Why are we ignoring the fact that this geographic location is unusable now? I don't see anybody rushing to get in line to walk into the Fukushima plant or to move back to Chernobyl. There's more damage than immediate death. That environment is lost. It contaminates ground water, soil, the wildlife, the air. You're willfully ignoring the reality and taking the hopeful ideals.
Hydroelectricity has made far more unusable geographic locations. The earth is massive. Losing a couple KM is regrettable but isn't comparable to a million people.
>Does money, greed, pride, and stupidity triumph in the end? Yes.
>You're willfully ignoring the reality and taking the hopeful ideals.
The reality is a million fewer people died, despite money, greed, pride, and stupidity triumphing. How is this the idealistic view?
It's significantly more than a few km, according to that map. It's based on the research of Viennese climate scientists, according to the article.
Nuclear power is worth the risk when faced with the threat of climate change. At very least, we must keep existing plants operating until we decommission all fossil fuel power plants.
The first thing to note is that concentration dramatically decreases as radiation is pushed by the wind. We should also note that we're REALLY good at detecting radiation (it has been a great way to spy on other countries' use of atomic weapons, but since we can't always get into their country we need pretty sensitive devices).
But models are one thing, we have real world data. So let's look at a map of Japan, which has active monitoring. The legal public dosage is 1mSv/yr. So to convert that into a number we can read on this map our hourly dosage needs to be below [(1e-3(mSv/Sv)/365(days)/24(hrs)1e9(nSv/Sv)]= 114nSv/hr. You'll actually find that the vast majority is below that. But this doesn't leave much room for other types of radiation (take note of this point).
But let's talk about that 1mSv limit. Why is it there? Is it where danger starts? Radiation workers have a limit of 20mSv/yr (2283nSv/hr, which is only a handful* of places on the map). Why that? It used to be 50mSv/yr (5707nSv/hr). So let's look it up  (PDF, see chapter 3). We see a lot of talk about 100mSv/yr (11,415nSv/hr, nowhere on map) or in a single dose being completely safe. We even see mention of no detectable effects at 0.5Sv (3.3 page 56, page 57 even says little evidence of below 1Gy). Well, the thing is we use a model called the Linear No-Threshold (LNT). We use this because we'd rather be safe than sorry (note the use of "assumption" in the paper). The limits given to just workers has an included safety factor. Then it was decided later than the public should have even lower limits (more factors of safety).
Is having such low thresholds a good idea? Definitely. I agree with the attitude of better safe than sorry. So include factors of safety, because we don't know how many chest x-rays you're getting a year or if you live next to a coal plant. But should we take those legal limits as "you're going to get cancer if you exceed them?" Definitely not. We can realistically see that there is little evidence to support that idea. So is it exactly right to say that these places are uninhabitable? I don't think so, but it is safe to say that there is increased risk. But we should also recognize how much risk that is. (The above might also explain why there's a lot of wildlife in Chernobyl)
Also, money and greed does not always win out. See: the Onagawa nuclear reactor which is closer to the epicenter than Fukishima, and which was properly managed and is still running.
The nuclear argument gets weaker by the year considering rapid advancements in renewables and the decades+ period of time it takes to build a new nuclear reactor. We have the safest nuclear reactor available. The sun.
The RBMK reactors at Chernobyl were based on a design from the the early 1950s and were crude even by the standards of the time. The reactor design is inherently unsafe for several reasons, which was compounded by inadequate monitoring and containment systems. Safe operation of the reactor was hindered by a deliberate and systematic cover-up of the flawed nature of the reactor design; the emergency response was similarly hindered by a deliberate and systematic cover-up of the scale of the disaster.
Comparing a modern nuclear power plant to Chernobyl is like comparing a 2019 Honda Civic with a 1961 Chevy Corvair. We've learned so many lessons and changed our safety culture so profoundly in in the intervening period. If we are allowed to keep developing and building nuclear reactors, we'll keep building safer and more efficient reactors.
That's a pretty interesting metaphor, because while the newer car is indeed much safer, there are many types of accidents where the driver will be killed no matter what car they're driving. Perhaps they'll still have all the body parts attached in the Honda though ;)
One of my favorite books is "Normal accidents" by Perrow, where atomic plants are the perfect example of high-risk systems which invite system accidents.
Their dedicated chapter is comically horrific. e.g.:
"In 1978 a worker changing a light bulb in a control panel at the Rancho Secco 1 reactor in Clay Station, California, dropped the bulb. It created a short circuit in some sensors and controls. Fortunately, the reactor scram controls were not among those affected, and the reactor automatically scrammed. But the loss of some sensors meant the operators could not determine the condition of the plant, and there was a rapid cooling of the core. [...] did not in this case damage the core. But this is probably only because the plant had been operating at full power for less than three years. A spokesman for the NRC said: “If it had been 10 to 15 full power years, instead of two to three, which it was, that vessel might have cracked.” A cracked vessel would result in a loss of coolant and a meltdown; no emergency system would be available to cool the core."
