This is a reproduction of the article that was just published in this month’s SACOME journal. It was jointly authored by myself and Barry Brook. It is the second is a series of six articles we are providing the journal. As ever with the media, we write to a word limit. Try not to get cranky if you think something is under done, use the comments section instead!

Safety is a major public concern for nuclear power. There is no quick way to overcome this feeling. But a few facts certainly can’t hurt.

The nuclear power industry has an excellent operational safety record. A major actuarial study conducted by the European Commission over 15 years examined 4,290 energy-related accidents across different technologies. They found the following: coal kills 25 workers per terawatt hour (TWh) of energy delivered, oil 36, gas 4, and hydro, wind, solar and nuclear all less than 0.2 deaths/TWh. They state “expected fatality rates are lowest for western hydropower and nuclear power plants”. So, permitting ourselves to think in the context of the alternative energy supply options, there is no argument; nuclear power is very, very safe.

Actuaries say it doesn't get safer than this

Serious nuclear accidents have happened. The Three Mile Island reactor in the US experienced a partial meltdown of the fuel. The reactor pressure vessel was  not ruptured, however, and the containment dome held the majority of the gaseous releases within the reactor building, but the core partly melted and was a write-off. No one was killed.

A much worse incident occurred in 1986 at Chernobyl, Ukraine. During a poorly planned experiment where the safety systems were deliberately disabled, a massive power surge blew the top off the reactor and triggered a fire in the graphite moderator. This Soviet-era design lacked a concrete containment dome, and the wind-driven smoke carried a plume of radioactive particles over Europe.  The accident and its immediate aftermath killed 28 emergency workers. Among local children and adolescents, exposed to highly elevated doses of short lived radioactive iodine in milk, more than 6,000 cases of thyroid cancer were observed. The United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) has recorded 15 cases that have proved fatal. They also state “…there has been no persuasive evidence of any other health effect in the general population that can be attributed to radiation exposure”. For most, these findings from the peak global body are surprising. It’s anathema to those who want dread of nuclear and ionizing radiation to prevail. But facts are persistent things.

This year, an extreme natural force disabled the 40-year old reactors of Fukushima Daichi and destroyed all back-up power supply. Prolonged loss of cooling led to a meltdown and the release of radioactive material in vented steam as well as possibly through some breached containment. There have been no nuclear-related fatalities. Suitable precautionary measures for residents were taken, and the radiation released was 4.5 per cent that of Chernobyl. The possibility of any latent fatality is exceedingly low.

These accidents frightened us more than they hurt us. But that does not make them ok. What safety features could we expect from modern reactors if Australia adopted nuclear power?

 Passive safety systems – banking on the laws of physics

Modern reactors cannot run out of control in the way Chernobyl did because water plays the role of both the coolant and the moderator. If the coolant cannot shed heat, the water expands and moderation is reduced. The reactor loses reactivity and power levels decrease.

New reactors include safety systems that rely on natural processes. For example, the core-cooling tank in the AP-1000 design has valves held shut by AC power. During station blackout, emergency water is channeled into the reactor core by gravity, and re-circulated through passive convection and condensation. This class of reactors, known as a called Generation III+, are also built to a standardised design, with most component modules pre-fabricated in a factory and then assembled on site. These quality controls reduce cost but also enhance reliability and safety.

Passive safety systems (Image courtesy of Westinghouse 2011)

These improvements make a big difference. Probabilistic risk assessment put the risk of core damage from design-basis events as 1 in 20,000 reactor years for a 1970s design. For the AP-1000, it’s 1 in 24 million. Already engineered to be among the safest of power sources, today’s designs are three additional orders of magnitude safer.

Yes, there is some risk that a terrorist could hijack an aircraft, hit a reactor with pinpoint accuracy, breech containment, and cause the release of nuclear material. It’s just an incredibly low risk. Our society functions by making rational decisions about risk. Nuclear power is no different.

Many fear the impact of low-level, long-term exposure to radiation. Well, we already have such exposure; ionizing radiation is natural and with us every day. So it is pertinent to consider how nuclear power plants might affect this exposure.

