Nuclear Disaster in Japan

Does it show a way forward for nuclear power?


The crisis at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plants continues. Amazingly, a 40-year-old power plant built to withstand a 7.9 magnitude earthquake on the Richter scale shut down automatically as designed when the Earth began shaking. In fact, it stood up to an earthquake that released more than 40 times the amount of energy the plant was designed to survive. At the moment it appears that the 33-foot tsunami that knocked out its backup diesel generators for its coolant pumps was the plant'sundoing.

Two earlier explosions were hampering attempts to keep the reactor cores inundated with seawater, and a third explosion yesterday may have uncovered some of the spent fuel rods in a cooling pond at one of the facilities. The explosions appear to be caused by a buildup of highly volatile hydrogen gas within the facilities. After this latest explosion, radiation levels increased outside the facilities and residents within a 12-mile radius of the stricken plants have been evacuated and those living within 19 miles have been advised to stay indoors.

Reports are spotty, but exposure to radiation just outside the plant for one hour reached the equivalent of more than three years of naturally occurring radioactivity. Despite multiple setbacks, plant workers continue their heroic efforts to cool down the reactor cores. As I write, most experts believe that the plant woes will not produce major health or environmental consequences, although the clean up will cost Tokyo Electric billions.

Naturally, anti-nuclear activists and some policy makers around the world are citing the disaster as evidence that nuclear power is inherently unsafe and should be banned. For example, in Germany thousands of anti-nuclear protesters flooded the streets of Berlin shouting "turn them off." In response, German Chancellor Angela Merkel ordered that the country's seven nuclear power plants built before 1980 be shut down for a safety review. In the United States, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) urged a moratorium on building new nuclear power plants.

Could it happen here? Although earthquakes can and do occur all over the United States, the West Coast and Alaska are the most seismically active regions. The facilities whose physical locations most closely resemble that of the Fukushima plants are two nuclear generating plants built on the coast of California, the Diablo Canyon Power Plant and the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. The two reactors at the Diablo Canyon began operation in the mid-1980s and are built to withstand 7.5-magnitude earthquakes on the Richter scale. The reactors are located 85 feet above the coast. A recent analysis downgraded the most likely earthquake in the area to about half that. 

The two reactors at San Onofre began operations in 1968 and are built to withstand a magnitude 7.0 earthquake. Seismic analysis indicates that the largest likely earthquake near that facility would register a 6.5 magnitude. The San Onofre reactors are enclosed by a 30-foot high tsunami wall. It should be noted that nearby Newport Beach experienced a 12-meter tsunami surge (39 feet) in 1934. The Sendai surge may have been about 33 feet in height.

The Cascadia subduction zone off the coast of Washington, Oregon, and Northern California is the region most likely to experience an earthquake equivalent to the Sendai one. In January 1700 a magnitude 9.0 megathrust earthquake occurred sending tsunami waves across the Pacific to Japan and reached as much as eight meters above sea level (26 feet) onshore in the Pacific Northwest. Fortunately, the closest nuclear power plant, the Columbia Generating Station, is located 200 miles inland.

Back in 1980 during the "energy crisis," the National Research Council issued a report, Energy in Transition, 1985-2010, in which one scenario suggested that the U.S. might be fueled by as many as 1,000 nuclear power plants by 2010. But the 1979 Three Mile Island accident boosted public opposition to nuclear energy. The good news was that that partial reactor meltdown had essentially no health consequences other than anxiety. Nevertheless, no new reactors were ordered in the United States until recently. Despite the Japanese situation, the Obama administration is insisting that it plans to go ahead with its policy of subsidizing new nuclear facilities with federal loan guarantees. Frankly, it is a real question if the private utilities would choose to build the current versions of nuclear plants without federal loan guarantees and the backstop of federal disaster insurance.

One hopeful possibility is that the Japanese crisis will spark the development and deployment of new and even safer nuclear power plants. Already, the Westinghouse division of Toshiba has developed and sold its passively safe AP1000 pressurized water reactor. The reactor is designed with safety systems that would cool down the reactor after an accident without the need for human intervention and operate using natural forces like gravity instead of relying on diesel generators and electric pumps. Until the recent events in Japan, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission was expected to give final approval to the design by this fall despite opposition by some anti-nuclear groups.

One innovative approach to using nuclear energy to produce electricity safely is to develop thorium reactors. Thorium is a naturally occurring radioactive element, which, unlike certain isotopes of uranium, cannot sustain a nuclear chain reaction. However, thorium can be doped with enough uranium or plutonium to sustain such a reaction. Liquid fluoride thorium reactors (LFTR) have a lot to recommend them with regard to safety. Fueled by a molten mixture of thorium and uranium dissolved in fluoride salts of lithium and beryllium at atmospheric pressure, LFTRs cannot melt down (strictly speaking the fuel is already melted). 

Because LFTRs operate at atmospheric pressure, they are less likely than conventional pressurized reactors to spew radioactive elements if an accident occurs. In addition, an increase in operating temperature slows down the nuclear chain reaction, inherently stabilizing the reactor. And LFTRs are designed with a salt plug at the bottom that melts if reactor temperatures somehow do rise too high, draining reactor fluid into a containment vessel where it essentially freezes.

It is estimated that 83 percent of LFTR waste products are safe within 10 years, while the remainder needs to be stored for 300 years. Another advantage is that LFTRs can use plutonium and nuclear waste as fuel, transmuting them into much less radioactive and harmful elements, thus eliminating the need for waste storage lasting up to 10,000 years. No commercial thorium reactors currently exist, although China announced a project earlier this year that aims to develop such reactors.

The main problem with energy supply systems is that for the last 100 years, governments have insisted on meddling with them, using subsidies, setting rates, and picking technologies. Consequently, entrepreneurs, consumers, and especially policymakers have no idea which power supply technologies actually provide the best balance between cost-effectiveness and safety. In any case, let's hope that the current nuclear disaster will not substantially add to the terrible woes the Japanese must bear as a result of nature's fickle cruelty.

Science Correspondent Ronald Bailey is author of Liberation Biology: The Scientific and Moral Case for the Biotech Revolution (Prometheus Books).

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  1. “the Japanese Nuclear Disaster”

    When did this happen?

    1. 1945.

      1. poor form, sport. poor form.

        1. I tried to stop myself, but it was too late.

          I sure hope Japan bounces back from this disaster. It’s absolutely unbelievable what they endure from nature.

          1. One thing I’m very thankful for in a way is that this disaster happened to Japan. Not because they deserve it, but because they are competent enough to deal with it in a rational manner.

            Think of how Iran would deal with a disaster like this at Bushehr, or DPRK having a melt-down at its graphite-bomb-fuel reactor. Epic disasters such would be.

      2. Zing!

      3. Hey, I could have used that one.

        1. Now I feel guilty.

        2. Hey Gilbert I heard you were fired….I didn’t know there was somebody stupid enough to hire you. You are with out a doubt one of the most no talent asshole on our planet!

          1. Hey, be fair… voters elect worse people to public office

          2. He had one job… say the name of a duck in the most annoying way possible. Who would’ve imagined he’d mess that up too!?

      4. The U.S. west coast (including a very young me) survived two above-ground, unshielded nuclear explosions in Japan then, with no radiation effect that anyone could detect on this side of the ocean.

        This is simply more anti-nuke screaming, amplified by a sympathetic press). As the old song said:

        This is an air raid alarm,
        Stick your finger up and run!

        1. My inclination is that these are not the same monsters. I don’t know how they should be compared, but my guess is that it’s not as simple as “two above-ground, unshielded” vs one underground, shielded.

          1. I heard on Tom Sullivan’s show that the nuclear bombs dropped on Japan released a 1000 time more radiation than these plants will. I don’t know it that takes into account a full meltdown though?

