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Commercial Cargo: Nuclear or Not?

Posted January 17, 2010 8:16 AM

Ostensibly to curb emissions and displace fossil fuels, Chinese shipping giant Cosco announced that it will explore the feasibility of running a cargo shipping fleet using nuclear power. The shipping sector is responsible for 5% of global carbon dioxide emissions, more than from aviation. The Cosco chief executive wants society to weigh in on the acceptability of nuclear-powered fleets. Is this solution technically and environmentally superior to synthetic fuels, solar cells, or fuel cells?

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Guru

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#1

Re: Commercial Cargo: Nuclear or Not?

01/17/2010 11:01 AM

With such and old and proven technology I often wondered why Nuclear Powered private ocean going vessels were not the norm.

I attributed it to false propaganda from governments (ya know, falling into the wrong hands warnings)

I vote for it and hope it becomes a reality.

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#2

Re: Commercial Cargo: Nuclear or Not?

01/17/2010 12:42 PM

I'm sure the pirates would give that two thumbs up.

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#3

Re: Commercial Cargo: Nuclear or Not?

01/17/2010 1:43 PM

Is this solution technically and environmentally superior to synthetic fuels, solar cells, or fuel cells?

I would say the short answer considering current technology (and near-future developments) of both is surprisingly .......yes.

If you traveled back in time and told people in the 1980's that in todays market carbon dioxide is more scary than nuclear waste they would have laughed at you.

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#4

Re: Commercial Cargo: Nuclear or Not?

01/17/2010 3:16 PM

See "NS Savannah" for a bit of history. Apparently there are/were four nuclear cargo ships.

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Anonymous Poster
#5

Re: Commercial Cargo: Nuclear or Not?

01/17/2010 10:49 PM

New Zealand refuses American Warships in its ports because they refuse to admit if nuclear weapons are on board. No doubt they, and other countries, may refuse merchant ships powered by nuclear as well. A nuclear accident in a busy port could shut it down for months.

Rok

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#7
In reply to #5

Re: Commercial Cargo: Nuclear or Not?

01/18/2010 1:14 AM

Sooner or later the NIMBYs are going to realize that global warming will be in everybody's backyard whether they like it or not.

Ed Weldon

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#16
In reply to #5

Re: Commercial Cargo: Nuclear or Not?

01/19/2010 3:10 AM

My understanding is that New Zealand's objection to American warships is directly related to the presence of nuclear weapons, and the ban says nothing about the power plant of these warships.

It should also be pointed out that the first nuclear power plant put in to service was a marine propulsion plant- about two years before the first commercial electrical power plant. As far as I know, only two nuclear-powered vessels have actually been lost to accidents at sea, and nothing has ever been published about any environmental damage regarding these events (which is not to say there was no environmental impact- if there was, it was pretty well buttoned up by the military, and it is unlikely that Greenpeace and the likes would let the US government get away with such a coverup). There has never been, to my knowledge, a report of a problem with a nuclear marine propulsion plant. Again, I think that would be a pretty hard thing to cover up...

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#17
In reply to #16

Re: Commercial Cargo: Nuclear or Not?

01/19/2010 5:22 AM

G'day gals, guys & gurus,

"As far as I know, only two nuclear-powered vessels have actually been lost to accidents at sea, and nothing has ever been published about any environmental damage regarding these events (which is not to say there was no environmental impact."

I can think of three nuclear powered submarines that ware lost with all hands, the USS Thresher, USS Scorpion and Russian Kursk.

The Kursk's aft section that contained the reactors was raised but the forward section which was damaged in the incident is still sitting on the ocean floor. It is believed that all the conventional weapons detonated during the incident but if they were carrying nuclear tipped weapons the warheads would more than likely still be in the wreckage of the forward section.

The Thresher was lost during a test dive and wasn't carrying nuclear warheads at the time but the reactor is still sitting on the ocean floor.

The Scorpion was lost in strange circumstances and was carrying nuclear tipped torpedoes at the time so not only is the reactor sitting on the ocean floor but two plutonium cored nuclear weapons.

There was also an incident where a Russian diesel electric submarine that was carrying three nuclear tipped ballistic missiles was lost with all hands. The US navy tried to salvage the submarine but the salvage went wrong with the submarine breaking apart before reaching the salvage vessel. As far as I know the nuclear weapons are still sitting on the ocean floor.

The recent thread Overdue and Presumed Missing: The Loss of the USS Scorpion (SSN-589) also looked into the loss of the Thresher, so if anybody's interested they might wish to follow the link to the threads.

Anyway, the US navy has spent bucket loads of money monitoring the Thresher and Scorpion wreck sites to keep an eye on whether nuclear materials are leaking. So far there hasn't been any but the reactor cores and nuclear weapons will be potentially dangerous for at least twenty times as long as the pyramids of Giza have been in existence.

Regards, masu

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#6

Re: Commercial Cargo: Nuclear or Not?

01/18/2010 12:51 AM

Thousands of miles route of the vessel and seaports should be signed hazards. Must not admit to ports, served away in open ocean .

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#8

Re: Commercial Cargo: Nuclear or Not?

01/18/2010 2:25 AM

As soon as private enterprise is allowed to develop nuclear powered engines we WILL see huge progress in the safety and security of the units, not to mention the rapid reduction in cost of technology. I am aware that the current nuclear industry is headed by brilliant people but I speculate that their brilliance is severely impeded by the bureaucratic bull that goes with the general restrictions government funding carries, let alone the paranoia associated with nuclear science.

Some day when the majority of people realise the fact that the CRIMINAL degradation of our planet by our oil & auto/transport industry (that is fuelled by greed not oil) is far worse than the threat by terrorism, the people will DO something about both evils.

So for my part. Shut down four oil companies and open neuclear development. In aviation/space travel NASA has done great things in 50 years but I think Burt Rutan as a privateer, and a bunch of other privateers like him, have probably outpaced NASA big time. It's really quite simple, the privateer comes with a solution real quick and efficiently, or he goes hungry. That as opposed to state funded scientists who have the privilege of working off our tax $/£. Absolutely no disrespect intended.

Go China.... get rid of the oil-burners!

PS. Terrorism is not synonymous with Islam, just anti governance and greed in general! As for using nuke for terrorism, there are far easier ways to cause mayhem that take a whole lot less brainpower.

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#9
In reply to #8

Re: Commercial Cargo: Nuclear or Not?

01/18/2010 2:32 AM

Sorry guys, forgot to log in first......Nuke radiation getting to me. No just half asleep here in the African bush.

Oh yes, South Africa has a nuke program that has run for may years, including nuke power generation. My sister and her hubby both involved full-time with the agency here and report very safe opps. So its not African happy weed that fuelled my post above.

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#28
In reply to #8

Re: Commercial Cargo: Nuclear or Not?

