54 thoughts on “Monday message board

  1. With the long delayed public focus on the conditions faced by rural Aboriginal communities, it may also be time to look at the Aboriginal permit system. See http://weekbyweek7.blogspot.com/ for details

    The exclusion of journalists and government officials is particularly restrictive, especially concerning public disclosure.

  2. I do not appreciate how data mining might work. It seems to me, based on overhearing telephone calls in public spaces, there would be a lot of noise. It seems to me it would be easy to escape detection. So, aside from the question of legality, why would the NSA (or whoever) consider this method of pervasive surveyance effective?

  3. gordon, that report from the SDC is a great place to start. With a title of “Sustainable Development Commission” it goes without saying that the report weighs in strongly against the nuclear option. But closer examination of the summary objections is illuminating:

    1. Long-term waste – no long term solutions are yet available, let alone acceptable to the general public; it is impossible to guarantee safety over the long-term disposal of waste.

    That may well be true in the UK, but in Australia we can just dig a ruddy great hole in the middle of the desert and throw the stuff in.

    2. Cost – the economics of nuclear new-build are highly uncertain. There is little, if any, justification for public subsidy, but if estimated costs escalate, there’s a clear risk that the taxpayer will be have to pick up the tab.

    Hmm. I think the unprecedented increase in oil prices is effectively neutering that objection.

    3. Inflexibility – nuclear would lock the UK into a centralised distribution system for the next 50 years, at exactly the time when opportunities for microgeneration and local distribution network are stronger than ever.

    The UK already has a centralized distribution system. As does Australia. This objection is equivalent to “we prefer decentralized distribution so nuclear is bad”. Might as well say “we prefer generating electricity using warehouses full of hamsters on running wheels”. The particular preferences of the Sustainable Development Committee are irrelevant. If they have a decentralized solution, they need to put it forward.

    4. Undermining energy efficiency – a new nuclear programme would give out the wrong signal to consumers and businesses, implying that a major technological fix is all that’s required, weakening the urgent action needed on energy efficiency.

    Au contraire, a new nuclear program would send out the correct message: energy efficiency matters only insofar as inefficient energy use costs (both hip-pocket and the environment).

    5. International security – if the UK brings forward a new nuclear power programme, we cannot deny other countries the same technology*. With lower safety standards, they run higher risks of accidents, radiation exposure, proliferation and terrorist attacks.

    If we provide other countries with new nuclear energy technology, how is that going to increase the probability of accidents and terrorist attacks compared to the alternative, which is to have those countries use old nuclear technology?

    All very coherent stuff. Why didn’t they just write “we don’t like nuclear energy because it allows wicked humans to carry on with impunity their profligate ways” and be done with it? Would have saved the UK taxpayer a lot of money.

  4. With positive thinking like that Dogz you should join Ford Corporation. Prematurely in the 1950s, Ford dumped their plans for the Ford Nucleon

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Nucleon

    This revolutionary concept car was to be powered with a nuclear reactor in the trunk (boot).

    The specifications of the Nucleon called for “an extreme cab-forward style provided more protection to the driver and passengers from the reactor in the rear.”

    It was that kind of negative thinking that killed the project. Who knows, the mutants bred in the back seat may have turned out to be more productive economic actors than conventional humans. More hands (and arms). Even extra heads!

  5. Katz, if you’d seen X-Men you’d know that mutants are vastly more productive than we non-mutants.

  6. Dogz, you still seem to be getting moderated, although I’ve removed both your email and IP address from mu list. I think you tried a few variants when the moderation was put in place, and it may take a while for me to find them all – WordPress is not v helpful on this.

  7. Dogz, I take it that X-Men is science fiction, just like your first contribution to this thread.

  8. Why not cooperate with India on Thorium-fueled reactors?

    Could it be that this is because Australia is trying to capitalise on its uranium reserves despite what sounds like would be a huge advantage with this style of reactor.

    Isn’t this part of the “open and informed debate” Lying Rodent wants us be having?!

    And why not go further – let’s debate if Australia develops its own nuclear weapons, then we need not rely on anyone for our defence, or have any fear of a nuclear Indonesia or China, since we could deliver our own devastating response to any attack.

    In fact we could also go that one step further again and declare our policy to be a nuclear warfighting capability and we’d then be on equal footing to the USA.

    Should not that also be part of the Howard debates on Uranium enrichment? Where are the “hard men” of the Labor right and the Liberal/Nationals on the question of an Aussie nuke?

