1. At Nuke Power Talk, Gail Marcus discusses the report by James Hansen finding that nearly 2 million lives have been saved because of nuclear power that replaced the need for coal burning. She observes that, while this study did receive some publicity because of its author, one might have expected a number that large to have generated more interest.
One common theme in all of these accidents is that in general, health consequences are not global and unless you are up close and personal with the reactor core, health effects are not noticeable in any measurable way. The thyroid cancers from Chernobyl are the only exception to this and did produce some measurable offsite consequences. These particular cancers can be attributed to gross negligence in the emergency response efforts from the Soviet government as they were only focused on the reactor and sadly, these were preventable. All the Soviet government had to do was to evacuate and/or distribute iodine pills to the public and so block uptake of the radioactive iodine released from the accident.
When comparing these to industrial failures at other factories or production plants, do any of these rise to the occasion of an actual disaster?
Meredith Angwin reports from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s annual safety review public meeting for the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. She temporarily set aside Robert’s Rules of Order — and with good reason.
Every year, the NRC comes to Brattleboro to review its findings about Vermont Yankee. The NRC’s findings are very positive, and nuclear opponents make the atmosphere of the meeting very negative. Last year’s meeting was intimidating, but this year’s meeting was comparatively mellow. However, people wearing Jaczko masks tried (unsuccessfully) to disrupt this year’s meeting.
Paul Lorenzini traces sources and discovers that a meme that has made it into the energy conversation in the form of a Wikipedia article is based on a single paper containing faulty analysis and statistics based on poorly selected examples. The paper’s author, Benjamin Sovacool, uses an isolated incident at a single uranium mine to compute an annual average for all uranium mining. He uses a bird kill summary report from a power station that hosts one nuclear and four coal fired units to support a computation for all nuclear power plants. He apparently neglected to find out that the nuclear unit at that site does not even use the cooling towers that contributed to the site bird kills.
In short, the most significant avian impact cited by Sovacool for mining involved a copper mine operation, and for operating nuclear plants, the dominant contributor was a fossil fuel plant.
We can infer an avian fatality rate somewhere between the mean (0.07/GWh) and the median (0.0285/GWh) for nuclear power plants. Sovacool himself reported avian fatality from wind power at 0.269/GWh. Sovacool’s estimate of the average number of birds killed per GWh of wind power is incorrect and omits a large body of easily accessible, published data.” Their corrected number for bird kills at the six sites examined by Sovacool results in 0.653 fatalities per GWh, significantly higher than Sovacool’s 0.269. Using a broader sample of wind sites, they arrive at 1.46/GWh, over five times Sovacool’s estimate. When bats are added, it increases to 2.94/GWh. So wind power kills 20-50 times more birds than nuclear power.
The NBC News’ article, “A very fragile situation’: Leaks from Japan’s wrecked nuke plant raise fears” is clearly intended to feed pre-existing fears using scary speculation, served with an appetizer of uncertainty and a hearty entree of doubt. They focus on the words of two Greenpeace spokespersons. Asking Greenpeace about Fukushima is tantamount to asking Al Qaida about America.
IF it was successful the ITER fusion project would deliver an inferior result to deep burn fission. The Integral Molten Salt reactor is an example of a system that would deliver lower cost energy by the 2020s. It would cost less and has far lower technical hurdles and would provide clean power at lower cost over 30 years faster than ITER.
8. Forbes [Jim Conca] – Obtaining energy to fuel human habitation of near-Earth Space and the nearby worlds of the Moon, Mars and near-Earth Asteroids is weirdly achievable in a remarkably economic way revolving around energy.
Currently, a stand-alone solar array on Earth provides an average energy output of 3W per square meter (W/m2) of ground area. Earthbound power storage, conversion systems, and long-distance transmission lines greatly decrease the effective output of solar cells or concentrators. For example, 20 TW of Earth-based electric power requires approximately 2.7 million square miles (7 million km2) of collector area, representing approximately 5% of the landmass of Earth. This is unlikely to change in this century.
On the Moon, which has no atmosphere, a lunar solar-power (LSP) system can capture hundreds of times the energy per area than on Earth. An LSP system can economically gather solar power and convert it into streams of electromagnetic waves that are designed to dependably and safely deliver power efficiently to inexpensive receivers (rectennas) on Earth when power is needed.
Operating at 2.5 GHz to pass through Earth’s clouds and atmosphere, 20 TW from lunar-based electric power requires only 40,000 square miles (100,000 km2) of rectenna area on Earth.
Nuclear Power and Associated Environmental Issues in the Transition of Exploration and Mining on Earth to the Development of Off-World Natural Resources in the 21st Century (Chapter 9). This chapter delves into the nuclear energy and environmental radiation aspects of living off-world.