UNSCEAR says the additional radiation exposure for those living in the vicinity of nuclear power plants through non-accident trace releases is 0.0002 millisieverts (mSv) per year, compared to a background level of 2 to 4 mSv per year (this depends on where you live). So it works out that 1/15,000 of your total yearly dosage could come from nuclear power. As far as meaningful risk goes, this one truly is not worth the worry.

As the conversation around nuclear power in Australia builds, fear will give way to a desire for information. In a fact-based discussion on safety in energy, nuclear proponents need not fear.

Sanmen AP1000 plant under construction in China (Image courtesy of Westinghouse 2011)

21 comments

  1. A 1 GW power station operating at 90% capacity delivers 7.9 TWhr per year. If we use those EC figures for nominal 1 GW power plants, we find:

    A 1 GW coal plant kills about 197 people each year.

    That is four and a half times the total determinable casualty count from Chernobyl. Every year, for every power plant. Nuclear plants are dangerous if they go wrong. Coal plants are dangerous when they go right.

    We can also say:

    If we replace a 1 GW coal plant with a 1 GW nuclear plant, we save about 196 lives. Each year.

    In this context, it seems ludicrous to oppose nuclear power on the basis of safety. Any rational consideration of safety demands we replace coal power with nuclear just as fast as we can.

    The argument over the safety of nuclear power plants is like the argument over seat belts, or motor cycle helmets – yes, there may be a rare and perverse circumstance in which they might kill someone, but we nevertheless mandate their use because it means so many fewer lives lost.

    If we took the same approach to power generation as we do to road safety, the government would mandate closing coal plants and replacing them with nuclear.

    [The 196/197 casualty figures above for coal are probably too high for Australia, which I imagine is one of the safer jurisdictions in which to be digging up and burning the stuff. If we are discussing the Australian situation, we need the equivalent Australian figures. But, they won’t include casualties associated with climate change, which into the future are incalculable.]

  2. Hey guys, it’s really hard to be open minded when it comes to nuclear energy production. I can’t tell if it’s because of the shroud of secrecy upkept by Daiichi company reps and the Japanese Govt over Fukushima during the disaster, or whether it was our in-education of exactly what “could” happen, how “bad” it would actually be, and just as importantly “how long” it would be dangerous for.
    I want to believe that nuclear is safer, and i am trying to get my head around these facts you present in a realistic and practical way – the only thing i get stuck on, and please help me to understand, is that the death rates you present are subjective, beside the fact that a meltdown could leave everyone standing out in the cold again (as with Fukushima) unable to get close enough to fix the “damage” – a risk that would not be likely for more than a few days in any other form of energy production.
    When i say damage, im clearly referring to a natural disaster, but i think this kind of plant is at a much higher “risk” of sabotage or terrorism, due to the danger and fear it can wreak across a country, and infact the world, as was with the case of Japan.
    So i guess my question is – can we actually calculate the risk of coal vs nuclear with consideration of a meltdown and losing control of shutdown/recovery?
    Cheers and i find your newsletters fascinating, thankyou.

    1. When I decide to come out of techation in a day or two, I will be happy to begin the process of answering. Until then, there are plenty of other folk who may like to get the ball rolling.

    2. Hi Tim,

      I’m afraid don’t have a lot of time right now either, but I have recently discussed similar problems elsewhere so I hope you (and Ben) don’t mind if I do some cut and paste from other threads and scribblings into this reply. I also hope you are able find at least the beginnings of an answer in what follows…

      “the only thing i get stuck on, and please help me to understand, is that the death rates you present are subjective…

      So i guess my question is – can we actually calculate the risk of coal vs nuclear with consideration of a meltdown and losing control of shutdown/recovery?

      I’m not entirely sure what aspect of the figures you find subjective so I’ll try to cover a few possibilities.

      The deaths per TWh figures are calculated from the number of actual deaths that have occurred in each sector divided by the amount of energy each sector has produced over the 15 year period under study. Each death was, unfortunately, very real.

      Or perhaps you feel that the safety of the general public has not been taken into consideration and that the safety of non-autonomous dependants (children, the elderly etc.) in our communities or people of reduced means who have little choice as to where they live is of equal (perhaps even greater) concern than that of fit, autonomous workers, who could, arguably, have chosen to work elsewhere. Perhaps you feel figures that count only workers might be obscuring the true impact to the general public, is that correct?

