Skip to main content

Looking Back at ABC News and "Loose Nukes" with Dr. Andrew Karam (Part IV)

And finally, here's Dr. Karam's summary of his thoughts on the ABC report:
I think that this program was neither fair nor balanced. It would have been more fair to have given an accurate assessment of the actual risks. Access to a research reactor does not automatically lead to a dirty bomb or a nuclear bomb - there is a lot of other work that would have to be done to make these happen. It is possible, but difficult to pull off in practice.

Regarding the lack of balance, I would have liked to have seen a radiation safety professional to discuss the real risks from exposure to low levels of radiation, rather than the assumption that it is automatically deadly. In other words, I think they are underestimating the difficulties involved in turning "access" into a terrorist weapon, and I think they overestimated the risks from such an attack.

The bottom line is that the show said that a lot of things were "possible," but didn't mention anything that was "likely." They pointed out legitimate security risks but I don't know that the manner in which they presented their information did much to advance the public debate on this matter. And, unfortunately, the network (like the government) continues to tell everyone in the world that universities are "soft" targets, making it that much more likely that a university will someday be attacked by terrorists - even if they upgrade their security, because I doubt that there will be a future show lauding universities on these improvements. This is too bad.

In my mind, the real research reactor risks are posed by overseas research reactors, of which much has been written. While there are some potential concerns, there are far easier and more effective ways of making dirty bombs.
Technorati tags: , , , ,

Comments

Anonymous said…
We all need to take a step back and look at this as part of the bigger anti-nuke efforts of GAP, Sierra Club, whatever they are calling themselves now.

They tried to stop us based on safety issues in the late-70's but it didn't work - the thousands of deaths at TMI-2 and even Chernobyl (about 50 actual last I read) demonstrated this.

They tried to stop us by driving costs up through regulatory delays and litigation, and now that doesn't work as energy costs continue to escalate with our costs flat.

So the latest target is our weakest link, human resources in the form of trained nuclear engineers and techs.

This story looks like another plant by GAP et al into the ABC news room - "gee Mr. Reporter, all this effort to protect nuclear power plants but are you aware of all the research reactors that are largely unsecured?" Yellow ABC journalist works with some naive students (I bet they all worked for free?) and sends them out to flirt their way in. Edit the tape to look sinister, only use selected pieces of Roy Z. as a whipping boy for the NRC, and then include the 'media savvy' GAP alarmist.

Surprise, you have lots of negative press that will drive costs up and result in every campus (already home to anti-nuke sentiment) to question their need for research reactors and nuke departments. Expect half the reactors to be forced to roll over and close in the next few years if NEI and the utilities don't jump on this with both feet and thrash ABC over this staged alarmist reporting.

Popular posts from this blog

Missing the Point about Pennsylvania’s Nuclear Plants

A group that includes oil and gas companies in Pennsylvania released a study on Monday that argues that twenty years ago, planners underestimated the value of nuclear plants in the electricity market. According to the group, that means the state should now let the plants close.

Huh?

The question confronting the state now isn’t what the companies that owned the reactors at the time of de-regulation got or didn’t get. It’s not a question of whether they were profitable in the '80s, '90s and '00s. It’s about now. Business works by looking at the present and making projections about the future.

Is losing the nuclear plants what’s best for the state going forward?

Pennsylvania needs clean air. It needs jobs. And it needs protection against over-reliance on a single fuel source.


What the reactors need is recognition of all the value they provide. The electricity market is depressed, and if electricity is treated as a simple commodity, with no regard for its benefit to clean air o…

How Nanomaterials Can Make Nuclear Reactors Safer and More Efficient

The following is a guest post from Matt Wald, senior communications advisor at NEI. Follow Matt on Twitter at @MattLWald.

From the batteries in our cell phones to the clothes on our backs, "nanomaterials" that are designed molecule by molecule are working their way into our economy and our lives. Now there’s some promising work on new materials for nuclear reactors.

Reactors are a tough environment. The sub atomic particles that sustain the chain reaction, neutrons, are great for splitting additional uranium atoms, but not all of them hit a uranium atom; some of them end up in various metal components of the reactor. The metal is usually a crystalline structure, meaning it is as orderly as a ladder or a sheet of graph paper, but the neutrons rearrange the atoms, leaving some infinitesimal voids in the structure and some areas of extra density. The components literally grow, getting longer and thicker. The phenomenon is well understood and designers compensate for it with a …

A Billion Miles Under Nuclear Energy (Updated)

And the winner is…Cassini-Huygens, in triple overtime.

The spaceship conceived in 1982 and launched fifteen years later, will crash into Saturn on September 15, after a mission of 19 years and 355 days, powered by the audacity and technical prowess of scientists and engineers from 17 different countries, and 72 pounds of plutonium.

The mission was so successful that it was extended three times; it was intended to last only until 2008.

Since April, the ship has been continuing to orbit Saturn, swinging through the 1,500-mile gap between the planet and its rings, an area not previously explored. This is a good maneuver for a spaceship nearing the end of its mission, since colliding with a rock could end things early.

Cassini will dive a little deeper and plunge toward Saturn’s surface, where it will transmit data until it burns up in the planet’s atmosphere. The radio signal will arrive here early Friday morning, Eastern time. A NASA video explains.

In the years since Cassini has launc…