Who Killed Hamako Watanabe?

CNN: Four months after three reactors melted down at the Fukushima plant following a devastating earthquake and tsunami, Hamako Watanabe and her husband lost their home, their jobs and the prospect of restoring their lives. She doused herself in kerosene and set herself on fire after slipping into depression. Her husband, Mikio Watanabe, found her charred body. “We lost everything,” her widower told CNN in 2012. “We were forced to evacuate. We lost our jobs. I lost my wife in such a terrible way. I really lost everything.”

Mikio Watanabe holds a portrait of his late wife Hamako at his home at Yamakiya district

At 14.46 Japan standard time on Friday March 11th, 2011 a magnitude 9.0 earthquake occurred off the east coast of Japan. The tsunami that struck the coast shortly after, which is reported to have reached heights of up to 40.5 metres in Miyako in Tōhoku’s Iwate Prefecture, killed over 15,000 people. It also caused an accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant that has so far resulted in six fatalities during cleanup operations, although none from radiation. (Note: I refer to Fukushima as an “accident” to avoid quibbles over whether it involved complete or partial meltdowns of Units 1, 2 and 3.)

Tsunami impacts Fukushima sea wall (The caption reads “4 to 5 m flooding height in the pacific side areas of the reactor buildings and machine houses”. Image credit Karlsruhe Institute of Technology.)

But the evacuation that followed the accident killed far more:

On March 12, the day after the powerful earthquake and tsunami, Japanese authorities began evacuating residents nearby the Fukushima nuclear power plant due to the release of radioactive elements into the environment. At least 210,000 people living with a 10-kilometer radius of the plant were told to evacuate the area. On March 15, three days after the quake, people living within a 20-kilometer (12.5-mile) radius of the plant were ordered to evacuate. This meant an additional 180,000 people—on top of the 200,000 already ordered to move—had to relocate, bringing the total of evacuees at that point to 380,000. In Mid April, the evacuation area around Fukushima nuclear power plant was extended to include some areas to the north and northwest of the plant that are beyond the 30-kilometer-radius evacuation zone. By this time it was not even known where a good chunk of the evacuees were. Local government said they didn’t know where 40 percent of the residents around the Fukushima nuclear power plant went …..

As of March 2014 the evacuation had claimed the lives of almost 3,000 people. More people from Fukushima Prefecture had in fact died as a result of the evacuation than were killed there by the earthquake and tsunami. One of them was Hamako Watanabe:

The latest report from Fukushima revealed that more people have died from stress-related illnesses and other maladies after the disaster than from injuries directly linked to the disaster. The report compiled by prefectural authorities and local police found that the deaths of 1,656 people in Fukushima Prefecture fall into the former category. That figure surpasses the 1,607 people who died from disaster-related injuries. Another 434 people have died since 3/11 in Iwate Prefecture and 879 in Miyagi Prefecture.

Fukushima evacuation center (image credit japanfocus)

These deaths were predictable. In 2005, six years before Fukushima, a UN study had found that the “most serious public health issue” arising from the 1986 nuclear accident at Chernobyl was not radiation at all but the adverse effects on the mental health of the public caused by forced relocation:

Poverty, “lifestyle” diseases now rampant in the former Soviet Union, and mental health problems pose a far greater threat to local communities than does radiation exposure. Relocation proved a “deeply traumatic experience” for some 350,000 people moved out of the affected areas. Although 116,000 were moved from the most heavily impacted area immediately after the accident, later relocations did little to reduce radiation exposure. Persistent myths and misperceptions about the threat of radiation have resulted in “paralysing fatalism” among residents of affected areas.

The experts who served on the Great East Japan Earthquake Nuclear Disaster Group that was set up by the Japanese government to study the Fukushima accident reached the same conclusion:

Though scientific evidence suggests that no dramatic health consequences are expected, however the Fukushima accident, as any radiological event, causes significant psychological and social problems.

The potential risks from ionizing radiation, an invisible agent charged with many emotions from its military past and major disasters like Chernobyl are still poorly reflected by the media and the public. Unnecessary emotional stress and suffering may result in those affected or believing to be affected from the fallout from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.

The events at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant that followed the Great Tohoku Earthquake in March 2011 have caused great concern to the Japanese public. In part this has been caused by an inappropriate response by the World’s press and a general lack of understanding of the real risks of radiation exposure to human health. I hope that in writing this article I can help redress this balance and provide you with scientific facts rather than fiction, that can help dispel the fear that radiation from the accident will have a lasting effect on your health.

“Significant psychological and social problems”. “Unnecessary emotional stress and suffering”. “A general lack of understanding of the real risks of radiation exposure”. How much radiation exposure did Fukushima actually cause? The experts are in agreement on this too. Not enough to worry about.  Following a detailed study by 80 international experts the UN Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) concluded in May 2013 that “Radiation exposure following the nuclear accident at Fukushima Daiichi did not cause any immediate health effects. It is unlikely to be able to attribute any health effects in the future among the general public and the vast majority of workers.” The Great East Japan Earthquake Group concurred:

Acute health effects which can be caused by exposures to ionizing radiation have not been observed during the first years after the accident. Judging from the world-wide clinical experience with radiation accidents and radiotherapy as well as from experimental data with human tissues, cells as well as with other mammals no acute effects could be expected from the estimated radiation doses. These radiation doses are below the threshold doses for such acute radiation effects.

In summary, the international experts have concluded that this catastrophic accident has providentially resulted in very small radiation doses in general and therefore in no discernible health effects. I should finally add that, the most affected areas are experiencing radiation doses that are smaller than natural radiation doses in many areas of the world which have been inhabited since prehistoric times by healthy people.

Measurements confirm the absence of a serious radiation threat. The graphic below shows the US National Nuclear Safety Administration’s estimate of first-year radiation doses around Fukushima Daiichi. The >2,000 millirem (>20 millisieverts) red-shaded area exceeds the safe limit ultimately established by the Japanese government, but radiation at this level increases cancer risks only marginally and residents of the area would have received the full radiation dose only if they had spent all their time outdoors, which they would be unlikely to do. (There are also places where natural background radiation is far higher. Values of 17,500 millirem, caused by the high thorium content of the beach sands there, have been recorded at Guarapari in Brazil):

That summarizes the basic facts. A tsunami caused a nuclear accident at Fukushima. The accident released radiation that was predicted to have, and which so far has had, no significant health impacts. But the evacuation the accident prompted triggered the deaths of 3,000 people, one of whom was Hamako Watanabe. So who was responsible for these deaths?

The obvious candidate would appear to be Tokyo Electric Power Company, the operator of the Fukushima plant. The designers built it well enough to withstand a magnitude 9 earthquake – no mean achievement – but they didn’t see a ~15m tsunami coming, and in hindsight they should have. Allegations of incompetence have also been leveled against TEPCO for its failure to limit or prevent radiation releases after the tsunami struck, and some of them may be true. But TEPCO can argue that Hamako Watanabe’s death was unrelated to the radiation releases, which of themselves had no serious impacts. It was occasioned entirely by the Japanese government’s reaction to them, which was something beyond TEPCO’s control.

Let us now consider the involvement of the Japanese government. There is no doubt that the evacuation it ordered ultimately resulted in the deaths of thousands, and it can at least be held culpable for not having recognized its error and taken steps to rectify it:

However, the radiation levels in most of the evacuated areas were not greater than the natural radiation levels in high background areas elsewhere in the world where no adverse health effect is evident, so maintaining the evacuation beyond a precautionary few days was evidently the main disaster in relation to human fatalities.

Or can it?

There’s no question that evacuating an area around a nuclear plant that has suffered a potentially serious radiation leak is a logical precaution. But why did the government delay the return of evacuees to areas that according to radiation experts posed no significant health threat, devoting its resources to the removal of millions of tons of topsoil and leaves instead?

At an estimated cost of over a trillion Yen the Japanese government are attempting to decontaminate the areas of Fukushima affected by the explosions and meltdowns at Fukushima Daichi nuclear power station caused by the March 11th 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Around 13% of Fukushima Prefecture is scheduled to have the top 3 or 4 centimetres of its soil removed. Farmland and residential area will be cleaned first followed by forested mountain slopes that will have leaf litter and undergrowth removed ….

It can be argued that it was simply going by the book. The Japanese government is legally bound to protect the safety of its citizens, so before it could allow the evacuees to return to their homes it had to decontaminate them to safe levels. This posed a problem because Japan had unthinkingly adopted the international radiation standard of 1 mSv (millisievert)/year before the accident, and it soon became obvious that this limit was not practically achievable. So in June 2011 it raised it to 20 mSv/year, a “safe” threshold endorsed by the International Commission on Radiological Protection. This action shortened the cleanup timeline but had no immediate impact on the growing number of deaths among evacuees. It also confirmed the suspicions of many Japanese that the Fukushima radiation release was much worse that the government was willing to admit.

Nevertheless the cleanups have progressed to the point where all of Fukushima Prefecture outside the 20km Exclusion Zone around Fukushima Daiichi is now “clean”. A map of real-time radiation levels published by Fukushima Prefecture shows no station in the Prefecture with radiation levels anywhere close to the government’s 20mSv/year limit (the highest reading on August 17, 2015 was 0.300 μSv/hour, or 2.6 mSv/year, at Nomaoi-no-sato, about 20 km north of Fukushima Daiichi). Not only is most of Fukushima Prefecture clean but evacuees have been at liberty to return there for some time, and now they are being allowed to return to some parts of the 20 km Exclusion Zone as well. It seems that the government is finally doing its best to make sure that no more evacuees die unnecessarily.

But still the question remains. Given the overwhelming evidence pointing to the absence of a serious radiation problem, why weren’t they allowed to go back earlier? Presumably because the  20 mSv/year limit hadn’t been met, and until the Fukushima Daiichi reactors were contained there was of course always the possibility of further releases. But most of the evacuees would have refused to go back anyway. Many still do:

The Miyakoji district of Tamura city in Fukushima Prefecture became the first area within a 20-kilometer radius of Fukushima No.1 plant to have an evacuation order completely lifted. Local residents can live in their homes without any restrictions. Still, there are no prospects that residents will return home because their radiation fears still remain.

Last month, the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (adopted) a plan that would permit two-thirds of evacuees to return by March 2017, the sixth anniversary of the disaster. But while some evacuees have cheered this chance to return, many more have rejected it. Thousands from Iitate and elsewhere have joined lawsuits or organized groups to oppose the plan by the government, which they say is trying to force residents to go back despite radiation levels that are still far above normal.

So finally we get to the root of the problem. The fear of radiation.

Why do people fear radiation? Because they have been conditioned by years of anti-nuclear propaganda to fear it. Radiation is an invisible but lethal force that invades your body from the outside in and eventually kills you. Or it invades the food you eat and kills you from the inside out – you and your children too. It turns your surroundings into an uninhabitable wasteland. You have no protection against it. No level of radiation is safe. Every malfunction at a nuclear plant is a potential disaster. And the propagandists, aided and abetted by a press eager to sell newspapers, pulled no punches in their efforts to stoke the public’s fears of radiation in the aftermath of Fukushima:

A new Chernobyl ….. Extremely serious levels of radiation ….. Radioactive cesium of mind-boggling 370,000 becquerels per kilogram in the mud of the Myotoishi reservoir .…. A radiation hot spot with levels so high it could kill a person within a few hours ….. Cancer rates soar in Fukushima children ….. Iodine detected in Tokyo water supply …..  A nightmare with no end in sight ….. PM lying to the Japanese people ….. Foreigners stream out of Tokyo …..

And this from the US:

DEATH IS COMING

Fukushima radioactive ocean plume (Image credit: NBC)

Fear of Fukushima radiation was not confined to the Japanese public. Foreign governments also hit the panic button. The UK, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Australia, Serbia and Turkey issued evacuation warnings to their nationals residing in Japan and the US, France, China and South Korea (which installed monitors at its airports to make sure passengers arriving from Japan were not radioactive) began to fly people out. Croatia announced plans to move its embassy from Tokyo to Osaka. To say that the Japanese government panicked too would be going too far, but at one point it was  seriously considering the possibility of a demonic chain reaction: If Fukushima collapsed and released enough radiation, it was “possible that other nearby nuclear power plants would have to be abandoned and could also collapse, thereby necessitating the evacuation of one of the world’s largest cities”. Certainly shutting down every nuclear reactor in Japan was not a rational response. (Nor for that matter was the reaction of Germany, a country unlikely ever to suffer a magnitude 9 earthquake followed by a 15m tidal wave, which in response to Fukushima took eight nuclear plants off line and committed to get out of nuclear altogether by 2022, but that’s a separate issue.)

And more than four years after the Fukushima accident there are still no confirmed radiation casualties. Compared to the damage inflicted by the tsunami Fukushima was a  non-event. But many Japanese evacuees still live in fear of the high levels of radiation that the government isn’t telling them about:

April 01, 2015: Hundreds of residents here plan to sue the central government for lifting evacuation advisories near the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, saying the decision endangered their lives because radiation levels remained high around their homes. During the decontamination process for areas around the plant, the government initially wanted to lower annual radiation exposure doses to 1 millisievert. After that goal proved impossible, the target became 20 millisieverts. “The government has selfishly raised the limit on annual public radiation exposure from 1 millisievert set before the nuclear crisis to 20 millisieverts, having residents return to their homes still exposed to high doses of radiation,” said Kenji Fukuda, an attorney representing the plaintiffs. “This is an illegal act that violates the residents’ right to a healthy environment guaranteed by the Constitution and international human rights laws.”

The bottom line that emerges from the Fukushima accident is this. Radiation doesn’t kill people; the fear of it kills people. Clearly the efforts of the propagandists to scare people to death have once more borne fruit, and this time literally.

So once again, and for the last time, who killed Hamako Watanabe?

Her bereaved husband Mikio decided it was TEPCO, went to court and won substantial damages. And who can begrudge him the money? He deserves compensation from someone for the agony and loss he has suffered, and TEPCO was the obvious target. But viewed from the standpoint of who was morally responsible for his wife’s grisly death he was going after entirely the wrong people.

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189 Responses to Who Killed Hamako Watanabe?

  1. Clearly the efforts of the propagandists to scare people to death have once more borne fruit, and this time literally.

    Roger, can you please just confirm whether you think these “propagandists” deliberately intended these deaths, or that they were an unintended outcome?

    • Euan Mearns says:

      Kit, I’m afraid that the propagandists, like you, are total idiots. That’s why you have been on comment moderation on this site for several months. Of course their intention was good. But the outcome was bad because, like you, they are fools. It worries me deeply that folks like you on PhD programs in UK universities may be running the show one day.

      Stand back and take a broad and balanced view of this beautifully crafted post and ask yourself the question “why did I choose to post that comment”. Think about the prosperity that nuclear power brought to Japan. Think about the earthquake and the tsunami that brought tragedy to many thousands. And then think about the unnecessary tragedy brought about by ignorance and scare mongering.

      To be quite frank your comment disgusts me. There is much to debate around the safety of nuclear power and the fact that my life expectancy has increased by 20 years since I was born. None of this is captured in your comment.

      E

      • “why did I choose to post that comment”.

        Because up until that point I was largely enjoying the article. Roger’s statement was therefore rather jarring, and it read as if he believed this outcome was their intention. I hoped Roger wouldn’t be so crass, but having read lots of other nonsense on this blog, I felt I would check. I still look forward to his response.

        And if you think I’m an unsuitable PhD candidate due to being a ‘total idiot’, then you know where to complain to.

        • Kit Carruthers:

          You want a response, here it is.

          I assume you belong to the faction that I refer to as “propagandists” in the post, although that wasn’t the first word that came to my mind. You and you like-thinkers are unable to destroy nuclear power by attacking its safety record, so over the years you have been doing your best to destroy it by instilling an irrational fear of radiation in the minds of a largely uninformed public. And you have been astoundingly successful, having induced even some governments to lose control of their faculties. But in the aftermath of Fukushima it’s become clear that you have literally frightened thousands of innocent people to death, as well as destroying the lives of tens of thousands of others. Don’t you think it’s time you went to a mirror and took a long, close look at yourselves?

        • Peter Lang says:

          Kit Carruthers,

          Arthur Rogers quoted from Greenpeace:

          “They would not have died if the reactor accident had not happened.” True. They would also not have died if the response to the accident hadn’t been driven by irrational fears of radiation stoked by NGOs like Greenpeace.”

          And explained:

          “They would not have died if the reactor accident had not happened.” True. They would also not have died if the response to the accident hadn’t been driven by irrational fears of radiation stoked by NGOs like Greenpeace.”

          You haven’t responded yet. I hope you will especially as you are a PhD student. Note especially Sign 5 of the “10 signs of intellectual dishonesty”

          5. Be willing to publicly acknowledge when you are wrong. Those selling an ideology likewise have great difficulty admitting to being wrong, as this undercuts the rhetoric and image that is being sold. You get small points for admitting to being wrong on trivial matters and big points for admitting to being wrong on substantive points. You lose big points for failing to admit being wrong on something trivial.

          http://judithcurry.com/2013/04/20/10-signs-of-intellectual-honesty/

    • robertok06 says:

      “Roger, can you please just confirm whether you think these “propagandists” deliberately intended these deaths, or that they were an unintended outcome?”

      Personally I see it like this: they did not deliberately look for them, but they were not “unintended outcome”… if history has any value, and they (the propagandists without “”) had a minimum of knowledge/information on this subject, they MUST HAVE KNOWN that something similar had already happened after Chernobyl.

      So, yes, in a sense it was a “known outcome”.

    • The anti-nuclear energy crowd have become the bad guys, especially in regards to fighting climate change. Because everyone has good intentions, pro and anti-nuclear, obviously, intent is irrelevant. Results are all that matter.

  2. Peter Lang says:

    Roger Andrews, (and a general comment other readers may like to consider)

    The bottom line that emerges from the Fukushima accident is this. Radiation doesn’t kill people; the fear of it kills people.

    True (for low level radiation which is what we are talking about with nuclear reactor accidents).

    This is why it is so important for those concerned about CO2 emissions to take another look at the facts on nuclear energy, and especially the regulatory ratcheting that has increased the cost of nuclear by a factor of four up to 1990 (according to Professor Bernard Cohen) and probably another factor of two since. The costs of nuclear power could be dramatically reduced (and safety improved as well) over time by raising the allowable radiation levels for the public. (ask me if you want an explanation of why raising the allowable radiation limits will increase safety over time). Thankfully, the US has begun the task of looking at the risks of low level radiation. Hopefully this will be the catalysis for other countries to do too too – and for IAEA to do so and then, as a result, start ratcheting the allowable radiation limits back up to AHARS

    Regarding the need to raise the allowable radiation limits from ALARA to AHARS (‘as low as reasonably achievable’ to ‘as high as relatively safe’), a short pamphlet and a video of Wade Allison (Professor of physics at Oxford University) explain:

    “Radiation Safety: the Facts” http://home.comcast.net/~robert.hargraves/public_html/RadiationSafety26SixPage.pdf

    “Why radiation is safe & all nations should embrace nuclear technology – Professor Wade Allison”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YZ6aL3wv4v0

    Thank you for this post, Roger. I hope it will encourage more people to take another look at the safety of nuclear power, the unjustified paranoia surrounding nuclear, and how driving the costs to high and effectively blocking progress is causing thousands of fatalities per year world wide.

    • Peter. Thank you. There’s an excellent article about the health impacts of Fukushima from the Breakthrough Institute at:

      http://thebreakthrough.org/index.php/issues/nuclear/five-surprising-public-health-facts-about-fukushima

      • Peter Lang says:

        Yes, thank you. I’ve also been following the reports including the official studies since the accident. The take away point is the likely fatalities from radioactive contamination from the Fukushima nuclear accident over the long term is zero to few.

    • William says:

      Peter, I read what Cohen had to say about regulatory ratcheting (your link from a previous thread) and the increase in price by x4. I found it unsatisfying in that what was discussed was largely in the reaction to the 3-Mile-Island accident and related to large changes to the design of a fleet of US reactors that was already under construction. Design changes at a late stage will clearly cost a lot, but that has no relation to the cost of new build now. It was also clear that some of the reactors he discussed came in much cheaper than the average. If regulatory ratcheting was to blame for the median case how did the best case reactors manage to avoid it? A large part of the cost of reactors seems to be the lack of standardization – every reactor being unique. Cohen also identifies changes to reactor design that he says would mitigate the price problem – he was talking in 1996 about 3rd gen designs – new designs, smaller units etc. But isn’t it is these new designs that are currently encountering huge cost overruns (like the ones being built in France and Finland and perhaps soon at Hinkley Point)? My (perhaps ignorant) take is that until reactors are largely factory built, they will continue to be expensive. And until the designs are demonstrably intrinsically safe they wont be trusted (PRISM looks a better road to travel to me, but what do I know).

