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Is It Still To Soon?



April 28, 2011 – Comments (12) | RELATED TICKERS: TVE , SAF , ETY

Is it still to soon after Fukushima to talk about abandoning nuclear power in the United States?

Or are we going to forget?

Because a Tornado missed the Browns Ferry Nuclear power plant and shut it down anyway. And another one missed the Surrey nuclear power plant 10 days ago. Browns Ferry is offline and running on diesel back-up. Surrey is running reduced output.

And the good news is that the safety systems worked. When Browns Ferry was cut off from the grid, it shut down like it was supposed to, and the seven back-up diesels kicked in like they were supposed to. Almost, like they were supposed to anyway. Go TVE!

But now, with this reminder in the blogosphere, what if Browns Ferry had been hit by the tornado and lost the backup diesels, or the tons of spent radioactive material on the Browns Ferry roof were flung into the air, or a truck carrying waste to yucca mountain gets picked up in a tornado and dropped in the Mississippi?

That should be enough for at least one person to call me a "fearmongering liberal" or worse, "insurance salesman".

If you tell your Federal, State and Local governments not to interfere in their business with profit choking regulations and that the profit motive will keep TVE from risking harm to its shareholders, they will not interfere. It was an argument that worked very well for Fannie and Freddie shareholders.

Of course you could also tell your Federal, State and Local government that you have decided that the risks of nuclear power are so huge and all encompassing that you simply cannot justify keeping an aged nuclear power plant open for even one more day and since it is already turned off, to leave it off. Then we would find out much taxpayers and ratepayers will have to pay to fund the decommissioning costs.

Of course between those two extremes you could tell your federal, state and locals that you would like them to encourage a lot of smaller renewable energy sources, so as not put all your generating capacity into the same basket, and plan in the near future to shut down the aged plant.

Best wishes,



Chris? We await your "Government is Evil" counterpoint.

12 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On April 28, 2011 at 1:00 PM, cthomas1017 (98.65) wrote:

THe Brown's Ferry plant is probably designed to withstand 235 MPH winds.  If I recall correctly, that is the design point for most of the reactors.  Plus there is a safety factor built into that to compensate for weak points and construction flaws.

 As for projectiles traveling at close to that rate of speed, I recall a test being performed where one of the contruction companies "flew" a decomissioned fighter jet into the reinforced retaining wall for a containment vessel.  The jet essentially disintegrated and, other than black residue, there was hardly a mark.

Yes, they thought of that.  The things you need to worry about are the things you have yet to conceive.  :o 

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#2) On April 28, 2011 at 1:03 PM, Melaschasm (71.02) wrote:

If you believe that man made global warming is going to cause massive devistation around the world, then we need much more nuclear power.

For those who know about the lies and deceptions behind the notion that CO2 is going to destroy life as we know it, nuclear power is optional.

I personally have always prefered coal power with mercury pollution captured so that it does not go into our rivers and lakes.  For those places where increased hydro power is possible, that is always my first choice.  However, there are many places where hyrdropower can not meet all the energy needs.

Unfortunately liberals like Governor Jenny prefer spending millions on solar power in one of the cloudiest states in the nation, rather than building more hydropower upstream from existing dams.  

Out of genuine curiosity, how many anti nuclear people faught against Clinton's decision to help North Korea build a nuclear power plant, knowing that such help would almost certainly make it easier for them to develop nukes, and sell that technology to America's enemies around the world?


PS I did fight against Clinton's plan to give nuclear power to North Korea.  Despite repeatedly asking my liberal friends why they oppose nuclear power in the USA, but support it in North Korea, I never got an answer.  

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#3) On April 28, 2011 at 1:03 PM, buffalonate (48.41) wrote:

If we abandon nuclear power we pretty much guarantee we will destroy our climate.  Solar and wind cannot be relied upon on a large scale.  I want to get rid of coal and put many more nuclear plants in our country. 

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#4) On April 28, 2011 at 1:04 PM, Turfscape (< 20) wrote:

I don't think we need to abandon nuclear power, but I do believe we will see diminishing returns on the point that it is completely unsustainable.

One big issue that has yet to actually be discussed is the continued reliance on centralized power generation and the traditional power grid. Such a system leaves a country or region at high risk because of the strict dependence on single sources of power for a massive customer base. Whether it's coal, hydro-electric, nuclear or other, a centralized power generation structure has two major disadvantages: one, it's a target; two, it's inefficient for power to travel over distance.

This is why I continue to watch companies like PLUG. No, I am not calling PLUG a good investment (not right now, anyways)...but their strategy for stationary power generation through PEM fuel cells holds a lot of potential for de-centralizing the power generation structure of this country. Imagine if we had 100 power stations the size of an industrial refrigerator scattered over a metro area like Chicago, producing all the power needed for the downtown and surrounding area instead of a single power plant: reduced transmission lines, reduced energy loss, reduced risk of major outage...AND reduced (vritually non-existant) emissions.

There is more to the energy debate than coal versus nuclear versus wind/solar. We need to re-think the structure and decentralize for efficiency and security.

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#5) On April 28, 2011 at 1:08 PM, cthomas1017 (98.65) wrote:

This isn't the one to which I was referring, but it is pretty cool... 

