I write a lot of comments of news articles, most often on nuclear power. I thought i would start chronicling them here.
Comment on Preventing the Next Nuclear Meltdown March 21, 2011 Foreign Affairs Magazine
The nuclear lobbyists in Washington are working as hard as the emergency crews in Fukushima. At stake is the multi-billion dollar ‘nuclear renaissance”, which will likely have to be scaled back at least, but is in serious danger of being scrubbed completely if legislators can not be convinced to maintain the subsides which make nuclear possible.
Unsubsidized nuclear construction has never happened and does not make economic sense as outlined by this report by CitiBank which fails new reactors on all 5 investment criteria.www.tinyurl.com/citiseznonukes
Detailed analysis of new reactors as a climate solution quickly unravel as well. This report from MacArther genius award winner and energy expert Amory Lovins shows the complete technical and economic failure of nuclear to address carbon emissions. www.tinyurl.com/forgetnuclear
Finally, renewable resources are now cheaper than even the most favorable (non-industry sponsored) market analysis of nuclear. See this NY Times analysis: www.tinyurl.com/solarsaves.
Of course the entire discussion of nuclear power in the US and worldwide would end were we to discontinue the government sponsored insurance of reactors in the even of accidents. In the US this takes the form of the Price Anderson act. This cost will be tremendous for Japan in the wake of Fukushima. The question remains, why should tax payers subsidize electric utilities with this very expensive free insurance?
Comment in response to Nuclear energy is feasible and safe Jan 21, 2011
Nuclear power cant cover it’s own insurance costs. The Price Anderson act limits the nuclear industries liability to the first $10 billion. Any accident costs over that are paid by the federal government – which means us tax payers. If the industry had to pay for it’s own insurance (like very other power generation source) we would not be having discussions about new reactors. There is a fine wikipedia article on Price Anderson at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Price-Anderson_Nuclear_Industries_Indemnity_Act
Nuclear power plants are plagued with cost overruns and delays. The current reactors in both France and Finland are significantly over budget and years delayed. Of 75 U.S. plants operating in 1986, the U.S. Energy Information Administration found two-year-cohort-average cost overruns
In 2007 the Economist wrote “Since the 1970s, far from being “too cheap to meter”—as it proponents once blithely claimed—nuclear power has proved too expensive to matter.”
Even Warren Buffet abandoned a nuclear project because “it does not make economic sense”
The fact is a bunch of high paid nuclear promoters are trying to convince us to repeat the very expensive mistakes of the past, claiming, again, that it is going to be a bargain. And given all the money they have to buy politicians and pay for ads, we are quite likely to fall for it.
Comment in response to Renaissance Hiccups: What Do Recent Nuclear Reactor Incidents Tell Us? Nov 10, 2010
Ah Vermont Yankee, where the cooling tower collapsed mysteriously in 2007 (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OtDCG2qEa2k) and we were assured there was no danger to the public. Then tritium was discovered in the pipes beneath VT Yankee in 2009. The VP of Operations initial claim was that the pipes did not exist. Then when it was confirmed that they did exist and they were contaminated. We were informed that the VPs testimony had been “miscommunicated” and we were assured there is no danger to the public (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vermont_Yankee_Nuclear_Power_Plant). Now there is leak in the radioactive feedwater system and we are being assured that there is no danger to the public.
It would seem that the danger to the public might be believing nuclear operators who repeatedly have problems running their plants without dramatic failures.
This reactor is for sale perhaps you would like to buy it?
Comment in Response to Philadelphia Inquirer article on “portable nuclear power plants”
There is nothing new about small nuclear reactors, they have existed for over 40 years. And one of the things which is not new about them is that they do not produce any significant quantity of power at anything like reasonable cost. Despite billions in R&D money and efforts by Russians, Americans, French and British teams, this dream machine has eluded technicians for nearly half a century.
Now the same people who promised nuclear would be “too cheap to meter” are telling us this new solution will be inherently safe (another lie) and will solve all our climate problems if we just socialize our economy and believe them. They also tell us (as this author does) that there are no other climate friendly solutions, while the US DOE reports that all renewables combined are producing the same about out electricity as nuclear in the US. Who you going to believe?
For the reasons that CitiCorp, one of the worlds largest banks thinks nuclear is an unacceptable risk see tinyurl.com/citiseznonukes For the reasons why nuclear does not work for solving climate change see Amory Lovins tinyurl.com/forgetnuclear For Google’s solutions climate friendly electricity in the US see tinyurl.com/googleplan Or you can believe this guy who’s principal qualification is he is being paid to write a book promoting nuclear power, apparently based on press releases.
