Category Archives: nuclear blogsosphere

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 156

ferris wheel 1 220x201It’s time for the 156th edition of the Carnival of Nuclear Energy Bloggers – a weekly compilation of the best pro-nuclear, English-language blogs and articles submitted by authors, editors and publishers.  As was pointed out by Entreprenuclear, this 156th edition actually marks a milestone THREE YEAR anniversary for this popular feature.  Congratulations to all of the steady contributors and hosts are in order on this important date.  Now, let’s get to it!

Atomic Insights – Rod Adams

Crash course in outrage management -  Nuclear professionals have a moral imperative to improve our ability to manage and reduce outrage to a level that is more commensurate with the demonstrably low hazard of our technology. Our technology should be serving people, not causing them to live in fear or causing them to avoid beneficial applications because they have been taught to worry about what might happen if magical forces make layers of steel, water and concrete disappear or if “hot particles” somehow find their way, undetected, into their bodies.

Atomic Show 203 – Globally distributed atomic conversation   All around the world, renewable energy advocates are promoting studies that claim it is feasible to replace our current energy system with one that is completely dependent on renewables – they want people to believe we do not need to use either fossil fuels or nuclear energy.

Attempting to transition away from fossil fuels to an “all renewable” energy system is fraught with cost and reliability challenges. Germany is running into substantial challenges and is burned 5% more lignite – brown coal – in 2012 than it did in 2011. Recently completed studies that including a range of scenarios in Australia and California indicate the magnitude of the challenge of trying to do without both nuclear energy and fossil fuel.

Yes Vermont Yankee – Meredith Angwin

Two guest posts this week from Yes Vermont Yankee:  Guy Page connects Vermont to world events by asking “As Germany goes, so goes Vermont?“  Also, in a separate installment, Willem Post compares an ambitious scheme for offshore wind on the East Coast with the simpler choice of building more nuclear plants.  Nuclear looks better.

The Hiroshima Syndrome – Leslie Corrice

Radiation Fears Continue – F. Daiichi Wastewater Build-up  -  The wastewater buildup problem at Fukushima Daiichi increases with every day that passes.  ALPS will remove all but one of the residual radioactive isotopes; tritium cannot be removed by ALPS.  The total activity of all the tritium at Fukushima Daiichi is one-hundredth of the total natural tritium in the Pacific Ocean.  Regardless, this tritium will keep TEPCO from discharging the water to the sea.

Nuke Power Talk – Gail Marcus

Differentiating Within Energy Technologies: Breaking Down the Monoliths  Gail Marcus picks up on a comment submitted to one of her blogs at Nuke Power Talk and points out that the various energy technologies are not monolithic.  When we speak broadly of nuclear, solar, or wind power, we may be ignoring important differences in the economics or other considerations of specific technologies.  The commenter raised the comparison of photovoltaics to solar water heating, but Gail notes that the same thing may apply for different nuclear or wind power options as well.

Next Big Future – Brian Wang

NASA and Ohio State University research on molten salt reactors for space

EPA guidelines to balance risks during radiation and other crisis situations – because things other than radiation can be the greater dangers

ANS Nuclear Cafe - submissions by Paul Bowersox

What does the future look like at Kewaunee?   Because it doesn’t happen often, decommissioning of nuclear plants is a topic that is rarely covered in any generally accessible way.  Will Davis presents what the known timeline for events are at Kewaunee Generating Station, which shut down for good recently, and shows by example that there are both challenges ahead in the complex (and costly) process and also a number of successful examples setting the precedent  that a natural, “green field” site is absolutely possible after all is said and done.

Energy and Equality  In the US most men support the use of nuclear power as a source of electricity — and a slight majority of women do not.  Suzanne Hobbs Baker on the issue of gender equality, an especially important issue for nuclear professionals in light of the above.

 

That’s it for this week’s Carnival.  We hope you’ve enjoyed the selections, and we look forward to next week’s production sure to include timely events and thought provoking insight — as the Carnival does each and every week.

Carnival of Nuclear Bloggers 148

The 148th edition of the Carnival of Nuclear Bloggers is up now at Hiroshima Syndrome.  Click here to access the site; the Carnival is at the top of the page.

The Carnival this week contains more valuable content on the 2nd anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, specific of course to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident.  Radiation and risk are also discussed, as us uranium mining and mine workers’ health as well as other topics.

