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Topic Title: E&T magazine - Debate - Nuclear energy in the UK
Topic Summary: Nuclear energy can play a viable and sustainable role in the UK’s future energy mix
Created On: 17 August 2011 11:03 AM
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 17 August 2011 11:03 AM
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jpwilson

Posts: 63
Joined: 16 May 2007

For:
This house believes that nuclear energy can play a viable and sustainable role in the UK's future energy mix.

Against:
This house does not believe that nuclear energy can play a viable and sustainable role in the UK's future energy mix.
 17 August 2011 01:50 PM
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aroscoe

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Here's one statistic to muse on.

Take the recent estimate of £80bn for the UKs decommissioning of plants from 50's to the present day. You can find plenty of estimates of this on BBC news websites and IET website etc, and its risen quite a lot since 2005.

Now divide by the total number of kWh produced to date by these plants from 1956 to 2010. I used the govrenment DUKES energy tables from 1920 to 2010 and 1970 to 2010 and correlated the two together for this to make sure they were consistent. You end up with 2433571 GWh total production.

So, the decommissioning costs at todays prices appear to be about 3.28 p/kWh



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Dr. Andrew Roscoe

http://personal.strath.ac.uk/andrew.j.roscoe
 17 August 2011 03:56 PM
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jarathoon

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As the independent highlights today we simply do not know the whole truth respecting the Fukushima Nuclear Disasters. http://www.independent.co.uk/n...meltdown-2338819.html

This story in the independent concerning whether or not a nuclear disaster would have taken place with earthquake damage alone is not a surprise to those following the analyses of the disaster by Arnie Gundersen at Fairewinds Associates

Part of the problem clouding the whole issue is that the nuclear industry has a long history of lies and misinformation. Agin in this disaster there have been plenty of people ready to reach positive conclusions in favour of nuclear power before the full facts concerning this disaster become clear.

The language and emphasis of nuclear safety professionals is also a big problem, causing a disconnect with the public: the problem is they ignore the economic and social consequenses of nuclear disasters. (If you don't believe me try writing to the Office for Nuclear Regulation to see if you can get a sensible answer out of them concering economic and social consequences of nuclear disasters.)

80,000 people may never be able to return to their homes in Fukushima Prefecture, and large areas of land have been contaminated outside the 20 km exclusion zone. If the wind had been in the wrong direction a long thin wall of contamination could have cut Japan into two perhaps causing economic meltdown for Northern Japan. Taking the risk of consequenses like this is simply not acceptable and totally uninsurable. Yet at the same time as doing this the nuclear disaster might have still led to no direct fatalities due to radiation exposure.

For a long time I was a proponent of nuclear power. I still believe if enough resources are put in place that risks of Nuclear accidents can be further reduced, but along with the problems of Nuclear waste etc I no longer believe all these problems can be solved whilst at the same time keeping the industry economically viable - free of government subsidies (direct and indirect), including insurance subsidies and loan guarentees, government subsidised protection from terrorist attack etc. and nuclear waste disposal.

Engineering is about getting more for less, continually striving to make new generations of cheaper, higher performing products; For a long time now the Nuclear industry has been delivering less and less, whilst at the same time demanding more and more economic resourse to deliver it.

The nuclear industry in Britain don't want to wait for more information to damn their industry. They want to carry on building without learning the full lessons of Fukushima. They want to carry on building without learning the lessons of the cost overruns and delays building the new generation Finnish Olkiluoto Nuclear Power Plant currently under construction. They want to carry on building without having solved the problem of what to do with nuclear waste so it can be stored safely and cheaply long term. They want to carry on buiding before the sustainable energy sector gets a chance to prove itself.

I believe its time to call time on the Nuclear Industry.

James Arathoon MIET











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James Arathoon
 17 August 2011 05:59 PM
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jarathoon

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I made reference to the Office of Nuclear Regulation and my correspondence with them. Here it is the correspondence just in case anyone is interested.....their reply is above my original email. (I've removed names apart from my own)
------------------------------------

Dear Mr Arathoon,

Further to your enquiry of 25th June 2011, please see below ONR's response,

The requirements for the preparation of emergency plans are principally covered by the site Licence issues to a nuclear site under the Nuclear Installations Act 1965 (as amended) and the Radiation (Emergency Preparedness and Public Information) Regulations 2001 (REPPIR).These are both regulated by the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR).

