Coalition Takes Legal Action against Proposed Michigan Nuclear Plant

Legal Action Against The Proposed Fermi 3 Nuclear Reactor in Michigan

A coalition of environmental groups has taken legal action against the proposed construction of the Fermi 3 nuclear reactor in Newport, Michigan.

The coalition–which includes Beyond Nuclear, Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination, Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, Don’t Waste Michigan, and the Sierra Club–filed fourteen legal contentions with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission earlier this week. It argues that Detroit Edison’s proposed plant would have devastating impacts on Lake Eerie’s western basin. There are already 33 atomic reactors operating in the region.

The coalition cited past problems with Detroit Edison in particular:

“The track record of the Detroit Edison Company is abysmal. The partial

core-melt accident at Fermi 1 in October, 1966 and the 1993-94 Holiday

dumping of millions of gallons of radioactively contaminated water into Lake

Erie by Fermi 2 speaks to this record,” said Michael Keegan of Don’t Waste

Michigan. “The proposed Fermi 3 would represent another half-century of

safety and security risks for the Great Lakes shoreline. Many concerned

local residents don’t want to play yet another round of radioactive Russian

roulette,” Keegan added. Michael Keegan resides in Monroe and has been

following the Fermi reactors for three decades.”

The coalition further argues that the electricity needs could be met by alternative, cleaner renewable power sources such as solar and wind.

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Author: mediamouse

Grand Rapids independent media // mediamouse.org

15 thoughts on “Coalition Takes Legal Action against Proposed Michigan Nuclear Plant”

  1. No power is cleaner than Nuclear power. When are people going to realize this. We just need to allow commercial usuage to recycle the waste. Think of military ships that run on nuclear power and are good for 50+ years. In conrast, how much oil would they require if they were ran on fossil fuels?

    France has powered it’s entire country with nuclear power for years and all the waste is stored in a small room. Why? Because they recycle the waste and re-use it. Carter banned recycling out of fear of terroism. Fear never solves anything.

  2. @Fuel for Thought: Sorry, but your comments are utterly ridiculous. France does have a high rate of nuclear power usage, but it’s not 100 percent; it’s 78 percent. They do NOT store “all the waste” in one “small room.” Low-level waste ONLY is now sent to Centre L’Aube, after France exhausted another site’s capacity by storing 520,000 cubic meters of waste there. Centre L’Aube is not exactly a “small room”: it has 1 million cubic meters of capacity, filling up rapidly.

    But keep in mind that’s just France’s low-level radioactive waste. Their spent nuclear fuel is stored at L’Aube temporarily, then transported to The Hague in the Netherlands. Currently, France’s high-level nuclear waste is also being sent to The Hague. But the Netherlands will not accept it permanently and, because the storage facilities the Dutch have there at The Hage have started leaking with waste going into the ground water, the French have been scurrying around trying to figure out how and where to store this dangerous material when it has to be taken back by France.

    The French have been studying this problem for 15 years so far, and guess what? They don’t have a solution that they consider safe enough yet, or one that citizens in the regions slated for storage will accept.

    Whenever I see some blog comment filled with nonsense and inaccuracies like this, I am tempted to ask, “Have you been listening to Rush Limbaugh?”

    My sources:

    http://www-pub.iaea.org/MTCD/publications/PDF/rwmp-5/CWP_France_2000.pdf

    http://www.ocrwm.doe.gov/factsheets/doeymp0411.shtml

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/reaction/readings/french.html

    http://www.greenpeace.org/raw/content/international/press/reports/nuclear-waste-crisis-france.pdf

    http://www.forbes.com/feeds/afx/2006/03/22/afx2613985.html

  3. @Kate Wheeler: If you are going to disparage someone’s comments as utterly ridiculous, you would do well to present a more grounded and better reasoned argument in response.

    >France does have a high rate of nuclear power usage, but it’s not 100 percent; it’s 78 percent.

    it’s about 87%.

    > Low-level waste ONLY is now sent to Centre L’Aube, after France exhausted another site’s capacity by storing 520,000 cubic meters of waste there. Centre L’Aube is not exactly a “small room”: it has 1 million cubic meters of capacity, filling up rapidly.

    Your points about french waste do not address Fuel for thought’s essential point, which was that nuclear waste is a tiny fraction of the waste produced by other power sources per unit energy. 520,000 cubic meters, or 1 million cubic meters is a small footprint to produce the quantities of power to keep France going (and keep it a huge energy exporter).

    Fission releases factors of 10^6 more energy per atom than chemical reactions. This necessarily produces less waste, though I acknowledge the waste is dangerous.

    You make it seem large by using a huge number of cubic meters, but if you phrased it, “France stores all the low level waste from its huge nuclear industry in a 100m by 100m by 100m box” then it seems small. If you want to make a reasonable point you should compare it to the footprints used by other power sources.

    I’m from Grand Rapids, currently a graduate student. What I do professionally is modeling the predicted effects of radiation leaks from long term waste facilities. I work with groups of academic scientists and (mostly french) government regulators on the best ways to model these potential doses. The doses we are talking about are orders of magnitude lower than doses from natural background radiation.

    >The French have been studying this problem for 15 years so far, and guess what? They don’t have a solution that they consider safe enough yet, or one that citizens in the regions slated for storage will accept.

    The French have a number of plans for their waste and are spending time to make sure they do it right. It isn’t a particularly urgent issue, for them or for us. Current onsite storage is working out alright. You correctly identify it as more of a public relations problem than a technical problem.

    One of the reasons I am working with the French is because ANDRA and EdF seek out academic involvement in a lot of areas. They put in a good faith effort to get good science.

    >Whenever I see some blog comment filled with nonsense and inaccuracies like this, I am tempted to ask, “Have you been listening to Rush Limbaugh?”

    This is a despicable way to discuss disagreements.

  4. @Gavin: You are clearly a proponent of nuclear energy, and I am not, so I’m sure that you and I will disagree as well. However, I believe I was correctly stating that Fuel for Thought’s comments were riddled with errors, such as his/her assertion that France took care of 100% of its energy needs with nuclear power; that all its nuclear waste (not just its low-level waste) was stored in “one small room”; that because France “recycles” its waste, it’s not a problem; and his/her implication that this nuclear solution would somehow work equally well for the US. That kind of pat, error-riddled, unresearched statement is exactly the kind of thing that Limbaugh broadcasts on a daily basis; I don’t think it’s “despicable” to say that. And yes, to me these statements sounded ridiculous—just like Limbaugh’s statements do, but not everyone feels that way about him.