02/02/2010 7:09 PM

What if countries allow these vessels to operate outside of any regular inspections & are allowed to sit in harbors with problematic intercooler tubing & they allow radiated water to escape into the environment? Whose responsibility will it be to monitor them & discipline them when they violate the rules & who will enact rules,regulate same & fine them or impound the vessel when in non compliance & who will pay the electric bill to keep the cooling water circulating while the reactor's temperature declines to normal & what about the radiation in the meantime? Does this mean that it will be a completely new type of regulation? If so, who will pay for its enforcement & the potential polution? I don't know what anyone thinks about this, but I do not want any responsibility for any radiation leaks & damage to the environment as this is a problem that quickly becomes a very expensive one & I know of no insurance company that will assume any liability or even the construction costs of any vessel anywhere that is not owned by a government.

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#31
In reply to #28

Re: Commercial Cargo: Nuclear or Not?

02/02/2010 8:42 PM

Whose responsibility will it be to monitor them & discipline them when they violate the rules & who will enact rules,regulate same & fine them or impound the vessel when in non compliance

Who currently fines vessels for polluting the environment with oil spills etc? Isn't this simply more of the same sort of responsibility?

Your problem is non existent.

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#39
In reply to #31

Re: Commercial Cargo: Nuclear or Not?

02/02/2010 9:33 PM

Oil is quite different from nuclear waste. What are the agencies that will take action & assume the bill when things go wrong on the high seas or otherwise? This is a problem that may one day rise up & show its ugly head on some poor countries shores & the problem is existant & should be treated as such before it happens.

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#41
In reply to #28

Re: Commercial Cargo: Nuclear or Not?

02/03/2010 9:07 AM

Easy,

A ship leaking radiation will be impounded by the nation whose port it pulls into without declaring an emergency *first*.

A ship owner will not risk losing his vessel to a bad tube therefore the maintenance budget will be well spent. When cost/risk is allowed to fully dictate behavior and the financial penalties are harsh... the risk will keep the participants in line.

See a nuke will be a very strong *profit* center compared to an oil burner -- that's not an asset that the owner will be quick to risk forfeiting.

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#42
In reply to #41

Re: Commercial Cargo: Nuclear or Not?

02/03/2010 10:47 PM

I can rest assured that the nation seizing the problematic vessel has the financial resources to both clean up the radiation & rehabilitate the same vessel or that port may be quarantined forever. I appreciated your very constructive answer, taking all of the variables into question. It sound like a good decision to sail the vessel in need of repair or dumping into any port that hasn't enough influence in the world in order to be rid of it.

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#43
In reply to #42

Re: Commercial Cargo: Nuclear or Not?

02/04/2010 9:55 AM

Do you remember the New York garbage scow? That was just incinerator trash and they had no way to unload it? The crew would've been imprisoned...

In a nuke fleet, the owners would be tracked down as terrorists -- by the international community if necessary.

Yes I understand that the hooman[sic] tendency to shirk responsibility is *huge* but we're talking about international shippers that are putting their reputations on the line. And a well maintained nuke cargo ship will *always* be a money-maker!

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#33
In reply to #8

Re: Commercial Cargo: Nuclear or Not?

02/02/2010 9:16 PM

May I assume that there are no greedy corporations that design expensive reactors, especially dangerous ones?

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#38
In reply to #33

Re: Commercial Cargo: Nuclear or Not?

02/02/2010 9:32 PM

Why did you rate this off topic?

I think the remark is quite relevant to the question as to whether nuclear is safe or not.

I have cast my vote towards reversing that.

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#44
In reply to #38

Re: Commercial Cargo: Nuclear or Not?

02/04/2010 12:46 PM

Sceptic -- I agree with you and added my vote accordingly in spite of my disagreement with some of gwaynehild's other positions in this discussion.

There would certainly be immoral profiteers and damage from any new technology. Our oceans already develop occasional nasty sores such as oil spills. We manage to handle these as long as we don't let the problems get out of hand.

I think we can manage the issue of nuclear powered ships should they prove to be a good choice from an objective analysis of economic, safety and environmental considerations. Sooner or later one will sink and take it's radioactive fuel to the seabed. We'll fret over that and get on. But if we are careless and allow pirates to capture a number of such vessels then we will have a problem. I don't think that is likely.

We need to put such issues in the right perspective. Our ocean ecosystems have much greater threats like overfishing, chemical and waste runoff from land, atmospheric pollution (mercury, etc), plastic film waste and human activity caused climate change.

Such prospects shouldn't completely deter our progress as a society. What is important is that we proceed with care and objectivity (uhhh... do the numbers) and try to set aside blind and emotional beliefs that would otherwise paralyse us.

Ed Weldon

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#10

Re: Commercial Cargo: Nuclear or Not?

01/18/2010 2:34 AM

G'day gals, guys & gurus,

The use of fission nuclear energy sounds great and to a certain extent even looks good on paper. However, most profitability calculations don't include the full cost of storing and monitoring the spent nuclear fuel for the 100 plus millennia it remains dangerous. Add those in and your operating costs don't just go through the roof but are well on the way to the next star system.

Then you have the problem of flags of convince. How long do you think it would be before some bean counting, profit at all cost driven, owner decided they didn't like the constraints the developed nations imposed on them, registered the ship in Liberia and maned it with an untrained crew that probably couldn't even tell which way up the operations manual was?

Not something I would see as a step in the right direction.

I haven't looked into it properly, but personally I would have thought the use of a renewable and ecologically more friendly fuel like alcohol would be a better, safer and more financially viable option.

Regards, masu

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#11
In reply to #10

Re: Commercial Cargo: Nuclear or Not?

01/18/2010 2:46 AM

The storage and holding issues for spent nuclear fuel are a dopey political football. There are real issues to take care of, to be sure, but they are not insurmountable in a rational world.

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#29
In reply to #11

Re: Commercial Cargo: Nuclear or Not?

02/02/2010 7:18 PM

Nuclear energy is much more than a dopey football. It is the most dangerous & expensive endeavor of which no private financier will bite into. Now that corporations can influence elections with as much money as they want to give to someone who will project their wishes,you will soon begin to see the reactor design companies come out of the woodwork. From a purely political point, we will quickly become political so as to avoid the inevitable problems associated with more nuclear waste everywhere except where it should be.

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#37
In reply to #29

Re: Commercial Cargo: Nuclear or Not?

02/02/2010 9:29 PM

Nuclear energy...the most dangerous & expensive endeavor of which no private financier will bite into.

The nuclear industries safety record is unmatched.

Marine nuclear propulsion is well established, proven technology, although it could well be updated to more efficient designs.

Why is it prohibitively expensive? Actually, it's not. If you factor in the difference in fuel cost over the life span of the vessel, it is not particularly expensive, although legal objections to the project and hysterical protests by people who know very little about the subject do add considerably to the cost.

