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Mon Sep 28, 2015, 05:55 PM

US Nuclear Regulator Opposes European Moves to Tighten Nuclear Safety Post-Fukushima

NRC Opposes European Moves to Tighten Nuclear Safety Post-Fukushima

By Peter Fairley
Posted 14 Apr 2015 | 16:00 GMT

Opening an RPV at TEPCO's Fukushima Daini power station, Fukushima Daiichi's shuttered sister plant
Nuclear power plants’ reactor pressure vessels (RPVs)—the massive steel jars that hold a nuclear plant’s fissioning fuel—face incessant abuse from their radioactive contents. And they must be built with extra toughness to withstand pressure and temperature swings in the event of a loss-of-cooling accident like the one that occurred at Fukushima in 2011. As the triple meltdowns at Fukushima Daiichi showed, the next layer of defense against a nuclear release—the so-called containment vessels—can not be counted on to actually contain molten nuclear fuel that breaches the RPV.

Nuclear safety authorities have recently discovered weaknesses in several RPVs, and their contrasting responses suggest that the ultimate lessons from Fukushima are still sinking into international nuclear power culture—especially in the United States, where the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is resisting calls to mandate tougher inspection of RPVs.

Broadly speaking, European regulators have ordered operators to do more to improve safety post-Fukushima than the NRC has. France, for example, is mandating four times as much investment than the U.S. in upgrades such as reinforced bunkers, back-up power, and emergency cooling systems, according to industry estimates cited by Bloomberg Business nuclear safety correspondent Jonathan Tirone.

In February, U.S. diplomats worked to defeat a European initiative to strengthen the Convention on Nuclear Safety, created after the 1986 Chernobyl meltdown. The Europeans wanted the currently voluntary treaty to set mandatory safety standards—a proposal that the United States apparently judged too threatening for U.S. nuclear operators struggling to compete amidst a glut of cheap power generated from natural gas. “The U.S. ...worried that the proposal would have required shutting down their plants,” according to Mark Hibbs, senior associate in the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Response to the RPV quagmires is a microcosm of the apparent divergence in U.S. and European nuclear safety postures....
http://spectrum.ieee.org/energywise/energy/nuclear/nrc-opposes-european-moves-to-tighten-nuclear-safety-postfukushima

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Response to kristopher (Original post)

Mon Sep 28, 2015, 07:56 PM

1. How many lives would be saved by tightening the regulations on the industry that is already...

...the most effective at saving lives?

Exactly how many people in the United States, in the last half a century of nuclear operations here, have died because of ineffective nuclear regulations?

How many died from gas explosions? Air pollution?

The fact is that many nuclear regulations are tightened at the behest of people who know nothing about nuclear power but hate it anyway. Their goal is simply to raise costs on nuclear power plants so they can act like arsonists claiming to oppose forest fires.

And let's be clear. This is not a morally neutral thing to do, since nuclear power plants save lives that would otherwise be lost to dangerous fossil fuel waste (air pollution and land pollution), dangerous fossil fuel accidents (fires, explosions and massive leaks) and a wide array of similar every day occurrences about which anti-nukes couldn't care less.

300 Fukushimas wouldn't kill as many people as died this year from natural gas explosions, or for that matter the air pollution caused by car cultists.

Which killed more people, radiation from Fukushima or the air pollution caused to run computers to have people complain about Fukushima?

Which has caused radiation to leak, Fukushima, or the fracking water spewed all over Pennsylvania to back up expensive, toxic and essentially useless so called "renewable energy" facilities.

Environ. Sci. Technol. Lett., 2014, 1 (3), pp 204–208

"Matrix Complications in the Determination of Radium Levels in Hydraulic Fracturing Flowback Water from Marcellus Shale"

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Response to NNadir (Reply #1)

Mon Sep 28, 2015, 08:16 PM

2. Fossil and nuclear are cooperative elements of the same centralized system.

Far from being a case where the choice is nuclear or fossil, what we are confronted with the monolithic entity of large-scale centralized thermal generation operating under the traditional utility economic model.

The actual alternative is distributed renewables. I know you can't admit it (even though I'm sure you know it's true) but here is a sniff test for the newcomer to the topic. Conventional fossil fuel dependent utilities have been embracing nuclear for decades and they haven't moved an inch off of their focus on fossil fuels. But since renewables have become an economic force - within the past 7 years for wind and 5 years for solar - the fossil centric utilities have been doing everything within their power to stop the roll-out of wind and solar.
Why?
Because, with absolute certainty, they know that distributed wind and solar spell the death of the traditional fossil/nuclear business model.