    Your comments, on the other hand, seem to me to slant facts to fit your obvious preference for nuclear energy as a solution—I’m assuming globally, although you don’t specifically state that. So please allow me to address a few of your points.

    1. You state that France’s rate of nuclear power usage is 87%, but you don’t cite any sources. Here are some citations for you: The International Herald Tribune stated in the fall of 2008 that France’s current usage rate was 77%. A March 11, 2009 US News & World Report article stated that France’s nuclear power usage filled three-quarters of the country’s needs, which would be 75%. And (sorry about this, but if you’re a graduate student in this field, this is one you really should know), the World Nuclear Association in March of 2009 states that just over 75% of France’s power needs are met with nuclear power facilities. So I think your 87% is—what shall we politely call it—optimistic?

    2. You state that nuclear waste is a tiny fraction of the waste produced by other power sources per unit energy. You imply by this statement that that alone makes it desirable as an energy source. I disagree, and so does the Center for American Progress. In an analysis done last in July of last year, CAP points out that there are alternatives that are both cheaper and much less dangerous than nuclear power. Wind energy can produce electricity for five cents per kWh, and solar energy for 11 to 12 cent per kWh. How much waste, exactly, do wind and solar power sources generate? And I know you must agree that neither one of these sources produces any radioactive waste that has to be stored.

    3. And, by the way, as you grudgingly acknowledge, none of the other power sources you refer to produce radioactive waste, either. You accuse me of not comparing apples to apples, but come on—if I had to make a choice, I’d pick nondangerous waste in droves as opposed to vast pits or even “small rooms” of poisonous waste that had to be stored for all eternity. And if I had alternatives that created neither quantity nor toxicity of waste, I’d certainly put those at the top of my list for development.

    4. You state that the French have plans for their nuclear waste, but it’s not particularly urgent, for them or in the US. “Current onsite storage is working out alright (sic).” According to…? I would say that the Netherlands is not exactly happy to have toxic waste leaking into their groundwater, as one example. I can point out a number of organizations here in the US who are not happy with the current storage of nuclear waste or the safety of plants like Indian Point, which had one entire facility on its campus shut down for repeated safety violations after more than a decade of warnings.

    The US News article addresses the French opposition, which I have read in this and other sources is considerable, not just a “public relations” problem, as you gloss over it: “Opponents are warning that the new nuclear plants are too costly and will produce more dangerous waste that contains significantly higher levels of radioactive material…the new reactor [scheduled to be built in Penly] will consume 15 percent less uranium while producing 30 percent less nuclear waste. The waste, however, will be considerably more radioactive than that produced by older reactors.”

    According to the Center for American Progress report, the same problems with acceptable storage and storage capacity exist here in the US for our much-lower 20 percent usage. From the abstract: “There is currently nowhere to store the radioactive nuclear waste that is a byproduct of nuclear energy generation. In the unlikely event that Yucca Mountain is opened to nuclear waste, the repository will not be large enough to store even current waste.”

    5. You state that your models of nuclear radiation leakage are “of magnitude lower than doses from natural background radiation,” but again, you cite no numbers or sources. Fuel for Thought talked enthusiastically about France’s “recycling” of its waste. Recyling certainly is a pleasant-sounding term, isn’t it? I noticed that you didn’t address this aspect of his/her argument, because you, as a student of this topic, know very well that we’re actually talking about reprocessing here, not recycling. And in France’s case, the country is pumping 100 million gallons of liquid radioactive waste into the world’s oceans every single year—these have been detected all the way to the Arctic Circle. They release gases like Krypton-85 into the air; these gases are found all over the world. Currently near The Hague, there are two medical clusters of high levels of leukemia which are potentially leaked to the long-term storage there, some of which has come from France. And when the new facility is built at Penly, there will be even larger amounts of uranium to “recycle.” These facts don’t seem to me to indicate the possibility of clean, safe, or acceptable levels of radiation “leakage,” although to you, they apparently do.

    The Center for American Progress report has an abstract listing 10 reasons why nuclear power is not a good investment. The reasons include escalating costs for this technology, unresolved storage and safety issues, nuclear power’s use of water in a water-shortage-riddled world, and, in the US, an increase on our dependence on imported uranium. It’s a good synopsis, with the entire report attached via pdf, at http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2008/07/nuclear_energy.html

  5. One sentence of my response above got garbled during a cut-and-paste; it shoud have said,

    “Currently near The Hague, there are two medical clusters of high levels of leukemia which are potentially linked to the long-term storage facility there, which contains some of France’s high-level nuclear waste.”

  6. This is exactly the kind of discussion I like to see. People should feel free to disagree amongst themselves, disagree with what is written, or whatever. The more this site can function as a venue for discussion, the better it will be!

  7. >@Gavin: You are clearly a proponent of nuclear energy, and I am not, so I’m sure that you and I will disagree as well. However, I believe I was correctly stating that Fuel for Thought’s comments were riddled with errors, such as his/her assertion that France took care of 100% of its energy needs with nuclear power…

    Yes, I am, on balance in favor of more power plants worldwide. I think is it the most sensible medium term option for baseline power generation. I want to keep spending money on other renewable sources, but there is substantial work that needs to be done before they can pick up significant amounts of our energy production.

    I am an informed proponent of nuclear power in that I understand radiation biology pretty well, I have taught classes on the subject and work internationally in the area. You complain about my lack of cites, so I’ll try to use additional citations here, but it’s difficult to really discuss radiation dose and its effects without getting getting technical.

    To start with, I’d ask you to examine a figure located here. (http://lowdose.tricity.wsu.edu/resources_pics/images/026_dose-ranges-sievert.jpg)

    This chart might help explain why I am not hugely worried about small doses of radiation. At the bottom of the chart are the levels at which we regulate exposures. The levels at which we regulate are very low, or conservative. This is a good thing because I think we need to treat these issues seriously, and reducing doses to a level that is as low as reasonably achievable (ALARA) is a regulatory requirement in the industry.

    Referring to the chart, here are some numbers.

    EPA limit in drinking water: .04 mSv/yr

    EPA limit for air releases: .1mSv/yr

    Radiation dose you get on a flight from NY-London: .1mSv/yr

    NRC/DOE dose limits to public: 1mSv/yr

    Mammogram: 2.5mSv / mammogram

    NATURAL dose of radiation in the US: (2-4)mSv/yr

    NATURAL background in Ramsar Iran: 200mSv/yr (no surplus of 3 legged babies)

    First solid evidence we have for radiation increasing cancer rates: 200mSv/yr.

