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Steve Kerekes on CNBC

One of my colleagues, Steve Kerekes, appeared this morning at CNBC's Morning Call to debate nuclear energy with Kevin Kamps of NIRS.


David Bradish said…
It is complete bunk that Mr. Kamps says Yucca Mountain will emit masses amounts of radiation. Talk about scare tactics. If masses to him means a couple of mrem at most then I will agree. But I highly doubt that's what he means. Nature has proven that we can isolate nuclear waste for long periods of time. Just look at Oklo.
Anonymous said…
"There are now 435 now operating nuclear power plants in the United States. Twenty-eight new plants are under construction, 66 are planned or on order and another 158 have been proposed."

Who writes this stuff?! Did they do any research? Did they do any proofreading?

With writing and fact-checking like this, it's no wonder they consider Kamps a "nuclear waste specialist."
David Bradish said…
They must have meant the world for these stats. The actual source of this world data probably came from the World Nuclear Association.
Anonymous said…
Oh yeah, I know where the figures come from, but it's still sloppy. Normally, I have to tune into the BBC to find this level of carelessness.
gunter said…
Hold your horses there, anon.

Those figures on CNBC were for the total number of reactors for the world, not as you say the United States. CNBC was just a few nukes off as last count it is really 439 according to ANS. But somebody hastily and mistakenly typed "in the United States" into the written summary transcript. Watch to show. But that's small potatoes... so what?

As for massive leaks of radiation from Yucca Mt. should its unlikely loading ever actually occur, Mr. Bradish should read up on the DOE documents to discover that the fed no longer credits the Yucca Mountain rock body for any radiation containment... that's now changed over to fully crediting the dry casks themselves for containment.

For that matter, why doesn't Congress just put those cask in the basement of the US Capitol or out on The Mall? That's bigger than a football field... right, Steve?

And Steve, if you want to talk about the politics of nuclear waste, let's start with Congress' political mugging of the state of Nevada being singled out as the only site under characterization.

Screwing Nevada was mis-step one in trashing the scientific process for determining the best of the worst case scenarios for the loooooooooooooooooooong-term management of the nuclear waste piling up around and atop the reactors in the US and the world.

As a result, it doomed the project to failure from the get go.

David Bradish said…
Mr Gunter said:

"Mr. Bradish should read up on the DOE documents to discover that the fed no longer credits the Yucca Mountain rock body for any radiation containment... that's now changed over to fully crediting the dry casks themselves for containment."

So we don't rely on the mountain to protect us from radiation. Are humans then somehow incapable of building engineering barriers greater than what nature has already shown us? I'm sure we could build much better repositories then the already proven one at Oklo.

Nevada was singled out politically. Does that mean the science of Yucca is false? Is it somehow less suitable of a repository because the state isn't happy?
Anonymous said…
Mr. Gunter said:

"For that matter, why doesn't Congress just put those cask in the basement of the US Capitol or out on The Mall?"

Tell us Mr. Gunter, is YOUR trash and waste environmentally benign? Why don't you just store it in YOUR basement or in YOUR back yard? Why would you think the basement of the US Capital and The Mall aren't already being put to optimal use?" Do you have reason to believe the geologic features of the Capital basement and the Mall are more suitable for long term storage?
gunter said…
You would think that a scientific process would include evaluations of at least three sites for comparative values on a host of variables like groundwater movement, etc. etc.

By "evaluating" only one site like Yucca it is a foregone conclusion what the outcome will be for siting. That does not provide any basis for scientific evaluation only a political screwing.

Its the difference between scientifically characterizing a nuclear waste repository and being victimized for an atomic suppository.

In fact, Congress and industry don't want to proceed with multiple site evaluations because of the obvious firestorm of public opposition to the nuclear industry as ignited in the 1986 DOE characterizations for the "second repository" search that was then postponed by the Nuclear Waste Policy Act as amended in 1987. Those east of the Mississippi sites are now likely to be reconsidered as "first" round candidates with the collaspe of the Yucca licensing scheme.

I was in New Hampshire ("The Granite State") where we easily got 100 of 135 possible town warrant articles to adopt language for the town meetings "to oppose the burial, storage, transportation and production of high-level radioactive waste in the State of New Hampshire."

There is your public opinion poll.

Listen fellas, nobody (as in public opinion) has confidence in engineering a biological barrier to a curse thousands of times older than the pyramids.

The first responsible step is to stop generating more of the problem.

Anonymous said…
Gunter trips over his own words again. Last time I checked the pyramids were still standing, even though the people who built them knew nothing about engineering. And no, we don't need to build anything lasting longer than the pyramids; the spent fuel will be about as radioactive as the surrounding rocks in just a few centuries. We can certainly do at least as well as the people who built the pyramids.
gunter said…

I'll explain it to you.

The pyramids are approximately 5000 years old and intended to preserve a dead body from the destructive forces of nature.

The basic idea of a repository is to protect the living from the destructive forces of this man-made nuclear waste.