  9. Why not cooperate with India on Thorium-fueled reactors?

    Could it be that this is because Australia is trying to capitalise on its uranium reserves despite what sounds like would be a huge advantage with this style of reactor.

    Unlikely. Australia has 25% of the known (in 1999) Thorium reserves, 30% of the known Uranium reserves. We win either way.

  10. “WordPress is not v helpful on this.”

    When did bloggers start abbreviating ‘very’? Or was that a typo? If it was an innocent typo then just ignore this comment and make me look foolish please. I think I must be paranoid, maybe I should change my blog name to “blog watch” or “blogosphere watch” or “anti blog blog”.

  11. Dunno about you, Benno, but I’ve been seeing the “v” abbreviation for decades.

    The teachers at my school, for example, tended to write “v. good” at the top of most of my assignments. 😉

  12. Mark,
    Economically, and in view of the US alliance, the cost of developing a nuclear detterent capacity is unlikely to be justified.
    I like your thinking, though. Perhaps we should work on biological weapons in their place.

  13. PS, if John had written “WordPress is doubleplus ungood on this”, you might have had serious cause to worry. 😉

  14. at least ‘doubleplus ungood’ is something I have learnt from students at school near the commission flats. Truncations are what really gets up my nose. Like exam instead of examination and zoo instead of zoological gardens. I thus use the monday message board to launch a war on truncations.

  15. “at least ‘doubleplus ungood’ is something I have learnt from students at school near the commission flats. Truncations are what really gets up my nose. Like exam instead of examination and zoo instead of zoological gardens. I thus use the monday message board to launch a war on truncations. ”

    Others are irritated by sentences which start with a l.c. letter full stop

  16. Benno Says:

    at least ‘doubleplus ungood’ is something I have learnt from students at school near the commission flats.

    It ain’t something you should have learned from students at school near the commission flats. If you did, it’s a sad reflection on both you and the students. On you, for not reading your Orwell. And on them for failing to conform to their proper stereotypes.

    Truncations are what really gets up my nose.

    I draw your attention to these:

    ‘Actors’ for WoT
    BI Power Blogger
    Proposed boundaries – PR for Vic Upper House

    They are, of course, titles of entries on the current front page of your own blog. Abbreviator, heal thyself. 😉

  17. Benno,

    I don’t mind abbreviations myself. What gets up my nose is when people put an unnecessary space before the comma or period. As example, let me point out the “professional tanslation company ,” spam above.

    Before John deletes it, that is.

  18. To change the subject. David Attenborough is quoted on the front page of the Independent as no longer being a sceptic about climate change:


    I was sceptical about climate change. I was cautious about crying wolf. I am always cautious about crying wolf. I think conservationists have to be careful in saying things are catastrophic when, in fact, they are less than catastrophic.

    And in almost every big series I’ve made, the most recent one being Planet Earth, I’ve ended up by talking about the future, and possible dangers. But, with climate change, I was sceptical. That is true.

    Which brings to mind JQ’s recent denigration of all sceptics:


    At this point, the term “sceptic� is no longer remotely applicable. Only dogmatic commitment to a long-held position (or an ideological or financial motive for distorting the evidence) can explain continued rejection of the evidence.

    So which kind of sceptic was David Attenborough? Dogmatist? Ideologue? Paid off?

  19. “‘Actors’ for WoT
    BI Power Blogger
    Proposed boundaries – PR for Vic Upper House

    They are, of course, titles of entries on the current front page of your own blog. Abbreviator, heal thyself.”

    It is a disease which needs healing and I am infected, no doubt about it, but notice that those titles you have shown were posted before I saw the light and launched my war on truncations in the comment section of John Quiggin’s blog on May 23rd 2006.

    Now to preemptively cover other bases, I don’t believe that ‘blog’ or ‘AFL’ are truncations for the definition of my war on truncations. But I plead guilty to abbreviating ‘the United Nations’ to ‘the UN’, it won’t happen again. *will not*. Sorry.

  20. God bless ’em.

    Another report claiming how wonderful all these other technologies are. Well, if they’re so great, why don’t we just open up the market to all comers at let the best technology win?

    Hard to beat one cubic meter of waste per year per plant.

    U-235 is your friend

  21. Dogz Says:

    Hard to beat one cubic meter of waste per year per plant.

    I believe that this quote comes from John McCarthy, ex-Comp Sci professor at Stanford, who, like you, possesses no relevant experience or qualifications.

    But to be fair to McCarthy, what he actually said was:

    Q. What about the waste from so many reactors?

    A. If the fuel rods are reprocessed, and I think they will be, then each reactor produces about one cubic meter of waste per year.

