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David Bradish

MG,

Renewables have their role to play, however, they won't be able to run a city or country by itself yet.

Nuclear is a baseload, 24/7 source of power and you really have only two options for baseload: coal or nuclear. Renewables cannot provide that constant baseload power due to their intermittancy.

If you want to check out the risk of nuclear vs. other fuels, go to page 5 of this link: http://www.sealnet.org/seal/files/15.pdf?download.

Brian Mays

MG,

"Birds getting caught in the turbine blades" of a wind farm is not an accident. It's normal operation.

The release of radioactive materials into the atmosphere from the burning of coal (coal releases into the air pollutants other than CO2, such as radioactive materials like uranium and thorium, other heavy metals, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, etc.) is not an accident. It's normal operation.

One hydroelectric "accident" can be very catastrophic. Notice that I don't use the word "potentially" here, because it has already happened, many times, and has killed many people. Yet, it is often considered a renewable source of energy and is somehow "green." Is this one of your safer alternatives?

If you want to look at risk, statistics clearly indicate that the greatest risk of all to a population is not having enough energy. (Just look at the life expectancy and mortality rates in a third-world country.) The deaths that result from this clearly dwarf all of the deaths calculated from coal pollution, all the deaths from hydroelectric failures, and all of the "potential" deaths from a postulated catastrophic nuclear accident.

So what happens when the wind turbines don't turn, as happened in California during last summer's heat wave? What poses the greatest potential risk?

MountainGoat

I'm having a hard time equating the dangers of a wind farm with the dangers of a nuclear reactor and the waste it produces. For one, being in the vicinity of a wind turbine doesn't require wearing a haz-mat suit. But whatever...

I don't think we're going to get anything solved through debating this here. I'm firm in opposing a nuclear reactor here in Idaho, especially when it appears that most of the power will be sent elsewhere in the West. And it appears that many of you are just as firm in advocating for it. I understand that there are risks in developing any energy source. My preference is to exclude the risks posed by a nuclear power plant here in this state. We may just have to agree to disagree on this subject.

G. R. L. Cowan, boron combustion fan

Wind turbines have already killed enough workers, e.g. as reported at http://pittsburghlive.com/x/tribune-review/trib/regional/s_251440.html , that their replacement by nuclear powerplants would clearly and obviously save human lives.

MountainGoat

Okay, so how many of you advocating for this nuclear reactor actually live in this state? Yeah, that's what I thought....

The Nickel-Plated JA

It's not like we have any *shortage* of nuclear power plants in this state already -- you could argue they were invented here. How do you think Atomic City got its name, or why Arco was the first "city" lit with atomic energy, or what exactly the Navy does with all those would-be nuclear engineers it stations in Idaho Falls? There's no shortage of "training" reactors at INEL facilitating the development of new engineering officers for our nuclear Navy -- an engineering profession that produced, I might add, a certain very popular former Democratic President from Georgia. That there are no commercial reactors in the state does not mean there are no reactors -- we've got a bounty already!

MountainGoat

Yeah, we do. And they still haven't determined all the negative effects on the Snake River Aquifer from seepage at INL over the years. Ask Gov. Andrus why he opposed storing other states' waste at INL in the '90s or maybe you believe he needs to be "educated" on the "benefits" of nuclear waste.

The Nickel-Plated JA

MG: If you're that excited about the potential effects on the aquifer from possible seepage, take a Geiger counter to Hagerman and test. I'd (along with several million other people living in the Northwest) be eager to hear your results. Hard data and good science can't cure all ills, but anything less is just faith-healing.

And I am keenly aware of Andrus' efforts in the early 90s; I'm also keenly aware that he has stopped being such an outspoken critic of INEL (or whatever acronym they're using these days) -- you haven't heard much from him about it in the last decade, have you? I don't think it should be a repository for waste from elsewhere (other than what it is reprocessing into new fuel) -- because it is a bad place (unlike Yucca Mountain) for a nuclear wast dump -- but I *DO* think it is vital to both our national security and Eastern Idaho's economy.

Irwin Horowitz

Mountain Goat: I live in Idaho and I would support plans to construct nuclear power plants in this state. This is one of the few areas in which my views don't necessarily agree with the views of other progressives/environmentalists.

If bubblehead is reading these comments, I wonder if he could add anything about the safety record of the US Navy using nuclear power.

