Germany to Decommission All Nuclear Power Plants

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Re: Germany to Decommission All Nuclear Power Plants

Postby Dauric » Thu Jun 09, 2011 3:44 pm UTC

Soralin wrote:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramsar,_Mazandaran Natural background radiation of 260mGy/year (26000 millirads/year), largely due to dissolved radium from the hotsprings.

And that they're generally healthy and doing fine puts a bit of doubt on the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linear_no-threshold_model for cancer deaths, which is what statements like this rely on:
"EPA's statement tries to downplay the harm its proposed 100 millirems per year radiation doses at Yucca would cause by stating that we currently average 360 millirems per year of exposure from natural and artificial radioactivity. What EPA fails to mention is our current exposure to 360 millirems of radiation kills many thousands of Americans each year with fatal cancer," said Kamps.

If the linear no-threshold model isn't true like Kamps here assumes, then those numbers are completely false. They're just calculations based on assuming the model is true, it's not like he actually went out and tested that result.


Yeah, the attempted panic over 360 mrems/year would mean that Colorado is apparently inhabited by the Ghouls from the Fallout games.
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Re: Germany to Decommission All Nuclear Power Plants

Postby Sero » Thu Jun 09, 2011 4:04 pm UTC

Aren't ghouls functionally immortal?

So yeah, the evidence just doesn't seem to be there to condemn nuclear power as unacceptably onerous on future generations due to slightly increased radiation exposure in a single region downstream of a geological repository facility for nuclear waste. Especially when you weigh in factors like the environmental damage done from mining coal, transporting it to the power plants, and of course, the radioactive release from burning coal.

That's not to say there aren't other risks to be considered with nuclear power, but beating the 'ohnoes radioactive waste' drum is getting a bit tired, I think.
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Re: Germany to Decommission All Nuclear Power Plants

Postby Dauric » Thu Jun 09, 2011 4:24 pm UTC

Sero wrote:Aren't ghouls functionally immortal?


Well, in the Fallout universe they are, but back here in reality I haven't had the chance to meet one, so I couldn't tell you for sure.
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Re: Germany to Decommission All Nuclear Power Plants

Postby Posthumane » Thu Jun 09, 2011 5:01 pm UTC

thc wrote:Secondly, we have no idea what civilization will look like 100,000 years from now. Predicting that would be like making long term weather predictions. It just doesn't work. There is too much uncertainty.


Agreed. In fact, trying to predict what civilization will look like in 10000, or even 1000 years is pretty dubious. Therefore, trying to limit the use of technologies that are beneficial right now based on the fact that there may be some increase in adverse effects 10000 years from now is rather misguided.* While it's possible that people (if people still exist) may look back and curse us for our ecological irresponsibility, it is equally possible that someone may come up with a way to harness the background radiation for a useful purpose.

Plus, it's already been mentioned that the linear no-threshold model which predicts an increase in deaths directly proportional to the increase in dosage falls apart in reality since the radiation levels around the world vary widely with location, with little correlation in cancer rates.

*Anecdotally, can you image someone 1000 years ago saying "Maybe we shouldn't establish this trade route here which will provide our people with additional wealth and prosperity, because in 1000 years this may serve as an interstate highway and this route may prove dangerous. We should take that into account..."

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Re: Germany to Decommission All Nuclear Power Plants

Postby Minerva » Fri Jun 10, 2011 9:41 am UTC

thc wrote:Kevin Kamps of the advocacy group Beyond Nuclear, takes issue with that assumption.

"EPA's statement tries to downplay the harm its proposed 100 millirems per year radiation doses at Yucca would cause by stating that we currently average 360 millirems per year of exposure from natural and artificial radioactivity. What EPA fails to mention is our current exposure to 360 millirems of radiation kills many thousands of Americans each year with fatal cancer," said Kamps.

"EPA's decision to allow an increase from 15 to 100 millirems per year downstream from Yucca Mountain dooms future generations to significantly increased rates of fatal cancer," he said.


Hah, so you're citing scientifically illiterate, obviously nonsensical pseudoscientific nonsense from an anti-nuclearist and professional activist who wouldn't know what science was if it bit him on the arse?

Making pseudoscientific claims about how evil and scary nuclear energy is and telling the public how they need to donate their money to them so they can save everyone from the wicked nuclear power is actually what these people do for a living. Meanwhile, we keep burning more coal, which gives the public more ionising radiation dose than nuclear energy.

The idea that every single extra microsievert means extra cancer and extra deaths is obviously nonsense. There are dozens of obvious possible epidemiological studies that you could do to test such a claim, and no such studies yield positive results.

Can you do an epidemiological study in Ramsar in Iran, for example, or in Kerala, and show that their abnormally high natural radiation doses cause increased cancer compared to populations with lower radiological doses?

Can you show epidemiologically that people living at high altitudes (eg. Colorado) have increased rates of cancer and disease due to the significantly higher cosmic-ray flux that they receive?

Can you show that those people in that apartment building in Taiwan who have 60Co contamination in the steel rebar in their building have an increased rate of cancer compared to a control population?

Can you show epidemiologically that radiation workers, for example in medicine or in nuclear engineering, have increased rates of cancer?

If you serve in the Navy on a nuclear submarine, and you go out and spend several months at sea, you actually get significantly less ionising radiation dose than the average background, because you're well shielded against cosmic rays and you're away from most of the geological U and Th and their daughter products.
Therefore you would expect to see, epidemiologically, that they're healthier than equivalent workers with normal background dose, right?

Experiments are currently underway with bacteria at the underground laboratory part of the WIPP site to see how bacteria grow and evolve and behave over many generations when all their background radiation dose is removed, compared to normal background dose. It's still early days for those experiments, but at this early stage, some investigators have claimed, tentatively, that the bacteria get less healthy when you take away their background dose.