      On reactions to Fukushima, I think the problem is at least in part that nuclear is so closely linked in the public mind with bombs. There is no getting away from that, especially in Japan. And the industry has a history of being less than forthright when dealing with the public, hence a lack of trust. Complete openness on the part of governments and operators and an end to secrets and cover-ups when there are accidents would be the right direction to travel.

      As far as relaxing standards being the way to make nuclear cheaper, that is a hard sell: “Well we know we said x was unsafe, but we’re having such trouble stopping radiation leaking that we’ve decided x is safe after all. Really!” It doesn’t wash. Just make the things small, simple, intrinsically safe and reliable, and keep the radiation inside. Make them in a factory and figure out what to do with the waste – safely. Then make lots of them.

      • jmdesp says:

        William, in addition to the regulatory ratcheting, you are forgetting the legal challenge ratcheting. I’ve seen the testimony of someone involved in the construction of one of those reactor saying that half of the final cost was the cost of all the lawyers they had to maintain to overcome all the legal challenges that had been risen against the reactor. He said there was a whole team of them constantly available to answer the new questioning that kept coming.

        Also I’ve been following the construction of the EPR, and it make it quite clear to me that regulatory ratcheting can have a multiplicative effect on any error you make. If your organization is top notch and you don’t make a single error, you have a chance to escape quite unscathed. As soon as you make one, the cost of correcting it explodes, even if it makes no sense to spend that much to correct a minor problem (well, just the kind of thing that happened with SONGS actually). The reactor vessel problem for example has little to do with actual security, and more with what happens when lacks of practice lowers the control you have on the most delicate parameters of building and collides with brand new quality requirements.

      • robertok06 says:

        Well…look also at the case of the “defects” on the heads of the pressure vessels of some belgian reactors which had been in operation for decades… the press has reported “dangeours defects on key nuclear component”, and the 2reactors stopped for MONTHS!… just to find out that the “defects” were nothing else than common features of forged steel which simply became known after decades only because they had started using a new, more sophisticated diagnostic device, using ultrasounds.
        They have also found that one of the two european EPRs, can’t remember whether it was the french one or the finnish… had the same problem, because the manufacturer was the same (a Dutch company)… so now the headlines read “EPR reactor unsafe”… and again more delays.

        Most of the delays in the finnish EPR are due to the fact that after decades from the last built in Finland their nuclear safety agency was not able to tackle the immense task of following a construction project of that magnitude. Example: the drawing,approved, shows one type of weld… the company who does it does the weld in a little bit different way, but still mechanically/functionally equivalent to the original one… the Areva/Siemens consortium (who originally took the project, now they are suing each other…again in the hands of f***g lawiers!) had to wait that the nuclear agency approved that new weld design/type before being able to start a second weld, on a similar component…if you go on the TVO web site they have (at least they had since last time I checked) a lot of photos showing the construction… and, boy… are there welds on that beast!…. so…in the end I am not surprised at all that there are years, soon a decade?… of delays on Olkiluoto’s EPR.
        The French one suffers similar problems, among which the need to adapt to post-Fukushima craze, they must be ready to take the Armageddon asteroid head on without even a SCRAM…

  3. clivebest says:

    Prof. Wade Allison does a pretty good job explaining our illogical fear of radiation. Compared to medical radiation doses, Fukushima was insignificant.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YZ6aL3wv4v0

  4. JerryC says:

    Very poignant post, Roger. Quite sad to think of all those people who refuse to go back to the homes they loved because they think (wrongly) that it’s unsafe. Also worth mentioning that the general neurosis about nuclear power is probably stronger and more deeply ingrained in Japan than anywhere else because of Hiroshima/Nagasaki. I do hope everyone involved can learn from some of the mistakes made here, because at the end of the day, nuclear power does make a lot of sense for Japan.

    • Günter Weber says:

      JerryC,

      I swear that ‘general neurosis’ about nuclear power is nowhere as much pronounced as in good old Germany. Japanese people are nuclear nerds compared to us.

      And what lesson can you learn from the Fukushima accident. I tell you: Do not – I repeat: DO NOT – trust the regulators and other officials. Do not believe that they are taking care of you. If you want to have save nuclear power plants, you need to have a powerful anti-nuclear fraction within the society. Because besides all the bullshit they are doing, these guys are also the only ones who are asking the nasty questions. I bet one yearly salary that the German anti-nuclear movement would have highlighted the missing tsunami protection decades ago.

      • robertok06 says:

        ” I bet one yearly salary that the German anti-nuclear movement would have highlighted the missing tsunami protection decades ago.”

        YOu’ve lost one yearly salary, then… as there had already been some japanese scientists who had warned about the lack of sufficient protection against the highest possible tsunami.

        Again, I have already written this above in another message, I do not understand why, outside of TEPCO and the Japanese nuclear safety agency, all, and I stress ALL, of the mayors and local administrators of ALL of the villages and towns in the area (not to mention the multi-billion-dollar airport of Sendai) had not taken these “well known” tsunami facts into account… maybe because it was (rightly or wrongly) considered too improbable to happen?

        The anti-nuclear movement is useless… because it doesn’t want to do ANYTHING to improve the nuclear technology… it simply wants it ERADICATED from the face of the earth… they think that they can substitute reliable baseload nuclear electricity with…. 10% capacity factor photovoltaics… in “sunny” Germany????? I beg your pardon?????

        C’mon… have to courage to call yourself (I’m talking to the anti-nuclear activists, not you) what you are… an anti-science, anti-technology bunch of guys, who pretend to wanting to live “in equilibrium with nature”… using PV panels made in China with coal electricity… how smart and logical is that?

        R.

        • gweberbv says:

          Roberto,

          how are you going to protect cities from tsunami waves? With dams of tens of km for each inhabited place along the coast line? The population there simply has to coexist with this feature of nature.

          And with the Sendai airport, I also do not see the point. The airport was flooded, not destroyed. One week later, emergency transports operated by the military were using it again. After one month of cleanup it was back in normal operation. Maybe it was stupidity not to build a dam for it, maybe it was simply an economical descision. The sheer size of an airport will require a very long dam (compared to the critical area of a nuclear power plant). As there are no information on a dam being build around the airport after the last tsunami, it seems that this issue is not regarded as crucial.

          • robertok06 says:

            “Roberto,

            how are you going to protect cities from tsunami waves? ”

            Duh?????

            You build them AWAY from the coast?

            Next question?

            C’mon!

          • Peter Lang says:

            I don’t agree with building them away from the cost. I think they have to be built on the coast and designed to be tsunami proof..

            The reason the need to be built on the coast is to use seawater for cooling. Air cooling makes then 5% to 10% less efficient. That’s an enormous cost in lost electricity sent to the grid. Sum the total cost over the life of the plant and it makes them even lest competitive than they are now.

            So, IMO, we definitely need them to be water cooled. Countries like Austraia have scarce water resources, so we shouldn’t use fresh water for cooling.

            We have to be thinking in terms of providing all the worlds electricity.

            The ‘mPower’ SMR would do us just fine: http://www.efcog.org/library/council_meeting/12SAECMtg/presentations/GS_Meeting/Day-1/B&W%20mPower%20Overview%20-%20EFCOG%202012-Ferrara.pdf
            It could be easily handled in our grid.

            20 GW at at 90% capacity factor would provide all the baseload power for the National Electricity Market and cut Australia’s CO2 emissions intensity of electricity by around 80%

      • Leo Smth says:

        You remind me of my sister, who is a German Citizen. She too does not trust government, or Big Business. She trusts instead tinfoil hat websites, the EU and the Green party…

        ..I remember driving with her years ago, as she ranted against the forces of capitalism and the need top protect her children from radiation as she drove 2 meters from the bumper of the car in front.

        I remarked that I personally felt she would be better off attending to her driving, and putting a safety belt on her 6 year old daughter…

        It is sad when otherwise reasonably intelligent people simply do not know how to work stuff out for themselves and instead have to rely on choosing which web site or media propaganda outlet to believe.

        In the last year I have had no less than three angiograms, taking my likely dose of low level radiation to around 75mSv or more. I have also had a full chest CAT scan.

        It is already known that short term exposure to a single high dose is far more dangerous than long term exposure to the same dose spread out in time.

        Should I be suing the NHS to prevent them exposing me, and medical workers, to radiation that could be avoided by letting coronary heart patients simply die?

        Who should we be suing for the fact that in many places in the UK background radiation levels regularly exceed the safety limit for nuclear power workers and have done for millennia?

        http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/written_answers/1987/feb/05/radiation

        And finally, is the German anti-nuclear movement finally responsible for the number of deaths and the massive pollution due to burning the filthiest fossil fuel of all, lignite, in German Power stations, instead of nuclear power which kills no one.

        http://e360.yale.edu/feature/on_the_road_to_green_energy_germany_detours_on_dirty_coal/2769/

        Brother, take the beam from thine own eye….

      • Ed says:

        Günter, you have an unreasonable faith in the expertise of the anti-nuclear movement. A genuinely independent, objective body capable of identifying real deficiencies in safety would of course be useful. Many would argue that the regulators in Europe and the US do a good job of this, but you clearly wouldn’t. The problems with the vast majority of anti-nuclear activists are that (1) they typically lack all but the most rudimentary technical expertise and so are unable to distinguish genuine risks from minor inconsistencies and (2) it wouldn’t matter if they could identify the real problems because as far as they are concerned *all* nuclear power is a problem. Their aim isn’t to make nuclear power safer; it’s to cripple the industry. The amount of noise they make depends mostly on how emotive they can make the story, not on the real risk.

        Open-phase transformer faults capable of degrading post-trip cooling systems have received virtually nothing in the way of attention from the antis because the problem is boring and hard to understand for anyone who isn’t an electrical engineer. Completely inconsequential tritium leaks consistently get a huge amount of hype because ‘radioactive leak’ is easy to understand and scary, even if it’s a tiny quantity of a low-energy beta emitter with a biological half life of a week. If you want evidence of this, see what you get if you google ‘open phase fault Byron’ vs. ‘tritium Byron’ (both issues have occurred at the Byron generating station in recent years). Is the difference evidence of a rational and well informed anti-nuclear movement being proactive or a clueless but hysterical propaganda machine?

        If the activists were coming forward with real concerns that could be fixed to improve nuclear safety rather than just crying wolf at every opportunity, they might achieve something. In reality, it’s generally the industry itself (via WANO/INPO, self assessments, reactor owners groups etc.) that identifies and corrects the more serious problems first. It’s rare for an opportunity for improvement (even a costly one) to be identified by the regulator because the industry itself tends to pick these things up first. The chance of an outsider with no recent experience of nuclear plant operation or regulation picking up a real problem is tiny.

        Clowns like Arnie Gunderson, John Large and Mycle Schneider pontificating without understanding of (or in many cases access to) the details achieves nothing but costs a lot. Jumping to conclusions with insufficient evidence can cause harm whether the conclusions are in favour of or against nuclear power. I suspect that anybody willing to go through the process of learning required to give a reasoned opinion on nuclear power (a process that involves talking to operators rather than spitting at them from the sidelines and takes rather longer than the media hype machine likes) would be dismissed as lacking independence by you and your ilk.

        • Euan Mearns says:

          Ed, many thanks for this incisive comment. I’d point out that we have another commenter called Ed, so you may want to consider a new posting name next time around.

          This comment should get much wider exposure IMO.

        • Completely inconsequential tritium leaks consistently get a huge amount of hype because ‘radioactive leak’ is easy to understand and scary, even if it’s a tiny quantity of a low-energy beta emitter with a biological half life of a week.

          I was living in Tucson, Arizona in 1979 at the time a tritium leak from a watchmaking plant caused “intense and widespread contamination in the surrounding neighborhood”, “high levels of radioactivity …… in neighbors’ lawns, fruit trees, swimming pools, food — and urine” and mandated the destruction of over half a million dollars’ worth of food:

          http://tucson.com/the-tritium-problem-at-american-atomics/article_786a6cb6-62c2-5fd1-bdc1-5e4c21d0b9b6.html

  5. Peter Lang says:

    William,

    I found it unsatisfying in that what was discussed was largely in the reaction to the 3-Mile-Island accident and related to large changes to the design of a fleet of US reactors that was already under construction.

    Nonsense! It’s not just a reaction to 3-mile Island accident. It’s mainly a reaction to the anti-nuclear scaremongering campaign by Greenpeace and other anti-nuke groups.

    You asked for an example. I gave you one that is short , easy to read and well documented and has been widely debated over the past 25 years. There are reports from other countries, e.g. France and UK, that reach similar conclusions. You just need to do some objective research. If you want to be taken seriously, you need to provide better than a dismissive assertion. You need to objectively and impartially review the litterature that discusses that and similar studies (all sides of the argument) and reference the studies. You need to be able to demonstrate that Cohen’s analysis, figures and conclusion are wrong. That’s going to be pretty hard given the enormous amount of similar analyses that have been done elsewhere and the same regulatory ratcheting has occurred throughout the OECD countries.

    The cause is clear the response to 50 years of irrational scaremongering – widespread public paranoia about nuclear power and ‘radiation phobia’.

    • Peter Lang says:

      From the Introduction, second paragraph:

      Several large nuclear power plants were completed in the early 1970s at a typical cost of $170 million, whereas plants of the same size completed in 1983 cost an average of $1.7 billion, a 10-fold increase. Some plants completed in the late 1980s have cost as much as $5 billion, 30 times what they cost 15 years earlier. Inflation, of course, has played a role, but the consumer price index increased only by a factor of 2.2 between 1973 and 1983, and by just 18% from 1983 to 1988. What caused the remaining large increase? Ask the opponents of nuclear power and they will recite a succession of horror stories, many of them true, about mistakes, inefficiency, sloppiness, and ineptitude. They will create the impression that people who build nuclear plants are a bunch of bungling incompetents. The only thing they won’t explain is how these same “bungling incompetents” managed to build nuclear power plants so efficiently, so rapidly, and so inexpensively in the early 1970s.

      more: http://www.phyast.pitt.edu/~blc/book/chapter9.html

    • William says:

      “It’s not just a reaction to 3-mile Island accident”
      I didn’t say that. Cohen’s chapter 9 mostly discussed the effect ratcheting had on a set of new plant being built around the time of 3MI. He say it himself:

      In summary, there is a long list of reasons why the costs of these nuclear plants were higher than those estimated at the time the projects were initiated.

      (emphasis mine)

      The main problem is that the public doesn’t trust the nuclear industry. The industry has had a large hand in that (how about not noticing a leak at THORP until 20 tonnes uranium and 160 kg plutonium were not where they were supposed to be) so just blaming Greenpeace is lame.

      • Peter Lang says:

        The main problem is that the public doesn’t trust the nuclear industry.

        That’s stating the obvious. We all know that. What you didn’t acknowledge is that is caused by gullible people like you spreading nonsense. It seems you have a closed mind to the relevant facts and prefer to divert the debate to irrelevancies.

      • robertok06 says:

        “The main problem is that the public doesn’t trust the nuclear industry. The industry has had a large hand in that (how about not noticing a leak at THORP until 20 tonnes uranium and 160 kg plutonium were not where they were supposed to be) so just blaming Greenpeace is lame.”

        How many people died due to this?

        • Leo Smth says:

          How many people died due to this?

          None.

          How many will die out of irresponsible scaremongering because of it is another matter.

          if 20 tonnes of uranium were to leak into the sea it wouldn’t make much difference to the 4 billion tonnes in it already…

          Plutonium is pretty benign stuff too. That’s why its favourite for bombs. Its very safe to handle. It is poisonous chemically, not radiologically.

          Oh, and there is about half a tonne of uranium in the tail of most jet airliners.

          • robertok06 says:

            Exactly, Leo!

            On the same subject, uranium leaks, I can recall the case of the 64 kg uranium leak at the uranium enrichment facility in Tricastin, sitting next to the 4×920 MWe nuclear power station… the “independent nuclear experts” of GreenPiss, Sortit du Nucleaire, CRIIRAD, etc… cried “very dangerous accident, will leave a trace on the environment for decades”… and the press eager to sell following suit…. but both, NGOs and press alike, “forgot” to tell the populace that the same amount of uranium is NATURALLY carried by the water of the Rhone river in a matter of a very short time (howshort?… see below). .. since millennia and millennia… and everytime I drive through that gorgeous part of France I keep on asking myself “why do people here are not green, with 4 legs, and a trumpet-shaped nose, due to radiation??”…

            And just to stick to science and not science-fiction like some participants to this discussion…

            http://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007%2F978-1-4612-4932-0_3#page-1

            …. from 0.75 to 8.9 micrograms of U per liter… let’s take 3 micrograms/liter as an average…

            http://www.caee.utexas.edu/prof/mckinney/ce397/Topics/Rhone/Rhone(2012).pdf

            “The average annual discharge of the Rhone into Lake Geneva is about 180m3/s with the winter discharge being less than 100 m3/s and the summerdischarge exceeding 600 m3/s.

            The Rhone enters the Mediterranean at an average flow of 2,300 m3/s, with a flood peak of 13,000 m3/s”

            …. Tricastin is in the lower part of the Rhone basin,between Ardeche and Drome… so it gets much easily 1000 m3/s on average… so 1000 m3/s means 1 million liters/s,multiplied by 3 micrograms U/l gives 3 grams U/s… times 86400 s/day gives 259.2 KILOGRAMS of “dangerous and mortal” uranium/day!

            So: who’s the real criminal here? The company who caused the leak (which must be fined properly, of course) or the “independent nuclear experts” of the ideologically-based anti-nuclear NGOs (and the press)???

            I rest my case.

            Cheers.

          • robertok06 says:

            About the U leak accident in Tricastin… here it is an example of scaremongering based on NOTHING!…

            http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2008/jul/10/nuclearpower.pollution

            “Germany’s Social Democrat environment minister, Michael Müller, whose party is opposed to nuclear energy, said yesterday that the incident should not be taken lightly. “It’s no trifle when active uranium penetrates the soil,” he told Agence France Presse.”

            So: there are people,like this Mr. Michael Muller… who literally build a CAREER out of scaring people!…

            Who’s the criminal here?????

          • “it’s no trifle when active uranium penetrates the soil”.

            Uranium comes from the soil, or at least from the rock below it. Active uranium, whatever that is, presumably does too.

          • Euan Mearns says:

            Oh, and there is about half a tonne of uranium in the tail of most jet airliners.

            🙂

            Leo, I never knew that before. But last night we watched a program about a Korean Airlines Jet crash that confirms this is indeed true. This is well worth a post – a satirical one I think. We could try to get flying banned, or at least scare the Greenies shitless so they stop flying all together.

          • robertok06 says:

            “Oh, and there is about half a tonne of uranium in the tail of most jet airliners.”

            That’s probably why greenies like to fly in business class, away from the tail?… OK, cheap shot, I admit… 🙂

          • Euan Mearns says:

            Leo, I’ve googled around a bit and it seems that DU is most associated with 747s. Is it true that most airliners use this, including Airbus? Any links?

            While Googling I came across this:

            But during the work some environmental agency people arrived with geiger counters to oversee removal of a particular part of the tail which houses – depleted uranium metal, which is positioned there to act as a tail fin stabiliser. This is the armour-piercing metal which is used in scatter bombs and tank-busting weaponry fired from Apache helicopters, although it won’t be weaponry grade.

            The level of ignorance out there is awesome 🙁 I’m not sure if the author thinks that DU shells ARE weapons grade.

            http://forums.digitalspy.co.uk/showthread.php?t=907484

  6. Peter Lang says:

    Roger Andrews has provided a good example of the cost of the irrational fear of nuclear power and of radiation.

    The costs of the irrational fear is huge. Here are some:

    1. It has caused regulatory ratcheting which has caused the learning rate of nuclear power to be negative for around 40 years, In stark contrast all other electricity generation technologies have had positive learning rates (and have had since electricity was invented). Only nuclear has had positive learning rates. How is that explained? More importantly, what can be done to reverse the trend and make it positive? What can be done to unleash the enormous potential.

