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On Shaping Public Perceptions of Radiation Risk

@Susanne

Agreed. My understanding of the effort, however, is that it has not led to improved health, but it has led to improved revenue for a diverse array of contractors offering solutions to the "radon problem."

December 7, 2014    View Comment    

On Shaping Public Perceptions of Radiation Risk

@wind smith

The primary reason why many people with strong questioning attitudes have worked hard for several decades to prove that the geneticists on the first National Academy of Sciences committee on the Biological Effects of Atomic Radiation were wrong when they made the statement that there is no safe dose of radiation and threw out the preexisting threshold model of radiation health effects is that the model harms people.

IMO, It was that model that is primarily responsible for the unfair way that the Japanese have treated the hibakusha - the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They were treated like people with infectious disease and have been viewed for decades as people who should be sequestered from the rest of society. That prejudice was strongly reinforced by the pronoucements of the Genetics Committee which declared that exposure to radiation at any level increases the rate of mutation and puts future generations at dire risk.

http://www.hibakushastories.org/who-are-the-hibakusha/ 

People are still kept from their ancestral land at Chernobyl and at Fukushima, being continuously harmed by the stress brought on by an irrational fear that has been carefully taught and reinforced.

People with medical conditions that can be diagnosed and treated with radiation shy away from allowing their doctors to use the most effective tools because they incorrectly think that the tool may contribute to a cancer development later in life.

The research would not result in an effort to redesign nuclear power plants to shave away a little material; but it should make the design, licensing, construction and operation substantially more economical by eliminating some of the fear induced resistance to nuclear energy. That ecessive fear is what drives people to file lawsuits, act out during public hearings, submit thousands of comments that must be addressed during the approval process, and makes siting a very useful, ultra-low emission power plant an onerous burden.

It is not a matter of "unbiased" science; it is a matter of basing rules on the best available, experimentally derived truth.

Explaining the need for the change gets easier as we gain more understanding about the very large financial reasons why our current model was so biased, so incorrect, and so carefully sold in the first place.

Rod Adams, Publisher, Atomic Insights

December 1, 2014    View Comment    

On Shaping Public Perceptions of Radiation Risk

John:

Thank you for your kind words. I have been writing about the health effects of low level radiation for quite some time, referencing numerous well conducted studies. You can find those articles on Atomic Insights by choosing the categories of "health effects" or "LNT" on our Archives page.

It was only after I realized the huge gap between the perceived risk and the real risk as demonstrated by good science that I began pulling the string to find out how that perception was established. Dr. Edward Calabrese has produced some excellent work tracing the history in the scientific journal publications. That work gave me some excellent search clues to help find the promotional (propaganda) part of the myth creation.

I'm not a scientist, but I have a pretty solid base of technical training combined with a good understanding of how ad campaigns like "four out of five dentists recommend..." or "a recent study by the National Academy of Geneticists has revealed..." are created and promoted.

I also have a long established hobby of studying the energy industry. The subtitle of Daniel Yergin's classic 1991 work titled The Prize helps to explain that fascination -- "The epic quest for oil, money and power."

Rod Adams, Publisher, Atomic Insights

December 1, 2014    View Comment    

On Power In New England: Why are Prices Increasing so Rapidly?

Note: The above article was actually written by Evan Twarog. Here is his author "blurb" as displayed on the original blog post at Atomic Insights. Apparently the automated feed process did not pick up the author field.

About Evan Twarog

Evan is a Vermont resident who will be graduating from high school in 2015 and plans to pursue a career in engineering. He became deeply interested in energy and politics as a result of actions associated with Vermont Yankee.
November 28, 2014    View Comment    

On Is it Really Necessary to Have a Deep Geologic Repository for Used Nuclear Fuel?

@Peter

You have obviously not read much of my material. There are perhaps 3000 posts on Atomic Insights, no more than a handful talk about carbon pricing. It is a topic of interest, not a focus.

Most of my time during the past 25 years has been aimed at pointing out and getting rid of the artificial barriers that have been erected on purpose to slow nuclear energy development. That is my real focus.

I think you have vastly overestimated the difficulty of a simple fee and dividend approach to CO2. It is quite easy to administer and to calculate with good precision. It's also something that would gain public support the minute the checks began arriving.

September 12, 2014    View Comment    

On Is it Really Necessary to Have a Deep Geologic Repository for Used Nuclear Fuel?

@Peter

I read your submission. While a carbon price in Australia may have no effect, if one could be established in just three places - the US, the EU and China - it would cover more than 60% of global emissions. Extend it to 6 places by adding Russia, India and Brazil and you have a 90% solution.

Good enough.

What do you have against cherries?

September 12, 2014    View Comment    

On Is it Really Necessary to Have a Deep Geologic Repository for Used Nuclear Fuel?

Peter:

I am confused by your two comments. The carbon pricing that I advocate is one way to approach the fee on fossil fuels to pay for the cost that storing their waste in the atmosphere imposes on all of the rest of us. There may need to be additional fees that vary depending on the specific fossil fuel to pay for other components since each type of fuel has a different waste stream in addition to CO2.

The effort to price carbon has not reached the stage where I believe it is too hard. The specific program that I like - the fee and dividend approach - has the potential to be wildly popular with the people who use less than the average amount of hydrocarbons because they would be receiving a payment on a periodic basis for the use of their share of the atmosphere as a storage area.