How much pollution is put into the environment by the current practice of burning oil to propel ships?

How much radioactive material is released into the environment from the ash of combustion burning oil?

Taken over the life span of the ship, the nuclear ship is extremely clean and, even counting in waste disposal, puts less radioactive materials into the environment than oil burning, and certainly less than burning coal. Of course the coal and oil pollution are dispersed over a long time and a vast area, so their contribution to the environment is minor.

Proper disposal of nuclear waste is technically achievable at quite a low cost, but the opponents of nuclear power will not allow it because it may make this source acceptable. At the moment they can play the (quite false) fear card and stop or delay it until it is no longer economic.

If you wonder about the real effects of radiation in the environment, go to Maralinga.

The aboriginal inhabitants are banned from this area due to pollution due to atomic bomb tests in the 1950's. Kangaroos and rabbits are prolific within the prohibited area and are none the worse for living in an area regarded as too polluted for human use.

At one time, someone claimed there is no safe threshold for radiation exposure and this belief is still widely held. A moments thought will show the fallacy here. When the damage rate falls below the rate at which the body repairs the cells, you are below the damage threshold.

Some research has even seemed to indicate a small exposure leads to increased life span. This is probably an artifact of the survey methods rather than a real effect. Maybe at least partly due to the fact that workers in the nuclear industry have a far lower exposure to risky working conditions, so industrial accidents are taking a far lower toll than in the normal community.

Look at the "intractable" radioactive waste problem.

If you examine the amounts of fission products produced, it is surprising how much is actually inert - ie not radioactive at all.

In addition, the medium lifespan isotopes decay in only a few hundred years.

The long life span isotopes are only a small percentage of the total. In addition, the most common ones have a large neutron capture cross section. When they capture a neutron, the resultant isotope decays rapidly (1/2 life of seconds to days, or at most weeks). Most of the medium term isotopes are similar.

The obvious solution for these is to put them as a blanket just outside the neutron reflector but inside the shielding. The neutron flux there will make short work of them.

The resultant material then contains many minerals of commercial value, and these can usually be readily extracted.

I did read a paper some years ago which pointed out that a plasma of long lived isotopes in a strong electric field can have the decomposition rate accelerated up to a billion fold. Research along these lines could well be useful, but is currently prevented by lack of research funds in the area because "green" agitators have made research into nuclear processes essentially not politically correct.

If you are so concerned about nuclear waste, why not lobby for increased funding to research and fix the problem, instead of trying to ban the entire field?

Is there any solution to nuclear energy problems, (real or imagined) which you would find satisfactory?

Incidentally, don't give Helen Caldicott's book much credence. Her "facts" have been disproved long ago. She is an Australian general medical practitioner who has got a bee in her bonnet about the dangers of nuclear energy and has campaigned emotively against it for years, regardless of the facts. Her knowledge of the physics involved seems to be somewhat superficial.

If you want to know if I would visit a port while a nuclear powered ship was in or live reasonably close to a nuclear power station, I would say yes. The risks involved are very small, pollution levels are very small. Far more risky to cross the road.

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#45
In reply to #37

Re: Commercial Cargo: Nuclear or Not?

02/05/2010 11:36 PM

What part of the nuclear industries safety record is unmatched? Marine nuclear propulsion is only well established in military vessels. Which private vessels are equipped with nuclear propulsion? If you can tell me where the proven deposits of U235 of sufficient purity that do not need extensive enrichening exist, but of course this type of uranium is only required in older reactors, the ones that need phasing out. I can surely see how the legal objections against nuclear as long as there is no long term storage for the nuclear waste & of course the hysterics from the citizens including children in Europe, especially the Ukraine that will need daily thyroid medication or die since they no longer have any thyroid glands.Of course this is due to fail safe controls being turned off.

A lot of pollution is produced by oil & coal, but do you really believe that we will continue to discover more proven reserves which appears not to be the case & thus we will truly be running out of hydrocarbon fuels before we develop alternative energies unless we impress those in power of this need to begin to invest in these alternative systems before we do begin to experience the lack of electricity. I am inclined to believe that the thorium reactor may be some part of this answer along with many other forms of much cleaner energy. Family planning including abortion & birth control should also be placed on this plan for the future & why should other cultures take advantage of countries that do practice birth control as a form of conserving energy.

Yes, the burning of coal has the very nasty result of also leaving mercury in its waste ash, but what about those countries that without "proper" inspection from an international inspection agency will tend to violate the laws by dumping nuclear waste into the deep ocean where it might be difficult to discover. Our world is never perfect as man seems always bent on an easy way out of responsibility since they cannot see the pollution from their home or country. Since we seem to think that there will be a safe extremely long term storage facility for nuclear waste, I hope it becomes a reality for the future of the world at this "technically achievable at a low cost" where it cannot foul water or air forever,which seems to be the case. Let us leave the subject of economics out of this equation as that would just add cost to safety, perhaps.

As for the matter of these kangaroos & rabbits, have there been any studies to determine the true extent of this "none the worse" condition or should the people just accept that these animals are expendable, but what if they make their way into the "pet" food chain. Is this acceptable?

As for radiation affecting cell division in children, I would not want to be the one who states a certain level is acceptable. Such is the case with Monsanto's herbicide Roundup as it has been discovered that at 1% strength does affect cell division & nobody seems to want to do anything about it..

Where can I read about this reputable research indicating "small exposure leads to increased life span". Admitting that risky accidents can injure, but nuclear workers need to be studied for more than 30 years before there can be any conclusions about exposure to radiation. Do you want to volunteer for the exposure study? I do not see how the community at large could suffer less than a nuclear worker who is exposed to more of the radiation.

The isotopes you speak of, some of them do have a half a billion year half life.This is the real reason for long term safe storage, but we probably will not be around at that time.I believe that you do not truly know what you are writing about as there seems to be an overpowering amount of information that states that there will be too much danger & too much more polluted materials involved in this recovery process that you seem to think can extract "readily".

This electric field that can accelerate the decomposition a "billion fold",where will it be derived from? You appear to be angry with "green" agitators. Why? What if they were scientists who know what they are dealing with? Do they need to shut up, because they might appear to be "green"? Politics have no place in the health of the people or planet. Lobbying for funding for properly conducted studies that achieve a true picture of what this energy is all about & the best manner in which to utilize it sounds like a great place to start. Lobbying by special interests that represent those who think that bypassing safety & just buying some politicians is Ok , is not acceptable. Safety First.

I beg your pardon, but Helen Candicott has the highest regard for the people & the world as her primary interests. She is an informed author who uses information from those who work in the fields that she quotes, but you are entitled to your opinion as you appear to express freely without reserve.

You appear to want to live dangerously with little regard for possibilities of bad judgements of others or are biased in your opinions expressed here. Either way, I disagree with much of what you state as fact. I further think you are not properly informed about your subject & could very well be an insider paid to express these views.