Perrow's thesis was that systems needed three characteristics to generate normal accidents: to be very complex (beyond any single human's detailed comprehension), to be tightly coupled (meaning that the system can change its behaviour quickly) and to have catastrophic potential.
Pressurised water designs are inherently complex and coupled because the necessity to circulate fluid at all times without failure, making them complex (lots of moving parts and failure modes) and coupled (failures can rapidly propagate their effects). They also produce plentiful radioactive byproducts.
A counterargument is that non-PWR designs in Gen-III+ and Gen-IV actually address some or all of these characteristics. Many of them are much simpler, reducing complexity. Many of them are design to operate passively, reducing complexity and coupling. And some of them reduce radioactive byproducts.
Compare it to a "sure thing" on wallstreet. Let's say you hold stock and sell an option contract at a price point you believe will never get hit. Yet if that price point gets hit your entire life savings gets wiped out. This "will never happen" mindset forgets that we as humans don't know what we don't know. We are simple. Nuclear is complex.
IMO nuclear could become safer with more investment into it. But why invest in a technology that is less safe than alternatives like solar.
The fear that people have of nuclear is a variable to calculate. The first commenter pointed out his girlfriend is afraid of nuclear power. Fear, stress and anxiety is an emotion that causes physical consequences. If the public is afraid of it and says Not in My Back Yard - it doesn't matter how safe your paper calculations are. Yes - Chernobyl spoiled it for everyone. The rude party guest that got the cops called and forced the party to break up early. It stinks. Thanks Chernobyl for ending the nuclear revolution in its infancy. But it is a reality.
Someone will counter-argue that fossil fuels destroyed the ozone layer and increased cancer. This is half-true. Byproducts of fossil fuels. Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) damaged the Ozone layer, which increased cancer in subtropic geographies. Companies manufactured CFCs for refrigeration. Not for power plants or core energy. Thus, this line of analysis is a distraction from the core debate.
People (especially software engineers) who have low Vitamin D get sick more often. Leading to increased risk of death. A growing belief is that this occurs due to lack of sun exposure. Blue LED light does not count. The sun is there for a reason. Hormesis and evolution required the sun. The last 30 years of consensus that wearing sunscreen all the time is a good thing. Is a viewpoint I wager will change in the next 10 years. With consensus swinging back to a pro sun exposure mindset.
It isn't. [1,2] In terms of deaths per terawatt-hour, nuclear is much lower than solar and wind.
> People (especially software engineers) who have low Vitamin D get sick more often. Leading to increased risk of death. A growing belief is that this occurs due to lack of sun exposure.
I agree, people should spend more time in the sun.
They are f'd, their DNA is also f'd so...
> "Some birds make use of melanin for coloration, but they also make use of the precursor to melanin as an antioxidant, which may provide some measure of defence against the ionizing radiation," said Mousseau.
> In a study, he found that those birds that seemed to show less genetic damage ended up being a bit lighter coloured.
> "It looks like there's a tradeoff in the use of this antioxidant between colouration and defence against oxidative stress or ionizing radiation."
Or, alternatively, to paraphrase, while the animals there haven't yet evolved a complete defense to the ionizing radiation, some species are expressing traits correlated to their ability to withstand it. This gives them a survival advantage, so over time, it stands to reason they will compensate.
> "But it's clear that there's more going on than just the acute exposure effects."
I must have missed the part where the author threw up their hands and yelled "looks like the animals are f'd."
I'm not saying this is good or bad, just that changes to the environment are very much in nature's wheelhouse. Humans, especially individual humans, are the fragile ones. Life has shown itself incredibly resilient, and some increases in background radiation aren't about to stop it. After all, tardigrades are able to survive constant irradiation hundreds of times the lethal dose for humans while frozen solid in space.
If it's still in operation then you can't make that deduction yet.
Everyone always ignores the huge amount of land made unusable by hydro and increasingly solar. It’s unfathomable to me how okay people seem to be with the amount of CA land being covered by solar panels. Pretty sure most desert tortoises would rather live next to a nuclear power plant.
Unless we reduce our use of electricity or come up with a new source, those panels will always be there.
It will also take time for the wild life to grow back and if the the ecosystem has changed enough it won't come back the same. This isn't a problem by itself. But if Chernobyl is an example all you have to do is wait 50 years and wild life will move back in too.
I'm 100% for renewable energy, but we're making a lot of assumptions on how we're going to get rid of and recycle solar panels. That's a lot of material we have to re-process and see how much we can use and how much was consumed.
The reason these plants are reasonably cheap is that there are rows and rows of uniformly hooked up and distributed easy to access solar panels.
