Physical Insights

An independent scientist’s observations on society, technology, energy, science and the environment. “Modern science has been a voyage into the unknown, with a lesson in humility waiting at every stop. Many passengers would rather have stayed home.” – Carl Sagan

Archive for the ‘anti-nuclear ignorance’ Category

Anti-nuclear quote of the week.

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“Every year Areva, the French conglomerate that handles reprocessing, dumps so much radioactive liquid into the Channel that, says Lochbaum of the Union of Concerned Scientists, “there are certain beaches where the effluent pipe is where you can get a suntan at night.””


What absolutely laughable, ridiculous nonsense. Hell, even Caldicott probably wouldn’t be that stupid. Lochbaum does know what a suntan is, and what causes it, right?

Anti-nuclear quote of the day.

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From a nuclear energy discussion thread over at The Moderate Voice:

Me: ‘The radioactive waste generated from the nuclear reactors at Oklo, two billion years ago, didn’t have containers that could rupture or rust.’

Them: ‘So, was this before the Borh seeded the earth, or after Von Daniken’s ancient astronauts?’

OK, So I didn’t explain in any real detail what the hell I was actually referring to, but I figured that this might catch the reader’s interest or imagination enough for them to do a tiny bit of research.

There’s nothing really scientifically exotic about the Oklo reactors – “enriched” Uranium, water coolant, water moderator, criticality – and lo and behold, you’ve got yourself a nuclear reactor.

Given that understanding them is straightforward, they’re an interesting natural phenomenon, and they give us valuable information about how nuclear fission products migrate in the Earth’s crust and in groundwater, over extremely long geological time scales, timescales more than long enough for even the longest-lived radioactive nuclides to completely decay, I like bringing them up in discussions, as I figure they are a natural phenomenon that even anti-nuclear energy people can find interesting.

Chemical releases from nuclear power plants

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I’m sure many of you have seen this. (Full size poster here.)

They claim to have based this comprehensive list on actual government data.

If anyone knows where any such source data comes from, I’d really like to see it.

Over at Depleted Cranium, they’ve already had a good attempt at exposing the stupidity and ignorance of this campaign.

Nitrogen comprises 78% of Earth’s atmosphere.

All municipal water supplies have Chlorine added to them, and the vast majority have Fluoride added, too.

BULAB 6002 is a liquid cationic polyquaternary ammonium compound, used to control the growth of microorganisms in commercial and industrial water systems, such as cooling towers.

It is approved for use in drinking water in the US by ANSI/NSF.

Many chemicals on the list are indeed used as biocides, corrosion inhibitors, oxygen scavengers and such forth, in the water systems of a nuclear power plant.

Such requirements for controlling the water chemistry are needed at any thermal power plant using water as the working fluid, say for example at any coal-fired power plant.

The list is full of double counting!

Chlorine is double counted, and so is Ammonia. Then they’ve counted Ammonium Hydroxide separately too – ammonia in aqueous solution and Ammonium Hydroxide are the same thing.

One chemical listed – nurobenzene – I’ve never heard of, and neither has Google – other than NRCs records of the submissions from these scientifically illiterate groups.

The list is stacked with Organochlorine insecticides, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and polychlorinated biphenyls – persistent organic pollutants, and real ecological nasties.

Dieldrin, Dioxin, PCB, DDT – any scientifically literate environmentalist should immediately recoil in horror when these names are dropped – and I suspect that’s exactly the whole point of the exercise.

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and dioxins, are often produced, in tiny trace quantities, in any combustion process.

If a security guard at Millstone, say, smokes a cigarette, then there is a release of PAHs into the environment.

But get real. By far the most enormous source of emissions of dangerous, carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons into the atmosphere is the uncontrolled, massive, discharge to the atmosphere of dangerous Fossil Fuel waste.

I don’t quite understand why a nuclear power plant would be using extremely potent organchlorine insecticides – would someone care to tell me?

What IS immediately obvious to me is that Chlordane, banned completely by the EPA in the 1988, or Toxaphene, banned for all uses in the US in 1990, are not being discharged by the Millstone Nuclear Power Plant.

Chemistry is scary!

I’m particularly interested in hearing about this issue from those who actually have real-world experience with nuclear power plants. Here in Australia, people with that experience are difficult to find.

Exactly what types of unusual chemicals are being discharged into the environment, in what quantities, from nuclear power plants, aside from the obvious ones like water vapor, detergent in the waste water from employees having a shower or rinsing a coffee mug?

Written by Luke Weston

August 18, 2007 at 7:41 am