    2. Nuclear roll out rate was accelerating in the 1960’s and into the 1980’s, then it slowed and is near stalled. One of the consequences of this is that the world has around 10% to 20% higher GHG emissions now than it would have had if the growth rate had continued accelerating (like renewable advocates seem to believe RE will do indefinitely). More importantly, we would now be on a much more rapid and accelerating path to cut GHG emissions from electricity generation globally. There’d also be much less other pollution from electricity generation (all technologies).

    3. Tens of thousands of deaths would have been avoided if the growth rate had continued. Fo perspective, if nuclear replaced coal fired electricity generation globally, it would save about 1.3 million fatalities per year.

    These are examples of the damage the anti-nuke scaremongers have caused.

    IMHO, we need to unwind the regulatory burden. A catalyst to get the public in the OECD countries to reconsider the justification for their fear of radiation and nuclear power would be for the IAEA to re-examine the allowable radiation limits. The US has already begun this, http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS-US-House-passes-low-dose-radiation-bill-2001158.html

    US study on low-dose ionising radiation

    The US Department of Energy (DOE) and National Academy of Sciences have been directed to work together to assess the current status of US and international research on low-dose radiation and to formulate a long-term research agenda under a bill approved by the US House of Representatives. The Low Dose Radiation Research Act of 2015 directs the two organisations to carry out a research program “to enhance the scientific understanding of and reduce uncertainties associated with the effects of exposure to low dose radiation in order to inform improved risk management methods.” The study is to be completed within 18 months.

    The Act arises from a letter from a group of health physicists who pointed out that the limited understanding of low-dose health risks impairs the nation’s decision-making capabilities, whether in responding to radiological events involving large populations such as the 2011 Fukushima accident or in areas such as the rapid increase in radiation-based medical procedures, the cleanup of radioactive contamination from legacy sites and the expansion of civilian nuclear energy. The aftermath of the Fukushima accident has boosted concern that unduly conservative standards may have large adverse health and welfare costs.

    I explain a way to reduce regulatory ratcheting and reduce the cost of electricity in a comment on Roger Andrews’ previous post a week ago: http://euanmearns.com/the-renewables-future-a-summary-of-findings/#comment-10935

  7. Flocard says:

    I am not disputing anything in the paper of Roger that I find well balanced (unforunately should I say)

    I still would like to point another potential culpable in this accident : the organization of safety in Japan prior to the accident (it has been changed since):
    the japanese nuclear safety agency was as a matter of fact controled by the industry, that is precisely by those it was supposed to control.
    As a result safety measures that were implemented (such as hydrogen absorbers) on the same old reactors in other countries could be snubbed by TEPCO.
    Even the warning made by the Japan safety agency before the accident that the dikes were not high enough could be ignored by TEPCO because according to the status of the agency it could be be considered as being only a recommandation.

    In a sense it can be said that Fukushima as much as being Nature-induced iwas also a man-made accident.

    Another culpable in my opinion is also the UN international atomic energy agency (IAEA) which never in any of its review of Japan did point out this dangerous structural weakness (although in private talks I had with them, several experts had expressed their surprise at discovering this specific structure of nuclear safety in Japan).

    In a sense, the Fukushima accident pointed to a much more serious problem than Tchernobyl at least for our societies (Russia is something else). Indeed the analysis of Tchernobyl accident shows that for almost three quarters of a day, fools worked to make the reactor go wrong suppressing one after the other all the safety warnings and protection systems until it was too late to go back.

    In Japan, in my opinion there was something wrong at the core : the safety authority was not independent and had no real enforcment power.

    Of course independent safety authorities can be tempted to assert themselves by systematically ratcheting the requirements if only to prove their existence.

    The right balance, as always, is difficult to achieve and will always be a matter of interpretation by humans. Still one could have done better in Japan already in 2011.

    In retrospect, in my view the blow that this organisational weakness has dealt to nuclear industry world over is a bad blow for the planet.

    Hubert

    • Hubert: Although I can’t claim to be an expert on the subject there’s no doubt that adequate nuclear safety procedures were not in place in Japan at the time of Fukushima. There was no evacuation plan, hence the evacuation was botched, and it seems the recovery efforts at the plant could have been better contrived. This, as you point out, had a lot to do with the influence wielded by the Japanese nuclear industry.

      What you had was an accident waiting to happen. An underdesigned nuclear plant, industry complacency, inadequate safety measures, no plans in the event something went wrong.

      And something did go wrong. A magnitude 9 earthquake followed by a 15m tsunami is about as worst-case a scenario as you can get, particularly when the Fukushima sea wall was reportedly designed to handle only a 5.7m tsunami.

      Yet releases of radiation after this worst-case accident were still minor. No one died of radiation, nor seems likely to.

      To me this demonstrates the intrinsic safety of nuclear plants, not their intrinsic danger. As you point out yourself massive abuse is needed before something goes really seriously wrong, as it did at Chernobyl.

      • Peter Lang says:

        Roger,

        What you had was an accident waiting to happen. An underdesigned nuclear plant, industry complacency, inadequate safety measures, no plans in the event something went wrong.

        I agree. However, let’s recognise that over the course of the coming decades and century such accidents will happen. It just not possible to avoid. The key point is that, as you know, even with these nuclear is the safest way to generate electricity.

        I’d like to ask those who are arguing for more regulation to do a quick calculation and work out how many reactor years of service would be needed for for a nuclear power plant to cause as many fatalities as a coal plant (of same size running at the same average capacity factor)?

        Fatalities pert TWh from electricity generation: http://nextbigfuture.com/2012/06/deaths-by-energy-source-in-forbes.html
        coal (world average): 60
        coal (USA): 15
        nuclear (including Chernobyl and Fukushima): 0.09

        Nuclear is 600 times safer than coal for electricity generation (world average)

        Nuclear is 150 times safer than coal for electricity generation (USA)

        • Leo Smth says:

          The safety record of renewable energy is not great either.

          No one knows how many died at Banqiao. Estimated 250,000

          Nor how many have died in the wind power industry, or have fallen off roofs installing solar panels. Which represent quite a danger to firemen as well.

          You need to be clear whether when discussing energy, you are discussing it from a rational cost benefit analysis perspective or from and emotional perspective.

          Renewable energy makes ignorant people feel better. But we pay a very high price for their ‘warm fuzzies’.

          • Peter Lang says:

            Leo Smith,

            Thank you. I agree. There have been many studies since at least the 1980s comparing the risk of various technologies. One I have from 1983 is “Energy Risk Assessment” by Herbert Inhaber. Also US EPA, OECD, UK Government, ExterneE and many other authoritative studies. They have all shown similar ranking or technologies. Here is a simple, readily table comparing fatalities per TWh by energy source: http://nextbigfuture.com/2012/06/deaths-by-energy-source-in-forbes.html

            It’s worth bookmarking. I link to it frequently in discussion such as this.

    • Peter Lang says:

      Hubert Floccard,

      I am trying to understand if you are supporting the current level of regulation of the nuclear industry?

      I don’t, for these reasons.

      1. Over the coming decades and century, there will inevitably be mistakes, group-think, herd-mentality etc. that leads to poor designs, poor decisions by governments and industry causing accidents. It’s inevitable. No amount of regulation will prevent it. But competition and innovation does improve the breed and reduce costs. To achieve that the rate of rollout needs to ramp up. And for that to happen costs need to come down. For costs to come down, the excessive, overly risk averse regulation needs to be reduced, IMO. That is, we need appropriate deregulation (to the equivalent of the regulation for the aircraft transport).

      2. Regulatory ratcheting has raised the cost of nuclear enormously and that is preventing it being competitive. There is the potential for enormous cost savings if roll out ramps up. As this happens, innovation and competition between vendors will be unleashed. As with all technologies early in the technology life cycle (as is the case with nuclear), once roll out begins the pace of development accelerates. And costs reduce. All electricity technologies except nuclear have demonstrated positive learning rates. I believe excessive, unwarranted regulation is the main impediment to progress.

      3. It’s interesting to consider the parallels with the Comet (passenger jet air liner) crashes in the 1950s. There was a real threat to air travel industry as a result of loss confidence caused by these crashes. However, appropriate regulation that allows air travel to be competitive and safer than other methods of transport, but not excessively so, has allowed air travel to flourish, as well as very large reductions in the real cost of air travel and massive improvements in air safety (reductions in fatalities per passenger-km). Therefore, I suggest we need to reduce the regulatory impediments on nuclear power to allow costs to come down and the rate of roll out to accelerate. This will drive the competition and innovation that will lead to learning curves perhaps as high as 10% per capacity doubling. The potential is huge. We just need to unleash it.

      • JerryC says:

        Yes, the aviation model is a good one for the nuclear power industry because both are essentially engineering issues. When a plane crashes, we don’t shut down air travel for months and years. There is an investigation to determine the cause of the mishap and lessons learned are applied to the aircraft manufacturing, maintenance and airline operations. Through this method of incremental safety improvements, commercial air travel is massively safer than it was 30 or 40 years ago. In the case of the Comet, they found that pressure on square windows caused ruptured fuselages at jetliner speeds/altitudes and now we don’t have those anymore.

        • Peter Lang says:

          JerryC,

          Yes And if governments had imposed such draconian regulations on air travel as they have on nuclear power, it wouldn’t be anywhere as safe as it is now and would be many times higher cost. There’d be far less air travel. People would be much less informed about the world because they couldn’t afford to travel outside their country. Business would be much less efficient. Globalisation, which is one of the greatest benefit to humanity, would be way behind where it is now. The world’s progress would have been significantly slower for the past 50 years, and we’d all be poorer for it.

          Although we can’t say how much better off we’d all be now if not for the damage the anti-nukes have done to the world, we can see the parallels with what would have been the case for the world if tight regulations had dramatically slowed the rate of development of air transport.

          Its the rate of development that allowed the enormous improvement in safety. And the rate of development allowed costs to come down and the rapid rate to continue. The regulations of the nuclear industry have strangled the equivalent accelerating rate of development and hence the rate that safety would improve.

          I encourage those following this thread to seriously consider and debate what an appropriate reduction of the impediments that are retarding the development power could do for the world.

    • Willem Post says:

      Hubert,

      When I saw the aerial photographs, I concluded the plant was incorrectly laid out from day one.

      The auxiliary transformers and emergency diesel generators were on the ocean side and should have been on the land side.

      However, it would not have looked as attractive from the nearby roads and urban areas.

  8. The same way “guns don’t kill people, people with guns kill people”, or in Hurricane Katrina whilst the hurricane did real damage to guv response did not help as well as it could, and for the $150M Red Cross was given to rebuild Haiti they built six houses. The issue is clearly policy as much as disasters, and with reduced guv funding across the board,and other issues like global terrorism and illegal migration, I’m not sure if & when policies will ever improve our preparedness to climate change’s consequent wild variations in weather. I guess a good start is to establish a baseline of credible information to counter disinformation out there, and you did that in a small way. Thanks.
    “A journey of 1000 miles starts with one step”

  9. Günter Weber says:

    A few thoughts:

    – Even if we all agree, that the public is more afraid of ionizing radiation than a rational observer would regard as justified, what follows from that? Do you take this as a fact or are you fantasizing how a world could look like without that fear? What about readjusting the western middle east policy under the assumption that jews and arabs are starting to like each other and to cooperate because this is rational for neighbors?

    – A measure of 20 mSievert/year (or any other number) in a height of 1 m tells you not much. In particular it does not tell you, that you are save are save! First: 1 m above the ground, you measure only gamma rays because electrons (beta radiation) and alpha particles are stopped within a very short distance – even in air. Second: It is unlikely that the source(s) of this radiation are distributed uniformly over the ground. A few km away from the reactor it is well possible that you find macroscopic particles. As a result it might well be, that the 20 mSievert you are measuring in your garden are stemming only from the gamma rays of a few very strong radiation sources buried maybe 1 or 2 cm in the soil. If your little daugter plays in the garden and decides to put that peace of dirt into her mouth, she might get a dose that is 10 times or 100 times higher than your measurement.
    It is crucial to understand the stark contrast to a well-controlled environment – let’s say a radiation worker in a reactor who stands behind a shielding wall – where a the dose measurement at 1 m height makes much more sense.

    – If you evacuate an area for more than a few months, you can assume that you already killed the social infrastructure of this area. Local businesses cease operation, evacuated people find new jobs, children yo to new schools and make new friends – moreover most people who have a mortgage to serve go bankrupt. After that initial phase, if evacuation takes 3 or 5 years does not make a big difference.

    • roberto says:

      @guenter
      “A few km away from the reactor it is well possible that you find macroscopic particles. As a result it might well be, that the 20 mSievert you are measuring in your garden are stemming only from the gamma rays of a few very strong radiation sources buried maybe 1 or 2 cm in the soil. If your little daugter plays in the garden and decides to put that peace of dirt into her mouth, she might get a dose that is 10 times or 100 times higher than your measurement.”

      Seems a piece taken from one of GreenPiss’s “independent” nuclear reports!…

      As a matter of fact most, all all, of the children/teenagers living in what you would probably characterize as high-radiation areas have gone through a total body scan for measuring the internal radiation due to Cs-137 (and by measuring that scientists can obtain informations on other isotopes as well)… and, guess what?… more than 99% of the youngsters have ZERO internal contamination, in spite of having played outside, breathed the air, etc… for a couple of years at least.

      Local pockets of radiation are easily detectable, even a non-professional can do it, there’s been a boom in selling portable detectors (not necessarily a positive thing when in the hands of total-beginners with, possibly, an ideological agenda).

      I do not have the reference to the scientific study here with me, but I can find it easily… let’s see:

      …. voila’… here it is, 5 seconds on Google:

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3669733/

      ALL of the children tested in a city, more than 1300 children, have been found BELOW the detection limit of 300 Bq/body… where the natural radiation of a 30 kg child can be around 1500-2000 Bq due to the natural K-40… I’ll leave the obvious conclusion to you…

      Cheers.

      R.

      • Günter Weber says:

        Roberto,

        Miharu is about 50 km away from the Fukushima nuclear power plant (located in Dai-ichi at the coast). Far outside the evacuation zone. It would be absolutely shocking if contamination was found in the local population. This is the sole purpose of the evacuation zone: Outside of this area the risk of contamination has to be (extremely close to) zero!

        So, what is your point?

        • robertok06 says:

          My point was and still is that:

          1) That particular village is only ONE of the many who have done similar measurements, and the results are the same for all of them;

          2) Compare 50 km absolutely SAFE with some “green geniuses who claim that 0.1 Bq/m3 of Cs-137 in the water of the Pacific Ocean will kill all of north america inhabitants.

          I am perfectly aware of the dangers of radiation, but I am also aware of the fact that radiation is a very weak carcinogen… if it were not so there would be no life on earth.

          That’s my point.

    • roberto says:

      @Guenter

      “– If you evacuate an area for more than a few months, you can assume that you already killed the social infrastructure of this area. Local businesses cease operation, evacuated people find new jobs, children yo to new schools and make new friends – moreover most people who have a mortgage to serve go bankrupt. After that initial phase, if evacuation takes 3 or 5 years does not make a big difference.”

      Guenter: in your country (I assume from our name that you are German, if not my apologies) an entire village and one highway have been moved a few years ago “forever” to make space for an extension to an existing lignite open-pit mine… which is now 48 km2 in extension!…. this in the middle of West Germany, not in an vacated piece of desert in Arizona… and the solution was for the company owner of the mine to pay a good compensation…

      The problem with FD-1’s accident is that it was NOT just the accident which happened, but a much more devastating tsunaml which cancelled from the face of the earth in about 10′ the lives of almost 20 THOUSAND people… kids, adults, seniors… flattening areas 100%… the debris, millions of tons worth, are still floating in the Pacific Ocean and have already shown up on the coasts of western USA.

      This example should tell you that it is only partially the fault of the giant industrial accident, and more the fault of the political class that has let its citizens with a faulty support and help.

      On a related subject, I ‘ve always found astonishing that anti-nuclear activists often blamed TEPCO for NOT having taken into consideration what “everybody knew”… specifically that a 20 m tsunami wave was possible in that area… so if “everybody knew” why none of the mayors or safety/security organizations had forbidden the construction of buildings, schools, hospitals, a completely new multi-billion dollars airport, in such a disaster-prone area, right on the seafront????

      Cheers.

      • Günter Weber says:

        Roberto,

        your last paragraph is really strange to me. A significant part of the Japanese islands are definitely “disaster-prone”. However, people are living there since thousands of years. So, you need housing, schools, hospitals, etc. in the surrounding. And guess what: These are build in a way that they can withstand earth quakes as good as it is possible (with a reasonable amount of excess investment compared to buildings in – for example – western Europe) to minimize the losses in case of an accident.

        Against an Tsunami only huge dams could help. Obviously, it is not an viable option to build 20 m high dams on thousand of km of seashore. But it seems sensible to build them around nuclear power plants or chemical factories and other buildings that can do additional damage to the sourronding. Wikipedia tells that before the Fukushima accident the minimum dam height for nuclear power plants by the sea was about 3 meters. Absolute, blatant stupidity! And this should make you wonder! If serious people can be so stupid…what are your consequences?

        But Roberto, you are telling us that it is fine to leave a nuclear power plant without dam as long as the dog house next door as also none?

        • JerryC says:

          Seems like the issue is one of perspective. Yes, the vulnerability of the backup generators at Fukushima Daiichi to a tsunami was a serious design flaw. One that has to be corrected. It’s important to kedp in mind, though, that the damage caused by the FD event was trivial compared to the damage caused by the tsunami hitting inhabited coastal areas.

        • robertok06 says:

          “Wikipedia tells that before the Fukushima accident the minimum dam height for nuclear power plants by the sea was about 3 meters. Absolute, blatant stupidity!”
          Well… if the nuclear power plant in question is placed on the opposite side of Japan, then 3 meters is fine, since there is no way that a tsunami there could develop higher waves.

          “But Roberto, you are telling us that it is fine to leave a nuclear power plant without dam as long as the dog house next door as also none?”

          The “dog house” had 20 THOUSAND human souls inside?
          Can you make a more pertinent joke, please?

          P.S.: how many non-nuclear industrial installation had 20 m-high anti-tsunami dikes? Tell me…

          • gweberbv says:

            Roberto,

            good question that triggered some research from my side. Result: Japanese people are quite intelligent. It was good practise to put critical infrastructure on elevated sites, instead of building huge dykes all around the area.

            A striking example I found is Onagawa Nuclear Power Station. When the first unit (reactor) was build it was set on an elevation of about 15 m above sea level. Later a second unit was added with some parts of it located at a lower level. These parts were hit by the tsunami and redered inoperable.

            The main building later served as an evacuation center for the population of the sourronding area that had their housing at lower level.

            Here is a photo of the Onagawa plant: http://www.kurihalant.co.jp/en/images/department/powerplant-ph04.jpg

  10. Euan Mearns says:

    Roger, excellent writing. At the time, I followed Fukushima in detail and wrote a number of posts at The Oil Drum. I have a large number of thoughts.

    First of all the Japanese pissed me off for building these reactors in harms way. What were they thinking about? The geological / archaeological record showed that waves this large were possible / common. Most of Japans reactors are on the W coast. Hubbert touches on these points.

    Why not build the reactors away from the shore? Well someone did a sum that showed the energy used to pump the cooling water. And you don’t need to go very high before all the energy from the reactor gets consumed for cooling.

    The main initial problem with Fukushima was not the reactors but spent fuel ponds. Spent fuel ponds, stored outside of primary containment, boiled dry. The rods then caught fire releasing hydrogen gas that then exploded, destroying capability to contain the accident. In some regards similar to Piper Alpha where the first explosion took out the control room sealing the platform’s fate.

    Unlike George Monbiot who became a nuclear fan post-Fukushima, I became less pro-nuclear. But given the choice of having two nuclear power stations in Scotland and having a landscape plastered with turbines and erratic electricity supply, I choose the former.

    Regarding the response. Japan had just been hit by and largely survived a massive quake. And then hit by and in part destroyed by a tsunami that killed thousands and wrecked many lives. But the focus quickly moved to Fukushima, that left to its own devices would have caused comparatively little harm. The deepening irrationality of society and the media is somewhat worrying.

    How to evaluate the radiation risk? For the clean up operation the limit was raised to 100 mSv and even as high as 250 mSv. The safe doze in the surroundings set to 20 mSv (per what unit of time?). Gunter Weber makes some good points. Measuring only exposure to gamma rays is not the whole picture. The chemistry of the radioactive elements and how they may enter our bodies is I believe also an important consideration. I don’t know the answer.

