Carnival of Nuclear Energy 171

The Carnival of Nuclear Energy 171 is up at Atomic Power Review

Atomic Insights reviews how the major news outlets (CNN, Fox, Reuters etc…) all repeated the claims of a paper written by a political affairs student that had no peer review which claimed that all of the US nuclear reactors were vulnerable to terrorist attack.

It is a stretch to even call this document a “report”, much less research. It is political propaganda. It is not authored or sourced by anyone with technical or scientific credentials nor is there any peer review (for obvious reasons). The faculty author, whose experience is in political science, asserts that the “research” was “primarily by his [student] assistant”. Little can be found to indicate any subject matter expertise upon which he or his student might rely for his conclusions which depend on technical and complex aspects of nuclear science, nuclear materials and nuclear engineering. Rather, his bio boasts of his background as an activist for Greenpeace which is a political, not a scientific, organization. Few references are given in the paper other than quotes from individuals at other anti-nuclear activist organizations.

The author’s errors emanate from multiple underlying shortcomings, not the least of which is an absence of detailed understanding of the way that intelligence is gathered and analyzed by the governmental agencies involved with the process. This is understandable, of course, in that the authors, who apparently do not have a security clearance, admittedly rely solely on un-classified information for conclusions that require classified intelligence. (The tone and style of their discussion about intelligence indicates a depth a sophistication that is in parity with a chamber of commerce brochure)

There is deconstruction of a NY Times article against nuclear energy.

John Miller, a social psychologist and journalist who once served as an officer on a nuclear submarine has a piece on Andrew Revkin’s New York Times blog Dot Earth in which he purportedly dismisses several claims about nuclear energy and provides evidence to the contrary. What is strange in Miller’s piece though is that several of the links which he provides to support his arguments themselves contain information either contradicting or qualifying his claims.

Miller’s piece is largely misleading and alarmist, indulging in much cherry-picking, citing worst-case scenarios and and linking to pieces which he himself must have known to be much more measured and critical of the arguments that he makes. His piece is also quite incomplete; for instance there is no mention of nuclear energy successes like France or of entrepreneurs like Bill Gates funding promising new reactor designs.

Hiroshima Syndrome provides details on the situation at Fukushima.

Japan’s Nuclear Regulatory Authority raised the crisis level at Fukushima Daiichi to “level-3” on the INES scale. Level-3 means the situation can be called a serious incident. Included with the announcement, the NRA pointed out that the raised level, as well as the initial Level-1 assessment, is specific to the recently-discovered wastewater storage tank leak at the nuclear station. Both ratings apply only to the leak from the faulty wastewater storage tank…period!

The NRA estimated that as much as 300 tons per day of radioactive contamination may be flowing into the Pacific Ocean due to groundwater flow. Subsequently, the Press reported that 300 tons of toxic, highly-contaminated groundwater is pouring into the ocean daily. However, there was and still is no evidence of the Pacific actually being polluted. If contamination were coming out with the groundwater, the only place it could be happening is inside the station’s quay (F. Daiichi’s inner port). The radioactive isotopic concentrations in the quay’s salt water have remained essentially constant for a year-and-one-half. One of the many sampling points in the quay…just one…showed an increase of one isotope (Tritium) three weeks ago. It has since dissipated. In hindsight, it was probably a singular event. Regardless, this statistical outlier has been used as proof that the Pacific-itself is being polluted. The exception should never be taken as a rule. In this case it is especially true.

The quay is completely barricaded from the station’s outer harbor area. Although often called “makeshift” by the Japanese Press, the barricading has worked extremely well. The water-proofing of the quay’s stone break-walls was completed and the quay’s access-opening was closed by a silt dam in January, 2012. The silt dam was briefly opened a few times through the early spring of 2012 to allow equipment barges to be brought in, but has remained shut since. The quay has been isolated from the open sea by these barricades for about a year and a half. Thus, it is likely that any Cesium or Strontium that may have leaked into the quay since the spring of 2012 has remained in there and naturally precipitated onto the mud bottom. Beyond the quay, samples have been routinely taken within the outer port’s break-wall, at 5 kilometers distance, and as far away as 15 kilometers. Tepco records of sea-sampling at all these locations date back to mid-December, 2011. There has been no detectible contamination at any of these sampling points over the 20 month period.

Bloomberg – Japan’s nuclear regulator may downgrade the severity of the radioactive water leak at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant because operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (9501) may have overstated the extent of the problem.

Nextbigfuture posts

A summary of safety features of all molten salt reactors and a review of design choices for molten salt reactors.

David LeBlanc of Terrestrial Energy makes a new presentation at the Thorium Energy Alliance Conference 2013. He describes the integral molten salt reactor and how they plan to make a demo reactor within 8 years.

Fuel cycle costs for major types of nuclear reactors

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