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Peak Uranium
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RenewableCandy



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PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2011 6:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

An Inspector Calls wrote:
I expect they divide how much energy you can get out of a certain amount of uranium by the amount of energy that it takes to extract it.
I expect so too but going from my own professional experience of energy auditing, the latter is notoriously difficult to define.
An Inspector Calls wrote:
Quote:
What is the embodied energy of a healthy Namibian, and how much of that do they count as "lost" when the poor guy starts falling ill (probably none, they just hire a fresh one)?

I've no idea. Are you suggesting that we stuff a Namibian in a bomb calorimeter to measure his calorific content? In any event, it's his work rate we require, not his total energy, and given that there's only 800 working there, extracting huge quantities of ore, I doubt any of them are doing any manual work.
Possibly, but I'll believe it when I see it. Historically, Uranium mines have a pretty bad record on such things. However, even if the RTZ guys are keeping it clean for their employees, that doesn't necessarily mean that it's going to be as good for the other people living (or formerly living) nearby. I've no idea whether they do this effectively or not, but they should be setting aside cash and resources for a proper clean-up/decommissioning for when the mine ceases to operate. It being a part of the nuclear industry, I'm willing to bet that they won't be Sad
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An Inspector Calls
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2011 7:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would expect an energy audit of the extraction process to be quite trivial, given that it's a desert location, isolated from stray energy inputs.

And the mine's just a big hole in a desert; what's to decommission? Leave it, like the windmills will be left.
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RenewableCandy



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PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2011 8:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

But the "windmills", as you so delightfully call them, do not entail a large expanse of toxic "tailings".

And for all we know, someone might have found that desert useful.
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2011 8:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well there's lots of desert left - no sign of Peak Desert looming.
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biffvernon



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PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2011 11:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The tsunami victims along the Fukushima Prefecture coastline remain unfound, unsearched for, rotting, dusted with iodine 131 and caesium 137; the norms of civilisation, the patterns of culture, lie shattered, tattered; just another unaccounted cost of nuclear power.
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RGR
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 21, 2011 4:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

[quote="biffvernon"]

Last edited by RGR on Fri Aug 12, 2011 2:29 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 21, 2011 4:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

[quote="An Inspector Calls"]

Last edited by RGR on Fri Aug 12, 2011 2:29 am; edited 1 time in total
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kenneal - lagger
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 21, 2011 5:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

RGR and the Inspector are getting a bit desperate for a sensible rebuttal.

Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima are all down to human error in some way, either in the design or the operation or both. We can't design human error out of anything so the consequences of a failure of design must be manageable. With nuclear you can't guarantee that any failure will be manageable and the consequences of a failure are so out of proportion to the benefit that any thinking human being would decide not to go down that route.

If you are arrogant enough to think that a human can design a perfect working structure at all, let alone at an affordable price, then you are not worth arguing with.
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biffvernon



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PostPosted: Thu Apr 21, 2011 7:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

RGR wrote:
biffvernon wrote:
The tsunami victims along the Fukushima Prefecture coastline remain unfound, unsearched for, rotting, dusted with iodine 131 and caesium 137; the norms of civilisation, the patterns of culture, lie shattered, tattered; just another unaccounted cost of nuclear power.


The problem wasn't the nuke, but the earthquake and tsunami. The nuke plant is just collateral damage.

No RGR. Read my words. The earthquake and tsunami killed people. The radioactivity continues to destroy the cultural norms of how people deal with the dead.
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 21, 2011 9:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

kenneal

Not impartial moderator insult deleted

It's not that RGR and I lack a rational response, it's perhaps more that we're not, apparently, having a rational debate since our opponents, to a man - and a woman, seem to prefer abuse. You now seem to have decided to switch from posting silly cartoons . . . So here goes.