    I hope this provides some perspective. When I hear about an environmental release that exceeds limits, I think the company involved should be fined, and clean up their act. But we regulate to such conservative levels (WHICH I APPROVE OF) that I’m not worried for my safety. Moving to denver (due to it’s elevation and high crustal uranium content) will expose someone to vastly more radiation than a waste facility next door, but few people take the increased radiation doses of the SW into account before moving there. (Much less Ramsar Iran, those dose rates scare me a little but are natural dose rates not related to human activities)

    >Your comments, on the other hand, seem to me to slant facts to fit your obvious preference for nuclear energy as a solution—I’m assuming globally, although you don’t specifically state that. So please allow me to address a few of your points.

    It’s true, my comments come from my perspective.

    > 1. You state that France’s rate of nuclear power usage is 87%, but you don’t cite any sources. Here are some citations for you: The International Herald Tribune stated in the fall of 2008 that France’s current usage rate was 77%. A March 11, 2009 US News & World Report article stated that France’s nuclear power usage filled three-quarters of the country’s needs, which would be 75%. And (sorry about this, but if you’re a graduate student in this field, this is one you really should know), the World Nuclear Association in March of 2009 states that just over 75% of France’s power needs are met with nuclear power facilities. So I think your 87% is—what shall we politely call it—optimistic?

    I was citing electricity production numbers, you are citing power numbers. Power generally includes to things like gasoline consumption as well. I am trying to assume good faith on your part, it would be nice if you could do the same. You continually use very hostile language like “is—what shall we politely call it—optimistic”

    I stand by my 87%, which I wrote from memory but I

    found a citation on the EdF website to support. They state nuclear power was 86.6 of EdF electricity production in 2007, EdF produces virtually all of the electricity in France. (http://energy.edf.com/edf-fr-accueil/edf-and-power-generation/nuclear-power-122172.html)

    > 2. You state that nuclear waste is a tiny fraction of the waste produced by other power sources per unit energy. You imply by this statement that that alone makes it desirable as an energy source. I disagree, and so does the Center for American Progress. In an analysis done last in July of last year, CAP points out that there are alternatives that are both cheaper and much less dangerous than nuclear power. Wind energy can produce electricity for five cents per kWh, and solar energy for 11 to 12 cent per kWh. How much waste, exactly, do wind and solar power sources generate? And I know you must agree that neither one of these sources produces any radioactive waste that has to be stored.

    The CAP is one of these washington think tanks I’m generally skeptical of, like the ones on the right, they are generally pursuing their own agendas. Your larger point is that you feel wind/solar is a better way to go. Unfortunately, practically speaking, nuclear plants that aren’t built are replaced by fossil fuel plants, not wind farms and solar panels.

    There is no shadowy cabal hiding the secret plans for a 100% efficient nontoxic solar panel that works when it’s cloudy. It is issues of efficiency, power storage, and delivery that make solar/wind currently untenable for providing baseline power. If there was a great way to do it right now, someone would be doing it. I am all for spending money on it, I hope in 10 years things will have changed.

    If you had to chose between fossil fuel derived electricity and nuclear, which way would you go. That is the current choice you make, I hope that choice changes in the future, but it hasn’t yet.

    >3. And, by the way, as you grudgingly acknowledge, none of the other power sources you refer to produce radioactive waste, either.

    Generally fossil fuels concentrate and release more radioactivity than the nuclear fuel cycle.

    >You accuse me of not comparing apples to apples, but come on—if I had to make a choice, I’d pick nondangerous waste in droves as opposed to vast pits or even “small rooms” of poisonous waste that had to be stored for all eternity. And if I had alternatives that created neither quantity nor toxicity of waste, I’d certainly put those at the top of my list for development.

    I too would choose wonderful waste free energy source, but in practice all forms of power generation we deploy at significant levels come with a environmental or ecological footprint. I think nuclear’s is relatively small.

    >4. You state that the French have plans for their nuclear waste, but it’s not particularly urgent, for them or in the US. “Current onsite storage is working out alright (sic).” According to…? I would say that the Netherlands is not exactly happy to have toxic waste leaking into their groundwater, as one example. I can point out a number of organizations here in the US who are not happy with the current storage of nuclear waste or the safety of plants like Indian Point, which had one entire facility on its campus shut down for repeated safety violations after more than a decade of warnings.

    The casks used for onsite storage have a certified 100 year lifetime, the utilities will have to do something about them after that. That’s why the lack of Yucca Mountain isn’t an immediate concern for the utilities. Having a facility shut down at Indian Point is a sign of the regulatory system working, it cheers me.

    >The US News article addresses the French opposition, which I have read in this and other sources is considerable, not just a “public relations” problem, as you gloss over it: “Opponents are warning that the new nuclear plants are too costly and will produce more dangerous waste that contains significantly higher levels of radioactive material…the new reactor [scheduled to be built in Penly] will consume 15 percent less uranium while producing 30 percent less nuclear waste. The waste, however, will be considerably more radioactive than that produced by older reactors.”

    I meant it is an issue of public support rather than a technical issue of safe storage. Statements like “will produce more dangerous waste that contains significantly higher levels of radioactive material” are too vague and alarmist to address.

    >According to the Center for American Progress report, the same problems with acceptable storage and storage capacity exist here in the US for our much-lower 20 percent usage. From the abstract: “There is currently nowhere to store the radioactive nuclear waste that is a byproduct of nuclear energy generation. In the unlikely event that Yucca Mountain is opened to nuclear waste, the repository will not be large enough to store even current waste.”

    It is not a challenging technical problem to build places to store them.

    > 5. You state that your models of nuclear radiation leakage are “of magnitude lower than doses from natural background radiation,” but again, you cite no numbers or sources. Fuel for Thought talked enthusiastically about France’s “recycling” of its waste. Recyling certainly is a pleasant-sounding term, isn’t it? I noticed that you didn’t address this aspect of his/her argument, because you, as a student of this topic, know very well that we’re actually talking about reprocessing here, not recycling. And in France’s case, the country is pumping 100 million gallons of liquid radioactive waste into the world’s oceans every single year—these have been detected all the way to the Arctic Circle. They release gases like Krypton-85 into the air; these gases are found all over the world. Currently near The Hague, there are two medical clusters of high levels of leukemia which are potentially leaked to the long-term storage there, some of which has come from France. And when the new facility is built at Penly, there will be even larger amounts of uranium to “recycle.” These facts don’t seem to me to indicate the possibility of clean, safe, or acceptable levels of radiation “leakage,” although to you, they apparently do.