Detailed Emergency Planning Zone

Where there is a potential for an off site release of radioactivity, that would require implementation of countermeasures, detailed emergency planning zones (DEPZ), are provided around nuclear installations. These zones are defined, based upon the most significant release of radioactive material or radiation from an accident that can be reasonably foreseen. The requirements for a DEPZ are stipulated within REPPIR 2001.


Extendibility

The REPPIR notes that, although very unlikely, radiation emergencies could have consequences beyond the boundaries of the detailed emergency planning zone. This is due to uncertainties in the predictions of the severity of severe accidents, and also because the consequences of a radiation emergency can vary due to circumstances at the time, such as weather conditions. Planning for such eventualities is incorporated into REPPIR using the principle of extendibility. Hence, extendibility provides a framework for responding to a very low frequency, high consequence radiation emergency which is not reasonably foreseeable.

The measures which would be required to deal with consequences larger than those expected from a reasonably foreseeable radiation emergency cannot be precisely pre-planned. Therefore, the arrangements described in the emergency plan to address extendibility are not expected to be as detailed as those for the reasonably foreseeable event, but will provide a framework for extending the response. ONR and national relevant good practice considers that where a radiation emergency is reasonably foreseeable, it is important for the principle of 'extendibility' to be part of the emergency planning arrangements.

Yours sincerely,

ONR - Parliamentary Business Team Officer
Desk 27, 4N.2 Redgrave Court,
Merton Road, Bootle L20 7HS
Office for Nuclear Regulation
An agency of HSE


________________________________________
From: On Behalf Of ONRenquiries
Sent: 27 June 2011 12:05
To: James Arathoon
Cc: ONRenquiries
Subject: RE: Weighted Population Constraint Limits around Nuclear Power Stations
Dear Mr Arathoon
Thank you for your enquiry dated 25 June 2011
This will be passed onto a colleague who will draft a response, we will aim to provide this within 10 working days as per HSE guidelines (please see the following link for more information : http://www.hse.gov.uk/aboutus/howwework/standards.htm)
If we are unable to meet this timescale we will contact you and let you know when we will be able to provide you with a response.
Regards

Office for Nuclear Regulation
An agency of HSE


________________________________________
From: James Arathoon
Sent: 25 June 2011 19:17
To: ONRenquiries
Cc: correspondence@decc.gsi.gov.uk
Subject: Re: Weighted Population Constraint Limits around Nuclear Power Stations
Dear Office of the Nuclear Regulator,

I have a query concerning the calculation of Weighted Population Constraint Limits as detailed in THE SITING OF NUCLEAR INSTALLATIONS IN THE UNITED KINGDOM by Dr John Highton and Mr David Senior, available on your website.

I have calculated the populations allowable adjacent to a Nuclear power station at max 336 people per square mile (130 people per square km) within a radius of 20 miles; therefore the limiting population is 20x20xpi x 336 = 422,230 (approx four hundred thousand people). [I am not sure how the figures change if there is more than one power station on a site, so haven't included any allowance for this]

Am I correct in my calculations?

As I lived in Lancaster/Morecambe for 3 years as a student I will use Heysham as a further example. In the case of Heysham one third of the above limit is within six or seven miles radius of the nuclear plant, where the population density is much higher than 130 people per square km; the calculation scheme below allows Heysham as a suitable site (it appears the scheme was designed for this express purpose in mind).

[The ridiculously high semi-urban assumptions, referred to, but not used, would probably allow a nuclear plant to be built any where in the uk except central London; the population limit in semi-urban case appears to be around 4,000,000 (4 million), according to my calculations.]

