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Nuclear Issues in Australia and Beyond; One Perspective

By 27 April 2012 88

14 May 2012
6:00 pmto7:30 pm

A Canberra Skeptics Lecture
Date: Monday, 14 May 2012
Time: 6.00-7.30pm
Venue: Lecture Theatre, CSIRO Discovery Centre, Clunies Ross Street, Acton, ACT 2601
Speaker: Professor Dr George Dracoulis, FAA

Members Free/Non-Members Gold Coin Donation

Nuclear issues in Australia have had a conflicted history.  We are a country with significant uranium resources but no nuclear power. This talk will cover selected aspects of uranium production, nuclear fission, the scale of present and future nuclear power world-wide, life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions from competing technologies, and the demand and comparative cost of electricity generation in Australia.  In the year following the dramatic events at Fukushima and at the 25th anniversary of Chernobyl, there are numerous topics that underlie the debate.  These include politics, risk, public perception and public acceptance.

George Dracoulis has been a member of Department of Nuclear Physics at the Australian National University since 1973, and was Head from 1992 to July 2009.  He was appointed Professor Emeritus in 2010. During 2006 he was a member of the Prime Minister’s task force that reviewed the prospects for uranium mining, processing and nuclear energy in Australia and he has been involved in public engagement on nuclear policy issues, here and abroad.

Dinner will follow the lecture (venue tbc). To RSVP for dinner please email: mail@canberraskeptics.org.au

For further information about Canberra Skeptics please visit our website: http://www.canberraskeptics.org.au

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88 Responses to Nuclear Issues in Australia and Beyond; One Perspective
#1
CraigT7:34 am, 05 Jan 14

Here’s an update for all skeptics’ assessment of the risks associated with nuclear: Fukushima is going China Syndrome:
http://www.infowars.com/massive-hydrovolcanic-explosion-inevitable-at-fukushima/
http://www.eutimes.net/2014/01/underground-nuclear-explosion-at-crippled-japan-atomic-plant-shocks-world/
http://rt.com/news/fukushima-steam-nuclear-reactor-064/
http://www.washingtonsblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/WHOI-Cesium.jpg

…and who is paying for this? The nuke industry? Of course not, this cost of nuclear power has been externalised at taxpayers’ expense, affecting people well beyond Japan now.

I am particularly interested in how they deal with the dodgy situation in the rooted cooling pool on top of reactor 4. Because if that catches fire, half of Japan has to be evacuated.

#2
Diggety1:51 pm, 05 Jan 14

It is actually banned under federal law.

One of the newest energy technologies known to man is illegal in a supposedly ‘modern’ nation.

#3
IrishPete3:11 pm, 05 Jan 14

CraigT said :

Here’s an update for all skeptics’ assessment of the risks associated with nuclear: Fukushima is going China Syndrome:
http://www.infowars.com/massive-hydrovolcanic-explosion-inevitable-at-fukushima/
http://www.eutimes.net/2014/01/underground-nuclear-explosion-at-crippled-japan-atomic-plant-shocks-world/
http://rt.com/news/fukushima-steam-nuclear-reactor-064/
http://www.washingtonsblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/WHOI-Cesium.jpg

…and who is paying for this? The nuke industry? Of course not, this cost of nuclear power has been externalised at taxpayers’ expense, affecting people well beyond Japan now.

I am particularly interested in how they deal with the dodgy situation in the rooted cooling pool on top of reactor 4. Because if that catches fire, half of Japan has to be evacuated.

Hear hear.

And this http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cumbria-21298117 – that’s well over 100 billion Australian dollars for one nuclear power station.

IP

#4
c_c™4:55 pm, 05 Jan 14

CraigT said :

Here’s an update for all skeptics’ assessment of the risks associated with nuclear: Fukushima is going China Syndrome:
http://www.infowars.com/massive-hydrovolcanic-explosion-inevitable-at-fukushima/
http://www.eutimes.net/2014/01/underground-nuclear-explosion-at-crippled-japan-atomic-plant-shocks-world/
http://rt.com/news/fukushima-steam-nuclear-reactor-064/
http://www.washingtonsblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/WHOI-Cesium.jpg

…and who is paying for this? The nuke industry? Of course not, this cost of nuclear power has been externalised at taxpayers’ expense, affecting people well beyond Japan now.

I am particularly interested in how they deal with the dodgy situation in the rooted cooling pool on top of reactor 4. Because if that catches fire, half of Japan has to be evacuated.

Very authoritative and intelligent sources there… not.

#5
ScienceRules7:27 pm, 05 Jan 14

Am I the only one who finds it strange that we’re commenting on an event that was held almost two years ago?