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#46
In reply to #45

Re: Commercial Cargo: Nuclear or Not?

02/07/2010 4:59 AM

What part of the nuclear industries safety record is unmatched?

Compare major accidents, fatalities from nuclear and coal generation. If you like, include mining and processing of ores as well.

Nuclear safety is so much better than coal and most other industries there is no comparison.

If you can tell me where the proven deposits of U235 of sufficient purity that do not need extensive enriching exist...

Almost any ore can be used un enriched in a CANDU type heavy water reactor. These have an excellent safety record and are not to be compared to the various light water reactors which all require enriched ore, because of the neutron absorption cross section of the light water used as coolant.

The CANDU reactor is more expensive to build than the common power reactors, but the cheaper fuel eventually compensates for this.

Theoretically, sodium/potassium eutectic cooled reactors could also be designed to run on natural uranium.

This type of reactor is not the type that needs phasing out unless it is old enough that the mechanical equipment is becoming unreliable.

...especially the Ukraine that will need daily thyroid medication or die since they no longer have any thyroid glands.

Have you a reference for this?. I seem to have missed it in the serious journals.

Family planning including abortion & birth control should also be placed on this plan for the future...

I agree. The world has basically too many people and not enough food - like the average cocktail party.

I also agree that we need to conserve energy and use it more efficiently, but consider what would happen to the underdeveloped world if the developed world stopped expanding.

Their economies would collapse. Like it or not, they need the developed world and part of the cost for the improved prosperity they enjoy is pollution. (Whether this is planet threatening or not has been argued elsewhere. The science of planet changing anthropogenic effects is shaky if you look at it closely).

The developed world cannot replace all it's base load needs by conservation or alternative energy. Grids go unstable at more than about 25% alternative energy. None of it is suitable for base load.

Controls currently suggested to reduce CO2 will reduce developed world living standards, mainly by exporting jobs off shore as domestic costs rise. While this reduction probably won't do any serious damage to the developed world, it will devastate the underdeveloped world.

Nuclear energy is one way of producing low pollution energy to enable the underdeveloped world to have a base for continued improvement in their living standards. The technical problems of waste disposal have basically been solved, we only need the political will to put it into practice.

As for the matter of these kangaroos & rabbits, have there been any studies to determine the true extent of this "none the worse" condition or should the people just accept that these animals are expendable, but what if they make their way into the "pet" food chain. Is this acceptable?

I know of no studies. This was simply an observation after watching film of the area. Entry is restricted and researchers probably wouldn't be allowed in due to the high residual radiation.

The site was used in the 1950's for both plutonium and uranium fission bomb tests as well as tests for underground storage of plutonium. Britain didn't tell Australia the full extent of what they put there and it was subsequently discovered that some very long lived isotopes were shallow buried there and rad waste disposal methods had been extremely slack. This would not have been tolerated in Britain, even if they were inflicting it on the Scots! (As they did with their anthrax tests)

While people are banned, there is no visible sign of abnormalities among the wildlife.

Shooting and trapping are also banned and the entire area is well fenced, so the possibility of the meat ending up in pet food is remote.

...but nuclear workers need to be studied for more than 30 years before there can be any conclusions about exposure to radiation.

Nuclear workers health before and after retirement has been monitored for much more than 30 years and the overall life span and health has been found to be slightly above the community average, probably not by a significant amount and the improvement would be expected because they are working in a generally cleaner environment than most people.

I am retired and have never worked in the nuclear industry so I wouldn't be a suitable subject for an exposure study, but I would willingly work in the nuclear industry, even the mining and processing area.

The isotopes you speak of, some of them do have a half a billion year half life.

After irradiation in a neutron beam, they all transform to quite short half life isotopes.

Waste treatment needs to include more processing to remove these long lived isotopes and return them to an area of the reactor where they can be suitably irradiated.

You appear to be angry with "green" agitators. Why? What if they were scientists who know what they are dealing with? Do they need to shut up, because they might appear to be "green"?

Let's distinguish between scientists and agitators.

Scientists air their views where they can be peer and public reviewed and leave them open to debate and disproof. It is difficult to prove something in science, but probabilities can be assessed to see whether the theories gain or lose strength according to the evidence.

Agitators will not tolerate opposing points of view and seem to believe that the louder they shout, the better proven their viewpoint is.

Many of the agitators have become sufficiently well organized to be a significant pressure/lobby group and hence gain undue political influence.

Accordingly, politics pokes it's nose into the health of the planet based on the poorly based "science" pushed by these agitators.

That is what I am opposed to. If you have a difference of opinion, do what we do here - bring it up for discussion.

Look at the manifesto of many of these "green" groups and you will find them advocating such things as the state owning all property, various restrictions on individual liberty etc. I was astonished when I read the small print of the Australian green party's policy.

They make it sound very attractive, but they have an agenda. Take the time to look properly into any of the vociferous greens and you will find similar state ownership agenda behind it.

Lobbying by special interests that represent those who think that bypassing safety & just buying some politicians is Ok , is not acceptable. Safety First.

Agreed. Greed will tempt many to try and by pass safety, usually costing them far more than they thought they were going to save.

However, lobbying by anti development/progress groups is equally undesirable.

One significant reason for the 3 mile Island accident is that the lobbyists had forced so many redundant safety alarms into plant design that they were less safe than they would have been with less of them. The reason is that as sensor numbers multiply and information load on the operators increases, sensor failures and false alarms become more common, so the operators simply turn off alarms as they arise. (I've seen this happen in coal fired stations which have a fraction of the problem of nuclear ones.)

When a genuine alarm sounds, they are inclined to go about their other work and turn it off without investigating. If they investigated every alarm that showed, they wouldn't get anything else done.

You appear to want to live dangerously with little regard for possibilities of bad judgements of others

Not so. But I do know enough of the engineering principles and technology involved to know when the risk is minuscule and the equipment sufficiently fail safe to be acceptable.

I further think you are not properly informed about your subject & could very well be an insider paid to express these views.

I originally started uni intending to major in nuclear physics and have always had a keen interest in the area.

I eventually settled on mechanical engineering, giving me a good knowledge base from which to assess the equipment and scientific base of this subject.

I've also kept myself quite well informed, but I have a sceptical bent which makes me question "accepted knowledge" and look at how sound it is scientifically. I am probably much better informed on the subject than the majority of engineers.

As mentioned earlier, I have never worked in the nuclear industry and am certainly not a paid insider. The views expressed are my own, formed from a personal interest in the subject with years of research.

We all need to examine the evidence and do so with a critical eye to sort propaganda from scientific fact, whether it come from the nuclear or anti nuclear factions.

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#48
In reply to #46

Re: Commercial Cargo: Nuclear or Not?

