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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on March 15, 2011 8:29 PM. The previous post in this blog was What if the nuke operators just give up?. The next post in this blog is Lesson of Fukushima: Pay more taxes. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Sane advice about fallout and health

Here is a level-headed discussion, unlike the "Don't worry" garbage flooding Portland's media.

Comments (15)

Great blog with all the Japan stuff Jack.

Why wouldn't you want to have the piece of mind of Potassium Iodide in the first aid kit??

I spent several years of my life working on nuclear safety and waste issues. That was 25 years ago. But what I learned quite clearly during that time is that most of the corporate people behind nuclear weapons and nuclear power are, well, liars. The federal government is totally in cahoots with them, particularly the U.S. Department of Energy, which makes the atomic bombs. The State of Oregon is not as bad, but suspect -- particularly the state Energy Department, currently being torn up by a corruption probe.

People who work in the nuclear departments of colleges and universities owe their careers to the industry. Frankly, they can't be trusted. Although not as evil as the corporate types, they are true believers. A week ago, they all would have told you with great emphasis that the Japanese plants were 100% safe, and that anyone who thought differently was a crazy loon.

If you believe everything that industry and government tells you about nuclear weapons and nuclear power, you may find yourself among the many hundreds of thousands of people who have been killed by man-made radiation.

Even when these plants run safely, their waste is sitting around waiting to kill. It appears the waste at the Japanese plants is getting started on that task now.

I remember stopping at PGE’s Trojan Nuclear Power Plant visitor center back in 1977. My brother and I were on our way to camp at Fort. Stevens State Park, when we had to pee badly. After using the facilities, we checked out the exhibits. We quickly learned, nuclear power was cleaner and safer than the bathrooms we had just used, nevertheless, we had never felt so dirty! I’m so thankful Trojan is just a memory, yet so sad that Japan’s Fukushima brought those memories back to light.

The Trojan spent nuclear fuel is not a memory. It's still there, right next to the Columbia River. Wonder how it will do in a 9.0 or a breach of the Bonneville Dam.

Jack, you're not helping me sleep any better!

Since the plant workers have abandoned the site, maybe it's time for all the corporate suck-ups who have been bragging about the safety of the industry to hop a plane over and jump into help.
My experience was with Vermont Yankee. There the cooling tower collapsed on its own, the energy company lied about leaking radiation into the ground, all the while they were lobbying to run the plant at 120% of capacity, and get a 20-year extension on the aging plant's license.
They've also tried repeatedly to get out from under the cost of decommissioning the plant by spinning off corporations, etc..
Google Vermont Yankee if you want to get a taste of the integrity of these companies.

And if you're one of these right-wing corporate suck-ups who can't wait to defend Big Business over the safety of the public, this is your big chance.
Put on a haz-mat suit, jump on the next plane to Tokyo and show us all what a safe industry this is.
I've been reading your comments for days and you should do great at this plant. You're clearly experts on spewing.

I was thinking today about the spent fuel from Trojan. I could not recall that any of it had actually been moved, but I wasn't sure.

The bottom line with the current crop of fissionable material generating facilities is you can't turn them off. Pull the big switch and the plant goes ballistic. It's the most egregious engineering position imaginable. Add insult to it by placing several in a tsunami zone, put up a totally inadequate sea wall, then place the backup generators and their connectors such that when the wall is breached, the big switch is pulled.

Jack, for you it's been 25 years ago. For me it's over 50. Two boiling water reactors were running then, called experimental: EBWR#1 and #2.

It's a haunting thought.

Fortunately, I am reading that the Trojan spent fuel is now all out of the pool and in dry cask storage -- air-cooled, in a lot of concrete, and up off the ground quite a way. Still right next to the Columbia and still lethal if it got out of the casks and you got near it, but that's fairly unlikely to happen.

Scroll down to the bottom of this:

http://www.oregonlive.com/environment/index.ssf/2011/03/more_fear_than_threat_from_rad.html

I really get annoyed by these misty sounding reports about the latest design for the next generation of reactor and how we shouldn't judge the industry on the past because the new designs are safer. But what about the spent fuel? Has that problem gone away?

The single most annoying diatribe I've heard lately was by right-wing radio host Mark Levin. He got all huffy about how green liberals would use this crisis to reflect poorly on the nuclear industry despite decades of a safety record that even included the aircraft carrier named after Ronald Reagan. He got even more self-righteous and offended at the lefties as he mentioned Reagan's name and solemnly talked about the nuclear reactor on the carrier that is currently off the coast of Japan helping with the tsunami relief effort.

But what he left out of the narrative was that the sailors on the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan carrier had just gone through a radioactive cloud from this same disaster and the ship was pulling back from the scene because of it.

Somehow that part of the story didn't fit into the propaganda about how safe all this was and how bad those darn liberals were to use this disaster to make a point.

But what about the spent fuel? Has that problem gone away?
It is another self-inflicted problem. It should be reprocessed into new fuel, instead of stored. Like France does.

Thanks
JK

Reprocessing does nothing to remove the dangerous fission byproducts such as cesium. It makes them harder to contain because it requires that the spent fuel rods be dissolved. The slush that's created has to be turned into glass, and it's as nasty as a spent fuel rod. It has to go somewhere, and nobody wants to be near it.

Jim,
When does your plane land in Tokyo? We need expertise like this on the ground.

How can the spent fuel rods be safe from up river flooding?
Trojan is ON the banks of the river! I doubt the hill above Trojan and across US 30 is safe from the wall of water that would come down the Columbia in the event of dam failures.

From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_reprocessing
Nuclear reprocessing uses chemical procedures to separate the useful components (especially the remaining uranium and the newly-created plutonium) from the fission products and other radioactive waste in spent nuclear fuel obtained from nuclear reactors. Reprocessing serves multiple purposes, whose relative importance has changed over time. Originally reprocessing was used solely to extract plutonium for producing nuclear weapons.

With the commercialization of nuclear power, the reprocessed plutonium was recycled back into MOX nuclear fuel for thermal reactors.[1] The reprocessed uranium, which constitutes the bulk of the spent fuel material, can in principle also be re-used as fuel, but that is only economic when uranium prices are high. Finally, the breeder reactor can employ not only the recycled plutonium and uranium in spent fuel, but all the actinides, closing the nuclear fuel cycle and potentially multiplying the energy extracted from natural uranium by more than 60 times.[2] Nuclear reprocessing also reduces the volume of high-level nuclear waste and its radiotoxicity, allowing separate management (destruction or storage) of nuclear waste components.

Despite the energy and waste disposal benefits obtainable through nuclear reprocessing, reprocessing has been politically controversial because of the potential to contribute to nuclear proliferation, the potential vulnerability to nuclear terrorism, and because of its high cost compared to the once-through fuel cycle.
(bold added)

Thanks
JK

Bill McDonald When does your plane land in Tokyo? We need expertise like this on the ground.
JK: I have no expertise in the nuclear field, but know how to read beyond greenie propaganda & how to select which expert to listen to. (For instance anything coming our of any green organization is suspect - same as corporate PR.)

Having paid attention in several science classes helps too.

As they say : some people will do anything to save the earth. Except study science.

Thanks
JK


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