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Eduardo Porter Says States that Close Nuclear Plants are Going in Wrong Direction for Climate

Rod Adams's picture
President and CEO Adams Atomic Engines, Inc.
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  • Jan 20, 2017 10:00 am GMT
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Diablo Canyon circa 2007

In a recent New York Times column titled On Climate Change, Even States in Forefront Are Falling Short, Eduarto Porter begins by lauding California’s claimed position as a leader in environmental consciousness. He points to recent political statements by the state’s elected officials indicating they plan to stubbornly resist any Trump Administration efforts to interfere with their actions to create more challenging goals for emissions reductions.

Porter then pointedly describes the disconnect between claims made by politicians and reality.

And yet for all the pluck of the Golden State’s politicians, California is far from providing the leadership needed in the battle against climate change. Distracted by the competing objective of shuttering nuclear plants that still produce over a fifth of its zero-carbon power, the state risks failing the main environmental challenge of our time.

California’s effort to close its remaining nuclear plant at Diablo Canyon is merely the last remaining act of a lengthy process to increase the state’s natural gas market sales. The effort has allowed for some fuel conservation assistance from wind, solar, hydro, geothermal and energy efficiency, but mainly it has been focused on pushing uranium out as an energy supply option.

By preventing or destroying the infrastructure needed to convert zero emission, cheap uranium fuel into electricity, people fighting nuclear power plants have ensured that the electric power grid is a reliable and growing customer for natural gas producers as well as a large market for solar installers and wind turbine manufacturers.

The visible and vocal front of the antinuclear movement has consisted mainly of politicians and groups that wrap themselves in Green clothing, but dedicated research efforts have exposed numerous conflicts of interest. Most of the largest Green groups and their political partners have received either financial support or have direct financial interests in competing sources of energy, including wind and solar but most importantly natural gas.

Porter points to important work that calculates what California’s emissions would be if the well-funded and effectively organized effort to force nuclear out of the market had not succeeded.

Consider this bit of counterfactual history. Environmental Progress, an advocacy group that aggressively supports the deployment of nuclear energy to combat climate change, estimated what California’s power sector would look like had the opposition from antinuclear forces — including Governor Brown — not undone the state’s deployment of nuclear energy, starting in the 1970s.

As Porter notes, experience has shown that the predictions of catastrophe that motivated many people to oppose nuclear have turned out to be false. Even with an occasional, highly publicized, accident, nuclear fission has turned out to be the safest form of large scale power generation.

As James Hansen and Pushker A. Kharecha documented in a peer-reviewed article titled Prevented Mortality and Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Historical and Projected Nuclear Power nuclear energy has saved millions of lives already.

It’s time that Californians became true leaders in the effort to preserve and improve our shared environment. Citizens should demand that their decision makers engage with the public in thoughtful discussions about energy supply options.

Those discussions should include an understanding of the documented safety of nuclear energy, the obvious benefits in terms of reducing air pollution and CO2 emissions and the conflicts of interest that have been at least part of the motivation for fighting against both new nuclear energy projects and continued operation of already complete and reliable facilities.

The post Eduardo Porter says states that close nuclear are going in wrong direction for climate appeared first on Atomic Insights.

Discussions
Spell checking: Press the CTRL or COMMAND key then click on the underlined misspelled word.
Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on Jan 20, 2017

Citizens should demand … discussions … discussions should include … documented safety of nuclear energy … reducing air pollution and CO2 emissions
Check statistics. ~0,5% of nuclear reactors ended their life in disasters; shifting the costs of $200-$500billion to citizens & govts. Diablo has two reactors, so it’s a chance of ~1%…
Experts agree that chances on such disaster increase the older reactors are.

Regarding the health damage disasters cause, the opinion varies from 43 deaths due to Chernobyl by the above linked Hansen etal publication, via the >8,000 according to IAEA*) to a million by the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences.

While pro-nuclear (Hansen etal) states no deaths regarding Fukushima, WHO expert committee concludes to up to 7% more cancers to Fukushima children in later life, despite their fast evacuation.
And recent study found highly significant increased peri-natal death numbers after Fukushima in nearby districts that were not evacuated as they got not enough fall-out for evacuation…

In addition, studies found that even regularly operating nuclear plants spread highly significant genetic damage (implies also IQ and health damage) to newborn up to 40km away.

If nuclear was not risky than owners wouldn’t need the liability limitations that nuclear laws grant (=subsidies of ~5cnt/Kwh when calculated as insurance corporations do).