02/07/2010 11:34 AM

GA -- Well spoken, sceptic. My respect for your viewpoints has grown considerably even though we don't always agree. (Here we do agree)

Ed Weldon

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#12
In reply to #10

Re: Commercial Cargo: Nuclear or Not?

01/18/2010 3:02 AM

"However, most profitability calculations don't include the full cost of storing and monitoring the spent nuclear fuel for the 100 plus millennia it remains dangerous."

Let's say that we want to reduce the probability of dying from exposure to nuclear fuel to the same as being struck down by a meteor. I'd say that the present value of such an effort becomes fairly minute after just a few hundred years. In this period millions will die due to global warming. It's time to get real and set aside irrational fears.

And what makes anyone think that a nation as authoritarian as the PRC can't control the use of its nuclear technology?

OT here: If the Chinese think they can put nuclear propulsion units in their container ships what does that say about the future of their submarine technology?

Ed Weldon

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#13
In reply to #12

Re: Commercial Cargo: Nuclear or Not?

01/18/2010 6:41 AM

Don't get me wrong, I firmly believe that global warming is about as serious a problem as it gets and unless we act swiftly we are going to find ourselves in deep doo doo.

However, I just don't think the current style of fission nuclear reactor is the way to go. Just think about it for a while. Currently there is no guaranteed way of dealing with the spent fuel and it needs to be kept from getting into the biosphere for more than 100,000 years. That's twenty times as long as the pyramids of Giza have been in existence and unlike the pyramids you just can't bury this stuff and forget about it. Not only do you have the problems of keeping it out of the hands of people you wouldn't let loose with a box of matches but you have to monitor it to ensure things don't go wrong.

There have been several incidents where the spent fuel in overcrowded temporary storage facilities has started to fission in unanticipated ways. As a result they started to overheat and placed loads on the cooling systems that the temporary facilities had not been designed to handle.

Currently there is no permanent long term storage facility on earth and while there is one under construction in the USA that doesn't solve the problem for the rest of the world.

However, there is a way to use nuclear fission that not only doesn't have the long term storage problems, but is intrinsically safe.

It's called a Thorium reactor and instead of using uranium 235U as the fuel it utilizes thorium 232Th.

In a 235U reactor you have a self sustaining chain reactor that is controlled by inserting moderators that absorb neutrons. Unfortunately this has the potential to run away out of control causing a dreaded meltdown. Now there are numerous backup systems and safeguards but you can not say that it will never happen, because it has.

However, a 232Th core can't produce a self sustaining fission reaction like 235U, but 232Th can be made to fission if it is hit with a neutron. In a 232Th reactor the fission is instigated and controlled by bombarding the core with an external neutron source. Because the core of a 232Th reactor's natural state is stable you can't get a self sustaining runaway like you can with the self sustaining uranium core. If things go wrong all you have to do is shut off the neutron source, the fission ceases and the core stops producing energy.

It gets even better because the spent fuel from a thorium reactor while still being radioactive has a much shorter half life and only remains dangerous for around 300 years compared to the 100,000 plus years with uranium reactors.

But that's not all.

If you add the spent fuel and unwanted cores of nuclear weapons to the core you not only get energy from them but drastically increase the rate of decay and end up with something that only remains dangerous for about as long as the thorium core.

Now if the politicians got off their inactive, indecisive backsides and gave the development of thorium reactors the funds needed to bring a commercially viable system on line I would change my opinion on the use of fission reactors in an instant.

PS: I don't know those following this thread knows, but back in 2007 I created a CR4 blog that looked at a whole range of new energy generating technologies. If you go the blog's table of contents page you will find links to the various threads including one on Thorium Fission Reactors.

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#34
In reply to #13

Re: Commercial Cargo: Nuclear or Not?

02/02/2010 9:19 PM

I sincerely hope you are correct & will rate you well.

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#30
In reply to #12

Re: Commercial Cargo: Nuclear or Not?

02/02/2010 7:27 PM

Let's say that problems associated from exposure to radiation in the air & water is a real matter for more than your quoted timespan of a few hundred years as we bring into this equation the effects from Chernobl. Do we need one genuine meltdown in the US to bring us into reality,just one? I can see many of the homes built on the surface, being built underground to save energy to heat & air condition them. As for China using nuclear to power ships, I think they will soon see the folly of their intelligence as they seem to exhibit more intelligence than the US does sometimes.

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#21
In reply to #10

Re: Commercial Cargo: Nuclear or Not?

01/26/2010 9:45 PM

I also vote for the alcohol. It was the only things that kept me sane in my 10 years at sea!

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#14

Re: Commercial Cargo: Nuclear or Not?

01/18/2010 11:37 AM

I think the problem the people will have with nuclear powered vessels enter their environment will be it's down fall. The up keep of these privately own vessel will be on the whims of the owners. We all know how individuals differ in that aspect. So who will monitor these vessels safety for the public. An international bureaucracy. Will the cost of such a bureaucracy make the vessel economical.

They still might be restricted to certain harbors.

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#15

Re: Commercial Cargo: Nuclear or Not?

01/18/2010 12:56 PM

Boy oh Boy! Let me pour another cup of Joe here and get started. First of all THERE WAS A FACILITY UNDER CONSTRUCTION IN THE USA to store spent nuclear fuel. It was called the Yucca Mountain Project but after billions of wasted taxpayer dollars it was closed by (I think) the present bone-head administration that is crying long and loud about global warming. As one of the above submitters stated, if you can get the government out of the nuclear business you'll soon develop some real answers to the storage process.

I am amazed that nobody has mentioned Three Mile Island. TMI was the watershed event in the nuclear regulation industry in the US, not the world. When TMI occured I was working my way through night school as a welder on the Vogle Nuclear Project. Prior to TMI a two inch support system was just fine on a cable tray. After TMI we installed four inch support systems. The point is that TMI doubled and tripled the cost on nuclear plant construction in the US with excessive regulations. TMI was not caused by a broken support anymore than Chernobly was caused by fuel rods suddenly going out of control. Thanks to Jane Fonda and other communists in the "China Syndrome", plus a continous drumbeat of alarms from "greens", "peaceniks" and other ill informed idealists, the West essentially volunteered to shut down their nuclear power generation thus helping to make their cultures more dependent on unstable energy suppliers. The Cold War was indeed a devious era.

Now for the Peoples Republic of China going nuclear with their cargo fleet. WAKE UP WORLD! That cargo fleet is tied to the Chinese navy, who by the way has a small but very effective submarine fleet, and in times of national emergency becomes an operating arm of said Chinese Navy. This is SOP as every maritime power and wantabe has these laws on the books. The Chinese are in the midst of sucking up all available resources in the world to keep their economy running smoothly. Almost all of those resources are traveling to and from China via cargo ships fueled by oil from those aforementioned unstable energy suppliers. Make your ships nuclear and you reduce your dependence on those unstable energy supplys. Make your ship nuclear and you will have a fleet that can protect your convoys of nuclear powered super-tankers that are transporting all of those petroleumn products to your 1.5 billion people and factories.

