Was all along. Just hard to read. Are you vulnerable? Hell yeah.
Is it gonna happen? Hell yeah. In ten billion years.

One interesting thing is the line for dam collapses, way up on the page. Being way up the page means its far more likely, and far more deadly than nukes'n'meteors. So I guess everybody better move out of Croton, real quick. Valhalla, forget about it, they're dead Spano-meat down there. Better write out their wills by noon today.



For the young, it's a way of branding their profile on "My Space", with a rad sounding subject, one they can mine "facts" about, and "teach" others about. So its a stance. A look. It's like a tattoo, one that to family, teachers, and employers, can remain forever covert, and never be harrassed or punished.

It brings, hopefully, connectedness. Existing splinter groups abound, and news articles can be shared, expounded on , pontificated over, almost endlessly, repeating again and again, how corrupt "they" are, and how pure "we" are, and how much better "our plan" is, than the money-driven corporate trap now in force. Yadda, yadda, yadda. Dating strategy.

For paid big-charity PR shills, it's a career. Selected factoids must be curried, carefully nurtured, spun up, and "exposed" in just the right way, to gain mention in some oligarch's will, and keep the collection targets for this quarter well-met.

Any miniscule real-world occurrence is a great opportunity for a vid-byte, re-iterating that the eternal message, of the endless agenda, must go on because...... because everybody at NGO "X" or "Y" have new Volvos to pay off, and soccer coaches to hire for Johnnie, and not a heck of a lot more than that. In a nutshell, They are Lying for Dollars.

Then, of course, we have the purely delusional. They rant on because of internal demons, and require an exorcism, more than they require a hearing. For one's own sanity, it's best not to listen too closely. Their very passion itself can become ensnaring, and then they have you a bit sickened too. Life in delusion is not a fully lived life, its not worth the pain.