Furthermore, people who espouse the "every single microsievert kills people" nonsense would have a pretty hard time explaining this:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18301096

Interesting, isn't it? Apparently, more dose means less cancer, up to a certain point.

Secondly, we have no idea what civilization will look like 100,000 years from now. Predicting that would be like making long term weather predictions. It just doesn't work. There is too much uncertainty.


What's your point, though? Why do we have any need to predict what civilization will look like 100,000 years from now?
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Re: Germany to Decommission All Nuclear Power Plants

Postby zmatt » Fri Jun 10, 2011 2:46 pm UTC

Minerva wrote:
Spoiler:
thc wrote:Kevin Kamps of the advocacy group Beyond Nuclear, takes issue with that assumption.

"EPA's statement tries to downplay the harm its proposed 100 millirems per year radiation doses at Yucca would cause by stating that we currently average 360 millirems per year of exposure from natural and artificial radioactivity. What EPA fails to mention is our current exposure to 360 millirems of radiation kills many thousands of Americans each year with fatal cancer," said Kamps.

"EPA's decision to allow an increase from 15 to 100 millirems per year downstream from Yucca Mountain dooms future generations to significantly increased rates of fatal cancer," he said.


Hah, so you're citing scientifically illiterate, obviously nonsensical pseudoscientific nonsense from an anti-nuclearist and professional activist who wouldn't know what science was if it bit him on the arse?

Making pseudoscientific claims about how evil and scary nuclear energy is and telling the public how they need to donate their money to them so they can save everyone from the wicked nuclear power is actually what these people do for a living. Meanwhile, we keep burning more coal, which gives the public more ionising radiation dose than nuclear energy.

The idea that every single extra microsievert means extra cancer and extra deaths is obviously nonsense. There are dozens of obvious possible epidemiological studies that you could do to test such a claim, and no such studies yield positive results.

Can you do an epidemiological study in Ramsar in Iran, for example, or in Kerala, and show that their abnormally high natural radiation doses cause increased cancer compared to populations with lower radiological doses?

Can you show epidemiologically that people living at high altitudes (eg. Colorado) have increased rates of cancer and disease due to the significantly higher cosmic-ray flux that they receive?

Can you show that those people in that apartment building in Taiwan who have 60Co contamination in the steel rebar in their building have an increased rate of cancer compared to a control population?

Can you show epidemiologically that radiation workers, for example in medicine or in nuclear engineering, have increased rates of cancer?

If you serve in the Navy on a nuclear submarine, and you go out and spend several months at sea, you actually get significantly less ionising radiation dose than the average background, because you're well shielded against cosmic rays and you're away from most of the geological U and Th and their daughter products.
Therefore you would expect to see, epidemiologically, that they're healthier than equivalent workers with normal background dose, right?

Experiments are currently underway with bacteria at the underground laboratory part of the WIPP site to see how bacteria grow and evolve and behave over many generations when all their background radiation dose is removed, compared to normal background dose. It's still early days for those experiments, but at this early stage, some investigators have claimed, tentatively, that the bacteria get less healthy when you take away their background dose.

Furthermore, people who espouse the "every single microsievert kills people" nonsense would have a pretty hard time explaining this:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18301096

Interesting, isn't it? Apparently, more dose means less cancer, up to a certain point.

Secondly, we have no idea what civilization will look like 100,000 years from now. Predicting that would be like making long term weather predictions. It just doesn't work. There is too much uncertainty.


What's your point, though? Why do we have any need to predict what civilization will look like 100,000 years from now?



Amen.
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Re: Germany to Decommission All Nuclear Power Plants

Postby thc » Fri Jun 10, 2011 11:57 pm UTC

Minerva wrote:Hah, so you're citing scientifically illiterate, obviously nonsensical pseudoscientific nonsense from an anti-nuclearist and professional activist who wouldn't know what science was if it bit him on the arse?

:roll:

Meanwhile, we keep burning more coal, which gives the public more ionising radiation dose than nuclear energy.
Either we turn to nuclear or BURN MORE COAL. As I have stated, that is a false dichotomy.

The idea that every single extra microsievert means extra cancer and extra deaths is obviously nonsense. There are dozens of obvious possible epidemiological studies that you could do to test such a claim, and no such studies yield positive results.
You mean the several dozen studies that have found statistically significant correlations between radon and background radiation and cancer rates?

No it is not "obviously" nonsense.

Can you do an epidemiological study in Ramsar in Iran, for example, or in Kerala, and show that their abnormally high natural radiation doses cause increased cancer compared to populations with lower radiological doses?

Can you show epidemiologically that people living at high altitudes (eg. Colorado) have increased rates of cancer and disease due to the significantly higher cosmic-ray flux that they receive?

Can you show that those people in that apartment building in Taiwan who have 60Co contamination in the steel rebar in their building have an increased rate of cancer compared to a control population?

Can you show epidemiologically that radiation workers, for example in medicine or in nuclear engineering, have increased rates of cancer?

Because in epidemiological studies, it is always possible to isolate variables.

Furthermore, people who espouse the "every single microsievert kills people" nonsense would have a pretty hard time explaining this:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18301096

Interesting, isn't it? Apparently, more dose means less cancer, up to a certain point.

And I can show you any number of studies that say different.

Secondly, we have no idea what civilization will look like 100,000 years from now. Predicting that would be like making long term weather predictions. It just doesn't work. There is too much uncertainty.


What's your point, though? Why do we have any need to predict what civilization will look like 100,000 years from now?
Because if increased low level radiation exposure in actuality is harmful, we can't make an accurate risk assessment.

By assuming threshold/hormesis models are correct, you are betting actual lives against your own trivial conveniences, like driving a car, or blasting AC all summer long. We can do much better by making some changes in real energy usage, rather than assuming that technology will save us, and rather than simply dismissing green movements as quackery and pseudo-science.

