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Thread: Touring Chernobyl In 2010

  1. #51
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    BTW can we edit things again for more than 30s? or at least remove the edit button?
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  2. #52

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    Quote Originally Posted by cutterjohn View Post
    Michael, do you speak Russian/Ukrainian or did you reall just take the trip for the hell of it?

    (or have Ukrainian family?)
    I speak very little Russian (about what you can learn in a week or two) and no family or anything else over there... Chernobyl's just been interesting.

  3. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by cutterjohn View Post
    Grow up. I expect that your next post will be interpreted through signal drums unless you were merely being facetious.
    The one to grow up is you. Making nonsense posts and if you are asked to provide some clear readings you bully around. Now that's the definition of an asshole right there (or troll, choose what you like better).

  4. #54
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    I read a lot about nuclear power and the Chernobyl accident. Here are some interesting bits.

    1. Only 58 people died in the accident. It was also the only time when a member of the public was killed by an accident at a nuclear power plant. No other accident at any nuclear plant caused any deaths among the public. (There were a few incidents where workers died). Compare this to over 1 million deaths *annually* from coal burning.

    2. Reprotedly, the residual radiation will eventually cause 4000 fatal cancers, among 600 000 most exposed people. However, 100 000 of those people would die from cancer anyway, even if no accident happened. The cancer effect is undetectable.

    3. Chernobyl is not a "radioactive wasteland", it's actually more like a nature preserve. Most photos on the web are from winter or early spring tours of the area, because in the summer it's lush with greenery and doesn't look postapocalyptic at all. Once the people left the zone, several large species of animals moved in: wild boars, deer, wolves, lynx, elk, black storks, eagles, Przewalski's horses, and even bears. More info on this subject:
    http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE52470D20090306
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4923342.stm
    http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=11318
    Note: anti-nuclear activists vehemently deny the above, even though it's obvious that animals are thriving in the zone. They're using studies with dubious methodologies claiming that e.g. there are more deformities among the animals, but the effect is never quantified. Here is an example of propaganda with little substance:
    http://www.abc.net.au/science/articl...18/2519385.htm

    4. Everybody thinks nuclear waste is a big problem, but because uranium is so energy-dense, the quantity of waste is very small. If all electricity you used was nuclear, you would produce about a soda can of waste per year. This volume can be reduced to about a tenth by reprocessing.

    5. Uranium from seawater can be extracted at about 300$/kg using a chemical asdorbent - comparable to prices in 2007, which are now falling - and it's renewable, because rivers wash 6500 tons of uranium into the ocean every year. This process will continue until a large portion of uranium in the Earth's crust erodes.

    6. 6500 tons of U per year can supply more than the world's current total electricity production, if used in breeder reactors. Seawater uranium could last longer than the Sun.
    http://www-formal.stanford.edu/jmc/progress/cohen.html

    7. Nuclear power plants require less concrete and steel than wind and solar farms that provide the equivalent amount of power.

  5. #55
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    Talking about wastelands... Yesterday I went for a walk to one district of Vilnius, and interestingly I found basically the same thing you see in Chernobyl - empty, abandoned industrial plants with signs of decay, broken windows etc. Those didn't fall because of radiation, but instead due to the crisis followed by the fall of the Soviet Union. Those plants didn't manage to change their strategy enough to survive and went bankrupt, with the buildings being forgotten. It's strange that they weren't taken down yet and nothing else wasn't built in their place, knowing that the land there is really expensive.
    The buildings there are also protected by walls, and are on both sides of the river. So it also felt pretty similar there, and the views were similar to what I saw in the pictures here, with decayed stairs, on-ground pipes that go seemingly nowhere, abandoned buildings and such...
    I've found a picture of one building there, although it doesn't show the full picture:
    http://static.panoramio.com/photos/o...l/31385659.jpg
    Naturally, there aren't many pictures of that place since it's quite remote and it doesn't show the brightest side of the city.