As far as I can tell, there is some momentum building for this type of plan, but the promoters have not yet invested in the type of communications that would help the public become more aware of its potential benefits for leveling the fuels playing field and for providing some payment for an activity that intrudes on their property.

Rod Adams, Publisher, Atomic Insights

PS - I don't think I have ever many any comments about you personally, though I certainly have engaged in discussions with you about your opposition to government policies. Challenging comments and ideas is not the same as challenging a person.

September 12, 2014    View Comment    

On Russia Continues Sustained Fast Breeder Reactor Effort

@Job001 Gibson

I am no Malthusian and I have a great deal of faith in human ingenuity. However, no matter how clever humans are, they still need to follow natural laws of physics, chemistry, meterology, and material science.

The technologies that the "renewable" energy industry promotes are a technological dead end, even if you assume the invention of almost magical materials.

The sun never provides much concentrated power; even if you cover a mini-van sized automobile with 100% efficient solar panels, the instananeous power production at noon on a clear day near the equator would be about 3-4 kilowatts (about 5 hp). That would make a very slow automobile unless you assume a large amount of storage, which always adds considerable weight to the vehicle.

As a long time sailor, I can testify to the fact that trying to collect and use wind power is challenging, fun, and complete unsuited for any application that needs to deliver on a schedule. There is a reason that highly refined clipper ships lost out to primitive, inefficient coal burners in ocean trading more than 150 years ago.

If you understand the potential of nuclear energy and the natural abundance of the fuel - which is an essentially inexhaustible resource - you will have great hope for humanity and our future prosperity.

Malthusian predictions could have come true if the proponents of doom had been able to convince the world that the Haber-Bosch Process should be banned or severely restricted and placed under strict government regulation because it enabled the production of explosives as well as fertilizer.

http://www.princeton.edu/~hos/mike/texts/readmach/zmaczynski.htm

July 6, 2014    View Comment    

On Russia Continues Sustained Fast Breeder Reactor Effort

@wind smith

Fission is actually more responsive to changes in power demand than combustion. Submarines and aircraft carriers can vary their power level faster than similarly sized oil burners.

The machines I propose would be competitive even without a carbon tax. The complete cost of the manufactured fuel should be less than $2/MMBTU in the early stages of commercial operation, with a lot of room for cost reductions as the manufacturing process is refined and scaled up. (The required fuel is quite different from the traditional light water fuel, so there is a very small installed production base currently limited to Chinese manufacturers. There are pilot scale production facilites in other countries, including the US.)

July 6, 2014    View Comment    

On Russia Continues Sustained Fast Breeder Reactor Effort

@Job001 Gibson

Let me rephrase - we could not wait that long and maintain any kind of organization. The ideas and the designs still exist and are under careful protection, waiting for the availability of fuel.

I admire Chinese culture and history. I admire their engineering. I do not admire their business practices or their current government. I'm not interested in having the Chinese government as a partner, no matter how much money is involved.

Patience is a virtue.

July 5, 2014    View Comment    

On Russia Continues Sustained Fast Breeder Reactor Effort

@Job001 Gibson

Interestingly enough, I founded a company in 1993 called Adams Atomic Engines, Inc. based on a design for a closed cycle gas turbine using a pebble bed reactor, nitrogen as the working fluid and a simple Brayton cycle using compressors and turbines that were designed for the combustion turbine market.

These machines could be made available in a variety of power outputs by choosing the appropriate reactor internal volume, filling it with the appropriate number of pebbles, and choosing compressors and turbines that were already being manufactured, thus avoiding the costs of design and creating whole new supply chains for unique machines run on some kind non standard gas like helium.

It is a well proven and testable fact that pebble bed reactors using TRISO fuel particles can be made so that they can withstand a complete loss of cooling without scram and still maintain all fuel temperatures below the temperature that will damage any of the elements. That statement holds true up to a thermal power level of about 300 MW, so it is not terribly interesting to people who think in terms of reactors with thermal power of 3,000 to 5,000 MW. 

However, since large combustion turbines are generally in the power range of 100-150 MWe, it is a very useful characteristic for someone interested in closed Brayton cycles that are intended to compete against combustion turbines and diesel engines.

Anyway, you can find out more by perusing the documents available at http://atomicengines.com and http://atomicengines.blogspot.com.

Adams Atomic Engines, Inc. by the way, was never successful in raising enough capital to move off of our computers and into actual machinery. Part of the problem was that the TRISO fuel particles that we initially thought had been proven to be good enough were not available anymore. There was, and remains, a very credible fuel manufacturing and testing program that is designed to meet NRC expectations being run by the DOE and the NGNP partnership. That program is scheduled to have licensable fuel ready by 2021 or 2022. We couldn't wait that long.

Rod Adams, Publisher, Atomic Insights

July 5, 2014    View Comment    

On Russia Continues Sustained Fast Breeder Reactor Effort

@Bas

Germany's electricity reliability statistics are interesting but irrelevant in a global sense. Germany is a well developed, relatively densely populated country with an existing grid and neighbors that are quite willing to sell it power when needed or to take its excess production -- though the willingness to purchase the excess is becoming saturated.

For example: If your goal is to power a moderately sized city in the American Southeast, you would be daft to believe that wind or solar would be a significant contributor. Geothermal is a non-starter. Hydro works, but there is virtually no available waterway left to dam. (There are many places in the world with similar challenges.)

Rod Adams, Publisher, Atomic Insights

July 3, 2014    View Comment