#1 By: Maggie Koerth-Baker, July 22nd, 2013 14:20
#2 By: Peregrinus Phoenix, July 22nd, 2013 14:41
#3 By: toyg, July 22nd, 2013 15:16
Dear Maggie, I can't forget that you were quite the nuclear apologist during the "hot days" of Fukushima. Any second thought?
I'll dispense with the dances and go down to the flamewar, because I'm tired of rehashing the same crap from the '80s: the hard truth remains that nuclear energy screws the planet as much, if not worse, than oil. There is no "good nuclear": any nuclear plant basically shits on the planet and then hides it in the woods, except that this particular type of shit never disappears and also kills. When things go wrong, shit rains over the whole planet; it pops up in your food; and it drives up your medical bills with new-and-improved treatments for all sorts of popular-and-rising types of cancers.
I'm sorry for the industry (I know a few techies in the UK scene, and they are all outstanding fellows -- the salesmen not so much, but that's a given), but it's just too dangerous for the planet and for all of us. When dealing with nuclear energy, we are like 8-year-olds who've just discovered how to overclock their laptop: the CPU will be fried in a week and then we'll all be poorer.
#4 By: Theseus Notmynome, July 22nd, 2013 16:00
Whatever you do, don't google
Stuxnet Fukushima Israeli security Iran Sabotage
#5 By: Maggie Koerth-Baker, July 22nd, 2013 16:18
I think you vastly misunderstand what I was writing and why.
The majority of what I wrote about Fukushima was looking at what we know to try to understand how dangerous this was likely to be for different groups of people ... those who were trying to shut down the facility, those living nearby, and those living far away. And every evidence I could find suggests that the people who were really at risk were those working on the facility -- and even they were less at risk than most of the public thought. The point was not "OH BOY THERE'S NOTHING WRONG WITH A FAILED NUCLEAR PLANT. THANKS TEPCO." The point was, the risks here are not what Hollywood tells you that they are. And if we actually want to have a reasonable conversation about risks and rewards then we need to understand that. And I do think it's worth having a conversation about. Energy is messy and, right now, there isn't a quick and simple solution that we can just jump on that would allow us to totally get rid off all the side effects we don't like. (That's true even if we do start transitioning to solar and wind ... which is something that will take a while, and will take major changes to the North American grid.) It's completely reasonable that different people will come to different conclusions about which risks they're comfortable with, which they aren't, and how we want to deal with both.
I don't really know whether I, personally, am in favor of nuclear energy or not. It's fairly obvious, from the data I've gone though, that coal kills more people. On the other hand, we don't have a good solution for long-term plans for the waste of nuclear and that's something I've pointed out here as being a big problem.
If you understood me to be saying that nuclear power is a must and always good and that energy companies would never do anything wrong or dangerous, then you've been misreading or I've been communicating poorly, or both. My apologies.
#6 By: Theseus Notmynome, July 22nd, 2013 16:40
I just think it's swell that TEPCO is now "admitting" what we have suspected for two years now. Is there really no independent agency keeping track of radiation levels in that area?
Here's a fun little story dated July 7, from a paper I have never heard of..
http://www.huntingtonnews.net/66882Radiation Spikes Again at Fukushima
"On Friday, TEPCO workers tested water collected from a well near the port. They detected 900,000 becquerels of radioactive substances, including strontium, per liter.
That's the highest level ever found in samples from observation wells.
TEPCO officials say they have yet to confirm the cause of the spike in readings, but they cannot rule out the possibility that contaminated groundwater seeped into the sea."
#7 By: Theseus Notmynome, July 22nd, 2013 16:51
And here's the same story from HuffPo, via Reuters.
Tokyo Electric Power Co, the operator of the Fukushima station, hit by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, said that an observation well between the damaged reactor No. 2 and the sea showed levels of radioactive caesium-134 were 90 times higher on Monday than they had been the previous Friday.
#8 By: Noah Django Gross, July 22nd, 2013 17:17
Philosophically, I'm anti-nuke like toyg, but that's just an extension of my general green dogma. on a practical level, that power has to come from somewhere. I'm no hypocrite. I'm not financially able to invest in what I'd need to go off-grid if that was even viable for my consumption needs. conserve though I may, I'm not going to go without power. Neither are any of the people reading this. We need reporting like yours, Maggie, and unlike toyg I applaud your objectivity and realism.
However, given that, I'm still going to be anti-nuke for one specific reason: time.
Adequately managing these radioactive wastes for 240,000 years is, at best, a daunting proposition. The nuclear industry has already proven itself incapable of keeping track of its high-level nuclear waste for even 30 years. High-level radioactive waste has already gone missing from one, if not several, nuclear reactors. Scientists working on the proposed repository at Yucca Mountain acknowledge that nuclear waste will be hazardous longer than our ability to isolate it from the biosphere. --Greenpeace
To the extent that our waste containment facilities are safe, they're only safe given our current paradigm. Can we make containment safe for 240,000 years, or even just the half-life of 24,000 years?
Homo sapiens originated in Africa, where it reached anatomical modernity about 200,000 years ago and began to exhibit full behavioral modernity around 50,000 years ago --Wikipedia
written history in Mesopotamia started around 5000 years ago. Can I stop being rhetorical yet? Even if we never had another meltdown (and there's no way we're not gonna have plenty more) the obvious answer is: we haven't a prayer of containing this waste.
Oh, cold fusion, wherefore art thou?
OK, so here's my question: given we have rocket propulsion that can escape Earth's gravitational pull, given that the sun's gravity sucks everything toward it, given that the sun is a nuclear reactor and Carl Sagan teaches us that we and everything in our system originated there anyway; why can't we blast all this toxic shit back into the sun? I'm serious.
EDIT: well, i suppose the obvious answer is the Challenger disaster. still, is anyone pursuing options that don't involve "bury it in the desert and hope for the best"?
#9 By: Theseus Notmynome, July 22nd, 2013 18:06
Absolutely we could throw it into the sun, and that would be great. The trouble is, the possibility of failure on launch. Which would suck.
#10 By: Jeff Atwood, July 22nd, 2013 18:30
Good idea! Might be expensive, though. And launch failures or crashes could be bad, though also manageable with lots of money. Which brings me back to expensive.
#11 By: Noah Django Gross, July 22nd, 2013 18:40
yeah, the Challenger thing. kinda iffy given our current tech paradigm. but cost-wise, any price is cheap versus a containment period of 24,000-240,000 years.
#12 By: Theseus Notmynome, July 22nd, 2013 19:05
This sounds like another good use for the Space Elevator.
#13 By: toyg, July 23rd, 2013 02:15
Sorry, I might be a bit twitchy because here in the Kingdom, our enlightened Prime Minister has decided that it's time for another round of money for his cronies, so new nuclear plants are being built. Plants that are economically unviable (it's accepted that they will never break even) AND will produce more shit that we don't know where to store for a few thousand years AND will be a massive security risk (somehow, even one of the most stable countries in geological terms recently started to shake, so we don't really know how safe our own ground now is -- let alone the whole terrorism thing).
If we have to throw money away, I'd rather we built thousands of wind turbines that we might, one day, tear down when we develop better tech. I'd rather live in a house with bad wallpaper than one with indestructible dog shit all over the floor.
#14 By: Maggie Koerth-Baker, July 27th, 2013 14:20
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