[LINK] Dangers of Nuclear power

Kim Holburn kim at holburn.net
Wed Mar 30 08:33:08 AEDT 2011


> Japan may have lost race to save nuclear reactor
> Fukushima meltdown fears rise after radioactive core melts through vessel

> The radioactive core in a reactor at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant appears to have melted through the bottom of its containment vessel and on to a concrete floor, experts say, raising fears of a major release of radiation at the site.

On 2011/Mar/29, at 2:06 PM, Robin Whittle wrote:

> Hi Kim,
> You wrote:
>> I find this "dangers of nuclear power" debate fascinating.  Not just
>> on link but clearly the same debate is happening around the world.  I
>> don't think anyone much is changing their minds.  Those who think
>> nuclear power is too dangerous still think so.  Those who think it's
>> safe haven't changed either.
>> What's happened in Japan has clearly stirred the pot though.  The
>> extremes on either side have upped the anti.
> Indeed.  Like quite a few debates about public affairs, politics etc. I
> think there's growing polarisation.  To what extent people's views
> really are polarised is hard to determine, but the more extreme things
> tend to get reported and passed around via mailing lists, Facebook pages
> and the like - so arguably the Internet is acting as an extremism
> amplifier.  There are probably fundamental reasons for extreme positions
> being adopted and extended, irrespective of what communication
> technologies are used.
>> There are people declaring that California is or will be
>> contaminated, others saying that everyone in Japan is perfectly safe
>> while the Japanese government is telling people this is not good and
>> radioactive stuff is leaking out in a big way although there is going
>> to be a lot of water under the bridge, so to speak, before Japan is
>> out of danger.
> I think it is nuts to give "perfectly safe" assurances about Japan since
> we are a long way from having the reactors properly cooled and
> contained, let alone dismantled safely.
>> For all those who say that there are no negatives to Nuclear power
>> and that it's environmentally safe, at the Japanese plant we may be
>> quickly coming to the major elephant in the room.  What do you do
>> with a nuclear plant at the end of its life, with a place and a bunch
>> of stuff too contaminated and too radioactive to allow people to use
>> it for a million years or so?  Or is that half a million years, I
>> forget.
> The shorter the half-life, the more breakdown there is per unit time for
> a given quantity of the material.  Even tens of years is a big problem,
> but nuclear waste needs to be kept safe and to to have its decay heat
> dissipated continually for thousands of years.
> It may be possible to bind all the atoms with chemical bonds, but when
> an atom's nucleus undergoes radioactive decay, it typically becomes the
> nucleus of another element, which probably can't be contained by those
> bonds.
> The electromagnetic and particle emissions (both are ionizing radiation)
> tends to breaking those bonds anyway.
> So there's no reliable way of chemically binding the radioactive stuff.
> This leaves physical containment, which requires security against
> attack, and continual heat dissipation, without any chance of water or
> air mixing with the radioactive material and its sometimes gaseous
> radioactive by-products.
> Since no-one has figured out a good solution, after decades of intensive
> work, I think the problem of long-term nuclear waste storage is properly
> regarded as insoluble.
> Then there are the dangers of reactor failure, attacks by terrorists,
> production of plutonium for weapons etc.
> One unfortunate development, I think, is a new technique for separating
> U235 from the other isotopes:
>  Atomic Vapor Laser isotope separation (AVLIS)
>  Separation of Isotopes by Laser EXcitation (SILEX)
>  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molecular_laser_isotope_separation
>  http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/intro/u-laser.htm
>  http://www.silex.com.au/s03_about_silex/s30_1_content.html
> This may turn out to be easier and more concealable than the currently
> best approach of large numbers of power-hungry centrifuges.
> With sufficient such concentration, natural uranium could be refined to
> the point of making a U235 bomb - about 65kg of highly refined U235 was
> used in the technically very simple Hiroshima bomb:
>  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_boy
> This new refinement technique could make nuclear power marginally more
> attractive, by reducing the costs of producing the low enriched uranium
> (a few percent U235) which is used in reactors.  It could also be used
> by "rogue states" or whatever to make a bulky but effective weapon.
> This is somewhat separate from the problem of the nuclear power industry
> being used to create Plutonium 239 by short-term irradiation of
> naturally abundant U238.  So nuclear power is not the only reason why
> weapons-ready isotopes (U235 and P239) may become increasingly available
> to countries and groups who at present don't have them.
> - Robin
>   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fukushima_I_nuclear_accidents
>   http://www.firstpr.com.au/jncrisis/

Kim Holburn
IT Network & Security Consultant
T: +61 2 61402408  M: +61 404072753
mailto:kim at holburn.net  aim://kimholburn
skype://kholburn - PGP Public Key on request 

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