MountainGoat

JA,
You don't think there is seepage from INL into the Snake River Aquifer? Check out this report from the USGS:

http://pubs.usgs.gov/sir/2006/5088/section6.html

I'll wait for Andrus to speak for himself on this issue...I know what his positions have been in the past, though.

MountainGoat

From the summary of the report I previously referenced:

"Radiochemical and chemical wastewater discharged since 1952 to infiltration ponds and disposal wells at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) has affected water quality in the Snake River Plain aquifer."

Diana Rowe Pauls

I will not pretend to be able to quote reports or studies etc., but as I live directly over the aquifer. Many of us in my community and those surrounding us have expressed concern and would like to know why we have such a high concentration of cancers and MS in our rural population. I am curious if as many other (again RURAL) populations have so many infant deaths (SIDS, miscarriages) as I see around here. No I haven't done any research, it just "smells funny".

In addition, I have lost my trust completely with the government to monitor themselves, to be honest with the public, and to provide accurate data to back up their agendas. Can anyone spell I-R-A-Q? Ask the citizens of Alberton, MT for THEIR thoughts as to how safe we are. [link= http://www.wildrockies.org/cmcr/Projects/accpress.html ] Women were told by officals to return to their homes to begin clean-up! "I'm from the government and I'm here to help you!" I don't need to mention things like Agent Orange and the veterans who came back from the Persian Gulf, do I? They were ALL told they were "safe" and over-reacting.

In addition, for some reason, I thought the feds were going to clean up the old waste at INEL... has it happened yet? Wasn't there some type of agreement to that effect?

Don't expect me to support ANY agency/organization/corporation that wants to put MORE toxins into my air/water/land until we get the crap cleaned up from past operations.

Jim Hopf

While renewables should be the first choice for power generation, where practical, most experts believe that their intermittent nature will limit their contribution to ~15-20% at most, for the forseeable future. For the other ~80-85%, it comes down to a choice between nuclear and fossil fuels.

There is near universal scientific agreement that the environmental and public health risks/costs of nuclear power are negligible compared to those of fossil fuels. Literally every scientific study quantifying the overall environmental impact of various energy sources (of which there have been many) show that the "external costs" of fossil fuels (especially coal) are higher than those of nuclear by more than an order of magnitude. These analyses include all risks from accidents and long-term risks from waste. The latest and most rigorous study, performed by the European Commission, is described at:

http://www.externe.info/

The conclusions of these studies are expected, and obvious. Coal plant pollution causes ~25,000 premature deaths in the US alone, every single year, under normal operation! Fossil power plants are also the leading single cause of CO2 emissions (~40%). Western commercial nuclear power has never had any measurable impact on public health over its entire 40-year history. Even a worst case meltdown at a US plant would have much smaller consequences than the ANNUAL consequences of fossil fuel plants.

Whereas fossil fuel plant dump their wastes/toxins into the environment routinely, in mqassive quantities, all of nuclear's toxic materials (which are generated in tiny volumes) have been completely contained. Nuclear power plants do not contribute at all to global warming.

Due to renewables' intermittentcy, we basically don't "have better alternatives available". Between nuclear and fossil fuels, nuclear is the clear choice, from an enviromental, climate, and public health perspective. All the tangible, factual data on this issue (i.e., the actual performance record of nuclear vs. fossil fuels) couldn't possibly be more clear. The risks from nuclear are clearly negligible compared to those of fossil fuels, as the 40-year record clearly shows.

MountainGoat

For a different side of the debate, one that doesn't include nuclear industry professionals, please read this report:

http://www.citizen.org/cmep/energy_enviro_nuclear/nuclear_power_plants/articles.cfm?ID=13447

Among other things is this statement:

"Nuclear power is not a clean energy source: it produces both low and high-level radioactive waste that remains dangerous for several hundred thousand years. Generated throughout all parts of the fuel cycle, this waste poses a serious danger to human health. Currently, over 2,000 metric tons of high-level radioactive waste and 12 million cubic feet of low level radioactive waste are produced annually by the 103 operating reactors in the United States. No country in the world has found a solution for this waste. Building new nuclear plants would mean the production of much more of this dangerous waste with no where for it to go."