    Its clear that evacuation is not a good response and that lessons should have been learned from Chernobyl. I’m not sure if removing top soil is actually necessary – are they doing it simply to give the appearance of doing something and to provide peace of mind? But if it is necessary then surely the population should have been left in-situ and given some simple instructions about life style and hygiene to minimise exposure, until the clean up was completed.

    • Günter Weber says:

      Euan Mearns,

      the allowed dose (in units of Sievert) is usually given per year. 20 mSv (per year) in Germany is the limit for radiation exposed workers. With an allowed lifetime dose of 400 mSv.
      In contrary, the signals from radiation detectors are usually given in Sv per hour. So, you have to multiply by 10.000 to get a (crude) estmate of the yearly dose (assuming that radiation leves will stay constant for a year – which is of course bullshit short after a nuclear accident).

      Removing top soil is a resonable measure, because the alterantive is to do a raster scan of the surface with a grid of something like 1 m to detect (and remove) radiation hot spots. A few km away from the plant, the dust from the plant can still contain macroscopic particles. This means a large amount of radioactive isotopes is contrated at one spot and may be incorporated by animals or human beings.

      • jmdesp says:

        Bullshit, pure bullshit. None of the scientific studies has found any of those macroscopic particles. A few km away from the plant, they have found microscopic particles with tiny amount of plutonium, measurable but nothing that would have any significant impact on the total radioactivity of a person. The reason why water vapor has dispersed cesium and iodine is that they dissolve in water, which precludes them being found in the form of macroscopic particles.

        • Günter Weber says:

          jmdesp,

          maybe, it is just a question what you call macroscopic.

          Dust particles containing amounts of Cs were found 100 miles away from the reactor. If this dust was contaminated after the accident, ok point for you. But if it was directly stemming from the plant, than a certain portion of the radioactive inventory was travelling quite far as part of particles much bigger than single molecules/chemical compounds.

          • roberto says:

            @guenter

            “Dust particles containing amounts of Cs were found 100 miles away from the reactor.”

            your comments are quickly moving into troll-land… of course Cs has been found 100 miles away from the reactor… all of the northern emisphere of the planet has been literally covered by MUCH HIGHER levels of Cs, and Sr, and other less pleasant isotopes since the 50s, until 1963 (peak) and then decreasing.
            Billions of people on the planet, living and dead since decades, have been guinea pigs for decades… have you ever looked at a report/study showing the life expectancy in any modern country vs year?…

            https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/fms/60/1/60_2014-10/_pdf

            The AMOUNT of Cs is what matters, do you understand that or not???

            I have googled “dust cesium fukushima” and found an entry on wikipedia which talks about “hot particles”… linking this:
            https://apha.confex.com/apha/139am/webprogram/Paper254015.html

            which says:

            “The samples of Japanese children’s shoes were found to have relatively high radiocesium contamination levels. Isolated US soil samples contained up to 8 nanoCuries per Kg of radiocesium, while control samples showed no detectable radiocesium.”

            How high is 8 nanocuries? Each nCi is 37 Bequerels, therefore “up to 300 Bq” where found on the shoelaces of some kids.

            How radioactive and dangerous are 300 Bq… even if ingested all? ZERO.

            Remember: “He/she who refuses to do the math is doomed to talk nonsense” – J McCarthy

            Cheers.

          • gweberbv says:

            Roberto,

            I am referring to Cs concentrations “orders of magnitude” above the background level: https://apha.confex.com/apha/139am/webprogram/Paper254015.html
            Obviously, they were stemming from the Fukushima accident.

            And yes, I know that “orders of magnitude” above background does not necessarly mean that the measured levels are will do any harm.

          • robertok06 says:

            @guenter

            “And yes, I know that “orders of magnitude” above background does not necessarly mean that the measured levels are will do any harm.”

            So, paraphrasing you… what exactly is your point???

    • Euan: One of your comments in particular catches my eye:

      Unlike George Monbiot who became a nuclear fan post-Fukushima, I became less pro-nuclear.

      If an educated and rational person like your good self can catch a dose of Fukushima Fever then anti-nuke propaganda is even more dangerous than I thought.

      I’m with Monbiot on this. A worst-case nuclear accident that releases only comparatively minor amounts of radiation demonstrates the intrinsic safety of nuclear power, as I stated in my earlier response to Hubert Flocard.

      • Euan Mearns says:

        My scepticisim was sharpened by the very fact that these reactors were built where they were, and inadequately defended. Also the spent fuel ponds outside of containment. The lack of any contingency for getting rid of hydrogen gas. And the failure of the back up pump system that was inevitable given events. It just struck me that there were a large number of design and engineering errors made.

        • Euan: What you say is quite correct. As I understand it the whole accident could have been avoided by a few diesel pumps installed in protected locations. But these are issues specific to Fukushima Daiichi. They don’t undermine nuclear power.

    • robertok06 says:

      @euan
      ” The chemistry of the radioactive elements and how they may enter our bodies is I believe also an important consideration. I don’t know the answer.”

      True, Cs-137 can enter into the body of someone, with food or water…but what the green anti-nuclear press/movement NEVER says is that the biological half-life of Cs is between 20 and 80 days, depending on the age/weight/sex of the person… 20 being valid for an infant and 80 for a well-built man.

      This means that a temporary contamination DOES NOT have any practical effect on the health of a person… only a chronic contamination, protracted in time can have some effect.
      The anti-radiation craze/fobia in Japan has come to the point that more than 100 Bq/kg are considered “too high”… and one has to destroy any food item which has more than that level… which is totally, absolutely, demonstrably STUPID 100% of the time.
      Example: Japanese people love fish and seafood… tuna is one of the most sought after type of fish… 1 kg of tuna can contain up to 800 Bq of natural potassium-40, and relevant quantities of polonium-210, this also natural as it comes from the decay-chain of uranium.

      This document (sorry, in French)

      http://www.irsn.fr/FR/Larecherche/publications-documentation/fiches-radionucleides/Documents/sante/CS137SAN.pdf

      … shows what a contamination with 10 thousand Bq of Cs-137 is equivalent to, in terms of lifetime dose:

      Ingestion…. first table page 5: 1.3E-8 Sv/Bq … i.e. 1.8E-$ Sv for the said 10kBq contamination… i.e. 0.18 mSv over 50 years (as specified in the text before the table).

      After Chernobyl there have been entire populations, the Sami people living above the arctic circle in Finland, Norway and Sweden, who have kept on eating the traditional deer meat… which was heavily contaminated with Cs-137 and also the more dangerous Sr-90… and guess what?…

      http://www.utexas.edu/courses/sami/dieda/socio/chernobyl.htm

      “Ironically, the cesium levels of some reindeer slaughtered prior to the Chernobyl incident were higher than Sweden’s post-Chernobyl marketability limit. Soviet atomic bomb testing in Novaya Zemlya in the 1950s and 1960s produced contamination in reindeer that went unregulated. Herders affected by Chernobyl were shocked to learn that in the 1960s, Swedish reindeer carried contamination levels of 3,000 Bq/kg, a level 10 times the marketability maximum set by the state in 1986. Sámi conclusively wondered why a limit had not been set following the Soviet nuclear testing, if 300 Bq/kg was indeed an unsafe level of consumable contamination (Beach). The Swedish policy on marketability limits did not endure long in its original form.”

      “Today we can say that the 300 Bq/kg intervention level for reindeer meat was far too low and a large number of reindeer were destroyed unnecessarily in 1986-87. This intervention level also resulted in moose were destroyed. This took place although there was good reason to eat top quality reindeer and moose meat, even if it contained more than 300 Bq/kg of cesium 137, rather than certain other foodstuffs of lesser quality (www.si.se).”

      Did the “green”anti-nuclear movement learn anything from all this, happening decades before Fukushima?… No way!… their idea is one and one only: eradicate nuclear.

      • Euan Mearns says:

        Robert, thanks for this and other informed comments. Sámi more expendable than Swedes? Lovelock asserts that the 1957 Windscale fire was as bad as Chernobyl, and they basically covered it up and did nothing. And 50 years on there is a leukaemia cluster. But no major catastrophe. And the life expectancy of everyone has increased by about 20 years – fuelled by oil and U and hydro.

  11. roberto says:

    Related to this blog…

    http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/fukushima-operator-sued-over-102-year-old-mans-suicide-.aspx?pageID=238&nID=86128&NewsCatID=356

    “Fukushima operator sued over 102-year-old man’s suicide

    The operator of Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant faced a fresh lawsuit July 29 from the family of a 102-year-old man who killed himself because he was depressed at having to leave his home.

    Fumio Okubo was the oldest resident of Iitate village 40 kilometres (25 miles) from the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

    He took his own life reportedly by hanging after the government ordered area residents to flee in April 2011, a month after tsunami waves sent the plant’s reactors into meltdown.

    Okubo’s daughter-in-law Mieko said his family members sued Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) for 60 million yen ($485,000) compensation.”

  12. Joe Public says:

    A thought provoking post & responses. Thank you all.

  13. Günter Weber says:

    I found this map: http://ramap.jmc.or.jp/map/eng/map.html

    3 1/3 years after the accident, there are still zones with more than 20 µSv/h. This translates into more than 100 mSv/year. You will have a hard time selling real estate there. Absolutely independent of what government declares to be save or not.

    An it could be a lot worse, as luckily during the afthermath of the accident, the wind was blowing towards the see for most of the time. And contaminated water was also directly released into the sea. An early study claimed that only about 20% of the released Cs-137 went down over land area: http://www.atmos-chem-phys-discuss.net/11/28319/2011/acpd-11-28319-2011.html

    Of course, even then we would hardly find any casualty directly related to radiation. But what about the social and economic costs? Independent from the question, if you should evacuate within 15 or 25 km radius, the costs are huge. And to what values you have to raise the allowed radiation levels to avoid evacuation? A few hundred 100 mSv/year? Statistics tell you that if you allow a few 100 mSv/year for Joe Sixpack, you will also find a few unlucky individuals who receive maybe twice as much. Normal people do not carry radiation badges which tell them when they have ‘enough’. Or is this the future? Radiation badges for everyone?

    Honestly, if we would live in a world without any energy sources besides nuclear power and charcoal – Ok. But just for paying 4 Cents/kWh instead of 12 Cents/kWh?

    • roberto says:

      “”Honestly, if we would live in a world without any energy sources besides nuclear power and charcoal – Ok. But just for paying 4 Cents/kWh instead of 12 Cents/kWh?

      ???

      What’s the 12 Cents/kWh BS now???

      C’mon, elaborate, please.

      In the meantime, you can read this:

      http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/abs/kh05000e.html

      “Prevented mortality and greenhouse gas emissions from historical and projected nuclear power. Environ. Sci. Technol., 47, 4889-4895”

      “Using historical production data, we calculate that global nuclear power has prevented an average of 1.84 million air pollution-related deaths and 64 gigatonnes of CO2-equivalent (GtCO2-eq) greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that would have resulted from fossil fuel burning. On the basis of global projection data that take into account the effects of the Fukushima accident, we find that nuclear power could additionally prevent an average of 420,000-7.04 million deaths and 80-240 GtCO2-eq emissions due to fossil fuels by midcentury, depending on which fuel it replaces. By contrast, we assess that large-scale expansion of unconstrained natural gas use would not mitigate the climate problem and would cause far more deaths than expansion of nuclear power.”

      Got it now?

      • gweberbv says:

        These numbers I just made from thin air to give an electricty generation price which the informed reader will regard as relatively low (4 Cent/kWh) and one that is relatively high (12 Cents/kWh). Just to contrast a nuclear paradies with a renewables+fossil backup+high carbon credit price wasteland.

        I grant you that nuclear power can be regarded as free if GHG. But I do not see nuclear power being able to change anything with respect to global warming. In the best case it delays a small portion of emissions. A miracle must happen to significantly reduce GHG emissions on the global level in the next decades. Neither nuclear power nor renewables will do it. See this trend: http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/global.html#three

        If I were living within a few 10 km distance to a nuclear power plant, I would be much more concerned of radioactive pollution – even though totaly harmles – rendering my home worthless (and triggering me and my family to go bankrupt), than of global warming. The latter will come with anyways (and luckily central europe is not the worst place on earth to withstand it).
        And as a tax payer, I would be concerned when my government is going to spend (or give guarantee for) a few billions on nuclear power development with the very realistic risk that the next accident – even though totaly harmles – will wipe out this technology.

        • But I do not see nuclear power being able to change anything with respect to global warming. In the best case it delays a small portion of emissions. A miracle must happen to significantly reduce GHG emissions on the global level in the next decades. Neither nuclear power nor renewables will do it.

          I agree with you on that point and we are not alone:

          Google Engineers Conclude that Renewable Energy Will Not Result in Significant Emissions Reductions

          • Peter Lang says:

            biodiversivist,

            You are correct that nothing can make much difference in a decade. However, noone is suggesting that. The time scales are much longer.

            If we look at a century, it is quite feasible that nuclear power can replace most fossil fuel fired electricity generation (by the latter half of this century). With cheap reliable electricity, 24/7, electricity will also replace a substantial proportion of fossil fuels used for heat and produce transport fuels – e.g. unlimited petrol, diesel, jet fuel and other hydrocarbons from seawater.

            Therefore, nuclear power can potentially replace a large proportion of fossil fuels use for global energy supply. That is how a major reduction in global GHG emissions from fossil fuels can be achieved.

            The cheaper we allow nuclear to be, the faster this will happen. And this is how I suggest it can be achieved:
            How to make nuclear cheaper than fossil fuels
            http://euanmearns.com/the-renewables-future-a-summary-of-findings/#comment-10935

        • roberto says:

          Well, Guenter… if you don’t like to live near a nuclear reactor, as I’ve done for more than a decade in France, then you’ll have to live near an open pit lignite mine, with attendant huge black smoke from the energy-equivalent coal power stations, like it happens in your country… Germany, home of the RIDICULOUS social experiment called Energiewende.

          I agree with you that no technology alone will ever be able to allow mankind to go GHG-emissions-free… but what I DO know is that the 58 reactors of EDF, with their very reliable and safe generation of 75% of the electricity used by the French (and some Italians, and some Britons, and some Belgians, and possibly more countries…) are equivalent to saving the emissions of ALL of the cars circulating in the EU…. if that for you is a little feat than I wish you to live to the day when the PV+wind combination that you the Germans are dreaming to use as an alternative will be able to do.

          Cheers, and have a happy continuation of your anti-nuclear phobia.

          P.S.: a small reminder, from some authoritative sources, just to get things in the right perspective:

          http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/abs/kh05000e.html

          • Günter Weber says:

            Roberto,

            I obtained the following numbers:

            Yearly nuclear power production in France: about 400 TWh
            Renewable production in Germany (first half of 2015): about 100 TWh

            Of course, the stable and reliable production of nuclear power plants is much more favourable. However, the numbers tell you that if you are willing to throw enough money on the issue you can get pretty far with renewables.

            Germany will probable match the french nuclear power production with its renewables within the next decade.

          • robertok06 says:

            @guenter

            “Roberto,

            I obtained the following numbers:

            Yearly nuclear power production in France: about 400 TWh
            Renewable production in Germany (first half of 2015): about 100 TWh”

            Wrong!… The only two “renewables” which can be developed at will (it’s just a matter of money and craziness) are the two INTERMITTENT ones, wind and PV.
            These two in 2014 have generated LESS that the remaining 12 GW of german nuclear… which was at 90 TWh…so, please, if you really want to come out of energetic troll-land you need to check your number and sources of data better, OK?

            Hydro is very limited in Germany. Biomass, although “renewable”, cannot be scaled up by much, and is NOT emission-free.

            “Of course, the stable and reliable production of nuclear power plants is much more favourable. However, the numbers tell you that if you are willing to throw enough money on the issue you can get pretty far with renewables.”
            Yes, but the money is not unlimited, even in rich Germany!… you just have to read the “plans” of the green intellighentsia behind the moronic Energiewende….

            “Germany will probable match the french nuclear power production with its renewables within the next decade.”

            ?!?!!? Ahahaahah… keep on dreaming, my friend!…

            Within the next decade, 10 years, wind and PV will not even double their production, there is no way that you will install 3.8 GWp/year of PV panels (made in large part in China burning dirty coal, by the way),just to mention one.
            I’ve read last week an interview with Bruno Burger,of the Fraunhofer Institute, where he complains of the fact that the reduction in “incentives” to the PV kWh has resulted in a lower-than-expected rate of installations… less than 2 GWp/year (which was what the Energiewende dictated).

            You need to carry out a solid, and I mean REALLY solid reality check, Guenter!… 410 TWh of BASELOAD electricity (24h/24, 365d/365, as requested by the users) is BEYOND the physical possibilities of Germany, with PV and wind. The sooner you’ll understand this the less frustrated you’ll be the day when you will finally realize how “they” just toyed with you…. they showed you a long tunnel, with a small light, and told you it will easy to get through it… but that was not a tunnel that you and your fellow german citizens ran into… it was a hole… and you keep on digging more, and more, and more… there is no exit, no solution, that way… do you understand this or not????

            http://www.ise.fraunhofer.de/en/renewable-energy-data/renewable-energy-data

            … there’s a new document, which I have not seen yet, the first one on the list “Overview”… let’s see together what is says, shall we?

            Page 3: “In the first half of 2015, roughly 18.5 TWh of electricity from photovoltaic arrays was exported to the grid.
            Production thus fell year-over-year by 1.0 TWh or 5.1%. The reason was bad weather – and hence less insolation. ”

            No shit!… “less insolation”??? In the famous Land of Sunshine, Germany??… where millions of tourists from southern europe go to finally find some sunshine?… or is it the other way around?… Do you understand why I call those behind the Energiewende “geniuses”?

            “In the first half of the year, 40.5 TWh of wind power was generated, 11.4 TWh (and hence, 39.3%) more than in the first half of 2014.
            January was the month with the most wind power because of the Elon and Felix storms. ”

            Without those two storms the electricity generated by wind would have been a lot less… so, in a future of “renewables” you’ll have to hope for winter storms… get prepared, Guenter!

            Case closed. Next?

          • Euan Mearns says:

            I’ve been looking at EU CO2 emissions. More complex than I anticipated. But a main conclusion is that Germany has among the highest per capita emissions in Europe and has done the least to reduce them. This is failure on an awesome scale. But Green Thinking will not permit Germans to see this. Renewables DO reduce CO2 emissions and I’m sure ways will be found to slice and dice data to show how they are reducing CO2 emissions in Germany.

            It is of course bonkers to try and cut emissions while closing down nuclear power plants.

          • Peter Lang says:

            Euan Mears,

            Could you expand on that please? IEA gives CO2 emissions intensity of electricity per country for

          • Peter Lang says:

            Euan Mearns,

            Could you expand on that please? IEA gives CO2 emissions intensity of electricity per country for 137 countries in ”CO2 EMISSIONS FROM FUEL COMBUSTION, 2014 Edition”. This publication is not free but Todd provided this link to an extraction of the data (page 125) http://cf01.erneuerbareenergien.schluetersche.de/files/smfiledata/4/8/7/3/4/7/119belec2014.pdf

          • roberto says:

            @Euan

            Concerning emissions in Germany… if you look at the presentation “Photovoltaics Report” on Fraunhofer’s website, you’ll read that…

            “In 2014 about 25 Mio. t CO2 emissions have been avoided due to 34.9 TWh electrical energy generated by PV in Germany.”

            … “forgetting” that the highly intermittent and stochastic PV needs support for balancing from fast-ramping fossil-fuel-powered power stations, which in germany are mainly coal/lignite ones.

            The also “forget” to say that the ridiculous social experiment called “Energiewende” has stopped for NO LOGICAL REASON WHATSOEVER 6 perfectly working reactors which were generating more than 35 TWh/year of CO2-free electricity.

            It’s totally crazy… how can’t the German people see that? Why cannot they see what is blatantly an ongoing failure on a continental scale????

            I’m amazed…

          • gweberbv says:

            Roberto,

            to my understanding the next decade start 2020. But I am not a native speaker, so my understanding is probably wrong. Sorry for that. To be crystal clear: I find it likely (of course not 100% sure) that yearly power production by German renewables will match nuclear power production in France before 2030. Why do I think so?

            1) German offshore wind charger are kicking in. Here capacity factors near or even above 40% can be expected. At the same time new onshore installations remain on a high level (all-time high in 2014). PV will not contribute much in the upcoming years – which is probably not bad. In general, renewable production will rise significantly in the next 10 to 15 years.