            1. Hard to say. I think it depends on which kind of radioactive leak we’re talking about, when and where the readings are taken, and how widespread the contamination might be.

              And, of course, atomic bombs do a lot more than just release puffs of radiation. The giant pressure wave and wall of flame, for example.

            2. If absolute-worst-case scenario occurred and all thousand tons or so of spent fuel rods and such burned up into the air it would be mega-worse than the atom-weapons.

              Little known fact is the worst nuclear disaster was in the Soviet Union but it wasn’t Chernobyl. It was side-effect of bomb-program out in the Urals. Soviets were taking reprocessing slag and dumping it down a mineshaft for disposal (brilliant, I know). It kept piling up down there and heating up down there, eventually it went critical and in very low-yield way was nuclear explosion. Blew all that actinide slag and acid all over the place. Mountains around there still don’t have trees. Killed hundreds.

              1. Yes, well, that’s because capitalists rape the Earth for profit, so we need to end capitalism to save Mother Nature.

          2. I heard on Tom Sullivan’s show that the nuclear bombs dropped on Japan released a 1000 time more radiation than these plants will. I don’t know it that takes into account a full meltdown though?

        2. Not to mention the ones they tested just a few hundred miles away in Arizona, or the 20 megaton h-bombs they set off in the Pacific Islands.

        3. The US west coast also survived a series of above-ground nuclear tests.

      5. I disagree with Spencer – I LOL’ed at this. Well done.

    2. This is just like the News Media. Everything is sensationalized. What bullshit. Who died…..from a nuclear accident?

    3. explosions appear to be caused by a buildup of highly volatile hydrogen gas

      Does someone know how hydrogen, rather than steam, can be generated by a meltdown?

      1. IANAE, but it appears that decay heat is the primary problem. After a reactor is shut down the fuel continues generate a lot of heat due to radioactive decay. In this case all the backup systems designed to keep it cool had been damaged. The heat caused chemical reactions in the containment stucture, one byproduct of which was hydrogen (cracked from the water?).

        Here’s where it gets ironic. To relieve the pressure and preserve the integrity of the containment structure, the hydrogen was vented into the surrounding building, where it promptly exploded, and may have damaged the containment structure.

      2. The cladding around the fuel rods is zircalloy, a zirconium alloy. When it gets hot, it splits water into oxygen and hydrogen.

  2. Blast from the past: Interesting thread from way back about the safety of various nuke designs. I’m still a fan of smaller nuke batteries, myself.

  3. I read an article criticizing the media for using experts who were really anti-nuke activists. Way to skew the message, guys!

    On the flip side, there are definitely some safety issues here that need to be addressed with future plants.

    1. I was surprised at how pro-nuke (or at least, not anti-nuke) NPR’s reporting was today. I suppose the Dems have their fingers in a lot of nuclear pies per their green energy agenda (does a green glow at night count?)

      1. It must get confusing for them to know what they believe on any given day. Though I’ve always thought nukes more consistent with the Gaea-First position.

      2. Not including what it takes to build the facility at first, nuclear power has a pretty low carbon footprint compared to coal or natural gas.

      3. It’s only talk!

  4. the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. Tits.

    That’s what everyone down here calls them.

    1. I did not know about the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, saw your comment, then… I wonder… yep, I know where that is.

    2. Everywhere I look something reminds me of her.

    3. Exactly. The Tits.

  5. LFTRs will never make it:

    1) because Flouride! Mind controlll!!1!!one!11

    2) because it’s self-regulating. SCARY. Big gov’t likes control. CONTROL RODS.

    3) becuase it’s not scaleable. Big gov’t likes centralized big power for its big paws to be put on. Decentralized nukular is like big government’s big nightmare.

    1. I’m holding out for the bussard fusion reactor, myself. More likely to be the libertarian energy solution ™.

      1. Sadly, I don’t think that’s ever gonna work. Bussard’s 2006 Google Video piece was an artful exercise of a dying man pitching his beloved into the hands of someone who could keep the dream on life support. Subsequent radio silence to me speaks volumes about just how right Todd Rider was about the infeasibility of the whole plan.

    2. Once again (and I’ve complained about this a zillion times) Ron fails to mention the Hyperion Nuke Battery. Behold:

      Small enough to be transported on a ship, truck or train, Hyperion power modules are about the size of a “hot tub” ? approximately 1.5 meters wide. Out of sight and safe from nefarious threats, Hyperion power modules are buried far underground and guarded by a security detail. Like a power battery, Hyperion modules have no moving parts to wear down, and are delivered factory sealed. They are never opened on site. Even if one were compromised, the material inside would not be appropriate for proliferation purposes. Further, due to the unique, yet proven science upon which this new technology is based, it is impossible for the module to go supercritical, “melt down” or create any type of emergency situation. If opened, the very small amount of fuel that is enclosed would immediately cool. The waste produced after five years of operation is approximately the size of a softball and is a good candidate for fuel recycling. Hyperion produces only 25 MWe ? enough to provide electricity for about 20,000 average American sized homes or its industrial equivalent.

      1. That sounds pretty awesome. And would allow for more localized power generation. Why have a grid when you can just add a few more Hyperions where you need them.
        I’ve always been a bit disappointed that the actual electricity generation part of nuclear is done with steam turbines just like in conventional combustion plants.

        1. Me, too. Steam? Really? The rest of the galaxy is laughing at us.

          1. Fuck you. Steampunk is tits. Plus steam makes the most sense from an engineering standpoint: it is well understood and has a couple of centuries of prior art.

            1. That’s why I used hydraulics for all of my computers.

              1. We run on sarcasm.

                1. I run on beans.

                  I run on lazier beans.

              2. And steam to ultimately power them.

          2. I wouldn’t worry about that. They have a million things much worse than that to laugh at us for.

        2. A LFTR would use a Brayton Cycle turbine. No steam just hot air.

      2. it is impossible for the module to go supercritical,

        That’s like having a car engine that never starts.

        guarded by a security detail.
        That’s a bug not a feature.

        Even if one were compromised, the material inside would not be appropriate for proliferation purpose
        Neither is the fuel in most commercial reactors – (almost?) all commercial Rx that use U-235 as a fuel source are only enriched to 2 -3 %. Which is unsuitable for making the big badda boom.

        1. “Neither is the fuel in most commercial reactors – (almost?) all commercial Rx that use U-235 as a fuel source are only enriched to 2 -3 %. Which is unsuitable for making the big badda boom.”

          Unless you have the appropriate centrifuge technology, right?

          1. Exactly. Hyperion’s fuel, which they say is ‘inappropriate’ is actually enriched somewhat more than average, 15-20%.

            (BTW, this is what everyone’s getting on Iran’s case about, 20% is still too low to do anything weapony*, but is rather more than most reactors need. And once you have a working process that gets you from 2 to 20, developing a process that gets you from 20 to 90+, while by no means trivial, becomes significantly easier.

            *’dirty bomb’ excepted, but also pure U-235 is a relatively inefficient way of spreading zoomies compared to what’s out there.

          2. U-burning reactors make plutonium. Pu-239 naughty-grade actually. The longer the rods stay in, the more Pu-239 soaks up neutrons and ‘mutes to 240, which is at best marginally bomb-grade (wants to blow up too fast).

            But if you manage your rods right (or Hyperion bits) you can collect enough 239 for an implosion weapon. Thorium reactors have bad effect of cranking some U-233 as side-effect, which while having a short half-life is hyper gamma emitter and Dr. Strangelove quality bomb fuel. There’s no easy answers on proliferation.

            1. U-233 isn’t the side effect, it’s the end fissionable product. The problem is finding a neutron to turn the Th-232 into Pa-233, which then decays into the U-233 that gives you the desired fission energy. There’s a 27 day half-life between the first neutron capture and conversion to U-233. More here.