What you're suggesting is best accomplished by a government subsidy on solar panels. But then individuals own them and we won't have a way to recycle them when they all go bad in 30 years.
Because it is easy to make it usable again. Break the dam and in a year people can move back. In a few years it will be populated with animals. After a century there might as well never have been a dam. With nuclear the timeslines are far longer. The worst possible disaster caused by a dam to some future civilization that has regressed would be if they built under one and it broke killing mass amounts. But once broken the danger is now gone.
Land lost to solar is similarly regained once you remove the panels and in a century entire forest can have returned with the land being safe for humans (civilization advanced or regressed).
Is that serious, or are you joking? I'm having a hard time deciding.
First, the land that's being covered is mostly a desert, where no one wanted to live anyway.
Second, it's being covered in solar panels so that we can generate electricity without emitting CO2, which is rather important given that our planet will be turning mostly to desert in the next 30-50 years.
> First, the land that's being covered is mostly a desert, where no one wanted to live anyway.
So you're fine if we put nuclear plants in the desert then right? That would certainly be more environmentally friendly to the wildlife that live in those areas.
But even ignoring putting nuclear plants in the desert, we should compare the lost utility of land by Chernobyl and Fukushima weighed against that of all hydro and solar, on a per megawatt basis over time.
When showing concern about the lost land to Fukushima and Chernobyl the parent I was replying to exhibited, we should also look at the lost utility of land to climate change vs how much worse it would be without nuclear power in the mix, and how much better it might have been if we'd not substituted nuclear plants for coal and gas over the years. I'm pretty confident the small loss at Fukushima and larger loss at Chernobyl are peanuts on this scale.
> Second, it's being covered in solar panels so that we can generate electricity without emitting CO2, which is rather important given that our planet will be turning mostly to desert in the next 30-50 years.
You do understand that nuclear power does not emit CO2 right?
And as promising as renewables are, they still cannot fully replace baseline energy sources (such as coal or nuclear), nor modulate their output to comply with variances in grid demand (batteries, physical or otherwise, would still need to be accounted for in any fair comparison).
Even if you forget to count hydroelectric as a renewable (my country has a huge amount of hydroelectric, and every time I look at the realtime power generation graph, it's the hydroelectric that's following the load, while thermal generation is flat), other renewables like solar and wind can also reduce their output as necessary to match the load. They currently don't because, since they're the cheapest power source, it makes more sense to reduce the generation elsewhere first.
Probably wouldn’t try the same at Chernobyl, even after all the cleanup...
It means it's the better option given the choices available. Everything in life is a trade-off. Everything has downside. Some things have more downside than others.
Yeah, because it's a campaign by the same people who are responsible for money, greed, pride and stupidity. They see their tech disappearing into history and now they start screaming.
You see the same straw man arguments painting the people who don't want to go back to nuclear as stupid, paranoid or fans of coal.
This has been going on for months now and seems to reach a new high with the Chernobyl TV show showing clearly how those few accidents look like to a generation that has not been around or lived far away.
It's disgusting and ignorant but luckily it leads nowhere as nobody is turning around to invest into nuclear because of it.
"the nuclear accident was responsible for 154,000 being evacuated"
"In December 2016 the government estimated decontamination, compensation, decommissioning, and radioactive waste storage costs at 21.5 trillion yen ($187 billion), nearly double the 2013 estimate."
"In 2005, the total cost over 30 years for Belarus alone was estimated at US$235 billion; about $301 billion in today's dollars given inflation rates."
"between 5% and 7% of government spending in Ukraine is still related to Chernobyl"
> Coal production costs the U.S. up to $500 billion each year in hidden health, economic, and environmental impacts, according to a new study by Harvard researchers.
> ... Britain’s car addiction ... is likely costing our NHS and society in general more than £6 billion per year.
(Which is about $7B USD, for a single modest-sized country, for a single mode of fossil fuel consumption, per year.)
> Climate Change Could Force Over 140 Million to Migrate Within Countries by 2050: World Bank Report
(Well, of course, such predictions are very imprecise: it could be 30 million, or 2 billion. But most likely more than Fukushima, by a very wide margin.)
When we consider future use of fossil fuels, we do not think of the Great Smog of London which acutely killed 4000 people in a few days, plus around 6000 in the following months. Cognitive biases prevent us from being as forgiving with nuclear power, despite the evolution of its safety.
Anyone else hear friends/family talking about this show as "terrifying" or "concerning"?