            2) Last month the the French parliamant passed a bill that sets the following goals:
            – .reduction of nuclear share on power production to 50% from 75% by 2025 (even for me hard to believe)
            – share of renewables raised to 32% by 2030
            Ok, there is some logic, that the raise of renewables has to be at the expense of the contribution by nuclear power.
            Probably, we all agree that there is big degree on uncertainty in the energy policy of most western countries. So nobody knows if the stated goals will be reached. Nevertheless, at the moment the assumption that nuclear power production in France will be stable for the years to come is counterfactual.

            If you add 1) and 2) is is easy to imagine that the power production by both energy sources will meet somewhere in the middle of the current numbers in 10 years or so. At least this does not look blatant stupid to me as your comment implies.

            Another comment on the power production by wind: 2014 was a relatively bad year, 2015 up till now is mediocre. Look here: http://www.iwr.de/wind/wind/windindex/index.html
            And in between both years, the installed wind charger capacity was increased by about 10% (probably even more if you take into account capacity factors). This explains the sharp rise in power production that you highlighted.

          • gweberbv says:

            Euan Mearns,

            probably it is disappointing but in Germany the general public sees the Energiewende mainly as a program to get rid of nuclear power. Its roots and the crucial persons putting the idea forward mainly came out of the anti-nuclear movement.

            It was not until recently, that coal – and in particular lignite – also has ‘the wind blowing into their face’. But if we take a the anti-nuclear movement as a model, then the anti-coal coalition will have to fight for decades before reaching their goal.

            Bottom line: Real CO2 emissions (and all the other nice stuff coming out of the coal plants) were not a major concern – at least compared to hypothetical nuclear pollution. And while renewables were strongly supported, there was never a phase-out program for coal-fired plants developed.

          • Euan Mearns says:

            probably it is disappointing but in Germany the general public sees the Energiewende mainly as a program to get rid of nuclear power

            Astonishing! Do you have any sources to back that up? This is a very complex area to understand.

          • gweberbv says:

            Euan Mearns,

            maybe you find the following interesting: http://www.pressenza.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/atom_2.png
            This served as the logo of a company that invested in mainly in wind chargers (and finally got bankrupt). Does it need any explanation?

            Next example: http://www.top50-solar.de/typo3temp/pics/3eba34ee05.png
            Information given by an energy supplier that is ‘green’. ‘No nuclear’ comes first, low CO2 second.

            Next one: http://www.greenpeace-bonn.de/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/windrad.jpg
            Greenpeace does advertiment for small-size investments in wind farms (‘citizens wind farms’). Same metaphoric language as in the first example.

            Next one: http://www.dgb.de/++co++9a75344c-7fdb-11e0-40f1-00188b4dc422/scaled/size/320
            German labours union campaigning against nuclear power. This is a variation of a German road sign: You are leaving the town of nuclear energy towards the city of renewables.

            Last one: http://www.atomausstieg-selber-machen.de/uploads/RTEmagicC_stromwechselwoche2011.jpg.jpg
            Advertisement for changing to a supplier with green energy (leaving the one with the evil NPP behind).

          • roberto says:

            WARNING: This is extremely looong, sorry Euan, but extraordinary BS needs extraordinary space to highlight it… please publish it.
            —————————————–
            @Guenter

            Roberto,

            to my understanding the next decade start 2020.”

            OK, so now it was not “a decade” meaning 10 years from now!… nice try!
            Does not change anything, but let’s see how far you go with that…

            “But I am not a native speaker, so my understanding is probably wrong. Sorry for that. To be crystal clear: I find it likely (of course not 100% sure) that yearly power production by German renewables will match nuclear power production in France before 2030. Why do I think so?”
            So: your crystal sphere goes to 2030…

            “1) German offshore wind charger are kicking in. Here capacity factors near or even above 40% can be expected. At the same time new onshore installations remain on a high level (all-time high in 2014). PV will not contribute much in the upcoming years – which is probably not bad. In general, renewable production will rise significantly in the next 10 to 15 years.”

            Leaving aside that those off-shore wind turbines which kick-in now will be at the end of their operational lives in 2030…

            … on wind in the EU, read this and then come back, OK?

            http://www.adamsmith.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Assessment7.pdf

            It’s the classic “nail in the coffin” for wind. No way.
            Just read the executive summary, please?

            “2) Last month the the French parliamant passed a bill that sets the following goals:
            – .reduction of nuclear share on power production to 50% from 75% by 2025 (even for me hard to believe)”

            Well… as you may have understood after several days of discussions here, I happen to live in France, since almost 2 decades… and all I can tell you is that this one is nothing more than a last-resort political trick by the useless “socialist” government of F Hollande to come out of the mud where it is right now. He’s just trying to get the support of the french green party… which will not stop short of anything else than ZERO percent of nuclear…. and not even incompetent Hollande is ready to go that far.
            In addition to that, Hollande (or any other “socialist” coming out of the primaries) will most likely loose the next presidential elections, to the detriment of the right… and one thing that the right will never do is to undo their perfectly working machine.
            If you count on that, dear Guenter, it is better if you look for another hope… that is already out of the question.

            Anyway… I don’t want to talk more politics here on this wonderful energy blog… it doesn’t deserve the mud that goes with politics… let me just notice that you are just following the best “green” dialectic technique… I told you something like “intermittent renewables in germany will never be able to generate close to 410 TWh/y 24h/24 365d/365 like French nukes do since several years”… and you now reply by:

            1) Saying that “decade” means beginning in 5 years from now, moving the sign post further in time;
            2) Relying on the void promises of an incompetent foreign government which, since it is in power, has missed ALL, and I mean ALL, of the promises it had made in the electoral period… most of them being much easier to reach than substituting 33% of the nuclear production
            3) Do the trick of comparing the (eventual and remote) possibility that French nuclear will be cut by 33% AFTER 2025 with the (delirant) dream of the German wind and PV rising to that level 5 YEARS LATER…

            In light of these 3 facts, and given all of the (demosntrably) 100% BS that you’ve written in the last week or so… I hereby presnt you with the prize of best anti-nuclear bullshitter of 2015.
            CLAP! CLAP! CLAP!

            “– share of renewables raised to 32% by 2030
            Ok, there is some logic, that the raise of renewables has to be at the expense of the contribution by nuclear power.”

            Are you familiar with the expression “in your wildest dreams”?

            I bet so.

            Most of all… they will be “at the expense” of MY electricity bill… 🙁 which is already going up since the intermittent renewables have started growing…just find and read the report of the French Cour des Comptes on the renewable sector, it’s efficiency, and problems… if you think that the report on nuclear was critical then you’ve seen nothing…

            http://www.ccomptes.fr/Publications/Publications/La-politique-de-developpement-des-energies-renouvelables

            … there’s an English version of it… but let me just highlight this sentence:

            “the cost of non-hydro renewable source for the period 2005-2020 has been evaluated by the Court of Accounts at 70 billion Euro”

            … SEVENTY BILLIONS, Guenter!… and all this to generate a SMALL FRACTION of what nuclear does since years!!!
            What better reality check do you need???

            “Probably, we all agree that there is big degree on uncertainty in the energy policy of most western countries. So nobody knows if the stated goals will be reached. Nevertheless, at the moment the assumption that nuclear power production in France will be stable for the years to come is counterfactual.”

            Counterfactual my a**!…
            1) The average life of the 58 reactors, totaling 63 GW, is 29 years… meaning that they have on average 11 years to go before they can pass the decadal thorough inspection of 40 years and get prolonged by at least 1à more if not 20.
            Contrary to you I have visited several French reactors, and I’ve seen with my eyes their status… “mint condition” is the right term.

            “If you add 1) and 2) is is easy to imagine that the power production by both energy sources will meet somewhere in the middle of the current numbers in 10 years or so. At least this does not look blatant stupid to me as your comment implies.”

            It does not look only blatant stupid, it is simply factually inaccurate, contrary to some laws of known physics, based mainly on wishful thinking and a good dose of confirmation bias, not to mention the gullible “M.me Segolene Royal has said 75% to 50% nuclear in 10 years”… (go read a CV/biography of Segolene Royal, the minister of energy and environment!… would you trust your plumber on energy issues?… he knows more than her!… C’mon!), etc…
            You are right: it’s not ONLY blatant stupid, it’s more than that… CLAP! CLAP! CLAP!

            “Another comment on the power production by wind: 2014 was a relatively bad year, 2015 up till now is mediocre. Look here: http://www.iwr.de/wind/wind/windindex/index.html
            And in between both years, the installed wind charger capacity was increased by about 10% (probably even more if you take into account capacity factors). This explains the sharp rise in power production that you highlighted.”
            No. The only reason for the increase power production has been the TWO large Atlantic storms whihch have hit the area in January. Wait a few months for things to average out and you’ll see that the rise will be much lower.
            Spain, for instance, is for the past 12 rolling months at more than 10% BELOW the same period a year ago, for its wind production, to the point that the few remaning spanish reactors are AGAIN the first production source of electricity… if you’d gone a year ago on any “green” web site/blog you’d have found lots of articles celebrating this (non)event… try to find ONE article/blog now which tells its braindead readers that there’s been the 10+% decrease…

            I repeat: read this

            http://www.adamsmith.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Assessment7.pdf

            … and then come back, OK?

            A small excerpt on Germany:

            ” As before, the incidents of low power output were of long duration, see Table 7.

            Little wonder, then, that for the German system the IFO Institute has commented: [for] the year 2011 … the installed capacity of [wind and solar] … was 54 gigawatts.
            For some hours up to 27 gigawatts were generated, but at other times it was as low as 0.5 gigawatts.
            The average generation was 7.3 gigawatts.
            The secured capacity that was available in 99.5 percent of all hours was only 0.9 gigawatts.”

          • roberto says:

            @guenter

            “1) German offshore wind charger are kicking in. Here capacity factors near or even above 40% can be expected. At the same time new onshore installations remain on a high level (all-time high in 2014). ”

            Bogus data and ideologically flawed reasoning leads to confirmation bias:

            I read here…

            https://www.wind-energie.de/en

            … that 2014 has been, indeed, a record year for on-shore installations in DE… BUT.. I also read this:

            “Frankfurt/Berlin, 30 July 2015 – In the first half of 2015 the additional net wind energy capacity installed in Germany was around 1,093 megawatts. This is about a third (34 per cent) less than in the same period last year, when the industry achieved a record figure of 1,659 megawatts. This still makes the first half of 2015 the second-best in the history of wind energy in Germany.”

            You just added 1.2 GW of on-shore wind… which energy-wise corresponds to 2 TWh… intermittent ones… so what?
            Do you understand or do you not that you need to replace 300~320 TWh of BASELOAD coal/lignite/nuclear?… which is 150~160 times more than what you’ve done in 6 months?

            C’mon, wake up, open your eyes!

          • gweberbv says:

            Roberto,

            let me summarize:

            1) The position of French government and associated legislation is irrelevant to you when discussing the prospects of nuclear power in France.
            (Maybe around the year 2000 you thought the same about the German government and the NPP there.)

            2) Germany can install arbitrary amounts of wind chargers onshore and offshore – it does not matter to you.

            I predict that in 2030 the French nuclear power production is well below 300 TWh, while the German renewable production is well above this value. Still French electricity generation will be signifianctly cleaner, as Germany will resort to fossil-fuel power plants as a backup.

            Let’s come back in 15 years and see what happened.

          • robertok06 says:

            @guenter

            “Roberto,

            let me summarize:

            1) The position of French government and associated legislation is irrelevant to you when discussing the prospects of nuclear power in France.
            (Maybe around the year 2000 you thought the same about the German government and the NPP there.)

            Not at all…. it simply is that after having spent the good part of 2 decades (2×10 years) in this country I think I understand a bit how its politics works.
            Nuclear power, in France and other countries alike, is ostracized because of its potentially lethal consequences as per greenthink galore…

            “2) Germany can install arbitrary amounts of wind chargers onshore and offshore – it does not matter to you.”

            You are COMPLETELY wrong on that too!… it’s amazing Guenter!

            It’s not that it doesn’t matter TO ME… I am nobody… it doesn’t matter to the Ultimate Entity… and I am not making any religious or ideological references here… I am talking about MOTHER NATURE (MN)!

            It is MN who DOESN’T care about how many turbines you may install… SHE decides how much wind to send, when, etc…
            The data are clear, Guenter….and they don’t come from “Roberto-the-anti-renewable-guy”… they come from the official statistics and entities in Germany.
            Summarizing in one sentence (but I can elaborate a lot longer if you like, baking ALL of my statements with DATA not ideology):

            Almost 80 GW of “peak” or “installed” power (PV and wind respectively) in Germany can at times generate practically ZERO power over periods of time of several hours.
            This sentence in turn can be summarized with two words: TOTAL FAILURE.

            If you still don’t get it I can make a small sketch.

            “I predict that in 2030 the French nuclear power production is well below 300 TWh, while the German renewable production is well above this value.”

            Possible!…. unlikely but possible.

            If true, it will simply mean that you, or some other neighbouring country, will necessarily (Mother Nature docet) NEED to burn more coal/lignite/whatever gas Putin will send you.

            The said amount of coal/lignite/gas and all the balancing/transport network to/from Norway and all the rest will CERTAINLY be MUCH MORE expensive that the electricity generated VERY reliably by the German reactors for several decades… and this will put to rest the LEGEND that with time intermittent renewables will make electricity cheaper (totally crazy to say the least)… and IF YOU WHO LIVE IN GERMANY, and breath the air over there, are happy with it, so am I!…

            Concerning France, assuming that efficiency (and the economic crisis) will keep the total consumption more or less stable… it simply means that nuclear will generate only 25-30% less of what it generates today… not a big change… the kg CO2/kWhe of France will stilll be lower than that of Germany…

            “Still French electricity generation will be signifianctly cleaner, as Germany will resort to fossil-fuel power plants as a backup.

            Let’s come back in 15 years and see what happened.”

            Exactly!…. I have written the last part without reading this… we agree on this, good!

            Now the question: are you happy with this?
            With coal/lignite it is, I recall you, of the order of 10 deaths/TWh, about 10x more in chronic illnesses, and about 30-50x more in terms of temporary illnesses, leading to loss of productivity…. data as per study on “The Lancet” of few years ago… “Electricity generation and health” (or something like this).

            I repeat the question: are you happy with this? Hundreds of TWh of electricity generated burning fossil fuels instead of clean nuclear?

            Cheers.

          • Günter Weber says:

            Roberto,

            I would be happy with nuclear power that is safe in the a much more general sense than you have in mind. In particular, it should be safe from being corrupted in various aspects by politics.

            As I do not see this being possible (for decades) in democratic societies, I would prefer to stay away from it.

          • Peter Lang says:

            Gunter,

            it should be safe from being corrupted in various aspects by politics.

            Your clutching at one straw after another. Renewables are far more corrupted than nuclear. It is totally corrupt. if it wasn’t we wouldn’t be subidising solar by 500 times and wind by 50 times the subsidies for coal fired electricity ($/MWh), in Australia in 2013-2014. Roughly similar in other countries.

    • But what about the social and economic costs? But just for paying 4 Cents/kWh instead of 12 Cents/kWh?

      The cost of cleaning up Fukushima would be payed for in less than five years by the cost of the German energy transition. Your four cents is probably referring to the cost of the wind turbine component of the wind/gas hybrid power system. Because wind power cannot exist without fossil fuel backup, you have to quote the cost of the hybrid system, not one component of it.

      • gweberbv says:

        biodiversity,

        the backup is quite cheap if you do not start from scratch but have a fleet of fossil-fuel power plants available. The necessary investments into the grid are much higher than keeping the necesasry backup capacity alive.

        Of course using hypothetical standardized, mass-produced nuclear power plants that operate under the loosest safety regulations imaginable is much cheaper.

        • roberto says:

          @Guenter

          “Of course using hypothetical standardized, mass-produced nuclear power plants that operate under the loosest safety regulations imaginable is much cheaper.”

          It’s amazing how much anti-nuclear BS you can spew, Guenter!… are you in for a Guinnes World of Records’ entry?

          For your info… a standardized (not hypothetical, real one) set of power plant exists already, it’s called “France”… just take your car and drive west/south-west, … I’ll be happy to be your chaperon.
          58 babies in 19 sites… that’s it!… about 1 km2/site… @0 km2 and you can produce 24h/24, 365d/365 410 TWh/electricity, reliably, with no emissions, doing decades in advance what you guys dream of doing in 2050… generating 90% of your electricity with no emissions.
          You are right about the “cheaper” one, though: EDF can generate 1 MWh of electricity for 50 Euros… while you guys generate PVelectricity for 280 Euros/MWh… only during the day and almost nothing for 4 full months…

          Try again, Guenter!… this one was a total flunk.

          Cheers.

          • gweberbv says:

            Roberto,

            when you compare just the prices of electricity generation, please do not mix with and without investment costs. After the first 20 years, PV can probably deliever for 2 Cents/kWh (todays prices). Compare this to the first-35-year-tarif of Hinkley Point C (which is even inflation adjusted).

          • roberto says:

            @guenter

            “Roberto,

            when you compare just the prices of electricity generation, please do not mix with and without investment costs. After the first 20 years,”

            After the first 20 years practically all of the PV installed will be at the end of its operating lifetime, and the investment costs (capital) will have to be paid again. Reactors last at least 40 years, and most probably 60 and more.
            Please, do not mix facts with fiction.

            “PV can probably deliever for 2 Cents/kWh (todays prices).”

            Today’s what??? Where? On which planet? In which science fiction novel? C’mon, Guenter!… you are not on a “green” blog here???… who are you trying to bullshit?

            “Compare this to the first-35-year-tarif of Hinkley Point C (which is even inflation adjusted).”

            Yeah!… you are right… 110 Euros/MWh that EDF UK has asked to be paid are way too much… but tell me one thing, you that are so knowledgeable… how much does it cost a MWh from PV in UK between 10 pm and 6 am OF ANY f***ing DAY OF THE YEAR?

            C’mon, enlighten us all… how much does it cost?

          • gweberbv says:

            @Roberto

            What shall happend to PV modules after 20 years? Every ten years you have to replace the inverter. Degradation of the modules over this time can be between 100% and near 10% – with the latter being much more probable. See here: http://www.pvtest.ch/fileadmin/user_upload/lab1/pv/publikationen/LZPV4-Valencia-K_F.pdf (see fig. 7)

            And during night? You ramp up your backup capacity.

          • robertok06 says:

            @guenter

            “@Roberto

            What shall happend to PV modules after 20 years?”

            Well, Guenter, I understand that in greenthink popular galore world the PV panels last forever… but in the real world, where morethan 2/3 of the modules/panels are made in China using industrial processes that have the line “reducing costs” placed before (in order of importance) to the line “reliability and efficiency” their lifetime will be LESS than that, or at most equal to that.
            Imagine in Germany (or Italy, or Spain, or UK), those who have installed the incentivized PV panels… at the end of the incentivized period they will simply NOT fix any technical problem, because it will be financially too onerous… they may REPLACE the panels with newer ones, but certainly will not reuse the same.

            As usual I can back up my statements with references to published papers (in peer-reviewed journals, not GreenPiss’ web site)… the presently installed PV modules have already average efficiencies which degrade faster than calculated by green-think researchers and studies.

            “Every ten years you have to replace the inverter. Degradation of the modules over this time can be between 100% and near 10% – with the latter being much more probable. See here: http://www.pvtest.ch/fileadmin/user_upload/lab1/pv/publikationen/LZPV4-Valencia-K_F.pdf (see fig. 7)”

            Exactly: it means that after 2 decades you don’t fix anymore any additional problems… you just junk the system and install a new one…like you germans do with your cars… they could all last 20 years…. why do you change them every time there is a new model coming out? 🙂

            “And during night? You ramp up your backup capacity.”

            “Back up capacity” means coal and lignite (and a bit of gas)!… and you are happy with it?

            http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(07)61253-7/abstract

            … this is one of the tables in the paper:

            https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/104842596/Electricity_and_health_TheLancet.PNG

            … and then, according to the ideology which you seem to embrace 100%… it is the nasty powerful deadly nuclear lobby that doesn’t care about mankind, right?

            Good luck. 🙂

      • William says:

        How much is the UK paying to clean up its nuclear mess? About £7billion annually I seem to remember. Cleaning up a radioactive mess is expensive and best avoided.