For the past two to three years this lunatic has been telling anyone that would pause for a minute to listen that China will establish a navy base in the Horn of Africa within the next five to ten years. Somalia is a great location and the opportunity for the Chinese to establish a base there is GOLDEN! They can establish a base with the consent of a local warlord, who will be appropriately paid for the privelege, under the pretext of fighting piracy and protecting the sealanes for the tankers, etc. They are well on the way to establishing a chain of radar/weather stations in the Indian Ocean at this time. China has no choice but to do all of these things in order to protect their trade which fuels their economy which provides jobs for their people which keeps the bread riots down in the streets.

In Summary (sorry for all the chatter) China will create a nuclear powered Navy, both Merchant and Military, and they really won't give a fig about the problems of storage of nuclear waste when you have millions of square miles of ocean in which to dump the stuff (ala the Soviet Union and the Artic Ocean dumping of reactors and fuel). It is gonna happen so get over it.

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#18
In reply to #15

Re: Commercial Cargo: Nuclear or Not?

01/19/2010 6:12 AM

"In Summary (sorry for all the chatter) China will create a nuclear powered Navy, both Merchant and Military, and they really won't give a fig about the problems of storage of nuclear waste when you have millions of square miles of ocean in which to dump the stuff (ala the Soviet Union and the Artic Ocean dumping of reactors and fuel)."

"It is gonna happen so get over it."

Isn't that a head in the sand I can't see it so it doesn't matter attitude?

Which is exactly my point. It only takes one amoeba brained idiot in any tin pot banana republic to stuff things up for everybody.

Just look at the Chernobyl incident. It's a classic example of poorly trained operators working on a fundamentally flawed design that was built that way for nothing more than expediency. However, when it went legs up it wasn't just the Soviet Union that copped it, half of Europe was contaminated by the fallout which cost the various countries billions of dollars to clean up. Not to mention the number of people that have and will die prematurely from cancers due to radiation exposure.

Now that the USSR has gone bankrupt you have a potentially dangerous post meltdown reactor core that they can't look after. So guess who's paying for the new containment chamber? Yes it's the USA and here allies which basically means the western nations are now and will be for a very long time footing the bill for somebody else's short sightedness.

Then you have their unwanted nuclear submarines. They haven't go the money or manpower to dismantle then so they sit in Russian ports partially flooded and rusting away with minimal to nonexistent security and monitoring.

Spent nuclear fuel from uranium cored reactors and the plutonium from unwanted nuclear weapons is really dangerous stuff and needs to be kept from getting into the biosphere for longer than the human race has been in existence. However, so far we haven't been able to get single long term storage facility up and running anywhere on the entire planet, yet we continue making more of it without any idea of how to get rid of the waste.

Honestly folks, does producing more and more highly radioactive nuclear wast without having the slighted inkling of an idea how to get rid of it sound like a good idea?

However, if there was a way of getting rid of the waste then I would change my mind about the use of nuclear fission reactors is an instant.

Just think about this for a moment.

Oil companies spend upwards of US$1,000,000,000.00 building just one deep sea oil platform, while car manufactures spend hundreds of millions every year on nothing more than cosmetic changes to the cars they make. If that amount of money were spent on getting technologies like the Thorium reactor, tidal and wave energy, global power grid or any of a number of potential renewable energy sources up and running we would be well and truly on our way to solving our energy needs.

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#36
In reply to #18

Re: Commercial Cargo: Nuclear or Not?

02/02/2010 9:28 PM

Yes, Europe will suffer practically forever & the rest of the world may become responsible for being caretaker of Chernobl. Have you researched the thorium U232 reactor that is supposed to be "better" than the older reactors that use U235 which is becoming rare & more than problematic? I will still need some convincing before I agree with this type of reactor, but it is an alternative to what we have & it has some benefits as opposed to any older reactors that are reaching the end of their lifespan. I am only one person who knows that our older reactors are not very good as opposed to this thorium reactor that appears to be somewhat of an improvement.

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#47
In reply to #18

Re: Commercial Cargo: Nuclear or Not?

02/07/2010 9:50 AM

It was a black day concerning Chernobl. It is an even worse scenario as to the question of cleanup in England,France & what remains of the contamination over the remaining EU & the world. Admitting that any cleanup is impossible & after nearly 30 years the seriousness of this has now been to determine what will life be like in the future. The uninformed citizens are powerless to effect any productive changes that will improve standards & think that no nuclear is best as they do not want any possibility of further problems. This blog can go on till hell freezes over & there still will be no concensus as to a viable solution. Candu & thorium appears to be a solution barring the waste disposal that has inherent problems of its own that remain unsolved.

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#19
In reply to #15

Re: Commercial Cargo: Nuclear or Not?

01/19/2010 2:26 PM

Will only happen if the countries which they are shipping to and from will let the vessels dock. They may have enough power and money to get a few to bend to their wishes. I don't think they will be accepted at all ports of call. So use will be limited and one accident of a reactor anywhere in the world will place them in question.

Then there is the question of nuclear active waste dumping at sea. Can you imagine the out cry of someone opening up a can of tuna that has enough radio activity to light a football field. The more vessel out there with nuclear propulsion the greater chance of it happening.

The growing populous that has jumped on the band wagon of global warming will have real time. Now they will screaming about environmental contamination with nuclear waste. It is easier for a government to control the hazards involved in a stationary plant. One that on the open seas less likely to nil.

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#35
In reply to #15

Re: Commercial Cargo: Nuclear or Not?

02/02/2010 9:21 PM

I also hope you are correct & will also rate your comment acccordingly.

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#20

Re: Commercial Cargo: Nuclear or Not?

01/26/2010 12:35 PM

I think the statement that China will explore the feasibility is the answer all wrapped up. As the largest exporter in the world the only question left to ask is which nations will be foolish enough to ban Chinese Nuclear carriers from their ports?

Consider it a fait accompli and come up with solutions that make it safe... i.e. Navy missions to seek and destroy pirates at sea.

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#22
In reply to #20

Re: Commercial Cargo: Nuclear or Not?

01/27/2010 6:36 AM

In #20 tick-tock suggested

  • "Navy missions to seek and destroy pirates at sea."

How about the Royal Australian Air Force's response to North Korean drug smuggling pirates, will that do the trick?

Ok, we did get the crew off first, but it definitely sends the message on how serously Australia takes pirates and the like that blatantly flout Australia's laws.

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#23

Re: Commercial Cargo: Nuclear or Not?

01/27/2010 8:06 AM

Nuclear waste disposal is a political problem, not technical.