June 25th comment on
Brooklyn’s Mark Suppes Builds Nuclear Reactors When He’s Not Working for Gucci
I am wiling to believe there is no chance of an accident with the
type of reactor that Suppes has created. I am not willing to believe
that fusion plays any role in addressing climate change or in
seriously solving our energy needs.
Billions and decades have been spent on fusion and the most
fundamental of problems with the technology persist, not the least of
which is the tremendous amount of tritium which will be released when
one actually starts up. A particularly nasty radioactive waste
because it bonds in water, travels thru steel and cant be contained
except on a lab scale.
There are lots of good piece debunking fusion, The one i found in a
quick web search was
[Funny thing i just found about this article is while it is a great crit of fusion
it advocates throium reactors at the end – oops.]
Please dont fall into the trap of thinking there is a simple energy
fix right around the corner. We are dong to have to make hard
choices and actually consume less, unless we want to give our kids an
A July 11, 2010 comment on “No we’re VT Yankee.” from the Telegraph Journal
One can often tell when a writer is owned by the nuclear utility when they quote lies of nuclear proponents as fact. Often things that are demonstrably untrue. For example, in this article we are told:
“Elias said the cost of a typical nuclear reactor – $8 billion to $10 billion – is the biggest risk, since the price of uranium, the fuel, doesn’t fluctuate much.”
In fact the price of uranium fuel has fluctuated over 1000% in the last 3 years. But perhaps for an industry plagued with cost overruns this is not considered much fluctuation.
“Costs are amortized over the lifespan of the reactor, which is often about 60 years.”
Calder Hall was the first commercial reactor to go on line in 1956 (according to Wikipedia) it closed 47 years later, but even if it were still running it would not have operated for the claimed life span of an average reactor. So none have made it 60 years, but it is stated as fact that this is there average life.
Pretty disappointing journalism.
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- August 8, 2011 -
About the BP oil spill, by the way… a few concise remarks.
I have been a scientist for about 30 years. I’m currently working on nanotechnology solutions to renewable energy. I’ve done a lot of fun stuff and picked up a couple degrees in materials science along the way. I’ve published a couple papers in air pollution modeling kinetics although that is not my primary expertise, and I took air chemistry at MIT and surface chemistry at Harvard. That said, I’m not a snob but I wanted to write a few words on my credentials prior to stating my views on the handling of the BP oil spill.
1) Why did BP dump these dispersants (mostly Corexit 9500) in our Gulf? The oil is bad enough. Here is a link where scientists have actually been listened to and their analysis made public:
Click to access ScientistsConsensusStatement.pdf
In this report, scientists ask federal government data to be made public regarding the toxicity of these dispersants combined with the oil. Also, the Corexit products ingredients have not been fully disclosed! Why is this a secret? Without this information, the details on toxicity are hard to predict. Quoting this report, “Corexits are oil industry-insider products, and are ranked by the EPA as more toxic and less effective than other approved dispersants, which has raised questions about their use in the Gulf (Scarlett et al 2005)”.
2) Who gave BP the right to dump this toxic soup into the Gulf? Was the EPA involved?
3) Some say these toxic dispersants can become airborne, and this could result in a toxic rain situation. Some reports are that crops are being ruined, that humans in states hours away from the Gulf are sickened by the air pollution from the dispersants and oil. But this is not front page news. Where is the data on this?
4) What about the clean-up workers? We recently heard how the last Exxon Valdez clean-up worker finally passed on. Clean-up workers are very sick in the Gulf, many in hospitals in Louisiana right now. Two have died. Why didn’t BP give them PPE (personal protective equipment) such as proper breathing filtration units and suits to wear in order to not breathe or have the toxic crap move through the skin, and harm organ function? Where is OSHA in all of this?
5) There are going to be more and more lawsuits. Some scientists will work on the side of good, going out on a limb to speak their mind and generate data on what is happening. Yet some scientists will support BP and make a lot of money with their junk science litigation rants.
Here’s what to do.
a) Ask your representatives and senators for data on the oil spill toxicity and to share the ingredients of the dispersants.
b) Ask these people to stop using the dispersants, to ban them.
c) Ask that the clean up workers be given proper PPE so they can live longer than the Exxon Valdez workers have lived.
d) Ask for federal studies through respected organizations such as NOAA, to sample the air and report the geographical effects of the spill and dispersants.
Data talks. Be your own scientist here. We must all study this will affect our world for as long as we are here. And longer.
We’re a group of volunteers and starting a new scheme in our community. Your site offered us with valuable information to work on. You’ve done an impressive job and our entire community will be grateful to you.