      However, I have an idea you might mean that, in the face of a major meltdown – an accident which has been presented as the worst kind of energy accident possible – these numbers seem counter-intuitive and are, therefore, difficult to believe, right? I wrote something on this in another thread ( https://decarbonisesa.com/2011/11/13/fukushima-minute-by-minute/#comment-1781 ) here’s a quote:

      “As Ben has said elsewhere, it’s impossible to assess any event without some kind of context. I think this is particularly so when the assessment is as subjective as deciding how bad (or good) something is – one must ask: “bad for whom; compared to what?”. If no context (history, benefits, alternatives) is provided then our subconscious, default assumption seems to be that since there is no equal point of comparison available, this event has no equal, it is thus the worst that can happen – bad for everyone compared to everything.”

      O.K. How about, instead of looking at averages over time (which are rationally valid but hard to tally with experience), we look at some comparable, single event, worst case (or at least bad-case) scenarios that have impacted the general public, and see if accidents in the other energy sectors have had consequences as bad or worse than nuclear power. The following list is not by any means exhaustive (there is no Gulf oil disaster for example ) but we only need one accident per sector in order to make the comparison.

      Coal: The Aberfan coal waste tragedy in Wales.144 fatalities in total. 28 adults and 116 children were buried alive under a liquified coal waste slip as it engulfed the local primary school. The desperate mothers and fathers who were first at the scene were certainly able to get close enough to dig – but to no avail. Their children were already dead.

      Gas: Trans Siberian gas disaster. 575 fatalities. A leaking gas pipeline that ran parallel to the Trans Siberian railway near Moscow, exploded due to a spark from two passing passenger trains. The gas explosion ripped through both trains. 575 passengers were burnt to death while an additional 723 passengers were injured.

      Oil: Tacoa oil-fired power plant disaster. 180 fatalities. A fire and explosion at the power plant led to the evacuation of 40,000 people as superheated burning oil ran toward the city of Caracas. In the end more than 500 people were hospitalised and 180 lost their lives.

      Hydro: The Banqiao Dam disaster: An eventual total of approximately 175,000 fatalities. The huge dam wall failed sending a massive wall of water down the valley. An unimaginable 25,000 people were killed in the immediate disaster. Over the next few years a further150,000 people died from the impacts of the destruction and displacement. Approximately 1 million homes and livelihoods were lost forever.

      Nuclear: Chernobyl meltdown: An eventual total of 43 fatalities. According to the UN the initial fire, explosions and immediate response led to 28 deaths from fire and radiation exposure during the first few weeks. The town of Pripyat was permanently evacuated. Over the next 25 yrs, within the most effected populations of 6.4 million people, a rise in the normal cancer rate of less than 0.1% above the average (of approx 40%) has been recorded. 15 cancer cases have been fatal. The expected rise in other radiation related health problems never eventuated.

      Air pollution: Sorry, this one is not accident related, but I have to sneak this in because it is a human and environmental disaster. According to WHO the fine particulate pollution released from the burning of fossil fuels, bio-fuels (wood, peat, dung) and other dirty fuels, kills approx 3.3 million people from cancer, lung disease and asthma each year. This is simply from normal daily use.

      Another aspect of fossil fuel (FF) use I find startling, is the frequency and impunity with which FF accidents occur. Here are a few more incidents which are comparable to Fukushima and have occurred just this year (taken from my comments on the “Fukushima minute by minute” thread:https://decarbonisesa.com/2011/11/13/fukushima-minute-by-minute/#comment-1759 )
      “At least two incidents of similar magnitude [to Fukushima] (injuries, toxic fallout, evacuations, no deaths) have occurred in Australia since Japan’s earthquake (one in Melbourne: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/factory-inferno-sends-fireballs-over-suburb-20110520-1evdv.html and one in Canberra: http://www.theage.com.au/national/toxic-smoke-fears-as-industrial-fire-burns-in-canberra-20110916-1kccu.html ) – only it didn’t take a natural disaster to trigger them, and people went back to living in their now slightly-heighten-cancer-risk houses within days.
      I believe the tsunami induced Cosmo oil refinery accident (in Chiba prefecture http://img146.imageshack.us/img146/4528/02011031163435455330997.jpg ) was also just as bad [as Fukushima]. Half a dozen workers were injured ( http://www.cosmo-oil.co.jp/eng/information/110321/index.html ); the blaze was uncontrollable and basically only stopped when the fuel ran out; and the black plume that chugged across the land will have left a toxic fallout that is as likely (if not more so) to cause increased health problems in the exposed population as fukushima’s radiation (e.g. http://www.epa.gov/air/nitrogenoxides/health.html ).