        2. Silly rabbit. You don’t want used nuclear fuel to steal the remaining U235. You want it for the tasty and far more fissionable Pu240 that gets generated when 238 is exposed to neutron flux.

          Since, of course, it just takes a bit o’ chemistry to separate two different elements instead of two different isotopes.

          1. This is true (except it’s Pu-239 that’s the good stuff – and the more common daughter product of a fast neutron reaction w a U-238 nucleus. Also, the high spontaneous fission rate of 240 makes it an impurity for weapons grade Pu.)

          2. Nerd alert!

            1. See my post above. And U233 is big proliferation problem in Th-burners of any kind.

      3. “Further, due to the unique, yet proven science upon which this new technology is based …”

        Classic Snake-oil language.

        1. There’s two classes of nuclear reactors in world use: 400+ power reactors and a lot of small research reactors for education and nuclear chemistry. Many of these research reactors are foolproof uranium hydride fueled (“TRIGA”)reactors that are in the 10kW to 100kW range. The Hyperion reactors used the same idea, but scaled up to generate 25 MW electric output. The research reactors have thousands of operating hours without incident, even when operated by students.

    3. OOoooOoo . . . he said CONTROL ROD . . . heheh heheh

  6. although China announced a project earlier this year that aims to develop such reactors.

    Why is it that lefties cream their shorts over keeping up with China when it comes to trains, but not when it comes to power plants?

    1. Because it’s all part of the narrative, dude. Trains are good. Nuclear is bad.

      Come on, you know this. They haven’t changed the script for either TEAM RED or TEAM BLUE in 30+ years.

      1. Not quite. War was bad three years ago. Now it’s good.

        1. Incorrect. “Your guy is in charge” was bad, and still is. War has nothing to do with it.

          The narrative doesn’t change.

          1. War then bad, war now good. Seems different to me.

            I wonder what the left would say if Obama nuked Japan?

            1. Obama is Mothra?

              1. It’s possible. Though I was thinking he’d do it to finish the job GE started. Besides, nuking Japan is a Democratic tradition (just kidding! I’m sure the GOP would like to nuke someone, too).

              2. Obama is Mothra?

                Does that make Michelle Rodan?

                1. No; Rodan looks more feminine than Michelle.

            2. Bush tricked him into it!

      2. Not true, they renamed “gun control” to “gun safety” to stay hip and edgy.

        1. I thought it was gun change and weather control. I can’t keep up.

      3. Interesting caveat is Team Red somehow appropriated Team Blue’s color and vice-versa. McCarthy would be all confused trying to fire up a ‘Blue Scare!’

    2. “Why is it that lefties cream their shorts over keeping up with China when it comes to trains, but not when it comes to power plants?”

      Probably because they’ve never actually ridden on a Chinese train (yes I have…).

  7. Girl, I’ll drop my control rod in your reactor vessel any time.

    1. You Barry White coulda made that sound sexy…

      1. Also, you KNOW Barry White…etcetcetc

        1. Or You, Barry White, coulda made that sound sexy…

    2. And control that tasty liquid heat.

  8. This old technology isn’t even relevant to modern nuclear systems. Shut the fuck up enviro bitchers.

  9. I don’t get why the only concession you guys will make when it comes to clean energy is nuclear. I mean, yeah if the choice is between carbon-emitting forms and nuclear, the latter is the way to go. But it’s highly possible that solar will advance enough to make it all obsolete. Is it that you are suspicious of power that doesn’t produce toxins in one form or another, or is it just weighed against the relative power of the industry lobbyists?

    1. I’d love to be able to use solar for everything. Big-ass fusion reactor in the sky powering the world. High-tech, cheap (as far as the source goes), etc. But the technology just isn’t there in the near-term, plus we’ve got issues with energy storage to overcome as well.

      Nuclear, on the other hand, might be viable on a national scale. In fact, it appears that it is viable for the countries that use it on a large scale.

      We need better nuclear options, but not to use it at all strikes me as foolish. And, of course, there are eventually going to be fusion plants.

      1. In 20 years I hear.

        1. That’s right! You must be a physicist!

        2. In 30 years we will achieve the Technological Singularity? (Utopia), and all of this will be moot.

          1. I’m hoping to enjoy the infinite energy and resources period, with flying cars and robot slaves, for at least a few years before the robots, gray goo, and biological horrors all kill us dead.

            1. I plan to become a robot made out of gray goo. IIRC, when I was a kid I wanted to be the T-1000 when I grew up.

              1. I plan to become a robot made out of gray goo.

                I always wanted to sleep with a robot made out of grey goo.

                How much do you think grey goo hookers robots will charge for the service?

                1. How much do you think grey goo hookers robots will charge for the service?

                  Market prices?

            2. I’m just hoping for the Fountain of Youth [Middle Age].

        3. In 20 years I hear

          I worked on a laser fusion program 25 years ago. At the time ignition was estimated in about 10 years and an operation plant was (wait for it). . . 20 years away!

          … Hobbit

      2. Listen, even at 100% efficiency, which we will never attain, a 9kW water heater would still need a 30m^2 solar panel *at the equator*, *plus energy storage* for cloudy days and night-time use to run.

        Multiply the insolation by sin(latitude) and your array gets 36% bigger at 40 deg latitude. Add area to compensate for winter day lengths (9 hrs daylight) and you add another 300% area.

        Now, even at 100% conversion efficiency, you need an array of 222 m^2 (14.9m or 49 feet on a side) just to heat your water.

        Sorry, but solar is not the answer.

        1. I should add that a 9kW water heater does not run 100% of the time. assuming a 10% factor, your array ends up being about 15 ft on a side. Sorry about that. However, that’s still just to heat your water. imagine you’re heating water for a 10000 person town. That’s a solar plant that covers a minimum of 54 acres of ground.

          1. Average insolation = 6 kWh/m^2 per day
            You want to collect 9 kW x 24 h x 0.10 = 21.6 kWh per day
            Therefore you need a collector of area 3.6 m^2, or 1.9 m square. Double this area to account for clouds and heat loss in the piping from collector to storage tank and you get a collector 2.68 m = 8.8 ft square.

            Most solar water heaters for domestic use are smaller than this, so maybe I am being to conservative in re inefficiencies.

            For electric power, we just priced a solar PV system that would zero out our SoCal Edison bill of $170 per month. Cost installed is $36K, $21.5K after Federal Income Tax credit. Lifetime of the system is 20 years with a 0.5% loss in power output per year. Price includes maintenance, except for cleaning the panels. Given the expected increase in our power bills due to Bernanke’s mad money printing, this is a rational economic decision now.

      3. Build a Dyson sphere. ๐Ÿ˜‰

        1. That’s completely unreasonable! A Ringworld would be much more feasible…

    2. As long as it is market driven and not forced upon us, Tony. I, for one, resent paying for my neighbors solar panel system through subsidies that I pay for through taxpayer dollars or utility company fee increases.

      1. As long as it is market driven and not forced upon us, Tony.

        Not to mention the potential for crony capitalist eminent domain abuse writ large, a la Kelo.

      2. Then oil, coal, and nuclear are out. They’re all more heavily subsidized than solar. Nuclear receives the most, in fact, if you discount pollution allowances.

        1. Technically Oil Coal and Nuclear power are Solar power.

          Anyway you need to put up hard numbers if you are going to make claims like this.

          Also you need to qualify them. Do you mean per Kilowatt? or do you mean total money spent?

          Also are you claiming that oil Coal and nuclear should not be subsidized?

          I do not think you would get a disagreement with the libertarians here on that subject.

          Or are you arguing that we should also subsidize solar power? Subsidize solar instead?

          If so then you will have an argument here.

          1. I’m curious as to how much the oil and coal industries are subsidized. I don’t doubt that our venal overlords send money the way of just about any industry that contributes to political campaigns, but it’s not exactly like the oil business needs the money or that any subsidies are more than a blip in their total revenues.