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Re: Germany to Decommission All Nuclear Power Plants

Postby Dauric » Sat Jun 11, 2011 12:14 am UTC

thc wrote:We can do much better by making some changes in real energy usage, rather than assuming that technology will save us and simultaneously dismissing green movements as quackery and pseudo-science.


Or, if you're actually being serious about the discussion, you could advocate better conservation -and- more responsible power generation rather than acting like there's only one right answer.

And.. just for shits and giggles.. cite sources that aren't ridiculously inaccurate about actual radiation levels (again, apparently I live in an irradiated wasteland strictly because of the altitude), and don't attempt to inflate "thousands of Americans dying from radiation exposure" as a statistically significant number out of a population of over 300 million. Assuming that he didn't say "Tens of thousands" because he couldn't actually back that number up, after all tens of- or hundreds of- would have been far more impressive than just "thousands" by itself. So let's say that 10K people die in Colorado alone (since we're all lethally irradiated just by being here) the number of "Americans" reportedly dying strictly from radiation exposure still less than a fifth of a percent of Colorao's population alone.

Or, what I think is more likely is that Mr. Kamps is pulling "thousands" out of his ass and doesn't actually have any sources that determine people dying of lethal radiation exposures in the U.S. (speaking of quackery and pseudo-science).

Protip: If you don't want your position to be taken as pseudo-science and quackery, don't cite pseudo-scientific quacks. You may have a valid point, but if your sources can't Do Science Right it'll undermine your entire argument.
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Re: Germany to Decommission All Nuclear Power Plants

Postby Telchar » Sat Jun 11, 2011 1:20 pm UTC

thc wrote:Either we turn to nuclear or BURN MORE COAL. As I have stated, that is a false dichotomy.


It's actually been discussed in several places on this forum that baseline energy comes from coal or nuclear unless you have battery technology you aren't sharing with the world...
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Re: Germany to Decommission All Nuclear Power Plants

Postby Dark567 » Mon Jun 20, 2011 5:03 pm UTC

And Germany is in all likelihood going back to coal.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/06/ ... 2J20110620
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Re: Germany to Decommission All Nuclear Power Plants

Postby thc » Wed Jun 22, 2011 12:30 am UTC

Dauric wrote:[And.. just for shits and giggles.. cite sources that aren't ridiculously inaccurate about actual radiation levels (again, apparently I live in an irradiated wasteland strictly because of the altitude), and don't attempt to inflate "thousands of Americans dying from radiation exposure" as a statistically significant number out of a population of over 300 million.

10k people is still "statistically significant" regardless of what percent of the population it is. Also, I feel that you (and pretty much everyone else here) are severely underestimating the number of people that might be exposed to elevated levels of radiation solely due nuclear waste over a time span of a million years.
Or, if you're actually being serious about the discussion, you could advocate better conservation -and- more responsible power generation rather than acting like there's only one right answer.

I think that's what I've been doing. Nuclear power accounts for 8% of energy generation in the U.S. What do you image an aggressive nuclear program would look like? Consider total transportation usage (30%), agriculture and food (16%) home and commercial lighting, heating and cooling (40%). How much of that energy use is really necessary? How much isn't in the realm of diminishing returns when it comes to welfare and happiness? If society honestly wanted to get real about reducing carbon emissions, we wouldn't be looking at nuclear, we'd be looking at taking a serious axe to consumption.

Also, prove that nuclear power is "responsible power generation." Show me an estimate of the total risk of nuclear power, including acute risk (accidents) and long term risk (elevated radiation dose over a time span of a million years.)

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Re: Germany to Decommission All Nuclear Power Plants

Postby Dark567 » Wed Jun 22, 2011 12:45 am UTC

thc wrote: Consider total transportation usage (30%), agriculture and food (16%) home and commercial lighting, heating and cooling (40%). How much of that energy use is really necessary? How much isn't in the realm of diminishing returns when it comes to welfare and happiness? If society honestly wanted to get real about reducing carbon emissions, we wouldn't be looking at nuclear, we'd be looking at taking a serious axe to consumption.
The idea that we are going to significantly bring down consumption is fantasy. If we are really lucky, we might be able to hold it at current levels. Population growth and increased electricity needs for economic activity will nearly certainly put enough upward pressure that merely keeping our energy needs in check will be tough.
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Re: Germany to Decommission All Nuclear Power Plants

Postby achan1058 » Wed Jun 22, 2011 12:55 am UTC

thc wrote:
Dauric wrote:[And.. just for shits and giggles.. cite sources that aren't ridiculously inaccurate about actual radiation levels (again, apparently I live in an irradiated wasteland strictly because of the altitude), and don't attempt to inflate "thousands of Americans dying from radiation exposure" as a statistically significant number out of a population of over 300 million.

10k people is still "statistically significant" regardless of what percent of the population it is.
Please do not abuse mathematics notations. Thank you. By the way, your source has been questioned as well. In fact, I find it extremely difficult to prove a lower bound to the number of people dying from the increased of radiation from nuclear reactor, that would not have died from simply background radiation. Anyways, I am amazed that you are still living in this fantasy world where you can get everything you want. Heck, I would say radiation free fusion reactors is a hell more likely to occur than whatever you are proposing.
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Re: Germany to Decommission All Nuclear Power Plants

Postby Kulantan » Wed Jun 22, 2011 1:03 am UTC

thc wrote:Also, prove that nuclear power is "responsible power generation." Show me an estimate of the total risk of nuclear power, including acute risk (accidents) and long term risk (elevated radiation dose over a time span of a million years.)

Deaths per TWh for coal: 11
Deaths per TWh for nuclear: 2.9 (using only the Chernobyl numbers because that is all that we have data for)

Unless nuclear waste causes an extra 8 deaths per terrawatt then nuclear still comes out on top. It is very unlike that the waste causes extra deaths given that proper waste storage doesn't increase radiation exposure more than being high (altitude wise).