      The truth is, none of our dispatchable energy technologies come with a fail-safe, no-impact, zero-accident, safety guarantee. Every one of them have been involved in catastrophic accidents and all have had lasting negative health and environmental impacts. Of course unlike nuclear power and hydro, fossil fuels don’t need an accident to do their worst, they come with the threat of ill-health and the promise of climate change through their normal, daily operation.

      One more important point to make is that what the deaths/TWh figures can tell us, is the relative frequency with which accidents occur in each industry. On that score I hope you can see, nuclear power, and western hydro win hands down on relative safety compared to other dispatchable, baseload energy alternatives.

      1. > Nuclear: Chernobyl meltdown: An eventual total of 43 fatalities. According to the UN the initial fire, explosions and immediate response led to 28 deaths from fire and radiation exposure during the first few weeks.

        This is outrageous. I am Ukrainian. I actually was living somewhat nearby, unlike you. I have billions of Chernobyl Sr-90 atoms in my bones. Luckily for me, much less than some other people.

        Can you tell me with a straight face that 20-year conscript who was collecting graphite blocks with activity of 2000 R/h with practically his bare hands (“protected” by just gloves) was living happily ever after? That is cow excrement, pardon my French.

        Soviet Army just discharged and sent these young boys to home to die in a few years (MODERATOR: Please provide references). Good luck proving that their deaths are Chernobyl related. And there were HUNDREDS of them, collecting that shit all around Unit 4.

        Pripyat wasn’t evacuated for more than a day. The rad levels in the city were about 1 R/h. Do the math. All 50 THOUSAND people got about 30 rems externally, and much worse, they took in lots of bad stuff _internally_! So I’d guess 50 rems for each person, if not more. That is a significant lifetime cancer increase, several percent at the minimum. 1% of 50000 is 500.

        And every single one who was “lucky” to inhale an actual dust particle from burning nuclear fuel… it’s almost 100% guarantee of lung cancer (MODERATOR: Please provide references for this statement). Again, good luck proving the link – Ukrainian government is not very fond of prospect of paying large compensation to relatives. So, bureaucratic counter-pressure is huge.

        Then there are enormous, and continuing, economical losses. 2500 km^2 in Ukraine and Belarus are still evacuated. How much money is already lost to that? How many more will be lost still?

        1. Silly me, I did not kick you off in time and you came back.

          If you think it is outrageous take it up with UNSCEAR, they have studied the matter for 25 years and issued numerous reports with utterly unambiguous findings. http://www.unscear.org/docs/reports/2008/11-80076_Report_2008_Annex_D.pdf Those cleaning up the site were, not surprisingly, the most focussed-upon group for this work as it is perfectly obvious that their exposure was greatest.

          Once again, you provide anecdote. You provide emotion. You provide your own back of envelope assessment based on your own apparent expertise. This expertise is now very questionable given the lack of understanding and rigour you have shown to date. You provide no link. No evidence.

          You claim “it’s almost 100% guarantee of lung cancer” from the inhalation of a single radioactive dust particle. That’s interesting, have you some actual medical research to support that assertion? Or have you just been reading Helen Caldicott? These Ukrainians who chose to return and live there against the authorities’ wishes would probably disagree with you http://www.thestar.com/news/world/article/711752 .

          “So I’d guess 50 rems for each person, if not more.”. You do that. I’ll take my cues from UNSCEAR who do more than casual guess work.

          “2500 km^2 in Ukraine and Belarus are still evacuated”. That evacuated area is now a wildlife sanctuary. Aside from the old folk mentioned above, the lack of people is a boon for wild animals and vegetation. Here’s some work on the subject by actual scientists http://www.thebulletin.org/web-edition/features/wildlife-and-chernobyl-the-scientific-evidence-minimal-impacts .

          Simple virtue of your Ukrainian heritage gives you no authority in this area whatsoever, much like the fallout from atomic testing at Maralinga in South Australia gives my parents no particular authority.