Sunday, May 6, 2007

Elitist Preference Aside, We Need Indian Point

Why the U.S. Needs More Nuclear Power

Your typical city dweller doesn’t know just how much coal and uranium he burns each year. On Lake Shore Drive in Chicago—where the numbers are fairly representative of urban America as a whole—the answer is (roughly): four tons and a few ounces. In round numbers, tons of coal generate about half of the typical city’s electric power; ounces of uranium, about 17 percent; natural gas and hydro take care of the rest. New York is a bit different: an apartment dweller on the Upper West Side substitutes two tons of oil (or the equivalent in natural gas) for Chicago’s four tons of coal. The oil-tons get burned at plants like the huge oil/gas unit in Astoria, Queens. The uranium ounces get split at Indian Point in Westchester, 35 miles north of the city, as well as at the Ginna, Fitzpatrick, and Nine Mile Point units upstate, and at additional plants in Connecticut, New Jersey, and New Hampshire.
That’s the stunning thing about nuclear power: tiny quantities of raw material can do so much. A bundle of enriched-uranium fuel-rods that could fit into a two-bedroom apartment in Hell’s Kitchen would power the city for a year: furnaces, espresso machines, subways, streetlights, stock tickers, Times Square, everything—even our cars and taxis, if we could conveniently plug them into the grid. True, you don’t want to stack fuel rods in midtown Manhattan; you don’t in fact want to stack them casually on top of one another anywhere. But in suitable reactors, situated, say, 50 miles from the city on a few hundred acres of suitably fortified and well-guarded real estate, two rooms’ worth of fuel could electrify it all.
Think of our solitary New Yorker on the Upper West Side as a 1,400-watt bulb that never sleeps—that’s the national per-capita average demand for electric power from homes, factories, businesses, the lot. Our average citizen burns about twice as bright at 4 PM in August, and a lot dimmer at 4 AM in December; grown-ups burn more than kids, the rich more than the poor; but it all averages out: 14 floor lamps per person, lit round the clock. Convert this same number back into a utility’s supply-side jargon, and a million people need roughly 1.4 “gigs” of power—1.4 gigawatts (GW). Running at peak power, Entergy’s two nuclear units at Indian Point generate just under 2 GW. So just four Indian Points could take care of New York City’s 7-GW round-the-clock average. Six could handle its peak load of about 11.5 GW. And if we had all-electric engines, machines, and heaters out at the receiving end, another ten or so could power all the cars, ovens, furnaces—everything else in the city that oil or gas currently fuels.
For such a nuclear-powered future to arrive, however, we’ll need to get beyond our nuclear-power past. In the now-standard histories, the beginning of the end of nuclear power arrived on March 28, 1979, with the meltdown of the uranium core at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania. The Chernobyl disaster seven years later drove the final nail into the nuclear coffin. It didn’t matter that the Three Mile Island containment vessel had done its job and prevented any significant release of radioactivity, or that Soviet reactors operated within a system that couldn’t build a safe toaster oven. Uranium was finished.
Three Mile Island came on the heels of the first great energy shock to hit America. On October 19, 1973, King Faisal ordered a 25 percent reduction in Saudi Arabia’s oil shipments to the United States, launching the Arab oil embargo. Oil supplies would tighten and prices would rise from then on, experts predicted. It would take some time, but oil was finished, too.
Five months after Three Mile Island, the nation’s first energy secretary summed up our predicament: “The energy future is bleak,” James R. Schlesinger declared, “and is likely to grow bleaker in the decade ahead. We must rapidly adjust our economics to a condition of chronic stringency in traditional energy supplies.” Fortunately, some argued, the U.S. could manage on less—much less. Smaller, more fuel-efficient cars were gaining favor, and rising gas prices would curb demand. The nation certainly didn’t need any new giant electric power plants—efficiency and the development of renewable sources of power would suffice. “The long-run supply curve for electricity is as flat as the Kansas horizon,” noted one right-thinking energy sage.
In the ensuing decades, however, American oil consumption rose 15 percent and electricity use almost doubled. Many people aren’t happy about it. Protecting our oil-supply lines entangles us with feudal theocracies and the fanatical sects that they spawn. The coal that we burn to generate so much of our electricity pollutes the air and may warm the planet. What to do? All sober and thoughtful energy pundits at the New York Times, Greenpeace, and the Harvard Divinity School agree: the answer to both problems is . . . efficiency and the development of renewable sources of power. Nevertheless, the secretary of energy, his boss (now a Texas oilman, not a Georgia peanut farmer), and the rest of the country should look elsewhere.
The U.S. today consumes about 100 quads—100 quadrillion BTUs—of raw thermal energy per year. We do three basic things with it: generate electricity (about 40 percent of the raw energy consumed), move vehicles (30 percent), and produce heat (30 percent). Oil is the fuel of transportation, of course. We principally use natural gas to supply raw heat, though it’s now making steady inroads into electric power generation. Fueling electric power plants are mainly (in descending order) coal, uranium, natural gas, and rainfall, by way of hydroelectricity.
This sharp segmentation emerged relatively recently, and there’s no reason to think it’s permanent. After all, developing economies use trees and pasture as fuel for heat and transportation, and don’t generate much electricity at all. A century ago, coal was the all-purpose fuel of industrial economies: coal furnaces provided heat, and coal-fired steam engines powered trains, factories, and the early electric power plants. From the 1930s until well into the 1970s, oil fueled not just cars but many electric power plants, too. And by 2020, electricity almost certainly will have become the new cross-cutting “fuel” in both stationary and mobile applications.
