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Kill the Gas Beast with Nuclear Power Now

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I've been thinking about this gas extraction here, as I'm sure many of you are, especially with a disaster in the Gulf that is probably far worse than the average person thinks. It appears to me that we are going to become the next Africa here, and nothing short of some spiritual upgrade from powers unknown to me, or some major disaster, will stop it. We have no jobs, but we've got lots of minerals and timber in the same places that provide clean air and water, so come on over Southeast Asia, the dollar is our master.

I don't believe that enough people are ready to start curtailing their consumption of non-essentials to plow oil and gas into farming while researching cleaner nuclear and alternative energy.

However, I do feel that increasingly large numbers of people are being pushed into a more spiritual path by no choice of their own(the current banker demolition, war funding over unemployment, suicide hot lines increasing call volumes).

Anyway, in the short term here, I think the state should be taxing this natural gas extraction and building decentralized nuclear power plants. There are companies like NuScale Power who I am sure would love to get some of this government money that solar energy is getting.

The problem with nuclear seems to be that......mmm.......idealistic environmentalists think that we are going to transition from fossil fuel to solar and wind in 2 years or something, and they are bolstering the public relations efforts of big oil and gas to undermine nuclear power plants.

In summation, I think it would be beneficial for humans who value clean air, water, and fish to champion nuclear power in PA. Also, I think the decentralized ownership of these nuclear power plants is instrumental in their success.

Let me know what you guys are thinking on this. Thanks.

Posted on: 2010/7/9 19:23


Re: Kill the Gas Beast with Nuclear Power Now

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Quote:

Brownout wrote:

The problem with nuclear seems to be that......mmm.......idealistic environmentalists think that we are going to transition from fossil fuel to solar and wind in 2 years or something, and they are bolstering the public relations efforts of big oil and gas to undermine nuclear power plants.



...or it could be that whole radioactive waste with no place to put it thing...maybe.


Other than that, I'm all for nuclear power. Still not practical for powering a vehicle yet either.

Posted on: 2010/7/9 19:54


Re: Kill the Gas Beast with Nuclear Power Now

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we'll be able to dump the radioactive waste in the gulf of mexico, it's not going to be worth a damn for another 100 years!

Posted on: 2010/7/9 20:53


Re: Kill the Gas Beast with Nuclear Power Now

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Quote:

tomgamber wrote:
Quote:

Brownout wrote:

The problem with nuclear seems to be that......mmm.......idealistic environmentalists think that we are going to transition from fossil fuel to solar and wind in 2 years or something, and they are bolstering the public relations efforts of big oil and gas to undermine nuclear power plants.



...or it could be that whole radioactive waste with no place to put it thing...maybe.


Other than that, I'm all for nuclear power. Still not practical for powering a vehicle yet either.


Tom, I didn't forget about that problem, but, what I personally really do not know is- how deep shale drilling compares to the production of nuclear waste.

It seems to me that nuclear waste can be confined, whereas, a cracked cement casing leaking waste water is totally out of control pollution. Taking these massive quantities of water in the first place, polluting them directly with the drilling chemicals, and then cultivating the possibility of that original water polluting more water, either with ground water interaction, during the drilling process, or negligent disposal, seems to be quite an effective way to defile our state.

Yes, there is always the risk of a nuclear plant leaking radioactivity. However, as indicated in the NuscalePower link I provided, I believe that smaller plants, which are decentralized, mitigate the magnitude of that risk substantially.

Additionally, taking what is considered waste now(with older plants, or industry practice) and recycling it for continued use, can alleviate the problem.

Nuclear plants also use water to cool, which is thermal pollution, however, the world is at a point now, where, short of that spiritual upgrade, we are choosing the lesser of evils. Do we want to have slightly warmer waters, or dead waters? Do we want to have heavy mast producing forest, or can we tolerate early growth forest that would result from more co-generation plants.


In the vehicle arena, I think we should start subsidizing hemp fuel. It has low pesticide requirements, decent oil productivity, benefits soil/crops, can be grown in many environments, is a premium crop for health food(excess can be sold either way), etc. When it's actual costs(toxic footprint) are compared to natural fossil fuels I think it is a real winner.

Posted on: 2010/7/9 22:49


Re: Kill the Gas Beast with Nuclear Power Now

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Another one sees the light! Nuclear is by far the safest, cleanest, large scale power source we have. It doesn't mean its 100% safe or clean, just safer and cleaner than anything else.

As far as safety, nuclear energy produces about 17% of the electricity world wide, and its around 20% in the U.S. The total, worldwide death toll from nuclear power worldwide is less than 50 (excluding military, of course). Compare that to coal, oil, or gas, and remember to include the mining and transportation in that as well. One could argue that there has been an increase in cancer rates in some areas, for instance in Eastern Europe from the Chernobyl disaster, and perhaps in the U.S. near historical, poorly kept waste sites. But even if you calculate that in, it doesn't come near the death toll from coal, for instance, resulting from the particulates emitted and resulting poor air quality.