        Also, remember that conventional generators need backup too. That is why we have always had to build large amounts of overcapacity into grid systems. The UK grid can cope with 1400MW dropping suddenly offline not because of renewables but because conventional and nuclear does that.

        • Peter Lang says:

          William,

          That’s emotive nonsense. If you want your arguments to be taken seriously, you need to provide perspective.

          Is £7billion significant compared with the value of the power produced? Make sure you do any comparison on a properly equivalent basis.

          What is the “mess”? Give fatalities per TWh of electricity produced and compare this with the alternative technologies. Nothing is perfectly safe, nut nuclear is the safest way to generate electricity.

          • William says:

            Is £7bn significant? Nuclear produces about 7GW so its annual revenue is about £7bn at 10-15p/KWh. The cleanup is scheduled to cost over £70bn, so that is 10 years worth of nuclear revenues. Assuming a 50% margin (i.e. it costs half of revenue to fuel and run those plant), the cleanup covers 20 years of current nuclear profits.

            Is that significant and in the proper perspective for you?

        • Leo Smth says:

          Britain pays £70bn to run the NHS, which is a source of far more radiation to the general public than its nuclear industry ever was.

          The point is in the end simple. Nuclear power has the potential to be the cheapest safest and most useful alternative to fossil fuels, which do not have unlimited availability forever.

          Renewable energy doesn’t work in the context of a post industrial socket built on fossil fuel.

          Yes, perhaps we could rebuild society itself so that we could utilise expensive renewable energy, but at what cost?

          Population levels pre industrial revolution were scarcely a tenth of what they are today. Because the cost of using renewable energy rises with population density. One man and 100 acres is enough food and fuel for life: the land will with rainfall generate clean water, and if he shits in the woods, it will be one crap amongst dozens of the local wildlife. He won’t need refrigeration since he can kill or grow what he needs locally, and he wont need transportation or a global trading system or the Internet because he lives an entirely local life.

          That is the reality of a ‘renewable existence’. Population levels and lifestyles pre-roman.

          And a populations density around 1% of today’s.

          Even flint stone is not renewable.

          Renewable is pre the stone age.

        • roberto says:

          @William

          The 7 billion pound yearly cost, if true, is in large part necessary to clean up the MILITARY part of nuclear, and cannot therefore be attributed entirely to the CIVIL part of it.

          The report of the French Cour des Comptes that I have cited above shows ALL of the costs, past, present and future, for the much bigger French nuclear program… and it turns out that it is costing and will cost A SMALL FRACTION of what the German geniuses behind the Energiewende will spend in the next 35 years in order to attain the level of emissions that France has since a more than a decade… i.e. 90% CO2-free.

          Cheers.

        • roberto says:

          @William

          “Is that significant and in the proper perspective for you?”

          To improve the perspective and give it some depth you might want to add that the mentioned 70 Billion pounds correspond to what the British electricity users will pay for intermittent renewables in one-two decades or so (Germany does it in less than FIVE years, just to give you another perspective)… a time span during which the said intermittent renewables will have generated A SMALL FRACTION of the electricity generated by the UK nuclear power stations during their lifetime.

          William: have you ever heard about the term “data normalization”?

          In this context it is THE (additional, or extra-) COST PER GENERATED KWh, the only thing that matters, economically speaking.

          You owe to yourself to come out of the ignorance which pervades your messages… you MUST look for and find the following data as soon as possible:

          1) Total amount of electricity generated by all of the UK NPPs during their lifetime, call it E, in kWh;

          2) Fraction of the said 70 billion pounds attributable to the production of electricity, call it N… the remainder, mainly charged to the MILITARY applications, is a different story… do you get it or not yet?

          Once you have done this you do the following SIMPLE mathematical operation:

          Divide N by E, to get the NORMALIZED (over-)COST of the nuclear kWh due to decommissioning.

          As a first (pessimistic, for nuclear) step you might leave out the DELAYED decommissioning, foreseen over several decades, which make the whole operation much more economically sound.

          Cheers, and happy reading.

    • Leo Smth says:

      20 µSv/h. This translates into more than 100 mSv/year.

      So, about the same as my three angiograms then…or in fact a lot BETTER because they were in single large doses not spread out in time.

      • Peter Lang says:

        From the article:

        The [>20 millisieverts] red-shaded area exceeds the safe limit ultimately established by the Japanese government, but radiation at this level increases cancer risks only marginally and residents of the area would have received the full radiation dose only if they had spent all their time outdoors, which they would be unlikely to do. (There are also places where natural background radiation is far higher. Values of [175mSv], caused by the high thorium content of the beach sands there, have been recorded at Guarapari in Brazil):

        So, the 20 mSv regulatory limit is about 10% of high natural radiation levels that people get all their lives, and all their ancestors having getting for hundreds of thousands of years. And Wade Allison says people who have lived all their lives in areas with high background radiation levels have lower levels of fatalities from cancers than average.

        There is a lot of evidence suggesting the allowable radiation levels could be raised by up to a factor of 100. I’d support thorough, impartial investigation of the allowable radiation limits. If raising them can be justified based on evidence we can save around 2 million fatalities per year when nuclear replaces coal. To do that, the costs of nuclear need to come down. And one of the main block to progress is the allowable radiation limits.

  14. Owen says:

    I wonder how many people have been killed directly by the radioactive acid lakes in China from rare earth extraction plants.

    • Euan Mearns says:

      And to clarify this comment, adding the rare earth neodymium to a magnet doubles its “efficiency”. Adding this to the dynamos in wind turbines doubles their productivity. Without it, wind falls on its face. Extracting Nd from phosphate minerals is incredibly environmentally harmful, and it all takes place in China. Somehow, the Greens are able to put this to the back of their minds when promoting Green wind power. But a small oil spill from an offshore platform, that would normally be totally harmless, brings the authorities down on the oil cos like a tonne of bricks. What’s going here?

      • roberto says:

        “Extracting Nd from phosphate minerals is incredibly environmentally harmful, and it all takes place in China. Somehow, the Greens are able to put this to the back of their minds when promoting Green wind power.”

        … a “green” paradise like this?… is it this what they want?

        http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20150402-the-worst-place-on-earth

        • Owen says:

          That is actually distressing looking at the video on that link. This should be compulsory viewing for any “green” lover.

          “We reached the shore, and looked across the lake. I’d seen some photos before I left for Inner Mongolia, but nothing prepared me for the sight. It’s a truly alien environment, dystopian and horrifying. The thought that it is man-made depressed and terrified me, as did the realisation that this was the byproduct not just of the consumer electronics in my pocket, but also green technologies like wind turbines and electric cars that we get so smugly excited about in the West. Unsure of quite how to react, I take photos and shoot video on my cerium polished iPhone.
          You can see the lake on Google Maps, and that hints at the scale. Zoom in far enough and you can make out the dozens of pipes that line the shore. Unknown Fields’ Liam Young collected some samples of the waste and took it back to the UK to be tested. “The clay we collected from the toxic lake tested at around three times background radiation,” he later tells me.”

          • It’s a truly alien environment, dystopian and horrifying …..

            The BBC correspondent who wrote that was clearly not a mining man and would probably have found the tailings pond at the state-of-the-art Mountain Pass rare earth mine in California alien, dystopian and horrifying too. Or at least he would until the mine shut down a short while ago, driven under because it couldn’t compete with cut-price RE from China. (Which doesn’t exactly jibe with the claim that the Chinese “are artificially controlling market scarcity ….. in order to keep rare earth prices high.”)

            But blaming the greens for creating an environmental disaster in China because wind turbines use RE mined in China is carrying things a little far. Toxic metal releases there probably are a good deal worse than they should be, but mines elsewhere in the world that supply the minerals needed to build and operate conventional generating plants release toxic metals too. An example is the tailings pond at a shut-down uranium mine in New Mexico that I once worked on. The tailings contained radium and were saturated from top to bottom with concentrated sulfuric acid. Difficult to imagine a more toxic brew than that.

  15. William says:

    Please backup that accusation: in what way have I shown myself gullible, where have I been “spreading” nonsense and what have I closed my mind to (restrict yourself to what I have actually written, not what you can make up)?

    I’m not your enemy and don’t consider you to be mine, despite the contempt you hold me in. I have become cautiously in favor of nuclear, in no small part through reading Energy Matters. But I don’t believe that public trust in nuclear is an irrelevance, or that trust can be regained by loosening standards (whether you think they are onerous or not).

    If it was so obvious, seemingly to everyone, that Fukushima was badly designed, why wasn’t it fixed before there was an accident. And how many more reactors are there that everyone knows (after the accident) have flaws but somehow nobody puts right? My guess is that the strict regimes imposed on nuclear work have been imposed because the industry has shown itself incapable or unwilling to fix its own problems and instead has hiding behind a veil of secrecy.

    • William says:

      TRhat was a replt to Peter Lang, August 21, 2015 at 3:15 pm

    • Peter Lang says:

      William,

      I don’t know what or who you are replying to. My impression of your comments is that youuse a tactic of diverting discussion to arguing about trivialities instead of considering the big picture. Euan Mearns made an excellent response to Kit Carruthers (first and second comment on this thread), I’d suggest this bit applies to some of your comments too:

      Stand back and take a broad and balanced view …. Think about the prosperity that nuclear power brought to Japan. Think about the earthquake and the tsunami that brought tragedy to many thousands. And then think about the unnecessary tragedy brought about by ignorance and scare mongering.

      I’d also urge you to consider these points:

      1. Safety of nuclear power:
      Nuclear power would have to generate 600 times more electricity than coal globally to cause the same number of fatalities per year. Nuclear would have to generate 1.5 times more than wind and 4.4 times more than roof top solar to cause the same number of fatalities per year. http://nextbigfuture.com/2012/06/deaths-by-energy-source-in-forbes.html

      2. Relative cost of nuclear and renewables:
      Nuclear is many times cheaper than a mix of renewables to achieve the same CO2 emissions reduction.

      3. Ability to substantially reduce GHG emissions:
      France with 75% of it’s electricity generated by nuclear has near the lowest electricity prices and near the lowest CO2 emissions intensity in EU (France’s CO2 emissions intensity was 0.069 t/MWh and Germany’s was 0.475 t/MWh, i.e. Germany’s CO2 emissions intensity of electricity is 7 times higher than Germany’s.
      Attributed to IEA, ”CO2 EMISSIONS FROM FUEL COMBUSTION, 2014 Edition”
      on page 125 here: http://cf01.erneuerbareenergien.schluetersche.de/files/smfiledata/4/8/7/3/4/7/119belec2014.pdf

      4. Nuclear is sustainable for thousands of years. Renewables are not sustainable – they cannot produce sufficient energy through life to support modern society as well as reproduce themselves. That’s a physical constrain, not an economic constraint – so the fact that renewables have a high positive learning rate is irrelevant.

      These are some of the important diagnostic criteria that those concerned about GHG emissions and concerned about nuclear power should focus on first when they “Stand back and take a broad and balanced view” as Euan Mearns said to Kit Carruthers at the top of this thread.

    • Leo Smth says:

      Your guess is wrong. Completely wrong.

      Look at the overloaded fuel ponds. For example.

      WHY was so much used fuel being stored on site, for so long?

      Because the assumptions when the plant was built were that used fuel would be stored a year or two, then popped into transit containers and sent – often to the UK – for reprocessing, recycling and disposal by dumping in the sea or underground. Both very safe options.

      Both options that were absolutely opposed by anti-nuclear factions. Who were also opposed to transporting spent fuel.

      And that is why we have huge stocks of nuclear waste lying around: the anti-nuclear lobby blocks any system of dealing with it, and then has the chutzpah to claim ‘no one knows how to deal with it’!

      If you look at why the cores melted, and indeed why the steam explosions happened, that too was a result of operators not being able to flood the cores with – say – seawater on account of the fact that that would have meant larger releases of radioactive seawater to the sea.

      In both cases th attempts to limit radiation release made the problem ultimately worse than it should have been.

      Why did no one build a wall high enough to stop Fukushima from flooding?

      Because if you were to get a tsunami that high, the plant was going to be wrecked along with most of the Japanese coast. The real truth behind the Fukushima NON disaster, was that in the context of that tsunami it was scarcely worth a mention.

      Let me walk you gently through the cost benefit. If the cost of preventing what turned out to be a very minor radiation leak, was to render the whole plant uneconomic, and would not in any case have saved it from destruction, what would be the point?

      In the end the containment vessels did what they were designed to do, contained the core meltdowns. And 99% of the radioactive materials. If the plant was doomed anyway, the other 1% is scarcely worth bothering with. No, its NOT worth bothering with.

      I am not saying the plant could not have been better. Of course it could, you can always spend more money to make things safer.

      But in the context of Japan in the 1970s, nuclear power was a godsend. Japan has little or no fossil fuel and in order to transform itself into an industrial society it needed energy, and nuclear has been the cheapest and safest form of energy in Japan for a long time, and still is. Fukushima was built to the accepted and acceptable safety standards of the time, and they were entirely adequate to do what they had been designed to do – namely contain the core in the case of a core meltdown.

      Without nuclear energy, all the people who are sop scared of nuclear power, and chatter endlessly about it, on social media and in Japan, using modern technology, simply wouldn’t exist at all.

      The whole Green movement is composed of people who owe their very existence to the technology they so vehemently oppose.

      To paraphrase a certain rather notorious spoof answerphone message ‘if you want to live in a country that depends 100% on non fossil and non nuclear power, I suggest you move to it’

      The San people have lived in the Kalahari for 20,000 years as hunter-gatherers. They hunt wild game with bows and poison arrows and gather edible plants, such as berries, melons and nuts, as well as insects. The San get most of their water requirements from plant roots and desert melons found on or under the desert floor. They often store water in the blown-out shells of ostrich eggs. The San live in huts built from local materials—the frame is made of branches, and the roof is thatched with long grass. The Bantu-speaking Tswana, Kgalagadi, and Herero and a small number of European settlers also live in the Kalahari desert. The city Windhoek is situated in the Kalahari Basin.

      There you are.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalahari_Desert#Population

      • Peter Lang says:

        Leo Smith,

        Thanks for many excellent comments (and occasional humour).

        I’ll be interest to see how William responds. Is any of this getting through, or is he blinded by the scare mongering stuff he’s been reading and hearing? Can he challenge his beliefs objectively? Can he research objectively?

        • Euan Mearns says:

          Peter, William is not here to learn or to debate. He has a mind settled on a system of beliefs and adapts the available information to fit that system. He believes this is science. More worryingly, the extension of this system of constructing arguments is to adapt data to fit the belief system when the available information quite plainly cannot be made to fit. For example the mass alteration of temperature records to fit the global warming meme. While you or I may object to this William and his colleagues think it is perfectly normal and permissible to do this. Roger gives another example about radiation safety. When you can’t attack the information you create a new myth with which to scare, control and to try and force your belief system and its consequences on others.

          There is absolutely no point in trying to get William to agree with you. The only way he will ever agree with you is after you have agreed with him, and that ain’t going to happen, is it? So my main message is to by all means point out flaws in arguments, miss information, alternatives etc. But don’t try to change William’s mind and others like him. It ends up in a chaotic mess of comments.

          The site is heavily moderated since I’ve learned that the GTs have little to nothing to offer by way of what I regard as reliable and scientific information. William is supposed to be on moderation but has somehow slipped through the net for the time being. This thread has an enormous wealth of useful information, some of it new to me. The value in doing this is to simply make information available. The many readers who do not comment can read this, evaluate it and make up their own minds about where the truth lies.

        • William says:

          Peter, Euan I commented on this thread originally (August 21, 2015 at 3:57 am) only because Peter had given me some links on an earlier thread and, having read the chapters he offered, I thought it polite to give some feedback. Although offered in good faith, he didn’t like my feedback and called me gullible, a spreader of nonsense and possessor of a closed my mind, accusations that he has yet to substantiate, despite having been asked twice to do so.

          Euan now also says I have a closed mind, evidence of which apparently is my unwillingness to join him in thinking the temperature indices are faked for some higher purpose in a secret global conspiracy. I didn’t follow his point about radiation, but to hear some of the talk here one might think that all the protection necessary for cleaning up a nuclear leak is wellies and a pair of marigolds; it’s really not dangerous folks. This strikes me as analogous to the temperature index thing and global warming in general, where there are some who just cannot accept informed scientific opinion – similarly, though science and medicine have over the years come to regard radioactivity as best avoided, some just don’t want to accept that. I might understand this if those with contrary views were experts in the fields involved, but I don’t think they are (although if there are any climate scientists or epidemiologists reading please correct me).

          I actually read here because some threads are interesting. I comment because conversation interest me and I learn a lot, mostly when my prejudices are challenged. This can be quite disturbing and I usually find my knowledge lacking (not surprisingly, as I have no professional expertise in the areas discussed). I have changed my mind a lot in the last few years, but you wouldn’t know that, not knowing where I started.

          • William.

            there are some who just cannot accept informed scientific opinion ….

            And you are one of them. Dozens of informed scientists who have forgotten more about radiation than you are ever going to know have stated that the radiation leaked from Fukushima was insufficient to have any serious health impacts. Read the post.

          • William says:

            That may be so, but it not the same as wanting the wholesale rewriting of radiation limits and guidelines – something that I get the impression is wanted by many in order to make life easier for the nuclear industry.

          • Euan Mearns says:

            I didn’t follow his point about radiation, but to hear some of the talk here one might think that all the protection necessary for cleaning up a nuclear leak is wellies and a pair of marigolds

            In Fukushima Prefecture that combined with a dust mask and a geiger counter to locate hot spots would have left individuals in much stronger position to protect themselves than not having that. A bit of tuition in avoiding skin contact when donning and removing safety equipment and a huge amount of clean up could be achieved with minimal risk.

            BTW, in my professional career i worked on two sites that had research reactors. One in Scotland and one in Norway.

          • Euan Mearns says:

            William, standard operating procedure for Green Trolls:

            1. Pick on a minor detail of a post that may not be correct and divert conversation onto that trivia.

            2. Do what can be done to undermine the credibility of the author and the blog.

            3. Divert the discussion off topic.

            This then leads to discussion going of rails and the ad homs then kick in. Worse than that, the quality discussion gets lost.

            Now I don’t know if that is your motivation, but it is the way you operate. This is a high quality discussion thread, but I’m not aware that you have posted anything of value or interest to others.

            You need to appreciate that Roger and I put a HUGE amount of effort into writing these posts. I am often putting in 12 hours a day between the posts, emails and comments. We try to ensure the posts are accurate but don’t always get that right.

            I have absolutely zero interest in having to write comments like this one. And I don’t believe readers here have much interest in hearing about you. Although for me it is an interesting study into Green Trolldom.

            I don’t believe you have ever made a complimentary remark here. It is nothing but a tirade of criticism. And now you say:

            This can be quite disturbing and I usually find my knowledge lacking (not surprisingly, as I have no professional expertise in the areas discussed).

            Most of those commenting here do have high level technical expertise. Some incredibly high level. We don’t agree with each other and no one is laying claim to truth. But having our expert views and facts continually challenged by a declared non-expert gets us absolutely no where.

            In future only say something if it is really, really important.

          • roberto says:

            @William

            “I didn’t follow his point about radiation, but to hear some of the talk here one might think that all the protection necessary for cleaning up a nuclear leak is wellies and a pair of marigolds; it’s really not dangerous folks. ”

            Cleaning up a nuclear leak, with proper means, is easier than building a 100 m-tall turbine on the ridge of an alpine mountain, as I’ve seen in some places… you can bet on that.

            Next silly example to debunk?

      • Leo: Thanks for that instructive comment. Things are worse than I thought, it seems.

        We mustn’t ignore the impacts of NIMBY either. At one time the US had a plan to store its nuclear waste thousands of feet underground at a place called Yucca Mountain. This may not have been the absolutely ideal place to store it but it was certainly a lot better than leaving it all laying around in ponds on the surface. But the plan was nixed by that Great Public Spirited American Senator Harry Reid (Democratic, Nevada) who refused to allow his constituents to be exposed to all that deadly radiation.

        • Günter Weber says:

          @Roger

          The safety of nuclear waste in US can be corrupted by a single senator? And there are more than hundred of them? Oh my god!
          Sorry, for the sarcasm.

          • Luckily there are only a hundred of them – two for each state.

          • roberto says:

            Must be hard living in a world where the best you can hope for to be happy and be right is a large industrial accident.

            Happy waiting, Guenter!

            Sorry for the sarcasm.