Sources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electricity_generation
Greenpeace's TORCH report
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5174391/
Wolfram Alpha's figure for the total electric energy production of all nuclear power plants since 1954
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Re: Germany to Decommission All Nuclear Power Plants

Postby thc » Thu Jun 23, 2011 9:38 pm UTC

The idea that we are going to significantly bring down consumption is fantasy. If we are really lucky, we might be able to hold it at current levels. Population growth and increased electricity needs for economic activity will nearly certainly put enough upward pressure that merely keeping our energy needs in check will be tough.

This argument is circular. Economic activity IS consumption. "Bringing down consumption is a fantasy because consumption puts upward pressure on our energy needs."

I'll concede lowering consumption may not be feasible given the political attitudes of people today, but if you make that argument, nuclear has the exact same problem (and as I'm arguing, for good reason). Both solutions would require a change in the way people think.

Unless nuclear waste causes an extra 8 deaths per terrawatt then nuclear still comes out on top. It is very unlike that the waste causes extra deaths given that proper waste storage doesn't increase radiation exposure more than being high (altitude wise).

That's not convincing. Are people supposed to agree because of some handwaving argument on an issue with no scientific consensus? There is no agreed upon model for the effects of small doses of radiation.

Assuming* that small amounts of increased radiation does increase risk by a small amount (whether it's linear or less than linear), how many deaths would that incur over a million years?

It's like taking the limit of zero times infinity: what's the result? It could be small or large.

*And yes, it is an assumption, but it falls on advocates of nuclear power to prove a model and therefore prove it is safe.

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Re: Germany to Decommission All Nuclear Power Plants

Postby Telchar » Thu Jun 23, 2011 11:00 pm UTC

thc wrote:That's not convincing. Are people supposed to agree because of some handwaving argument on an issue with no scientific consensus? There is no agreed upon model for the effects of small doses of radiation.

Assuming* that small amounts of increased radiation does increase risk by a small amount (whether it's linear or less than linear), how many deaths would that incur over a million years?

It's like taking the limit of zero times infinity: what's the result? It could be small or large.

*And yes, it is an assumption, but it falls on advocates of nuclear power to prove a model and therefore prove it is safe.


Aruging the consequences of actions taken now an eon later is a terrible way to make policy or direct personal action. That's between 5 to 10 times longer than humans have been on the planet.
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Re: Germany to Decommission All Nuclear Power Plants

Postby achan1058 » Fri Jun 24, 2011 12:09 am UTC

thc wrote:It's like taking the limit of zero times infinity: what's the result? It could be small or large.
Please do not abuse mathematics that you do not really know about.

Zero times infinity makes no sense. If you want to say 0 times the limit of function that tends to infinity, then the result is 0, period. If you meant to say the limit of the product of a function that tends to 0 times and a function that tends to infinity, then the result depends on the function. While it could be "small or large", it doesn't necessary have to be so, especially if the function is known or well approximated. We have better data than what you claimed, and the effect is over all small, compared to just about any other source of radiation. It is you who is not being scientific.

Besides, who knows whether we would have either conquered space, and/or made ourselves extinct with WW XVIII or something? We also should not forget about the amount of death caused by insufficient energy, or effects of global warming because countries decides to switch back to coal, which is most likely (I will abuse my own mathematics here and use the term "with probability 1", even though that is strictly not true, for obvious reasons) drastically bigger than whatever radiation cause there is. (Your fantasy fossil+nuclear free world is just that, a fantasy.)

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Re: Germany to Decommission All Nuclear Power Plants

Postby Soralin » Fri Jun 24, 2011 12:31 am UTC

thc wrote:Assuming* that small amounts of increased radiation does increase risk by a small amount (whether it's linear or less than linear), how many deaths would that incur over a million years?

It's like taking the limit of zero times infinity: what's the result? It could be small or large.

Actually this one is really easy, the limit of 1/2 + 1/4 + 1/8 + 1/16 + ...etc = 1. So the amount of radiation produced by a quantity of radioactive element over an infinite period of time is precisely 2x what it produces over its half-life, or said another way, the amount it radiates for the infinite amount of time after the end of it's first half-life is the same as what it radiated before the end of it's first half-life (Which is what you'd expect, considering that's why it's called a half-life).

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Re: Germany to Decommission All Nuclear Power Plants

Postby achan1058 » Fri Jun 24, 2011 12:34 am UTC

Soralin wrote:
thc wrote:Assuming* that small amounts of increased radiation does increase risk by a small amount (whether it's linear or less than linear), how many deaths would that incur over a million years?

It's like taking the limit of zero times infinity: what's the result? It could be small or large.

Actually this one is really easy, the limit of 1/2 + 1/4 + 1/8 + 1/16 + ...etc = 1. So the amount of radiation produced by a quantity of radioactive element over an infinite period of time is precisely 2x what it produces over it's first half-life, or said another way, the amount it radiates for the infinite amount of time after the end of it's first half-life is the same as what it radiated before the end of it's first half-life (Which is what you'd expect, considering that's why it's called a half-life).
Nice catch. I feel ashamed to call myself a math grad student now......

Anyways, just spotted this on BBC news, more on cancer and uncertainty.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-13886254

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Re: Germany to Decommission All Nuclear Power Plants

Postby thc » Fri Jun 24, 2011 1:24 am UTC

double post
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Re: Germany to Decommission All Nuclear Power Plants

Postby thc » Fri Jun 24, 2011 1:26 am UTC

Soralin wrote:
thc wrote:Assuming* that small amounts of increased radiation does increase risk by a small amount (whether it's linear or less than linear), how many deaths would that incur over a million years?

It's like taking the limit of zero times infinity: what's the result? It could be small or large.