Nuclear emissions: 2 to 10 times more than renewable
The emissions of non-fossil methods of electricity generation are closely related to the costs. With these methods, higher costs imply more income for more people who use that for emissions generating activities…

A decade or longer ago when emission studies were executed, nuclear was >2 times cheaper than now. So published results were favorable for nuclear.
But since then solar & wind decreased 2 to 8 times in costs, while nuclear costs increased >2 times. So the balance shifted totally.
Now wind & solar cost 2 to 10 times less than nuclear, hence also emit 2 to 10 times less…
And this shift in costs continues in coming years until Diablo closes, so emissions of renewable will become 3 to 15 times less than renewable.

Hence even if only 30% of Diablo’s production is replaced by renewable, it’s already fine for the climate to close Diablo. Especially since renewable will increase.

Btw.
– The “zero emission, cheap uranium fuel” sentence show nuclear’s unreliability, as uranium mining, uranium enrichment, uranium fuel rod manufacture, guarded uranium waste store during many decades up to many thousands of years, imply emissions.

– “fission has turned out to be the safest form of large scale power generation.”
In order to support that idea, James Hansen etal had to assume 43 deaths for Chernobyl and zero deaths for Fukushima and other accidents which figures are clearly far off reality. They are a factor 200 to 400,000 wrong.
___
*) Note that IAEA:
– official target is the promotion of nuclear
– web-site published varying numbers for the Chernobyl deaths.
From 4000, to >8000, to impossible to estimate with any accuracy,

Jesper Antonsson's picture
Jesper Antonsson on Jan 21, 2017

Hmm, have I mentioned that you should be banned for lying and peddling anti-nuclear junk-science?

Paul O's picture
Paul O on Jan 21, 2017

Yes, and I also agree with you that Santa is real, the moon is made of cheese, and the moon landings were faked, and also that the earth is actually really flat, and is really only 7,000 years old give or take a century or so.

Josh Nilsen's picture
Josh Nilsen on Jan 21, 2017

Keep up the solid journalism. The pro-nuclear fanboy trolls on this site don’t like anything negative being said about nuclear ever. They live in a fantasy world where 100% nuclear power is easily achievable even though the technology has been around for 50 years.

Notice how they simply down rate you but yet don’t provide any rebuttal based in factual evidence?

If the nuclear guys actually cared about cost effective, carbon free electricity, they would be championing wind and solar pv.

Engineer- Poet's picture
Engineer- Poet on Jan 21, 2017

Notice how they simply down rate you but yet don’t provide any rebuttal based in factual evidence?

Notice how Bas/Bentvels ignores well-referenced rebuttals and goes on with his regular litany of lies?  No?  It’s because you are a soldier in his army.

If the nuclear guys actually cared about cost effective, carbon free electricity, they would be championing wind and solar pv.

If you anti-nuclear guys actually cared about cost-effective, carbon free, reliable electricity (you know, what industrial economies cannot do without?), you would have nothing to champion.

Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on Jan 21, 2017

Bentvels/Bas, it looks like you’ve misrepresented the finding of the WHO report of Fukushima health impacts (which you have linked).

Whereas you claim that Fukushima will result in a scary 7% increase in the cancer rate. The WHO report contradicts that, saying:

Outside the geographical areas most affected by radiation, even in locations within Fukushima prefecture, the predicted risks remain low and no observable increases in cancer above natural variation in baseline rates are anticipated.

Some health effects of radiation, termed deterministic effects, are known to occur only after certain radiation dose levels are exceeded. The radiation doses in Fukushima prefecture were well below such levels and therefore such effects are not expected to occur in the general population.

The estimated dose levels in Fukushima prefecture were also too low to affect fetal development or outcome of pregnancy and no increases, as a result of antenatal radiation exposure, in spontaneous abortion, miscarriage, perinatal mortality, congenital defects or cognitive impairment are anticipated.

And regarding the expected increases in cancer rates in the two most affected locations of Fukushima prefecture: the report says:

These percentages represent estimated relative increases
over the baseline rates and are not estimated absolute risks for developing such cancers. It is important to note that due to the low baseline rates of thyroid cancer, even a large relative increase represents a small absolute increase in risks. For example, the baseline lifetime risk of thyroid cancer for females is just three-quarters of one percent and the additional lifetime risk estimated in this assessment for a female infant exposed in the most affected location is one-half of one percent. … The estimated risks are lower for people exposed as children and adults compared to infants.

Of course, switching from nuclear to coal (even if the coal power is blended with variable renewables) does have observable negative health impacts. So in places like Germany, China, and India, where coal is the dominant fossil fuel, anti-nuclearism is always damaging to human health and the environment.

And based on Chernobyl experience, we can be sure that the harm to the public caused by radiation was much less than the harm caused by stress from anti-nuclear propaganda. Even small increases in tobacco and alcohol consumption produce much higher risk than do small radiation doses.