          • gweberbv says:

            Roberto,

            why are you so angry with me? When it is a serious argument that a certain politician killed the final repository for nuclear waste, then it should be legitimate to turn it around. If the safety of nuclear waste handling depends on all relevant politicians to always act rational and for the greater good, then you have a real safety problem.

            (Even if I consider stuff imbedded in a CASTOR as quite safe.)

            If I was angry with you, I could conclude that you are waiting for democracy to be replaced by a technocrat leadership.

          • roberto says:

            @guenter

            “Roberto,

            why are you so angry with me?”

            I do not like to be bullshitted by ideological-prejudiced non habens like you are showing to be. It is that simple.
            I do not spend my days working as monkey in the local zoo, I am a professional physicist and I can do maths quite well, in fact math much more complicated than the simple one necessary to understand and be convinced that intermittent renewables will never be able to replace baseload power stations for generating reliable electricity for modern industrialize countries… do you understand what I’m telling you or not, Guenter?

            “When it is a serious argument that a certain politician killed the final repository for nuclear waste, then it should be legitimate to turn it around. If the safety of nuclear waste handling depends on all relevant politicians to always act rational and for the greater good, then you have a real safety problem.”

            Well… why then you intermittent renewable gullibles cry foul as soon as ANY country cuts or reduces the “incentives” to wind and PV decided by some politicians?
            See?… it is easy to use an illogical and void rethorical trick like yours against you.
            To discuss with me on energy issues in a meaningful way there are 2 things you have to do:

            1) Leave aside the funny ideology which drives your dreams;
            2) Spend the next few years reading some stuff on physics and technology and, most of all, spend a lot of time looking for data and analysing them RATIONALLY.

            “(Even if I consider stuff imbedded in a CASTOR as quite safe.)”

            And so what???

            “If I was angry with you, I could conclude that you are waiting for democracy to be replaced by a technocrat leadership.”

            You can bet on that!

            A few examples:
            A political class which has created and enabled “a technocrat leadership” (CEA, EDF, AREVA) build the scientific and technological MARVEL that is the French nuclear program of the 70s-90s is EXACTLY the kind of run to the moon that brought the USA from early failures to the moon in less than 10 years… while the “democratic leadership and decision chain” of today has given birth to the abort which is the modern NASA, an organization that not even spending 17 billion dollars/year is capable anymore of launching a rocket with astronauts in low-orbit to the Space Station… they have to rely on the technocratic russian!

            At this point I do not expect anymore that you are able to understand my last paragraph, I know that.

            Wake up, Guenter!… look at the world around you without those funny “Atomkraft? Nein danke!” googles that you wear every day!… there’s a world of difference from reality and what you see through them!

            Cheers, and happy continuation of your phobia.

      • Euan Mearns says:

        Leo, I think you touch on another important point here, and that is that nuclear is made more hazardous by governments and companies bending to Green pressure groups. And the point that Peter has made over, the cost is driven up by over regulation of safety. And of course there is the intractable issue of waste storage – one of many problems that is easy to solve, its just convenient for a minority to ensure that it remains a problem. You can add to that the risk of proliferation and the moral responsibility of ensuring that the New Stone Age Man 5000 years hence doesn’t stumble upon a waste depository. They are all bogus arguments.

    • William says:

      Peter, I was replying to your accusation that I have shown myself gullible, have been “spreading” nonsense and have a closed mind. If you’d like to substantiate those, I’m all ears (a result of accidental fetal irradiation).

      I don’t doubt that env groups are a thorn in the side of the nuclear industry and that they go beyond logic into paranoia and scaremongering – as they do in other fields. Having said that, there needs to be some effective push back (just like a government needs an effective opposition). The apparently cosy relationship between TEPCO and its regulators in Japan suggests that was lacking.

      On the economics mentioned by Leo, a 4.7GW set of reactors built in the 1970s and with capital costs paid off should be generating revenue at a similar rate in annual dollars (i.e. around 4.7G$) if selling power at 10-15 cents/KWh so if there’s not enough left out of that to build a wall or dig some extra storage ponds then something (else) was seriously wrong.

      • roberto says:

        @william

        “On the economics mentioned by Leo, a 4.7GW set of reactors built in the 1970s and with capital costs paid off should be generating revenue at a similar rate in annual dollars (i.e. around 4.7G$) if selling power at 10-15 cents/KWh so if there’s not enough left out of that to build a wall or dig some extra storage ponds then something (else) was seriously wrong.”

        You understand nothing, do you?

        1) Electricity is NOT sold at 10-15 cents/kWh… the market value is around 5 c/kWh;
        2) Out of these 5 cents/kWh the owner of the reactor has a SMALL margin. Just to give you an example, France’s EDF major cost is the salary of its employees.
        3) Try again, after some study maybe?

  16. Owen says:

    @roger

    OK interesting, so we have radioactive toxic waste output in many different industries (we never mentioned mobile phones or electric cars) but the international media and NGOs only highlight one and that’s nuclear power , a relatively safe and inert one compared to the others

  17. David says:

    A perfect analogy to nuclear power is bugs. Lots of people will simply shut down and suffer a panic attack when they see a spider crawling on the wall. And yet they’ll gladly stuff their mouths with junk food and die at 50 from well known medical effects of obesity!

    Risk is relative. There’s a 1 in 1 million chance that spider on the wall is venomous, will bite you, and will kill you, yet living your entire life in fear of every creepy crawler is a much worse proposition for your health! And even climate change, despite all the hyped nonsense about it, is much worse for your health than a modern, safe nuclear power plant will ever be!

  18. roberto says:

    Chronicle of an hoax…

    … the making of a new crusade against “terrible” plutonium…

    … courtesy of the NY Times:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/17/opinion/japans-plutonium-problem.html?_r=1

    “The Opinion Pages | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

    Japan’s Plutonium Problem
    By PETER WYNN KIRBYAUG. 16, 2015”

    … but googling the name of Peter Wynn Kirby, who is presented as (capitals are mine) “… a NUCLEAR and environmental specialist at the University of Oxford””, as stated in the signature of the article, one finds out that…

    “He holds a PhD in Social Anthropology from the University of Cambridge. Dr Kirby came to Oxford as Brookes’ Senior Lecturer in the Anthropology of Japan.”

    The CV/biography continues like this:

    “Prior to taking up that post, he conducted nearly three years of research in France on waste and nuclear risk while based at the Centre de Recherches sur le Japon, EHESS, Paris. ”

    … and going on the web site of EHESS Paris one finds out that he has no technical nuclear culture whatsoever!… he’s researched and published articles/studies/books on ANTHROPOLOGICAL ISSUES related to Japan and France, pollution; society and industry… but he probably has no idea of what a “cross-section” is, or even how to go from Joules to kWh…

    http://crj.ehess.fr/index.php?572

    Voila’!… an anthropologist with a political agenda who should be knowledgeable in “nuclear” and “environmental” issues???… and based on these qualifications is allowed to have an op-ed on the NYT… talking about plutonium reprocessing????
    … how about that as an example of mass-media-induced histeria (and bullshit, I may add)???

    … with phrases like this:

    “An earthquake near Rokkasho could trigger an unprecedented nuclear catastrophe; preventing such an accident is in the whole world’s interest. ”

    Unprecedented why? Unprecedented how? How would the plutonium, in solid form, diluted in special silica glass which can sustain 1500 C, is not soluble in water, etc… could generate an “unprecedented nuclear catastrophe”?… who’s this bullshitter???

    Shame on the NY Times… that’s simply disgusting… it is revoltant to say the least…

  19. clivebest says:

    For some reason the words nuclear and radiation used together cause reason to fly out the window. In particular how ridiculously low a dose of 100 mSv/year really is.

    Radiation is a much misused word since it covers both electromagnetic radiation like light and wireless as well as “ionising radiation” from X-rays and radioactive decay. When people get scared about “radiation” it is just ionising radiation from nuclear decay of radioactive isotopes that concerns them. We cannot escape an environment full of ionising radiation since most of it is natural. There is also no difference between any man-made radiation and that emitted by the environment. One particle of “ionising radiation” must have enough energy to knock at least one electron out of an atom in the human body. If one particle hits the body then it “absorbs” this energy. The total energy absorbed by the body is called the “dose”. If one kilogram of your body absorbs 1 joule of energy of ionising particles then it has had a dose of 1 Sievert (100 rads in CGS units). (I joule is about the the same energy as the body heat we emit from each kilogram through metabolism each second). If we take an electron of say 500keV then a dose of 1 Sievert would mean that a kilogram of body being hit by about 2*10^13 electrons. Electrons are the most common form of particle from beta decay of fission products.

    Radioactivity of a sample is measured in Bequerel which is simply 1 bequerel = one particle emitted per second. You can think of this as being a geiger counter which clicks once a second. Therefore to receive a whole body dose of 1 rem in one year you would need to ingest and retain in your body 6500000 Becquerel of radioactive material for the whole year. Our bodies actually flush out elements like Caesium every 20 days so the effective ingestion would need to be over a regular extended period – so something like 1.7×10^9 Becquerel. In the summer of 1964 a couple of individuals in New Mexico following the Nevada Bomb testing were found to have ingested the equivalent of 100 million Becquerel of Caesium. They were unaware of this and in good health. To get the risk of man induced radiation in perspective you have to consider natural radiation in the environment which we cannot avoid.

    Natural Radiation

    Naturally occuring radon gas is produced by the decay of Uranium in rocks and we all breathe it in to some extent. When this is combined with cosmic radiation from space everyone on earth receives an average annual dose of about 0.4 rem per year or 0.004 gray. This dose however actually varies enormously depending on the geology of different parts of the world. In some parts of India it reaches as high as 3 rem per year (0.01 gray). Houses with poor ventilation in granite regions can accumulate radon gas so it is best to avoid living in the basement. Radon is a potential cause of lung cancer.

    Potassium 40 is present naturally in many foodstuffs which we eat and gives each of us an equivalent dose is about 30 mrem/year. This is internal exposure.

    Extreme Medical Exposure.

    1. In 1960 my mother was diagnosed with thyrotoxicosis and was treated with radioactive iodine to destroy the thyroid gland. This technique is known as thyroid ablation. Iodine 131 taken in a drink is taken up mostly by the thyroid gland and the intense beta radiation destroys the cells. The dose taken was about 18,000 rem (180 gray) which is huge but localised. She was kept in an isolation ward with no direct contact for 10 days or so. Her food was delivered through a trapdoor so nurses would not need to come into contact with her. I remember as a small boy eventually being able to visit her in hospital a few weeks later. She was fine afterwards and lived another 40 years.

    2. In 2000 I discovered a small lump in my salivary gland which turned out to be malignant, which was a bolt out of the blue. I had an operation to remove the whole salivery gland which was followed by radiotherapy. The radiotherapy was personally a nightmare which I had to endure. A steel mask was made to target the area affected on the right side of my face from just below the eye to the lower neck and I was placed in a shielded room below an electron accelerator delivering essentially beta rays (electrons) at 100 KeV and sometimes gamma/X-rays. It is a nerve racking experience as the operator closes the 12 inch thick steel shielding door and you are left alone waiting for the machine to hum. In my case with eyes shut I could see a light show of Cherenkov raditaion as the high energy electrons passed through the liquid surface of my right eye – a very unnerving experience. I had 30 sessions over 6 weeks each delivering a dose of 2 gray – 60 gray in total. Radiation burns eventually caused the external skin of my face to scale like leather. I had blisters inside my cheeks plus scarring down my throat. Luckily I have a very good dentist to thank for protecting my gums and for preventing bad damage to my tongue. He made a special protective shield which I could wear with air holes for breathing. This saved my sense of taste and my gums. It then took me about 6 months to return to a normal life. However I have permanent hair loss on the right side of my face, a permanent numbness, plus loss of feeling in my right ear. Other than that – 15 years later I feel great !

    So 100 mSv/year is a negligible dose.

    • clivebest says:

      I forgot to add that my son was working in Tokyo throughout the earthquake and the ‘Fukushima ‘scare’. We had booked a flight there to see him, but the flight was then cancelled because the crew refused to fly!

      The crazy over-reaction of foreign governments was simply due to a single report that the level of Iodine 131 found in one sample of tap water in Tokyo was 34 becquerels per litre/kg. This is essentially nothing! To receive the same dose from that radioactive ‘Iodine’ as you receive anyway every day from natural radon, I calculate that you would have had to drink 100 litres of tap water per day. However, since Iodine 131 has a half life of just 8 days you would need to double your intake every 8 days!

    • Günter Weber says:

      Simply depends on your definition of negligible. For healthy people anaesthesia has a fatality rate of about 0.5/100000. You can find hundreds of millions who survived a narcosis.
      Still doctors will avoid anaesthesia whenever possible. One death in 200000 treatments is still not ‘negligible’ to them.

      • Euan Mearns says:

        I can’t remember who commented about bugs and creepy crawlies, but that comment was probably on the money. I have an irrational fear of eels. I used to also be terrified of the dark. There are two separate issues here. The first is what are actual safe levels and dozes of radiation. The second is individuals perceptions and irrational fears.

        The latter is real and we need to ask why this state of affairs has come about. But I don’t think it was fear of radiation that killed Hamako. It was evacuation and loss of neighbourhood and livelihood. Had the area not been evacuated then pretty sure that Hamako would be alive and well today along with all the others who have since died.

        Authorities should already be preparing the public for another incident, because there will be one. The public need to be properly educated. I’m not saying radiation risks should be played down but treated objectively. The starting point for any authority has to be the knowledge that if you evacuate, thousands will die. The radiation risks need to be measured against that certainty.

        I don’t really have any fear of radiation outside of knowing that very high dozes are to be avoided. I was walking in the rain in Oslo the day that Chernobyl story broke. The city got a fair doze of iodine. I went home, washed my clothes and had a shower. And didn’t go out in the rain again until the cloud had passed.

        • I don’t think it was fear of radiation that killed Hamako. It was evacuation and loss of neighbourhood and livelihood.

          But what motivated the evacuation? I think your account of how you took a precautionary shower and washed your clothes when the “iodine cloud” from Chernobyl passed over Oslo tells us.

          Another important factor was news coverage. Fukushima was the first accident of its type to be covered in real-time. All the bad news was available immediately via TV or on the web. An early explosion at Fukushima was caught on camera. I saw it, and many Japanese would have too. If there had been similar coverage at Chernobyl you probably wouldn’t have gone walking in the rain in Oslo in the first place.

          • Euan Mearns says:

            But what motivated the evacuation?

            Ignorance and hysteria. And probably fear of litigation. Taking a shower – precautionary principle. I had no idea of what the risks were, but it seemed a good idea to minimise them at near zero cost to me.

          • Günter Weber says:

            @Roger Andrews
            What motivated evacuation? I guess that – as in any ‘civilized’ country – Japan had some limits on allowed radiation. And some evacuation plans for accidents in nuclear power plants. If it is likely that the limits will be exceeded, evacuation program will start more or less automaticly. So, it would need some high level decision makers to stop it.
            But what should the likes of Mr. Kan (prime minister at that time) motivate to stop evacuation? First, these guys are no experts. If you have no idea what is going on, ‘playing by the book’ seems a reasonable strategy (to save your career) Second, four years later it is easy to tell the story from the point of an omniscient observer. But when things are unfolding, the fog of war should not be underestimated. Another argument for strictly playing by the book.

            And please note: In the end of 2014 you still had some areas with a yearly dose above 100 mSv in the inner evacuation zone. So, it is a strange idea that evacuation was totally evitable. Unless you regard everything short of acute radiation syndrom as negligible.

            Last thought: If there is no evacuation organized by the government, maybe 50% of the people in areas with measureable increase of radiation level will believe that there is no danger. But the other 50% will lose any confidence in public authorities (exact numbers will of course differ from country to country). The fifties in which newsreel cinema was regarded as the word of god are over.

          • Gunter: Your comment prompted me to do something I should have done earlier – look up the IAEA international radiation standards. Here are the relevant sections. I’ve underlined the important text in red: (from http://www-pub.iaea.org/books/IAEABooks/8930/Radiation-Protection-and-Safety-of-Radiation-Sources-International-Basic-Safety-Standards-General-Safety-Requirements)

            As I interpret these standards the reference level around Fukushima should have been set at 100mSv/year and only those areas where radiation levels exceeded or were likely to exceed that value should have been evacuated, and then only temporarily.

          • Günter Weber says:

            Roger Andrews,

            see this map: http://ramap.jmc.or.jp/map/eng/map.html

            You can choose between several successive measurment campaigns. The red color means >20µSv/h which translates to >150mSv/year. In the first months the red zone is pretty large. Does not look like the evacuation was in general excessive. Maybe an evacutation ellipse would have been better than an evacuation radius.

            Ok, some guys will argue that you can significantly lower the dose, if you stay in your home and keep the windows closed. Wash your clothes and take a shower after you were outside. Do not eat anything from your garden. And so on and so forth. But by this standard, we could scrap 90% of all regulations for toxic materials.

          • robertok06 says:

            @guenter

            “First, these guys are no experts. ”

            You are right!… but in the case of your country, the fact of being a non-expert did not put any restraint on Mme Merkel when she decided AGAINST the adive of the experts (your nuclear safety agencies) to IMMEDIATELY stop 6 perfectly working nuclear reactors.

            The fact is that when nuclear is at stake, knee-jerk reactions are ALWAYS logic and good… while other electricity generating technologies even when they kill people by the tens of thousands or maim the environment, are still OK.,,, plenty of examples can be given, easily.

            Once more… you are simply illogic, Guenter!

          • robertok06 says:

            @guenter

            “The fifties in which newsreel cinema was regarded as the word of god are over.”

            You are right on that… now the cinema has become this:
            http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/campaigns/nuclear/safety/accidents/Fukushima-nuclear-disaster/

            … a collection of heart-braking stories… with credit card donation box in the lower corner.

            ” “Millions of people who live near nuclear reactors are at risk.”
            …. but for some reason (unknown to the “nuclear experts” of GreenPiss) NO ONE DIED due to the terrible radiations!… a logical and rational mind would ask itself “why is it so?”… but logic and GP can’t go in the same sentence.

            And you are happy with this, Guenter?

            “yet the Japanese government is eagerly pushing to restart reactors, against the will of its people,”

            Actually the Japanes people have elected a new governor in the Fukshima prefecture, after the accident, who was a pro-nuclear guy… and in a country of 120 million souls all they can find for protesting in front of the restarted reactor was a couple hundred people!… look at the photos… when they do antinuclear rallies in Tokyo, a megalopolis of tens of millions of citizens, they reach a top of few thousand protesters… most of them GP (or similar sect) guys…

            “without learning true lessons from Fukushima”

            GrenPiss is completely wrong on this too!… it’s amazing, they can’t get one right….the Japanese government in power now wants to restart the reactors because IT HAS LEARNED the lesson: no nuclear means a lot more coal and expensive gas… less competitivity for its energy-hungry factories and products… IMPOSSIBILITY to reach the CO2-reduction goals set in place by the other sect, the IPCC…

          • Günter Weber says:

            Roberto,

            why should I defend the likes of Greenpeace, IPPNW, etc.? For me it is much more relevant, that Allianz, Axa, AIG, etc. refuse to offer me an residence insurance that covers complete restauration of hy home in case of radioactive pollution. On the contrary, thunderstorms, floods, earthquakes are covered.

            You may argue that even a reading of 100 mSv/h in my garden, I can feel safe. From a statistical point of view, the noise from the nearby highway is much more likely to shorten my life expectation. Or the fact that I am working in an office, were I sit all day instead to be physically active. And you are most probably right. But the realtor who tells me that the market value of my home just dopped from half a million to zero is also right. This is a real loss. And it is much, much, much more important to my life than losing – statistically – five days of life expectation. If this loss is based on an rigorous evaluation by hundred nobel laureates or on the strong believe in vodoo does not play any role. And if you tell me that nuclear power plants saved the economy a few phantastilions over the last hundred years (which were invested in Apple watches, mediterranean holidays and porn movies), it also does not help me.

          • robertok06 says:

            @guenter
            Roberto,

            why should I defend the likes of Greenpeace, IPPNW, etc.? For me it is much more relevant, that Allianz, Axa, AIG, etc. refuse to offer me an residence insurance that covers complete restauration of hy home in case of radioactive pollution. On the contrary, thunderstorms, floods, earthquakes are covered.”

            True… they offer insurance for non-nuclear disasters… but then when the disasters hit on a large scale they simply go bankrupt and/or do not pay!… look at the case of Katrina hurricane in the USA, or even in Japan the proportion of insurance policies covering the damages due to the earthquake and tsunami… I have a paper/article somewhere.