Actually this one is really easy, the limit of 1/2 + 1/4 + 1/8 + 1/16 + ...etc = 1. So the amount of radiation produced by a quantity of radioactive element over an infinite period of time is precisely 2x what it produces over its half-life, or said another way, the amount it radiates for the infinite amount of time after the end of it's first half-life is the same as what it radiated before the end of it's first half-life (Which is what you'd expect, considering that's why it's called a half-life).


This isn't particularly relevant. The amount of radiation leaked to the environment has little to do with any particular half life. Peak radiation due to isotopic decay occurs ~10,000 (?) years into the future. Peak radiation dose occurs 100,000-1,000,000 years into the future, with a huge uncertainty.

@Achan: please stop with the personal insults and pedantry. If you're going to get so worked up every time someone has a different opinion, you're going to have a heart attack. I'll have you know that my undergraduate was physics and I've taken graduate level math. Ideas like limits and statistical significance are almost like second nature, as I'm sure they are to you. Yes I know that "zero times infinity" makes no sense, which is why I mentioned "limit of." I don't really care if it's not a perfect mathematical statement because it's obviously irrelevant to the point I'm making. In case you missed it: small errors in the risk curve and measurements of the physical confinement of the waste can lead to a large change in outcome; hence, the result can be either "large or small."

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Re: Germany to Decommission All Nuclear Power Plants

Postby achan1058 » Fri Jun 24, 2011 3:58 am UTC

thc wrote:@Achan: please stop with the personal insults and pedantry. If you're going to get so worked up every time someone has a different opinion, you're going to have a heart attack. I'll have you know that my undergraduate was physics and I've taken graduate level math. Ideas like limits and statistical significance are almost like second nature, as I'm sure they are to you. Yes I know that "zero times infinity" makes no sense, which is why I mentioned "limit of." I don't really care if it's not a perfect mathematical statement because it's obviously irrelevant to the point I'm making. In case you missed it: small errors in the risk curve and measurements of the physical confinement of the waste can lead to a large change in outcome; hence, the result can be either "large or small."
Statistical significance means whether something is likely to occur by chance or not, not whether a number is large or small, or whether it is significantly dangerous or not, which is beside the point of the debate. If you are trying to say that there is a statistically significant experiment that shows radiation causes cancer, I won't debate with that, but that is the equivalent of saying that driving a car can cause a car crash. Both are obviously true, and completely irrelevant to the debate, or are you advocating that all cars should be banned now? What is relevant is whether the possible dangers out weights the benefits, and most of us stated rather clearly that it is a no. Your use of this term makes me question how much you really know about it, hence my statements. Also, by small errors, if you mean small absolute errors, then maybe. If it is relative error, then no. Anyways, as I have said before, your sources have been questioned. Address that first before continuing to say that stuff about 10000 years later.

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Re: Germany to Decommission All Nuclear Power Plants

Postby Soralin » Fri Jun 24, 2011 4:41 am UTC

thc wrote:This isn't particularly relevant. The amount of radiation leaked to the environment has little to do with any particular half life. Peak radiation due to isotopic decay occurs ~10,000 (?) years into the future. Peak radiation dose occurs 100,000-1,000,000 years into the future, with a huge uncertainty.

Well it is of some relevance, we could say that even if every single bit of it leaked out completely, that there's a finite amount of harm that it can do, that can't be more than exposure to a single half life of the initial sample, however that amount is distributed, even over infinite time.

Peak radiation of any given sample happens immediately, and can only decrease from there, not increase. I suppose what you're talking about is if we produced nuclear fission waste continuously for the next 10000 years+ that we'd eventually reach a steady-state where the quantity of waste we produced, and the quantity of waste that decayed away is equal, leaving a constant amount of waste for a constant amount of production. There's no exact number for the time that would take, because it just gets closer and closer as an asymptote, and depends on the isotopes being produced. But the quantity of waste that you would end up with at equilibrium is easy, it's just double the amount that you produce in a single half-life.

If you produce a quantity of isotope that has a half-life of 30 years, then 30 years after that, you'll have the quantity you produced there, plus 1/2 of the initial sample. After another 30 years, you'll have another amount same as the initial quantity, plus 1/2 of what you had 30 years ago, plus 1/4 of what you had 60 years ago, etc. No matter how long you produce it at a constant rate, you won't get more than double of what you had for the amount produced during one half-life of the sample. Which means you could store the waste from constant nuclear fission used over an infinite span of time, in a finite and constant amount of space.

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Re: Germany to Decommission All Nuclear Power Plants

Postby johnny_7713 » Fri Jun 24, 2011 7:16 am UTC

Soralin wrote:
thc wrote:This isn't particularly relevant. The amount of radiation leaked to the environment has little to do with any particular half life. Peak radiation due to isotopic decay occurs ~10,000 (?) years into the future. Peak radiation dose occurs 100,000-1,000,000 years into the future, with a huge uncertainty.

Well it is of some relevance, we could say that even if every single bit of it leaked out completely, that there's a finite amount of harm that it can do, that can't be more than exposure to a single half life of the initial sample, however that amount is distributed, even over infinite time.

Peak radiation of any given sample happens immediately, and can only decrease from there, not increase. I suppose what you're talking about is if we produced nuclear fission waste continuously for the next 10000 years+ that we'd eventually reach a steady-state where the quantity of waste we produced, and the quantity of waste that decayed away is equal, leaving a constant amount of waste for a constant amount of production. There's no exact number for the time that would take, because it just gets closer and closer as an asymptote, and depends on the isotopes being produced. But the quantity of waste that you would end up with at equilibrium is easy, it's just double the amount that you produce in a single half-life.