            1. That’s a non-snarky curiosity, by the way.

            2. I’m curious as to how much the oil and coal industries are subsidized.

              I think a lot of the subsidies Tony is talking about is the fact that much of the oil and coal is property of the US government. ie offshore, and Alaska.

              The fact that our government sells leases to these resources in Tony’s mind is a subsidy.

              1. No, he had the balls to claim they don’t pay enough taxes, so we were subsidizing them.

                1. I imagine they pay a shitload of taxes.

            3. Here is a link with the information.

              Page 6 has this:

              Subsidy and Support per
              Unit of Production (dollars/megawatthour) as of 2007

              Nuclear 1.59
              Coal 0.44
              Refined coal 29.81
              Natural gas 0.25
              Biomass (and biofuels) 0.89
              Geothermal 0.92
              Hydroelectric 0.67
              Solar 24.34
              Wind 23.37
              Landfill Gas 1.37
              Municipal Solid Waste 0.13
              Renewables (average) 2.80
              Total (average) 1.65

              Like normal Tony has no clue.

              1. You should have posted the entire chart.

                In 2007 solar received a total Of $14 million in subsidies. Wind received $724 million.

                Nuclear received $1.26 billion, while fossil fuels received over $3.1 billion.

                Same graph you selectively quoted from.

                1. Ben Wolf, Data’s numbers were normalized and therefore meaningfull. Your numbers ignore total production, are not normalized and are therefore meaningless. Selective quoting is ok if you are selecting the pertinent portion!

                  1. But what is the exact rate of socialism per megawatthour that fake libertarians support?

        2. Re: Tony,

          They’re all more heavily subsidized than solar.


        3. I would like to see your links to this, Tony. I don’t think you will find too many here that would agree with subsidies of any kind. Do you favor subsidies, Tony?

          1. “I don’t think you will find too many here that would agree with subsidies of any kind.”

            Bullshit. This site is full of fake libertarians who will support centralized government power and subsidies as long as it agrees with their reactionary conservative opinions.

        4. Tony, by all means, let’s cut the subsidies to all forms of power generation. I don’t think anyone here will object to that. Solar will probably be a great source of power one day in the not too distant future. At that point it will not require any subsidies at all.

          1. Nuclear cannot exist without government subsidies. To argue for nuclear is to argue for government subsidies. Just go over to the Heritage Foundation’s site for some real bullshit arguing for subsidies for nuclear and admitting that it wouldn’t survive in the free market and at the same time somehow trying to make it all sound libertarian. Reason is almost as bad. Let’s face it most libertarians are full of shit.

    3. Well, Tony, the sun isn’t shining all the time so you need some base load that will work all the time.

      Or you could use batteries to store the energy from the sun, but then you have to deal with a bunch of batteries which produce a bunch of toxic waste.

      More advanced solar won’t solve all the problems until the battery problem is solved too.

      1. More advanced solar won’t solve all the problems until the battery problem is solved too.

        No. Store the power by pumping water uphill into reservoirs. Then convert using hydro generators when needed.

        A battery more efficient then hydro is physically impossible.

        1. How efficient are the pumps?

          Not trying to be snarky. This sounds like it could be a pretty good idea.

          1. The process is about 85% efficient. There are about 100 hydroelectric pumped-storage units in operation today in the US. All but two have both upper and lower reservoirs above ground. The largest are about 200 MW–the size of two nuclear power reactors.

        2. Clever, but what happens when it is cloudy for long enough that your reservoir runs out of water?

          Also, I think hard core environmentalists wouldn’t like this idea much either… :/

          1. Uh, it’s done already. The pumps are about 85% efficient electrically and about 60% efficient mechanically, for about 26% efficiency overall (electricity to water up the hill, then back down the hill to electricity).

        3. Or store the energy kinetically in some other manner.

        4. Better still: Use the on-again, off-again energy from photovoltaics and windmills to produce hydrogen from water. Storage problem is gone and the country could benefit from a hydrogen infrastructure.

          … Hobbit

          1. You mean like the hydrogen that exploded in the Japanese (and 3-mile Island) nuke plants? ๐Ÿ™‚

            You still have to store the hydrogen.

            1. You mean like all of those petro-chemicals that exploded at the Japanese refinery?

              You either store the H2 in local tanks to be transferred to trucks (like natural gas) or build a national network of hydrogen pipelines (like natural gas).

              … Hobbit

              1. I realize that H2 is no worse than CH4 or petroleum. My ๐Ÿ™‚ was meant to indicate a friendly reminder, not necessarily to you Hobbit but to those who think that solar is completely innocuous. It was not meant to be a snarky comment.

          2. Would the efficiency of electrolysis be better than that of the water pumps?

            1. Hydrogen electrolysis is easy but inefficient. Also hydrogen is difficult to contain and costly to transport because of its low molecular weight and particle size. Most hydrogen today is manufactured in reformers by reacting superheated steam (from coal boilers) and natural gas. They are used in corn oil factories, refineries and chemical plants. That is what is in hydrogenated corn oil (trans-fat).

    4. Solar can’t some close to producing the amount of power a simple nuke plant can. You also can’t store the sun…

      1. You also can’t store the sun…

        Oh yeah? Watch me!! BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

      2. The typical nuclear plant produces about one gigawatt. Germany alone produces around 18 gigawatts from solar.

        1. jigga-what?

        2. … which in Germany, given its latitude and weather, generates about as much energy as one nuclear reactor.

        3. Power != energy. There might be 18 GW of installed solar capacity, but let us say a 1 GW nuke is running 24/7 at that level. It will therefore produce 24 GWh of energy.

          There is no way a terrestrial solar array can do that.

    5. Re: Tony,

      But it’s highly possible that solar will advance enough to make it all obsolete.

      Look, Tony! A unicorn!

      1. The efficiency of solar doubles every 30 years.

        It will take awhile and the storage problem (not insurmountable) needs to be worked out. But solar is not a fantasy. It is more of a crap shoot.

        By the time Solar is set to be as efficient as oil or coal there is a very good chance we will be able to generate power using relatively cold Fusion. In fact scientists have already created a cold fusion “reactor” that produces more power then it uses. It is only used for experiments but the proof of concept already exists today.

        Solar has competition…as i said it is a crap shoot.

        1. Solar has competition…as i said it is a crap shoot.

          Point being that we should let the market figure out the best solution…not Tony’s Utopian subsidizing machine that the rest of us call the US government.

          1. I had this argument with my roommate this morning, and he acts like nothing would get done if the government did not intervene.

        2. relatively cold Fusion

          Are you taking about the Italian guys or the Japanese guys? Neither one has really been verified.

          (True fact, the Italian guys are from the University of Bologna)

          1. Italian-Japanese fusion? Like sushi with pasta instead of rice?

            1. Nah, it’s lasagna made with rice instead of pasta.

              1. With fish guts instead of tomatoes?

            2. Already exists in ramen noodles…

          2. You refer to the experiment being conducted by Rossi, Levi and Focardi. Note that Focardi et al. have published in the peer-reviewed literature starting in 1994. Not many others have confirmed this type of cold fusion (Ni-H), but there have been replications. The Pd-D form of cold fusion has been replicated roughly 17,000 times in more than 200 major laboratories, according to an estimate from the Institute of High Energy Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences. These replications have been published in hundreds of mainstream, peer-reviewed journal papers. (I have a collection of 1,200 cold fusion papers copied from the library at Los Alamos, but they are not all replications per se.)

            So yes, cold fusion has definitely been verified.

            In the Rossi experiment they produced 15 kW for 18 hours, with 400 W input control power. Given the size of the device, this far exceeds the limits of chemistry. Other cold fusion experiments have run continuously for months, exceeding the limits of chemistry by a factor of 10,000 or more, so there is no question the effect is nuclear and it has the potential to become a practical source of energy.