So rant, be obnoxious, mislead, misconstrue, and misdirect all you want - the path forward has been set since China decided to focus on manufacturing wind and solar equipment.


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Response to kristopher (Reply #2)

Wed Sep 30, 2015, 05:08 AM

4. Distributed energy is an insipid fad that has nothing to do with environmentalism.

Last edited Wed Sep 30, 2015, 08:45 AM - Edit history (3)

The most prominent form of distributed energy is the automobile, which was one of the worst destroyers of the environment in the 20th century. It is just as bad, if not worse, in the 21st century.

What this particular form of distributed energy, the automobile, has left in its wake is distributed pollution. There are zero living things on this planet that do not contain molecular automotive waste.

In twenty or thirty years, as solar cells being manufactured today become electronic waste, they will not be located in a central facility. They will end up in landfills, where they will leach toxic materials into the environment for eternity.

Alternatively, they will be collected - using gasoline and diesel fuel to transport them - and shipped across oceans to places where poor people can "recycle" them, which is to say clean up the garbage left by stupid rich people who bought into this environmentally disastrous "renewable energy" scam, with the result that the poor people will end up with high serum levels of toxic metals, flame retardants and other serious health threats.

Science of The Total Environment Volume 472, 15 February 2014, Pages 354–362 "Associations of neonatal lead, cadmium, chromium and nickel co-exposure with DNA oxidative damage in an electronic waste recycling town."

What is happening in these cases of electronic waste "recycling" today is actually a crime against humanity, but predictably, our bourgeois clueless peanut gallery of poorly educated and poor thinking fans of "distributed this" and "distributed that" are clueless, as usual.

The great advantage of used nuclear fuel is that it is low in mass, highly concentrated, and centralized. It's not like dangerous gasoline waste, dangerous diesel waste, dangerous natural gas waste or dangerous coal waste can be maintained indefinitely at the site where they were generated.

One thing is clear. Anti-nuke rhetoric has nothing to do with the environment. In fact, it is mostly concerned with stumbling, with healthy doses of fear and ignorance, into the environmental abyss, which is, if one looks at the numbers, exactly where we are headed.

To address the personal remark about what I do and do not know, I would merely state that anyone clearly lacking in a scientific education is hardly qualified to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of my level of knowledge.

After several decades of study, I am convinced that so called "renewable energy" is not sustainable. It has a very significant energy to mass ratio problem and a thermodynamic problem, both of which translate into serious environmental problems. There is a reason that so called "renewable energy" was abandoned just after the 18th century. The reason was that most people on the planet - and there was less than 1/7th the number of people that there are today - lived short, miserable lives of dire poverty. All the rhetoric in the world cannot change this fact.

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Response to NNadir (Reply #4)

Wed Sep 30, 2015, 09:30 AM

6. Actually...

All the rhetoric in the world cannot change this fact: fossil and nuclear are cooperative elements of the same centralized system.

Far from being a case where the choice is nuclear or fossil, what we are confronted with is nuclear and fossil fuels acting as a monolithic entity of large-scale centralized thermal generation that operates under the traditional utility economic model.

The actual alternative to that fossilized carbon/nuclear system is one of distributed renewables. I know you can't admit it (even though I'm sure you know it's true) but here is a sniff test for the newcomer to the topic.

Conventional fossil fuel dependent utilities have been embracing nuclear for decades and they haven't moved an inch off of their focus on fossil fuels. But since renewables have become an economic force - within the past 7 years for wind and 5 years for solar - the fossil centric utilities have been doing everything within their power to stop the roll-out of wind and solar.

Why?

Because, with absolute certainty, those fossil fuel dependent utilities know that distributed wind and solar spell the death of the traditional fossil/nuclear business model.

So rant, be obnoxious, mislead, misconstrue, and misdirect all you want - the path forward has been set since China decided to focus on manufacturing wind and solar equipment.

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Response to kristopher (Reply #6)

Thu Oct 1, 2015, 07:21 AM

7. I think you have missed the point of what is dying because of the wishful thinking about...

... so called "renewable energy."

What is dying is the planetary atmosphere. I note that while burning gas and coal to post nonsense about the solar and wind industry, its adherents almost never open the data page at Mauna Loa to check on CO[sub]2[/sub] levels.

Mauna Loa, Carbon Dioxide Observatory

This is because they are all, every single one, in some kind of narcotic haze of wishful thinking and day dreaming.