However my particular concern is that if a nuclear disaster happened at Heysham and everyone within a 20 km region had to be evacuated, that would be approximately 133,000 people needing to find a new home (including thousands of university students from home and abroad); at 20 miles radius blackpool barrow-in-furness and part of preston etc would be affected as well. In either case a huge section of the M6 motorway would be affected (probably between 20-40 miles of it). What contingency plans are there to keep the M6 motorway open if there was a disaster at Heysham? What percentage of the UK's GDP would be affected by a long term closure to the M6? Can 133,000 people be re-housed at short notice in the North-West of England - are there contingency plans for this? Is the risk of siting a new Nuclear power station at Heysham really worth taking when both risk and potential consequence are properly considered together?

The M6 is the main arterial route to Scotland, and having to shut it, would then cause huge economic damage to the uk. It appears to me that wider considerations such as this are not properly explored when advising on the siting new nuclear power stations. (There is just one mention of the word transport in the document quoted above, is this document now superseded, by fuller and more detailed consideration of the matter elsewhere - can you please provide me with references to it, if it exists).



In reference to a completely different matter: Computer Control Systems
Since I am a computing professional who has been engaged in the computer control and measurement industry for many years I am about to read and study your document 'The use of computers in safety-critical applications'. As this was written in 1997 and the power and complexity of computer systems has changed immensely since then, can you please recommend any more recent documents that you refer to when addressing this important and difficult subject?


Regards,

James Arathoon MIET



--------------------------------------------------------------------
Copy of the section of the document I have referred to is given below.


Weighted Population Constraint Limits
The weighted population constraint limits in Hansard represent the cumulative collective thyroid dose (man-rem) following an accidental release of 1000 Ci (37 TBq) of 131I as a function of downwind radial distance.3
The semi-urban 30° sector constraint limits in Hansard, can be derived on the basis of: (i) an exclusion zone with zero population for r ≤ ⅔ mile, and (ii) a uniform population density of 20 people per acre (5,000 people per square kilometre) for ⅔ r ≤ 20 miles.≤4 The all around site constraint limits are 3×30° sector limits, which is equivalent to a uniform all around site population density of 1,250 people per square kilometre for ⅔ ≤ r 20 miles . The semi-urban constraints were derived originally on the basis that the Heysham and Hartlepool AGR sites represented the benchmark for an acceptable upper bound limit for population densities with an allowance for future developments to account for natural growth needs (excess births over deaths). ≤
3 Griffiths (1978): For the earlier steel pressure vessel Magnox reactors, the reference maximum credible accident leading to a bounding accidental release was based on a sudden loss of coolant pressure following a bottom inlet duct failure with air ingress in conjunction with a single channel melt in the most highly rated fuel channel.
4 20 people per acre = 12,800 people per square mile = 4942 people per square kilometre ≈ 5000 people per square kilometre.
4
The remote site population constraint limits were not based on a uniform population density but were drawn as a bounding envelope around existing Magnox sites. The most densely populated 30º sector for these sites occurred at Sizewell where beyond the emergency planning zone of 1½ miles the population rapidly increased to nearly 6000 people within a radius of 3 miles. The remote site limits correspond to a density of about 1000 persons per square kilometre in the most densely populated 30° sector and about 130 persons per square kilometre all around the site.
In broad terms therefore, the remote site constraints are at most, one order of magnitude lower in terms of the reduction in the overall societal risk, than the semi-urban constraint limits in Hansard, Figure 1. This observation follows from a straightforward consideration of the all around site relative population densities.

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James Arathoon
 17 August 2011 09:37 PM
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drhirst

