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Overview of Nuclear Environments

Overview of Nuclear Environments

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Overview of Nuclear Environments

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  1. Overview of Nuclear Environments

  2. Overview Nuclear Environments has traditionally had the following elements: Introduction to the Atomic Age • From unlimited energy “too cheap to measure” to nuclear powered ears with virtually unlimited mileage • The nuclear age was ushered in with great optimism for benefitting humankind

  3. Nuclear Weapons • The weaponization of the atom for national security purposes under conditions of great secrecy was overshadowed by the use of two nuclear bombs to end World War II: An issue very relevant in this era is whether there will be the use of a third bomb in anger, and how to prevent it. • Nuclear weapons become the weapons of choice during the Cold War nuclear arms race between the USSR and its allies and the United States and its allies from the end of World War II to the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.

  4. The Cold War and Nuclear Weapons • The Cold War ushered in such a period of intense competition that the world soon found itself with 50,000 nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons had a delivery system and not all of them needed an authorization for launch by the Commander-in -Chief and not all of them were capable of being recalled if they had been launched in error. The destructive dynamics of the nuclear arms race are explained by John Holdren, President Obama’s Science Adviser, in an interview with Professor Whiteley recorded at the height of the Cold War. 

  5. Possession Nuclear Weapons is Dangerous • Nuclear weapons are very dangerous to their possessors. For example, a B52 Bomber of the United States loaded with nuclear weapons disintegrated over a farm in North Carolina. Two hydrogen bombs fell to the ground with six of the seven required safety switches having successfully closed in order to allow the bombs to detonate.

  6. Does the fact that nuclear weapons are very dangerous to their possessors surprise you? • Yes • No • Do not know enough yet

  7. Production of Nuclear Weapons • The production of nuclear weapons is also a dangerous process for the possessors. Case studies will be compared and contrasted of plutonium production sites in the United States (Hanford in the State of Washington) and in Russia/Soviet Union (Chelyabinsk at the edge of Siberia). • A case study of Rocky Flats nuclear weapons production site near Denver, Colorado will be studied for the dangers it posed of off-site contamination, for the danger to workers and to the resistance by the government -- to citizen influence and expressions of concern in a democratic society.

  8. The Promise of Nuclear Power At the dawn of the nuclear age nuclear power was expected to be an unparalleled boon to human welfare. The Eisenhower era Atoms for Peace program represented the outreach to the world in the 1950s including ironically Iran

  9. Unsolved Nuclear Waste Disposal Challenge • Sixty plus years after the beginning, there are great obstacles to the future of nuclear power. The world has yet to find a satisfactory method of dealing with the long-term safe storage of spent nuclear power fuel which is hazardous for 240 thousand years.

  10. In the United States a principal reason for the failure to find a satisfactory solution to the spent nuclear fuel problem is that it had been dealt with politically rather than scientifically

  11. Does the existence of this fact surprise you? • Yes • No • Do not know enough yet

  12. Production of Nuclear Weapons • The production of nuclear weapons is also a dangerous process for the possessors.

  13. A case study of Rocky Flats nuclear weapons production site near Denver, Colorado will be studied for the dangers it posed of off-site contamination, for the danger to workers and to the resistance by the government -- to citizen influence and expressions of concern in a democratic society.

  14. The Promise of Nuclear Power • At the dawn of the nuclear age nuclear power was expected to be an unparalleled boom to human welfare. The Eisenhower era Atoms for Peace program represented the outreach to the world of the 1950s including ironically Iran

  15. Unsolved Nuclear Waste Disposal Challenge • Sixty plus years after the beginning, there are great obstacles to the future of nuclear power. The world has yet to find a satisfactory method of dealing with the long-term safe storage of spent nuclear power fuel which is hazardous for 240 thousand years.

  16. In the United States a principal reason for the failure to find a satisfactory solution to the spent nuclear fuel problem is that it had been dealt with politically rather than scientifically

  17. Does the existence of this fact surprise you? • Yes • No • Do not know enough yet

  18. Nuclear Power Environmental Catastrophes • Two case studies illustrate the profound negative consequence of nuclear power environmental catastrophes: Chernobyl in the former Soviet Union in 1986 and Fukushima in Japan in 2011. The opportunity is to compare and contrast the causes and consequences and to identify how they could have been prevented.

  19. Does it surprise you that they represent what Kai Erikson called a “new species of trouble” for humankind: the ”all clear new sounds”? • Yes • No • Not know enough yet

  20. Does it surprise you how easily each of the environmental catastrophes could have been prevented? • Do no know enough yet to make a informed judgment • There is no “B” yet

  21. Nuclear Power Economic Disasters • Three case studies illustrate the potential for economic disaster: the Shoreham Plant on New York’s Long Island, French nuclear power as of 2015, and San Onofre on the Southern California coast currently (and forever) closed

  22. Who should bear the negative financial consequences of nuclear power economic disasters? • The rate payers who were to benefit from the availability of electronic power? • The owners of the utility who in turn owned the plant and were to receive return on investment • The regulatory agency who approved the construction and authorized the opening?