That shift is already under way. About 60 percent of the fuel we use today isn’t oil but coal, uranium, natural gas, and gravity—all making electricity. Electricity has met almost all of the growth in U.S. energy demand since the 1980s. About 60 percent of our GDP now comes from industries and services that use electricity as their front-end “fuel”—in 1950, the figure was only 20 percent. The fastest growth sectors of the economy—information technology and telecom, notably—depend entirely on electricity for fuel, almost none of it oil-generated. Electrically powered information technology accounts for some 60 percent of new capital spending.
Electricity is taking over ever more of the thermal sector, too. A microwave oven displaces much of what a gas stove once did in a kitchen. So, too, lasers, magnetic fields, microwaves, and other forms of high-intensity photon power provide more precise, calibrated heating than do conventional ovens in manufacturing and the industrial processing of materials. These electric cookers (broadly defined) are now replacing conventional furnaces, ovens, dryers, and welders to heat air, water, foods, and chemicals, to cure paints and glues, to forge steel, and to weld ships. Over the next two decades, such trends will move another 15 percent or so of our energy economy from conventional thermal to electrically powered processes. And that will shift about 15 percent of our oil-and-gas demand to whatever primary fuels we’ll then be using to generate electricity.
Electricity is also taking over the power train in transportation—not the engine itself, but the system that drives power throughout the car. Running in confined tunnels as they do, subways had to be all-electric from the get-go. More recently, diesel-electric locomotives and many of the monster trucks used in mining have made the transition to electric drive trains. Though the oil-fired combustion engine is still there, it’s now just an onboard electric generator that propels only electrons.
Most significantly, the next couple of decades will see us convert to the hybrid gasoline-and-electric car. A steadily rising fraction of the power produced under the hood of a car already is used to generate electricity: electrical modules are replacing components that belts, gears, pulleys, and shafts once drove. Steering, suspension, brakes, fans, pumps, and valves will eventually go electric; in the end, electricity will drive the wheels, too. Gas prices and environmental mandates have little to do with this changeover. The electric drive train simply delivers better performance, lower cost, and less weight.
The policy implications are enormous. Outfitted with a fully electric power train, most of the car—everything but its prime mover—looks like a giant electrical appliance. This appliance won’t run any great distance on batteries alone, given today’s battery technology. But a substantial battery pack on board will provide surges of power when needed. And that makes possible at least some “refueling” of the car from the electricity grid. As cars get more electric, an infrastructure of battery-recharging stations will grow apace, probably in driveways and parking lots, where most cars spend most of their time.
Once you’ve got the wheels themselves running on electricity, the basic economics strongly favor getting that electricity from the grid if you can. Burning $2-a-gallon gasoline, the power generated by current hybrid-car engines costs about 35 cents per kilowatt-hour. Many utilities, though, sell off-peak power for much less: 2 to 4 cents per kilowatt-hour. The nationwide residential price is still only 8.5 cents or so. (Peak rates in Manhattan are higher because of the city’s heavy dependence on oil and gas, but not enough to change the basic arithmetic.) Grid kilowatts are cheaper because cheaper fuels generate them and because utility power plants run a lot more efficiently than car engines.
The gas tank and combustion engine won’t disappear anytime soon, but in the imminent future, grid power will (in effect) begin to top off the tank in between the short trips that account for most driving. All-electric vehicles flopped in the 1990s because batteries can’t store sufficient power for long weekend trips. But plug-in hybrids do have a gasoline tank for the long trips. And the vast majority of the most fuel-hungry trips are under six miles—within the range of the 2 to 5 kWh capacity of the onboard nickel-metal-hydride batteries in hybrids already on the road, and easily within the range of emerging automotive-class lithium batteries. Nationally, some 10 percent of hybrid cars could end up running almost entirely on the grid, as they travel less than six miles per day. Stick an extra 90 pounds—$800 worth—of nickel-metal-hydride batteries in a hybrid, recharge in garages and parking lots, and you can shift roughly 25 percent of a typical driver’s fuel-hungriest miles to the grid. Urban drivers could go long stretches without going near a gas station. The technology for replacing (roughly) one pint of gasoline with one pound of coal or under one ounce of uranium to feed one kilowatt-hour of power to the wheels is now close at hand.
So today we use 40 percent of our fuel to power the plug, and the plug powers 60 percent of GDP. And with the ascent of microwaves, lasers, hybrid wheels, and such, we’re moving to 60 and 80 percent, respectively, soon. And then, in due course, 100/100. We’re turning to electricity as fuel because it can do more, faster, in much less space—indeed, it’s by far the fastest and purest form of power yet tamed for ubiquitous use. Small wonder that demand for it keeps growing.
We’ve been meeting half of that new demand by burning an extra 400 million tons of coal a year, with coal continuing to supply half of our wired power. Natural gas, the fossil fuel grudgingly favored by most environmentalists, has helped meet the new demand, too: it’s back at 16 percent of electricity generated, where it was two decades ago, after dropping sharply for a time. Astonishingly, over this same period, uranium’s share of U.S. electricity has also risen—from 11 percent to its current 20 percent. Part of the explanation is more nuclear power plants. Even though Three Mile Island put an end to the commissioning of new facilities, some already under construction at the time later opened, with the plant count peaking at 112 in 1990. Three Mile Island also impelled plant operators to develop systematic procedures for sharing information and expertise, and plants that used to run seven months per year now run almost eleven. Uranium has thus displaced about eight percentage points of oil, and five points of hydroelectric, in the expanding electricity market.