            Rossi is building a 1 MW reactor, scheduled for this fall.

            For details, see:


        3. “In fact scientists have already created a cold fusion “reactor” that produces more power then it uses.”

          Scientists? Are you sure you don’t mean ‘preachers’?

          Unless you mean that in the same sense that a dam ‘produces more power than it uses,’ in that case, carry on.

    6. I don’t get why the only concession you guys will make when it comes to clean energy is nuclear.

      Who’s “you guys”? I’d love for solar, tide, and wind to power the economy, but in the foreseeable future they’re not going to be good enough, or even remotely close. That leaves coal, natural gas, or nuclear.

      Personally, I come down on the side of markets first: drop all the subsidies, make polluters pay for clean-up, and whiche’er one wins, wins.

      1. Not tide or wind. If we start harvesting enough of those, it could have drastic and unforeseen effects on the earth. Can you imagine if we harvested all of the energy contained in the tides? The moon could end up spinning out of orbit and crashing into us!

        1. No it wouldn’t.

          The Earth rotates under the moon. The tidal bulges take time to form and dissipate, meaning that the line running between the bulges (and through the center of the Earth) does not point toward the moon, but at a point ahead of it in its orbit.

          These bulges forms a gravitational dipole that accelerates the moon, while the moon in turn retards the rotation of the Earth. Thus the Earth’s rotational energy is transferred to the orbital energy of the moon. The moon orbits farther and farther away from the Earth, and the Earth’s day gets longer and longer.

          Devices that harvest energy from tides will essentially reduce this dipole moment slightly. They also tend to increase the time needed for the bulges to dissipate. The former phenomenon will reduce this Earth moon coupling. The latter phenomenon will result a stronger coupling.

          It’s not clear to me which property will dominate. However, at most they will result in a slight change in the rate at which the Earth Moon distance is growing. It is theoretically impossible for it to reduce it to the point where the distance starts to get smaller.

          In the long run doing nothing and doing something will have the same outcome: the system will stop changing when the Earth is tidally locked to the moon, meaning that each day is exactly equal to one lunar orbital period.

          There is no chance of tidal energy generation causing the moon to spin out of its orbit.

          1. He was being sarcastic, methinks.

            1. Shhh, don’t interrupt tarran when he’s on a roll like that.

      2. That sounds great. How do you get the polluters to pay for clean up when the cost of cleanup is greater than their assets? Who’s paying for that?

        Nuclear power does not exist in a world without heavy government subsidies. The most prominent nuclear powered countries are socialist: Japan, France.

    7. What the hell is solar going to do for Japan, where they don’t even have enough land to feed themselves? Industrial solar and wind are land hogs, and distributed solar is not something our electrical grid is built to deal with right now.

      1. They do have a lot of open land, but it is all mountains.

    8. But it’s highly possible that solar will advance enough to make it all obsolete.

      Stick it where the sun don’t shine.

      1. +1000. Such a simple statement, but with so many layers of meaning.

    9. Many libertarians accept the general economic assumption of MUST HAVE MOAR CONSUMPTION. Nuclear gives us MOAR CONSUMPTION so it’s all good, brutha.

      The assumptions you choose regarding consumption, externalities, etc determine what the best energy sources.

      1. I believe I saw a reference recently that said our per capita consumption of power has gone down due to increased efficiency over the last 20-30 years.

        But with a growing population you will still need more energy production and we still want the most efficient and least polluting ones in the long run.

        I hope you are not in favor of policies like the Chinese have in limiting people to fewer children.

      2. Higher living standards are so boergeois.

        Embrace poverty, comrades.

    10. As others have pointed out, energy density is tough for photovoltaics on an industrial level. However, having lived thru the “energy crisis” of the 1970’s, I wonder why passive solar heating has not returned. It is one of the easiest, cheapest ways to harness energy from the sun.

      … Hobbit

      1. Even with subsidies and tax breaks like we have now, it is still inconvenient and expensive.

        1. Even with subsidies and tax breaks like we have now, it is still inconvenient and expensive.

          Passive solar is used in the design of houses as they are built. My home at 8000ft in the New Mexico mountains is heated by south-facing windows. In the summer the overhang blocks the sun and the house remains cool.

          Cost when building: very little
          Cost over the 25 years I’ve lived here: 0

          … Hobbit

          1. Doesn’t work so well at high latitudes, where the sun is not overhead but at more of an angle during midsummer.

            You overhang won’t block the sun at that point and your south facing windows will be poor insulation in the midwinter shows.

          2. Seriously, the problem with solar heaters is materials. UV plays hell on real hardware.

            Then there’s the minor detail of designing a system that doesn’t freeze up when it’s cold outside. By the time you’ve done that, the price tag will almost certainly exceed your energy savings.

            But if it makes you feel better, by all means.

          3. Sorry. I did not (still don’t fully for that matter) know what passive solar meant. If you design a house and you have the money and you live in a climate favorable for solar, then it obviously can work very well.

            Even in New Orleans where I live, I have some friends who wanted to take advantage of subsidies to add solar for water heating and I think for winter heating to their house and they found it was not worth the cost, even with the subsidies and the favorable climate. As I said earlier, I am not against solar where applicable

      2. Because the largest single non-industrial use of electricity is air-conditioning?

        Seriously, dude. If you’re dreaming of acres of solar panels — at a cost of $1000 per square meter, forsooth — they’re going to be used to run air conditioners in Phoenix and Los Angeles.

    11. But it’s highly possible that solar will advance enough to make it all obsolete.

      Too bad solar relies on the mining of a lot of rare earth metals (in addition to many of our other industries, China also has a grip on the solar cell market). Wind relies on industrial production to create the turbines and parts on a regular basis.

      Until the greenies accept that having energy on demand ALWAYS involves environmental degradation of some sort, or we lock them up in Supermax for about 20 years so we can get the grid installed and adapted, then any advances in any type of energy production for 300 million people is going to be precarious at best.

      1. you’re assuming the greenies are ok with “on demand” energy availability.

        1. ^^^ THIS ^^^

    12. “I don’t get why the only concession you guys will make when it comes to clean energy is nuclear.”
      Because it’s the only one that works.

    13. Fine. Let solar advance enough to make it all obsolete. I for one would be impressed. At the moment it doesn’t work well enough.

    14. Because solar is diffuse, expensive to collect, and requires assloads of storage for baseload production. None of this is cheap, which is why solar’s proponents inevitably end their spiel with a bid for operational subsidies. And before you start whining about “externalities” and other sorts of angels-dancing-on-the-heads-of-a-pin made up numbers, know that to end consumers whatever subsidies gasoline and diesel get on their way to the consumer are more than ameliorated with other taxes. It doesn’t matter to the end user.

      The fact that solar demands enormous amounts of subsidy, both on the capital and operational ends, is a strong prima facie argument that the thermodynamic arrow is pointed the wrong way for photoelectric solar (and very likely all other forms, too). That is, there’s a strong likelihood that the costs of making and installing the devices will yield less energy than it took to build and install them.

  10. Perhaps this is how the seasteading movement can actually work. When governments block all the energy production in a country someone can put a nuclear reactor out on a barge to make money… ?

    1. someone can put a nuclear reactor out on a barge to make money… ?

      I wonder how hard it would be to buy a nuclear powered surpluses navy vessel?

      Too bad the the communist Soviets have far worse safety record then our capitalist funded navy….or we could buy there old subs.

    2. Works for casinos.

      1. Hi, remember me?

    3. I should also note that there are power plants in Mexico that supply power to the US.

      And of course Canada sells us a shit pot of Coal, natural Gas, and oil.

      What you claim is possible in the future is already happening in a slightly different form today.