          People have a choice. They can heed the type of casual fearmongering you peddle, or they can look to the best efforts of scientific experts. I can’t stop you (except around here, where I can and certainly will), but just be aware of this (lifted from a previous article) https://decarbonisesa.com/2011/05/23/friends-of-which-earth-giving-green-the-red-light/

          “A significant impact from Chernnobyl is not radiological, but psycho-social[5]. Borrowing the language of the report, exposed populations show stress symptoms including increased levels of depression and anxiety, with important consequences for behaviour such as choices in diet, smoking, drinking and “other lifestyle choices”[6]. Calling that what it is, these people feel they have been robbed of their future by an invisible enemy, so see less reason not to eat, smoke, drink and engage in risky behaviour, sexual and otherwise, to the point of harming themselves. It’s tragic, it’s unnecessary, and UNSCEAR offers this reassurance:

          “From this annex based on 20 years of studies… it can be concluded that…the vast majority of the population need not live in fear of serious health consequences from the Chernobyl accident… Lives have been disrupted… but from the radiological point of view generally positive prospects for the future health of most individuals involved should prevail (pg 65, paragraph 100).””

          That’s right. The melodramatic fearmongering of the type in which you engage has done more harm than the radiation ever will. Grow some morals and do those people a favour. Stop.

        2. Due to your repeated refusal to adhere to the basic guidelines I have laid out, your comments have been relegated to moderation. Keep it up and I will just boot you off. As a reminder:

          Denys, these threads are useful for exploring issues with others…That’s how we learn.

          However there is NO NEED to continually make your posts with the degree of sarcasm, arrogance and occasionally outright aggression that have characterised most of your comments to date.

          I am quite aware that the internet in general is the wild west of human interaction, but its not like that around here. If you want to keep coming back, start lifting your game or I will simply put you on forced moderation.

          These rules apply to everyone but rarely have I needed to spell them out. Stick to the issues, don’t attack the people, concede your errors so that discussion might move ahead, make you points clearly and if you have a strong point of disagreement, PROVIDE REFERENCES AND LINKS.

          If you are not here in a genuine spirit of enquiry, discussion and learning (both of which certainly involve robust challenges to what I say, and that is welcomed) you need not stay, and will eventually be booted out.

      2. Thanks Ben. The source of information for my comment above was indeed the UNSCEAR 2008 report. Sorry, I should have linked to it. Actually the whole comment was all a bit disjointed and loosely referenced. If anyone wants to confirm any other information I’ll dig out the reference for you.

    3. It is my strong suspicion that nuclear power is unprofitable for private corporations, or at least not able to provide the outrageous profits that hydrocarbons and coal do. Even in the USA, there was a suspicion in some regulating bodies that during the California shortage of peak spinning reserve power, caused by a winter that put too little snow behind the hydroelectric dams, the power companies made more money when the nuclear plants were off line for scheduled maintenance.

  3. Hi Tim,

    Thanks for making this comment. You raise some important issues that need exploring. Long answer coming. In short, yes I do believe we can. It requires a holistic view of risks and impacts.

    Firstly, regarding the “secrecy” of Fukushima. I was really pleased that this report https://decarbonisesa.com/2011/11/13/fukushima-minute-by-minute/ was released publicly so soon in the piece. It is quite unusual for this to have been the case. I hope I can take this to mean that the industry is understanding that secrecy does not serve them anymore, and only transparency can further their goals. It’s a very highly detailed report, and so far the most authoritative account available. Beyond that, it is a stigma the nuclear industry wears. Personally, I regard them as not particularly better or worse than any other area of big business. But I acknowledge the have to work double hard to win any new supporters and shift this perception. Beyond those comments, I really have to leave this issue to your good self.

    Something we can be clearer on is the subjectivity you talk about with the fatalities. As mentioned in this piece, the study we quote was an actuarial one. Actuaries are perhaps the least subjective human beings on the planet. They literally are trained to care for nothing except that which the numbers can demonstrate, so I would tend to take these findings with a high level of confidence. One of the main sources of data is the Energy Related Severe Accident Database which records fatalities from severe accidents right across the energy chain i.e. mining, processing, transportation of fuel, energy generation, waste management. The most dangerous bits are at the front end: mining, processing, transportation. These kill and hurt the most people. The incredible energy density of uranium means much less of this is required, hence the very good safety level overall.
    But even at the power production level, nuclear is safest. There are then three accidents of note at nuclear power stations. Two in OECD nations (Three Mile Island and Fukushima) have resulted in no fatalities. That they attract a lot of media, discussion and condemnation should, I think, remain secondary to that point. No fatalities. The record for other power sources in the OECD is not so good, recall for example the Longford Gas Plant in Australia. This is an area of ready comparison, and nuclear wins, easily.