Renewable fuels, by contrast, made no visible dent in energy supplies, despite the hopes of Greens and the benefits of government-funded research, subsidies, and tax breaks. About a half billion kWh of electricity came from solar power in 2002—roughly 0.013 percent of the U.S. total. Wind power contributed another 0.27 percent. Fossil and nuclear fuels still completely dominate the U.S. energy supply, as in all industrialized economies.
The other great hope of environmentalists, efficiency, did improve over the last couple of decades—very considerably, in fact. Air conditioners, car engines, industrial machines, lightbulbs, refrigerator motors—without exception, all do much more, with much less, than they used to. Yet in aggregate, they burn more fuel, too. Boosting efficiency actually raises consumption, as counterintuitive as that sounds. The more efficient a car, the cheaper the miles; the more efficient a refrigerator, the cheaper the ice; and at the end of the day, we use more efficient technology so much more that total energy consumption goes up, not down.
We’re burning our 40 quads of raw fuel to generate about 3.5 trillion kilowatt-hours of electricity per year; if the automotive plug-and-play future does unfold on schedule, we’ll need as much as 7 trillion kWh per year by 2025. How should we generate the extra trillions of kilowatt-hours?
With hydrogen, the most optimistic Green visionaries reply—produced by solar cells or windmills. But it’s not possible to take such proposals seriously. New York City consumes so much energy that you’d need, at a minimum, to cover two cities with solar cells to power a single city (see “How Cities Green the Planet,” Winter 2000). No conceivable mix of solar and wind could come close to supplying the trillions of additional kilowatt-hours of power we’ll soon need.
Nuclear power could do it—easily. In all key technical respects, it is the antithesis of solar power. A quad’s worth of solar-powered wood is a huge forest—beautiful to behold, but bulky and heavy. Pound for pound, coal stores about twice as much heat. Oil beats coal by about twice as much again. And an ounce of enriched-uranium fuel equals about 4 tons of coal, or 15 barrels of oil. That’s why minuscule quantities contained in relatively tiny reactors can power a metropolis.
What’s more, North America has vast deposits of uranium ore, and scooping it up is no real challenge. Enrichment accounts for about half of the fuel’s cost, and enrichment technologies keep improving. Proponents of solar and wind power maintain—correctly—that the underlying technologies for these energy sources keep getting cheaper, but so do those that squeeze power out of conventional fuels. The lasers coming out of the same semiconductor fabs that build solar cells could enrich uranium a thousand times more efficiently than the gaseous-diffusion processes currently used.
And we also know this: left to its own devices, the market has not pursued thin, low-energy-density fuels, however cheap, but has instead paid steep premiums for fuels that pack more energy into less weight and space, and for power plants that pump greater power out of smaller engines, furnaces, generators, reactors, and turbines. Until the 1970s, engineering and economic imperatives had been pushing the fuel mix inexorably up the power-density curve, from wood to coal to oil to uranium. And the same held true on the demand side, with consumers steadily shifting toward fuels carrying more power, delivered faster, in less space.
Then King Faisal and Three Mile Island shattered our confidence and convinced regulators, secretaries of energy, and even a president that just about everything that the economists and engineers thought they knew about energy was wrong. So wrong that we had to reverse completely the extraordinarily successful power policies of the past.
New York has certainly felt the effects of that reversal. In 1965, the Long Island Lighting Company (LILCO) announced plans to build a $75 million nuclear plant in Suffolk County, to come on line by 1973; soon after, it purchased a 455-acre site between Shoreham and Wading River. A bit later, LILCO decided to increase Shoreham’s size and said it wanted to build several other nuclear plants in the area. Public resistance and federal regulators delayed Shoreham’s completion. Then Three Mile Island happened. In the aftermath, regulators required plant operators to devise evacuation plans in coordination with state and local governments. In early 1983, newly elected governor Mario Cuomo and the Suffolk County legislature both declared that no evacuation plan would ever be feasible and safe. That was that. By the time the state fully decommissioned Shoreham in 1994, its price tag had reached $6 billion—and the plant had never started full-power commercial operation. To pay for it all, Long Island electric rates skyrocketed.
What scared many New Yorkers—and thus many politicians—away from nuclear power was what had originally attracted the engineers and the utility economists to it: nuclear facilities use a unique fuel, burned, in its fashion, in relatively tiny reactors, to generate gargantuan amounts of power. Do it all just right, end to end, and you get cheap, abundant power, and King Faisal can’t do a thing about it. But the raw material itself, packing so much power into so little material, is inherently dangerous. Sufficiently bad engineering can result in a Three Mile Island or a Chernobyl. And these days, there’s the fear that poor security might enable terrorists to pull off something even worse.
How worried should we really be in 2005 that accidents or attacks might release and disperse a nuclear power plant’s radioactive fuel? Not very. Our civilian nuclear industry has dramatically improved its procedures and safety-related hardware since 1979. Several thousand reactor-years of statistics since Three Mile Island clearly show that these power plants are extraordinarily reliable in normal operation.
And uranium’s combination of power and super-density makes the fuel less of a terror risk, not more, at least from an engineering standpoint. It’s easy to “overbuild” the protective walls and containment systems of nuclear facilities, since—like the pyramids—the payload they’re built to shield is so small. Protecting skyscrapers is hard; no builder can afford to erect a hundred times more wall than usable space. Guaranteeing the integrity of a jumbo jet’s fuel tanks is impossible; the tanks have to fly. Shielding a nuclear plant’s tiny payload is easy—just erect more steel, pour more concrete, and build tougher perimeters.