    See the numbers from the chart I included a link to above.

    Recycle vs. Reprocessing is quibbling over semantics. It fits into the definition of both words pretty easily.

    The very fact that 85Kr is a noble gas that goes all over pretty much makes it safe. The atmosphere is a huge place! It is radionuclides that are concentrated in things like plants that cause radioecologists trouble and create potential risk. 85Kr is produced naturally by cosmic rays too incidentally.

    I sometimes feel like Kate from Douglas Adams’ Long Dark Teatime of the Soul. From time to time she (an American in London) tries to get a pizza delivered and gets into a yelling match with the pizza place over the phone when they say they don’t deliver. Afterwards she feels much better. It’s much the same way with me. Too often antinuclear feelings on the left are the mirror image of global warming skeptics on the right.

  8. Re:Kr-85

    You make a point about it’s measurable at the poles. That is more a testament to our increasing good radiation detectors than the levels of Kr-85.

    We have very good networks to detect Kr-85 because it’s a sign that somewhere, people are unsealing things with fission products in them.

    Re: Apology

    That last sentence was out of line, I pruned a couple other needlessly combative statements, and that one should have done too.

  9. @Gavin again:

    Thank you for writing. Your response was interesting to me, and I found your cites interesting, but I fear that once again, we are doomed to disagree.

    I understand your point that nuclear power is, in your mind, an acceptable “bridge” solution while cleaner technologies are being developed. I still feel that it is too dangerous to continue developing, and I was deeply troubled by renewed development under the Bush administration. So our perspectives on this are very different.

    You dismiss my sources, such as CAP, with a snap of your fingers. and don’t even care to address such issues as groundwater contamination, cancer clusters, and other evidence of ongoing poisoning of the planet in the interests of commerce. So I don’t feel too badly about the fact that I’m going to dismiss your very interesting chart, which was generated during the Bush years by the Department of Energy’s Office of Biological and Environmental research. These were the guys who gave us “Clear Skies”; lifted regulations on the reduction of greenhouse gases and let the foxes count the chickens (e.g., the famous “voluntary reduction” program that allowed corporations to police their own emissions); put money in the pockets of the coal industry with the so-called “clean coal” initiatives; and were run by the most actively pro-nuclear administration in US history. Of course their “acceptable levels of radiation” chart is going to be soothing and non-alarmist. Bush got huge amounts of money from the nuclear industry, and he certainly always knew exactly how to reward his friends. So I’m afraid I can’t take this information, as I can’t find a large enough grain of salt to allow me to swallow it.

    As for that troubling 87% that you cite, you are wrong about my information: I WAS talking about electricity production numbers, and I’m sorry that I was apparently unclear; unclear enough that you question my good faith. You don’t seem to question my citations, which you apparently did not have the courtesy to look up. So please let me quote from them directly:

    From the World Nuclear Association:

    “France derives over 75% of its electricity from nuclear energy.” March 2009

    From US News & World Report, March 11, 2009:

    “Across the French countryside, within sight of villages and towns, thick clouds of steam rise from giant cooling towers at 58 nuclear energy plants that provide more than three quarters of the nation’s electricity.”

    From The International Herald Tribune, August 18, 2008:

    “Nuclear power provides 77 percent of France’s electricity, according to the government.”

    I’m happy to know that you feel that building nuclear waste containment facilities is easy; that’s impressive, since so many people seem to feel that building them safely is an impossibility. If it’s so simple, can you explain to me why the state-of-the-art facilities at The Hague are leaking; and why communities from north-central Texas (the Comanche plant) to Lydney in the UK (the Berkeley plant) are showing unusual clusters of cancer, particularly childhood leukemia?

    Apparently, you did not read the report that I cited, either, because you enthusiastically support more nuclear power plants being built, but don’t speak to the issues of why, with increasing costs, depleted water supplies, and impossible-to-meet demands for more uranium, this might not be a good idea. Studies done in both the US and the UK show that if nuclear facilities provided the majority of electrical needs globally, as they do in France, the world’s uranium supply would be completely depleted in less than 10 years. If we used lower grades of uranium, isn’t it true that that would produce even more climate-damaging emissions? Kind of a vicious circle, or so it seems to me.

    Forgive me if this next point sounds rude–I truly don’t mean to be–but I laughed out loud when I read your comment about Indian Point: “Having a facility shut down at Indian Point is a sign of the regulatory system working, it cheers me.” The point of Indian Point is that the regulatory system is NOT working! And I think, with your considerable academic background, you must some of the history of that facility.

    The NRC first became aware of serious violations at Indian Point in 1996. Corrective actions asked for by the NRC at that time had still not been completed by 2007. And from 1996 forward, there were other, serious breaches of security and safety procedures.

    In 2000, for example, an aged steam generator tube cracked, leaking radioactive water into the area. Con Ed tried to argue that it was using the best possible technology available, but after inspecting the antiquated equipment, even the pro-business NRC didn’t buy that. However, no court actions took place and the NRC didn’t even levy a fine. Another leakage problem occurred shortly after when technicians, unable to install a critical and fairly delicate plant component that would not fit, tried to sledge-hammer it into place. Another violation took place a few months later during a badly handled cooling procedure.

    Inspections repeatedly found that batteries failed without back-up, that pressure calculations were made incorrectly, and that maintenance was, to put it kindly, slack. And yet this plant, 25 miles from the huge population center of NYC, was allowed to operate year after year without even a slap on the wrist. It was not until 2007, when Riverkeeper launched a court action, citing seriously contaminated groundwater readings and the killing of approximately 1 billion fish a year in the Hudson River due to leakages, that the NRC decided that more stringent corrective actions (more stringent that almost nothing, that is to say) were necessary in the glare of public scrutiny. This is hardly a good example of the efficiency of the regulatory system, and I find it amazing that you feel this is a cheering story.

    Thanks for your apology, but honestly, it’s not necessary. You’re right, I am speaking from the left (from the far left, in fact). I can see that your arguments are clear and logical and that you are, as you claim, an informed proponent of nuclear energy. It’s disappointing to see that you seem to feel that simply because of my “antinuclear feelings,” I am not informed as well. You’re mistaken about that.