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Congratulations to James Arathoon on a short and clear picture of the risks that nuclear power bring to all, and most particularly those close to a plant. Also to Gareth Kane for a balanced article in the magazine.
Somebody (Nassim7) in the comments on the independent article offered a link: "I also strongly recommend a recent video reports by the NHK (Japan's Broadcasting Company) http://www.nippon-sekai.com/ma...". I too recommend it.
I fear, however, that the article by Dame Sue Ion demonstrates quite clearly the type of misinformation propagated by the nuclear industry and its proponents. For example:
. "If you want the lights to still be on in 2020, you'd better figure out how to put nuclear energy into the mix". This suggests that the country is under threat of blackouts unless we go for nuclear. Is this shroud waving? But there is no real possibility of a new nuclear plant being on-line by 2020 in this country. If we really do have to depend on new nuclear, we had better find other ways fast. Fortunately, there are lots of faster and better ways. So Dame Ion's statement is meaningless propaganda.
. "If we replace existing nuclear plants we will only add 10 per cent to the waste volumes that we already have to get rid of . . . This is because the new systems are more efficient and less waste intensive than the old systems." What she does not say is that the 10% extra waste volume is hugely more radioactive, so more poisonous and dangerous than existing waste. What she does not say is that this is waste we have a choice about creating, and the older waste is stuff that we are stuck with from the imperatives, ignorance, carelessness (and perhaps stupidity) of earlier "generations". We do not yet have any technologies for disposing of our old waste that are known to work, or what their costs and consequences might be.
. "the Fukushima nuclear power plant actually survived the earthquake". This is an unproven assertion and open to question. No engineering assessment has been made.
. "Modern designs would probably have survived Fukushima". What is terrifying about this is that word "probably". So "probably" if Bradwell has a major radioactivity escape we will not have to evacuate London. If Wylfa has an accident "probably" we will not have to evacuate Liverpool and Manchester. If the risks (probabilities * consequences) had to be insured in normal markets, this would likely triple the cost of each power station (www.pv-magazine.com/news/details/beitrag/true-cost-of-nuclear-examined-in-new-study_100002882/) making officially published estimates of the cost of nuclear electricity nonsensical. Of course, we will "probably" not face these consequences, although, sooner or later, somebody somewhere will. But do not worry: "Our regulators do not allow things that aren't safe."
. "The arguments that have been laid out are sustainable and valid for the long term, rather than just the political cycle". This shows breath-taking arrogance, as if the nuclear industry spokespeople are above any political fray, and know better than any politician what is good for us.
I think these sorts of argumentare unworthy and inappropriate for somebody at the pinnacle of an engineering career. Of course, in today's world, one cannot expect someone with Dame Ion's career and position to express or even hint at any possible issues about nuclear. There seems to be no real possibility of discussion or debate. This is deeply disturbing, as the people and decisions needed to keep the existing (let alone future) nuclear legacy safe will require open-minded, safety-minded and ethically balanced consideration of complex and very long term engineering and social issues.

-------------------------
David Hirst
 18 August 2011 04:21 AM
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Ipayyoursalary

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...a sustainable role in the UK's future energy mix

Add "Sustainability" to the list of fluffy, cuddly words used by the hard left to disguise their political agenda. Other examples include "Multiculturalism" and "diversity". As Delingpole eloquently puts it:

"linguistically masquerading as something unimpeachably caring and reasonable, while in fact advancing a policy agenda designed to increase state control, remove property rights and liberty, and brainwash the gullible into ceding more and more of their democratic rights to UN and EU bureaucrats."

If someone dumps a tonne of manure on your driveway, it makes sense to use it to fertilize your vegetable garden. But eco-activists would say this was "unsustainable" since the manure might one day run out. They would demand the pile of manure be preserved for future generations!! No matter if your vegetables are dying and you're starving.

Far from being cuddly - it's a backward concept - born of a destructive self-loathing and fear of human development. As engineers we should talk about efficiency, cost effectiveness, cost/benefit, affordability and improvement of the natural environment. Let's leave out the weasel words like "sustainability".
 18 August 2011 08:32 AM
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AndyTaylor

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I found this article interesting;

Deaths per twh by energy source

Which I posted a link to in this thread where there was plenty of discussion about the relative safety of different power generating methods, and some discussion about the dangers of other industries;

Japan Earthquake

And a discussion about the large numbers that are often referenced in relation to nuclear incidents, but which are not so memorable for other types of major incident in particular the Banqiao Dam failure. Most people I know have never heard of the Banqiao Dam, yet they have all heard of Chernobyl;

Banqiao Dam

-------------------------
Andy Taylor CEng MIET
 18 August 2011 05:22 PM
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jarathoon

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Ok lets go back to the question then and investigate what is meant be viable and sustainable.

viable - (capable of working successfully in an engineering, economic, environmental and social contexts)

I admit the definition of sustainable is difficult - here is my attempt

sustainable - (avoiding using up natural resources which can't be replaced or recycled, also helping furture generations by not leaving them burdened with our debt, environmental damage, industrial waste etc so they don't have to address our legacy problems as well as their own new problems)

Thinking about problems such as that raised by this question requires new sorts of interdisiplinary thinking, the sort of thinking the IET has been encouraging for a long time now, with the amalgamation of various institutes into one big one.