Each week, a new edition of the Carnival is hosted at one of the top English-language pro-nuclear blogs.  This rotating feature and the submissions made for inclusion in it represent the dedication and focus of those who believe in nuclear energy and are willing to stand up for it.

Past editions of the carnival have been hosted at Yes Vermont Yankee, Atomic Power Review, ANS Nuclear Cafe, Idaho Samizdat, NEI Nuclear Notes, Next Big Future, Atomic Insights, Hiroshima Syndrome, Things Worse Than Nuclear Power, EntrepreNuke, and CoolHandNuke.

If you have a pro-nuclear energy blog and would like to host an edition of the carnival, please contact Brain Wang at Next Big Future to get on the rotation.

This is a great collaborative effort that deserves your support. Please post a Tweet, a Facebook entry, or a link on your Web site or blog to support the carnival.

What to read about nuclear energy online

How to avoid information overload on the Internet

By Dan Yurman

 One thing I learned in the five years that I published my nuclear energy blog Idaho Samizdat is that there can be too much nuclear information.  This lesson was brought home with the mind-crushing rush of information that hit the wires during the height of the Fukushima crisis.  But what about keeping up with the news on the nuclear industry in ordinary times?

If your employer can afford it, your firm subscribes to one or more of the specialty newsletters that tap in at $2,000 or more per year for a subscription.  In return, readers get detailed, expert news and analysis that would never, ever show up in the mainstream news media.  I worked for such a specialty newsletter for five years and remain grateful for subscriber support since it meant the difference, metaphorically speaking, between a having a roof over my head and sleeping under a bridge.

However, because of copyright restrictions, most of these newsletters contain web beacons or other electronic devices that are designed to stop a firm from buying one subscription and then emailing each issue to its employees.  While there is the copy machine dodge, that is so 20th century.  Plus, waiting for the inter-office mail to deliver a bootleg copy puts you one day behind your electronically wired-in colleagues.

So, what’s a nuclear pro to do to stay current without shelling out the equivalent of a new car lease down payment?  The answer is there are a number of free news services available on the Internet that can go a long way to keep your mental inbox full of interesting stuff.  Here’s a short list of free sources.

Online services

Nuclear Town Hall – This is a seven-day-a-week, and twice-a-day on weekdays, summary of links to business and political news about nuclear energy.  Based in Washington, DC, it has a global perspective and also a special section on nuclear energy OP EDs and opinion pieces.  Resolutely pro-nuclear in every respect it even cites nuclear bloggers when it sees something of interest.  You can read the updates on the website or subscribe to it by email.

World Nuclear News – This is a five-day-a-week service that publishes short news reports about the global nuclear industry.  Based on London, it is available on the website, or via email delivery by the time U.S. readers are pouring their second cup of coffee.  A searchable archive allows readers to dig into the background of breaking news.

NEI Smartbrief – Sponsored by the Nuclear Energy Institute, it picks up news clips from the mainstream media and posts a brief summary of about half a dozen of them a day with links to the original source online.  The brief is published weekdays except major holidays.

Nuclear Power Daily – Like NEI Smartbrief, this daily nuclear news summary relies on wire services and other sources.  Like NEI Smartbrief, it is an advertising supported service.

Google News – Google News allow you to search by keywords and to set up news alerts based on them.  You can set up as many alerts as you want and have the alerts delivered by email or RSS feed.  You can select instant delivery or once a day.

Nuclear Energy blogs are a great source of information often posting news in specialized developments days or weeks ahead of the mainstream news media.  A great starting place is the blog roll list of links here on ANS Nuclear Cafe.

Books

There is another “what to read” issue, and that is how to answer questions from in-laws, friends, and the occasional non-nuclear colleagues who genuinely want to know more about nuclear energy.  Here’s a reading list that you can clip and save.  All of these books are in print and most can be found in a public library or through interlibrary loan.  The major online book selling services stock these volumes.