1. Lock up in borosilicate glass. Already proven effective. Leakage problems have been grossly overstated and are actually less than from natural deposits of radioactive material.

2. Synrock. Again proven effective and even lower leakage than borosilicate glass.

Not mentioned is making into bricks, placing in an insulated container and using the heat of decay to produce base load power.

Generally, nuclear reactors have an extraordinary safety record, one which all other forms of power generation should envy.

So good is this record, that worker in a nuclear power plant is recognized as one of the safest occupations available.

When any accident occurs, it is so rare that it is news.

If it wasn't for the political pressure involved, commercial shipping would have been nuclear powered long ago. (Politics plus very low oil prices have kept nuclear out).

In about 50-100 years, we will probably be using fusion power anyway and this debate will be redundant.

If any country refuses docking to a nuclear powered ship, they will find their economy by passed when nuclear chips become common and the goods they should have traded are sent to other trading countries.

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#24

Re: Commercial Cargo: Nuclear or Not?

01/31/2010 8:35 PM

Nuclear energy is absolutely the wrong answer to anything. First, where will the uranium of enough purity come from as there is none that does not require enrichening & at what cost?Second, the mining process harms everyone & everything, leaving too much waste & pollution to deal with at what cost to man & environment.Third, how will we reckon with the waste products that have a huge half life of 400,000 years,will we condemn our descendants with the very problem that Chernobl has brought upon Europe, that will last until the Earth comes to its end. Fourth, when every country has a taste of nuclear energy, what will they do with the many problems that only governments can afford to bring upon its citizens do with the cancers & damage to the environment. Think & become informed about this very bad solution to any problem concerning nuclear energy, before you consider furthering the goals of reactor designers who know that this is not an answer as financiers well know. Only governments can afford nuclear development & we pay the governments with tax money. That money could go much further & goes nowhere furthering nuclear objectives.

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#25
In reply to #24

Re: Commercial Cargo: Nuclear or Not?

01/31/2010 11:03 PM

Quoting gwaynehild: "Nuclear energy is absolutely the wrong answer to anything."

So you'd prefer condemning millions of people in low lying places like Bangladesh to death by drowning …. IN THE NEXT50 YEARS?? By starvation due to drought throughout central Africa just for starters?

"First, where will the uranium of enough purity come from as there is none that does not require enrichening & at what cost?"

Breeder reactors. We have the technology today. All that is stopping it is the politics of the ignorant.

"Second, the mining process harms everyone & everything, leaving too much waste & pollution to deal with at what cost to man & environment. "

Ignorant rubbish! How many people have been injured and killed by environmental and safety problems from uranium mining? How many people died from drowning in the last typhoon floods to roll over the low lying areas of Bangladesh? We have the technology to extract uranium from seawater, a multi-thousand year source at a cost about 5 times that of current mining technology and a net increase in electric power less than 5 cents a kilowatt hour.

"Third, how will we reckon with the waste products that have a huge half life of 400,000 years, will we condemn our descendants with the very problem that Chernobyl has brought upon Europe, that will last until the Earth comes to its end."

It's not like we will be scattering the stuff on the ground. Get real. Half the population of our planet could be dead from global warming and the wars fueled by loss of food and water sources before this century is done. 400,000 year horizons are the providence of the well fed and cozy dreamers among us. TIME TO GET REAL!!

"Fourth, when every country has a taste of nuclear energy, what will they do with the many problems that only governments can afford to bring upon its citizens do with the cancers & damage to the environment."

Again … TIME FOR A REALITY CHECK. More people died (order of magnitude here) in the USA last year from mistakes in radiation treatments for cancer in hospitals and clinics than actually died from early onset cancers in the areas of Nevada, Utah and Arizona that were exposed to fallout from US above ground nuclear tests of 40 years ago.

Do you honestly believe that anyone who can develop and use nuclear power technology is going to play fast and loose with safety? (besides some greedy medical service providers) And besides this the new power technologies like pebble bed reactors are way safer than the 3 Mile Island technology of 40 years ago.

Go look at the real numbers. It's either nuclear or coal until some distant day when we find out whether fusion works. Doing the whole job of preventing a radical change in our planet's climate with renewable sources is simply impossible unless we reduce the planet's population by 2/3. Which would prefer? Living in a make believe world of science fiction energy answers with doom facing all of us or actually trying to fix the problem? Or just killing off 3 billion people so you can keep your sweet warm little cocoon rolling down the road?

Want to get some credibility? Go redo David J.C. Mackay's work and come up with a better answer that does not come up with nuclear power as a major player. We'll all listen to you even if your suggestions are only part of the way there.

Meantime please knock off the dream sequence and the worries about saving a few lives of cockroaches and rodents that will have inherited our world after we've done killing each other off with home brew bombs and chemicals and turned the world into an overheated desert.

"Think and become informed about this very bad solution to any problem concerning nuclear energy, before you consider furthering the goals of reactor designers who know that this is not an answer as financiers well know. Only governments can afford nuclear development & we pay the governments with tax money. That money could go much further & goes nowhere furthering nuclear objectives."

The only reason why some financial interests shy away from nuclear power is because in some countries like the USA the majority of population would rather get their information from noisy well compensated professional propagandists than think objectively for themselves and consider real facts rather than unsubstantiated beliefs.

You want your kids to live in a world where they are pounded by floods and tornados for one or two months of the year and bake in 120 degree heat the other 10 months? You want them to wonder when they will be able to buy their next $25 box of cereal to eat or $10 gallon of water to drink? Do you really think they will care about Yucca Mountain or what's under it when they watch their kids dying of starvation?

When are you people going to wake up to reality?

Ed Weldon

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#27
In reply to #25

Re: Commercial Cargo: Nuclear or Not?

02/01/2010 10:39 PM

You are referring to another issue other than the problems associated with the use of the atom, both responsible & irresponsible,but let us engage our minds. Population has nothing to do with uranium's uses & certainly Bangladesh is a severe problem of population out of control. They could certainly use a lot of birth control & family planning that is denied because of the cultures of that region.

Breeder reactors are extremely expensive.The persons who work around are afected by the radiation.You must have some ideas about how our cells are effected by radiation,maybe if we only had people older than reproduction years that would operate these reactors & they would be dead before the symptoms of radiation effected cells show up as they will most assuredly.

The scientists who know about the gigantic tailings left behind after many of the enrichening facilities have moved on, without any knowledge recorded for those who came later. These piles were used to build schools & homes that were abandoned as they were time bombs for the inhabitants.

Please refer me to this information where uranium can be extracted from seawater at such a savings & what were the budgetary items provided by a government that can only afford this type of expenditure. No bank or financial institution will touch any of this as it is a red herring.

