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On Update on "Highly Radioactive" Water Leaks at Fukushima

Ms Sterrett

Can you quantify the danger that you see from water flowing from the mountains to the ocean? Are you aware that there are routine measurements being taken in the waters immediately off of the coast next to the power station and that they do not indicate any increases in radionucleid levels?

There is no cause for concern. There is no danger. No one will be harmed. Why shouldn't I be dismissive of fear mongering and get on with my life?

September 11, 2013    View Comment    

On Thoughts on Carbon Capture and Storage Coming from the European Parliament


Do you have any opinion on including nuclear energy as part of your recommended "technology neutral" approaches to the Union's 2030 energy goals? It is, after all, an ultra-low CO2 power source with life cycle emissions that are roughly equal to wind turbines.

September 9, 2013    View Comment    

On Update on Fukushima Leaks: Unrepresentative Sampling Supports Fear Mongering

Why do you call dilution a hypothesis? It is an inevitable physical process when you have a finite quantity of material and a continually growing quantity of water.

September 7, 2013    View Comment    

On Update on Fukushima Leaks: Unrepresentative Sampling Supports Fear Mongering

The reference that Darrell provided exposes itself as misleading clap trap designed to spread irrational fear in the following sentence:

"Sadly, it is the gift that keeps on giving... gamma rays."

It might sound like I am picking nits to some people who do not understand how radioactive materials behave, but the 2,200 mSv/hr dose rate that is also reported in the scariest possible terms is nearly 100% BETA radiation, not gamma rays.

That measurement is essentially what we call an "on contact" reading; it almost completely disappears when the probe is moved just 50 cm away from the concentrated source. If a reasonably thick sheet of paper is put between the source and the probe, the reading also falls off dramatically. Clothing is normally considered all the protection that workers need to ensure that they are not harmed by a beta emitter.

The GAMMA dose rate from that same source - the one that reads 2,200 mSv/hr - is just 1.5 mSv/hr. It is a "hot spot", but it is not nearly as dangerous as financial publications like ZeroHedge, that want to make money by spreading fear of nuclear energy.

Here are a few example plays that might be peaking ZeroHedge's interest. Oil & gas companies have been making many tens of billions per year selling fuel to Japan to replace the output of their shuttered nuclear plants and contracting companies are chomping at the bit to be in on the many billions that some want Tepco to spend to attempt to stop water from flowing from the mountains into the oceans.

September 7, 2013    View Comment    

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