ISIS, Iraq, Kurdistan and the control of Oil

News broke on UK terrestrial television on Tuesday 24th of June that Kurdistan forces (The Peshmerga) had captured Kirkuk, a city in northern Iraq that sits on top of the supergiant Kirkuk oil field. This news broke on the WSJ days before.

John Kerry was in Kurdistan trying to persuade The Kurds to lead the way in cementing the new Iraq apparently oblivious to the fact that the Kurds have been working flat out to leave Iraq since the semi-autonomuous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) was formed.

Persecuted and gassed by Saddam, Kurdistan gained semi-independence in the wake of GWI in 1992. Since then, the whole region has been licensed for oil and gas exploration to foreign oil companies. Several billions of barrels of oil have been found, a pipeline built through Turkey to the Mediterranean Port of Ceyhan and oil exports have newly begun. None of this has the approval of the Iraqi government that looks set to fall in the weeks ahead.

In the same time frame, Iraq has endured GWII, Sadam was captured and hung and western companies have struggled to redevelop the giant oil fields in the South of the country.

Figure 1 Kurdistan in green and Kurdish areas in grey. The pipeline exporting oil from the supergiant Kirkuk oil field crosses into Turkey at a very narrow border crossing that most likely will already be in Kurdish hands. Click to enlarge. Map from Genel Energy, pdf alert.

[Note: this is a reposting of a post lost during the transfer to a new site host.]

Genel Energy, headed by former BP chief Tony Hayward and backed by Nat Rothschild is one of many western companies operating in Kurdistan. At first, oil majors were shy of joining in the bounty of exploring this blue chip acreage that forms the northern extension of the Zagros fold belt, a prolific oil province in Iran. That was because the legality of all this activity was questionable in the eyes of the central Iraqi government. But in recent years both Total and ExxonMobil have joined the party whilst at risk of losing service contracts to develop fields in southern Iraq itself.

The map taken from a May 2014 Genel presentation surprised me since borders seem in the process of being redrawn. The semi-autonomous region is the green area surrounding Erbil. The grey area is Kurdish territory that until recently was part of Iraq. The recent capture of Kirkuk by the Peshmerga gives a clear sign of Kurdish intentions. The area is of immense regional importance, not just for its oil reserves and production but for its pipelines that cross into Turkey at a very narrow point of mutual Iraq – Turkey border. If the Kurds expand into the grey area, that is after all populated by Kurds that will welcome the Peshmerga with open arms, then Kurdistan will shortly control most of the oil and all of the export infrastructure of northern Iraq. The country will neither have the need nor desire to continue to be a part of its war torn neighbour to the south.

If Kurdistan is able to expand and stabilise its borders with the new Islamic State of Iraq and Levant being formed to its south, then it could find itself exporting 2 million barrels of oil per day within the next couple of years and will become enormously wealthy. At some point John Kerry will realise that 2 million barrels per day is of immense value to western interests. A lingering question that will inevitably rear its head is unification of the whole of Kurdistan including Turkish and Iranian areas. Here, Turkey with control of oil export routes, has a Royal Flush.

As for failed US policy in the region, much of the oil lies to the South (Figure 2) in Shia dominated areas. The Sunni areas of Iraq are in fact poor in oil reserves. It is too early to say how the conflict will play out through the rest of the country but it is not too early to recognise the failure of US policy. Jim Kunstler has a damming summary:

It all happened pretty quickly last week, but in case you haven’t noticed, Humpty Dumpty fell off the wall over there. The bonehead American news media affects to be too stunned to even ask the pertinent questions, starting with: is that all it took to undo eight years and — what? — maybe two trillion dollars in US-sponsored nation-building? Oh, plus 4,000 US dead and 50,000 wounded. So, my question would be: when do the political recriminations kick in? Pretty soon, I reckon, and when they do, expect them to be fiercely perverse. The theme of who lost Iraq? may cost more than who lost Vietnam?

Figure 2 The oil fields of Iraq. Oil in the North lies mainly in Kurdish areas that may soon be controlled by a new independent state of Kurdistan. The oil in the South lies in Shia dominated areas. The Sunnis don’t have that much oil and the key question is would they like to have their fair share as was the case under Saddam? Map from Energypedia.

The stability of southern Iraq and the oil rich regions to the South hang by a thread. Is the Arab Spring headed for Saudi Arabia?