There is a series of articles in this month's E&T magazine about the Japanese disaster:
http://eandt.theiet.org/magazine/2011/04/index.cfm

There's an interesting passage in this specific article
http://eandt.theiet.org/magazine/2011/04/fukushima-facts.cfm
Quote:
Looking at the plant's specifications, Fukushima Daiichi's plant designers, TEPCO, and the Japanese regulator, did not expect 11 March to take place. The coastal plant was designed to withstand tsunamis up to 5.7m high and earthquakes with moment magnitudes of up to 7.0. The reactors survived the 9.0 magnitude earthquake but were overwhelmed by the 14m tsunami. So why wasn't the plant designed to higher specifications?

The answer is cash.

'What is a reasonable investment to make regarding the safety of that unit compared to society's other needs, such as road safety? Which would be the better payback in terms of lives saved?' asks Abram.

Some 40 years ago, Japanese regulators determined the size of earthquake and tsunami the plant should withstand, based on the likely frequency of these events. While tsunamis funnelled into shallow shores can tower tens of metres, most tsunamis are weak with heights of only a few centimetres. Recent computer modelling at the US-based National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration has indicated very rare, larger tsunamis would still only stand at 3m-7m on reaching the shoreline.

What's more, regulators would have also expected Japan's sea-walls to prevent flooding at the Fukushima plant. Around 40 per cent of Japan's 22,000 mile coastline, including the coast close to Fukushima, is lined with concrete sea-walls or other structures designed to protect the country from high waves and typhoons.

As Abram says: 'They could say we'd like you to design to even higher seismic and tsunami standards... but an engineer or scientist would argue very strongly that you can get greater societal payback if you invest in something that represents a bigger risk to a greater number of people.'



Now kenneal thinks that we should just give up nuclear, it would be arrogance to think we can design a safe system. Perhaps he's right, but on the other hand, if we don't go nuke the greenies should remember that does not mean we, the UK, will go renewables. Renewables is a busted flush. DECC aren't going to openly admit that, but it's quite obvious that renewables investment, esp. in wind, is dying away because of poor returns. The alternative is either coal or gas, the latter now, apparently, coming out of ears. IET favours coal, UBS backs gas:
http://www.powerswitch.org.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?t=18057

Or, we could be a little more rational, assess the causes of the accident, look at the consequences of the disaster, learn from both and continue. That's what we did when jets were falling out of the sky due to a phenomena called metal fatigue.

And as I indicated here:
http://www.powerswitch.org.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?t=18057
I'm not sure which way we will go with our energy policy (nice to have one though, for a change). My reaction to date would be to continue development on the grounds that Japan was an unlikely event in the UK and all type III reactors (and all magnox reactors for that matter) can thermally syphon. I doubt making our new reactors earthquake and tsunami proof would add a great deal to the capital cost - it's grunt technology after all. There may also be issues with the operation of inspecting bodies during the operations phase of these plants, but I would be very surprised if that were the case in the UK. The Nuclear Inspectorate reports will be interesting but I suspect they'll admit that it's too early to assess the damage. However, the state of the nuclear core containment on the damaged reactors could be valuable information. Continuing with nuclear would give us better diversity of energy supplies.

However, and it's a big however, will the banks invest in nuclear?


Last edited by An Inspector Calls on Thu Apr 21, 2011 10:54 am; edited 1 time in total
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UndercoverElephant



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PostPosted: Thu Apr 21, 2011 10:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

kenneal wrote:
RGR and the Inspector are getting a bit desperate for a sensible rebuttal.

Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima are all down to human error in some way, either in the design or the operation or both. We can't design human error out of anything so the consequences of a failure of design must be manageable. With nuclear you can't guarantee that any failure will be manageable and the consequences of a failure are so out of proportion to the benefit that any thinking human being would decide not to go down that route.

If you are arrogant enough to think that a human can design a perfect working structure at all, let alone at an affordable price, then you are not worth arguing with.


We can get quite close, but as you say...it is the cost that matters. Modern aviation is about as close as we have come to designing a completely fail-proof system. And when you consider how many different things could go seriously wrong on a plane, and the consequences, then the safety record of modern aviation is pretty impressive (although obviously not perfect.) The real problem is that this level of safety requires a lot of time, effort and money. There is no room for cutting corners or taking your eye off the ball even once.

