Friday, March 31, 2006

Dregs

The Age of Melbourne has posted an opinion that Australia should offer, as a service to the rest of the world, to maintain a nuclear dump site. Reasons given or implied are that 1) the Australian Outback is extremely geologically inactive, 2) Australia is politically very stable, 3) there are suitable areas with low population density, 4) the rest of the world would appreciate it, 5) there would be an associated revenue stream.

Nuclear waste disposal is actually a non-problem problem invented by hysterical nimbys. While it would be nice for Australia to take the political issue off our hands, there would still be complaints, mainly associated with transportation issues. We should be storing it on our own soil to avoid ocean transport, and because of reason 5. Nevada is a nice place. Why don't we cut the nonsense and start shipping it there. The one place that we really don't need to keep nuclear waste is in exposed swimming pools near major population centers. Nevada could use the business, and they're probably more politically stable than Australia. I would prefer the Appalachians. These mountains have been geologically inactive for quite some time, 250 mega-years or thereabouts. There are some nice deep coal mines that could hold the material safely until such time in the future as we need it. That's right. Is there any reason to imagine that future technologies will never find a profitable application for nuclear waste? There's also some nice places in Canada than haven't done much since the Pre-Cambrian. If you really want to get rid of it, drop it in the Marianas Trench. Just do it. Aren't there some pretty nice subduction zones off of the West Coast?

3/31/2006 4:12 PM

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6 Comments:

At Friday, March 31, 2006 6:15:00 PM, Blogger mal said...

politics is the process of not necessarily dealing with the facts. Your point about where the material is now is very relevant yet the politicians and certain lobby groups think it is safer in a cask or swimming pool near a population center? HELLLLOOOOOOO

we continue to elect the technically illiterate to higher office.

Of course, when disaster finally strikes the industry will be blamed for not dealing with problem

 
At Friday, March 31, 2006 7:36:00 PM, Blogger Steve said...

Attitudes will shift when crunch time comes, though I'm not optimistic about this happening soon enough.

You've probably see it, but if not, I still get angry when I read Frontline's interview of Dr. Charles Till. As far as I'm concerned shutting him down was one of the worst decisions ever made in this country.

Are you familiar with Rod Adams' Atomic Insights blog? Rod makes a good case for anti-nukism being fueled by fossil fuel interests. Graham Cowan, a frequent contributor to the discussions at Energy Pulse and elsewhere, makes the case that it's fueled, in part, by government's reliance on the fossil fuel tax revenue stream.

Both of those arguments seem plausible to me.

It's frustrating that I am unable to make any headway with people who, as one person I spoke to recently, simply feel "creeped out" by the nuclear waste issue, all the while oblivious to the swimming pool aspect of it, and to the energy aspect of the larger picture. "Creeped out", end of story.

Oh, well...

 
At Saturday, April 01, 2006 12:36:00 AM, Blogger jj mollo said...

I have noticed that the anti-nuke side of the argument seems to be swayed a great deal by the "unnatural" aspect of nuclear power. A lot of effort is expended toward recruiting collective emotional responses. OTH, I have also seen some dispassionate analysis of the economics of nuclear power that I find convincing. And safety arguments are always worth listening to.

Personally, I think it's just a matter of appropriate perspective. Nuclear accidents have occurred. However, the damage that they have created to the environment has been limited. We have gotten over the effects, and we have gotten smarter. Since the Tacoma Narrows collapse, dramatic bridge disasters have been reduced to nil. Like bridge construction, atomic energy is a technology which can be mastered.

On the other hand, the unbounded increase of greenhouse gases seems to be a giant science experiment. No one has done it before and the likely consequences are unpredicatable. Does one say, no problem -- it's just sun spots? The fact that some people are predicting disaster, for the entire planet should be enough to give us pause. Change the pattern until we know for sure.

Steve, Thanks for the links. I haven't read that one with Charles Till, but I am a big fan of Frontline, even when I disagree. But in this case, I couldn't agree more. This guy is the engineering version of Norman Borlaug. I wish him luck. I like the look of Atomic Insights as well.

My response to the suggestion that the Big Oil guys are sabotaging the CAFE standards is that it's unlikely and it wouldn't matter anyway. Look at Big Tobacco. What happened to them? Once the public got the idea that smoking was bad for you, they have been hammered and hammered. The sensible ones diversified. Maybe they haven't been hit hard enough, you might say, but the government has made a lot of hay at their expense, and substantial changes have been enforced in the advertising, sale and taxation of cigarettes.

Exxon took a big hit itself after the disaster in Alaska. They would do a lot to prevent that from happening again. Everything is driven by money, it's true, but the money is where we say it is. Oil companies make big profits when the price goes up. They don't feel threatened by hybrid cars in the least. They do feel threatened by gluts and shortages because those events can effect the bottom line in the next quarterly report. I say we should make them happy. Push up the price of oil in any way we can. Also, tax it and tax it some more just like we do with cigarettes, and split the profits with the oil companies just to keep them on our side. Push the base price up high enough and Canada will be happy selling oil from the tar sands. Farmers will be happy selling ethanol (untaxed), and we'll all be happy when the car companies come up with efficiency innovations, which they will do as soon as the public demands it.

 
At Saturday, April 01, 2006 1:14:00 PM, Blogger Steve said...

I'm persuaded that the historically high capital cost of nuclear plants in the United States is largely a function of intransigence on the part of anti-nuke people's interminable efforts in the courts to delay delay delay every aspect of a project, which yielded huge impacts of the cost of capital on top of the expense of this and that change order.

I don't think the French and the Chinese are fools that would build, or plan to build, the more expensive option. Last I heard the Chinese are planning something over 30 nukes in the next 15 years.

 
At Saturday, April 01, 2006 1:36:00 PM, Blogger Steve said...

Bad composition above. Sorry. I think you get my drift though.

Just this week someone told me that Chernobyl had caused half a million deaths, not the 60 or 80 immediate deaths plus few thousand accelerated thyroid cases that I've come to believe to be the likely real toll. He had an authoritative appearing link to back him up.

Even if one accepts these higher numbers, I think they pale in comparison to the death toll one might expect from future resource wars, the likelihood of which could be reduced in some non-linear proportion to nuclear power expansion (not to mention increased damage to the atmosphere, the oceans and the environment in general due to continued, and accelerating, combustion of fossil fuels).

Oh, well...

 
At Tuesday, April 04, 2006 2:38:00 AM, Blogger jj mollo said...

The higher numbers are ludicrous. Wikipedia estimates 4,000 tops. Compare that to the number of pulmonary cases cause by particulates, pollution and bad mining practices.

 

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