In fact, it’s a safety challenge that we have already met. Today’s plants split atoms behind super-thick layers of steel and concrete; future plants would boast thicker protection still. All the numbers, and the strong consensus in the technical community, reinforce the projections made two decades ago: it is extremely unlikely that there will ever be a serious release of nuclear materials from a U.S. reactor.
What about the economic cost of nuclear power? Wind and sun are free, of course. But if the cost of fuel were all that mattered, the day of too-cheap-to-meter nuclear power would now be here—nearer, certainly, than too-cheap-to-meter solar power. Raw fuel accounts for over half the delivered cost of electricity generated in gas-fired turbines, about one-third of coal-fired power, and just a tenth of nuclear electricity. Factor in the cost of capital equipment, and the cheapest electrons come from uranium and coal, not sun and wind. What we pay for at our electric meter is increasingly like what we pay for at fancy restaurants: not the raw calories, but the fine linen, the service, and the chef’s ineffable artistry. In our overall energy accounts, the sophisticated power-conversion hardware matters more every year, and the cost of raw fuel matters less.
This in itself is great news for America. We’re good at large-scale hardware; we build it ourselves and keep building it cheaper. The average price of U.S. electricity fell throughout the twentieth century, and it has kept falling since, except in egregiously mismanaged markets such as California’s.
The cheap, plentiful power does terrific things for labor productivity and overall employment. As Lewis E. Lehrman notes, rising employment strongly correlates with rising supplies of low-cost energy. It takes energy to get the increasingly mobile worker to the increasingly distant workplace, and energy to process materials and power the increasingly advanced machines that shape and assemble those materials.
Most of the world, Europe aside, now recognizes this point. Workers in Asia and India are swiftly gaining access to the powered machines that steadily boosted the productivity of the American factory worker throughout the twentieth century. And the electricity driving those machines comes from power plants designed—and often built—by U.S. vendors. The power is a lot less expensive than ours, though, since it is generated the old-fashioned forget-the-environment way. There is little bother about protecting the river or scrubbing the smoke. China’s answer to the 2-gigawatt Hoover Dam on the Colorado River is the Three Gorges project, an 18-gigawatt dam on the Yangtze River. Combine cheaper supplies of energy with ready access to heavy industrial machines, and it’s hard to see how foreign laborers cannot close the productivity gap that has historically enabled American workers to remain competitive at considerably higher wages. Unless, that is, the United States keeps on pushing the productivity of its own workforce out ahead of its competitors. That—inevitably—means expanding our power supply and keeping it affordable, and deploying even more advanced technologies of powered production. Nuclear power would help keep the twenty-first-century U.S. economy globally competitive.
Greens don’t want to hear it, but nuclear power makes the most environmental sense, too. Nuclear wastes pose no serious engineering problems. Uranium is such an energy-rich fuel that the actual volume of waste is tiny compared with that of other fuels, and is easily converted from its already-stable ceramic form as a fuel into an even more stable glass-like compound, and just as easily deposited in deep geological formations, themselves stable for tens of millions of years. And what has Green antinuclear activism achieved since the seventies? Not the reduction in demand for energy that it had hoped for but a massive increase in the use of coal, which burns less clean than uranium.
Many Greens think that they have a good grip on the likely trajectory of the planet’s climate over the next 100 years. If we keep burning fossil fuels at current rates, their climate models tell them, we’ll face a meltdown on a much larger scale than Chernobyl’s, beginning with the polar ice caps. Saving an extra 400 million tons of coal here and there—roughly the amount of carbon that the United States would have to stop burning to comply with the Kyoto Protocol today—would make quite a difference, we’re told.
But serious Greens must face reality. Short of some convulsion that drastically shrinks the economy, demand for electricity will go on rising. Total U.S. electricity consumption will increase another 20 to 30 percent, at least, over the next ten years. Neither Democrats nor Republicans, moreover, will let the grid go cold—not even if that means burning yet another 400 million more tons of coal. Not even if that means melting the ice caps and putting much of Bangladesh under water. No governor or president wants to be the next Gray Davis, recalled from office when the lights go out.
The power has to come from somewhere. Sun and wind will never come close to supplying it. Earnest though they are, the people who argue otherwise are the folks who brought us 400 million extra tons of coal a year. The one practical technology that could decisively shift U.S. carbon emissions in the near term would displace coal with uranium, since uranium burns emission-free. It’s time even for Greens to embrace the atom.
It must surely be clear by now, too, that the political costs of depending so heavily on oil from the Middle East are just too great. We need to find a way to stop funneling $25 billion a year (or so) of our energy dollars into churning cauldrons of hate and violence. By sharply curtailing our dependence on Middle Eastern oil, we would greatly expand the range of feasible political and military options in dealing with the countries that breed the terrorists.
The best thing we can do to decrease the Middle East’s hold on us is to turn off the spigot ourselves. For economic, ecological, and geopolitical reasons, U.S. policymakers ought to promote electrification on the demand side, and nuclear fuel on the supply side, wherever they reasonably can.