  23. Who is to blame for nuclear power economic disasters? • The ratepayers? • The owners? • The regulators?

  24. Prospects fort the Revival of Nuclear Power in America • The case study of the Vogtle Plant in Georgia which is currently under construction will be used to identify current major obstacles to the revival of nuclear power in America

  25. Do you believe that the federal government should subsidize with the tax payer funds the construction of nuclear power in America? • Yes • No • Do not know enough yet

  26. The Economist on Nuclear PowerCirca 1986 (on month before Chernobyl) • The way forward for a somewhat moribund nuclear industry is “…to get plenty of nuclear plants built, and then to accumulate, year after year, a record of no deaths, no serious accidents--and no dispute that the result is cheaper energy.”

  27. Questions About the 1986 Recommendations • Question 1: From the perspective of hindsight, was this advice credible in general in your estimation? • A .Yes • B. No • C. Have not formed a conclusion

  28. Question 2: Was the advice sound to “get plenty of plants built”? • A .Yes • B. No • C. Have not formed a conclusion

  29. Question 3: Was the advice sound to accumulate a record of “…no deaths,--no serious accidents”? • A .Yes • B. No • C. Have not formed a conclusion

  30. Question 4: Is it credible in an age of global warming to require that the nuclear be a cheaper source of energy? • A .Yes • B. No • C. Have not formed a conclusion

  31. Question 5: If the nuclear power industry had been successful in accomplishing the tasks prescribed by The Economist in 1986, from the perspective of hindsight, would this have been enough to secure a sound foundation for the future of nuclear power? • A .Yes • B. No • C. Have not formed a conclusion

  32. Question 6: Would you want the Congress to vote to use taxpayer dollars to subsidize the development of energy sources for America’s future energy needs? • A .Yes • B. No • C. Have not formed a conclusion

  33. Question 7: Would you want the Congress to vote to use taxpayer dollars to subsidize the development of sustainable (solar, wind, hydrogen) energy sources for America’s future energy needs? • A .Yes • B. No • C. Have not formed a conclusion

  34. Question 8: Would you want the Congress to vote to use taxpayer dollars to subsidize the development of nuclear energy sources for America’s future energy needs? • A .Yes • B. No • C. Have not formed a conclusion

  35. Question 9: Would you want the Congress to vote to use taxpayer dollars to subsidize the development of clean coal energy sources for America’s future energy needs? • A .Yes • B. No • C. Have not formed a conclusion

  36. Question 10: Would you want the Congress to vote to use taxpayer dollars to subsidize the development of fossil fuels (gas, oil)energy sources for America’s future energy needs? • A .Yes • B. No • C. Have not formed a conclusion

  37. Question 11: Do you concur with the vote of California government to block the construction of more nuclear power plants until the federal government solves the problem of long-term storage of spent nuclear fuel? • A .Yes • B. No • C. Have not formed a conclusion

  38. Question 12: If the nuclear industry were to propose the introduction of the new generation of safer reactors (which by design cannot explode) would you support a subsidy of taxpayer dollars to aid in construction? • A .Yes • B. No • C. Have not formed a conclusion

  39. Question 13: Would you support paying more for electricity in order to not have your energy source emit greenhouse gases? • A .Yes • B. No • C. Have not formed a conclusion

  40. Question 14: Would you support a waiver of the requirement of a ban on new construction until the nuclear waste problem is solved? • A .Yes • B. No • C. Have not formed a conclusion

  41. Question 15: Do you believe that while nuclear power will not go away, its role may never be more than marginal? • A .Yes • B. No • C. Have not formed a conclusion

  42. Question 16: Do you believe that for nuclear to play a greater role, it either must get cheaper or other ways of generating electricity must get more expensive? • A .Yes • B. No • C. Have not formed a conclusion

  43. Question 17: Do you believe other ways of generating electricity will get more expensive? • A .Yes • B. No • C. Have not formed a conclusion

  44. Nuclear Waste Disposal • The case study of the ill-fated Yucca Mountain repository in the state of Nevada will be used to illustrate the causes and consequences of dealing with the long-term disposal of nuclear waste in America politically rather than scientifically.

  45. Who should decide on the location or locations for the long-term repositories for hazardous spent nuclear fuel? A. The federal government? B. State governments? C. Generators of spent nuclear fuel? D. Have not yet decided?

  46. Is the state of California acting prudently and properly in passing a law forbidding the construction of new nuclear power plants in California until the nuclear waste problem is solved? • A. Yes • B. No • C. Not yet decided

  47. Do you favor the storage of San Onofre’s spent nuclear fuel on the plant site for the next 240 thousand years? • A. Yes • B. No • C. Realistic choices not yet clear

  48. In this age of terror, do you favor moving spent nuclear fuel up the 5 freeway on its way to a disposal site somewhere else? • A. Yes • B. No • C. Choices not yet clear

  49. Who should pay for the $7 billion cost of the premature closure of San Onofre? • A. Rate payers • B. Owners • C. Mitsubishi • D. Taxpayers