What worries me is this: even if we try to up the standards in the nuclear industry at the moment so it manages to be even safer than aviation, what is going to happen when TSHTF and we're left with several hundred old nuclear plants which nobody can afford to safely dismantle? This is the biggest problem with the nuclear industry - an enormous cost has to be borne long after the things have stopped doing anything useful for us and if you think the future is one of long-term economic hardship then....

We cannot safely assume that our grandchildren will be in any position to clear up our mess.
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biffvernon



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PostPosted: Thu Apr 21, 2011 2:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

An Inspector Calls wrote:

There's an interesting passage in this specific article
http://eandt.theiet.org/magazine/2011/04/fukushima-facts.cfm
Quote:
Looking at the plant's specifications, Fukushima Daiichi's plant designers, TEPCO, and the Japanese regulator, did not expect 11 March to take place. The coastal plant was designed to withstand tsunamis up to 5.7m high and earthquakes with moment magnitudes of up to 7.0. The reactors survived the 9.0 magnitude earthquake but were overwhelmed by the 14m tsunami. So why wasn't the plant designed to higher specifications?

The answer is cash.

'What is a reasonable investment to make regarding the safety of that unit compared to society's other needs, such as road safety? Which would be the better payback in terms of lives saved?' asks Abram.

Some 40 years ago, Japanese regulators determined the size of earthquake and tsunami the plant should withstand, based on the likely frequency of these events. While tsunamis funnelled into shallow shores can tower tens of metres, most tsunamis are weak with heights of only a few centimetres. Recent computer modelling at the US-based National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration has indicated very rare, larger tsunamis would still only stand at 3m-7m on reaching the shoreline.

What's more, regulators would have also expected Japan's sea-walls to prevent flooding at the Fukushima plant. Around 40 per cent of Japan's 22,000 mile coastline, including the coast close to Fukushima, is lined with concrete sea-walls or other structures designed to protect the country from high waves and typhoons.

As Abram says: 'They could say we'd like you to design to even higher seismic and tsunami standards... but an engineer or scientist would argue very strongly that you can get greater societal payback if you invest in something that represents a bigger risk to a greater number of people.'



The trouble is that the Japanese did know that these much larger tsunamis can occur. The 1933 quake cased a 15m wave and the tsunami of AD869 was probably bigger than the 2011 one. Whether one regards the designers and approvers of the nukes criminally negligent of just stupid wishful thinkers is a question which will doubtless be argued over.

What did not happen was that "Some 40 years ago, Japanese regulators determined the size of earthquake and tsunami the plant should withstand, based on the likely frequency of these events."

A one in a thousand year event has a one in twenty-five chance of happening during a forty year period.
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clv101
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 21, 2011 2:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

UndercoverElephant wrote:
We cannot safely assume that our grandchildren will be in any position to clear up our mess.


Indeed. This issue of 'legacy' is one the fossil fuel industry has very likely already failed on with regards to CO2 and one the nuclear industry hasn't yet solved regarding waste and decommission.

Compared to CO2 and nuclear waste, the legacy of all renewables is largely inconsequential.
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 21, 2011 2:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The decision of the regulators 40 years ago will be reviewed. Obviously it was wrong, with 20/20 hindsight.

There is no point in surmising how or why it was wrong until a review has been conducted. There should be a solid document trail.

Only then can sensible lessons be learnt.

clv101
Quote:
Compared to CO2 and nuclear waste, the legacy of all renewables is largely inconsequential.
Apart from the potential to ruin western economies.
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JohnB



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PostPosted: Thu Apr 21, 2011 4:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

An Inspector Calls wrote:
The decision of the regulators 40 years ago will be reviewed. Obviously it was wrong, with 20/20 hindsight.

There is no point in surmising how or why it was wrong until a review has been conducted. There should be a solid document trail.

Only then can sensible lessons be learnt.

So are you saying that decisions made today won't be wrong with hindsight?
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