Jarmo Mikkonen's picture
Jarmo Mikkonen on Jan 21, 2017

Nuclear suffers from risk perception gap. Despite all the scientific evidence on the contrary, many people consider it dangerous.It’s the same thing as with air travel or vaccinations.

Air travel is by far the safest mode of travel but when an airliner crashes, it makes news all over the world. Never mind that over 3000 people die in road accidents each day. In 2015, 560 people died in airliner crashes, roughly 2000 times less than on the road.

Millions of people used to die in epidemics caused by viruses controlled by vaccines today. Yet anti-vaxxers believe vaccines are inherently dangerous.

Nuclear accidents are also spectacular news. But if you count all the damage and compare it to the death toll from air pollution in energy generation, it pales into insignificance. Never mind all the carbon nuclear has stopped from entering the atmosphere.

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on Jan 22, 2017

Notice how Bentvels ignores well-referenced rebuttals
EP & Jesper accuse me that I ignore fictitious rebuttals! They didn’t publish any well founded rebuttal!

Only unfounded statements such as nuclear is safe (0.5% of nuclear reactors ended in disaster), cheap (now old reactors need even extra subsidies), etc.

reliable electricity
Big nuclear can and does fail totally in a few seconds, which implies expensive spinning reserve (usually fossil) is necessary, while wind & solar gradually change production in line with weather prediction!

So it’s not strange that electricity reliability in nuclear countries, such as France (75% nuclear), is 4 times worse compared to renewable Germany and Denmark.

carbon free … electricity
Nowadays nuclear emit 2 – 10 times more CO2 than wind & solar.

In old studies nuclear had similar levels as wind & solar, but since then nuclear became far more expensive (=more CO2) as it had to become more safe, and wind & solar decreased a factor 2 -6 in price, so accordingly less CO2 emissions.

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on Jan 22, 2017

Nathan,
First comment regarding my comment which considers the content of my comment. Thank you!

Cancer rates
I write: “WHO expert committee concludes to up to 7% more cancers to Fukushima children in later life, ”
The summary of the WHO report (p.8) states:

For leukaemia, the lifetime risks are predicted to increase by up to around 7% over baseline cancer rates in males exposed as infants; for breast cancer, the estimated lifetime risks increase by up to around 6% over baseline rates in females exposed as infants; for all solid cancers, the estimated lifetime risks increase by up to around 4% over baseline rates in females exposed as infants; and for thyroid cancer, the estimated lifetime risk increases by up to around 70% over baseline rates in females exposed as infants.

(bolt by me)
So I cited correct. Only the word “around” not, as that is not relevant (around implies it can also be 8% or 6%). Neither did I show the max.
The max. is the around 70% increase for thyroid cancers.

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on Jan 22, 2017

Nathan,
Note that the WHO report is very careful, rather pro-nuclear, as shown by the fact that some statements have already been shown as too optimistic. E.g.

The estimated dose levels in Fukushima prefecture were also too low to affect fetal development or outcome of pregnancy and no increases, as a result of antenatal radiation exposure, in spontaneous abortion, miscarriage, perinatal mortality, congenital defects or cognitive impairment are anticipated.

That’s too optimistic.
Research found significant increase of perinatal deaths (P=0.0009) in regions not evacuated because of the low increase of radiation levels. So the question is whether the exclusion zone shouldn’t have been larger.

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on Jan 22, 2017

But if you count all the damage and compare it to the death toll from air pollution in energy generation, it pales into insignificance.
That is dubious.
James Hansen etal found it necessary to cheat with the numbers of Chernobyl & Fukushima deaths in order to create a picture that nuclear is more save!

The real question is whether it is acceptable to continue with a dangerous expensive method of electricity generation, while there are other methods available that:
– emit 2 – 10 times less CO2 per KWh;
– have no such dangers;
– don’t leave a dangerous burden for next generations (nuclear waste);
– result in more reliable electricity supply
– are 2 – 10 times cheaper nowadays.

Jarmo Mikkonen's picture
Jarmo Mikkonen on Jan 22, 2017

James Hansen etal found it necessary to cheat with the numbers of Chernobyl & Fukushima deaths in order to create a picture that nuclear is more save!

James Hansen is a scientist of international standing. You are a self-appointed missionary of Anti-nuclear church with little regard to either truth or science.

Calling scientists liars proves only that you have zero counter-arguments.

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on Jan 22, 2017

Yes. The frequent cheating with facts by well known pro-nuclear scientist, is really bad.
Facts presented by pro-nuclear cannot be trusted.
A bad situation for nuclear too.

Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on Jan 22, 2017

Deleted.

Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on Jan 22, 2017

No, you are still misrepresenting the text, by ignoring the rest of the paragraph:

…For example, the baseline lifetime risk of thyroid cancer for females is just three-quarters of one percent and the additional lifetime risk estimated in this assessment for a female infant exposed in the most affected location is one-half of one percent.

I added the bold for clarity. I would further note that unlike some cancers, thyroid cancer is nearly always curable.

Also, note that radiation-induced thyroid cancer is a result of absorption of iodine-131, which has a half-life of only 8 days. This means that much of the evacuated area was probably safe for return after only a month delay.

Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on Jan 22, 2017

Once again, you cite a paper written by Hagen Scherb (who’s always an outlier, ignored by mainstream science), and pretend he has more credibility that the World Health Organization.

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on Jan 23, 2017

“…. more credibility than the World Health Organization.”
Scherb etal did a factual study showing highly significant increased peri-natal deaths in not-evacuated areas around Fukushima.

The WHO report was much earlier and contains only expert estimations. So you can find precautions in the report.

It’s clear that factual study results, supersede estimations.

Scherb an outlier?
Hagen Scherb is one of Germany’s most prominent scientists specialized in statistical evaluations (his PhD work).
Based on his evaluation of the genetic radiation damage around Germany’s prime nuclear waste store (Gorleben), govt decided to close it prematurely.

For this study he was apparently invited by the Japanese scientists, who were involved in the study…
Not a sign of being an outlier.

Considering the nuclear genetic & health damage he shows, I can imagine that fanatic pro-nuclear urge to classify him as an outlier.
But his methods withstand all scientific critique.

Jesper Antonsson's picture
Jesper Antonsson on Jan 23, 2017

He is not prominent and his methods withstand no scientific critique. Furthermore, you should be banned for furthering junk science. (I belong to those who believe that we need to consider outlawing production and willful dissemination of junk science, actually.)

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on Jan 23, 2017

Nathan we agree until your sentence:
“…probably safe for return after only a month delay.”

That would be true if I-131 would be the only radiation causing agent that was spread around. But as shown by:

– the WHO report estimate of up to 7% more cancers in later life for evacuated Fukushima children;
– the highly significant increases in peri-natal deaths in non-evacuated districts (significant more peri-natal deaths increase in prefectures that got significant more Fukushima radiation);
– the continued efforts of authorities to clean the area;
– the experience with Chernobyl;

other agents such as Cs-137 and Sr-90 cause far more health damage.
And those have half-lives of ~30years…

Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on Jan 23, 2017

No Bas, idodine-131 is 1400 times more radioactive than Cs-137 or Sr-90 (the inverse of the half life ratio). The thyroid gland concentrates iodine to a much greater degree than the body accumulates cesium. It’s also a proven fact that a given radiation dosage spread over 30 years is enormously less dangerous than the same dose over 8 days. The standard treatment to prevent radiation poisoning is an iodine pill, which floods the body with iodine, to prevent additional absorption and replace the existing inventory.

That’s why the only convincingly measurable cancer increases in the general public from Chernobyl were thyroid cancers. And why the most dangerous exposure period for contaminations lasts only as long as the iodine.

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on Jan 24, 2017

We agree that Iodine is more radioactive, also that the thyroid cancer it causes is nearly always curable by removing the thyroid.

But regarding health damage, other exhausted radio-active stuff plays a far more important role. Agents such as Cs-137 accumulate in the bone contributing highly to the up to 7% more cancers in later life as predicted by the WHO expert report (see first link in first comment here).

If it would be only Iodine radiation, present radiation measurements in the surroundings would show background levels, as all the Iodine decayed (half-life 8days). But they do show highly increased levels of radiation.
So Japanese have to continue with their clean-up work.

This study also shows the main health damage which mainly Cs-137 fall out caused in areas far away.

Engineer- Poet's picture
Engineer- Poet on Jan 24, 2017

Agents such as Cs-137 accumulate in the bone

You are such the dogmatic ignoramus, Bas.  Sr-90 is the calcium mimic, not cesium.

You are so lucky I don’t have boots big enough to kick you where you need to be kicked from the distance of the USA.  Because it would hurt.  Making ignorance hurt is the only way to get you to try to cure yourself.

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on Jan 24, 2017

From Wikipedia:
“caesium gets more or less uniformly distributed throughout the body, with the highest concentrations in soft tissue…”

So I mixed Cs and Sr. My mistake.
Sorry.

Luckily it’s not very relevant for my previous comment;
which shows that Iodine-131 is far less relevant for the health damage of people than Cs-137 and Sr-90.

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