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On Update on Fukushima Leaks: Unrepresentative Sampling Supports Fear Mongering

The cores are still where they are supposed to be, which is inside the pressure vessels. You have not seen any pictures of them because it is quite difficult to get a camera into that location. It is, after all, a thick walled steel vessel that is designed to keep high pressure fluids and high temperature materials inside. That means that it is also designed to keep probes with cameras attached outside.

I wrote an article explaining my interpretations of the reported indications in more detail. It has plenty of additional references, so I am not just pointing to my own work to support my comment.

That article focuses on Unit 1, but that is the unit where the core was damaged the earliest and probably the most extensively. 

September 7, 2013    View Comment    

On Fukushima Radiation Affecting US Tuna

Do you have any concept of the size of the Pacific Ocean and the amount of water it contains? Do you understand that radioactive material is finite; it cannot be spread or diluted without reducing its concentration?

I will agree that the material is detectable to extremely low levels, almost every atom can be found. However, I will not agree that it is dangerous when dose rates or contamination levels are low.

If you want to learn more from a scientist's observations, here is a pretty good article:


August 30, 2013    View Comment    

On Fear Mongering Over Water Leaks at Fukushima Nuclear Energy Plant


CNN is small potatoes when it comes to benefiting from fear. When nuclear energy is not used because people are afraid, that means that we burn more oil and gas. The numbers there are pretty incredible; Japan spent about $55 billion more on fossil fuel for power plants in 2012 than in 2010. That is a direct result of fear forcing the shutdown of about 50 operable nuclear power plants.

When it comes to terrorism, think about all of the billions being redirected to homeland security and the department of defense. It is not just the government jobs; think about all of the money flowing to the equipment suppliers for all of the gear used to combat "the terrorists". They want to keep us in fear so that they keep making billions protecting us - even if there is little to no danger.

August 29, 2013    View Comment    

On The Future of Energy: Why Power Density Matters


I have just a little bit of education and experience in both engineering and the humanities. I've liven in about a dozen different cities and explored numerous components of their infrastructure. I would not necessarily recommend building most types of reactors in the downtown section of a densely populated city, but certain types of reactors would be well suited for locating in the types of areas that house necessary facilities like sewage treatment, ports, power generation, landfills, recycling centers, and cement factories.

Public resistance will be met, but it can be overcome with transparent information sharing and a well founded effort to explain the benefit to risk balance.

The arrogant part of your response was your presumed assumption of superior knowledge from your experience base of being a grad student who is steeped in academia and is dismissive of people who might have a little more experience than you do.

Rod Adams,

Publisher, Atomic Insights

August 15, 2013    View Comment    

On The Future of Energy: Why Power Density Matters

@Robert Wilson

It's quite arrogant and insulting for you to imply that I do not have a grip on reality. Small, modular reactors with passive safety features can fit quite nicely on sites that currently house old coal plants or retired oil fired plants. Those locations have existing rights of way. They often include existing water and grid infrastructure that can reused. Any site that was safe and acceptable for a reasonably good sized fossil plant should be safe and acceptable for an appropriately sized and designed ultra low emission nuclear plant.

I have operated nuclear plants in downtown harbors in densely populated cities without any resistance from the local population. Why do you ASSUME that similar plants cannot be built and operated?

Putting plants close to customers comes with a lot of natural economies. It also provides the opportunity to beneficially use the "waste" heat for a cogeneration or water purification system.

Rod Adams, Publisher, Atomic Insights

August 11, 2013    View Comment    

On Study: Methane Leakage From Gas Fields Guts Climate Benefit


Does this mean that you may be reconsidering your former position that ultra low emission nuclear fission technology is inferior to natural gas because it is too expensive?

i hope we can both agree that fission is not a gangplank if we can address the cost and schedule issues.

In my opinion, the best course of action for people who like both modern society and atmospheric stability is to work together to reduce the excessive burdens that we have imposed on nuclear energy development. That does NOT mean eliminating useful safety regulations, but it does mean taking a hard look at some of the special obstacles that just add cost without improving safety or performance.

Rod Adams, Publisher, Atomic Insights

August 11, 2013    View Comment    

On The Future of Energy: Why Power Density Matters


Excellent post on an important topic. I apologize for being a little late to the party.

When it comes to energy density as measured by watts per square meter of land use, you did a good job of pointing out both current figures and the asymptotes for many renewable sources. Have you thought much about the theoretical limits associated with nuclear fission technology?

