DGR I miss the Joint Review Panel Hearings


What am I for and what I know

 I'm for the selection of the safest spot for DGRs based upon facts including all the risks for long term storage of nuclear waste.  It's too important an issue to be derailed.

Further, I don't care where it goes as long as it is the best site geologically and strategically with risk minimized.  There are no scientific breakthroughs required.


Written for Canadian Community News by Mike Sterling

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It's been kind of quiet in the wake of the low and intermediate panel hearings.  They fascinated me. They were such great theatre.  Oh well, I can browse through the thousands of pages of transcripts and the hours of streaming video coverage to my heart's content.

For those who missed the drama and great depth of information Read More

Moving on, the other night I saw Pandora's Promise on CNN.  It was a documentary that raised the ire of the anti-nuclear movement, mostly because it featured people who were formerly anti-nuclear!  

They have changed their minds somehow.  The anti-nuclear people don't want their last line of defense to be like their goalies rooting for the other team. 

Why is Pandora's Promise important?  It wasn't really, but it was an order of magnitude better than the video 'Into Eternity" shown early on in the DGR controversy  by  the local groups SRASOS.   It  was not information, but raw propaganda. Effective?  Probably.

The reason Pandora's Promise was better revolves around another complicated issue, Global Warming.  The documentary also brought up a lot of facts which were measured and not dreamed up. Into Eternity was designed to make people fearful without facts.

Into Eternity's fear message  made the impact more intense.  But, after all both were documentaries produced by people with an agenda. Both had their own point of view. One, however, was 'factless' and the other too full of facts for the time duration.

CNN had a roundup at the end of Pandora's Promise with pro and con views, but it was not really very good.  The woman representing the anti-nuclear side seemed to forget some facts that were well known and shown minutes before she spoke.  She did not offer a disagreement.  She seemed to just forget or not understand. Sound familiar? 

We saw that again and again at the joint panel hearings where people would get up and proceed to mess up what they just heard or ask the same question so many times that the chair had to call a halt to yet another repetition of the same question.

Pandora's Promise had a conclusion stating that without nuclear power, we cannot prosper.  The conclusion derived from the inability of alternative power sources being able to keep up with long term demand.  Into Eternity seemed to have a conclusion stating:  If you bury nuclear waste it will be dark and scary down there.  Make sense?  No!

Pandora's Promise states that without nuclear power carbon emissions will fuel an ever more dismal world.  Without nuclear power our health will be damaged.  They cite assertions about numbers of people damaged each year by carbon emissions from coal fired plants as contrasted to nuclear power.

I was surprised by the number of deaths from carbon emissions set at 3,000,000.  I don't know what that figure means and how it can be verified.  I think it is a projection, but it's misty just like the particulates that are dangerous to us

 I can believe a lot of deaths due to the pollution.  Anyone who has been near a coal fired power plant on a hot summer day will recall like I do the terrible feeling of 'heavyness' of pollution even with the scrubbers at work.  I just don't like the raw number without some background, but time of broadcast was an issue. 

Pandora's Promise did not shy away from Fukushima, Chernobyl or Three Mile Island either.  That was good.

Pandora's Promise has holes of course as they show 'safe' storage in France for their high level waste.  We know the French are in search of their own DGR.   They too know that 250,000 years will make their present safe storage look silly.

They show what looks like an acre or so of Russian nuclear weapons being brought in and re-cycled by the US.  This has been going on a long time.  It's part of disarmament.   I wonder what people think about the transportation issue of weapons grade nuclear waste? Nobody mentions it much. 

You might be interested to know that warheads from Russia have been a key part of the fuel for US reactors for some time.  How does it get from Russia to the US?  You can guess, can't you?  What a ruckus would take place, if the disarmament agreements were upset by protesters.  The very thing they call for, recycling, would be the subject of their angst.  Also, the warheads used create waste that must be handled long term.