If you produce a quantity of isotope that has a half-life of 30 years, then 30 years after that, you'll have the quantity you produced there, plus 1/2 of the initial sample. After another 30 years, you'll have another amount same as the initial quantity, plus 1/2 of what you had 30 years ago, plus 1/4 of what you had 60 years ago, etc. No matter how long you produce it at a constant rate, you won't get more than double of what you had for the amount produced during one half-life of the sample. Which means you could store the waste from constant nuclear fission used over an infinite span of time, in a finite and constant amount of space.


Someone please correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the point with peak radiation is that the isotopes in radioactive waste don't immediately decay to a stable isotope. Instead there is a chain of decay products, some of which have a (much) shorter half-life than the original isotopes. I haven't worked it out, but I wouldn't be surprised if the right combination of isotopes could result in the radiation emission at a certain point in the future being higher than it is now.

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Re: Germany to Decommission All Nuclear Power Plants

Postby thc » Fri Jun 24, 2011 8:18 am UTC

@Achan: I wasn't the one who brought up statistical significance. I was in fact, responding to the specific claim that "10,000 lives are not statistically significant because it is a small percent." That is clearly wrong. Don't let the fact that you disagree with me prevent you from reading a post in its entirety, rather than simply jump to conclusions. I have also argued that 10,000 deaths is significant (not just statistically) regardless of whether it occurs tomorrow or over a million years. Intergenerational discounting is zero.

As for my "source" I assume you're referring to my quoting of Kevin Kamps. What do you want me to say? It may or may not be correct. True, it is likely an overestimate, but "zero" may be even worse of an underestimate. Before you assume to know better, read this: http://www.gao.gov/new.items/rc00152.pdf

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Re: Germany to Decommission All Nuclear Power Plants

Postby Zamfir » Fri Jun 24, 2011 10:08 am UTC

johnny_7713 wrote:Someone please correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the point with peak radiation is that the isotopes in radioactive waste don't immediately decay to a stable isotope. Instead there is a chain of decay products, some of which have a (much) shorter half-life than the original isotopes. I haven't worked it out, but I wouldn't be surprised if the right combination of isotopes could result in the radiation emission at a certain point in the future being higher than it is now.

I think it's theoretically possible for some specific decay chain to have a peak in the far future, but that doesn't apply to spent fuel waste. Here's simple picture, note that it is log-log. Different fuel mixes will have slightly different curves. Actinides are the heavy elements (including uranium), mostly formed here when uranium absorbs neutrons. The fission products are a complicated mix of the lighter elements that are formed when heavy nuclei are split.
Image
If I understand THC correctly, the peak he refers to is the result of a posited higher leak rate from the depository in the future. So the decreasing radioactivity combined with increasing leaks (or higher odds of leaks) lead to a peak in the radioactivity leaked outside at some point in the future. This will especially happen if you use conservative calculations, since the uncertainties involved also grow with time.

If you look at the graph, you'll see that the order of 10,000 years is a likely time for such a peak: radioactivity decreases much less fast after 500 to 1,000 years, while all potential failure modes of the depository keep working of course.

@THC, what part of your linked document are you referring to? The quotes that seem most relevant to me are:
Through his work, we found that many ecologic and analytic studies have been done in the United States, Europe, Asia, and South America. Some focused mainly on radon effects, and others focused more broadly on overall natural
background radiation effects. The results of such studies differ and are inconclusive overall. Most showed no evidence of elevated cancer risk, but a minority did show slightly elevated cancer risks. Taken together, the studies may suggest that low-level radiation effects are either very small, or nonexistent. Scientists have disputed the importance of such studies in
determining low-level radiation effects. A factor in the dispute is the methodological difficulty of performing meaningful epidemiological studies of cancer rates in populations exposed to chronic low-level radiation doses. In many cases the population being studied is limited in size, and the cancer effects being pursued are small, making them difficult to detect among all cancers in the population.

With the help of our expert consultant, we examined 82 ecologic and analytic studies of natural background radiation or radon, in the UnitedStates and around the world. Of these studies, 45 were directly radon related. The studies examined a variety of different types of cancer, andsome examined cancer effects on children, while others examined genetic effects. Results of the studies varied, and we did not independently assess their quality. Some reported statistically significant results—elevated cancer rates, no elevation in rates, or a negative correlation—and others reported inconclusive results. (Some lacked basic information for assessing their quality.) Of 67 radon-related cancer studies, 22 reported results indicating a statistically significant correlation between natural background radiation or radon and cancer rates, while 45 found no such correlation (including 8 that found a negative correlation), and 4 were inconclusive. Others reported statistically significant chromosomal aberrations in objects, but not cancer correlations.

You can call that "dozens of studies have found a correlation", and you would be technically almost correct, but also very misleading if the same source mentions 45 other studies that say there is no or a negative correlation.

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Re: Germany to Decommission All Nuclear Power Plants

Postby johnny_7713 » Fri Jun 24, 2011 11:29 am UTC

Zamfir wrote:[<Interesting graph and explanation>


That makes sense, thanks.

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Re: Germany to Decommission All Nuclear Power Plants

Postby achan1058 » Fri Jun 24, 2011 3:37 pm UTC

thc wrote:@Achan: I wasn't the one who brought up statistical significance. I was in fact, responding to the specific claim that "10,000 lives are not statistically significant because it is a small percent." That is clearly wrong. Don't let the fact that you disagree with me prevent you from reading a post in its entirety, rather than simply jump to conclusions. I have also argued that 10,000 deaths is significant (not just statistically) regardless of whether it occurs tomorrow or over a million years. Intergenerational discounting is zero.

As for my "source" I assume you're referring to my quoting of Kevin Kamps. What do you want me to say? It may or may not be correct. True, it is likely an overestimate, but "zero" may be even worse of an underestimate. Before you assume to know better, read this: http://www.gao.gov/new.items/rc00152.pdf
I already said it before, it isn't, since car crash kills more than that per year, in the US alone. And no, I am not going to read a 68 page paper.