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26 Responses to ISIS, Iraq, Kurdistan and the control of Oil

  1. Euan Mearns says:

    http://www.vice.com/en_uk/vice-news/the-battle-for-iraq-part-4

    This is a good 10 minute vid. Main points:

    “ISIS AND former Saddam loyalists”
    “Little fighting between Kurds and ISIS, seems like a deal has been done, Arabs are worried”
    “All the Arabs are our enemies”
    “Kurds not far from Baghdad”

  2. Luís says:

    Hi Euan, nice post. I have been struggling to keep up with all this, especially with all the contradictions published by the western press.

    The grey area in the first map is mostly Sunni, with some pockets of Turkmen plus remnants of Christian communities. There are Peshmerga in Tikrit, but they do not really control the city, which seems to have collapsed into chaos. According the article below, ISIL is yet to engage with the Peshmerga, and when it does it might not find much opposition in these Sunni areas; so far ISIL has been mostly interested in the Shiia army and police, “kicking” them south:

    http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2014/06/26/231646/hanging-onto-oil-rich-kirkuk-may.html

    I have not been able to ascertain how much petroleum is extracted in these Sunni provinces, but it could be as much as 1 Mb/d. Most of it should be already shut in.

    There are reports of cities south-west of Baghdad being taken and at least two large dams north of the capital. Even if the ISIL army stops advancing it may already have enough power to simply grind the economy to a halt; the rich Shiia provinces in the south will definitely be affected.

  3. Luís says:

    And btw, the acronym “ISIS” results from a failure by the US media to translate “al-Sham” to “Levant”. The correct acronym is thus ISIL (or EIIL in French – État Islamique de l’Iraq et du Levant).

  4. Ed says:

    You didn’t mention religion Euan !!! Only joking.

    ps My views on Nuclear could be changing, you might be pleased to hear.

    • Euan Mearns says:

      Ed, I am pleased to have a civil and reasoned debate with folks who have different outlooks on the energy world because no one knows what the answer is. Hence, in my own country I am inclined to make a stand against a government that is against nuclear power but in favour of solar that cannot be a part of our energy solution.

      Understanding and communicating the real risks associated with radiation is a part of the challenge for nuclear power.

      • Ed says:

        I was referring to your Peak Oil Barrel contribution which ignited quite a heated debate. Oh well, never mind. I’ll try to be less cryptic in future.

        • Euan Mearns says:

          Most times I post on POB it ignites quite a heated debate. They have some good commenters over there, but too many believe they are correct.

      • Tech Guy says:

        Euan Wrote:
        ” I am inclined to make a stand against a government that is against nuclear power but in favour of solar that cannot be a part of our energy solution.”

        I have to disagree that Nuclear power is the solution. The loss of a single Spent Fuel Pool (SFP) in the UK would render the most nation uninhabitable. As Energy becomes increasing more expense, I fear Nuclear Power Operators will delay reactor decommissioning and cut corners on Safety that will one day lead to a terrible disaster. Where would you move the UK Population if a SFP fails? Here in the US, we have no money to decommission old reactors, most are leaking or have flaws. The NRC (Nuclear Regulatory Commission) ignores the problem with failing reactors by simply rubber stamping license renewals to sweep the issue under the rug, sooner or later the US is going to have another meltdown.I would imagine the UK is the same problem as the US.

        FWIW: I agree that renewables isn’t going to save us from a energy crisis. But turning to nuclear as solution, would be turning a bad situation into death.

        “Understanding and communicating the real risks associated with radiation is a part of the challenge for nuclear power.”

        If they Public fully understood the real risks they would demand an urgent program to decommission all reactors and address long term storage for spent fuel. Sadly, I fear it will only happen after a tragedy.

        “We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them”
        –Albert Einstein

        On Iraq:
        1. Its unlikely the Sunnis will allow the Kurds to retain control. For the time being the objective is to remove the Shia from power in Iraq. If they succeed, they will turn to the Kurds.
        2. I am pretty sure KSA (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) has control over ISIS. If ISIS wasn’t under the control of KSA they surely would have eliminated the Kurds first before moving south since it would have provided a revenue source to fund operations. However if ISIS is already has sufficient funds there is no immediate need to take over Kurds revenue source.
        3. The US is very likely deliberately not engaging ISIS in order to get Maliki removed. http://online.wsj.com/articles/u-s-signals-1403137521 I think once Maliki is gone, either ISIS will withdraw or the US will quickly remove them. That said, the US make be setting itself up to repeat the mistakes it make with the Shah of Iran http://articles.latimes.com/2008/oct/17/world/fg-shah17

        • Euan Mearns says:

          On nuclear safety I suggest you read:

          Hansen makes the case for nuclear power

          For me to begin to accept anything you say here on nuclear safety you will have to provide supporting information. I believe in Japan, a 100 mSv / year does level may leave the exclusion zone around Fukushima at closer to 5 than 50 miles.