Missiles  to Light Bulbs has not been a secret.  You can read about it in this NY Times article Read More and lots of other places.

In Canada we show a hockey rink filled to the top of the boards as the total amount of high level waste produced by Canada since the start of nuclear age.

Pandora's Promise is a US centric documentary showing a football field (US size) filled up to 3 feet with the total high level waste produced by US reactors over time.

Click the orange arrow to read the second column

If you have not seen Pandora's Promise, please do when it comes to a YouTube near your easy chair.  You can probably find it somewhere on the web as you read this.  Don't use that because of copyright.  People deserve something for their work.

Pandora's Promise was in Port Elgin recently and at Sundance film festival.  It's well done, but it also drags in the whole global warming issue, so it's an argument that is wide and deep. It is built upon an issue that some disagree with in total which is global warming.

What are the anti-nuclear people thinking now?  They don't want global warming, but don't want nuclear power either.  So they are caught in a dilemma. They like to concentrate on the waste issue because in a funny way, they consider it an easy top in the magic box of Pandora's Promise.  They can dream up future science that they in fact would not agree with if it arrived tomorrow, but who cares?  Let's delay and hold back.  Let's get that top on, they say.

The other thing Pandora's Promise does is present well the relatively small amount of energy that we can hope to get from sources like wind and solar vs. nuclear power.  All these facts are known, but still controversial.  We should not argue about facts, but we do anyway.

Pandora's Promise brings in how conservation of power (Let's turn off our lights and put on our collective sweaters!) is not a viable thing to count on now nor in the future.  People find more reasons for power not fewer.

What it does do though is remind me how messed up arguments can get.  Back before Al Gore got going I worked on some projections about Global Warming.  I dropped into the world-wide database on climate temperatures and did my own graphing of it.  The access was not illegal as it was really an open read only database until all the anti-people starting accusing scientists of mischief.  Sound familiar?

Not surprisingly, I produced the famous Al Gore graph.  I extended this for my own interest with a model for 100 planet earths over 1000 years.  I did this to see what Monte Carlo and my old friend Jacob Bernoulli could do with the raw data without constraints.  I should write something about that entitled "How I learned to love Monte Carlo and the Bernoullis"  Naw nobody would read that.

My Monte Carlo adventure showed The Fragile Earth.  We can spiral into a warm out of control future as well as a deep cold, if we violate the effectiveness of the earth's ability to heal itself.  It was a starting point to add what nature could do to heal itself like grow giant plants, but that is for others, many others.

The other idea brought up by Pandora's Promise spoke to the future of simpler more cost effective reactors and a decommissioning of older reactors like those in the United States, Japan and other spots.

Sounds good, but what about the waste that we have?  What about the process details that are required for safety?  Everyone seems to ignore the process and how important it is for safety regardless of the methods.  People who work in Nuclear Plants know how process oriented they are and how anything new is difficult to introduce because a lot of interconnecting process issues may be involved.

One of my heroes is the genius Freeman Dyson, curmudgeon extraordinaire, who is a mathematician and physics guru.  He is a skeptic on many things, but is learning that it's not wise to speak out to the general public  Things he says get messed up.

 He dives into problems whole hog in about six month intervals.   In the early days of the real Pandora's Promise, he and some friends designed and built a nuclear reactor that was later replicated and used for medical purposes.  They were tiny. They did it very quickly.  You could not keep Dyson working on one thing long.  He gets bored. So off he goes with in depth knowledge.  He admits he does not try to keep up.  There are too many things to investigate.

He recently said that nuclear power has changed due to the regulatory issues involved.  What he meant was not red tape, but the process needed to insure the ultimate in safety.  There is little chance for people experimenting in quick time with boutique reactors.  The promise is still there, it just takes a very  long time.

Hopefully the Joint Review Panel hearings helped some with knowledge they did not have before.  It takes a good deal of study of those 1000s of pages to get the full impact.

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Tuesday, November 19, 2013