  6. #56
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tweenk
    1. Only 58 people died in the accident. It was also the only time when a member of the public was killed by an accident at a nuclear power plant. No other accident at any nuclear plant caused any deaths among the public. (There were a few incidents where workers died). Compare this to over 1 million deaths *annually* from coal burning.
    Right, I don't know about those numbers, but you will also want to take into account the number of deaths from, say, wind farms, as well as those from uranium mining.

    2. Reprotedly, the residual radiation will eventually cause 4000 fatal cancers, among 600 000 most exposed people. However, 100 000 of those people would die from cancer anyway, even if no accident happened. The cancer effect is undetectable.
    I don't think the fact that they were going to die anyway has any bearing on the 4000 fatal cases caused by the radiation.

    3. Chernobyl is not a "radioactive wasteland", it's actually more like a nature preserve. Most photos on the web are from winter or early spring tours of the area, because in the summer it's lush with greenery and doesn't look postapocalyptic at all. Once the people left the zone, several large species of animals moved in: wild boars, deer, wolves, lynx, elk, black storks, eagles, Przewalski's horses, and even bears. More info on this subject:
    http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE52470D20090306
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4923342.stm
    http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=11318
    Note: anti-nuclear activists vehemently deny the above, even though it's obvious that animals are thriving in the zone. They're using studies with dubious methodologies claiming that e.g. there are more deformities among the animals, but the effect is never quantified. Here is an example of propaganda with little substance:
    http://www.abc.net.au/science/articl...18/2519385.htm
    Excuse me? Out of the 4 links above, only the last one corresponds to an article in an academic journal. And yet that's the one you tag as "propaganda with little substance".

    4. Everybody thinks nuclear waste is a big problem, but because uranium is so energy-dense, the quantity of waste is very small. If all electricity you used was nuclear, you would produce about a soda can of waste per year. This volume can be reduced to about a tenth by reprocessing.
    I don't know about cans of soda. However: "In the United States alone, the Department of Energy states there are 'millions of gallons of radioactive waste' as well as 'thousands of tons of spent nuclear fuel and material' and also 'huge quantities of contaminated soil and water'." (Wikipedia, Radioactive waste article, Legacy waste section, link from the US Dept. of Energy and Environmental Management).


    5. Uranium from seawater can be extracted at about 300$/kg using a chemical asdorbent - comparable to prices in 2007, which are now falling - and it's renewable, because rivers wash 6500 tons of uranium into the ocean every year. This process will continue until a large portion of uranium in the Earth's crust erodes.
    From a 2003 OECD & IAEA report: "Research in Japan has hinted that it is possibe to tap the vast resources of uranium contained in the world's oceans. At present, only laboratory-scale quantities have been extracted and the cost of extraction is estimated to be very high, on the order of USD 300/KgU". The same report, referring to the recovery of uranium from phosphates, a technology which it describes as being mature, says "but high recovery costs limit the utilisation of these resources, with estimated production costs for a new 100 tU/year project, would be in the range of USD 60-100/KgU including capital investment". And this is 3-5 times cheaper than extracting it from the sea. You make your conclusions.

    From the executive summary of that report:

    As currently projected, uranium production capabilities including existing, committed, planned and prospective production centres supported by Known Conventional Resources [...] cannot satisfy projected future world uranium requirements in either the low or high demand cases. Thus, secondary sources, i.e., excess commercial inventories, the expected delivery of Low Enriched Uranium derived from highly enriched uranium warheads, re-enrichment of tails and spent fuel reprocessin, are necessary to ensure adequate supplies in the near-term.

    However, secondary sources are expected to decline in importance, particularly after 2020, and reactor requirements will have to be increasingly met by the expansion of existing production capacity, together with the development of additional production centres or the introduction of alternate fuel cycles.[...]