Defenders of the expensive, failed, and essentially useless wind and solar energy industries, which have yet to produce five exajoules of the 560 exajoules of energy now being consumed on this planet talk really really big and deliver really really really small.

Their ignorance of history is roughly comparable to their ignorance of science.

What country in Europe essentially shut all of its coal facilities but one, this decades ago? Any idea? Clueless again?

The fastest growing sources of delivered energy on this planet are not wind and solar. They are coal and gas. Congratulations.

Your comments about China are also clueless. I note, with due contempt, that a significant portion of the Chinese rice crop is now contaminated by cadmium. The solar industry is not only useless, it's pretty damned dirty as well.

You will be dead, I will be dead, and everyone reading this post will be dead before the solar industry becomes a significant source of commercial energy. This was true in 1976 when the moron Amory Lovins was saying solar will be significant, and its true as well in 2015.

Have a nice day.

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Response to NNadir (Reply #7)

Thu Oct 1, 2015, 11:46 AM

8. Nuclear is dead and that's a good necessary part of decarbonizing our energy system.

That you are living a world of delusional constructs is sad, but not particularly important because all the rhetoric in the world cannot change this fact: fossil and nuclear are cooperative elements of the same centralized system.

Far from being a case where the choice is nuclear or fossil, what we are confronted with is nuclear and fossil fuels acting as a monolithic entity of large-scale centralized thermal generation that operates under the traditional utility economic model.

The actual alternative to that fossilized carbon/nuclear system is one of distributed renewables. I know you can't admit it (even though I'm sure you know it's true) but here is a sniff test for the newcomer to the topic.

Conventional fossil fuel dependent utilities have been embracing nuclear for decades and they haven't moved an inch off of their focus on fossil fuels. But since renewables have become an economic force - within the past 7 years for wind and 5 years for solar - the fossil centric utilities have been doing everything within their power to stop the roll-out of wind and solar.

Why?

Because, with absolute certainty, those fossil fuel dependent utilities know that distributed wind and solar spell the death of the traditional fossil/nuclear business model.

So rant, be obnoxious, mislead, misconstrue, and misdirect all you want - the path forward has been set since China decided to focus on manufacturing wind and solar equipment.

LOS ALAMOS, N.M. – On construction sites in Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee, workers are building what may become the final five major nuclear power plants built in the United States.

Nuclear energy, once a symbol of American ingenuity, the fulfillment of the futuristic promise of near-limitless electricity and near-zero emissions, may soon face an economic meltdown.

Cheap natural gas, together with plummeting prices for wind and solar, has upended the energy sector – not only making nuclear plants’ huge upfront costs, endless regulatory approvals and yearslong construction especially prohibitive, but undercutting the very idea of a centralized power system. Industry and regulators, meanwhile, still have not devised a long-term solution for dispensing of nuclear waste. And despite the best marketing efforts by industry, ever-present safety concerns have little abated since the most recent nuclear incident: the meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi in Japan following a tsunami in 2011.

“The nuclear dream looks pretty tarnished these days: that you would have an inexpensive, reliable and manageable source of energy,” says James Doyle, a former political scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory. “What has been shown repeatedly over the decades is that it’s not inexpensive and the question of how to handle nuclear waste has remained problematic, and it appears it will remain so for decades to come.”

http://www.usnews.com/news/special-reports/the-manhattan-project/articles/2015/09/28/the-20-percenters-nuclear-energy-faces-reality-and-its-likely-decline

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Response to NNadir (Reply #1)

Mon Sep 28, 2015, 08:36 PM

3. personally I would love to see solar and wind power

Last edited Mon Sep 28, 2015, 09:52 PM - Edit history (2)

Time to do what Europe is doing more and more.

Fukushimas radiation has contaminated the North Pacific. Fish, sea birds are dying.

People are dying from Fukushimas radiation in Japan especially children but it
is not In the MSM.

Radiation kills quickly when you receive a fatal dose but it's a gift that keeps on giving & is accumulative

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Response to newfie11 (Reply #3)

Wed Sep 30, 2015, 05:14 AM

5. Bullshit.

The idea that seabirds and fish are dying because of Fukushima is a fantasy, a dangerous fantasy, since nuclear energy saves lives.

The scientific literature is NOT the conspiratorial "MSM" that exists in the bizarre fantasies associated with an environmentally clueless conspiracy theorists.

The planet has continuously been bathed in radiation since it was formed, although the radiation levels today are very near the lowest observed in geological history.

Rather than engage in conspiracy theories, it would be far more useful and enlightening to open up a science book.

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