            “You may argue that even a reading of 100 mSv/h in my garden, I can feel safe.”

            I won’t argue on that…. 100 mSv PER HOUR is way too high… 100 mSv per YEAR may be different, if it is not for every remaining year of your life, of course.
            But the situation in Fukushima prefecture is much different… practically nobody should be exposed to 100 mSv/y if they live in the villages which were evacuated.

            “From a statistical point of view, the noise from the nearby highway is much more likely to shorten my life expectation. Or the fact that I am working in an office, were I sit all day instead to be physically active. And you are most probably right.”

            “But the realtor who tells me that the market value of my home just dopped from half a million to zero is also right.”

            And so what? Does he cover the MUCH BIGGER COSTS of non using nuclear power? Does he cover the 30 (average) people killed for every TWh of electricity generated by coal/lignite?… the 10x higher number of chronic illnesses… the >100x higher temporary illnesses? No, right?… and why not?

            “This is a real loss. And it is much, much, much more important to my life than losing – statistically – five days of life expectation.”

            Fact is you do NOT loose only 5 days of life expectation if you live “near” a coal/lignite power station!… you loose much more.

            “If this loss is based on an rigorous evaluation by hundred nobel laureates or on the strong believe in vodoo does not play any role. And if you tell me that nuclear power plants saved the economy a few phantastilions over the last hundred years (which were invested in Apple watches, mediterranean holidays and porn movies), it also does not help me.”

            Well… than have a happy retour to the Middle Ages or Caveman times… when no realtor was around, no nuclear power was around,what can I tell you?

            There is no RATIONAL answer that I can give to your irrational paranoias, do you understand that Guenter or not?

            Good luck.

        • I hasten to add that I think your shower was a wise precaution, If a shower and a clothes-wash is all it takes to reduce any potential radiation exposure to near-zero then the benefits outweigh the risks. At Fukushima, however, it’s clear that the risks of evacuation greatly exceeded the benefits.

          Note. I posted this comment before I had read the comment you posted above. 🙂

        • Günter Weber says:

          @Euan Mearns,

          I agree with everything you are saying. However, ‘preparing the public for another incident’ makes me laugh.

          In democracies, nuclear power plants were proclaimed to be safe. Not relative safety, like as safe as air planes. But absolute safety. None of these installations were advertised as costing less lives than a compareable coal-fired plant. Or that radioactive pollution will still render less soil worthless than open pit mining for lignite.
          Now you tell people that severe accidents in nuclear power plants are a few orders of magnitude more likely than proclaimed (based on the very limited statistics we have so far). But that this is not so much of a problem as ionizing radiation is far less dangerous than public opinion believes.

          Well that is really hard to sell. Because for decades public was told that there is no need to discuss about radiation as it will never be released from these superduper safe NNP.

          • Peter Lang says:

            Gunter,

            Now you tell people that severe accidents in nuclear power plants are a few orders of magnitude more likely than proclaimed (based on the very limited statistics we have so far).

            The two statements you made here – “Now you tell people that severe accidents in nuclear power plants are a few orders of magnitude more likely than proclaimed” and “very limited statistics we have so far” – are complete nonsense. If making statements like this you should support them with authoritative links.

            Proclaimed by who and when?

            “Very limited statistics”? We have better statistics for nuclear power plants and for effects of radiation on humans than we have for the health effects of other power station technologies and for the effects of other toxins.

          • Günter Weber says:

            Peter Lang,

            my comment on limited statistics was related to NPP safety. We have few reactors in the world, different types of reactors and – luckily – few severe accidents. So, compared to, e.g., air traffic the statistical data is rather sparse. However, if you do the math on the basis of empirical data available, the probability of a severe accident with significant amounts of radioactive materials being released is much higher than expected (according to previous risk estimates that are part of the apporval procedures): http://www.atmos-chem-phys.net/12/4245/2012/acp-12-4245-2012.html

            Of course, you will now argue that the release of radiation will in most cases still be a non-event because you are willing to declare radiation levels as ‘safe’ that are relatively high.

          • Peter Lang says:

            As you mentioned, the release of radioactive material is irrelevant (other than for scaremongering purposes). What is relevant is the fatalities and/or health effects per TWh. On that we have better statistics than for any other electricity generation technology.

            Are you familiar with the EU’s ExternE Project: http://www.externe.info/externe_d7/
            This work has been reviewed to death, so it will be difficult to take seriously superficial criticisms of it. Note the data base of major accidents in the energy chain. http://www.ier.uni-stuttgart.de/forschung/projektwebsites/newext/

            The figure here gives a neat summary of the “Risks of severe accidents in the different energy chains”. Note the axes are logarithmic. http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/07/04/what-is-risk/

            I should also point out that there are a very large number of authoritative studies on this matter that have been done over the past 40 years. I’d take more notice to references to them.

          • Euan Mearns says:

            Peter, this is quite an amazing chart. If I am reading it correctly, Chernobyl, the nuclear worst case scenario, is not as bad as FF generation. Its a pity he doesn’t have wind and solar on there. The public are likely very poorly equipped to be able to understand that accident statistics need to be normalised for the quantity of generation. Nukes just sit there and hum away 24/7 producing phenomenal amounts of electricity with tiny risk to safety.

          • Günter Weber says:

            Euan Mearns, Peter Lang et al.,

            I bet that the public is more or less indifferent with respect to the deaths/GWh of various electricity generation techniques. They see Fukushima and they are wondering if this could happen to them too. In contrast, if for every rooftop PV installation a roofer will die, this is interesting only for the roofers.

          • Peter Lang says:

            Gunter,

            You keep swapping between the irrational, emotive arguments and the rational arguments. I agree that the public is irrational about nuclear power. That’s what the post points out. I am arguing that if we want good energy policy we need to explain the rational, not keep repeating and propagating the irrational emotional scaremongering nonsense, You seem to use the fact that the public has been misled as an argument to keep on misleading them.

            Can we please stick to the rational, objective arguments so we can work together to persuade the public of the benefits of nuclear power and the benefits of rational policy analysis. I recognise it will take a long time to get majority support for nuclear power in the developed world, but it is inevitable it will happen because there really is no other way to power the world once fossil fuels run out or become too expensive.

            Did you see my comment here explaining how I believe we can get to nuclear cheaper than fossil fuels for the world (it;s already two orders of magnitude safer): http://euanmearns.com/the-renewables-future-a-summary-of-findings/#comment-10935 ?

          • Günter Weber says:

            Peter Lang,

            —————————-
            I recognise it will take a long time to get majority support for nuclear power in the developed world, but it is inevitable it will happen because there really is no other way to power the world once fossil fuels run out or become too expensive.
            —————————–

            I could agree on that. However, I do not see fossil fuel prices reaching levels that the developed world would regard as high enough to massively jump into NPP again. Destruction of demand will wipe out the less developed, less efficient, less well-capitalized economies before oil/gas/coal prices are becoming really painful to ‘us’.

            —————————-
            You seem to use the fact that the public has been misled as an argument to keep on misleading them.
            —————————-

            As long as there is no broad and sustained support for nuclear power in a society, it is likely that all recent/ongoing investments into NPP (and associated with that nuclear fuel reprocessing, waste management, etc.) will become economic nightmares. As we found out after Fukushima you also need a broad and sustained easy-going feeling towards the release of radioactive material to avoid a social and economic nightmare after an accident.

            And I do not see anything that could revert the anti-nuclear trend that in most western societies captured public opinion during the last decades. That I also disagree with your claim that everything below 100 mSv/year can be safely declared as ‘safe’ ist just a side issue.

          • Peter Lang says:

            Gunter,

            I’ve lost track of what you are arguing for. I understand you are anti-nuclear. I understand your reason for being anti-nuclear is based on the fact (which I accept) that the public is paranoid about radiation and nuclear power. You have not made a case that this paranoia is rational or based on objective analysis.

            Objectively, on a full .life cycle analysis, including waste management) nuclear is two to four orders of magnitude safer than fossil fuels which are the only realistic alternative that can meet the requirements of the electricity system and customer demand. Nuclear is also several times safer than renewables and cannot meet requirements. Therefore, if you want to reduce global GHG emissions from fossil fuels nuclear power has to do most of the heavy lifting (like nuclear has been doing in France for the past 30 years or more). If that is not your primary concern than you are implicitly saying that reducing GHG emissions is not a priority (as far as you concerned).(Links to support all this are included in previous comments on this thread)

          • Peter Lang says:

            Correction:

            This sentence was meant to say:
            ” Nuclear is also several times safer than renewables; and nuclear can meet requirements whereas renewables cannot.

          • gweberbv says:

            Peter Lang,

            maybe my reply to Roberto from August 27, 2015 at 12:15 pm helps you to understand my position. I do not know what I can say more on that issue.

          • Peter Lang says:

            Your reply to Roberto was so silly as to be not worth answering. For instance:

            ” For me it is much more relevant, that Allianz, Axa, AIG, etc. refuse to offer me an residence insurance that covers complete restauration of hy home in case of radioactive pollution. ”

            Why on Earth would any insurance company offer such insurance in standard policy without a clear definition of on what grounds they would pay for restoration and with premium appropriate for the risk. The risk being that you would make claims based on irrational phobia. Cant you see how ridiculous it is. If their policy said based on the probability that any release would cause radiation related harmful health effects, then the premium would be negligible – but you and the anti nukes would go berserk every time there was a release of any amount anywhere. Fukushima area was evacuated causing thousands of deaths that would not have occurred if they had not been evacuated. Germany is shutting down nuclear and building 10 new coal plants that will cause >100 fatalities per TWh that would not have occurred with nuclear. You really are so illogical and immune to the relevant facts that it is a pointless debate with you as it is with most of the locked in anti-nuke cultists.

          • Günter Weber says:

            Peter Lang,

            I conclude that the loss of a few tens of billion in real estate value (in case a dense-populated area is affected) is a non-issue to you. And you call me ‘immune to relevant facts’?

          • Peter Lang says:

            Yes, you are immune to relevant facts. The reason for the cost is the irrational, unjustified response to releases of radioactive material. The irrational, unjustified response is the result of regulatory ratcheting and governments having to respond as they do thanks to 50 years of anti-nuke scaremongering by people like you. You’ve had all this explained over and over again on this thread and seem totally immune to the relevant facts.

          • robertok06 says:

            @guenter

            “But that this is not so much of a problem as ionizing radiation is far less dangerous than public opinion believes.

            Well that is really hard to sell. Because for decades public was told that there is no need to discuss about radiation as it will never be released from these superduper safe NNP.”

            It is only hard to sell to those who do not have hears to hear… the scientific community and the experimental on-the-field data are clear: ionizing radiation is a very weak carcinogen, in fact so weak that the stochastic long terms effects are very difficult to detect, even utlizing very sophisticated epidemiological models and analysis.

            The superduper safe NNPs, even considering Chernobyl, have done this… I repeat it (but open your eyes this time):
            https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/104842596/Electricity_and_health_TheLancet.PNG

            Do you get it this time or not yet? I’m being very patient with you, hope you recognize it at least.

          • robertok06 says:

            @guenter

            “I bet that the public is more or less indifferent with respect to the deaths/GWh of electricity generation techniques.”

            Only because “the public” is mostly made up of people who think like you… but the fact that “you” are numerous, the vast majority in fact, does NOT, in ANY WAY, makes “your” point of view the right one.

            “They see Fukushima and they are wondering if this could happen to them too. In contrast, if for every rooftop PV installation a roofer will die, this is interesting only for the roofers.”

            So you are meaning that the life of roofers is less important than the life of Guenter-the-anti-nuclear-guy?
            Why?What makes you so important?

            Anyway… what you still miss (voluntarily, clearly) is that PV and wind, being intermittent, will necessitate (lacking nuclear) of the balancing of their intermittent production by thermal power units… and in the end the mortality/morbidity per kWh generated will be higher, as well as the societal costs.

            Do you get it or not yet?

          • robertok06 says:

            @guenter

            “I conclude that the loss of a few tens of billion in real estate value (in case a dense-populated area is affected) is a non-issue to you. And you call me ‘immune to relevant facts’?”

            Yes, you are, definitely!

            Just think (for once): Japan after Fukushima has stopped all of its reactors, 46 of them PERFECTLY WORKING.
            As a consequence of that, Japan’s trade deficit has increased by 40+ BILLION DOLLARS per year, just because of additional imports for gas and coal…and this without considering the large additional costs due to the mortality/morbidity of gas/coal electricity generation, which would add, at 3 milliondollars/statistical life, 270x10x3=8100 million dollars/year (270 TWh is the amount of electricity produced by nuclear in Japan in 2010,i.e.before Fukushima).
            At 40 billion dollars/year, each one of the 200k evacuees would have the right to be indemnified by 200k dollars… that’s simple math!… just with the extra cost in fuel for ONE YEAR!
            Do you get it now or not yet, Guenter?

            In light of these UNDISPUTABLE FACTS you are certified to be “immune to relevant facts”…yes!… probably because you DO NOT KNOW the facts, neither you LOOK for the facts, you simply adapt the world to your ideologically-based nonsense position on electricity generation…. that is clear at every message you write.

            First is the danger of radiation, then when it is shown that the danger is so low as to be almost impossible to detect epidemiologically it is the insurance companies…. then it is the public opinion… then it is the costs… .but the costs are lower than the alternatives, with and without accidents… in few days here you have clearly demonstrated why mankind as a whole is a specie which is utilizing only a very small potential in terms of evolution of its society.
            Those who think like you are the additional gear in the gearbox of mankind: the one below the 5th gear…

            https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/104842596/gear-lever-8×6.jpg

      • Peter Lang says:

        Gunter Weber,

        Shouldn’t we weigh up the cost in fatalities of effectively blocking nuclear. Shouldn’t we be comparing the number of lives saved per TWh by unblocking nuclear versus the number of lives caused by allowing nuclear?

        You can compare the estimataes of fatalities per TWh in many authoritative studies that have been done over about the past 40 years – here is one simple summary of just the numbers: http://nextbigfuture.com/2012/06/deaths-by-energy-source-in-forbes.html

      • clivebest says:

        There are many risks in life that we take for granted every day such as driving a car or going skiing, but radiation is not one of them. Evolution has equiped us with an effective cell repair/renewal system for radiation induced cell damage. For levels below 100 mSv the risk is insignificant, but perhaps should be avoided for reproductive organs. If the instantaeous dosage is enormous then the damage eventually overwhelm the immune system leading to death. The lethal instantaneous whole body dose is about 10 Sievert.

        One important fact is that it is not really true that radiative effects are cumulative. The body repairs itself rapidly. So 100 mSV instantaneous exposure is potentially significant, but 10 microSV over a full year certainly isn’t.

        I received 2000 mSV each weekday for 6 weeks – a total dose of 60 Sievert ! The 24 hours between sessions allowed my immune system to recover and repair much of the damage done to healthy cells.

        Going ahead with radiatherapy was the most difficult decision of my life but it probably saved it !

        • robertok06 says:

          @Clive

          “The lethal instantaneous whole body dose is about 10 Sievert.”

          This publication…

          http://www-pub.iaea.org/mtcd/publications/pdf/pub815_web.pdf

          … gives an idea of a real accident, the related (estimated) doses, and the fatalities for doses similar to the value you’ve cited above:

          “Four of the casualties died within four weeks of their admission to hospital.
          The post-mortem examinations showed haemorrhagic and septic complications associated with the acute radiation syndrome.
          The best independent estimates of the total body radiation doses of these four people, by cytogenetic analysis, ranged from 4.5 Gy to over 6 Gy.
          Two patients with similar estimated doses survived.”

          I’d just like to point out that the Cs-137 source had 50.9 TBq of activity… equivalent to more than FIVE MILLION TONS of radioactive fish at the (ridiculously low) limit of 100 Bq/kg set in Fukushima…. and that people in Gojania put the glowing Cs-137 dust directly on their bodies.

          • Peter Lang says:

            Roberto,

            This comment is complete gobbledygook because every statement is in different units. You need to state what each received in Sv.

            Better still, link to a chart or include a table showing probability of fatality versus instantaneous dose in Sv.

          • robertok06 says:

            @Peter Lang:

            what is it gobbledygook?…

            … the referenced document is from IAEA… the fatalities due to the exposure of that Cs-137 source are reported in it, together with the estimated doses received by the victims…

            …. while the last comment on the “equivalence” of the 50.9 TBq of Cs-137 was just to show how ridiculous the limit set by Japanese authorities under the push of the radiation-phobia is…. 100 Bq/kg does not make sense at all… tuna fish can be up to 800-1000 Bq/kg just because of natural K-40 and Polonium- and Lead-210… I thought it was clear, if not my apologies.

    • Euan Mearns says:

      Clive, thanks for this detail. I can share an anecdote on somewhat different theme. I worked for 6 years at the geological museum in Oslo. This was an old hulk of a building built on the Scandinavian Alum Shale formation, that is almost U grade ore. The basement floors well all cracked and radon gas was a recognised hazard. There were in fact a number of recognised radiation hazards and at one point we got a radiation audit. The building housed 1) a neutron activation lab and 2) x-ray instrumentation.

      The lab and instrumentation were all found to be clean. And radon gas levels were OK – big drafty building. But what they found was that some of the mineral collection was HOT. Dangerously so and had to be removed. Was anyone at risk? Of course not, walking past a hot mineral cabinet is totally harmless.

      In Aberdeen I live in a granite house 🙁

  20. robertok06 says:

    @Roger Andrews

    Question: “Who Killed Hamako Watanabe?”

    Answer: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/Blogs/nuclear-reaction/Fukushima-nuclear-victims-forced-resettlement-Iitate/blog/53584/

    “On March 27, 2011, Greenpeace radiation investigations in Iitate had revealed extremely high levels of contamination, which —> led our organisation to urgently recommend to the Japanese government the immediate evacuation of the more than 6000 residents. <—"

    … full of deliberately false statements like this:

    "The reality is this myth making requires that the people of Fukushima prefecture – especially the people of Iitate – be the sacrificial lambs for the nuclear industry. This is not only wholly unjust, but is a violation of their human rights. "

    … the SACRIFICIAL LAMBS OF THE NUCLEAR INDUSTRY!… no shit!… and this is a statement that should make appeal to a calm, reasoned discussion between the anti-nuclear movement and the establishment???? How can one rationally respond to this BS???
    GP is a sect!

    • Eamon says:

      Par for the course with Greenpeace. I remember their earlier “surveys” – they would try and find the highest possible reading, zeroing in on drainage, trees, and other areas where water is channeled. However, when you looked at their dataset, summed the readings, and got the average – their “government busting” results were the same as that published in the papers!

  21. Peter Lang says:

    Canada nuclear accident study gives perspective

    The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) has released its Study of Consequences of a Hypothetical Severe Nuclear Accident and Effectiveness of Mitigation Measures. This was the result of research and analysis undertaken to address concerns raised during public hearings in 2012 on the environmental assessment for the refurbishment of Ontario Power Generation’s (OPG’s) Darlington nuclear power plant. The study involved identifying and modelling a large atmospheric release of radionuclides from a hypothetical severe nuclear accident at the four-unit Darlington power plant; estimating the doses to individuals at various distances from the plant, after factoring in protective actions such as evacuation that would be undertaken in response to such an emergency; and, finally, determining human health and environmental consequences due to the resulting radiation exposure. It concluded that there would be no detectable health effects or increase in cancer risk.
    WNN 26/8/15. Safety of NPPs”
    WNA Newsletter

  22. CHK says:

    I first thought this post warranted a good critique, but when realizing the tone of replies, I remembered this saying, which applies well to the defenders of nuclear power.

    “Reasoning with a narrow minded person is like playing chess with a pigeon. No matter how well you play chess, the pigeon will jump on the board, knock over all pieces, shit on it and then claim it has won the game.”

    Plus really disappointed about you Euan. I thought you were one of the good guys.

    • Euan Mearns says:

      Well I try to go where the data leads. Had Hamako not been evacuated and had some folks not tried to scare her to death about a negligible radiation risk, she would probably be alive and well today and die a natural death in some decades time.

    • Peter Lang says:

      CHK,

      I remembered this saying, which applies well to the defenders of [renewable energy and/or economically irrational energy policy].

      “Reasoning with a narrow minded person is like playing chess with a pigeon. No matter how well you play chess, the pigeon will jump on the board, knock over all pieces, shit on it and then claim it has won the game.”

      There. Fixed that for you.

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