It's worth pointing out that the RBMK reactor design used at Chernobyl has no comparison in the west. Not to mention they had no (none!) containment building on those things. The design of the RBMK was in part because it's simpler to build. It's a kind of evolution of the very early reactor "piles" used during the lead up to and through the Manhattan project. The pressure vessels used in western reactors are difficult to produce. (We apparently no longer have any iron works left in the US that could produce them, the last one closed down some time ago.) On top of being simpler to build the RBMK style reactor also has (IIRC) the benefit (for Russia) that it can be used to produce the right kind of plutonium for nuclear weapons. Something that in the west was done in dedicated military reactors because civilian designed light water reactors suck for that task.
Yeah, it probably won't work, but it's worth noting the comparisons.
I live in the worst fallout area in Sweden and our nature is still very radioactive. Cancer rates here are of course increased compared to the rest of the country.
And of course, the worst is yet to come. I believe more than 4k Swedish people have died or have their lives drastically shortened due to Chernobyl.
So, let’s toss on the 8k instances of cancer from your source, and the 41k cancer rates attributed to Chernobyl by International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, France, and we are still well short of the actual deaths caused by one dam failure.
Yeah, Chernobyl is a tragedy; but let’s not pretend its worse than all the other power generation disasters.
It's not surprising the public responds trepidatiously in the aftermath of a large-scale disaster (see trends of nuclear plant operation in the aftermath of Chernobyl and Fukushima: https://sites.utexas.edu/mecc/files/2014/05/Worldwide-Reacto...).
Nuclear bombs also caused quite a public scare in the 40s-60s following WWII after images of the devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki could be seen. The magnitudes of destruction scared people enough to build fallout shelters.
While nuclear power has brought a lot of good, it has also brought a lot of bad. Witnessing the bad changes people. If things go wrong either intentionally or unintentionally, the negative response is going to exceed the positive response, and those responsible for the nuclear plant are going to get the blame for bringing disaster upon everyone else.
"Nuclear" is a tough sentiment to paint positively, when so many unspecialized members of the public think straight to disasters associated with "nuclear".
There's pros and cons to many different energy sources, whether fossil fuel, nuclear, solar/wind, hydro, geothermal, etc. Each decision means accepting the possible consequences that could happen. No one solution is an obvious panacea.
With coal, these have to be scrubbed from the exhaust, which is more difficult and usually less thorough.
I can see how this show could cause an increase in fear of nuclear plants though.
It points to other sub-lists and some of them have links to sub-sub-articles that explain what happened in a specific case, for example this one:
Unluckily not all lists have always a link available to the detailed article, so for example in the case of the SL-1 accident ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SL-1 ) you'll find the link to the details only in this other list:
Reading about the details has always been very interesting for me as I love everything involving cause/effect.
Wow since the Chernobyl series HN has suddenly had an uptick in pro-nuclear posts.
On top of that the neo-liberal market economy is a compounding risk, ultimately absolving all responsibilities or even rewarding companies for failing to protect the public.
We have proven that we aren't capable of handling the responsibility that comes with handling coal/gas. And unless you live in a shack in the woods you're a contributor.
Nuclear is the only energy source where we have a 100% plan for the byproduct of energy. While I agree we really need to come up with an alternative. Nuclear may be the only short term stopgap that gets us off of CO2 producing plants in the short term so we can get to a long term.
No nuclear planet has sent our entire planet on a crash course with climate change... Every energy source that powers our lives has a trade off and a byproduct. We all need to admit that, accept it and then make a plan to live in harmony with as much of the earth as we can.
By all means replace nuclear plants with solar. But only after you've finished replacing all the coal plants.
I would never advocate for a nuclear power plant on the side of an active volcano. at all.
You put the right technology in the right spot.
Also, I'm really hoping to see thorium get more time in the sun because it doesn't go critical and cause a catastrophe. They melt down but don't explode (from what I've been able to find).
Nuclear power is still an open question, avoided for decades now due to the false dichotomy of "nuclear or wind/solar" perpetuated by the mainstream
This isn't true. Global warming, as the name suggests, affects the entire world, as its mechanism is via long term changes to the atmosphere. Also, it's most severe effects won't be in the form of unlikely "events", but gradual increases in sea level and changes in climate which will put cities underwater and make others too hot to live in.
What about wind? The only direct byproduct is a bit of turbulence, and if you also include the infrastructure (generator, control systems, building, etc), it's probably less complex to dismantle than nuclear.
What responsibilities? If those are: not killing / harming people, and not destroying ecosystems, then nuclear appears to be favourable compared to other sources.
Fossil fuels cause great harm to health and the environment. Hydro requires flooding of large areas of land, often destroying habitats, and wind and solar are only currently useful as supplementary energy sources, due to the difficulty in storing energy economically. Renewables aren't statistically less deadly either.
You can be against energy consumption in general, but I think this equates to primitivism or antinatalism which would itself increase human suffering.
In high-income economies I admit there could be a substantive decrease in consumption without significantly harming quality of life, but much of the world's population is in the situation of needing to increase their consumption to reach what we would regard as minimal living standards.