Also CraigT, way to set the bar for conspiracy laden crazy early on in the piece mate. Kudos.

#6
Comic_and_Gamer_Nerd7:54 pm, 05 Jan 14

Only the smallest brain half wits fear nuclear energy.

#7
poetix10:32 pm, 05 Jan 14

Twenty months later, and I’m still annoyed that they spell sceptics with a ‘k’.

Let’s look at the big picture, people.

#8
Comic_and_Gamer_Nerd8:13 am, 06 Jan 14

ScienceRules said :

Am I the only one who finds it strange that we’re commenting on an event that was held almost two years ago?

Also CraigT, way to set the bar for conspiracy laden crazy early on in the piece mate. Kudos.

Haha I just realised it was a link to Alex jones. Explains a lot about Craigts other posts then.

#9
IrishPete8:46 am, 06 Jan 14

I didn’t notice the date of the event, just the new post. Oops.

As for small brains and nuclear energy? Well, that’s an intelligent, rational argument. Perhaps I could counter that only men with small penises don’t fear nuclear energy.

In fact, you’d have to be stupid not to fear it – even its supporters don’t handle uranium without some protective gear.

IP

#10
Thumper8:48 am, 06 Jan 14

poetix said :

Twenty months later, and I’m still annoyed that they spell sceptics with a ‘k’.

Let’s look at the big picture, people.

Sckeptics?

Just to be safe…

#11
IrishPete10:06 am, 06 Jan 14

Thumper said :

poetix said :

Twenty months later, and I’m still annoyed that they spell sceptics with a ‘k’.

Let’s look at the big picture, people.

Sckeptics?

Just to be safe…

Sckepticks.

#12
IrishPete10:08 am, 06 Jan 14
#13
MrLinus10:26 am, 06 Jan 14

IrishPete said :

I didn’t notice the date of the event, just the new post. Oops.

As for small brains and nuclear energy? Well, that’s an intelligent, rational argument. Perhaps I could counter that only men with small penises don’t fear nuclear energy.

In fact, you’d have to be stupid not to fear it – even its supporters don’t handle uranium without some protective gear.

IP

Riiiiiight so people handle uranium with protective gear so it must be dangerous. .. Do people go around handling electricity without a care in the world? ??

#14
Diggety11:26 am, 06 Jan 14

IrishPete said :

I didn’t notice the date of the event, just the new post. Oops.

As for small brains and nuclear energy? Well, that’s an intelligent, rational argument. Perhaps I could counter that only men with small penises don’t fear nuclear energy.

In fact, you’d have to be stupid not to fear it – even its supporters don’t handle uranium without some protective gear.

IP

They wear PPE because they understand it, not fear it.

#15
IrishPete12:24 pm, 06 Jan 14

MrLinus said :

IrishPete said :

I didn’t notice the date of the event, just the new post. Oops.

As for small brains and nuclear energy? Well, that’s an intelligent, rational argument. Perhaps I could counter that only men with small penises don’t fear nuclear energy.

In fact, you’d have to be stupid not to fear it – even its supporters don’t handle uranium without some protective gear.

IP

Riiiiiight so people handle uranium with protective gear so it must be dangerous. .. Do people go around handling electricity without a care in the world? ??

sorry, are you saying electricity isn’t dangerous? that electricians don’t fear?

#16
IrishPete12:26 pm, 06 Jan 14

Diggety said :

IrishPete said :

I didn’t notice the date of the event, just the new post. Oops.

As for small brains and nuclear energy? Well, that’s an intelligent, rational argument. Perhaps I could counter that only men with small penises don’t fear nuclear energy.

In fact, you’d have to be stupid not to fear it – even its supporters don’t handle uranium without some protective gear.

IP

They wear PPE because they understand it, not fear it.

so it isn’t dangerous? I wear PPE when fighting fires because I have enough brains to fear fire and being burnt. Perhaps I fear it because i understand it, but you don’t have to understand it to reasonably fear it.

IP

#17
MrLinus1:04 pm, 06 Jan 14

IrishPete said :

MrLinus said :

IrishPete said :

I didn’t notice the date of the event, just the new post. Oops.

As for small brains and nuclear energy? Well, that’s an intelligent, rational argument. Perhaps I could counter that only men with small penises don’t fear nuclear energy.

In fact, you’d have to be stupid not to fear it – even its supporters don’t handle uranium without some protective gear.

IP

Riiiiiight so people handle uranium with protective gear so it must be dangerous. .. Do people go around handling electricity without a care in the world? ??

sorry, are you saying electricity isn’t dangerous? that electricians don’t fear?