          In revenge of Gaia, Lovelock asserts that the 1957 Windscale fire was every bit as bad a Chernobyl. Folks didn’t know and very few were harmed. It is also maintained that at both Chernobyl and Fukushima more have been harmed by the stress of evacuation than by radiation itself.

          • Ed says:

            Fukushima is nuclear advocate’s worst nightmare. A never ending and ongoing nightmare. Drip, drip, drip. Death by a million bad headlines. At any time the fuel rod retrieval could go badly wrong and kill nuclear development worldwide overnight. I could be convinced on LFTR (Liquid fluoride thorium reactors) if they can ever be built but time is running out.

        • Ed says:

          Totally agree with your concerns on nuclear and your assessment on Iraq. The fact that Russia has sold some second hand fighter planes to Iraq supports your view that the US are deliberately dragging their feet in an effort to overthrow Maliki. Syria, Iran and now Iraq with Russian help are on the other side of the geopolitical struggle conducted by Saudi Arabia and the US to control the oil reserves in the region.

        • Tech Guy says:

          Hi Euan,
          I don’t think you followed my point. Please let me elaborate. A reactor meltdown is drop in a bucket compared to the loss of a spent fuel pool. Fortunately for Japan they didn’t loose the small spent fuel pool hanging three stories above reactor 4. Had they lost the Reactor 4 SFP, they would have stop and evacuate the plant as everyone would quickly receive a fatal dose. That would have caused a chain reaction as workers would no longer be able to maintain the other reactor spent fuel pools as well as the giant common SFP located on site.
          All of Japan would need to be quickly evacuated with the loss of the SFPs at Fukashima. This would also render the other nuclear plants in Japan unserviceable and the other nuclear power plants would also fall along with their SFPs.

          http://books.google.com/books?id=5HdddXH_1ngC&pg=PA197&lpg=PA197&dq=loss+of+a+spent+fuel+pool+would+square+kilometers&source=bl&ots=6jv9drmwnd&sig=Wb9-LIOQ3P3Ms4mx2Ixwrre5sp0&hl=en&sa=X&ei=LTSwU57yL-Oe8gG7qICQAQ&sqi=2&ved=0CDMQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=loss%20of%20a%20spent%20fuel%20pool%20would%20square%20kilometers&f=false

          “A third study estimated that a fire in the fuel pool at the millstone nuclear plant in Connecticut could lead to a fallout over an area up to 75,000 Km, an area five times the size of Connecticut itself.”

          SFP need constant cooling 365/7/24. A loss of cooling for between 7 to 10 days is sufficient to boil enough water away to expose the spent rods where they catch fire causing a tragedy. In the US, the NRC only requires three days supply of diesel fuel to maintain cooling. If for some reason power cannot be restored after about 10 days the Spent fuel rods will begin to catch fire unleashing death on a scale never happened in recorded human history. I fear that if there is a big natural disaster or some event that disrupts the grid or transportation system beyond a couple of weeks there is a serious chance of a mega disaster.
          Consider that in the US we still have Spent Fuel pools at decommissioned reactors. In the case of the Three Mile Island plant which was shutdown in 1979 after a partial meltdown, They still spend millions on the SFP still operating at the plant as there is no means or money to dispose of the spent fuel rods. In a period of declining resources it will become ever difficult to maintain reactors and their SFPs.
          Please vigorous research the risks associated with SFPs.
          FWIW: it appears the World has built itself the ultimate doomsday machine. A regional disaster or war could result in triggering a worldwide disaster. The loss of a SFP at one reactor will render an area uninhabitable which may include other reactors making them also unserviceable. The failure of those reactors will increase the uninhabitable regions creating a chain reaction that could spread throughout the world. There also a very serious issue dealing with the relocation of millions of people. Where could we relocate Japan or the UK’s population too?
          Also consider that the world is now running short on Uranium and the direction is leading to the use of Plutonium which increases the risks of disasters. Plutonium is much more likely to trigger prompt criticality than uranium and Pu produces much more hazardous waste.
          Not only are we approaching Peak Liquid fuels we are also reaching peak Uranium as many worlds best mines are being depleted. I also strongly believe all countries must aggressively address long term storage of existing spent fuel before spending a single dollar more on expanding Nuclear power. I am pretty sure if the full costs of safe long term storage of the existing stockpile of spent fuel, was included there would be no chance of further expansion.
          Thanks for reading!