Three must reads – Start here

The Power to Save the World: The Truth About Nuclear Energy, by Gwyneth Cravens

Terrestrial Energy: How Nuclear Energy Will Lead the Green Revolution and End America’s Energy Odyssey, by William Tucker

Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto, by Stewart Brand

Further reading for generalists

Nuclear Energy: What Everyone Needs to Know, by Charles D. Ferguson

Nuclear Energy in the 21st Century, by Ian Hore-Lacy

The Reporter’s Handbook on Nuclear Materials, Energy, and Waste Management, by Michael Greenberg et.al

Histories

Nuclear Firsts: Milestone on the Road to Nuclear Power Development, by Gail Marcus

The Rickover Effect: How One Man Made a Difference, by Ted Rockwell

Plentiful Energy: The Story of the Integral Fast Reactor, by Charles E. Till and Yoon Il Chang

Nuclear Silk Road: The Koreanization of Nuclear Power Technology, by Byung-Koo Kim

Nonproliferation

Physics for Future Presidents, by Richard A. Muller

The Making of the Atomic Bomb, by Richard Rhodes

The Spread of Nuclear Weapons, by Scott D. Sagan and Kenneth N. Waltz

Single Issues

Radiation and Reason, by Wade Allison

Nuclear Reactions: The Politics of Opening a Radioactive Waste Disposal Site, by Chuck McCutcheon

Uranium: War, Energy and the Rock that Shaped the World, by Tom Zoellner

Sustainable Development / Climate Change

Storms of my Grandchildren, by James Hansen

The GeoPolitics of Energy: Achieving a Just and Sustainable Energy Distribution by 2040, by Judith Wright and James Conca

Sustainable Energy – Without The Hot Air, by David JC MacKay

General Reference

Nuclear Energy Encyclopedia - a single volume - by Steven B. Krivit (Editor), Thomas B. Kingery (Editor), Jay H. Lehr (Series Editor)

& & &

If you have a favorite news source, or best book on nuclear energy, please post your suggestions in the comments.

____________________________

Dan Yurman published the nuclear energy blog Idaho Samizdat from 2007 to 2012.

ANS Meeting Preview: Social Media Gathering

WHO:   Anyone with an interest in use of social media

WHAT:   The ANS Social Media Gathering

WHEN:   Wednesday, November 14, 12 noon – 1 pm (PT)

WHERE:   The ANS Media Center, located in Terrace Salon Room 3.


If you would like to learn more about different social media tools and techniques—this is for you.

If you know more than we do about social media and can tell us a thing or two—this is for you.

If you have ideas of how to use Social Media in its myriad forms to help nuclear professionals to communicate more effectively with the outside world—then please attend.

Attendees are welcome to show up with ideas for discussion, questions, or problems.  This is a casual, interactive, interesting and fun session!

Please note that there is no food service available, so please feel free to bring your own lunch.

Let’s try to make this a session we can all walk away from knowing more than when we went in!

The 129th Carnival of Nuclear Energy Bloggers

The 129th weekly Carnival of Nuclear Energy Bloggers is up at Next Big Future.

The Carnival is the collective voice of blogs by well-respected names that emerge each week to tell the story of nuclear energy.

If you want to hear the voice of the nuclear renaissance, the Carnival of Nuclear Energy Blogs is where to find it.

The publication of the Carnival each week is part of a commitment by the leading pro-nuclear bloggers in North America to speak with a collective voice on the issue of the value of nuclear energy.

While we each have our own points of view, we agree that the promise of peaceful uses of the atom remains viable in our own time and for the future.

Past editions of the carnival have been hosted at Yes Vermont Yankee, Atomic Power Review, ANS Nuclear Cafe, Idaho Samizdat, NEI Nuclear Notes, Next Big Future, and CoolHandNuke, as well as several other popular nuclear energy blogs.

If you have a pro-nuclear energy blog and would like to host an edition of the carnival, please contact Brain Wang at Next Big Future to get on the rotation.

This is a great collaborative effort that deserves your support. Please post a Tweet, a Facebook entry, or a link on your Web site or blog to support the carnival.

 

124th Carnival of Nuclear Bloggers now on line

The 124th weekly Carnival of Nuclear Bloggers is up right now at Atomic Power Review.

Each week, the top voices in the pro-nuclear blogging universe come together to present their top posts of the week.  As a result, the Carnival is THE place to go in order to find out what the most popular voices in the nuclear renaissance are saying.  They usually have a lot to say.

The weekly Carnival posts, due to the diverse backgrounds and disciplines of the authors, have a widely varied background that is certain to present something of interest to anyone curious about nuclear energy, or nuclear energy news.

Support those who contribute to this effort by making it count via social media.  That means make a Tweet, or a Facebook post – even a post on your own blog promoting the Carnival.

Those of us who believe that nuclear energy has a safe, viable place work tirelessly to ensure it retains just that.  The bloggers do it for free on their own sites; recognize their efforts by helping to get the word out!