    World electricity use is expected to continue growing over the next several decades to meet the needs of an increasing population and economic growth. Nucear electricity generation will continue to play an important role, although the magnitude of that role remains uncertain.

    Regardless of the magnitude of that role [...], the uranium resource base described in this document is adequate to meet future projected requirements. However, questions remain as to whether these resouces can be developed within the timeframe required to meet future uranium demand.
    In any case, what I'd like to see is an economic study comparing all the alternatives in energy production, including the extraction of raw materials, design of power stations, maintenance, decommissioning and waste treatment costs.

    6. 6500 tons of U per year can supply more than the world's current total electricity production, if used in breeder reactors. Seawater uranium could last longer than the Sun.
    http://www-formal.stanford.edu/jmc/progress/cohen.html
    Perhaps, but here, as others in this thread, you are advocating the use of nuclear energy with arguments that refer to technology that is not feasible currently. In the same vein, I advocate photovoltaic or even nuclear fusion, since it's almost sure they will both get to a point where they can be made commercially viable. With the added benefit that these two technologies really are clean and inexhaustible, and in the first case at least (not so sure about the second), not linked to obnoxious nuclear weapons programs.

    7. Nuclear power plants require less concrete and steel than wind and solar farms that provide the equivalent amount of power.
    I don't see what relevance these data have with anything.

  7. #57
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    The biggest problem with non-renewable energy like nuclear energy, is that we will run out of it eventually. It is linked to the bigger problem of overpopulation.The world population will keep rising exponentially for the time being. Power consumption per capita will also continue to rise for the time being. I don't think many people understand what exponential growth means in an environment with fixed resources. Uranium will eventually become very scarce. Since there is only 5 times as much thorium as uranium, very soon after that thorium will become scarce. So scarce that it's not economical anymore to use it for generating energy. There is no real difference between nuclear energy and fossil fuels in this regard.

    Say we can get a 100 years of economic nuclear energy. We can use nuclear energy until then, and I support that because there is no alternative. But we do need to make sure that once we run out of traditional energy, we have researched and implemented renewable energy across the board. That means putting money into research when the need doesn't appear to be as high as it is. (Remember that exponential growth means that we will suddenly run out of energy very fast.)

    But it won't stop with energy. We will run out of food, because the farms can't sustain our numbers. We will run out of water. We will run out of space. The definitive solution would be to stop having so many babies. Maybe the idea of rubbing your private parts in the foliage next to nuclear power plants isn't as ludicrous as it sounds.

  8. #58
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    Quote Originally Posted by Remco View Post
    Since there is only 5 times as much thorium as uranium, very soon after that thorium will become scarce....

    ...Say we can get a 100 years of economic nuclear energy.
    Where did you hear that statistic about thorium? The statistics I've seen suggest there's several thousand times as much Thorium as Uranium.

    Your underlying point is valid, of course, we will still run out eventually, but there's enough thorium to power civilisation for well over a thousand years.

  9. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by DuSTman View Post
    Where did you hear that statistic about thorium? The statistics I've seen suggest there's several thousand times as much Thorium as Uranium.
    From Wikipedia, of course. Since I wasn't writing a paper, I didn't check sources. But where do you get the thousand years from? A thousand years is a lot of time when the population doubles every 50 years. I don't think you can say anything about a 1000 years from now, because we really don't know what's going to happen. A doubling time of 50 years for 1000 years results in a population of 7 quadrillion people in the year 3000, a number which thorium can't provide for even if there is several thousands as much thorium as uranium. I'm pretty sure Earth can't carry that many people, so something is going to happen. But any estimate about something that far in the future will be very much in the realm of fiction.

  10. #60
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    I rechecked my source (the video I posted earlier in the thread regarding the LFTR reactor), and it seems we're both sortof right - Thorium is about 4x as abundant as Uranium (10ppm thorium vs 2.5ppm uranium), but perhaps more importantly, about 550x as abundant as U-235 specifically (10ppm vs 0.018ppm).

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