  10. I don’t know why I didn’t think of doing this before, but this morning, I went to Areva’s website for direct-source information about France’s nuclear power program. Areva, as you know, is the French public industrial conglomerate that manages the country’s nuclear power. The state of France owns 90% of this company, so it’s essentially the government’s manager of its nuclear power programs. At one point, it was going to be privatized, but the privatization process was suspended in 2005. Here’s what Areva itself says about France’s current (2009) usage of nuclear power:

    “In 1973, France relied on foreign countries for 77% of its energy supply. That level went down to around 50% when the French nuclear power program was launched in 1974. In 1998, France consumed the energy equivalent of 249 million metric tons of oil, most of it supplied by nuclear power (40%) followed by oil (38%), natural gas (13%), coal (6%) and hydroelectric power (2.3%).

    “As for electricity, nuclear power plants generate close to 76% of France’s requirements; hydroelectric dams (14%) and fossil fuel plants (coal, gas and fuel oil) supply most of the rest.”

  11. @kate

    Sorry I didn’t respond earlier, as I said, the urge to argue about nuclear power on the internet comes and goes with me, but I wanted to respond to your post.

    re: your CAP source.

    I can’t spend the time (and in some cases lack knowledge of the subject area) to rebut every one of the objections in the a large pdf report on an internet forum. (I could just as easily find large pdfs written by people advocating more nuclear energy) I can take the time to try to respond to any particular point you’d like to see addressed.

    I really hope you’ll rethink accepting the DOE figure I cited because I think it’s really crucial to understanding the issues involved. Almost everything on that figure can be sourced to peer reviewed journal articles with a google search, it is not Bush administration science.

    http://lowdose.tricity.wsu.edu/resources_pics/images/026_dose-ranges-sievert.jpg

    I’ll restate my fundamental argument which is that we accept radiation risks as a part of living. If the risks of substantial nuclear power industry are an order of magnitude lower than the natural radiation risks of moving from grand rapids to denver, I am willing to accept those risks, and I feel society should too.

    Re: French electricity production

    As far as I can tell, nuclear is 87% of installed capacity. It is 84% of available power, and about 77% of produced power. It’s 87% of the total if you add up the max capacity of all their facilities. It is available to be used for 84% of their power needs, and actually used for 77% of their electrical needs. It is their baseline energy source, so if the sun is shining and the wind is blowing, they will dial down their nuclear plants to use other energy sources. It also means they have a pretty large safety margin in their energy production (wider than ours).

    Re: Indian Point

    You may laugh out loud. But I do think the system basically works. Their errors get spotlighted, they are fined and told to improve. My model of proper regulation involves an adversarial system and so I’m glad Riverkeeper or whomever is taking them to task for violations of the law, but at the same time our laws are conservative enough that I’m not worried about health effects in humans. It makes me angry when I see the safety mistakes that they’ve made, but they still result in risks smaller than those of moving to Denver for a job. When you get a dental X-ray, you are risking cancer due to the radiation, but you assume society (or the American Dental Association) has correctly decided that these risks are less than the risks of not knowing what’s going on inside your teeth.

    Unless you are radical enough to be backing away from modern society in general (an opinion I can respect, but which makes argument on these lines impossible), I don’t see how you can really examine the risks of nuclear power and not see it as a sensible means of energy production.

  12. @ Gavin,

    First of all, thanks for responding. And thanks for your explanation of the discrepancy between the 87% and 76% figures for power in France; that is interesting and perfectly logical. I took a look at the new chart that you posted as well.

    You noted in your post that you would take the time to respond to particular points from the CAP report. The ones in which I am most interested are actually points I’ve made in previous posts to which you have not responded:

    1. The breakdown of even state-of-the-art storage facilities for nuclear waste, resulting in issues such as groundwater contamination.

    2. The possibility, proposed by a number of different scientists, that the Earth’s supply of uranium will be depleted, possibly in decades or less, if we ramp up nuclear power programs.

    3. The overall cost of new nuclear facilities, which is prohibitive. On this point, I recently read an interesting report commissioned by the State of California which makes this point in quite neutral detail; see http://www.library.ca.gov/crb/02/08/02-008.pdf.

    Also, Ed Cutlip recently posted an excellent synopsis of Jon Wellinghof’s assessment that there is probably no need to build additional nuclear or coal power plants in the US. See http://www.mediamouse.org/news/2009/04/no-nuclear-plants-needed.php for this article and its links to additional information.

    4. Regulatory issues. A question: If someone ran over your child with a car, and he/she was only required to pay a small fine and attend counseling as a result, and nine years later that person had not even started the counseling, and was still piling up tickets for reckless driving, would that seem like a good outcome to you? That’s the Indian Point story in a nutshell, and I find it jarring to believe that someone as intelligent as you thinks it shows evidence of a working system. Also, factoring in “adversarial” elements is simply saying that the NRC doesn’t or won’t do its job without the “help” of whistleblowers from the outside. This is hardly an argument supporting the efficiency of the system.

    5. Safety issues: Please see my previous questions and comments about cancer clusters. I understand that these are difficult to pinpoint to nuclear facilities—much to the relief, I’m sure, of the NRC and the nuclear industry, which works very hard to make the point that one can’t be 100% sure that these increasing clusters aren’t all “anomalies.”

    But I think that the real crux of our disagreement rests in this sentence of yours: ”If the risks of substantial nuclear power industry are an order of magnitude lower than the natural radiation risks of moving from grand rapids to denver, I am willing to accept those risks, and I feel society should too.”

    The question here is how much risk we’re actually accepting. You state that it’s minimal, and offer your charts as evidence of that, but your models don’t posit any growing risks from the stockpiling of more and more nuclear waste. They don’t take into account issues such as leakage from off-site storage facilities, leakage from on-site storage, and toxins found in run-off, which your industry pretends do not exist. As just one example, are you unaware that some people eat fish? If a billion fish are being killed by Indian Point’s toxins in the Hudson River a year, how many more fish that manage to live until they’re caught end up on dinner tables and as featured entrees in restaurants?

    You believe that your science about an expanding nuclear program creating only acceptable risks is solid. I believe that the science on this is constantly shifting, and also that some of it has been deliberately been obscured to promote commerce and industry interests, especially in the United States.

    A case in point: Tritium. Until late in 2007, tritium, which is found in concentrated amounts near nuclear power plants, was thought to be relatively benign: a toxin that, yes, got into the human body, but only in the soft tissues and was quickly processed and discharged, leaving only trace amounts. But in November of 2007, the UK completed a study which found that cancer risks for people exposed to tritium was actually TWICE as high as was originally thought. Unfortunately, nuclear power facilities around the world have been releasing huge quantities of tritium into the air and water since the early 1950s, and telling people not to worry about it, as it was harmless.