    And also:

    A large reactor produces about 1.5 tonnes of fission products per year. The fission products are originally in a mixture with other substances, so reprocessing is required to get it down to a 1.5 tonnes.

    Get that, Dogz? In a mixture with other substances.

    Doesn’t that cause any alarm bells to go off for a self-proclaimed “scientist” such as yourself?

    Here’s a hint. Contaminated waste. McCarthy is only claiming that the contaminants are one cubic metre.

    You and he are relying on some magical “reprocessing” which will decontanimate the contanimated waste.

  22. SJ, reprocessing is standard practice. Nothing “magical” about it. But even without reprocessing, what’s the volume of waste?

    How many serious contamination accidents are there per annum in Europe and Japan, both big users of nuclear energy? How does that compare to the impending environmental disaster we face with global warming (on your reckoning, that is)?

  23. By that sort of logic, why don’t you embrace renewable energy on the grounds that it produces no waste at all, as well as preventing ‘global warming doom’?

  24. because I’ve yet to see a study of renewable energy that shows it can satisfy our current and projected energy requirements cost-effectively

  25. Dogz Says:

    SJ, reprocessing is standard practice.

    Yeah, yeah, whatever.

    In March 1977, fear of nuclear weapons proliferation (especially after India demonstrated nuclear weapons capabilities using reprocessing technology) led President Jimmy Carter to issue a Presidential directive to indefinitely suspend the commercial reprocessing and recycling of plutonium in the U.S. Other nations did not copy the policy and continued to reprocess spent nuclear fuel…

    The relative economics of reprocessing-waste disposal and interim storage-direct disposal has been the focus of much debate over the past ten years. Many approaches have been used and to a certain extent the approach taken has determined the outcome of the assessment. These studies model the total fuel cycle costs of a reprocessing-recycling system based on thermal recycling of plutonium and compare this to the total costs of an open fuel cycle with direct disposal. The range of results produced by these studies is very wide, but all are agreed that under current (2005) economic conditions the reprocessing-recycle option is the more costly.

    Dogz Says:

    But even without reprocessing, what’s the volume of waste?

    Look it up, and get back to us.

  26. A point of clarification to the above. The reason why reprocessing was carried out by the other nations was to extract bomb material. The U.S. had a separate program for bomb making, so it wasn’t affected by its own ban.

  27. Japan sends material to Europe for reprocessing, but not into bomb material (or at least they used to).

  28. Japan sends material to Europe for reprocessing, but not into bomb material (or at least they used to).

    OK, so what is the volume of waste produced by a Japanese reactor? Is it one cubic metre per year after reprocessing?

  29. “About 25 tonnes of spent fuel is taken each year from the core of a l000 MWe nuclear reactor. The spent fuel can be regarded entirely as waste (as, for 40% of the world¹s output, in USA and Canada), or it can be reprocessed (as in Europe [and Japan]). Whichever option is chosen, the spent fuel is first stored for several years under water in large cooling ponds at the reactor site. The concrete ponds and the water in them provide radiation protection, while removing the heat generated during radioactive decay.”

    “The 3% of the spent fuel which is separated high-level wastes amounts to 700 kg per year and it needs to be isolated from the environment for a very long time. These liquid wastes are stored in stainless steel tanks inside concrete cells until they are solidified.”

    “Solidification processes have been developed in France, UK, US and Germany over the past 35 years. Liquid high-level wastes are evaporated, mixed with glass-forming materials, melted and poured into robust stainless steel canisters which are then sealed by welding.”

    “The vitrified waste from the operation of a 1000 MWe reactor for one year would fill about twelve canisters, each 1.3m high and 0.4m diameter and holding 400 kg of glass.”

    So there’s your answer: pi * 0.2 * 0.2 * 1.3 * 12 ~ 2 cubic meters of crap from a 1000MW reactor running for one year. Nifty.

  30. You didn’t provide a cite for your quote, but I suppose it comes from here:

    The annual fuel requirement for a l000 MWe light water reactor is about 25 tonnes of enriched uranium oxide. This requires the mining and milling of some 50,000 tonnes of ore to provide 200 tonnes of uranium oxide concentrate (U3O8) from the mine.

    I’ll let you work out the pi r squared on the 50,000 tons.

  31. Because that’s the (US) legal definition.

    Although not significantly radioactive, uranium mill tailings are waste. They are byproduct material from the rough processing of uranium-bearing ore. They are sometimes referred to as 11(e)2 wastes, from the section of the U.S. Atomic Energy Act that defines them.