It appears to me that the Nuclear Industry and some of its academic backers still have the mindset of mid-twentieth century Britain: they think that they can get their way by minipulating governments and public opinion by overwelming campaigns of misinformation.

In nineteenth century Britain our world was changed by forward thinking visionary and entrepreneurial engineers. They took risks and persued new controversial ideas that ended up transforming society in the space of a few generations.

The basic question here is will our problems be solved by the bottom up entreprenurial approach of the nineteenth century or the top down planned economy approaches that dominated ours and many other cultures in the twentieth century.

Governments should definitely help promote innovation and support new ideas, but they should not try to pick winners once technologies have been fostered. Let the wider society do that within balanced and fair regulatory regimes. None of this can be properly defined or planned in advanced I'm afraid, humans aren't that clever.

James Arathoon MIET



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James Arathoon
 18 August 2011 05:40 PM
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aroscoe

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I'm totally with AndyTaylor on the deaths-per-TWh stats. The number of annual deaths through Coal mining worldwide is staggering.

I'm pretty sure that it is also true that the radiation emissions from, for example, Drax coal power station, are far more than from a nuclear station. I'm also led to believe that background radiation in Devon/Cornwall and Aberdeen is also higher than that allowed for nuclear workers. If someone has figures on this, I'd be interested.

Here's 75 more deaths through hydro, too, but more recently.

http://eandt.theiet.org/magazi...ria-hydro-disaster.cfm

-------------------------
Dr. Andrew Roscoe

http://personal.strath.ac.uk/andrew.j.roscoe
 18 August 2011 06:07 PM
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aroscoe

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On the other hand ... in terms of sustainability, you might want to peruse the supply/demand statistics for Uranium at sites like

http://www-pub.iaea.org/MTCD/p...s/PDF/Pub1104_scr.pdf
Analysis of Uranium Supply to 2050

and

http://www.uxc.com/products/rpt_umo.aspx
Uranium Market Outlook

In the "to 2050" document, the projections show that by sometime between 2030 and 2050 (depending on the low, middle or high demand scenarios) then we will have used up all the Uranium except the "speculative resources". For me, this just doesn't seem to fit the "sustainable" definition in any way.

I've challenged (and seen challenged) several people on this in a variety of forums: engineers, scientists, politicians etc. Mostly, people seem to brush it away and change the subject. The only person who ever really tried to answer the question used the analogy that oil has always had "30 years left". Its quite a good comeback to use, but even so, surely even a 100 year lifespan for a major energy technology isn't really sustainable. I know there are Thorium cycles but that's not my field, so if anyone knows more about thorium deposits, educate me!

I'm not sure how it fits the "energy security" thing either, since we have to buy our Uraniam from other countries. Okay, so we have pretty good relations with Canada and Australia, but we're at the mercy of the supply chain.

I guess if we had no terrorists, no war, we'd never invented "the bomb", and the reprocessing/MOX plants hadn't put particles over beaches and trashed public opinion, then maybe we could have built fast-breeders, and the same U235/238 reserves could be used for 1000s of years instead of 20-40. That would probably qualify as sustainable and in those conditions I'd be all for it. Pity we dumped so much of the potentially useful U238 all over the desert in Iraq and other warzones.


-------------------------
Dr. Andrew Roscoe

http://personal.strath.ac.uk/andrew.j.roscoe
 18 August 2011 07:24 PM
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Ipayyoursalary

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Originally posted by: jarathoon
I admit the definition of sustainable is difficult - here is my attempt

sustainable - (avoiding using up natural resources which can't be replaced or recycled, also helping furture generations by not leaving them burdened with our debt, environmental damage, industrial waste etc so they don't have to address our legacy problems as well as their own new problems)

A reasonable definition. But let's think this through:

That's like asking James Watt not to develop his steam engine back in 1770 in case I might need the coal to warm my Swiss holiday chalet in 2011. Sorry Mr Watt - it uses coal so it's not "sustainable".