    Here’s a link to a brief article about the UK study: http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn12984-tritium-hazard-rating-should-be-doubled.html

    Now I’m going to tell you a story. I know someone who grew up in what she considered an idyllic setting. Although she lived near some very upscale communities, she herself was a child of a working-class family that lived on a little cul-de-sac of houses not too far from a beautiful beach. Her home was too remote to receive city water, so all of the homes on the cul-de-sac had well water, which she remembers as being delicious.

    Then her family’s life started falling apart. Her mother and father both developed a rare strain of cancer, which was odd because there was no significant history of cancer in either of their families. By the time her mother was put into hospice, my friend discovered that she had the same cancer. Her cancer went into remission, but both of her parents died. Then her sister, who had just had a child, learned that she, too had cancer. So does the nephew.

    A very odd anomaly, right? Except that neighbors on that small cul-de-sac, who also had wells, discovered that members of their families had the same type of cancer. However, even taken all together, they’ve been told that they are not “statistically significant.”

    That lovely beach, by the way, is just down the coast from a nuclear power facility.

    In 2008, after decades of demands, pleading, threats, and protests by area residents, the oh-so-efficient NRC told the power plant that it had to drill a test well. The water in the test well was lousy with tritium. The nearby towns were highly relieved to find that the tritium had not invaded city water supplies. But of course, my friend’s family, and her neighbors, didn’t have city water. They had wells.

    You ended your post by commenting that unless I was radical enough to completely back away from all modern conveniences, you just didn’t see how I could examine the risks of nuclear power and not see it as “a sensible means of energy production.” You mentioned in a previous post that you have taught, and that you work internationally in the field of nuclear energy. I think you’re used to talking about this subject with 1) students who are anxious to recycle back to you all of your opinions in order to get good grades, and 2) colleagues who whole-heartedly agree with you. It was also clear from a comment you made earlier in a post (tied to a reference from one of my favorite books of all time) that you have no patience with what you consider to be antinuclear fanatics “on the left” and have therefore spent little time studying information from “the left” on these topics.

    But I doubt, Gavin, that you’ve ever looked into the eyes of someone whose family had bought all the comforting government and industry fairy tales about how living near a nuclear plant would cause no higher risk than, say, moving from Grand Rapids to Denver; who were told that their well water was perfectly safe; and who then got then the news that a nearby test well showed massive evidence to the contrary—-decades too late to save my friend, her sister and her parents; two years too late to save her nephew.

    So maybe you should head out to that little cul-de-sac. Gather up what’s left of my friend’s family and her neighbors’ families, and hand out your chart and explain to them why the fact that they all have cancer due to their tritium-laced wells probably has nothing to do with the nuclear power facility with its poisonous test well a few miles up the road. Tell them that their fate is the product of “acceptable risks” that they should be happy to embrace. See how many buyers you have for your theories in that audience.

    Your puzzlement about my own attitude is simply due to the fact that here on this site, unlike in your day-to-day life, you’re no longer preaching to the choir.

  13. @ Gavin,

    First of all, thanks for responding. And thanks for your explanation of the discrepancy between the 87% and 76% figures for power in France; that is interesting and perfectly logical. I took a look at the new chart that you posted as well.

    You noted in your post that you would take the time to respond to particular points from the CAP report. The ones in which I am most interested are actually points I’ve made in previous posts to which you have not responded:

    The breakdown of even state-of-the-art storage facilities for nuclear waste, resulting in issues such as groundwater contamination.

    >This is precisely the work I’m doing right now. (a comparison of the various national agencies model’s for the behavior of a particular nuclide leaking from a long term waste repository, looking at the sources of differences between models and uncertainty in the predictions)

    >Even high level radioactive waste (taken as a whole) decays exponentially with time. After a few hundred years a very large percentage of the waste will have decayed. By the time leaks occur, only nuclides with very long halflifes will be around. Generally the longer the halflife, the less energetic the radiation because the atom was closer to stability.

    >We can build repositories well enough that I suspect significant leaks won’t occur for thousands of years. (think about the Egyptians, if a drum of waste had been stored with king Tut it would have been intact when we broke back into the tomb, and we’re now better engineers than they were.

    >That said, eventually, we’d expect leaks . The way we model these eventual risks does things like assume there are still people around at this point who use groundwater wells to irrigate their crops. Personally, I suspect in a thousand years we’ll either be able to cope with the problem with ease, or we’ll have much larger problems because life has returned to being nasty, brutish, and short.

    2. The possibility, proposed by a number of different scientists, that the Earth’s supply of uranium will be depleted, possibly in decades or less, if we ramp up nuclear power programs.

    >The earth’s crust is x% uranium. The earth’s crust’s mass is x. Look up these numbers, multiply them together and that’s a lot of uranium. This isn’t an area of expertise of mine but I’m not too worried. Techniques for mineral extraction improve continually. Finally, you can run a plant on things besides Uranium and you can design reactors to produce more fuel than they consume.

    3. The overall cost of new nuclear facilities, which is prohibitive. On this point, I recently read an interesting report commissioned by the State of California which makes this point in quite neutral detail; see http://www.library.ca.gov/crb/02/08/02-008.pdf.

    >This is too far outside my area of expertise to address.

    Also, Ed Cutlip recently posted an excellent synopsis of Jon Wellinghof’s assessment that there is probably no need to build additional nuclear or coal power plants in the US. See http://www.mediamouse.org/news/2009/04/no-nuclear-plants-needed.php for this article and its links to additional information.

    > There was zero information content in this post. I don’t think we should just assume any problems with renewable will be overcome in the near future. 40 years ago someone could have written the same thing but with fusion power. “We may not need new nuclear/coal plants, we’ll have fusion any day now” The numbers cited are kind of silly because of course there are huge reservoirs energy in wind/sun/etc, the question is can we turn it into baseline power, the answer to which, at the moment is no. Though again, I’m all for working to change that.

    4. Regulatory issues. A question: If someone ran over your child with a car, and he/she was only required to pay a small fine and attend counseling as a result, and nine years later that person had not even started the counseling, and was still piling up tickets for reckless driving, would that seem like a good outcome to you? That’s the Indian Point story in a nutshell, and I find it jarring to believe that someone as intelligent as you thinks it shows evidence of a working system. Also, factoring in “adversarial” elements is simply saying that the NRC doesn’t or won’t do its job without the “help” of whistleblowers from the outside. This is hardly an argument supporting the efficiency of the system.