          FYI: I am reply to my original post because when I try to reply to your message I can’t scroll down to the Post Comment. as the window frame cuts off the “Post Comment’ Button (Browser glitch!)

          • Ed says:

            You said ” If for some reason power cannot be restored after about 10 days the Spent fuel rods will begin to catch fire unleashing death on a scale never happened in recorded human history.” According to Wikipedia the spent fuel rods cannot not achieve criticality. Can you elaborate why a fire in the spent fuel pool would pose such a threat to mankind as you describe.

        • Tech Guy says:

          Ed Wrote
          “I could be convinced on LFTR (Liquid fluoride thorium reactors) if they can ever be built but time is running out.”

          From the research I’ve done about LFTR any other breeder designs, they are critically flawed:
          1. The Fluoride salts are corrosive and abrasive. Which will increase reactor material costs since they need to use metals that are corrosion and abrasion resistant. Generally metal alloys with these properties tend to also be prone to cracking.
          2. Fluoride salts are opaque which makes internal reactor inspections nearly impossible.
          3. The salts have a tendency to cake on the cooling pipes which can suddenly break free in large chucks damaging cooling pumps
          4. Extracting waste productions from the salts is very difficult and has substantial risks.
          5. As part of the Thorium fuel cycle deadly U-232 is produce which is nearly impossible to shield Workers maintain the reactor have severe risks
          6. A leak in the heat exchanger can cause an explosion as the molten fluoride salt will explosively react with water.
          7. Thorium reactors have the same issues with spent fuel and thorium mining is extreme health hazard for miners.

          The US Still hasn’t found a way to safely decommission the original LFR core it demonstrated back in the 1960s which was shutdown in 1969. Its still too hot to handle.
          Finally Nuclear power does not save us from a liquid fuel crisis. The world will simply need to adapt to economy with significantly less energy resources in the future. There are no easy solutions.

          • Ed says:

            Wow, I would like to see if Thorium proponents have answers to your points.

          • Euan Mearns says:

            OK Tech Guy, you seem to know a huge amount about this.

            1. The Fluoride salts are corrosive and abrasive. Which will increase reactor material costs since they need to use metals that are corrosion and abrasion resistant. Generally metal alloys with these properties tend to also be prone to cracking.

            Can you start by posting some links to back up these claims. I’m interested to see if you know the difference between corrosion and abrasion 😉 Drill pipe used in drilling all oil wells needs to be corrosion and abrasion resistant too.

            I’m looking for links to the specific metal alloys you are talking about and the test data under the specific operational conditions.

            Once you have satisfied me that you are an expert on corrosion and abrasion of high tech alloys deployed in nuclear reactors we will move on to your other 6 points.

            E

        • Tech Guy says:

          Ed Wrote:
          ” According to Wikipedia the spent fuel rods cannot not achieve criticality.Can you elaborate why a fire in the spent fuel pool would pose such a threat to mankind as you describe.”

          Sure,
          When the spent fuel rods are pulled from the reactor they are transmuted by fission into extremely unstable isotopes, including but not limited to Cesium, Strontium, Iodine, etc. The various isotopes will have a broad range of half lives from days to decades. As the isotopes decay they will transition to other unstable isotopes that also have various half-lives. Usually most of the isotopes follow decay chains that take hundreds to thousands of years to decay. Here is a brief Wiki Article about fission products from reactors.
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_fission_product

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decay_chain
          “Most radioactive isotopes do not decay directly to a stable state, but rather undergo a series of decays until eventually a stable isotope is reached.”

          As the spent fuel rods decay they give off a great deal of heat even if there is no criticality occurring. The unstable fission isotopes will decay releasing thermal energy as they throw off radiation. There is so much heat that if the fuel rods are not constantly cooled, they will melt and reach temperatures that causes the Zirconium cladding to give off hydrogen when exposed to steam.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zirconium_alloy
          “One disadvantage of metallic zirconium is that in the case of a loss of coolant accident (LOCA) in a nuclear reactor, zirconium cladding rapidly reacts with water steam at high temperature. Oxidation of zirconium by water is accompanied by release of hydrogen gas.”