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Re: Germany to Decommission All Nuclear Power Plants

Postby Minerva » Fri Jun 24, 2011 5:35 pm UTC

Kulantan wrote:
thc wrote:Deaths per TWh for nuclear: 2.9 (using only the Chernobyl numbers because that is all that we have data for)


Of course, Chernobyl is completely, utterly irrelevant to any other nuclear power anywhere else ever in the history of the world, so that's not a truly accurate measurement of the average standard of nuclear energy across the world. The deaths per TWh from Chernobyl are far, far higher than from all the nuclear energy ever used everywhere else in the world.

How many people, anywhere, in the history of the world ever have been killed by nuclear energy, excluding Chernobyl? Try drawing up a list of real deaths that are known to have actually happened. It's an extremely short list.
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Re: Germany to Decommission All Nuclear Power Plants

Postby Dream » Fri Jun 24, 2011 6:59 pm UTC

Minerva wrote:Try drawing up a list of real deaths that are known to have actually happened. It's an extremely short list.

No true Scotsman ever died thanks to nuclear pollution, right? Hah. Deaths from pollution caused by radiation leaks into the environment are practically impossible to actually know really. You're well aware of that, so you pretend that not having data proves it didn't happen. And that's bullshit. Cancer is a prevalent enough cause of death that even a miniscule shift in death rates, far below the error bars for any study, could cause dozens upon dozens of deaths over the years. And it would never be detectable, statistically or medically.
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Re: Germany to Decommission All Nuclear Power Plants

Postby Dauric » Fri Jun 24, 2011 7:18 pm UTC

Dream wrote:
Minerva wrote:Try drawing up a list of real deaths that are known to have actually happened. It's an extremely short list.

No true Scotsman ever died thanks to nuclear pollution, right? Hah. Deaths from pollution caused by radiation leaks into the environment are practically impossible to actually know really. You're well aware of that, so you pretend that not having data proves it didn't happen. And that's bullshit. Cancer is a prevalent enough cause of death that even a miniscule shift in death rates, far below the error bars for any study, could cause dozens upon dozens of deaths over the years. And it would never be detectable, statistically or medically.


Okay, taking what you've just said, that it's impossible to know the number of people injured or killed by radiation leaks: How does that compare to existing power-generation methods? Coal and Natural Gas energy production have been linked to respiratory illnesses and developmental diseases (dozens and dozens of cases that are also fatal) though those have less difficulty to link to their source.

Ultimately it becomes a question of the Lesser Evil. If Oil and/or Gas energy production has a higher risk of injury and/or death then Nuclear, then Nuclear is the safer energy production method, despite it having those scary invisible particle-rays that we can't detect with our unaided senses, unlike the threats that we not only can detect from coal and gas powerplants (like odors and residues) but have come to expect and even accept the risk of.
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Re: Germany to Decommission All Nuclear Power Plants

Postby KestrelLowing » Fri Jun 24, 2011 7:37 pm UTC

Dauric wrote:Okay, taking what you've just said, that it's impossible to know the number of people injured or killed by radiation leaks: How does that compare to existing power-generation methods? Coal and Natural Gas energy production have been linked to respiratory illnesses and developmental diseases (dozens and dozens of cases that are also fatal) though those have less difficulty to link to their source.

Ultimately it becomes a question of the Lesser Evil. If Oil and/or Gas energy production has a higher risk of injury and/or death then Nuclear, then Nuclear is the safer energy production method, despite it having those scary invisible particle-rays that we can't detect with our unaided senses, unlike the threats that we not only can detect from coal and gas powerplants (like odors and residues) but have come to expect and even accept the risk of.


I think you hit the nail on the head there: the reason everyone's so scared of it is because we don't feel comfortable with it because we can't see radiation. Also, every superhero story ever saying radiation caused all those mutations. It's like the fear of the dark that nearly everyone has (vashta narada) - because we can't see what's there, it must be so much worse! But really, it's still just a dog in the bushes.

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Re: Germany to Decommission All Nuclear Power Plants

Postby Dauric » Fri Jun 24, 2011 8:00 pm UTC

KestrelLowing wrote:
Dauric wrote:Okay, taking what you've just said, that it's impossible to know the number of people injured or killed by radiation leaks: How does that compare to existing power-generation methods? Coal and Natural Gas energy production have been linked to respiratory illnesses and developmental diseases (dozens and dozens of cases that are also fatal) though those have less difficulty to link to their source.

Ultimately it becomes a question of the Lesser Evil. If Oil and/or Gas energy production has a higher risk of injury and/or death then Nuclear, then Nuclear is the safer energy production method, despite it having those scary invisible particle-rays that we can't detect with our unaided senses, unlike the threats that we not only can detect from coal and gas powerplants (like odors and residues) but have come to expect and even accept the risk of.


I think you hit the nail on the head there: the reason everyone's so scared of it is because we don't feel comfortable with it because we can't see radiation. Also, every superhero story ever saying radiation caused all those mutations. It's like the fear of the dark that nearly everyone has (vashta narada) - because we can't see what's there, it must be so much worse! But really, it's still just a dog in the bushes.


Above and beyond that, burning -stuff- with -flame- for energy has been around longer than civilization itself. coal "power" has been around in one form or another for thousands of years, liquid gas for hundreds. As technologies these forms of energy were introduced to people -as a form of energy-. Fire, for all it's destructive potential, is also at the center of home and -hearth-, it's what cooks meat and bakes bread and cookies. We accept that it occasionally burns down entire cities, has given Blacklung to miners and a host of respiratory illnesses to entire industry towns, and even forced the evacuation of an entire town because a minor coal seam from a disused mine caught fire. Even today ill-placed mines, wells, and powerplants can be a hazard to residents in their areas. Yet despite all this we accept these risks because they're familiar to us and our ancestors and our ancestors ancestors.