    > The first analogy is too poor to answer. As far as adversarial systems go, yes. I am convinced adversarial systems are the most efficient. This is basically how evolution, the courts, and our political system work. I could write more, but I think it’s pretty clear.

    5. Safety issues: Please see my previous questions and comments about cancer clusters. I understand that these are difficult to pinpoint to nuclear facilities—much to the relief, I’m sure, of the NRC and the nuclear industry, which works very hard to make the point that one can’t be 100% sure that these increasing clusters aren’t all “anomalies.”

    >I’m certain most cancer clusters are anomalies. If they aren’t you should be able to use statistics to prove it. If you look around 50 power plants, you’ll find 25 of them have higher than average cancer rates in the near field. One or two might have much higher. Now you could shout “cancer cluster!” or you could realize that you are seeing a normal distribution.(I’m not saying they all are unreal, just that you need to be able to demonstrate significance with science.) And the fact is, radiation risks are so low compared to the base cancer risks, that demonstrating significance is hard, but if there was a large risk it would be much easier to statistically show it. The fact that it is hard to make a statistical case is evidence that the risks are small.

    But I think that the real crux of our disagreement rests in this sentence of yours: ”If the risks of substantial nuclear power industry are an order of magnitude lower than the natural radiation risks of moving from grand rapids to denver, I am willing to accept those risks, and I feel society should too.”

    The question here is how much risk we’re actually accepting. You state that it’s minimal, and offer your charts as evidence of that, but your models don’t posit any growing risks from the stockpiling of more and more nuclear waste. They don’t take into account issues such as leakage from off-site storage facilities, leakage from on-site storage, and toxins found in run-off, which your industry pretends do not exist. As just one example, are you unaware that some people eat fish? If a billion fish are being killed by Indian Point’s toxins in the Hudson River a year, how many more fish that manage to live until they’re caught end up on dinner tables and as featured entrees in restaurants?

    >A quick google confirmed what I suspected , these large fish kills are related to discharging warm water into the river or fish getting sucked into the water intake system. Not radiation, not toxins. My question to you: If my statement is correct about the risks being smaller than variations in the natural background, would you be in favor of more nuclear power?

    You believe that your science about an expanding nuclear program creating only acceptable risks is solid. I believe that the science on this is constantly shifting, and also that some of it has been deliberately been obscured to promote commerce and industry interests, especially in the United States.

    A case in point: Tritium. Until late in 2007, tritium, which is found in concentrated amounts near nuclear power plants, was thought to be relatively benign: a toxin that, yes, got into the human body, but only in the soft tissues and was quickly processed and discharged, leaving only trace amounts. But in November of 2007, the UK completed a study which found that cancer risks for people exposed to tritium was actually TWICE as high as was originally thought. Unfortunately, nuclear power facilities around the world have been releasing huge quantities of tritium into the air and water since the early 1950s, and telling people not to worry about it, as it was harmless.

    >A low risk times two can still be a low risk. (If I buy two lottery tickets my chances are TWICE as high to win!) You should be happy dedicated radiation scientists are working at improving our knowledge of radiation risks. (If there was some powerful cabal suppressing the risks of radiation you wouldn’t think they’d get away with making such a change) Related, about 20 years ago we realized the natural background dose was about 40% higher than we thought due to radon gas, a uranium series decay product.(Talk about scary, if a radon atom decays in your lungs it turns from a gas into a solid that will sit in your lungs and undergo another 10 or 20 radioactive decays in series before it turns to lead)

    Here’s a link to a brief article about the UK study: http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn12984-tritium-hazard-rating-should-be-doubled.html

    Now I’m going to tell you a story. I know someone who grew up in what she considered an idyllic setting. Although she lived near some very upscale communities, she herself was a child of a working-class family that lived on a little cul-de-sac of houses not too far from a beautiful beach. Her home was too remote to receive city water, so all of the homes on the cul-de-sac had well water, which she remembers as being delicious.

    Then her family’s life started falling apart. Her mother and father both developed a rare strain of cancer, which was odd because there was no significant history of cancer in either of their families. By the time her mother was put into hospice, my friend discovered that she had the same cancer. Her cancer went into remission, but both of her parents died. Then her sister, who had just had a child, learned that she, too had cancer. So does the nephew.

    A very odd anomaly, right? Except that neighbors on that small cul-de-sac, who also had wells, discovered that members of their families had the same type of cancer. However, even taken all together, they’ve been told that they are not “statistically significant.”

    >It may well be it is statistically insignificant. 25% of people die of cancer, in a large population things like this happen, see the cancer cluster bit above. If you have a problem with it, find a flaw in their statistical methodology. Either learn statistics, or hire a statistician. That’s how science works, you can’t make an argument with an anecdote. I’ll help you make an argument. What was the concentration in the wells (in Bq/L)? Find the average human year water intake (in L/yr). Multiply them together and multiply them by 1.8 x 10^-11 (Sv/Bq) and you will have a value for the annual radiation dose experience by your friend in Sieverts. Compare the result to the dose chart I linked earlier.

    That lovely beach, by the way, is just down the coast from a nuclear power facility.

    In 2008, after decades of demands, pleading, threats, and protests by area residents, the oh-so-efficient NRC told the power plant that it had to drill a test well. The water in the test well was lousy with tritium. The nearby towns were highly relieved to find that the tritium had not invaded city water supplies. But of course, my friend’s family, and her neighbors, didn’t have city water. They had wells.

    You ended your post by commenting that unless I was radical enough to completely back away from all modern conveniences, you just didn’t see how I could examine the risks of nuclear power and not see it as “a sensible means of energy production.” You mentioned in a previous post that you have taught, and that you work internationally in the field of nuclear energy. I think you’re used to talking about this subject with 1) students who are anxious to recycle back to you all of your opinions in order to get good grades, and 2) colleagues who whole-heartedly agree with you. It was also clear from a comment you made earlier in a post (tied to a reference from one of my favorite books of all time) that you have no patience with what you consider to be antinuclear fanatics “on the left” and have therefore spent little time studying information from “the left” on these topics.

    >I spoke specifically of the antinuclear left. I’m pretty generally leftwing. What I did is say that the antinuke left fails to understand or appreciate science in exactly the same way as the global warming denying or evolution denying right. As for having no patience, I’ve spent a fair amount of time responding on this forum. (and re: your favorite book, was it Douglas Adams or Terry Pratchett who worked as a spokesman for the british nuclear industry, I forget)

    >While there are probably elements of groupthink in the radiation science community (it’s unavoidable), I think you overestimate it. I know the guy Nevada hired to fight Yucca mountain, and he’s good friends with some of the people fighting for it. He doesn’t feel they’ve made a sufficient safety case, and so he’s fighting it. I doubt you’ve ever been to a scientific meeting if you picture it as a community of people who “wholeheartedly agree” There is nothing that pleases some people more than being able to find flaws in work others are presenting, whether they agree with the conclusions or not.

