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NPR on New Nuclear Build

Today from 2:20 to 3:00 pm U.S. EST, EPRI Vice President Dave Modeen and Arjun Makhijani from IEER will appear on Talk of the Nation'’s Science Friday program with Ira Flatow. They are slated to discuss new nuclear plants and related issues. You should be able to access it live via American University radio at 88.5 FM. You can get that live audio via the Web. The audio of the program will also be posted on the program's Web site at 6:00 pm U.S. EST. For that link, click here.

Thanks to my colleague Trish Conrad for the tip.

UPDATE: For those of you not up on advanced fuel-cycle technologies that were discussed during the program, click here for a policy brief from NEI. And here's an editorial from the Voice of America. And here's another NPR segment from earlier this week about new nuclear build in the U.K.

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Comments

pgunter said…
Good debate.

The thot plickens around Exelon Nuclear and the Dresden, Braidwood, Byron... (whose next?) and radioactive leaks...
Paul, NIRS
distantbody said…
Hmmm... The Issue of thermal and steam pollution are interesting ones. Can someone put a post up about them (and maybe nip them in the bud)?
Paul Primavera said…
Paul Gunter,

Why is it OK for fossil fuel plants to externalize without penalty the costs and consequences of their pollution (listed below), but the miniscule amount of tritium that a nuke may accidently release is big news?

http://www.nucleartourist.com/

SULFUR DIOXIDE EMISSIONS
from a 1000 Megawatt Power Plant
in Thousand Tons per Year
Coal 70
Natural Gas 0
Oil 30
Nuclear 0


NITROGEN OXIDE EMISSIONS
from a 1000 Megawatt Power Plant
in Thousand Tons per Year
Coal 25
Natural Gas 16
Oil 14
Nuclear 0


CARBON DIOXIDE EMISSIONS
from a 1000 Megawatt Power Plant
in Thousand Tons per Year
Coal 6000
Natural Gas 3000
Oil 5000
Nuclear 0

The half-life of tritium is around 12 years. The half-life of SOx, NOx and COx is effectively forever.
Paul Primavera said…
I did a little more research on the toll that not replacing fossil fuel with nuclear has on human health. I have excerpted only a few relevant quotes.

From web page:

Air Pollution Linked to Deaths From Lung Cancer
2002/03/06
< http://www.cancer.org/docroot/nws/content/nws_1_1x_air_pollution_linked_to_deaths_from_lung_cancer.asp >

"The risk of lung cancer death went up by 8% for every 10 micrograms of fine particles in a cubic meter (about 3 feet by 3 feet) of air, the study found. Heart disease deaths went up 6%, and deaths from all causes 4%, for every such increase."

"A 1994 study by Pope estimated 50,000 to 100,000 Americans died yearly from the effects of outdoor particulate air pollution."

From web page:

Air Pollution Ups Heart Disease Risk, Deaths
June 1, 2004
< http://www.webmd.com/content/article/88/99747.htm?z=1728_00000_1000_nb_05 >

"Carbon monoxide, nitrous oxide, sulfur dioxide, ozone, lead, and particulate matter have all been linked with increased hospitalizations and deaths caused by heart disease, he says."


"One recent analysis was based on data from 90 large U.S. cities - showing air pollution caused a 21% increased death rate overall, with 31% of increased deaths from heart and lung disease, Brook reports. This and other studies show that air pollution may accelerate the development of atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries -- the underlying process that causes heart disease."

From web page:

Air pollution link to cot deaths
17 May 2004
< http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/articles/10788248?source=Evening >

"Air pollution may be to blame for up to a sixth of cot deaths, it emerged today."

"Researchers found that on average, 115 of every 100,000 babies died before reaching the age of one. The international research team focused on infants known to have died from respiratory illnesses or suffered cot death."

"They obtained government data on the level of soot, dirt and dust in the atmosphere in each area. They calculated that 16 per cent of the cot deaths were caused by pollution."

-----

So one then wonders how many innocent human lives - especially babies - must be sacrificed because of anti-nuclear fear and hysteria.

The tritium release from Braidwood, Byron and Dresden has neither killed nor injured ANYONE. However, even as I write, innocent human beings are dying from the after-effects of burning fossil fuel, all of which use of nuclear energy can obviate.
Starvid, Sweden said…
Maybe we should have a specific thread for the tritium leaks to avoid contaminating (haha) the other threads?
Rod Adams said…
I listened to the debate this morning on my morning bike ride. It was downloaded and ready for my iPod synch this morning. Love those NPR podcasts.

You can also listen to the archive of the show at http://www.sciencefriday.com/pages/2006/Feb/hour1_022406.html

I do wish, however, that Ira had invited a nuclear advocate to the party. As the EPRI representative clearly stated, EPRI is really a resource for all electrical production sources, not just nuclear.

IMHO the best case can be made for nuclear power when place in contrast to the alternatives.
Anonymous said…
WRT steam pollution, it would be better classified as water vapor pollution (if there is such a thing). It is merely water vapor at around 100-120F that is released into the atmosphere. With ~100 nuclear plants in the US and ~500 worldwide (including US), I cannot imagine that the "greenhouse" effects are even considered relevant. Now when one compares water vapor "pollution" from a nuclear plant to exhaust from a coal plant, then a person must consider releases of material that actually erode the ozone layer resulting in "greenhouse" effects (mercury, sulphur and other nasties). Since ~75% of all electrical generation worldwide is from coal plants, one can conclude that nuclear water vapor emission (which is simply heat transfer - or delta T - and not chemical) is not relevant. Now to be fair, most countries are taking steps to curb coal-fired emissions...however, IMHO the many years of coal-fired emissions have already taken a toll on the atmosphere.
Like a dog on a bone, NIRS is really trying to push the tritium issue aren't they? Yes, Exelon should have done a better job prior to now, but we're talking about very small amounts of a naturally occurring isotope that is a weak beta emitter. The EPA safe drinking water limit for tritium in a home is 0.02 microcuries per liter. Drinking a half gallon a day of that water would yield a dose equal to eating about one apple a day. The few areas where samples indicated a level above the EPA limit are now under control to protect water supplies.