It's like asking the millions of poor starving Africans living *today* to go without all the modern fossil-fueled developments we take for granted - (modern farming, medicine, refrigeration, transport etc) just in case a hypothetical African living 200 years in the future might need the coal - despite the fact he's likely to be 20x richer than today's Africans based on past GDP growth.

The US DOE estimate worldwide shale gas reserves at 250 yrs worth - using today's extraction technology. A situation that will only improve as we get better at extraction. Why not make use of our abundant cheap coal, oil and gas reserves? Why create hardship and poverty today in the name of making things easier for hypothetical future generations?

An obsession with "sustainability" = a recipe for reversing all advancement of human health, wealth, freedom and prosperity. The pernicious concept of "sustainability" is the biggest threat to future generations.

Edited: 18 August 2011 at 07:35 PM by Ipayyoursalary
 18 August 2011 08:48 PM
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jarathoon

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I agree with Gareth Kane and Andrew Roscoe, that our expoitation of our uranium resources cannot be described as sustainable using any reasonable definition of that word.

I want to address another aspect of Dame Sue Ion's argument for Nuclear Energy, from my professional viewpoint as a software engineer with plant control systems background.

I want to attack the basic assuption of progress, the view that new technologies even before they are tried them will be better than those that have gone before; that is that more modern designs of Nuclear Power station will automatically be better than old designs even before we've run them.

She implicitly assumes this when she say's 'Modern Designs would probably have survived Fukushima'. She is not alone in this, many people reason in this way, I am guilty of this sort of thinking as well sometimes.

The problem is that even with the modern benefit of computer modelling and virtual reality etc. all we can ever do is make designs in the knowledge of how designs previously failed and how we might imagine they can fail in the future. If we create new and more complex designs then they will inevitably have reliability issues and failure modes that cannot be accurately predicted in advance - this is especially true in the field of man-machine interactions.

It is not a forgone conclusion that the new generation reactor in Finland will be more reliable and safer than existing designs. Increasing the number of redundant systems to make a design safer might make it much more unreliable; with so many things going wrong that it just becomes unusable. The failed MOX plant at Selafield seems an example of this sort of alarm catastrophy senario.

Also once systems become very complex a lot of false alarms can be produced, which the operators start learning to ignore in many normal contexts. The trouble is that in a real emergency or in a different context such alarms can be easily dismissed without thought, leading to disaster. (Perhaps Airbus plane stall alarms are of this type)

In terms of earthquakes it is the accelerations, differential accelerations and movements that a plant can take not the absolute size of the earthquake. Even small earthquakes might make new complex Nuclear power stations economically unserviceable even if they remain safe. I doubt whether any of this can be proved one way or another in advance.

James Arathoon MIET





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James Arathoon
 18 August 2011 09:42 PM
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jarathoon

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To Ipayyoursalary,

I have nothing to say against James Watt - our coal resources would have been used up a lot more quickly without him.

In a way using coal could be considered sustainable long term if the scientific advances we make allow future generations to choose to put wood back underground; if their energy efficiency and conservation allow this, because of our and previous generations scientific advances.

I am definitely not in favour of the sort of strict conservation regime that you parody, that tells us to keep our world in exactly the same state in which we find it.

For example I would support wave power from the severn estury rather than building a new nuclear power station even if some species of animal and plant have to make their home somewhere else.

I would support a new New Town between London and Cambridge for example with water piped down from the north for them if that's where people want to live.

You make certain predictions about the future, including our future levels of GDP growth and the resource needs of future societies - I am sorry but I am not an expert on that subject and can't comment further on your predictions.

But your comments are useful in this context; I think the sustainability agenda is a way of proceeding without having to make detailed predictions about the future, and without completely giving way to notions of conservation for conservations sake.