Tags Indian Point, American Survival, Global Warming, High Tech Energy

Blog: WHITE NUCLEAR SNOWFLAKE - Get your quick ping button at!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Ignorant Abuse of ISA, versus Informed Use of ISA

The difference between the general public repeatedly being shown acceptable safety conditions by an alarmist press wrongly deeming them possible emergencies, and a truly degraded or dangerous nuclear plant , ...has not been made sufficiently clear.

Even an absolute collapse of local political confidence in NRC and its day-to-day oversight cannot be solved by re-inspecting all 104 nuclear plants whenever a local political figure gains traction for the idea in his/her constituency. Such a development can only result in the squandering of resources, funding, and effort into situations not warranting such activity. Taken to its extrapolated worst case, this strategy would flood all 104 nuclear plants with hordes of intrusive inspectors, impeding plant operations, and possibly inducing the very events they came to inspect against.

One of the first principles espoused in the international IAEA document 75-INSAG-3, "Basic Safety Principles for Nuclear Plants", in its preamble by nobel laureate Mohammed El Baradei, is that effort must be targeted to need. "It is important to avoid concentrating resources on efforts that have only marginal effects"..

With local governmental figures voicing ephemeral concerns brought to their attention from activist, intervenor, and opposer groups, outside of any indication that acceptable safety has truly been compromised, we see a clear need for a high level separation of fact and claim, perhaps by a national or international committee, establishing guidelines, and trip-points for the beneficial use of independent safety assessments, and likewise setting precise indicators barring the frivolous use of ISA as a political panacea.

The basic safety case for each of the 104 American nuclear plants has been set out in their Preliminary Safety Analysis Report and their Final Safety Analysis Report. Deterministic comparison of each plant's adherence to its written safety case is provided in real-time by the presence of resident NRC inspectors, and the NRC Reactor Oversight Program.

Probabilistic analysis of the major US plant types can be done by qualified researchers at any time, setting out the risks versus the probabilities in general, allowing guidelines to stand as required reading for those who would inspect, and re-inspect, frivolously, without knowing anything at all about the limits of mere inspection.

(Inspection as a tactic cannot predict an unforseen event. The very evening an ISA is completed at plant "X", a meteor could strike the containment dome, and breach the reactor core--- the inspection would have been a total waste of time).