    But I doubt, Gavin, that you’ve ever looked into the eyes of someone whose family had bought all the comforting government and industry fairy tales about how living near a nuclear plant would cause no higher risk than, say, moving from Grand Rapids to Denver; who were told that their well water was perfectly safe; and who then got then the news that a nearby test well showed massive evidence to the contrary—-decades too late to save my friend, her sister and her parents; two years too late to save her nephew.

    So maybe you should head out to that little cul-de-sac. Gather up what’s left of my friend’s family and her neighbors’ families, and hand out your chart and explain to them why the fact that they all have cancer due to their tritium-laced wells probably has nothing to do with the nuclear power facility with its poisonous test well a few miles up the road. Tell them that their fate is the product of “acceptable risks” that they should be happy to embrace. See how many buyers you have for your theories in that audience.

    >I want to ban cars, I mean sure they get us places, but they kill tens of thousands of people a year. I want you to tell a mother whose children were killed in a car accident that getting you to work faster than walking or biking is worth the risks that killed her child. You are not making reasonable arguments and you continually use the most inflammatory language.

    Your puzzlement about my own attitude is simply due to the fact that here on this site, unlike in your day-to-day life, you’re no longer preaching to the choir.

    >Unfortunately, I seem to be preaching to the deaf. If the data existed, it would be pretty easy to convince me nuclear power isn’t the way to go, but I don’t think any data would convince you its reasonably safe.

  14. Hi, Gavin,

    This is my final post in this thread. You may then have the last word if you’d like it, and I suspect you will. Here’s why I am bowing out:

    1. Your dismissal of information by trivializing it, ignoring it, or insisting that it has no basis in fact. Tritium is not a risk because you and your compatriots say it’s not. Cancer clusters are anomalies (I even predicted you would use that one). Data from left/progressive think tanks like CAP are suspicious and therefore not worthy of address. Etcetera.

    In every post I’ve put up, I’ve introduced additional links, new research, and information that, until your last post, you simply glossed over or refused to address. And even in your last response, there is evidence of casual dismissiveness. Did you even look at the State of California information about the prohibitive cost of new nuclear facilities? Your explanation for not speaking to it was that it was “too far outside” your area of expertise. Well, it’s not my area of expertise, either, but that report was written for government officials, and it’s clear and accessibly presented. I understood the section perfectly.

    I went to considerable lengths to find a resource from a neutral party because you’d complained about some of my other sources being too far to the left to be credible in your opinion. I didn’t do that work just to have it ignored.

    To state, as another example, that Ed Cutlip’s post had “zero information content” is insulting. The point of Ed’s synopsis and the linked information were that an expert in the field was giving his opinion that additional nuclear plants were unnecessary—not just, as you state, because we should turn to renewables, but also because of the expense of building new nuclear facilities. It therefore addressed one of the issues I was trying to discuss with you. If you’d wanted more “content,” you could have easily pulled additional information on Wellinghoff’s positions off the FERC site.

    2. Framing points by remaining deliberately silent on current data. Example: Discussing how to deal with leakages in toxic-waste storage units 1,000 years in the future—implying that’s when they may start leaking–is disingenuous because it brushes aside the fact that these events are happening NOW.

    Long-term storage facilities are leaking NOW in places like The Hague; Asse, Germany; Thorp in the UK; and other sites. In some cases, these sites are recently constructed.

    On-site storage leakages are happening NOW, at plants like Indian Point; Palisades, Yankee Rowe, Big Rock Point, and many, many others. Groundwater contamination is happening NOW, in locations like the Quad Cities, Kewaunee in Wisconsin, Diablo Canyon in California, Braidwood in Illinois, Catawba in South Carolina, and, of course, Indian Point—where in 2007, a continuous leak was discovered in a conduit leading to a containment pool, spilling radioactive waste in transit directly into the ground.

    In North Ayrshire, Scotland, leaks from Hunterston Nuclear Plant are so bad that 81,000 cubic meters of soil are found to be contaminated—after the plant officials lied and said that the contamination field was about one-third that size. One estimate is that it will take 30 years to clean up this single field of contamination. North Ayrshire, like many of the other locations I’ve mentioned, is indeed a place where people are using groundwater to irrigate and grow crops, and I’ve only named a few of the dozens of contaminated areas.

    In every case, independent groups state that contaminations are serious, and people who have a vested interest in the profits of the nuclear industry say that they are unimportant.

    But you know that.

    3. Your attitude. I haven’t addressed this before, because I was trying to focus on issues, but I’d like to mention it now. You’ve been complaining in every post about how “inflammatory” and “combative” you find me.

    Let’s please remember that you were the one who started this dialogue by stating that my information was false (it wasn’t), that I had deliberately phrased an argument to obscure a comparative number (I hadn’t) and that I was despicable.

    You went on to accuse me in later posts of arguing in bad faith, of presenting poor or illogical analogies, of being vague and alarmist, and of being as moronic as the people who deny the existence of global warming.

    In addition, your posts are peppered with condescending remarks, e.g.,“There is no shadowy cabal hiding the secret plans for a 100% efficient nontoxic solar panel that works when it’s cloudy.” “It is not a challenging technical problem to build [a toxic waste storage facility].” “The atmosphere is a huge place!” “You should be happy dedicated radiation scientists are working at improving our knowledge of radiation risks.” “Either learn statistics, or hire a statistician. That’s how science works…”

    Am I to intuit from this that you feel you’re allowed to be insulting and demeaning in setting the tone of a discussion, and in return you expect politeness, deference, and perhaps a soupcon of awe at your credentials and intellect?

    Seriously, Gavin. If you’re going to dish it out, at least man up enough to take it.

    4. This is a minor point, but your insistence that you’re “pretty left-wing” is, well, difficult for me. Left of what, exactly? Here’s an analogy, perhaps one that should make sense to you, since you’re from this area. If you’re a member of the Reformed Church of America, you could say that you were to the left of a member of the Christian Reformed Church. But that would not make you left-wing.

    I feel safe in saying that no progressive, let alone any anarchist, who I know would profit from, support, defend, or associate themselves in any way with the nuclear industry.

    Take care.

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