Yes, the huge population of the world seems bound to a suffering if this warming trend continues, but do not forget what "Monsanto" is doing to the farmers of the world. Educate yourself on youtube & watch "The World According To Monsanto". Returning to the real horizon; yes,it is a real problem allof the waste left behind that is infiltrating into our rivers from the heavy water pools that were used & are now "superfund sites" & what about the intercooler & coolant tubing that has now acquired a longer very dangerous inspection shutdown schedule that releases radiated water into rivers & oceans , not including the daily release of gases that threaten to create more problems as time goes by. Yes, you were , of course aware of the gases that our government states are OK & that an additional 1% death rate is acceptable as per Uncle Sam. we , of course are not supposed to be aware of this information.

How do you know where these cancers originated from & where did you secure the hospital over exposures statistics?

Yes,I do believe that the reactor designers will deny any responsibility, as there are huge profits to be made when governments take allof the responsibility as they are the ones who spend our money on them.

Coal& other resources will be used to enrichen uranium at a huge rate & you cannot deny that we are only able to enrichen using plutonium from our warheads that have been taken offline. That is how we enrichen uranium as there are no uranium deposits rich enough for use as is.

We can only hope that fusion works, but that is still in the future.

Mackay might be more credible if he used statistics that were relevent to current conditions.

Maybe, you could be believed if you were not so propagandist yourself & read Helen Caldicott's' "Nuclear Energy is Not the Answer"

Yucca Mountain has been forgotten for now & yes there are a lot of people who live near the coastal regions, but I do not live in a caccoon as you have surmised & we are already awake about how deadly nuclear energy is & the future problems that it will further complicate. Think about Chernobl,how it has truly polluted most of the european countries with iodine & cesium & do not forget the children who sacrificed their thyroid glands for a daily thyroid pill or face death or IF there was another core meltdown that created the fallout that is not completely impossible. Think about this before you begin spouting misinformation that cannot be substantiated by statistics.

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#40
In reply to #27

Re: Commercial Cargo: Nuclear or Not?

02/02/2010 11:55 PM

Guest -- an identifiable login would help us all.

"Mackay might be more credible if he used statistics that were relevent to current conditions."

Relevant to current conditions?? Mackay's book published in 2009. Most of the statistics he uses are economic and these statistics are seldom available in less than 3 years. So what makes current conditions (Feb. 2010) significantly different from what they were 3 or so years ago? We are even more certain today of the likelyhood of global warming due to human causes. We are a lot clearer on the severe limitations of all practical renewable energy resources also.

Mackay's work, if you've studied it, is highly relevant to today. His examples revolve around the example of the UK. But his big contribution is not his UK case study but his methodology, which is applicable to any region or nation.

Dr Caldicott is a well known anti-nuke partisan. She makes credible points about the bad effects of radiation exposure on humans. But she loses the big picture of the effect of fossil fuel use on vastly greater numbers of humans than would ever be effected by radiation exposure. This is the real issue at hand.

If one could believe that all our energy needs can be met by benign and physically harmless technologies then the case against nuclear power would be very strong. Sorry, but this isn't going to happen that way. The real issue is going to be how much can we reduce fossil fuel usage by nuclear power, renewable sources, conservation, vasatly lowered living standards and simply lowering the demand by killing off part of the population one way or another.

"You are referring to another issue other than the problems associated with the use of the atom, both responsible & irresponsible,but let us engage our minds. Population has nothing to do with uranium's uses & certainly Bangladesh is a severe problem of population out of control. They could certainly use a lot of birth control & family planning that is denied because of the cultures of that region."

You have this one wrong. The issue with Bangladesh has to do with the fatalities in its low lying coastal areas that will result from rising sea level and greater tropical storm damage attendant to global warming caused by fossil fuel use. Reduction of that use through substitution of nuclear power will in the long run reduce such death counts.

Ed Weldon

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#26
In reply to #24

Re: Commercial Cargo: Nuclear or Not?

02/01/2010 12:30 AM

...where will the uranium of enough purity come from...

1. Thorium can be converted to U233 and easily concentrated chemically.

There is no shortage of Thorium in the world.

2. Plutonium from spent reactor fuel is easily concentrated. As it has many isotopes of Pu present it is very difficult to enrich it to weapons grade, so the nuclear proliferation argument is basically hot air.

To achieve weapons grade, fuel must be withdrawn for processing well before it's economic use, and usually special reactors are used for this purpose. The CANDU type is well suited to be run for production of weapons grade.

3. There are cheaper forms of concentration of U235 than gaseous diffusion or ultra centrifuges. I won't mention the methods because some would be just within the reach of terrorists under favorable circumstances.

There is a good supply of uranium in the world, and it can also be extracted from seawater, although currently not economically.

CANDU type (heavy water) reactors can be designed to run on natural uranium, by passing the need for enrichment.

I believe the large increase in uranium required and capital cost of the larger reactor makes enrichment more attractive to the bean counters, but the technology does exist. In fact the earliest reactors were fueled by natural uranium.

...the mining process harms everyone & everything, leaving too much waste & pollution to deal with...

Have a look at Mary Kathleen mine now it has been closed. Where is the environmental problem?

...how will we reckon with the waste products that have a huge half life of 400,000 years...

How did nature cope with areas like Narbalek where the ore was so rich, it would glow in the dark. People lived and hunted in this region for thousands of years with no problems.

I forget the name but there is a deposit in Brazil where the leaves of the plants will take their own X-ray picture if locked in a dark drawer in contact with photographic film.

In the New Scientist article where I read about this, there were cows (looked like dairy breed) contentedly grazing this grass and the locals had no special problems.

...what will they do with the many problems that only governments can afford to bring upon its citizens do with the cancers & damage to the environment.

Look up the health records of the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

There was some increase in abnormal births from women who became pregnant within a few months of the explosion, and some from those in the early stages of pregnancy during the blast. Otherwise, health problems were surprisingly small.

These people were exposed to a vastly greater amount of radiation than anyone would get from normal waste disposal.

This is dramatically different to the popular propaganda which is normally disseminated.

Similarly, after Chernobyl, the massive leukemia and cancer death rates prophesied have failed to materialize. Only a small increase has actually occurred. I admit I was surprised when I read this.

Think & become informed about this..

Obviously, I have, and have read beyond the standard propaganda and media sensationalism.

Nuclear can provide a good solution to our power needs without drastic environmental problems. The sensationalism and fear campaigns always launched against it have no real basis in fact, but do have very strong popular appeal.

Every problem from nuclear use has a technical solution.

The political solution is way beyond me.

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#32
In reply to #26

Re: Commercial Cargo: Nuclear or Not?

02/02/2010 9:10 PM

If this Candu thorium reactor is the solution it will be a good thing. On all other subjects that you discuss, such as increased cancer rates in Europe, I will just say that we disagree. I do want the best for the world as it is sorely in need of many answers that are slow to arrive with many more problems on the horizon. It does seem as if the big money cares nothing about what harm they do to the environment & only want the buck at all cost.

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