Tom, the volume of nuclear waste is extraordinarily small compared to the toxic waste produced by other methods. By comparison, if the U.S. produced 100% of its current electricity requirements from nuclear for the next 10,000 years, the amount of land needed to store that waste would amount to what is needed to store all of the coal ash currently produced in about 2 weeks. While that coal ash is less radioactive, because there is so much more of it, the total amount of radioactivity is much greater, and it has toxic chemicals to boot.

Further, its a political decision to have even that much, or have it be that dangerous. That spent fuel is actually more fuel. We choose not to recycle it because doing so requires enrichment. Enriching means you have a stage where the fuel could be used in a bomb, and we just don't want to have to deal with the security issues that come with that. If we recycled our fuel, the resulting waste volume would be a tiny fraction of what we have today, and that waste would be far less radioactive, with a half life of less than 100 years (as opposed to the thousands of years of the waste today).

Also, consider, that the nuclear plants we run today are first generation plants, we haven't built new plants in over 30 years. The plant designs today are far safer and produce far less waste. We don't build them, and instead keep the outdated plants running, because of safety fears and waste fears?

Nuclear power produces very little CO2 emmissions (only what it takes to make the concrete and steel which go into the plant, which is far less than solar or wind). It also produces no acid rain producing chemicals.

And land use. To me, that is the greatest barrier to solar, wind, and bio-fuel, and its also a major problem with coal, oil, and gas (as we see in PA). Geothermal and nuclear are, by far, the least land intensive of the energy types. To be fair, you could throw hydro in there too. It's technically land intensive, but thats because of the area of the lakes behind dams, which are often there regardless for flood control or recreational reasons.

Posted on: 2010/7/12 9:05


Re: Kill the Gas Beast with Nuclear Power Now

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Mo.....I moved to the Harrisburg region in 79 and never in my wildest dreams did i think i'd advocate nuclear anything but if it's done safely it seems to be the answer. Things sure can change in 30 years can't they?

Posted on: 2010/7/13 17:45


Re: Kill the Gas Beast with Nuclear Power Now

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Don't forget about the mining, refining and enrichment of nuclear fuel. I worked in an uranium mine for a couple years, most of it underground, but they had strip mines too. Its not significantly different from coal mining, including fatality rate. When uranium was $35 a pound, a ton of ore had about the same value as a ton of coal. Although it probably had 100 times the energy, uranium ore takes a significant amounts of processing before you shove it in a power plant. Coal, on the other hand, just needs crushed, sorted and dried. After TMI uranium prices collapsed and the mine finally shut down in '82.

Before the market crash though, we were working on a new way to extract ore without the footprint of an open pit or dangers and expense of the underground. It was dubbed solution mining. They would drill a series of injection and extraction wells in the ore body, fracture it, then pump in chemicals to dissolve the uranium. Pump the slurry to the mill, extract the uranium and reuse the chemicals. Sound familiar?

Posted on: 2010/7/13 21:36
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Re: Kill the Gas Beast with Nuclear Power Now

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It would still require less overall mining/drilling for the same power output, right?

If so, it still sounds like a better solution to me.

Posted on: 2010/7/13 21:38


Re: Kill the Gas Beast with Nuclear Power Now

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The difference is that its on a far, far smaller scale. You said a ton of uranium ore has 100 times as much energy as a ton of coal. I don't know what the purity of your ore or the coal ore you are comparing to is. Both would need purified/separated, but yeah, it is likely a considerably higher percentage of that coal ore is used. Nonetheless, your 100 times estimate is likely EXTREMELY low.

Comparing separated coal to separated (but unrefined) uranium (i.e. yellowcake), the yellowcake has between 16 and 17 THOUSAND times as much energy, assuming you don't reprocess your fuel like we don't. If we adopted reprocessing like France and Japan, then that uranium has well over a million times as much energy as an equal weight (and much higher volume) of coal.

To put this in perspective, the coal we mine actually is uranium ore. It's a poor one, and not what you'd look for in a profitable source, nonetheless uranium is in there. In fact, if we reprocessed our nuclear fuel, reducing the average coal ore to yellowcake yields about 5 times as much energy as if you burn it as coal. Yeah, it would take more work (and money) to reduce it to yellowcake than it takes to separate the coal. But even so, just using the coal as mined from the ground, you could create more energy for less money by using the uranium instead of the coal. You cannot, however, make as much profit selling it, because uranium is so undervalued for its energy content.

Thats the sad part. We don't value our fuel based on its energy content. We base it on supply and demand. For nuclear, demand is artificially held extremely low. And because you need so little material for nuclear, the natural supply far exceeds that demand. In this sense, companies like the one you worked for essentially give uranium ore away.