          Spent fuel is the most dangerous material from a reactor. A brand new fuel pellet is perfectly safe to handle, even without any shielding since it gives off little radiation. However a fuel pellet that is pulled from a reactor is extremely lethal. If you put a single spent fuel pellet on a road and you drove over it at 130 km/h (~80 miles per hour) in a car, you would receive a lethal dose. A fresh spent fuel rod will give off about 1,000Sv/h.
          The spent fuel pools typically contain decades of spent fuel rods. If I recall correctly a 1 GWth reactors needs about 200 tones of fuel per year of operation. Over decades of operation this adds up to thousands of tons of spent fuel stored in spent fuel pools.
          If cooling in a spent fuel pool is lost and cannot be restored before the spent fuel rods are no longer completely covered by water, the Zirconium cladding will begin to react with the steam to give off hydrogen. The hydrogen has two issues: It will catch fire if exposed to high temperatures or can explode if contained in a confined space. In any case, the zirconium cladding will eventually be compromised exposing the fission isotopes to the atmosphere which will become atomized and be distributed into the environment.

        • Tech Guy says:

          Euan Wrote:
          “Can you start by posting some links to back up these claims. I’m interested to see if you know the difference between corrosion and abrasion Drill pipe used in drilling all oil wells needs to be corrosion and abrasion resistant too.”

          Sure,
          Abrasion resistance is the ability to resist wear from materials that have abrasive properties. Sand is abrasive but not corrosive. Corrosion on the other hand is a chemical process when a compound can react with a material that either forms oxides (rust for example) or alters the materials strength. Drill pipe does not have to deal with fluoride compounds, very high temperatures or high radiation flux. Nor does drill pipe need to last 30+ years under extreme conditions. I believe all the issues I discussed can be found on the MSR Wiki pages.

          MSRs have to use exotic alloys like Hastelloy-N because its one of the few alloys that resistant to fluoride compounds. commerical Hastelloy-N is very expensive, about $10K to $30K per ton. Even Hastelloy-N still has problems:

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molten-Salt_Reactor_Experiment
          “One unexpected finding was shallow, inter-granular cracking in all metal surfaces exposed to the fuel salt. The cause of the embrittlement was tellurium – a fission product generated in the fuel. This was first noted in the specimens that were removed from the core at intervals during the reactor operation. Post-operation examination of pieces of a control-rod thimble, heat-exchanger tubes, and pump bowl parts revealed the ubiquity of the cracking and emphasized its importance to the MSR concept. The crack growth was rapid enough to become a problem over the planned thirty-year life of a follow-on thorium breeder reactor. This cracking could be reduced by adding small amounts of niobium to the Hastelloy-N”
          [The key phrase is “This cracking could be reduced” meaning it has not been proven]

          [From same Wiki Page for the point that they still probably haven’t decommissioned the MSRE yet]:
          “The ensuing decontamination and decommissioning project was called “the most technically challenging” activity assigned to Bechtel Jacobs under its environmental management contract with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Operations organization. In 2003, the MSRE cleanup project was estimated at about $130 million, with decommissioning expected to be completed in 2009.[21] Removal of uranium from the salt was finally complete in March 2008, however still leaving the salt with the fission products in the tanks”

          [Back to metal cracking problem]:
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liquid_fluoride_thorium_reactor
          “The standard Hastelloy-N alloy was found to be embrittled by neutron radiation. Neutrons reacted with nickel to form helium. This helium gas concentrated at specific points inside the alloy, where it increased [internal] stresses. ORNL addressed this problem by adding 1–2% titanium or niobium to the Hastelloy N. This changed the alloy’s internal structure so that the helium would be finely distributed. This relieved the stress and allowed the alloy to withstand considerable neutron flux. However the maximum temperature is limited to about 650 °C. Other alloys also showed promise. The outer vessel wall that contains the salt can have neutronic shielding, such as boron carbide, to effectively protect it from neutron damage.”
          [so if they fix the neutron embrittlement problem it limits the reactor operating temperature. No Super-Critical steam with MSRs.]