And NONE of the samples exceeded the NRC limit for environmental release of tritium. That limit is 1 microcurie per liter. Drinking a half gallon of that water everyday would give me less dose than I'll receive flying in airplanes this year.

Compare that to the pollutants and hazardous materials other energy and industrial sources generate, with or without penalty, and the scare tactics NIRS is employing just look silly.
Paul Primavera said…
Lisa,

Not all the tritium samples were less than 0.02 microcuries per liter. But as I recall, all samples from possible drinking wells were less than 0.02 microcuries per liter.

Please see in reverse chronological order:

See NRC PNO-III-05-016C 02/03/2006 Licensee/Facility: Exelon Generation Co. Braidwood Subject: Potential Off-Site Migration of Tritium Contamination (3rd Update)

http://adamswebsearch2.nrc.gov/idmws/doccontent.dll?library=PU_ADAMS^PBNTAD01&ID =060370095:2

and NRC PNO-III-05-016B 01/18/2006 Braidwood 1 and 2: Potential Off-Site Migration of Tritium Contamination (2nd Update)

http://adamswebsearch2.nrc.gov/idmws/doccontent.dll?library=PU_ADAMS^PBNTAD01&ID =060190126:2

and NRC PNO-III-05-016A 12/07/2005 Braidwood 1 and 2: Potential Off-Site Migration of Tritium Contamination (Update)

http://adamswebsearch2.nrc.gov/idmws/doccontent.dll?library=PU_ADAMS^PBNTAD01&ID =053410165:2

and NRC PNO-III-05-016 12/01/2005 Braidwood 1 and 2: Potential Off-Site Migration of Tritium Contamination

http://adamswebsearch2.nrc.gov/idmws/doccontent.dll?library=PU_ADAMS^PBNTAD01&ID =053360157:2

Compared to the poisons spewed out by fossil fuel / biomass burning into the atmosphere, this tritium release is truly insignificant.
Paul Primavera said…
I re-read Lisa's post (which I should have read more closely) and I have a question about the following statement:

"And NONE of the samples exceeded the NRC limit for environmental release of tritium. That limit is 1 microcurie per liter."

NRC web page:

< http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/cfr/part020/appb/hydrogen-3.html >

gives the effluent tritium concentration limit in water as 1E-3 uCi per ml which works out to 1 uCi per liter (since there are a thousand ml in one liter).

Why is the EPA limit different (20,000 pCi/liter or 0.02 uCi/liter) and which one has to be followed?

OK, I know I am opening up a can of worms. Either way, no one was hurt or killed and this tritium release is insignificant, but I was curious.
Paul said…
Lisa, et al,

What's a watchdog supposed to do but gnaw on a good bone, apparently a bone of contention to more than just NIRS.

As you all know, the Exelon Braidwood spill in '98 was a mere 6.75 million gallons of tritiated water that was left out on the ground by the company to evaporate.

That much water also left the site as contaminated runoff and seeped into the water table. Behind the Braidwood High School the ground water is well above EPA limits. Cobalt 60 was also in evidence off site on Smiley Road in ditch water.

The unravelling is just starting and not just around Braidwood, Dresden, Bryon, Salem, Indian Point, Prairie Island, now more recently Palo Verde but around all the sites.

The nuclear industry should start announcing its radioactive spills to the state and county authorities and be required to publish such events in the local newspapers as they occur, not wait ten years to get caught.

Its the least you all can do as a courtesy so parents can decide for themselves whether or not to keep their kids out of any more of your wayward radioactive wading ponds.

I'm curious if any of you have a problem with public disclosure and prompt notification of ground water contamination?

Perhaps a Demand for Information can make things more interesting?

Paul, NIRS
Paul said…
Lisa, et al,

What's a watchdog supposed to do but gnaw on a good bone, apparently a bone of contention to more than just NIRS.

As you all know, the Exelon Braidwood spill in '98 was a mere 6.75 million gallons of tritiated water that was left out on the ground by the company to evaporate.

That much water also left the site as contaminated runoff and seeped into the water table. Behind the Braidwood High School the ground water is well above EPA limits. Cobalt 60 was also in evidence off site on Smiley Road in ditch water.

The unravelling is just starting and not just around Braidwood, Dresden, Bryon, Salem, Indian Point, Prairie Island, now more recently Palo Verde but around all the sites.

The nuclear industry should start announcing its radioactive spills to the state and county authorities and be required to publish such events in the local newspapers as they occur, not wait ten years to get caught.

Its the least you all can do as a courtesy so parents can decide for themselves whether or not to keep their kids out of any more of your wayward radioactive wading ponds.

I'm curious if any of you have a problem with public disclosure and prompt notification of ground water contamination?

Perhaps a Demand for Information can make things more interesting?

Paul, NIRS
pgunter said…
For more information on that NRC Demand for Information visit:

http://www.nirs.org/radiation/tritium/
3h03012006frn2206pet.pdf

and

http://www.nirs.org/radiation/tritium/
3h03012006nrcaccept2206pet.pdf

Paul, NIRS
pgunter said…
Lisa, et al,

You can now also check out the various tritium leaks occuring around your local nuke. Just go to the NRC webpage >

http://www.nrc.gov/reactors/operating/
ops-experience/tritium/sites-
grndwtr-contam.html

NRC still hasn't posted all the site yet but its a start.

paul, nirs

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