Nuclear Matinee: Ask Dr. Dave Grabaskas, Argonne Nuclear Engineer

At the birthplace of nuclear energy, one man dares to answer all questions nuclear – Dr. Dave Grabaskas of Argonne National Laboratory.

Have a question for nuclear engineer Dr. Dave Grabaskas?  Leave it in the video’s comment section for a chance to have it answered in a follow-up video. You can also submit a question via email.

Thanks to Dr. Dave Grabaskas and thanks to Argonne National Laboratory

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4 Responses to Nuclear Matinee: Ask Dr. Dave Grabaskas, Argonne Nuclear Engineer

  1. Dave,

    I have a son who is a Jr. in high school. He’s interested in pursuing Nuclear Engineering. Would you recommend this path to someone his age given the current challenging environment the nuclear power industry faces? Based on what you see, would you honestly encourage someone to pursue nuclear engineering, or would you send him to a different discipline within engineering?

  2. I expect that in the next generation of nuclear reactors, you will still use plutonium. How will you convince people that they shouldn’t be scared ?

  3. James Greenidge

    Dave, a nice intro and believe me, I love basic science, but educating people on that is not going get U.S. nuclear going instead of running in place. The nuclear community/”industry” has to lay aside presenting the public with cute cartoons of splitting atoms and bluntly take the bull by the horns and preemptively answer the main nine-inch-nails the anti-nukers have out for nuclear power:

    1.) Won’t all nuclear plants eventually be Fukushima or Chernobyl one day because that’s the nature of the beast? Like, didn’t all these experts say mistakes couldn’t happen?

    2.) How super dangerous is nuclear waste and why’s it so hard to stash it away since there’s SO much of it??

    3.) How little radiation does it take to poison the air and oceans and create mutant fish and human births in the future and why should we believe someone like you with skin in the game instead of the media which is sworn to truth and accuracy?

    4.) If nuclear energy is so good, how come movies and TV shows and rock and film stars and even educational shows old and new have nothing good to say about it except it’s unnaturally dangerous and ought only be used sparingly and far far away like on Mars?

    5.) We hear all this talk about Thorium and melted-salt and fusion power but isn’t that just nuclear sneaking under another name — and if they’re really as “safer” as they claim, doesn’t that mean all of today’s nukes are hazardous and gotta be scrapped pronto?

    6.) If fossil fuels have really hurt and killed and sickened as many people as pro-nukers claim then how come we don’t hear about it, but _everybody_ knows Fukushima and Cherboyl’s still poisoning and killing thousands of innocent people a month and ruining crops and seafood and whales under the radar?

    7. If nuclear accidents are so okay and don’t hurt anyone like pro-nukers lie, how come the Japanese are spending fortunes sweeping and vaccuuming dirt and soil and rooftops from Fukushima radiation before letting anyone go home in ten years or so?

    These are eight-hundred pound gorillas that must not be shoved to the room’s rear but up to the front row when first talking or lecturing about nuclear power. It’s the failure not to _volunteer_ addressing these questions outright to a FUD-drenched public which has nuclear power in the precarious public regard and mistrust it has today, even thought nuclear power’s safety and environmental positives and enviable mortality score and worldwide 60 year record is a walkaway winner. It’s crazy that nuclear’s behind the eight ball like this. It never had to be. An aggressive public nuclear education program initiated on the heels of TMI would’ve today seen a public far more understanding and forgiving of the situations that befell SONGS, the New England Yankees and other plants. That the public and media would rather accept the consequences of climate change than tolerate nuclear as a main means to curb it is an alarmingly pitifully state of the science quiotent in this nation and the dangerous susceptibility and gullibity to unproven and groundless claims by parties with philosophical and psychological axes to grind but totally no responsibility to keep the lights on.

    James Greenidge
    Queens NY
    Thanks atomicinsights.com

  4. Dave Grabaskas

    @Jim, Yes I still would. Even though some opportunities have disappeared recently, there is still much work to be done in the sector, and fairly few new qualified replacements for the current aging staff. There is also a whole world of nuclear engineering outside the power reactor field (not to mention that the rest of the world is building plenty of reactors). That said, it is always important to diversify your skills, and one of the highlights of nuclear engineering is that you get exposed to many different aspects of engineering (neutronics, material analysis, power plant thermodynamics, safety analysis, etc.), which is not true of every engineering major.

    PS – It’s also cool getting to tell people you’re a nuclear engineer

    @Michel, Most future reactor designs that use plutonium do so simply to burn it up and get rid of it. So if people are scared of stockpiles of plutonium, then they should support efforts to use it for power generation and conversion.

    @James, ANL must have heard you. They just posted this article yesterday.
    http://www.anl.gov/articles/10-myths-about-nuclear-energy