Nuclear Physics had a far more dramatic public introduction: The bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It's not something you'd want in your home, it's certainly not something you'd bake cookies with (at least not if you liked the person you were baking them for). It became the source for massive quantities of cultural references around the world ranging from gigantic radiation-breathing mutant-lizards to alien death-rays from space. It's vastly more complicated to work with, and it's dangerous enough that you wouldn't want to casually distribute nuclear power-generation to end-customers.

Nuclear physics is strange and alien to those who implicitly trust Fire-based technology because of our long history using the latter.
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Re: Germany to Decommission All Nuclear Power Plants

Postby Kulantan » Fri Jun 24, 2011 11:49 pm UTC

Minerva wrote:Of course, Chernobyl is completely, utterly irrelevant to any other nuclear power anywhere else ever in the history of the world, so that's not a truly accurate measurement of the average standard of nuclear energy across the world. The deaths per TWh from Chernobyl are far, far higher than from all the nuclear energy ever used everywhere else in the world.

How many people, anywhere, in the history of the world ever have been killed by nuclear energy, excluding Chernobyl? Try drawing up a list of real deaths that are known to have actually happened. It's an extremely short list.

Even more I used the numbers from the TORCH report which is an overestimate based on non peer review crap. The point is that even using the biggest slightly reputable overestimate still gives nuclear favourable numbers.

While I agree with you about Chernobyl not being a great model for understanding the dangers of nuclear power, it does help model black swans. Chernobyl was very close to the worst possible case for nuclear power in general. By using numbers from it we can kinda factor in unforeseen incidents (like Fukushima).
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Re: Germany to Decommission All Nuclear Power Plants

Postby Dream » Sat Jun 25, 2011 12:11 am UTC

Dauric wrote:Okay, taking what you've just said, that it's impossible to know the number of people injured or killed by radiation leaks: How does that compare to existing power-generation methods? Coal and Natural Gas energy production have been linked to respiratory illnesses and developmental diseases (dozens and dozens of cases that are also fatal) though those have less difficulty to link to their source.

And anyone claiming that coal or other fossils were safe because data doesn't exist about their lethality (as in, direct conclusive studies about particular plants) would be quite rightly laughed at. We know from other sources what damage the pollution caused by them can do to humans, so pretending that being unable to demonstrate the results statistically shows there is no negative effect would be foolish.

The same should hold for nuclear. In particular, the early, unsafe and poorly contained nuclear industry would have provided a very good baseline, had any serious study been done at the time. Windscale in the UK, for instance, is well known to have polluted large areas of coastline, and to have had incredibly lax containment even within on site facilities. It was early days, and the UK was in a great rush to get a bomb, so it was cutting corners. Had we fully studied its effects on its staff and surrounding populations, we might know what to expect from radiation releases like Fukushima. That we don't know because we didn't study is no reason to assume the best. Quite the contrary, we know how damaging much of the material involved can be, so we should never assume that its effects are benign.
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Re: Germany to Decommission All Nuclear Power Plants

Postby Minerva » Sat Jun 25, 2011 3:52 am UTC

Dream wrote:Cancer is a prevalent enough cause of death that even a miniscule shift in death rates, far below the error bars for any study, could cause dozens upon dozens of deaths over the years. And it would never be detectable, statistically or medically.


If that's the way you want to think about it, then you're operating outside the domain of science, aren't you? You can't claim to be able to get at any truth one way or another that way.
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Re: Germany to Decommission All Nuclear Power Plants

Postby Randomizer » Sat Jun 25, 2011 11:38 am UTC

Apparently there's a "level 4" emergency at a Nebraska nuclear power plant due to flooding: http://nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-news ... ant-report

BTW, does anyone know how many nuclear power plants are there in the world?
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Re: Germany to Decommission All Nuclear Power Plants

Postby Sero » Sat Jun 25, 2011 12:39 pm UTC

According to the European Nuclear Society, as of January 2011 there are 442 nuclear power plants in operation around the world, and 65 under construction. http://www.euronuclear.org/info/encyclopedia/n/nuclear-power-plant-world-wide.htm

That article is interesting, but...more than a little sensationalist and biased. I mean, I'm no fan of the TSA, but I don't think Obama has made them into a 'literal occupying army for domestic repression in America'. Nor had I heard that unspecified scientists are about to declare Japan uninhabitable due to radiation, or that Obama is trying to bankrupt the coal industry. You know, the second page gets kind of disturbing, to be honest.
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Re: Germany to Decommission All Nuclear Power Plants

Postby Torchship » Sat Jun 25, 2011 3:00 pm UTC

achan1058 wrote:I already said it before, it isn't, since car crash kills more than that per year, in the US alone. And no, I am not going to read a 68 page paper.


Urm... are you seriously claiming that because there exists a more common cause of death, all smaller causes of death are insignificant? So if car crashes killed only a single person more than nuclear waste, nuclear waste would still be statistically insignificant? By that logic, we should just declare that every cause of death is malnutrition, since that's true for 58% of people.
Or am I sadly misinterpreting what you said?

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Re: Germany to Decommission All Nuclear Power Plants

Postby achan1058 » Sat Jun 25, 2011 3:13 pm UTC

Torchship wrote:
achan1058 wrote:I already said it before, it isn't, since car crash kills more than that per year, in the US alone. And no, I am not going to read a 68 page paper.


Urm... are you seriously claiming that because there exists a more common cause of death, all smaller causes of death are insignificant? So if car crashes killed only a single person more than nuclear waste, nuclear waste would still be statistically insignificant? By that logic, we should just declare that every cause of death is malnutrition, since that's true for 58% of people.
Or am I sadly misinterpreting what you said?
Somewhat. My claim is that from looking at the dangers alone, cars are more dangerous. So, what I am really saying that one should not simply look at whether something causes death or not when you are looking at whether to use it, but instead look at whether the danger out weights the benefits.


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