      1. A huge chunk of Vermont’s electricity comes from Canadian hydro plants.

    4. Perhaps this is how the seasteading movement can actually work. When governments block all the energy production in a country someone can put a nuclear reactor out on a barge to make money… ?

      Dan, I think you may be on to something. Do we not have nuclear subs and aircraft carriers submersed and floating the seas, repectively? I don’t hear how dangerous they are and how they are melting down every other week. Problem here is delivering the energy en masse from the floating power plant. Well, besides the energy output from the rocket propelled ones, but that is messy, chaotic energy delivery.

      1. Yeah, I am not sure how that would work either… perhaps some sort of undersea transmission line would work? I don’t know much about that.

        1. I think the seasteaders solution is to move the poeple to the power rather then move the power to the poeple.

        2. Scandinavia has high-voltage DC power lines running under the sea, so distribution isn’t a show-stopper. However, our old buddy I^2R rears it’s ugly head when pushing power long distance.

          … Hobbit

          1. For very short distances, superconductors can void that problem. But it’s a damned expensive way to deal with the problem, and you have to keep them chilled down to liquid nitrogen temperatures.

      2. You may not hear about it in the press because it’s covered up as a “national security” secret, but we actually lose about one carrier / month to meltdown. It’s how all those jackasses in the shipyards stay employed.

        1. we actually lose about one carrier / month to meltdown.

          [Linky McCite] please.

        2. So 1 of our 11 carriers experiences a meltdown each month? And they keep it secret?

      3. Sure but the cost of their electricity is around $.30/kWh.

      4. Naval reactors vary in size from ~50-150 Megawatt. The subs use nearly weapons-grade uranium and I can’t see Obama selling that stuff to Patri Friedman. The subs can’t be refueled and the hull has to be cut open after the 30-year design life to remove the spent core.
        That being said, the Roosians are building a floating nuke based on their nuclear icebreakers, to provide power for their Arctic outposts.

  11. No nucs would be good news for Big Oil, right? So, has anyone looked into the Koch Bros. being responsible for the earthquake/tsunami? Just sayin.

    1. No, no, no. It was the evil Illuminati Earthquake Machine, HAARP. Please, try to keep up.

      1. Did GE make that? Because I’m beginning to detect a pattern.

  12. The author cites maximum expected earthquake strengths for two US nuclear facilities, but does not mention how trustworthy these estimates are.

    Just out of curiosity, what was the magnitude of the worst possible earthquake in the Sendai region calculated to be? If it was less than 9.0, then we now know these estimates can’t be trusted.

    1. IIRC, it was 8.2

      1. Which would be a bullshit estimate, because there were three stronger earth quakes in Japan during the 20th century, including the 1933 8.4 quake with an epicenter in the same part of Japan.

        1. I forgot to mention that the 1933 quake caused a 94 feet tsunami. And the 7.2 quake from 1896 caused a very unusual 125 feet tsunami.

    2. The earthquake didn’t damage the plant.

  13. Perhaps it might be a good idea to not put Nuclear power plants on fault lines or in the path of tsunamis

    This same advise goes for subsidizing flood insurance in hurricane alley.

    1. Why not harness the power of tsunamis? Or volcanic eruptions? Or hurricanes?

      Really, there’s energy everywhere, and we just let it go to waste.

      1. Indeed, the next asteroid strike may very well take care of our energy problems for the indefinite future.

  14. In addition to having its R&D funded by the US government more than any other energy industry, nuclear obviously must have the strictest regulations–unless you guys are confident that market forces will make nuclear power plants adequately safe.

    1. Re: Tony,

      […]nuclear obviously must have the strictest regulations–unless you guys are confident that market forces will make nuclear power plants adequately safe.

      Market forces? Just for starters, you moron, the initial investment alone would make safeguards prudent. Investors ain’t dumb.

      But you are.

      1. Investors ain’t dumb.

        But they are greedy and evil, OM. Damned by the very fact that the investors have the capital necessary for such a venture makes them Satan Incarnate and it’s a foregone conclusion that every investor wants to poison and irradiate the environment. Don’t you watch The Simpsons?

        1. Lovely strawman you’ve constructed there. The point is that an investor might not have the expertise or even the inclination to ensure that a nuclear reactor is completely safe.

          Also, you need only look at every bizarre investment craze and bubble in history to know that investors are not the Rational Men of utopian lore.

        2. I sometimes think that many people do have the Simpson’s level of understanding/interpretation of nuclear and corporations and their CEO’s.

      2. This is such asinine thinking. Initial investments alone would make the plant safe? “Investors ain’t dumb”? Are you aware of the Tulip craze?

        1. Are you aware of the Tulip craze?

          Are you aware of false equivalence? Tulips and nuclear reactors? Really?

      3. U r actually wrong on this one Mexico…

        Best to completely skimp on EVERYTHING that adds to costs and takes away from profit.

        Besides, if a disaster happens, there’ll be lawsuits…and, the owner of the plant can ALWAYS FILE FOR BANKRUPTCY…it’s the American Way !!!

      4. To be fair, as with many externality questions, we run up against the problem that you can’t sue someone past zero. That is, at some scale of harm inflicted, there’s no incentive to care any further — all remaining harm is necessarily socialized. The scale of harm at which this occurs tends to be related to the means of the one inflicting the harm. There is a huge moral hazard involved when an entity of moderate means is expected to incur great cost to mitigate unlikely catastrophic scenarios when even much smaller fuckups would wipe them out.

        Putting society, as represented by the government, explicitly on the hook for catastrophic scenarios (and then giving it the authority to mitigate those damages) makes some practical sense, as the harm cap is fairly irrelevant at that scale, aside from things that go far beyond the society in question. Of course, it introduces a host of new moral hazards, the general dysfunctionality of government included.

        1. You are right, cynical. Because you can’t sue someone past zero for any number of reasons (corporate limited liability, personal bankruptcy, and then real bankruptcy), there will always be moral hazards in our economic system. If you think the possibility of bailouts caused the financial bubble, then you must also think that the very nature of LLC’s will perpetually cause the very same kinds of failures. You can make a tidy profit picking up ten dollar bills in front of steam rollers, and sticking the tax payers with the bill when you get run over.

          1. Exactly why I wish more Libertarian activism were directed at limited liability.

            1. We appear to have a tort system geared more for wealth redistribution than simple justice.

              Solve that, and you may get your wish.

    2. nuclear obviously must have the strictest regulations

      Why is it obvious?

      Coal, oil, hydro, natural gas all have worse environmental records and deaths involved with them then Nuclear.

      I guess you could make the proliferation argument but there is no reason why civilian nuclear power has to use weapons grade fuels.

    3. “nuclear obviously must have the strictest regulations–unless you guys are confident that market forces will make nuclear power plants adequately safe.”

      But once again this holds the market to a standard far above the government. What does “adequately safe” mean in real world terms, and do government regulations achieve that any more than the market would?

      That said, without government backstops and limited liability, it’s not entirely clear the market would get involved with nuclear energy at this point. If you were potentially on the hook for every cent of damage a potential meltdown of your reactor did to other people’s property, the insurance payments alone (provided you could find an insurer) might be enough to make them cost prohibitive.

      I also think given the news media’s track record on accuracy in the days after a natural disaster, it’s probably worth waiting and seeing just what the long term effects of this will actually be before we start doing all sorts of stuff.

    4. If shareholders were even partially liable for any damages caused by the plant, there would be a lot more oversight…

      1. or very very cheap shares owned by very very dumb and poor people.

      2. You mean liable beyond their investment? Because, realistically, they would be partially liable in that the value of their investment could go to $0. If you do mean liable beyond their investment, why stop at nuclear plants? Why not product liability in general?

      3. Wrong approach for this type of problem. Just enforce that the nuclear power plants have an insurance of up to ten billion dollars per reactor.