  32. Dear me SJ, you are clutching at straws. Natural uranium is taken out of the ground and the stuff left over (now less radioactive than it was as the uranium has been largely extracted) is considered dangerous waste? I hope I have misundestood you.

  33. Natural uranium is taken out of the ground and the stuff left over (now less radioactive than it was as the uranium has been largely extracted) is considered dangerous waste?

    Firstly, it isn’t a matter of digging up uranium mixed with harmless stuff, taking out the uranium and putting the harmless stuff back.

    The uranium is mixed with the products of uranium decay, i.e. thorium, radium, radon, polonium, etc. These aren’t considered useful, so they get left behind.

    The tailings are radioactive, and are considered dangerous.

    See here:

    Uranium Mill Tailings

    Uranium mill tailings are the residual waste from the process of uranium extraction from the uranium ore. Since only uranium is extracted, all other members of the uranium decay chains remain in the tailings at their original activities. In addition, small residual amounts of uranium are left in the tailings, depending on the efficiency of the extraction process used…

    Compared to uranium ore, the alpha radiation of uranium mill tailings and thus the radiation hazard on ingestion or inhalation of tailings (dust) is approx. 25% lower, while the hazard from radon is unchanged. The external radiation hazard from gamma radiation remains nearly unchanged, while that from beta radiation is reduced.

  34. The tailings are no more dangerous than the ore itself, which we happily dig up today. I dare say there are plenty of other industrial/mining processes that are at least as hazardous.

  35. So you happily concede that your original claim: Hard to beat one cubic meter of waste per year per plant was complete rubbish?

  36. So you happily concede that your original claim: Hard to beat one cubic meter of waste per year per plant was complete rubbish?

    Yes. I was out by a factor of two. It’s 2 cubic meters.

  37. No, you don’t get to claim that the 50,000 tons of low level radioactive waste isn’t radioactive waste somehow. It may be that in your completely ignorant opinion that it doesn’t count, because it’s no more hazardous than some other hazardous thing that you can’t even think of. That opinion, however, don’t count for much.

    You’re also wishing away the 24 tons per annum of medium level waste from the spent fuel, and the tens of thousands of tons of medium level waste left after the thing is decommissioned.

  38. I shouldn’t leave this unremarked, either.

    Dogz Says:

    The tailings are no more dangerous than the ore itself, which we happily dig up today.

    It’s true that the tailings are no more dangerous than the ore itself. But the ore itself is dangerous. It’s pointless to argue otherwise.

  39. SJ, your original question was: “OK, so what is the volume of waste produced by a Japanese reactor? Is it one cubic metre per year after reprocessing?

    The answer turned out to be not one but two cubic meters, although that is only because the waste is embedded into a large volume of glass.

    We were clearly talking about high-level waste. That’s the stuff that gets reprocessed.

    I suggest you start here for a discussion of how all levels of nuclear waste are dealt with safely.

  40. We were clearly talking about high-level waste.

    It isn’t what you actually said, though. And given your demonstrated level of understanding of the issues, I seriously doubt whether you had anything clearly in mind.

    Here’s what you should have said:

    Hard to beat 2 cubic metres of incredibly dangerous high level waste, 24 tons of dangerous medium level waste, and 50,000 tons of dangerous low level waste per year per plant, plus a few tens of thousands of tons of dangerous medium level waste left over when the plant is shut down.

    BTW, the page you linked to makes this outrageous assertion: “Mine tailings:… Strictly speaking these are not classified as radioactive wastes.”

    The author must be strictly speaking about some classification system that doesn’t doesn’t apply here in the real world. In addition to the U.S. Atomic Energy Act referred to above, Australia’s Radiation Protection and Radioactive Waste Management in Mining and Mineral Processing Code of Practice and Safety Guide clearly treats it as radioactive waste:

    1.4 SCOPE

    1.4.1 The Code addresses the regulatory and organisational aspects for the control of occupational and public radiation exposures in the mining and mineral processing industries, and for the management of radioactive waste generated in those industries. It describes the system of radiation protection to be applied in operations of the mining and mineral processing industries, and to waste generated by them, and identifies the roles of the various stakeholders.

    1.4.2 Radioactive waste will most usually arise from the mining and processing of uranium and thorium ores, and of mineral sands. However, the Code may also be applicable to the mining and processing of other materials where the wastes arising from these operations require management because the radionuclides they contain may cause harm to humans or to the environment…

    2.3 APPLICATION

    2.3.1 The provisions of this Code apply to the mining and processing of ores for the production of uranium or thorium concentrates, and the separation of heavy minerals from mineral sands ore.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s