The ultimate question is: Does Idaho need a nuclear power plant? For me, the answer is no. Here's the opinion of the Snake River Alliance:

"Idaho doesn't need nuclear. Idaho has several times over the amount of renewable energy in Idaho than we consume, and this is what we should develop."

They also point out that a nuclear reactor requires large amounts of water to operate. Where is that water going to come from?

"The exact amount of water used depends on the reactor design, but the amounts are massive. For instance, the Vogtle reactor power plant in Georgia withdraws about 64 million gallons of water a day from the Savannah River."

If we need additional energy sources here in Idaho, which it isn't clear that we do, let's exhaust the renewable potential first.

David Bradish

Hmmmm. More water and cleaner air or less water and dirtier air.

For the nuclear professionals side of the debate, click here: http://www.nei.org/

MountainGoat

More water than what? There's currently no need in Idaho for additional energy and should the need arise, there are plenty of renewable sources. Not building anything now leaves the available water at the status quo.

If additional energy is required in the rest of the country, build your nuclear reactor there.

Now I'd really love to continue this debate but I really do have work to do today. Please carry on without me.

Elizabeth

Geez, a gal goes out to lunch and has a lot to read when she gets back.

What's the problem with nuclear waste? Well, it's radioactive, I guess that's the main problem.

But the waste is not the only problem, just a very obvious drawback. There may be detailed strategies for containment and protection of facilities, and certainly there pros and cons to including nuclear production in our national energy plan (what plan?), but to me the potential for disaster, however remote (depending on your point of view) is too great to even consider developing nuclear facilities for any purpose.

Nuclear advocates typically dismiss alternatives as pie in the sky, when the reality of a widely implemented, diverse, decentralized, solution can be embarked upon today. Certainly there are drawbacks to wind, solar, (including passive solar, now there’s a no brainer!) biomass, coal gassification, hydro, you name it, but it’s not radioactive.

And no, I’m not afraid of radioactivity, I understand radioactivity and choose not to expose myself and others to its harmful effects. So, there’s a difference between being paranoid, having a phobia, or simply being prudent.

I am afraid of snakes, and even though I understand a little about their biology, they still make me jump out of my hide. Especially rattlers, not so much the little ones, even though they can get you too, but the big ones freak me right out. But while my response to the perceived danger from the snake may be exaggerated, I’m still not going to go poking my hand under sagebrush and into rock crevices without taking a damn good look first.

To me any debate about energy that does not include a serious approach to conservation is, well I can think of a lot of adjectives to put in here, but let's just say, incomplete. We seem to be building on the Las Vegas model everywhere in the west, and efficiency is the exception rather than the norm. To me, advocating nuclear power as an environmental savior while not simultaneously demanding the maximization of every other alternative, including conservation, is completely disingenuous. We can do much more today, than simply plan to build a nuke plant 10 years from now.

This discussion makes me think of Henry V, Act 3, Scene II

Captain Macmorris:
It is no time to discourse, so Chrish save me: the day is hot, and the weather, and the wars, and the king, and the dukes: it is no time to discourse. The town is beseeched, and the trumpet call us to the breach; and we talk, and, be Chrish, do nothing:

Elizabeth

Now this is what I'm talking about!

from:
http://www.newwest.net/

New West Energy Grok
States Take Lead in Crafting New Energy Policy

This morning at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., a group that includes a pair of Rocky Mountain West governors plus labor leaders and a renewable energy organization called the Apollo Alliance will present a plan for a clean-energy policy that will create sustainable jobs and promote national prosperity.

http://www.apolloalliance.org/

Brian Mays

Please, nobody here tell Elizabeth that snakes are radioactive too. (They most certainly contain radioactive Carbon-14 and radioactive tritium in their bodies, as well as any other naturally occurring radioactive isotopes that they might have ingested.) She might really freak out.

Please, drop the strawman. Who here has put forth an argument against conservation? Have I missed something?

The Nickel-Plated JA

I'm with MountainGoat on this one point -- we've talked this to death, I have work to do!

I will only leave this one thought... it is impossible to not expose oneself to radiation. There's radiation in sunlight (more if you're on an airliner). You're irradiated in the course examined by a dentist or chiropractor. Oh, and you also *emit* a certain amount of radiation yourself -- maybe there is something to that notion of an "aura" or a "healthy glow" *grin*! What puzzles me is that among the people *most* concerned with radiation, I've observed a near-ambivalence to something far more dangerous: heavy metals contamination absorbed from the soil ("naturally") into foods and herbs eaten and/or smoked. I'll take absorbing a couple of millirems over ingesting a couple of milligrams of unpleasant metals, any day of the week.