James Arathoon MIET





-------------------------
James Arathoon
 19 August 2011 07:49 AM
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rogerbryant

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I believe that nuclear energy can play a viable and sustainable role in the UK's future energy mix. The current renewables, solar PV and wind, are simply inadequate and the more realistic (in terms of output) options such as solar hydrogen generation in the equatorial deserts are a long way off. For a discussion with numbers and references look at Sustainable Energy - without the hot air by David MacKay.

http://www.withouthotair.com/download.html

Burning fossil fuels is certainly not sustainable and they should be regarded as feedstock for other processes rather than just heat.

Nuclear power has the ability to supply low carbon energy for at least a few centuries. This depends on the development of fuel cycles and fuels that are optimised for energy generation, not for the production of weapons grade plutonium. A lot of what is called high level nuclear waste today is a potential fuel for future reactors.

The nuclear industry is currently disadvantaged in a number of areas:

. It is made responsible for its complete process including decommissioning whereas the renewable industry is currently not. For example look at all the wind turbines abandoned in the USA when the subsidies were cut.

http://www.americanthinker.com...energys_ghosts_1.html

3.28 p/kWh for decommissioning looks quite cheap in comparison to the FITs or similar required by the current wind and solar systems. In addition most of these early reactors were designed without any real thoughts of future decommissioning.

. It has to comply with unrealistic radiation limits based on an unproven theory (Linear No Threshold or LNT).
A few years ago Steven Milloy of JunkScience.com commissioned some radiation measurements of the statues in the US Capitol building. The statue of Roger Williams emitted 65 times the radiation level allowed for the proposed Yucca mountain depository and 5 and half times the level found at the boundary of a typical nuclear power plant and to quote from the article:

"In an escalation of comedic proportion, the architect of the Capitol called in the U.S. Public Health Service. The PHS ended the alarm by reporting that radiation levels in the Capitol were not dangerous, which brings us back to Yucca Mountain.
If radiation dose rates up to 65 times higher than those planned for Yucca Mountain aren't dangerous to Capitol building employees and visitors, what is the point of even more stringent standards for Yucca Mountain?"

What if similar legislation were applied to renewable energy sources? I think it would be reasonable to argue that wind power should not emit any noise above the background levels as it is supposed to be environmentally friendly. The additional cost to achieve this would kill it completely. Why should nuclear power be held to emission levels below background if wind is not?

. The very active anti nuclear lobby has ensured that there is no political will to support the development of a new generation of fission reactors designed for civil power generation rather than military purposes. If you don't have to produce weapons grade plutonium you can have a much higher fuel burn up and use alternative fuels like thorium. Governments are happy to fund "Eco Bling" (to quote a past president of the IET) but not serious low carbon energy supplies.


Best regards

Roger
 19 August 2011 09:40 AM
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aroscoe

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IpayYourSalary, I actually agree with you to a large extent. We already used coal for 200 years and there is a lot left. I wouldn't for a second suggest that we never should have exploited it.

But, given the way that we are currently using nuclear fuel without breeding the 238 up so it can be used, the number of years of resource left is so much smaller than that of coal that it seems like a very short-sighted plan.

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Dr. Andrew Roscoe

http://personal.strath.ac.uk/andrew.j.roscoe
 19 August 2011 01:32 PM
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jarathoon

Posts: 1040
Joined: 05 September 2004

To Roger Bryant,

The nuclear industry has been solely disadvantaged by decades of mismanagement and incompetent leadership and with its profoundly unhealthy links to the military-industrial complex.

The public is paying for all decommissioning, whatever the mode of energy generation, through energy bill surcharges and other forms of taxation. The problem from the sustainability point of view is that the costs Nuclear Waste disposal have not yet been determined and are an uncertain burden on future generations.

In terms of clearing up after themselves at shareholders expense - well how many industries have been forced to do that as yet?

In terms of background radiation limits I am sure that if a Nuclear power station had to be made of mildly radioactive granite, higher background limits would be allowed. The trouble is radioactive emissions from Nuclear plants don't ever produce a nice even distribution of radioactivity that could simply qualify as a new background. They produce a very uneven background of very hot highly radioactive particles and collections of particles, they produce highly radioactive hot particles that can fly on the wind and we can ingest if extremely unlucky.