Might have to dumb it down a little. I was trying to point out that people use protective gear when handling any energy source. Your argument regarding uranium being dangerous simply because those who handle it have to wear protective gear is a fairly stupid one.

#18
Diggety1:18 pm, 06 Jan 14

IrishPete said :

Diggety said :

IrishPete said :

I didn’t notice the date of the event, just the new post. Oops.

As for small brains and nuclear energy? Well, that’s an intelligent, rational argument. Perhaps I could counter that only men with small penises don’t fear nuclear energy.

In fact, you’d have to be stupid not to fear it – even its supporters don’t handle uranium without some protective gear.

IP

They wear PPE because they understand it, not fear it.

so it isn’t dangerous?

IP

Depends on which stage of the fuel cycle. For example, depleted uranium can be handled with no protective gear at all. Nevertheless, I’m able to scare the bejesus out of people who dont understand it.

In fact, onec can scare the average greens voter by simply mentioning ‘uranium’.

#19
justsomeaussie1:36 pm, 06 Jan 14

The history lesson here is that uranium was chosen because it produced plutonian which is very useable in nuclear weapons. The cold war drove the R&D and the offshoot was nuclear power.

Sadly due to this linkage the research on other forms of nuclear technology (such as Thorium) has been left behind due to its high cost. Thorium can be used in a reactor where it can eat its own waste and it’s impossible to meltdown as if there is a failure in the system it simply cools down whereas a uranium reactor requires active cooling (which can fail like in Fukushima). Additionally it’s much harder (but not impossible) to produce plutonium in a thorium reactor. However the R&D simply isn’t there yet and only small thorium reactors are being build (by China and India).

All things being equal nuclear technology (including meltdowns) could be far safer than pumping 10 tons of coal dust into the atmosphere everyday instead of producing 10 years of nuclear waste a year (which you can move and store). For all the alarm and calamity that a meltdown causes those impacted are largely small when considering what global sea rises could cause.

The greenest technology that exists today that can produce baseload power is still nuclear. Solar and wind contrary to what many believe isn’t as green as it’s marketed as the silicon in solar and concrete in wind power is pretty horrible to the environment too. But certainly on my house there is solar because it is a great way to distribute the power supply and reduce household costs (just not baseload power).

Interestingly there is a negative affect caused by the boom in solar power and that is that during the day other baseload power generators must be reduced to counter the increased in solar power entering the grid. Due to their relative ease in changing the amount of power they use this means that gas power plants reduce in power whereas coal (the far far worse polluter) keeps going.

If you think of it with solar you have a power generator going from maximum to minimum generation every day meaning that the other generators must do the same which causes a huge inefficiency.

So at the moment solar energy is actually making the problem worse. (it would be far better to have gas and solar/wind, not coal and solar/wind)

As always the truth lies in the middle.

#20
johnboy1:42 pm, 06 Jan 14

Reactor design was also driven by what could be crammed into a submarine which is not ideal for civilian use.

#21
Comic_and_Gamer_Nerd2:27 pm, 06 Jan 14

IrishPete said :

I didn’t notice the date of the event, just the new post. Oops.

As for small brains and nuclear energy? Well, that’s an intelligent, rational argument. Perhaps I could counter that only men with small penises don’t fear nuclear energy.

In fact, you’d have to be stupid not to fear it – even its supporters don’t handle uranium without some protective gear.

IP

Having a small donger has no effect on rational thought.

Being a mental midget will cause irrational fear and thoughts every time though.

#22
MrBigEars2:45 pm, 06 Jan 14

justsomeaussie said :

All things being equal nuclear technology (including meltdowns) could be far safer than pumping 10 tons of coal dust into the atmosphere everyday instead of producing 10 years of nuclear waste a year (which you can move and store). For all the alarm and calamity that a meltdown causes those impacted are largely small when considering what global sea rises could cause.

Comparing the deathprint (shutup, is so a real word) for coal sourced power of 170 000 deaths per trillion kWhr globally vs nuclear 90 per trillion kWhr, according to this Forbes article:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2012/06/10/energys-deathprint-a-price-always-paid/

Also, xkcd. http://xkcd.com/radiation/

justsomeaussie said :

As always the truth lies in the middle.

Yes. But it’s hard to get fired up about things in the middle, even (especially?) if they are true.

#23
IrishPete3:17 pm, 06 Jan 14

MrLinus said :

IrishPete said :

MrLinus said :

IrishPete said :

I didn’t notice the date of the event, just the new post. Oops.