Politicians ignorant of Probabilistic Risk Analyses seek an absolute "How Safe Is It?" answer , one that eternal inspection, by its very nature, cannot supply. PRA can provide that overview. Therefore politicians should direct the Congressional Research Service to commission a national PRA report on the 104 reactors, as their own internal legislative guide on how to avoid useless calls for repeat ISA's. In point of fact, politicians have been slyly misguided by intervenor and opposer public relations operatives posing as "technical experts", and given the Maine Yankee ISA & shutdown as the one and only way to find out if your local nuke is dangerous. Actually, the MY ISA found the plant was acceptable for further operation. It was a bereft conglomerate corporate culture that had no further interest in its nuclear asset, and bailed out. So even in the case of Maine Yankee, the public was never told how safe the plant was, or was not.

In the face of this impossibility to get blood from a stone, vis-a-vis the ISA tactic, politicians must be educated where to look for this information. I would challenge Senator Clinton and Congressman Hall to write up legislation empowering NRC or CRS to do a "PRA Constitutional Report" on each of the American reactors, with appropriate funding and a clear legislative charter., and to report the results in a high level national safety assessment.

After this report had scientifically charted the relative safety of all 104, then , and only then, would ISA become a useful tool, targeted at whatever specific need had been scientifically unearthed in the PRA Constitutional. This also has the benefit of closely following the IAEA methodology set out in 75-INSAG-3, the high-level agenda-free international document most trustworthy as an authority in these matters.

Without such a framework, any call for an ISA, without clearly demonstrated need, can rightly be called frivolous misuse of legislative priviledge. Within such a framework, established need can form the basis of any future calls fo an ISA.

Reference Documents may be found at: , links to the current international standard for safety at nuclear plants. "75-INSAG-3", is the IAEA publication setting the international standard for judging safety in nuclear plants built to earlier standards.
The document is named "INSAG-8"

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Thursday, April 26, 2007


Yellow Journalism on the Hudson (?)

In an amazingling brassy and overt display of journalistic delinquency, Gannett Journal News reporter Jorge FitzGibbon manages to read a clearly worded Manhattanville poll, where 47 percent of local residents say they want Indian Point open, having judged it as posing little or no risk, versus 33 percent wanting it closed, and somehow produce the blatantly deceptive banner headline:


Are you kidding Mr. Fitzgibbon? I have a copy of the Gannett Code of Journalistic Ethics here on my desk, and I can see at a glance , that you have skewed the facts.

Digging deeper than the headline, we see FitzGibbon intentionally blurring the two opposing sides, coming up with an untrue, unscientific description barely mentioning the pro-nuclear landslide, and claiming deceptively "residents still have worries" Oh yeah, Jorge? Maybe the 33 % on the anti side worry, but the wording of the survey question specifically asks if respondents have concerns, and the 47% majority specifically state that do not have any concerns.

What malicious alchemical formula can you use to turn gold back into non-factual lead, as you have done in taking the facts ....47% for, only 33% against, and coming up with this huge blunder of journalistic arrogance:

"Poll: Public worried" ?

Imagine a 47 to 33 landslide in any election. Let's say--- John Kerry 47%, GW Bush 33% in 2004, for instance (or the reverse). Piles of books would be written about the greatest landslide in modern electoral history. Robert F Kennedy would be out of a job---you can't electronically hack a fake 14% discrepancy in Ohio or anywhere else--- the gap is just too large.

And.... add to that 14% gap, the fact that it occurs after seven long years of feverish organizing, letter writing, blogging, and furious emailing, by mock-local groups covertly paid to spread fear by the G.R.A.C.E. foundation, Tamarind foundation, and the antinuke Helene Heilbrunn Lerner foundation, as well as Riverkeeper, Wespac, Ipsec and their duped contributors --- all for naught. Or rather .....all for a very clear minus 14.

Shame, Fitzgibbon.... Shame on you. And shame on Gannett for abetting such malicious unethical "journalism."

Actually journalism is the wrong word. Faux journalism maybe. Agendist Propaganda is coming closer. Maybe it would be more accurate to simply say:

Yellow Journalism.

I expect Mr. FitzGibbon to launch into a huffy retort tomorrow, perhaps telling us how corrupt the good nuns over at Manhattanville have become, shilling for Entergy , and publishing false survey reports. It's no more than I would expect from a Goebbels-on-the-Hudson.

Yes, I kind of like that .....


has a Gannett-type ring to it!

Kind of FitzGibbon-esqe !!