Past editions of the carnival have been hosted at Yes Vermont Yankee, Atomic Power Review, ANS Nuclear Cafe, Idaho Samizdat, NEI Nuclear Notes, Next Big Future, and CoolHandNuke, as well as several other popular nuclear energy blogs.

If you have a pro-nuclear energy blog and would like to host an edition of the carnival, please contact Brain Wang at Next Big Future to get on the rotation.

Yes Vermont Yankee passes 200K pageview milestone

On Friday, August 31, Yes Vermont Yankee passed a milestone of 200,000 page views. Yes Vermont Yankee covers Vermont energy issues and favors the relicensing of the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant.

Congratulations to Meredith Angwin, the person at the helm of Yes Vermont Yankee, and to all the Yes Vermont Yankee contributors!

Why is there irrational fear of radiation?

Improvements are needed in explaining the significance of the numbers to the public

Editor for this multi-author blog post: Dan Yurman

The Fukushima reactor complex, before March 11, 2011, provided 10% of Japan’s nuclear generated electricity.

The crisis at the Fukushima nuclear reactor complex in Japan, caused by a record earthquake and equally record shattering tsunami, has created a maelstrom of fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) when it comes to radiation measurements.

For instance, the importance of distinctions between fast and slow decaying isotopes of iodine and cesium are sometimes lost on media and the public.

Worse, the differences between accounting for the sheer amount of radiation and giving an assessment of the potential health effects of uncontrolled releases takes place using different sets of measurement units. Is it any wonder that mainstream news media editors get headaches when their reporters file stories about radiation?

It hasn’t helped that Japanese and American nuclear experts have called for different distances for evacuation zones around the plant site. Can we fault the public for concluding that any report about radiation at a nuclear reactor is bad news?

Organizations with agendas that call for removing nuclear reactors from the energy mix have been known to exploit public fears of radiation. In doing so, they’ve sometimes failed to understand the scientific basis for the measurements.

In one case, a critic of a reactor relicensing application, writing in a political news magazine, said that a tritium release was 500 times more than expected, which was none. What he failed to realize is that the measured quantity was still 500 times less than the EPA drinking water standard.

Calling this type of mistake “junk science” misses an important point. What the public thinks is that regardless of how much radiation you are talking about, it is colorless, odorless, and tasteless. FUD fosters fear.

On the other hand, people in the nuclear energy field, who routinely work with some of the most dangerous radioactive materials in the universe, are quite calm about it, citing and practicing the principles of time, distance, and shielding. In fact, some can’t understand what all the panic is about because they know, by the numbers, that the risk isn’t commensurate with the noise level.

Is it time for a change in the way radiation measurements are communicated and explained to the public? At the ANS Social Media list, I asked four contributors to share their views on this question.

These four people have deep insights into the world of nuclear energy, but they also have very different takes on the current systems of radiation measurement and how they are used to explain risk to the public and the press.  In this multi-author guest blog post, an ecologist, a chemist, an energy expert, and a public affairs consultant offer ideas about what to do about making radiation numbers more understandable and, in doing so, foster better public understanding about what they mean.

Is obfuscation deliberate?
~ Stewart Brand

Stewart Brand

The aversion to nuclear would be due to aversion to the uncertainty of radiation risk, itself a product of lack of familiarity with the weird units of measurement.

NO KIDDING! Sieverts, rems, rads, grays, becquerels, curies, and roentgens are reported in their densely confusable forms of milli, micro, and mega. None of them are calibrated around dimensions that might make intuitive sense concerning human safety, and they all obfuscate each other.

Listening to engineers debate about how many microcuries can dance on the head of a megabecquerel all by itself introduces profound dread in anyone listening in.

With its Babel of measurements, the nuclear power industry has guaranteed that all of its communications with the public are maddeningly confusing and frightening.

It is such conspicuously incompetent social engineering that observers understandably suspect that the nuclear engineering behind it is equally incompetent, and that nuclear engineers must hate people.

Stewart Brand, an ecologist, is the author of many books including, most recently, “The Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto” (Amazon) or see his home page.

Stick with health effects measurements
~ Cheryl Rofer

Cheryl Rofer

What people want to know about radiation is whether it’s a danger to them. What they get is numbers with funny units attached. These numbers may be presented as multiples of some standard. But that doesn’t say what the health risks are. Recent changes in the units themselves have provided more confusion, along with the prefixes indicating powers of ten.

Each unit has a use:

  • Monitoring instruments count disintegrations (counts per second, becquerel, curie); roentgens,
  • Rads and grays measure the absorbed energy from those disintegrations; and
  • Rems and sieverts measure the biological dose.