Here is some food for thought for you and others in this discussion. The B&W mPower(TM) reactor is designed to produce 360 MWe and to be sited on a 40 acre site. That works out to roughly 2,200 watts/square meter.

That kind of power plant may someday be located within densely populated cities, reducing the need for land to be devoted to transmission lines. As a submariner who has coexisted inside a sealed ship with a reactor all ways less than 200 feet away, I am comfortable with having mPower type reactors as next door neighbors.

There are many other fission power systems that can achieve this kind of power density. They are safe and emission free. I used mPower numbers because I happen to have them at my fingertips.

Rod Adams, Publisher, Atomic Insights

Disclosure: My comments on the web are strictly my own views and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer. However, I am employed by B&W on the mPower reactor development team, so I suppose I have an inherent bias. I am proud of the technology we are refining.

August 11, 2013    View Comment    

On The Future of Energy: Why Power Density Matters

You used a lot of words to come to an incorrect conclusion based on more than one false assumption.

For example, I once ran an engineering department on a nuclear submarine. I was 27 years old with a BS in English and an MS in Systems Technology. Five or six members of my department has BS degrees. The rest of the 35 were skilled tradesmen with technical training.

The average age was about 24.

Running a nuclear plant requires trained people with high integrity and a good work ethic, but they do not need to be PhD level intellects. The necessary skills are widely available and can be developed.

System costs can be brought down by applying well understood concepts of series production and interchangeable parts.

Rod Adams, Publisher, Atomic Insights

August 11, 2013    View Comment    

On The Future of Energy: Why Power Density Matters

Deleted by author. Post did not appear in correct location in thread, so it made no sense.

August 11, 2013    View Comment    

On Cost of Closing San Onofre Nuclear Plant: 13.6 Billion


I have spoken to some that knew those that were there when Unit 3 started leaking, two hours elapsed between the first alarm and starting the reactor shut down sequence!

Your own post contradicts that statement. A couple of paragraphs later you state that the initial alarm was received at 15:05. By 17:05, two hours later, the reactor power was less than 35%.

You may not understand what you wrote, but that tells me that the operators immediately started shutting down the plant. It takes some time to reduce power in a reactor producing enough juice to power half a million to a million households. It would not be prudent to rapidly reduce power (scram) a plant that has evidence of a leak - the thermal stresses would be likely to increase the size of the leak.

Rod Adams

July 31, 2013    View Comment    

On Cost of Closing San Onofre Nuclear Plant: 13.6 Billion

@Zak Red Ridge

Nearly all of my friends and colleagues developed over the past 30 years have far more detailed nuclear knowledge than an unidentified "nuclear technician". Among those friends I can probably count no fewer than 2 dozen with PhD's and a substantially larger number with MS NEs. Then there are the people who are qualified Senior Reactor Operator or Engineer Officer on nuclear powered ships.

They would agree that your friend is misinformed.

The IAEA and the WHO also have issued reports indicating that there is little chance that there will ever be any deaths that can be attributed to the radiation exposures received by the small discharges of radioactive material (something less than 20 kilograms of Cs-137 and a few tens of grams of I-131)

Einstein was absolutely correct. Atomic fission is one hell of a way to boil water. Humans worked for several thousand years before discovering such a nearly perfect source of heat - huge energy density of 2 million times more than oil, almost no waste, and no need for an external oxygen source.



July 31, 2013    View Comment    

On Nuclear Energy Plant Designed, Constructed, Tested in Less Than Two Years

@Robert Bernal

You are getting close to being fully aware.

If you look at the history of solar energy, for example, you will find that most of the initial private capital came from companies like BP and Chevron. They had to have known that the sun's fundamental characteristics of diffuse, erratic power would never even nick their primary income stream.

Even if advanced automation makes solar panels as cheap as fabric, do you have any idea how much MATERIAL is involved in covering hundreds, much less thousands of square miles of land. Speaking of which, where are you going to find the resources to purchase the land to cover with the panels? What happens when the land starts to run low; can you manufacture more?

What is wrong with pressure? We have been dealing with retaining pressure for a long time. In fact, the ASME was initially formed to gather and share the engineering expertise required to safely handle the pressure inside of steam boilers. It is a well understood, painstaking, but successful branch of engineering.

I understand why people can get excited about LFTR, but there is no reason to try to sell it by damning other fission technology. Compare it to oil, natural gas and coal; they are the ones with the market share.

July 31, 2013    View Comment