  15. I’ve been saddened by environmentalists’ rush to demonize nuclear energy and galled by libertardians’ rush to defend it. (You guys wouldn’t even regulate nuclear power if, God forbid, you were in power.) Nuclear power is viable and generally safe, but there is no doubt that TEPCO is shady and unsafe and that there should’ve been preparations for a large though not unprecedented earthquake and large though not unprecedented tsunami.

    But the political debate – and all the obligatory articles from local papers asking “Is Our Nuclear Reactor Safe?” – is completely irrelevant if the worst happens, the cores and spent rods meltdown, and dangerous levels of radiation reach Tokyo, forcing the mass evacuation of Earth’s largest metropolis. That will be the beginning of the end of the world as we know it.

    1. Like the Simpsons where Homer, Lenny, & Carl are getting poached by CapCity Nuclear. Their sign says something like, “Nuclear Power: Almost Always Safe, but Once in Awhile, Lookout…”

    2. Assuming by the world you mean “Tokyo”, maybe. Otherwise, shut up Roland Emmerich.

      1. I don’t see how you could evacuate or shut down the world’s largest metropolis in the world’s third-largest economy without considerable negative effects for the world. And that is why environmentalists are to some extent right about nuclear power. You get just one accident, one catastrophe and suddenly you’ve got a massive and potentially irreversible global crisis on your hands.

        1. I’m reasonably certain we have a proven track record in dealing with lots of Japanese people with radiation exposure.

          /heartless bastard

    3. (‘libertardians’ was a bad typo. No disrespect. Sorry bout that)

      1. That’s okay, the chimps at Balloon Juice needed another moniker since they haven’t thought of anything original in years.

    4. That will be the beginning of the end of the world as we know it.

      I believe the world ended after Chernobyl. The mayans said so, and I’m sticking to it. Nobody can prove me wrong.

  16. Get all the able unemployed to ride generator exercise bikes. Win-win-win.

    1. Should they work for the gob-ment?

      Or, will the free market fix it all?

      1. It don’t really matter.

  17. The very first morning of the tsunami, a buddy of mine posted on his facebook, “Why is everyone so upset about a wave? It’s not like somebody dropped a couple of atomic bombs on them or anything.” I laughed. His wife forced him to remove the post.

    That having been said, didn’t people burn manure for energy throughout history? And aren’t there like, over 6 billion people on earth, most of them presumably shitting? I think the answer to our energy crisis is self-evident.

    1. I think your civilization smells.

    2. Do you mean self-excrement?

  18. It’s all about us!

  19. Ra-di-a-tion. Yes, indeed. You hear the most outrageous lies about it. Half-baked goggle-box do-gooders telling everybody it’s bad for you. Pernicious nonsense. Everybody could stand a hundred chest X-rays a year. They ought to have them too.

    1. Well, more radiation will help us evolve faster …

    2. I’m ashamed that I didn’t post this quote. Ashamed!

      1. Beer is definitely needed here.

  20. Hey! What about us? We’re important too!
    [tap tap]
    Is this thing on?

    1. I can’t HEARRR MEEEEE!!!

  21. I’m ok with Nuclear energy…as long as the reactor is no where near my house, place of work, or school that my kids go to.

    1. Meh. I lived a couple of miles away from a nuclear power station for years. You can put one right next to my house if it means it finally gets built.

  22. Nuclear is good for Countries that have no enemies and don’t fuck with people:

    – Switzerland
    – Netherlands
    – Canada (America-Lite)

    We like to fuck with people, piss on people, break and humiliate people…

    It’s just not a good idea to have convenient nuclear BOMBS spread-out throughout our countries in populated metropoli.

    1. Seriously? That’s some pretty good ignorance of nuclear technology, and great use of hyperbole. Blend the two together and you get a completely pointless post.

      1. We’ll see.

        And, if it happens (and i hope it doesn’t) you’ll be one of those idiots saying : “who would have ever imagined that they (our enemy) would have … It’s not our fault, no one could have anticipated this in happening.”

        1. Alice Bowie|3.15.11 @ 7:01PM|#
          “We’ll see.”

          Mostly what we’ll see is that you are cluically-challenged.

    2. The fuel used in nuclear reactors can only be used in a nuclear bomb after a great deal of high-tech post-processing. Basically, the material in a nuclear power plant is a bomb in the same sense that cow manure is a bomb.

      1. Yea…except that cow manure doesn’t release radiation after an earthquake.

        1. Neither has a nuclear plant. Ever.

          1. Really?

            You should read the recent news of the Nuclear Reactors in Japan releasing radiation….so ur wrong.

          2. Citation for the brilliant quote above


        2. 1. Original post didn’t mention radiation.

          2. The plant shut down properly after the earthquake. It only started leaking after the tsunami disabled its backup cooling systems.

          3. So far the radiation released by the tsunami has only posed a health threat to the power plant workers in the immediate vicinity.

          4. Cow manure is always releasing trace amounts of radiation, just like pretty much everything else on earth.

      2. See?! some guy gets it!

      3. as if it can’t be sabotaged. And, if it is sabotaged, you can always use the excuse i posted above:

        “… It’s not our fault, no one could have anticipated that an evil do-er would sabotage our nuclear facility. You libertards are idiots. Beside, look at all of the money we saved during the years before this catastrophy.

    3. It’s just not a good idea to have convenient nuclear BOMBS spread-out throughout our countries in populated metropoli.

      Well, I’ve been to one world’s fair, a picnic, and a rodeo, and that’s the stupidest thing I ever read on H&R. That is an impressive statement considering your competition.

      Chernobyl was the worst nuclear accident in history (current one included) and it still didn’t go KABOOM!

      Jebus Jones, the mind boggles.

      … Hobbit

      1. Well… Chernobyl did go KABOOM! Just in a more conventional way…

      2. Chernobyl was the SECOND worst nuclear disaster in history. The worst was in Siberia when a bunch of morons kept dumping nuclear waste in an old mine and it went critical, EXPLODED, and sterilized several million square miles. Nobody can go near there now. the WASTE is the PROBLEM!

    4. Have you actually seen how many nuclear plants we have in this country?

    5. You should read up on the enrichment levels required of U-235 to have a “bomb”

      Just google it and find out what the level is at a power plant, versus in a navy reactor (they have to keep the reactor smaller) and in a real bomb.

      1. A nice clean fission explosion takes more than 90% U-235. But 15%-20% U-235 will create an impressive blast(less for Pu-239).

    6. In populated metropoli? Really?

      Besides which, we also have literal nuclear bombs (well, missiles, whatever) spread-out throughout the country, and I’m not sure they’re softer targets than the power plants at this point — if nothing else, there are a lot more of them, and they’re intended to kill a shitload of people through remote activation.

  23. Fortunately, the closest nuclear power plant, [to Cascadia subduction zone] the Columbia Generating Station, is located 200 miles inland.

    Unless you count the ones listed at the bottom of this page:

    1. “Unless you count the ones listed at the bottom of this page:

      You mean the ones in *boats*?

  24. But, seriously – where does Newcular Titties? stand on all this?

  25. Also, this chick who does the Infiniti of Beford commercials here in the Cleveland area? She is STEAMIN’ hot.

    STEAMIN’ hot…

    1. Good thing you didn’t post a link.


    Anyone else see this little ditty defending Gilbert Gottfried’s jokes about Nippon (although they weren’t very funny IMO).

    Particularly recommend the link to the jokes themselves, and also the link to Gottfried doing the Artisocrats joke. AWESOME…

    1. I’ve posted this link before because I think it is well done.

      It’s been pointed out that she used considerable poetic license but it’s still a nice read and the photos are sobering.