No one has really studied this properly yet; apparently there will be a major program of research by the Japanese and others into these sort of questions following the Fukushima disaster.

I don't think the wind generation industry is getting a particularly easy ride either it has faced concerted opposition from many quarters of society including the nuclear lobby and the military.

James Arathoon MIET

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James Arathoon
 19 August 2011 04:01 PM
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rogerbryant

Posts: 863
Joined: 19 July 2002

To James Arathoon

"It appears to me that the Nuclear Industry and some of its academic backers still have the mindset of mid-twentieth century Britain: they think that they can get their way by minipulating governments and public opinion by overwelming campaigns of misinformation"

This sounds to me rather like the anti nuclear activists:

http://www.monbiot.com/2011/04/04/evidence-meltdown/


"The trouble is radioactive emissions from Nuclear plants don't ever produce a nice even distribution of radioactivity that could simply qualify as a new background. They produce a very uneven background of very hot highly radioactive particles and collections of particles, they produce highly radioactive hot particles that can fly on the wind and we can ingest if extremely unlucky"

Do you mean in normal operation or in case of accidents? Do you have any further details of quantities or health efffects? The CERRIE study generally concluded that the effect of internal emitters and external radiation were similar.

http://www.cerrie.org/

What do you suggest as a sustainable alternative to nuclear power?

Best regards

Roger
 19 August 2011 06:02 PM
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jarathoon

Posts: 1040
Joined: 05 September 2004

To Roger Bryant,

I am not a green activist or an anti-nuclear activist, I am an engineer trying to view the industry from an economic and engineering perspective.

I believe that there is perhaps scope for nuclear energy to remain part of our future energy mix but not without a major revolutionary rethink undertaken by the industry. I am more than happy for you to try and defend the current path being taken by the industry and I will try and make the case for major change, with public research programs given the remit to start thinking things through again from scratch using a new generation of scientists and engineers.

re: your other comment

'Do you mean in normal operation or in case of accidents? Do you have any further details of quantities or health efffects? The CERRIE study generally concluded that the effect of internal emitters and external radiation were similar.'

I don't know enough to answer your question and I have never met anyone who does know - when I measured atmospheric conductivity for my undergraduate dissertation in 1991 at Lancaster University, I found high 'blips' of conductivity that may have arisen from hot particles from Heysham or Sellafield or some natural source or some other form of interference. Maybe someone measures this sort of thing now in the uk, it would be interesting to find out.

The report you quote cannot be entirely comprehensive because it doesn't mention long lived Cesium isotopes of fission which are prevalent in the Fukushima disaster and doesn't seem to have much to say on alpha emitters.

If you can find a scientist willing to talk to the IET definitively on these subjects I would be glad to learn more.

Regards,

James Arathoon MIET

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James Arathoon
 19 August 2011 07:07 PM
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jarathoon

Posts: 1040
Joined: 05 September 2004

An interesting read concerning this debate

World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2010-2011: Nuclear Power in a Post-Fukushima World, Worldwatch Institute.

http://www.worldwatch.org/syst...port2011_%20FINAL.pdf

( referenced on Professor Stephen Thomas' Wikipedia profile)

with reasonably up to date info on the new third generation nuclear power station at Olkiluoto, Finland currently under construction.

James Arathoon MIET

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James Arathoon
 24 August 2011 12:31 PM
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scferg

Posts: 7
Joined: 21 September 2003

Where are the lateral thinkers? Not once has anyone mentioned thorium reactors.
As for the anti nuclear lobby - yes, nuclear may have its problems but, since there is this totally incomprehensible rush to windpower etc and there is this political aversion to coal, some form of nuclear is the only way to keep the lights burning.
Frankly, coal is still the most economic form of generation. Renewables sound fine but a lot of research work needs to be done before they are economically viable. Add to that the various green taxes and the length of time to commission a nuclear station and, frankly, GB is on the road to a third world country.
IET » Energy » E&T magazine - Debate - Nuclear energy in the UK

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