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#6) On April 28, 2011 at 1:17 PM, MegaEurope (< 20) wrote:

"If you tell your Federal, State and Local governments not to interfere in their business with profit choking regulations and that the profit motive will keep TVE from risking harm to its shareholders, they will not interfere. It was an argument that worked very well for Fannie and Freddie shareholders."

TVA is a New Deal non-profit utility run by the government and doesn't have shareholders.  TVE is a bond.

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#7) On April 28, 2011 at 1:26 PM, ikkyu2 (98.15) wrote:

Who cares if a few frogs, or poor peoples' babies, have an extra leg or two?  The lights must stay on at night.

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#8) On April 28, 2011 at 1:34 PM, mhy729 (30.30) wrote:

That video is crazy

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#9) On April 28, 2011 at 1:45 PM, chk999 (99.96) wrote:

Abandon nuke and replace it with coal?

Devoish, would it be fair to say that you are very loss averse? 

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#10) On April 28, 2011 at 3:57 PM, devoish (66.87) wrote:


Cool video, but I don't believe that wall is actually on our nuclear plants. Too expensive, probably.

As far as the 235 mph wind design goes I am pretty sure the VT Yankee nuclear plants cooling system is built with two by fours, so the standard is not universal. I am also pretty sure that the storage containers and trucks are different to.


I agree with the decentralised idea. But again it costs more so capitalism cannot do it in its own.


Thanks for correcting me. At least that removes the negative influence of chasing short term profit from the equation.


Replacing nuclear with coal is unneccessary, renewables are ready to handle a much bigger load than nuclear. As to being "risk averse" I guess the bigger the risks the more "averse" I get, especially when there is so little upside and so much downside to nuclear.


More people than not care. Some people who do care have been persuaded that doing something cheaper is the same as doing something better.  Others believe that insisting on better quality at higher cost robs them of freedom. I believe they have surrendered responsibility. Others believe that Government is so corrupt that any effort at better will be twisted to worse, and have given up, even on those who share their values and are really trying.

I hear their arguments in phrases like "I would love solar and wind to work, but" or "we need solar and wind and geothermal, but".

I have spent time and energy on this crap. I have learned that solar and wind and geothermal are all ready for prime time. Tidal and wave are a first buildout away.

Government intervention into "free markets" helped put geothermal heat into my house, and saves me well over $1500/ year in heating costs. And while that might be bad for executive paychecks over at XOM and the Emir of Qatar, and the Long Island Power Authority, it would be good for you.

And if there is less CO2 in the air, less particulate matter, and no nuclear waste to leak into streams, well, that is all good too.

And for those who believe Government should not intervene, that probably means things stay just the same as they are. Dependent on oil, and addicted to debt.

Government intervention has replaced ten percent of our oil with ethanol, without which oil would be 15% more expensive for all of us. And I got lucky because my car can use e85 in the tank. I paid $3.18/gal last week. The regular unleaded was $4.12. I lost 12%mpg's and saved 25% cash. Turns out that Government intervention into free markets was once again good for me, and has saved you a dollar or two also.

Of course GDP dipped slightly when I got where I was going for 12% less, and stopped buying heating oil and used less electricity.

I however do not think CNBC or the Fed can measure my quality of life in "GDP's".

I would rather buy ethanol from an American farmer than oil from an Arabian peninsula. And ChrisGraley rightly points out ethanol production as it is currently done in the USA has its own problems. But ethanol does introduce less CO2 into the air, and less particulates. It also dumps a tremendous amount of waste phosphorus and nitrogen into the Mississippi watershed and then into the Gulf, creating dead zones of fertilized plant growth and then asphixiation. But those problems can be solved by helping farmers save money and time their applications to be more productive and less wasted. Of course that means buying less fertilizer and lowering GDP even more. But the farmer saves a buck or two. Farmers know this, and in this instance the ideal of chasing profit is working as more and more farms get control of chemicals. In fact more Government support for education and independent research will probaly continue to yield emphasis on different facts than those coming from most fertiliser salesmen. I am told Scotts is a company that has taken government research and applied it to some products and marketing, helping to move closer to environmental goals.

ChrisGraley would throw out the Government and ethanol, and try to sell me the idea because Government allows farmers the freedom to pollute water if neccessary. He would leave behind farmers losing money and farms selling corn to the poor, with the freedom to pollute still theirs and still encouraged by fertilizer salesmen, and the Government education how to stop the waste cut with his taxes.

He will dismiss the middle ground of directly dealing with the pollution as an insurmountable mountain, beyond the scale of his capability.


This went on longer than I expected when I started.

Best wishes,


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#11) On April 28, 2011 at 7:11 PM, MegaEurope (< 20) wrote:


For what it's worth, I felt just as safe living within a few hundred miles of a for-profit reactor in South Carolina as I did living within a few hundred miles of a non-profit reactor in Alabama.  US nuclear energy regulations are intense, as they should be.  I think profit mostly comes from raising rates and government subsidies, not cutting corners in nuclear design or operation.

I do agree with you that renewables should play a much bigger role.  If we had a distributed renewable system my family wouldn't be without power for the next 4 days, as TVA estimates.

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#12) On April 28, 2011 at 7:27 PM, ChrisGraley (28.51) wrote:

I actually prefer a system that polices pollution far better than a bribed government official ever will.

I actually care about fixing the problem instead of adding to some politician's nest egg. 



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