Wednesday, June 22, 2011

let the flood of political narrative begin!

Video - RT goes in on DHS information blackout on nuclear power plants

AmericanThinker | The Missouri River basin encompasses a vast region in the central and west-central portion of our country. This river, our nation's longest, collects the melt from Rocky Mountain snowpack and the runoff from our continents' upper plains before joining the Mississippi river above St. Louis some 2,300 miles later. It is a mighty river, and dangerous.

Some sixty years ago, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) began the process of taming the Missouri by constructing a series of six dams. The idea was simple: massive dams at the top moderating flow to the smaller dams below, generating electricity while providing desperately needed control of the river's devastating floods.

The stable flow of water allowed for the construction of the concrete and earthen levees that protect more than 10 million people who reside and work within the river's reach. It allowed millions of acres of floodplain to become useful for farming and development. In fact, these uses were encouraged by our government, which took credit for the resulting economic boom. By nearly all measures, the project was a great success.

But after about thirty years of operation, as the environmentalist movement gained strength throughout the seventies and eighties, the Corps received a great deal of pressure to include some specific environmental concerns into their MWCM (Master Water Control Manual, the "bible" for the operation of the dam system). Preservation of habitat for at-risk bird and fish populations soon became a hot issue among the burgeoning environmental lobby. The pressure to satisfy the demands of these groups grew exponentially as politicians eagerly traded their common sense for "green" political support.


nanakwame said...

 This movie stayed with me all my life and I saw it by myself, for at my young age I was old.
On the Beach
Plus it had the fine Ava Gardner, born in NC tasted Europe and never came back to the States to live.
Walzing Matilda

umbrarchist said...

They didn't sound smart enough to discuss nuclear reactor.

What do they know about neutrons?  The neutron wasn't discovered until 1932.  You can't have fission reactors without neutrons.  The Empire State Building was not completed until 1931.  If the mediots can't convince me they understand skyscrapers I am certainly not taking what they say about nuclear reactors seriously.

brotherbrown said...

All but a few aren't smart enough to discuss nuclear reactors.  Through facebook I have reconnected with a high school classmate who is a nuclear physicist at Lawrence Livermore Labs.  I'm sure he wouldn't mind my sharing this post:

Dr. Bob:  To
make fusion energy with a laser we have to compress the fuel to be
dense and hot. Experiments so far show the stuff just isn't quite as
'squishy' as expected. Looks like we can 'brute force it' by turning up
the wick on our laser (thx to design margin, and some new physics wavelength tuning :-)

BroBrown:  I was actually thinking about you after you
posted that MIT discussion about Fukushima. It seems to me the day a
nuclear power plant goes online, it is obsolete (or at least well on the
way toward obsolescence) given how many years it takes from
groundbreaking to start-up and the continuous RD&E. A 40 year old
power plant must seem like a relic to you.

Dr. Bob:  Yes Gerald, the 40 y.o. fission reactors do seem
like relics and tho I think fission is too messy a process to use to
make energy, I have also met a lot of smart and dedicated people who
think they can make it into an environmentally sustainable
and safe energy source. But I have also seen how the electric power
industry fights any change that looks uncertain and expensive, and has
managed to slow the progress of those talented people to almost a stand
still. The EPI really likes the fact that they can just put the fission
fuel in a pile and run water pipes through it to make the water hot and
any other plan seems to be too much effort or cost for them! Public
outcry about nuclear power has been extremely strong and irrational for
40 years too, but in my view has had a beneficial effect of minimizing
the number of these relics we now have to deal with.

Recently he wrote the following:

Dr. Bob: It
seems that using a laser to compress hydrogen to 10x the density of
lead to make fusion energy is, like balancing a pencil on it point; much
easier to argue theoretically than to actually do! Our target tuning
campaign is going well but mostly teaching us how much we don't know,
and has consumed all my time and energy this month.

CNu said...


when you have a moment, please ask your former classmate what the hold up is wrt commercialization of these

brotherbrown said...

 Dr.Bob Hmmm...interesting, tho the study is at my lab I
did not know about this specifically...but; no I am not studying Thorium
which reacts by fission, but rather studying the fusion of hydrogen
isotopes Deuterium and Tritium. The design effort
you point out is a great example of what I recently called: "many very
smart people who think they can make nuclear fission safe and
environmentally sustainable...but who cannot get support from the
electrical power industry to do anything more expensive than the crude
LWRs we have now".   I think that innovative fission concepts like this
may really be our best path forward if fusion proves impractical,
because they can be made much safer than the present LWRs (like
fukushima). HOWEVER, what I don't like about any of the fission
approaches (including Thorium) is that they make very long lived, and
dangerous radioactive wastes that, in the case of present technology,
will accumulate for 10's to 100's of thousands of years (I don't know
the detailed fuel cycle for Th but I am pretty sure it similarly
dangerous). I seriously doubt any study that claims to know how to
keep that waste isolated from the environment for that long (lets fact
it who can say what will happen to any thing in 100 thousand years!).
For the reason of waste accumulation, I think fusion is strongly
preferable, because it produces many orders of magnitude less waste
which (if done properly) is only dangerous for 10's of years. Of
course no one has made controlled fusion produce energy yet, so it is
pretty hard to say how much it will cost exactly, but it will certainly
be much more expensive than what we have now....Thx for the post (sorry
about the length... but that is as short a story as I can make it :-)

CNu said...

The wonders of blogging..., thanks brotherbrown.
wrt  innovative fission concepts this one dates back to the 1950's

Tom said...

brotherbrown this is fascinating info to get from a pro, thanks from the peanut gallery!

Big Don said...

Think of the progress that could be made if the resources currently devoted to supporting 50-million parasitic useless eaters could be diverted to this sort of energy research (as y'all may recall  BD mentioning here a few times in the past...)