          [More Decommissioning issues with the MSRE]:
          http://web.ornl.gov/info/ridgelines/nov12/msre.htm
          “Engineers then had a more protracted challenge: How to remove both the UF6 that had collected in the piping and the very radioactive and chemically unstable uranium-233 that had collected in charcoal-bed filters for off-gases. Those filters were surrounded by a water-filled chamber, raising concern of a criticality accident that could have spread contamination for miles.”
          “MSRE’s other big challenge is removing the highly radioactive fuel salt. The technical alternatives have been extensively analyzed, including an evaluation by the National Academy of Sciences. Fred Peretz, Tom Kring and David Vandergriff lead a team that will melt the salt in the drain tanks, separate and remove the uranium and remove the residual salt.”

          FWIW: Just reading the Wiki pages about MSRs it will clearly be very complex and expensive to operate and maintain. I am sure we will never see a commercial MSR.

          Euan Wrote:
          “Once you have satisfied me that you are an expert on corrosion and abrasion of high tech alloys deployed in nuclear reactors we will move on to your other 6 points.”
          I can’t claim to be an expert on high tech alloys. I am merely referring to documentation on the subject. I would prefer that people fully research technology before they promote it as I suggested in my earlier post.

  5. G. Watkins says:

    Thanks – again. One certainly can’t rely on MSM for information any more.

    • Euan Mearns says:

      I was surprised that BBC news was only reporting the move into Kirkuk days after the WSJ reported it and it happened. Kerry was there congratulating the Kurds on “peace making” while in fact they had just acquired a supergiant oil field. Its difficult to know if this is propaganda, politics or are they just plain dumb.

      The real underlying issue for the west is security of oil supplies. For the folks in Iraq it is security and stability.

  6. Kit P says:

    Tech guy should stick to tech he understands. Typically anti-nukes make a long list of absurd and false statements. For example, if all humans jumped off a tens story building then the human race would become extinct. For every ‘if’ risk, there is a corresponding risk mitigation. Apparently we do not need to bad tall building because there is not compelling reason to commit mass suicide.
    So how easy is it too cool a spent fuel pool and yes I am an expert.
    “7 to 10 days is sufficient to boil enough water away”
    It would take me about 4 hours to have the local volunteer fire company bring their tanker/pumper trunk over and pump in a days of water supply.
    My point here is that those of us who have the responsibility have spent a lot of time thinking about what if and what we would do.

    • Tech Guy says:

      Kit P wrote:
      “It would take me about 4 hours to have the local volunteer fire company bring their tanker/pumper trunk over and pump in a days of water supply.”

      In the case of Japan after the Tsunami, much of the roads and infrastructure was obstructed. Imagine if a there was a Nuke Plan in New orleans when Katrina hit that knocked out the roads, the power lines and the fuel distribution system? It possible that it could take more than 10 days to get resources on site to restore cooling.

      The problem is that your not looking at the big picture. You assume that big natural disasters never happen, and that everyone is competent. I very much doubt you understand anything about nuclear energy system and you make broad assumption because your don’t understand it.

      Kit P wrote:
      “For example, if all humans jumped off a tens story building then the human race would become extinct.”

      This is just being silly. People have a choice not to jump off. In the case of a loss of SPF, they have no choice.

      Kit P wrote:
      “My point here is that those of us who have the responsibility have spent a lot of time thinking about what if and what we would do.”

      No, you didn’t think about at all! You make broad assumption that you think you understand it, when you don’t have the first clue! You didn’t apply any critical thinking, and you attacked my arguments with nothing to back up your claims.

  7. Ed says:

    “My point here is that those of us who have the responsibility have spent a lot of time thinking about what if and what we would do.”

    Just like at Fukushima you mean!

    Risk = severity x likelihood / mitigation

    Lots of variables there. Can mankind be trusted to assess and control these correctly?

  8. Kit P says:

    Ed
    Japan has more active volcanoes that the US has reactors. Maybe we should force all the people in Japan to evacuate to Oklahoma. Oh wait I forgot about tornadoes.
    There is no such thing as zero risk. About 20,000 died because of a natural disaster was much worse than predicted of ever observed.
    We design for a set of hypothetical accidents and natural events requiring the reactor core not to be damaged. We have never failed this criterion. We also design for the unexpected, or beyond design basis. The time it takes for core damage and release of radioactive allows for orderly evacuation.
    Since no one was hurt by radiation, I would say we earned you trust. You can put your trust in those who want you to live in a hovel cooking with dried cow patties.
    This applies to the US energy industry as a whole. There was certainly a time when not having energy was a huge risk. The nuclear industry was one of the first to look at risk to the public. Now every industry in the US must show they protect the public. A skeptical public is part of the equation to keep us doing a better job. So do you home work and come to public meeting asking lots of questions.

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