As for small brains and nuclear energy? Well, that’s an intelligent, rational argument. Perhaps I could counter that only men with small penises don’t fear nuclear energy.

In fact, you’d have to be stupid not to fear it – even its supporters don’t handle uranium without some protective gear.

IP

Riiiiiight so people handle uranium with protective gear so it must be dangerous. .. Do people go around handling electricity without a care in the world? ??

sorry, are you saying electricity isn’t dangerous? that electricians don’t fear?

Might have to dumb it down a little. I was trying to point out that people use protective gear when handling any energy source. Your argument regarding uranium being dangerous simply because those who handle it have to wear protective gear is a fairly stupid one.

No, your logic is incoherent. If it’s not dangerous why do you need protective gear? To look cool?

#24
IrishPete4:23 pm, 06 Jan 14

MrBigEars said :

justsomeaussie said :

All things being equal nuclear technology (including meltdowns) could be far safer than pumping 10 tons of coal dust into the atmosphere everyday instead of producing 10 years of nuclear waste a year (which you can move and store). For all the alarm and calamity that a meltdown causes those impacted are largely small when considering what global sea rises could cause.

Comparing the deathprint (shutup, is so a real word) for coal sourced power of 170 000 deaths per trillion kWhr globally vs nuclear 90 per trillion kWhr, according to this Forbes article:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2012/06/10/energys-deathprint-a-price-always-paid/

Also, xkcd. http://xkcd.com/radiation/

justsomeaussie said :

As always the truth lies in the middle.

Yes. But it’s hard to get fired up about things in the middle, even (especially?) if they are true.

You won’t find me, or any greens member of voter, arguing for coal.

As we’ve already established that the nuclear power industry is an offshoot of the nuclear weapons industry, perhaps Hiroshima and Nagasaki need to be included in the body count.

IP

#25
IrishPete4:27 pm, 06 Jan 14

Diggety said :

Depends on which stage of the fuel cycle. For example, depleted uranium can be handled with no protective gear at all. Nevertheless, I’m able to scare the bejesus out of people who dont understand it.

In fact, onec can scare the average greens voter by simply mentioning ‘uranium’.

Sometimes I think others live in a parallel universe populated by fluffy bunnies and fairies and everyone lives on ice cream and nothing bad ever happens: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/craig-considine/us-depleted-uranium-as-ma_b_3812888.html
Surely you’ve heard that depleted uranium use is at least controversial, even if you don’t agree?

#26
howeph4:27 pm, 06 Jan 14

I agree with some parts of your post, but I have to call you on others.

justsomeaussie said :

The greenest technology that exists today that can produce baseload power is still nuclear.

Bulls***.

Renewables plus pumped hydro storage is the greenest technology that can produce baseload power in Australia.

justsomeaussie said :

Solar and wind contrary to what many believe isn’t as green as it’s marketed as the silicon in solar and concrete in wind power is pretty horrible to the environment too.

On silicon you’re not telling the whole story. The energy cost to produce polycrystalline silicon, used by most solar panels, is much lower than for electronics grade monocrystalline silicon required for semi-conductors and more specialised high-cost high efficiency solar panels to which I think you are referring.

As for concrete: Yep, those nuclear power plants don’t use any concrete at all. Their built from timber frames, mud bricks and hemp rope!

justsomeaussie said :

Interestingly there is a negative affect[sic] caused by the boom in solar power and that is that during the day other baseload power generators must be reduced to counter the increased in solar power entering the grid. Due to their relative ease in changing the amount of power they use this means that gas power plants reduce in power whereas coal (the far far worse polluter) keeps going.

If you think of it with solar you have a power generator going from maximum to minimum generation every day meaning that the other generators must do the same which causes a huge inefficiency.

So at the moment solar energy is actually making the problem worse. (it would be far better to have gas and solar/wind, not coal and solar/wind)

Wrong.

“Baseload” is a tricky term and you need to be careful with how you use the term “baseload” or risk the equivocation logical fallacy.

You need to be careful that you don’t confuse:

“baseload” – the minimum amount of power to meet demands based on reasonable expectations of customer requirements; with

“baseload” – the power produced by a baseload plant. Power stations designed to produce power at a fairly constant rate.

I’ll use the first definition.

Because in Australia coal is readily available and cheap, coal power plants have been used to produce significantly more than the “baseload” demand. We can see the effect of this in the fact that even though the output from coal power plants can be reduced we still have an excess in electricity supply at night that we use for pumping water uphill, cheap street lighting and “off-peak” water heating.

Coal generators have been relying upon the greater prices that they can charge during the day to cover the losses that they make at night.

