Venezuela Oil Refinery Explosion

Just a quick reflection. If you are concerned about nuclear power, but ever use a car, the fuel in your car is a direct link to the global industry responsible for just this latest catastrophic mega-fatality (view video). 39 deaths, 80 injuries and massive uncontrolled release of toxins. No natural disaster trigger. Just a horrible, devastating accident.

We must urgently learn to measure our monsters. The data below is from the Energy Related Severe* Accident Database, maintained by the Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland.

Energy chain Fatalities Fatalities/TWy Fatalities Fatalities/TWy
Coal 2259 157 18,000 597
Natural gas 1043 85 1000 111
Hydro 14 3 30,000 10,285
Nuclear 0 0 31 48

*Severe Accident  defined as more than five fatalities

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3 thoughts on “Venezuela Oil Refinery Explosion

  1. Tom Keen

    A common response to these type of comparisons (at least, from what I have encountered) is that we are promoting a false dichotomy between fossil fuels and nuclear. Leaving aside that I don’t think this really is a false dichotomy, it also ignores that renewable energy energy technologies aren’t harmless either. They all require construction and maintenance, involving massive infrastructure, and often require using and dealing with toxic substances (e.g. neodymium, silicon tetrachloride, cadmium telluride, mercury, lead, etc.). Additionally, for a true comparison between technologies, you need to look at the whole life cycle, which includes mining. Due to the low energy density of renewable technologies, they tend to require far more materials (and therefore mining) to produce the same amount of energy as nuclear power, but probably still less than coal. You then need to include the fatalities and injuries from that.

    There’s no free lunch with energy. But nuclear and renewables are both much better than coal, oil and gas.

  2. Asteroid Miner

    Why a Nuclear Power plant CAN NOT Explode like a Nuclear Bomb:

    Bombs are completely different from reactors. There is nothing similar about them except that they both need fissile materials. But they need DIFFERENT fissile materials and they use them very differently.
    A nuclear bomb “compresses” pure or nearly pure fissile material into a small space. The fissile material is either the uranium isotope 235 or plutonium239. Plutonium 240 from a power plant is not good for making a bomb. They are the reduced bright shiny metals, not metal oxide. If it is uranium, it is at least 90% uranium 235 and 10% or less uranium 238. These fissile materials are metals and very difficult to compress. Because they are difficult to compress, a high explosive [high speed explosive] is required to compress them. Pieces of the fissile material have to slam into each other hard for the nuclear reactions to take place.
    A nuclear reactor, such as the ones used for power generation, does not have any pure fissile material. The fuel may be 0.7% to 8% uranium oxide 235 mixed with uranium 238 oxide [uranium rust]. A mixture of 0.7% to 8% uranium 235 rust mixed with uranium 238 rust cannot be made to explode no matter how hard you try. A small amount of plutonium oxide mixed in with the uranium oxide can not change this. Reactor fuel still cannot be made to explode like a nuclear bomb no matter how hard you try. There has never been a nuclear explosion in a reactor and there never will be. [Pure reduced metallic uranium and plutonium are flammable, but a fire isn't an explosion.] The fuel is further diluted by being divided and sealed into many small steel capsules. The capsules are usually contained in steel tubes. The fuel is further diluted by the need for coolant to flow around the capsules and through the core so that heat can be transported to a place where heat energy can be converted to electrical energy. A reactor does not contain any high speed [or any other speed] chemical explosive as a bomb must have. A reactor does not have any explosive materials at all.
    As is obvious from the above descriptions, there is no possible way that a reactor could ever explode like a nuclear bomb. Reactors and bombs are very different. Reactors and bombs are really not even related to each other.

  3. Asteroid Miner

    Natural Background Radiation is radiation that was always there, 1000 years ago, a million years ago, etc. Natural Background Radiation comes from the rocks in the ground and from exploding stars thousands of light years away.
    At Fukushima, 573 certified deaths were due to evacuation-related stress. Zero due to radiation. February 4, 2012

    If you stayed in Fukushima for the past 2 years, your total radiation would be less than our natural background radiation.
    “milli” means “.001″
    350 milli rem/year means 0.350 rem/year
    People living in the city of Ramsar, Iran have a background radiation of 10 to 20 rems/year. 31,000 people live there.

    Calculate your annual radiation dose:

    The Average American gets 361 millirems/year. Smokers add 280 millirems/year from lead210. Radon accounts for 200 mrem/year.

    Please read this book: “Radiation and Reason, The impact of Science on a culture of fear” by Wade Allison.
    Professor Allison says we can take up to 10 rems per month, a little more than 1000 times the present “legal” limit.


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