      … Hobbit

  27. “Inovation–that’s the thing. Let Wal-Mart lead the way!”–Ron Paul

    1. Max|3.15.11 @ 7:06PM|#
      “Amazingly stupid and irrelevant statement!” –Max

      Hey Max, try again. Maybe you you can find something your first-grade classmates find believable. Maybe.

      1. You mean you don’t find it believable that asswipe Rand Paul said something so stupid? Welcome to planet Earth, moron.

        1. Max|3.15.11 @ 8:50PM|#
          “You mean you don’t find it believable that asswipe Rand Paul said something so stupid?”

          No, I mean goat ass-sucker Max presumed that said anything about the question.
          Welcome to a place where people can read, shithead.

  28. When Yellowstone blows, we won’t need to worry about this any more.

  29. Many thousands of Japanese were killed by the eartquake and subsequent tsunami. And to whip up fear of all things nuclear the ignorant turds in this country just go absolutly Chicken Litte on what might happen with the power plants.
    You can kiss nuclear energy good bye in this country.

    1. Just So. It won’t matter that the technology has advanced greatly in the 40 years since the Fukushima plant was built.

      Real progress isn’t worth any amount of risk, especially risk of the kind most people can’t be bothered to understand. I’ve just about given up on nuclear power; it’s a technological winner, but a politcal loser.

      More unicorns!

    2. Why, hello.

  30. Quiz: What’s the cost per megawatt of newly installed nuclear?

    Answer: No one knows, because no one will build one without massive government support…and even then, it’s bloody hell expensive.

    1. “No one knows, because no one will build one without massive government support…and even then, it’s bloody hell expensive”
      That’s because stupid liberal no nothing fucks like you put every road block, you can, in the way.

      1. Actually the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has been rubber stamping the industry for about 20 years, including plants with the same design as the ones currently falling apart in Japan.

    2. Quiz: What’s the cost per megawatt of newly installed nuclear anything?

      Answer: No one knows, because no one will build one anything without massive government support… and even then, it’s bloody hell expensive.


      Here’s a quote from a posting further up in the comments.

      DATA|3.15.11 @ 11:54PM|#
      Here is a link with the information.…..xecsum.pdf

      Page 6 has this:

      Subsidy and Support per
      Unit of Production (dollars/megawatthour) as of 2007

      Nuclear 1.59
      Coal 0.44
      Refined coal 29.81
      Natural gas 0.25
      Biomass (and biofuels) 0.89
      Geothermal 0.92
      Hydroelectric 0.67
      Solar 24.34
      Wind 23.37
      Landfill Gas 1.37
      Municipal Solid Waste 0.13
      Renewables (average) 2.80
      Total (average) 1.65

      Like normal Tony Chad has no clue.

  31. Ron,

    You suggest that: “The main problem with energy supply systems is that for the last 100 years, governments have insisted on meddling with them, using subsidies, setting rates, and picking technologies.” I couldn’t agree more.

    All real advocates of free minds and free markets should support a very simple test of nuclear technology relative to the test of real free markets. Let’s repeal the Price Anderson Act and see how many nuclear plants stay open the following day, let alone having any new ones built.

    All those claiming to be libertarians while advocating nuclear power are actually completely ignorant and don’t understand the most fundamental facts about nuclear power.

    Nuclear power is the most obscene form of corporate welfare ever envisioned. No real libertarian would ever support such a corrupt scam.

    1. Fred, you don’t like the sun?

    2. “Let’s repeal the Price Anderson Act and see how many nuclear plants stay open the following day, let alone having any new ones built.”

      Ok. But let’s also repeal the thicket of deliberately obstructive laws and regulations, frivilous legal appeals, and bogus environmental impact studies. And that’s just the planning and proposal stage, long before you even start to build anything.

  32. As we chatter, there are technicians and engineers at these nuclear power plants who didn’t run away. I’m not religious, but God bless them for staying put and working through the problem as best they can.

    1. You sure have that right Growlygus. Those people are heroes.

      1. Those people are heroes.

        I think they are behaving normally. That is hard to do, for many people, in abnormal circumstances.

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  34. Looks like “the facts on the ground” are going to trump ideological wishful thinking.

  35. It’s nuke-u-lar… nuke-u-lar!

  36. RE: LFTR, apparently there was a bit of a competition in the early 50s between proponents of the reactor technology we use today and thorium loyalists. It seems that the Thorium people lost because one of the byproduct of a uranium fission reactor is plutonium, which we needed to make a bunch of atomic and subsequently nuclear weapons during the cold war.

    The thorium loyalists actually built one at Oak Ridge in the 60s to prove that it was viable:

    1. This is the story told by various pro-thorium factions, but I do have to wonder how credible it really is. From what I can tell, another problem is the balance of U-233 production (for starting new reactors) vs. energy production.

  37. a few words on Japan by Michael Reynold.

    How many people went to sleep tonight saddened and worried about the disaster in Japan. Saddened for the people who are suffering – worried about the deadly future that lies before all people due to nuclear power plants dotting the surface of the earth.
    How is it that legislative institutions make it difficult to evolve radical sustainable living methods citing minute and insignificant dangers affiliated with the uncharted territory of new thinking… while these same institutions allow a nuclear age that threatens the very ability of the entire planet to support human life?
    There is a fight going on to stop nuclear power. This fight is with big money corporations and power mongers.
    There is a fight going on to provide people with more freedom to take care of themselves in ways that respect and understand the ways of the planet. This fight is with lawmakers and government institutions.
    There is a fight going on to use less of everything, live much lighter and hear the voice of the planet. This fight is with ourselves.
    SHOUT OUT about the nuclear age to any arena that exists.
    SPEAK OUT to legislators about fast tracking green building methods and systems.
    WHISPER to yourself to take less and give more to the planet we live on.

  38. You wrote: ” In fact, it stood up to an earthquake that released more than 40 times the amount of energy the plant was designed to survive.”

    That is misleading. The epicenter was far from the plant. The earthquake itself did not cause major damage in that area, or kill many people. The tsunami did.

    I do not think it is likely this plant could have withstood a magnitude 9.0 earthquake without extensive and possibly dangerous damage. The 2007 quake was much smaller but it damaged the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant, closing it for 21 months.

  39. This looks like another issue where the conspiracy theorist were right. The governemnt lied, the radiation circle is growing and the meltdown gets worse…old fuel rods were blown all over the place during the “mere hydrogen gas explosions”.

    The fuel rods were in the roof and now they are spread all over the country side.

    The 50 workers there are suicide missioned and the media marches out bs minimizing the radiation.

  40. Roughly 6k people die per year worldwide mining coal and nobody gives a shit.

    So far how many people have died in this nuclear disaster?

    1. What is your cite for that?
      How many people die in traffic? Are you going to quit driving?
      More people die in offices than mining, transporting, and using coal.

  41. The 6,000 people a year dying in coal mines doesn’t include the health consequences of coal dust that people are exposed to. If you add that on, it would take a huge number of nuclear meltdowns to give the same number of health casualties.

  42. Inrestingly, there is enough Thorium in the mountains of coal ash to power the US for hundreds of years.

  43. The problem of insecurely stored spent fuel is at least as great a problem as the reactors themselves. Now, more than 50 years after the commercial application of nuclear power, there remains no political consensus on safely disposing of, or reprocessing, spent fuel. France, which has a functioning reprocessing industry, is the exception. The amount of high-level spent fuel vastly exceeds the amount of active nuclear fuel in reactors. For the most part, it is stored less safely and less securely than the reactors themselves, although it is equally dangerous.

    Further, nuclear power receives more subsidies than any other form of energy. Without Federal subsidies, there would be no nuclear power industry.

  44. Last quote heard from Toni’s dad after abruptly leaving for good upon hearing that his wife was pregnant with their one and only child.

  45. Your dream is not what you find in your sleep but what makes you not sleep.

  46. Do you know if a HERS rater went over after the disaster?

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