However solar PV produces its power during the day. This reduces the daytime demand, cutting directly into the profitable period of coal generators that need those profits to cover night time losses. That is why Solar PV, combined with wind power and an overall decline in electricity demand, has lead to the premature closure of a number of coal power generation units and plants (it’s also why the generators are pushing the government so hard on reducing or removing the RET. Generators (many of them owned by the State governments) are really hurting, running at a loss, looking at writing down the value of their coal powered generation assets).

justsomeaussie said :

As always the truth lies in the middle.

As always reality is more complex.

#27
howeph4:50 pm, 06 Jan 14

On the comparative safety of nuclear…

For electricity generation you can DIY solar, hydro, wind and steam (from burning shit). I haven’t seen any DIY nuclear power though. I wonder why that is… ?

#28
IrishPete5:20 pm, 06 Jan 14

howeph said :

On the comparative safety of nuclear…

For electricity generation you can DIY solar, hydro, wind and steam (from burning shit). I haven’t seen any DIY nuclear power though. I wonder why that is… ?

This sounds disturbingly close – http://www.skeptics.com.au/latest/news/update-inventor-rejects-dick-smith-million-dollar-offer/ “the chance to buy for few hundred dollars an E-Cat and test it as he wants”

IP

#29
Thumper9:29 pm, 06 Jan 14

IrishPete said :

MrBigEars said :

justsomeaussie said :

All things being equal nuclear technology (including meltdowns) could be far safer than pumping 10 tons of coal dust into the atmosphere everyday instead of producing 10 years of nuclear waste a year (which you can move and store). For all the alarm and calamity that a meltdown causes those impacted are largely small when considering what global sea rises could cause.

Comparing the deathprint (shutup, is so a real word) for coal sourced power of 170 000 deaths per trillion kWhr globally vs nuclear 90 per trillion kWhr, according to this Forbes article:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2012/06/10/energys-deathprint-a-price-always-paid/

Also, xkcd. http://xkcd.com/radiation/

justsomeaussie said :

As always the truth lies in the middle.

Yes. But it’s hard to get fired up about things in the middle, even (especially?) if they are true.

You won’t find me, or any greens member of voter, arguing for coal.

As we’ve already established that the nuclear power industry is an offshoot of the nuclear weapons industry, perhaps Hiroshima and Nagasaki need to be included in the body count.

IP

You could include Hiroshima and Nagasaki but that would be completely illogical and, frankly, ridiculous…

At present solar/ wind/ wave/ whatever cannot provide the power needed. Take away coal and we’re stuffed. As such nothing can be ruled out at this point of time given that populations are simply going to continue to explode. Indeed, all sources must be explored.

Hopefully in the future we can find a true (and perfectly green and safe) alternative source of power. Probably not in my life time but in times well beyond that.

#30
IrishPete12:47 am, 07 Jan 14

Thumper said :

IrishPete said :

MrBigEars said :

justsomeaussie said :

All things being equal nuclear technology (including meltdowns) could be far safer than pumping 10 tons of coal dust into the atmosphere everyday instead of producing 10 years of nuclear waste a year (which you can move and store). For all the alarm and calamity that a meltdown causes those impacted are largely small when considering what global sea rises could cause.

Comparing the deathprint (shutup, is so a real word) for coal sourced power of 170 000 deaths per trillion kWhr globally vs nuclear 90 per trillion kWhr, according to this Forbes article:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2012/06/10/energys-deathprint-a-price-always-paid/

Also, xkcd. http://xkcd.com/radiation/

justsomeaussie said :

As always the truth lies in the middle.

Yes. But it’s hard to get fired up about things in the middle, even (especially?) if they are true.

You won’t find me, or any greens member of voter, arguing for coal.

As we’ve already established that the nuclear power industry is an offshoot of the nuclear weapons industry, perhaps Hiroshima and Nagasaki need to be included in the body count.

IP

You could include Hiroshima and Nagasaki but that would be completely illogical and, frankly, ridiculous…

At present solar/ wind/ wave/ whatever cannot provide the power needed. Take away coal and we’re stuffed. As such nothing can be ruled out at this point of time given that populations are simply going to continue to explode. Indeed, all sources must be explored.

Hopefully in the future we can find a true (and perfectly green and safe) alternative source of power. Probably not in my life time but in times well beyond that.

Wrong so many times it is hard to count.

If we are too stupid to stop population growth then we deserve nuclear power and the war, potentially nuclear, that will likely follow overpopulation and competition for resources. And quite possibly in your lifetime. Likely? No. Possible? Yes. Preventable? definitely. Is nuclear power the answer? Not unless it was a really stupid question.

IP

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