Irwin Horowitz

I wish to slightly amend my earlier comment. While I am not in principle opposed to nuclear power, I would not be enthused about the location of this particular power plant. Not because of any fears of radiation or issues related to waste products, but it would likely be located too close to Bruneau Dunes State Park, and the observatory located there. As you might imagine, a nuclear plant is going to require a significant amount of outdoor lighting (for security, if nothing else). This would be severely detrimental to the operation of the observatory, as well as to the enjoyment of participants at the annual Idaho Star Party at the park.

If members of the Snake River Alliance are interested in finding allies in stopping the contruction of this specific plant, they might wish to contact the Boise Astronomical Society (of which I currently serve as a board member). I plan to bring this up at our membership meeting this evening.

Peter Rickards

Hi Everyone,
While Idaho has a stable renewable abundance of energy, please remember this is a merchant nuclear power plant, that will sell to the highest bidder, not Idaho. If this company is scamming, don't forget merchant nuke plants are planned for INL. Are you ready to cluster a terrorist target to light up Vegas?
Yucca Mt is a cruel joke. The Nevada legal defense team revealed internal USGS emails last summer. The USGS "scientists" laughed at the request for more safety documents, stating, "If they want more documents, I'll be happy to make up more data." YIKES! Glad they were caught admitting they are LIARS that are faking safety documents.
We all know that Chernobyl caused thousands of cancers and health problems in children and infants, hundreds of miles away. But here are some key quotes from an important study that found even "normally operating" nuclear reactors also impact infant death rates adversely.
"Improvements in local infant health after nuclear power reactor closing"
Environmental Epidemiology and Toxicology (2000) 2, 32-36
www.nature.com/eet

JOSEPH J. MANGANO
Radiation and Public Health Project, 786 Carroll Street, #9, Brooklyn, New York
"The analysis focuses on all-cause mortality for fetuses, infants, and young children; mortality from birth defect ages 0-4; and cancer incidence ages 0-4."

"The fetus and infant are most susceptible to effects of radiation and other toxic chemicals. (Sherman, 1994) ."
"Five of the 12 closed reactors are in areas at least 70 miles from any other nuclear power plant. In the first two years after closing, infant mortality rates in the closest counties downwind from the reactors fell 15 to 20% at each site (Appendix 1). "
We need an energy policy that protects mothers for generations to come...

David Bradish

Peter,

Mangano has no credibility and has not once been found correct by state and government organizations when investigating his claims. Here's some further information on Mangano's false claims: http://www.nei.org/index.asp?catnum=3&catid=1137

While the Yucca Mountain emails created controversy it was found that none of the data was falsified. Read it here: http://www.energy.gov/news/3220.htm

G. R. L. Cowan, boron combustion fan

Nuclear saves children. People who pretend to believe otherwise might, one suspects, be so pretending so as to secure fossil fuel tax money.

If that is so, if they pretend to believe they're doing strangers a favour by lobbying that the power plants that will be constructed near them be non-nuclear, the pretense will be quietly dropped as soon as it's their own personal skin that must be put near either a nuclear power plant, or some other kind.

So we have the spectacle of campaigners for an organization that preaches against nuclear energy voting with their legs by getting on nuclear icebreaker rather than waiting a chilly wait for a diesel boat. Perfectly sensible, indeed if safety is a real concern and the diesel boat comes first, one SHOULD wait.

Nuclear saves children's lives, but cuts into tax-supported persons' income.

The Nickel-Plated JA

Also don't forget -- everything kills you eventually. Death is the logical consequence of life. Frankly, I'd still be *much* more concerned about sun exposure (having had skin cancer already and not being particularly fair-skinned!), artificial sweeteners, and cadmium and its friends.

The other thing I think that causes nuclear alarmism is a lack of understanding of reactor architecture. Chernobyl was a bad design -- wildly impermissible in this country -- using extremely-volatile sodium for its control rods. Modern reactor designs have *much* better control architectures -- and the next-generation pellet reactors being pioneered by the Chinese take safety to an entirely new level, by actually restricting the fuel supply in the pile itself, rather than just trying to control a reaction among it.

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