    Then there is Chernobyl. The numbers we quote in this article are taken directly from the findings of the global peak body on this issue, and I imagine they might take exception to the insistence of their subjectivity. It is not the direct, but the latent deaths that attract the disagreement here. UNSCEAR says “no detectable impact”. The World Health Organisation leaves the door a little further ajar for a larger finding of cancer deaths using the Linear Non-Threshold model of harm, that infers that any level of radiation, however low, causes some fatalities. However, opponents of nuclear never quote WHO in full on this matter. If you do, you realise just how very guarded they are in making this findings. I did so in this post, https://decarbonisesa.com/2011/10/09/a-new-age-for-nuclear-dont-hold-your-breath/ I encourage you to take a look.

    For me, once you leave UNSCEAR and WHO, you enter a world of non-science where pretty much anything goes, and ideology rules. It generates insane suggestions like those I took apart here, https://decarbonisesa.com/2011/05/23/friends-of-which-earth-giving-green-the-red-light/ the suggestion 1 MILLION fatalities from Chernobyl, or even, get ready for it, the suggestion of 15,000 deaths from Fukushima (already) in the USA!!! In no other area of enquiry would I rely on such shoddy work and sources. I give radiation hazard the same courtesy. Bear in mind, we have not here broached the comparative hazards of particular air pollution that comes from the combustion of fossil fuels, wood or dung, which is very, very harmful indeed. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs313/en/index.html . Again, I feel a reasonable comparison is readily made, and nuclear does very well.

    Indeed, people are currently homeless as a result of the precautionary Government edicts area the power plants. That situation really should be addressed in the near future. The radiation levels are so low that keeping these people homeless is, IMHO, quite harmful and unfair. Rod Adams wrote really well about that here. http://atomicinsights.com/2011/12/fukushima-happened-now-what.html

    Then we have the safety of modern plant design. Now, I agree that this is “subjective” in that we use Probabalistic Risk Assessment to make a determination of safety. Naturally, this is not reality, it is a human artefact to try to represent reality. It is based on some highly objective knowledge. It is also the best we have, a lot better than tea leaves, it improves with all new knowledge gained, and is what we use to make decisions for everything, not just nuclear. Understanding the differences between a Fukushima plant (circa 1970) and an AP 1000 being built in China, it is in no way a stretch to say with confidence that the latter is far safer than the former. Much like comparing vehicles from 1970 and today. One reason it has taken so long for the US to approve the AP 1000 is that late in the piece they insisted on resistance to… aircraft impact. I also respectfully submit that a modern nuclear power station is so secure and difficult to disrupt, it would be a very poorly thought through terrorism target indeed.

    Then, you add climate change…

    So, can these bad events still happen with a modern plant? Yes, of course. It is just phenomenally unlikely, and Three Mile Island and even Fukushima suggest that the probably impact is nothing like as bad as we have been taught to expect. Most importantly though, bear in mind that by saying “no” to that risk, we simply say “yes” to others: dangerous power sources, dangerous mining, dangerous air pollution and dangerous climate change. Indecision is very much a decision in it’s own right.

    In my experience, a revised approach to thinking about nuclear power safety does not happen quickly or with any one piece of new information. So feel free to either lurk, or keep up the conversation.

    1. > I also respectfully submit that a modern nuclear power station is so secure and difficult to disrupt, it would be a very poorly thought through terrorism target indeed.

      Tell this to the guy who walked into Bruce nuclear power station in Canada on Sept. 23, 2001. His boat capsized on Lake Huron. So he walked in and used a phone to call for help. NO ONE NOTICED HIM.

      Tough target for terrorism?!? Ah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

      1. So that would be the lobby I take it?

        No reference. No link. No analysis. No acknowledgments of obvious errors in previous comments. Same arrogance.