Perhaps you could explain to me where your get this notion that high-level radioactive waste will lose its radioactivity after "a couple of centuries"?

The Congressional Research Service reports that basic premise for a national repository is to isolate high-level nuclear waste for 10,000 years. So when was the last time you testified before Congress with this "couple of centuries" baloney?

Even so, the National Academy of Sciences has said it is possible for groundwater to become radioactively contaminated long after 10,000 years.

Let's look at a few of the many isotopes in "spent" fuel to be put in one of these suppositories intended for Mother Nature.

NAS points out "essentially all of the iodine-129 [half-life: 15.7 million years] in the unreprocessed spent fuel in wet-rock repositories will eventually reach the biosphere." Much to the surprise of DOE, even Yucca Mt. is wet rock at the respository level.
A drip shield is now proposed over the embedded radioactive waste casks. Novel idea...?

Another set of NAS assumptions projects significant doses from the radionuclide lead-210 to peak shortly before 100,000 years, and continue to pose a biological threat for even longer afterwards. Significant radiation doses from cesium-135 peak at almost one million years.

I can understand why you would choose not to be publicly identified with your statements but these grossly inaccurate quips don't do your industry's credibility any good either.
Of course, that's probably where you got 'em from, anyways. Right?

You'd do better with some fact checking before writing such blather.

>>The first responsible step is to stop generating more of the problem.

Oh, so you would support recycling to get rid of it?
Gunter, do you understand that spent fuel is a mixture? And that a weighted average of the constituent materials' activities does in fact give you a lifetime (read: time to get to the activity of uranium ore) on the order of 300 years--if you only have to deal with fission products (i.e., if you use pyroprocessing or distillation--I'm still waiting for your comment about DUPIC, by the way)? And that short-lived materials can still exist, even if long-lived materials also do, and even can swamp the effects of the long-lived material?

Could you also explain what the actual difference is between a structure that isolates material and a structure that isolates material? Can you do this without the old joke about the thermos (that it's the greatest invention ever, because it magically knows whether it's supposed to keep heat in or out)?

Could you tell us all why a repository is necessary to store this material for 300 years?

Could you clarify what you mean by "peak dose from lead-210?" Specifically, lead-210 is a daughter product of U-238. U-238 is natural--so by your logic, we'd better find every uranium deposit in the world and dig it up so that this awful lead-210 doesn't get into the environment. Actually, the way you've worded it, it's not peak dose, it's peak activity--nothing in that statement involves the material actually exposing anyone to radiation. That's the definition of "dose," if you were wondering.
Or we could use the U-238 and not have it end up in a repository in the first place, but you wouldn't want that.

Does testifying before Congress make you correct? Not really--John Ehrlichman testified before Congress.
I know it's fun to talk about who is doing something and what their motivations are, and how their reputation is spotted in six different ways. But I'd like to discuss physics for a while--you see, my reputation does not decide whether I can place an object on the ceiling without adhesives and expect it to stay there when I let go.

And now, to paraphrase Commissioner McGaffigan's "bullying tirade," I'm going to go off the topic because you went off the topic. Could you perhaps acknowledge that there are independent advocates for nuclear energy, that people who disagree with you don't have to be bribed to reach that conclusion? I know--I am one.
There are actually people who have not been paid one cent by the industry (including me) yet still support nuclear power, and until you recognize this fact, you won't even know who you're debating much less what to say.

To preempt an objection, no, I'm not "anonymous"--I don't use any sock puppets and don't have to.
JimHopf said…
Many of the things that Gunter is saying are not false. They're just completely unimportant.

Even the most unrealistically conservative analyses show that the peak dose rate to any person that will EVER occur from Yucca Mtn. is still within the range of natural background (a few hundred mrem per year). And this supposed dose is based on the spectacular assumption that the person drills a well into the most concentrated part of the plume and proceeds to use that water for all drinking, all bathing, etc.., and to grow all his food. And this also assumes that no remediation is ever performed and that he does nothing to filter or avoid it. On top of all that, it is assumed that the fuel will even still be there (very unlikely).

So, we're talking about a tiny (~0.1% chance) that a very small number of people in the distant future may be exposed to annual doses that are still within the range of natural background (an exposure level that millions of people routinely receive, and for which no health effects have ever been observed). This is not a serious environmental issue by any rational definition. Especially when we've got real issues to worry about, what with fossil fuels killing 25,000 people in the US every year, and possibly radically altering the earth's climate.

Here's an even simpler way to look at the supposed "waste problem". We know, with complete confidence that the repository (and the containers) will not leak for at least 1000 years. We also know, with complete confidence that in 1000 years we will have developed the technology to process and eliminate the waste. These solutions are decades away, not 1000 years away. Thus, we basically know that nuclear waste will never leak, and will never be an environmental problem. With nuclear (as opposed to fossil fuels) we have all the time in the world to solve the waste problem, with no harm being inflicted in the interim.
gunter said…

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