All of which moves toward health effects. But there is a big step missing.

That step is how the biological dose translates into disease, cancer in particular. That translation depends on many factors: the age and sex of the person exposed, the rapidity of the exposure, which part of the body is irradiated, and very likely the basic health of the person exposed and his or her genetic makeup. Even when all that is combined for an individual person, the result is a probability, not a certainty.

I don’t see an easy way to make these units more understandable. But it would help if regulators, engineers, and reporters would stick with sieverts or millisieverts. These are the units and the range most relevant to health effects.

Cheryl Rofer, a chemist, worked at the Los Alamos National Laboratory for 37 years on a variety of projects, many of them related to the nuclear fuel cycle. Her blog is The Phronesisaical, covering politics, philosophy, and fruit

 

 

No one has died from radiation at Fukushima
~ Steve Aplin

Steve Aplin

Why do we fear radiation? Throughout the Fukushima emergency, media stories have reported radiation in terms of picocuries, becquerels, rads, grays, millirems, microsieverts. Few of us know what these units represent; they sound ominous, uncontrollable. They scares us. In the 21st century, with our digital TVs and smart phones, we humans are still afraid of the dark.

There is one measurement, however, that almost nobody has mentioned in the coverage of Fukushima. It is a familiar number—zero. It represents the number of people who have died, so far, from radiation at the plant. That’s right: after five weeks, thousands of hours of broadcast airtime, and millions of newspaper column-inches, zero people have died.

The number zero may be familiar to us today, but it took thousands of years to enter our mathematical lexicon. That’s because as a concept, it is extremely elusive and complex.

Zero’s subtlety may be why “zero deaths by radiation” has so little effect on our gut-level imagination. Contrast that with lurid descriptions of something unknown, out beyond the edge of darkness, beyond our control: something measured in picocuries, microsieverts. That “something” grabs our imagination; its mystery scares us. “Zero deaths” does neither.

Well, when you step down into a dark basement, what’s the quickest way to turn off your fear? Turn on the light. Same with curies, rads, and microsieverts. The light of knowledge will help. Learn about radiation.

When you do, you’ll understand why there have been zero deaths because of radiation at Fukushima.

Steve Aplin is vice president of Energy and Environment at The HDP Group, an Ottawa-based management consultancy. He blogs at Canadian Energy Issues.

Say it simply and say it in English
~ Mimi Limbach

 

Mimi Limbach

The events at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant have brought many technical experts into contact with journalists who have little knowledge of nuclear energy, science, and technology.

Some of these experts are speaking a different language—jargon—than the journalists and the public. Environmentalist Stewart Brand said it better than anyone in a companion blog to this one. I showed his comment to a group attending last week’s ANS Student Conference, and it brought down the house with laughter. As my audience looked sheepishly at each other, it was clear that most people in the room were guilty of using jargon that would be incomprehensible to the public.

Risk communication research tells us that when people hear jargon, they believe the speaker is trying to mislead them. So when you use jargon, you’re also losing credibility with your audience.

Several years ago, I attended a community meeting in Jackson, Wyo., about a controversial facility that was to be built nearby. In the midst of a presentation, the woman sitting next to me said, “What are they hiding from us? Why can’t they just say it in simple English?” The facility was never built.

Jargon is a shortcut for technical professionals … or a very precise way of expressing concepts or measures. It works for technical audiences. But to most people, it is meaningless and insulting.

So, how should technical people make complex ideas meaningful to the public? Use examples and analogies that relate radiation measures to something we all live with in our everyday lives. Say it simply. And say it in English.

Mimi Limbach is a partner at Potomac Communications Group, Washington, DC. Her business blog is From the Potomac.

Last word from blog post editor

All four contributors, coming at the problem from very different perspectives, nevertheless find fault with the way current radiation measurement systems explain their results. The fault finding is not with the internationally accepted scientific measurement units, but rather in communication of the numbers to a skeptical and fearful public.

Until risk communication practice by nuclear regulatory agencies catches up with the public’s needs for understanding, the nuclear industry may paradoxically continue to find itself sliced and diced in the news media by its own measurement precision.

____________________________________________________

Dan Yurman

Dan Yurman publishes Idaho Samizdat, a blog about nuclear energy. From 1994 to 1999 he served as a citizen member of a Federal Advisory Committee to the Centers for Disease Control on radiation health effects studies at Department of Energy sites.