        The site is not a playground for your nonsense Denys.
        Goodbye.

      2. Actually Ben, he is correct about the incident at Bruce occuring:
        http://hansardindex.ontla.on.ca/hansardECAT/37-2/L048A-4.htm

        “Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Energy, Science and Technology): The facts are exactly as I outlined them yesterday. The gentleman went through a perimeter fence, which is a short fence. It is a fence that marks the —

        (Interjections)

        Excuse me. It is a fence that marks the property line. It’s some three kilometres away from the actual security fences that surround the reactors. A phone is on the administrative building inside of this little fence, and it is meant for exactly what the gentleman used it for. It’s for people who are in distress to use and to phone the security of the plant, who did respond right away and brought him into the building to warm him up, because he and his friend were suffering from hypothermia. They were transported to the hospital.”

        However, the real question is what on earth would a terrorist who was relatively unfamiliar with the operation of a nuclear reactor do once on site? The control room would be much more protected than the outside of the plant, and if he got inside it, would he simply shoot everyone? If so, vigilance controls would SCRAM the reactor. The absolutely worst thing he could do is cause a LOCA (i.e a Fukushima-type incident), but unless his buddies blew up all of the diesel generators, battery back ups and the entire plant’s switching yard the core would be able to be cooled fairly quickly.

        And of course, if we’re talking about an AP1000 then the passive core cooling systems would trip automatically during this intentional LOCA and the would-be terrorist couldn’t stop them without going into the containment dome itself and replacing the temperature sensors with dummies. A thermal excursion in an IFR is even less likely.

        The ultimate question is, why bother trying in vain to target a nuclear reactor when you could just drive a car bomb into an office building lobby, make some DIY thermite and bring down a few power transmission towers or just go nuts with an automatic firearm in the middle of a busy public place? All of those would wreak vastly more havoc.

        1. THANK YOU for providing much needed reference and analysis to this. I could not locate a reference to the event after a brief search.

          I was perfectly prepared to believe the event occurred. I am completely unsurprised to hear that it was nothing as described by DV.

          His/her performance here has been woeful. Despite repeated requests and directions he/she has not lifted his/her game. Just another party who arrives pretending to be something, but then morphs into their true character; vexatious, eager to pepper the threads with misinformation for the benefit of anyone happening upon the site for the first time.

          Ben Heard Director

          E- ben.heard@thinkclimateconsulting.com.au M- 0411 808 202 W- http://www.thinkclimateconsulting.com.au

    2. Agreed. Note that the worst health consequence of the Fukushima nuclear power losses will be the pollutants spewed out by fossil carbon plants making up for the drop in clean electricity production.

  4. Reference: “The Rise of Nuclear Fear” by Spencer Weart. The fear started thousands or millions of years ago with the fear of witches, wizardry, magic etc. The design of the human brain is very bad. See “Religion Explained” by Pascal Boyer.

    “The Rise of Nuclear Fear” by Spencer Weart needs “Religion Explained” as background. A lot of modern first world people do magical thinking rather than logical or scientific thinking [not all logical thinking is scientific]. That is, they think of technology and things they don’t understand as magic. That is especially true of anything “nuclear.”

    The US government did a lot of propagandizing about nuclear things in the 1950s. Some US government officials used secrecy as an instrument of political power at the same time. The secret is:

    THERE ARE NO SECRETS.

    Nature is an open book. Nature is the same everywhere. Any country with enough money, sanity, scientists and uranium can make a nuclear bomb. Most that could, chose not to. Iran seems to be stuck by a lack of something cultural. Uranium is mineable in many countries.

    The following seems to be too complicated for many people:

    Bomb = bad
    Reactor = good

    There is no possible way that a reactor could ever become a nuclear bomb. Chernobyl did not. I will have to tell you a little about how to make a bomb to explain the difference. Nothing classified. See:
    http://clearnuclear.blogspot.com

  5. It is my belief that the attack on Iraq by the Bush administration, but none on Iran or North Korea, proves that Bush, Cheney, and their advisers knew perfectly well that Saddam Hussein had no WMDs, and that nuclear deterrence works just as well for our “rogue” enemies as it ever did for us.
    Or, of course, Iran’s motive for nuclear research might be simply to retain its position among the world’s leading suppliers of energy.

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