So the comparison above says that converting 1 coal mine to a uranium mine makes that 1 mine produce about 5 times as much energy. Your dedicated uranium mine, I'm sure, had much richer uranium ore than that. Your mine was likely equivalent to several hundred coal mines in energy produced, perhaps a thousand. Yet, your company likely made about the same profit since by weight, it sold its product for the same price.

Posted on: 2010/7/13 22:03


Re: Kill the Gas Beast with Nuclear Power Now

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Quote:

jayL wrote:
It would still require less overall mining/drilling for the same power output, right?

If so, it still sounds like a better solution to me.


Yes. Compared to coal mining, maybe 1/100 the impact. So definitely a major improvement. I'm all for displacing coal even if its only with smaller strip mines. Just saying, in any life-cycle analysis of the impacts of different energy sources, the mining & refining of nuclear fuel needs to be included.

Posted on: 2010/7/13 22:20
_________________
That money talks
I won't deny.
I heard it once.
it said, "Goodbye."
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Re: Kill the Gas Beast with Nuclear Power Now

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The pollution of Urianium mining accident could be a million tuimes worse than a well that spews out 30,000 gallons of salt water.

Posted on: 2010/7/20 15:40


Re: Kill the Gas Beast with Nuclear Power Now

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Actually it'd be quite similar. You'd just have a million times less of those accidents, since that one uranium mine produces a million times as much energy as a single gas well.

Ok, I didn't check the numbers, but its a LOT more.

Uranium isn't all that dangerous. Well, I mean, I wouldn't want to eat much the stuff. Natural uranium, before enrichment, is only slightly radioactive, and its only alpha radiation. So from a radiation standpoint, its about as bad as your skin is, and not nearly as bad as the mantle to your average lantern. Uranium is found in virtually every single rock on earth, of course in varying concentrations.

From a chemical perspective, it is toxic. About as bad as lead.

Further, one of the decay products of that radiactivity is radon, which is also toxic in high doses.

It is worst if taken as airborne dust into the lungs. Which is exactly what we make it into when we burn coal. Like I said in an earlier post, your typical coal plant releases enough uranium into the air and ash to yield 5 times as much energy as the coal its burning.

So a uranium mining accident wouldn't be much worse than any other mining accident, really. You'd have less accidents on account of needing less mines.

A nuclear power plant accident involving enriched uranium, on the other hand, could potentially be very bad. Chernobyl was the worst case scenario, and I certainly wouldn't want to repeat that! Nobody denies its dangers. But the bottom line is that even if thats taken into account, the impact of nuclear is far less than that of oil, gas, or coal. And, depending how you weight land use as a negative factor, its lower than solar and wind by many measures as well.

Posted on: 2010/7/20 18:04


Re: Kill the Gas Beast with Nuclear Power Now

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I think with all the unemployed people we should make our own power. Line up a bunch of bikes and start pedling and turning that generator. They get paid for riding a bike and we are getting clean energy. Just sayin

Posted on: 2010/7/21 11:40


Re: Kill the Gas Beast with Nuclear Power Now

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Funny.

But if taking it literally. Imagine how much energy you would use if you pushed your car to and from work everyday. Quite a bit, I'm sure you'd be quite tired.

Now, take the unemployed 10% of the population, and ask them to do that for the other 90% of the people, meaning each unemployed person gets to push 9 cars to and from work each day.

And that'd just cover "transportation to work" energy, which is a small percentage of the total transportation energy (trucks, trains, planes, etc.), which is a small percentage of the overall energy used (add electric, heating fuel, cooking fuel, etc.). Bottom line, the average person consumes FAR more energy per day in the form of fuel than a human body is capable of generating. "Peddle Power" would be less than a drop in the bucket.

People don't seem to get their heads around just how much energy we require. Pretty much every single dollar in the economy can be traced back to energy costs.

The initial cost of a car is mostly tied up in energy costs to produce and transport the materials. Same for a home. In both cases, you've used more energy by buying it than you'll likely EVER spend in fueling it. Go to the grocery store. What are you paying for? Energy. Those foods took energy to farm, process, and transport to the store, many of them come from overseas. Take a trip in an airplane, you're not only paying for the fuel to take you from point A to point B, but also the fuel required to make the materials, to assemble the airplane, and to drive all of the employees needed at every step to and from work. The entire economy is based on energy. And the amount used per person is mind boggling.

Renewables are great, we should use them more, they can make economic sense. But it annoys me when people don't see the bottom line. If you put up a windmill and it cuts your realized energy costs 50%, great! We need more like you. But don't pretend that you've cut your energy use 50%, it's probably less than 1%, because only a tiny percentage of your energy use is in powering your home.

Posted on: 2010/7/21 13:08


Re: Kill the Gas Beast with Nuclear Power Now

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It'd be one burly group of ppl though, might cut down on the obesity number.

Posted on: 2010/7/21 14:31



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